The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for January, 2011

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Matt 5:13-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2011

13.You are the salt of the earth. You are you ought to be. You are destined by Me to be, and are selected by Me to be such, which by My grace, you shall be in reality, the salt of the earth. Salt is the symbol of wisdom which is partly in the intellect, partly in the will or moral conduct. These words are addressed to the Apostles in particular, whom our Redeemer wishes to stimulate to patient suffering for His sake, and to zeal in executing His commands, by pointing out the exalted position which He assigns to them, as leaders and guides of His people. By several similitudes, He shows the character and position they hold. The Prophets were the salt of Judea only, the Apostles of the (entire) earth, hence the superiority of the latter. The twofold property of salt viz., to impart flavour to insipid food, and preserve from, corruption, symbolizes the character and office of the Apostles, in their relations with the world. What salt is to the food, seasoning and preserving it from corruption, they should be to the rest of mankind. By their preaching and holy example, they should render men, otherwise insipid before God, whom He would vomit out of His mouth (Rev 3), agreeable in His sight, and freeing them from the corruption of sin, preserve them for eternal incorruption. Our Redeemer here implies that the whole earth, of which the Apostles were the salt, was sunk in the corruption of sin. If salt lose there is nothing to restore to it its properties of flavouring and curing. If the teacher teaches what is false, or scandalize by his corrupt and immoral life, who can correct or restore him? The implied answer is, that although it be a thing, that may happen, it is a thing very difficult of accomplishment, and that rarely happens, as, indeed, a sad experience every day confirms.

It is good for nothing but to be cast out.  It is unfit for any useful purpose, like the wood of the vine (Ezek 15:2, 3, 4). St. Luke (14:35) more fully expresses it: ” It is neither profitable for the land nor for the dunghill, &c. Other things, even if they miss their destination, may be utilized gold, food, &c. not so salt, once it loses it properties of savouring and preserving. The cure of the perverse teacher is almost hopeless. Rarely, aud with difficulty, is he converted. Degradation and misery here, by being contemptuously trodden under foot by the passers-by, and eternal degradation under the feet of demons, hereafter, is generally, it is to be feared, the portion in store for him.

But, if the salt lose its savour. Some say salt never loses its savour; hence, our Redeemer here supposes what is false. The assertion is only hypothetical.
Our Redeemer does not say it does lose its savour. It is a supposition like But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospe &c. (Gal 1:8) Rock salt, it is said, loses it savour, but not sea salt. Shaw and other modern travellers say, they saw, in their travels in the East, salt that lost its savour Many commentators here say there is allusion made by our Lord to bitumen taken from the Dead Sea, with which the victims in the temple were besmeared. This, after exposure to the air, lost its savoury qualities, and was then
thrown on the floor of the temple, to prevent the priests from slipping in wet weather.

14. He once more illustrates the character and duties of the Apostles by the example of light. They were destined to enlighten the world by the soundness and purity of their teaching and example a world, sunk in the darkness of sin and error. Both illustrations refer to the doctrine of faith and morals, with which they were to enlighten and reform the intellects and minds of mankind. Salt especially refers to morals or example; light, to teaching. You are that is, you ought, and are destined, to be, and shall be, if you correspond, as is meet, with My grace. They are a light, but having only a brilliancy borrowed from without, and imparted by Him who is of  Himself the true (essential) light, which enlightens every man the true Son of Justice itself.

A city &c. Here is a third example tending to the same thing, viz., to stimulate the Apostles to zeal in the discharge of the great Apostolic functions confided
to them, of enlightening and saving the rest of mankind, by the preaching, in season and out of season, of the Gospel of truth, and by the constant, open and public example of saintly lives. There is an ellipsis here of the words, You are a city set on a mountain.

15. These words have the same object as the preceding, to stimulate the Apostles to shine as lights before the world, to enlighten the surrounding darkness, and impart to all the world the light of a holy, spotless life, and of pure teaching. As a city on a hill cannot be hid, so neither can the Apostles, from their exalted position, be concealed from the eyes of men; and, hence, their duty, to live so as to edify men. As no one lights a candle for the purpose of concealing its light, so neither did God constitute the Apostles as the lights of the world, in order to hide their light and detain the truth of God in injustice. Their duty is quite plain, viz., to diffuse this light far and near; to be deterred by no obstacles, in the free exercise of the exalted commission confided to them by God Himself, and to show forth the brilliancy of their virtues, and by their example to allure others to God.

16. Here, we have the explanation and application of the foregoing parables. In the preceding, He shows, that their light should shine before men. In this, He shows how it is to shine, how they are to discharge the duties of enlightening and saving the world, imposed upon them, and the end or motive they should have in view, viz., the glory of their Heavenly Father. In this verse is insinuated, that unless our works correspond with our teaching, we cannot bring men to God. The particle that, denotes the consequence, not the end or motive, at least the ultimate one. Our ultimate end or motive should be, not our own personal glory, nor the praises of men; but, God’s glory. Hence, this is not opposed to Matt 6:1, THAT you may be seen by them, as in these latter words, is conveyed the ultimate end or final motive of catching the applause and securing the praise of men.  Sit opus in publico, ut intentio maneat in occulto (St. Gregory). Those, then, violate the injunction of our Lord 1. Who (1)  indolently hide their light under a bushel, or traffic not with the talent confided to them. (2). Whose lives correspond not with their teaching. (3). Whose motives are Corrupt, viz., vanity, desire of applause, and not God s greater glory.

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Juan de Maldonado’s Commentary on Matt 5:13-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2011

Verse 13. You are the salt of the earth.

There are two properties in salt : to give savour, and to preserve from corruption. What is termed savour in food (sapor) is wisdom in man, and expressed by the word salt. What is called in other things conservation (conservatio) is in men confirmation in good lives, and is termed in the inspired writings edification. The Apostles are called the salt of the earth, therefore, because they are men, and ought to teach by their wisdom, and edify by their lives. S. Augustin (i., De Serm. Dom.) shows why Christ spoke the above words. He had urged the Apostles before to the highest perfection of life: “Blessed are the poor in spirit;” and He desired to show that they ought to aim at being such, because they were the salt of the earth. By the earth here, S. Augustin says, men are to be understood. This is also certain from the custom of Scripture.

This is more necessary of observation because, as S. Chrysostom and Theophylact have said, the Apostles were called the salt of the earth, as about to be the masters, not of one man, or of a few men, but of the whole world (Matt 14:15).

St. Mark (9:50) and St. Luke (14:34) relate that on another occasion Christ used the same comparison. But it is an easy and probable conclusion that He did this, not once only, but frequently as the case required, as we often do in our teaching.

But if the salt have lost its savor. μωρανθη—Infatuatum fuerit: that is, loses its savour and sharpness. Doctors of the Church do this when they either teach wrongly or build up badly.

Wherewith shall it be salted? That is, the salt itself (St. Matt 9:50); for there is no salting of salt. If the teacher teach amiss, by whom shall he be taught? If he live badly, by whom shall he be corrected? for there is no doctor doctorum. Not that the teacher cannot be corrected, but it is not usual nor easy.

But to be cast out. To be trodden under foot by the passers-by, as things thrown out into the streets.  The meaning is that other things, even if they have lost their natural virtue, are still useful for other Gold money is broken up—it is no longer money, but it is still gold; it will not serve for commerce, but it is useful to the goldsmith. Food is tainted—it is not set before men, but it may be given to the dogs. A garment is worn out, it is thrown on to the dunghill—it will no longer warm men, but it will enrich the ground. But salt, if it has lost its savour, is useless for the dunghill, and will not manure the ground—nay, it makes it sterile (Ps 107:34; and St. Luke 14:35). That which is of the most use, when decayed, becomes the most useless. The branch is most necessary for the production of fruit, but if it wither nothing is more valueless (Ezek 15:2, 3, 4).

Verse 14. You are the light of the world. You who ought to enlighten the world by your doctrine and example; the world has no teachers of goodness but you. Christ probably meant by the three words—salt, light, and the city—to signify one and the same thing. This, as we learn from S. Jerome, was the custom of the Syriac, which was the language He used (Note: Aramaic = Syriac). Not only here, but in many other passages, we see Christ using many similes, one upon another, to express the same thing. Of this S. Matthew (chapter 13) gives many examples. One thing must be observed, that Christ was the one only true Light “which enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world ” (St. John 1:9; 3:19; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35, 36).

Christ is called the true Light because He is the supreme Light in Himself, with whom, if not the Apostles alone and other holy men and Doctors, yet St. John the Baptist, than whom there was none greater among those born of women, may compare. But the other John said truly, he was not that light; yet of him the Evangelist writes: “He was a burning and a shining light” (John 5:35). As in this passage of S. Matthew the Apostles are called the light, all Christians are called the same (Philippians 2:15; Ephes 5:8; 1Thess 5:5). Christ is the Light by His own nature: others by His grace and gift, because they are enlightened
by Him : Christ, because He lightens every man that cometh into the world, not only extrinsically by His example and doctrine, but also by His intrinsic grace: the Apostles, as lighting others, not only by their example, but also by their doctrine ; Christians by their example.

A city cannot be hid. The first part of the comparison is wanting. You are a city, or like a city, placed on a hill. St. Jerome shows that the Apostles and Prophets are the mountains, because, being on high places in the Church, they are seen by all. The Author also observes that they are described as towers (Ps 122:7), although the meaning here is a mystical one, the literal being different. In the same sense they are here compared to a state (civitati), or rather to a city (urbi).

“Cannot.”—That cannot, you ought not to, be hidden. Christ does not admonish them to live uprightly lest they give offence, because their example, like a city on a hill, cannot be hid; but He warns them not to conceal themselves.

Verse 15. Neither do men light a candle. The meaning of these words is clear. Their object is not—so S. Jerome thinks—that Christ uttered them to give the Apostles courage and confidence to preach the Gospel freely; as if one should exhort a champion to fight strenuously and with courage, because the eyes of all were upon him. Others think that He intended to warn them to live circumspectly, lest they should give offence—for a city set on a hill cannot possibly be hid.

Nor were they to resemble a candle put under a bushel, but one placed in a candlestick, which cannot but be seen by all (St. Paul to the Philippians 2:15, and 1 Peter 3:16). S. Chrysostom and Theophylact explain it thus: Christ’s meaning seems to be, to exhort the Apostles to shine brightly both by word and example, and not to spare their labour. Besides, He had kindled them as lights; that is. He had made them Apo.stles, and had therefore placed them above others, as a city on a hill, that they might be conspicuous, and shine, and teach, and not be hid. For a city is not built upon a mountain that it may not be seen, nor is a candle lighted that it may be hid under a bushel, but that it may be placed in a candlestick, and light all, and be seen by all. Christ says this in other words (St. Luke 2:49), and S. Paul exhorts S. Timothy “to preach the Word ” (2 Tim 4:2). The words that follow—”So let your light shine—confirm this opinion. The words “under a bushel” are put, probably, because a bushel was very fit for concealing the light. So  Luke 8:16.

Verse 16. So let your light shine. Christ elsewhere seems to teach the contrary (Matt 6:1, 2, 5), and many things in that place to the same purport. The answer is easy. The word ” that ” in this instance does not show the cause, but the result, as in John 9:39 and 1Cor 11:19. St. Chrysostom (Hom. 10. on Romans; Hom.  27 on 1Cor., and on S. Paul’s words, “There must be heresies”), John Damascene, with other authorities of the Greek Church, say that the word is not causative, but illative. For Christ did not command the Apostles to act rightly that they might be seen by men, which chapter 6 forbids; but so to live that every one who saw their actions might glorify, not them, but their Father who is in heaven, and of whose grace it was that they did them. This is not forbidden in that 6th chapter of St. Luke.

Is it not lawful, then, ever to do good that we may be seen by men, when we should not otherwise do it? It is lawful if only we do it not for our own sakes, but for the sake of God. It is lawful with that object, but not as the final object to do good. It is lawful to come thither, but not to remain there; our minds must lead on to the glory of God. Before they came to God they stood still; nay, they fell. He who wishes to be seen by men when well-doing, wishes it not that he himself, but that his Father in heaven may be glorified—he wishes, not himself, but God to be seen. For no one wishes to be seen by men that he may merely be seen, but that he may be given some glory by being seen. If he seek not glory, or if he seek it not for himself, but for God, even if he desire to be seen, he does not appear to desire it. In this sense St. Peter wishes Christians who live righteously to desire to be seen by the Gentiles (1 Pet 2:12). In this sense Christ seems to have said: “Let your light so shine”. In this passage the word “that” signifies, not only the event and consequence, but the end and cause. He compared the Apostles to a candle; but the candle is lighted that it may be seen, and, as we have said, Christ does not there proceed as by leaps, but gradually: “Glorify your Father who is in heaven”.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 5:13-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2011

Ver 13. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

Chrys.: When He had delivered to His Apostles such sublime precepts, so much greater than the precepts of the Law, that they might not be dismayed and say, How shall we be able to fulfil these things? He sooths their fears by mingling praises with His instructions, saying, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” This shews them how necessary were these precepts for them. Not for your own salvation merely, or for a single nation, but for the whole world is this doctrine committed to you. It is not for you then to flatter and deal smoothly with men, but, on the contrary, to be rough and biting as salt is. When for thus offending men by reproving them ye are reviled, rejoice; for this is the proper effect of salt to be harsh and grating to the depraved palate. Thus the evil-speaking of others will bring you no inconvenience, but will rather be a testimony of your firmness.

Hilary: There may be here seen a propriety in our Lord’s language which may be gathered by considering the Apostle’s office, and the nature of salt. This, used as it is by men for almost every purpose, preserves from decay those bodies which are sprinkled with it; and in this, as well as in every sense of its flavour as a condiment, the parallel is most exact.

The Apostles are preachers of heavenly things, and thus, as it were, salters with eternity; rightly called “the salt of the earth,” as by the virtue of their teaching, they, as it were, salt and preserve bodies for eternity.

Remig.: Moreover, salt is changed into another kind of substance by three means, water, the heat of the sun, and the breath of the wind. Thus Apostolic men also were changed into spiritual regeneration by the water of baptism, the heat of love, and the breath of the Holy Spirit. That heavenly wisdom also, which the Apostles preached, dries  up the humours of carnal works, removes the foulness and putrefaction of evil conversation, kills the work of lustful thoughts, and also that worm of which it is said “their worm dieth not.” [Isa_66:24]

Remig.: The Apostles are “the salt of the earth,” that is, of worldly men who are called the earth, because they love this earth.

Jerome: Or, because by the Apostles the whole human race is seasoned.

Pseudo-Chrys.: A doctor when he is adorned with all the preceding virtues, then is like good salt, and his whole people are salted by seeing and hearing him.

Remig.: It should be known, that in the Old Testament no sacrifice was offered to God unless it were first sprinkled with salt, for none can present an acceptable sacrifice to God without the flavour of heavenly wisdom.

Hilary: And because man is ever liable to change, He therefore warns the Apostles, who have been entitled “the salt of the earth,” to continue steadfast in the might of the power committed to them, when He adds, “If the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?”

Jerome: That is, if the doctor have erred, by what other doctor shall he be corrected?

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 6: If you by whom the nations are to be salted shall lose the kingdom of heaven through fear of temporal persecution, who are they by whom your error shall be corrected? Another copy has, “If the salt have lost all sense,” shewing that they must be esteemed to have lost their sense, who either pursuing abundance, or fearing lack of temporal goods, lose those which are eternal, and which men can neither give nor take away.

Hilary: But if the doctors having become senseless, and having lost all the savour they once enjoyed, are unable to restore soundness to things corrupt, they are become useless; and “are thenceforth fit only to be cast out and trodden by men.”

Jerome: The illustration is taken from husbandry. Salt, though it be necessary for seasoning of meats and preserving flesh, has no further use. Indeed we read in Scripture of vanquished cities sown with salt by the victors, that nothing should thenceforth grow there.

Gloss. ap. Anselm: When then they who are the heads have fallen away, they are fit for no use but to be cast out from the office of teacher.Hilary: Or even cast out from the Church’s store rooms to be trodden under foot by those that walk.

Aug.: Not he that suffers persecution is trodden under foot of men, but he who through fear of persecution falls away. For we can tread only on what is below us; but he is no way below us, who however much he may suffer in the body, yet has his heart fixed in heaven.

Ver 14. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.” 15  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house.  16  So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Gloss: As the doctors by their good conversation are the salt with which the people is salted; so by their word of doctrine they are the light by which the ignorant are enlightened.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But to live well must go before to teach well; hence after He had called the Apostles “the salt,” He goes on to call them “the light of the world.”

Or, for that salt preserves a thing in its present state that it should not change for the worse, but that light brings it into a better state by enlightening it; therefore the Apostles were first called salt with respect to the Jews and that Christian body which had the knowledge of God, and which they keep in that knowledge; and now light with respect to the Gentiles whom they bring to the light of that knowledge.

Aug.: By the world here we must not understand heaven and earth, but the men who are in the world; or those who love the world for whose enlightenment the Apostles were sent.

Hilary: It is the nature of a light to emit its rays whithersoever it is carried about, and when brought into a house to dispel the darkness of that house. Thus the world, placed beyond the pale of the knowledge of God, was held in the darkness of ignorance, till the light of knowledge was brought to it by the Apostles, and thenceforward the knowledge of God shone bright, and from their small bodies, whithersoever they went about, light is ministered to the darkness.

Remig.: For as the sun sends forth his beams, so the Lord, the Sun of righteousness, sent forth his Apostles to dispel the night of the human race.

Chrys.: Mark how great His promise to them, men who were scarce known in their own country that the fame of them should reach to the ends of the earth. The persecutions which He had foretold, were not able to dim their light, yea they made it but more conspicuous.

Jerome: He instructs them what should be the boldness of their preaching, that as Apostles they should not be hidden through fear, like lamps under a corn-measure, but should stand forth with all confidence, and what they have heard in the secret chambers, that declare upon the house tops.

Chrys.: Thus shewing them that they ought to be careful of their own walk and conversation, seeing they were set in the eyes of all, like a city on a hill, or a lamp on a stand.

Pseudo-Chrys.: This city is the Church of which it is said, “Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God.” [Psa_87:3] Its citizens are all the faithful, of whom the Apostle speaks, “Ye are fellow-citizens of the saints.” [Eph_2:19] It is built upon Christ the hill, of whom Daniel thus, “A stone hewed without hands” [Dan_2:34] became a great mountain.

Aug.: Or, the mountain is the great righteousness, which is signified by the mountain from which the Lord is now teaching.

Pseudo-Chrys.: “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” though it would; the mountain which bears makes it to be seen of all men; so the Apostles and Priests who are founded on Christ cannot be hidden even though they would, because Christ makes them manifest.

Hilary: Or, the city signifies the flesh which He had taken on Him; because that in Him by this assumption of human nature, there was as it were a collection of the human race, and we by partaking in His flesh become inhabitants of that city. He cannot therefore be hid, because being set in the height of God’s power, He is offered to be contemplated of all men in admiration of his works.

Pseudo-Chrys.: How Christ manifests His saints, suffering them not to be hid, He shews by another comparison, adding, “Neither do men light a lamp to put it under a corn-measure,” but on a stand.

Chrys.: Or, in the illustration of the city, He signified His own power, by the lamp He exhorts the Apostles to preach with boldness; as though He said, ‘I indeed have lighted the lamp, but that it continue to burn will be your care, not for your own sakes only, but both for others who shall receive its light and for God’s glory.’

Pseudo-Chrys.: The lamp is the Divine word, of which it is said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.” [Psa_119:105] They who light this lamp are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Aug.: With what meaning do we suppose the words, “to put it under a corn-measure,” were said? To express concealment simply, or that the “corn-measure” has a special signification? The putting the lamp under the corn-measure means the preferring bodily ease and enjoyment to the duty of preaching the Gospel, and hiding the light of good teaching under temporal gratification. The corn-measure aptly denotes the things of the body, whether because our reward shall be measured out to us, [2Co_5:10] as each one shall receive the things done in the body; or because worldly goods which pertain to the body come and go within a certain measure of time, which is signified by the corn-measure, whereas things eternal and spiritual are contained within no such limit.

He places his lamp upon a stand, who subdues his body to the ministry of the word, setting the preaching of the truth highest, and subjecting the body beneath it. For the body itself serves to make doctrine shine more clear, while the voice and other motions of the body in good works serve to recommend it to them that learn.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or, men of the world may be figured in the “corn-measure” as these are empty above, but full beneath, so worldly men are foolish in spiritual things, but wise in earthly things, and therefore like a corn-measure they keep the word of God hid, whenever for any worldly cause he had not dared to proclaim the word openly, and the truth of the faith. The stand for the lamp is the Church which bears the word of life, and all ecclesiastical persons. [margin note: Phi_2:15]

Hilary: Or, the Lord likened the Synagogue to a corn-measure, which only receiving within itself such fruit as was raised; contained a certain measure of limited obedience.

Ambrose. non occ.: And therefore let none shut up his faith within the measure of the Law, but have recourse to the Church in which the grace of the sevenfold Spirit shines forth.

Bede, in Loc. quoad sens.: Or, Christ Himself has lighted this lamp, when He filled the earthen vessel of human nature with the fire of His Divinity, which He would not either hide from them that believe, nor put under a bushel that is shut up under the measure of the Law, or confine within the limits of any one oration. The lampstand is the Church, on which He set the lamp, when He affixed to our foreheads the faith of His incarnation.

Hilary: Or, the lamp, i.e. Christ Himself, is set on its stand when He was suspended on the Cross in His passion, to give light for ever to those that dwell in the Church; “to give light,” He says, “to all that are in the house.”

Aug.: For it is not absurd if any one will understand “the house” to be the Church.

Or, “the house” may be the world itself, according to what He said above, “Ye are the light of the world.”

Hilary: He instructs the Apostles to shine with such a light, that in the admiration of their work God may be praised, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.”

Pseudo-Chrys.: That is, teaching with so pure a light, that men may not only hear your words, but see your works, that those whom as lamps ye have enlightened by the word, as salt ye may season by your example. For by those teachers who do as well as teach, God is magnified; for the discipline of the master is seen in the behavior of the family.

And therefore it follows, “and they shall glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Aug., Serm. in Mont., i, 7: Had He only said, “That they may see your good works,” He would have seemed to have set up as an end to be sought the praised of men, which the hypocrites desire; but by adding, “and glorify your Father,” he teaches that we should not seek as an end to please men with our good works, but referring all to the glory of God, therefore seek to please men, that in that God may be glorified.

Hilary: He means not that we should seek glory of men, but that though we conceal it, our work may shine forth in honour of God to those among whom we live.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2011

Note: for a fuller commentary see Fr. Callan’s comments on 1 Cor 1:18-2:5.

A Summary of  1 Cor 2:1-5~After having shown (1:17 ff) that the Gospel is both preached and received by the humble and the simple, St Paul now tells the Corinthians that when announcing to them the glad tidings he observed the characteristic method of evangelical preaching.  This he did in order to conform to the divine plane, as already explained, and also in order that the Corinthians might derive the greatest profit from hearing the Gospel.

2:1.  And I, Brethren, when I came to you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of Christ.
2:2.  For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

1.  And I, etc, i.e., in conformity with the nature of the Gospel ministry, when I came to you the first time my preaching was simple in style and contents; I simply declared unto you the Gospel, avoiding all loftiness either in form or in matter.  The Apostle came to Corinth from Athens, where he had engaged in high dispute with the Stoics and Epicurians (Acts 17:18 ff.).  Perhaps his failure there induced him to employ at Corinth a method more in harmony with the requirements of the Gospel.

Testimony of Christ should be “testimony of God,” according to the Greek; and the meaning is that the Gospel, which Paul announced, was God’s witness to Christ.  Some MSS read “mystery” in place of “testimony.”

2.  For I judged not, etc.  If the negative οὐ, not, is to be connected with κρίνω, judged, the sense is: “I did not pretend to know,” etc.; if connected with ειδεναι, to know, we have: “I judged it better, or I decided, not to know,” etc.  The meaning is that, while at Athens just before coming to Corinth, St Paul had argued learnedly with philosophers, he made up his mind upon arriving in Corinth that it was better to keep to simple doctrines about Christ, especially the mystery of the Redemption.  Hence among you is in contrast with the Athenians.

2:3.  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
2:4.  And my speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in shewing of the spirit and powers;
2:5.  that your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

3.  In weakness, and in fear, etc.  The weakness referred to was perhaps bodily infirmity (Gal 4:13; 2 Cor 10:10; 12:10), or the natural spiritual infirmity which he felt aside from the help of God (Acts 18:9-10).  the fear and trembling were probably caused by poor results he had just experienced at Athens (Acts 17:33), by prospect of stripes (i.e., being whipped) and persecutions (St Chrysostom), and by the greatness of the task that confronted him in Corinth (Acts 18:9).

4.  My speech, i.e., my private instructions given to individuals, and my preaching, i.e. my public discourse to the multitude (St Thomas), were not in persuasive words, etc., i.e., not after the manner in which the philosophers and rhetoricians were accustomed to address their hearers.

But in the shewing of the Spirit, etc., i.e., his preaching was directed by the Holy Ghost, who enlightened his mind to know and moved his will to say what was most useful and instructive; and who, at the same time, by his grace disposed the hearts of his hearers to receive his words with faith (Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 4:7).  Some authors understand the word powers to refer to the miracles that were worked in confirmation of the Apostle’s preaching. In light of 1 Cor 1:22 this St Paul probably does not have in mind miracles.

Human (Vulgate, humanae) is found only in MSS A C; it is omitted by all the best MSS., Old Latin, Peshitto, and some copies of the Vulgate.

5.  St Paul had a special reason in avoiding a display of human wisdom and lofty language at Corinth, namely, that the faith of the Christians there might not be based on anything so vain and subject to error, but might have as its foundation the power of God, working through grace and miraculous gifts, which cannot err or be led into error.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Mark 5:1-20

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2011

Ver 1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.2. And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him.7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not.”8. For He said unto him, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”9. And He asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion: for we are many.”10. And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.11. Now there was nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.12. And all the devils besought Him, saying, “Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done.15. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine.17. And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts.18. And when He was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed Him that he might be with Him.19. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.”20. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

Theophylact: Those who were in the ship enquired among themselves, “What manner of man is this?” and now it is made known Who He is by the testimony of His enemies. For the demoniac came up confessing that He was the Son of God.  Proceeding to which circumstance the Evangelist says, “And they came over unto the other side, &c.”

Bede, in Marc., 2, 21: Geraza is a noted town of Arabia, across the Jordan, near mount Galaad, which the tribe of Manasseh held, not far from the lake of Tiberias, into which the swine were precipitated.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Nevertheless the exact reading contains neither Gadarenes, nor Gerasines, but Gergesenes. For Gadara is a city of Judaea, which has no sea at all about it; and Geraza is a city of Arabia, having neither lake nor sea near it. And that the Evangelists may not be thought to have spoken so manifest a falsehood, well acquainted as they were with the parts around Judaea, Gergese, from which come the Gergesenes, was an ancient city, now called Tiberias, around which is situated a considerable lake. [ed. note: Reland seems to feel the same difficulty about Gadara as the author of this comment; but he reconciles it by saying that the whole region might have been so called from the town of Gadara in Peroea, though the town itself was not on the lake. Reland, Palace., v2, p774, also Lightfoot, Horae Hebr. in locum.]   It continues, “And when He was come out of the ship, immediately there met Him, &c.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan., 2, 24: Though Matthew says that there were two, Mark and Luke mention one, that you may understand that one of them was a more illustrious person, concerning whose state that country was much afflicted.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., see Chrys., Hom. in Matthew, 28: Or else, Mark and Luke relate what was most worthy of compassion, and for this reason they put down more at length what had happened to this man; for there follows, “no man could bind him, no, not with chains.”

They therefore simply said, a “man possessed of a devil,” without taking heed to the number; or else, that he might shew the greater virtue in the Worker; for He who had cured one such, might cure many others. Nor is there any discrepancy shewn here, for they did not say that there was one alone, for then they would have contradicted Matthew.  Now devils dwelt in tombs, wishing to convey a false opinion to many, that the souls of the dead were changed to devils.

Greg. Nyss.: Now the assembly of the devils had prepared itself to resist the Divine power. But when He was approaching Who had power over all things, they proclaim aloud His eminent virtue.  Wherefore there follows, “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, saying, &c.”

Cyril: See how the devil is divided between to passions, fear and audacity; he hangs back and prays, as  if meditating a question; he wishes to know what he had to do with Jesus, as though he would say, “Do you cast me out from men, who are mine?”

Bede: And how great is the impiety of the Jews, to say that He cast out devils by the prince of the devils, when the very devils confess that they have nothing in common with Him.

Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc., and Chrys., Hom. in Matt., 28: Then praying to Him, he subjoins, “I adjure thee by God, that Thou torment me not.” For he considered being cast out to be a torment, or else he was also invisibly tortured. For however bad the devils are, they know that there awaits them at last a punishment for their sins; but that the time of their last punishment was not yet come, they full well knew, especially as they were permitted to mix among men. But because Christ had come upon them as they were doing such dreadful deeds, they thought that such was the heinousness of their crimes, He would not wait for the last times, to punish them; for this reason they beg that they may not be tormented.

Bede: For it is a great torment for a devil to cease to hurt a man, and the more severely he possesses him, the more reluctantly he lets him go.  For it goes on, “For He said unto Him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”

Cyril: Consider the unconquerable power of Christ; He makes Satan shake, for to him the words of Christ are fire and flame: as the Psalmist says, “The mountains melted at the presence of the Lord, [Psa_97:5] that is, great and proud powers.  There follows, “And He asked him, What is thy name?”

Theophylact: The Lord indeed asks, not that He Himself required to know, but that the rest might know that there was a multitude of devils dwelling in him.

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Lest he should not be believed, if He affirmed there were many, He wishes that they themselves should confess it; wherefore there follows, “And he saith unto Him, Legion, for we are many.” He gives not a fixed number, but a multitude, for such accuracy in the number would not help us to understand it.

Bede: But by the public declaration of the scourge which the madman suffered the virtue of the Healer appears more gracious. And even the priests of our time, who know how to cast out devils by the grace of exorcism, are wont to say that the sufferers cannot be cured at all, unless they in confession openly declare, as far as they are able to know, what they have suffered from the unclean spirits in sight, in hearing, in taste, in touch, or  any other sense of body or soul, whether awake or asleep.  It goes on, “And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.”

Pseudo-Chrys., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: Luke, however, says, “into the abyss.” [Luk_8:3] For the abyss is the separation of this world, for devils deserve to be sent into outer darkness, prepared for the devil and his angels. This Christ might have done, but He allowed them to remain in this world, lest the absence of a tempter should deprive men of the crown of victory.

Theophylact: Also that by fighting with us, they may make us more expert.  It goes on, “Now there was there about the mountain a great herd of swine feeding.”

Augustine, de Con. Evan, ii, 24: What Mark here says, that the herd was about the mountain, and what Luke calls on the mountain, are by no means inconsistent. For the herd of swine was so large, that some part were on the mountain, the rest around it.  It goes on: “And the devils besought Him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”

Remig., see Aurea Catena in Matt., p.327: The devils entered not into the swine of their own will, but their asking for this concession was that is might be shewn that they cannot hurt men without Divine permission. They did not ask to be sent into men, because they saw that He, by whose power they were tortured, bore a human form. Nor did they desire to be sent into the flocks, for they are clean animals offered up in the temple of God. But they desired to be sent into the swine, because no animal is more unclean than a hog, and devils always delight in filthiness.  It goes on: “And forthwith Jesus gave them leave.”

Bede: And He gave them leave, that by the killing of the swine, the salvation of men might be furthered.

Pseudo-Chyrs., Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.: He wished to shew publicly the fury which devils entertain against men, and that they would inflict much worse things upon men, if they were not hindered by Divine power; because, again, His compassion would not allow this to be shewn on men, He permitted them to enter into the swine, that on them the fury and power of the devils might be made known.  There follows: “And the unclean spirits went out.”

Titus: But the herdsmen also took to flight, lest they should perish with the swine, and spread the same fear amongst the inhabitants of the town.  Wherefore there follows: “And they that fed them, &c.”

The necessity of their loss, however, brought these men to the Saviour; for  frequently when God makes men suffer loss in their possessions, He confers a benefit on their souls.

Wherefore it goes on: “And they came to Jesus, and see him that was tormented by the devil, &c.” that is, at the feet of Him from whom he had obtained health; a man, whom before, not even chains could bind, clothed and in his right mind, though he used to be continually naked; and they were amazed.  Wherefore it says, “And they were afraid.”  This miracle then they find out partly by sight, partly by words.  Wherefore there follows: “And they that saw it told them.”

Theophylact: But amazed at the miracle, which they had heard, they were afraid, and for this reason they beseech Him to depart out of their borders; which is expressed in what follows: “And they began to pray Him to depart out of their coasts;” for they feared lest some time or other they should suffer a like thing: for, saddened at the loss of their swine, they reject the presence of the Saviour.

Bede: Or else, conscious of their own frailty, they judged themselves unworthy of the presence of the Lord.  It goes on: “And when He was going to the ship, he that had been tormented, &c.”

Theophylact: For he feared lest some time or other the devils should find him, and enter into him a second time. But the Lord sends him back to his house, intimating to him, that though He Himself was not present, yet His power would keep him; at the same time also that he might be of use in the healing of others.  Wherefore it goes on: “And He did not suffer him, and saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, &c.”

See the humility of the Saviour. He said not, ‘Proclaim all things which I have done to you,’ but, all that the Lord hath done; do thou also, when thou hast done any good thing, take it not to thyself, but refer it to God.

Chrys.: But although He bade others, whom He healed, to tell it to no one, He nevertheless fitly bids this one proclaim it, since all that region, being possessed by devils, remained without God.

Theophylact: He therefore began to proclaim it, and all wonder, which, is that which follows: “And he began to publish.”

Bede: Mystically, however, Gerasa or Gergese, as some read it, is interpreted casting out a dweller or a stranger approaching, because the people of the Gentiles both expelled the enemy from the heart, and he who was afar off is made near.

Pseudo-Jerome: Here again the demoniac is the people of the Gentiles, in a most hopeless case, bound neither by the  law of nature, nor of God, nor by human fear.

Bede: Who dwelt in the tombs, because they delighted in dead works, that is, in sins; who were ever raging night and day, because whether in prosperity or in adversity, they were never free from the service of malignant spirits: again, by the foulness of their works, they lay as it were in the tombs, in their lofty pride, they wandered over the mountains, by words of most hardened infidelity, they as it were cut themselves with stones.

But he said, “My name is Legion,” because the Gentile people were enslaved to divers idolatrous forms of worship. Again, that the unclean spirits going out from man enter into swine, which they cast headlong into the sea, implies that now that the people of the Gentiles are freed from the empire of demons, they who have not chosen to believe in Christ, work sacrilegious rites in hidden places.

Theophylact: Or by this it is signified that devils enter into those men who live like swine, rolling themselves in the slough of pleasure; they drive them headlong into the sea down the precipice of perdition, into the sea of an evil life where they are choked.

Pseudo-Jerome: Or they are choked in hell without any touch of mercy by the rushing on of an early death; which evils many persons thus avoid, for by the scourging of the fool, the wise is made more prudent.

Bede: But that the Lord did not admit him, though he wished to be with Him, signifies, that every one after the remission of his sins should remember that he must work to obtain a good conscience, and serve the Gospel for the salvation of others, that at last he may rest in Christ.

Greg., Mor., 37: For when we have perceived ever so little of the Divine knowledge, we are at once unwilling to return to human affairs, and seek for the quiet of contemplation; but the Lord commands that the mind should first toil hard at its work, and afterwards should refresh itself with contemplation.

Pseudo-Jerome: But the man who is healed preached in Decapolis, where the Jews, who hang on the letter of the Decalogue, are being turned away from the Roman rule.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, liturgy, Notes on Mark, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Father Callan’s Commentary on Hebrews 11:32-40

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2011

Note: Father Callan is using the English spelling of Hebrew names as they are transliterated from the Greek Septuagint (e.g., Gedeon = Gideon; Isaias = Isaiah; etc.).  Since most of the spelling differences present little difficulty for discerning the person being spoken of, and since most people have easy access to a modern bible-most of which follow the Hebrew spelling of names-I’ve decided not to re-spell them.

32. And what shall I yet say? For the time would fail me to tell of
Gedeon, Barac, Samson, Jephte, David, Samuel, and the prophets,

In verses 32-38 the writer gives a brief statement of some of the illustrations of faith found in great leaders of Israel from the conquest of the Promised Land under Josue down to the time of the Machabees. The names enumerated do not follow a chronological order; on the contrary, the name which appears second in each pair in this verse preceded the other in time. He speaks first of the exploits of four great judges, and then of the achievements of David, Samuel and the Prophets.

33. Who by faith conquered kingdoms, wrought justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

Many of the phrases in this and the following five verses are quite general and applied to a number of the heroes mentioned; others are more specific and refer to some definite event in the history of Israel.

Obtained promises, i.e., particular promises which were subordinated to the one great promise (Heb 11:39).

Stopped the mouths of lions. See Dan 6:22.

34. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, recovered strength from weakness, became vahant in battle, put to flight the armies of foreigners.

Quenched the violence of fire. See Dan 3:17; 1 Mach 2:59.

35. Women received their dead raised to life again. But others were
racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection.

Women received their dead, etc., like the widow of Sarepta (1 Kings 17:23) and the Sunamite (2 Kings 4:36).

Others were racked, etc., referring to the martyrdom of Eleazar and the seven brothers (2 Mach 6-7).

A better resurrection, in life eternal.

36. And others had trial of mockeries and stripes, moreover also of bonds and prisons.

This verse refers especially to the tortures of the seven brothers and their mother (2 Mach 7:1 ff.). Most of the sufferings mentioned in this and the two following verses were experienced by the faithful during the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes.

37. They were stoned, they were cut asunder, they were tempted, they were put to death by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being in want, distressed, afflicted,

Zachary, son of Joiada, was “stoned” (2 Chron 24:20 ff.). According to Jewish tradition Isaias was sawn asunder ( The Ascension of Isaias, 5:1-14).

38. Of whom the world was not worthy; wandering in deserts, in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth.

Those faithful servants of God were treated as outcasts by a world that was not worthy of them.

39. And all these being approved by the testimony of faith, received not the promise,
40. God providing some better thing for us, that they should not be perfected without us.

All those heroes of the past gained a reputation for faith and to a certain extent realized the divine promises, but the promised Messiah they did not live to see. Without any fault of theirs, the supreme reward of faith was denied to them, being reserved for us of a later date; but with us they have entered into the full inheritance of faith, being admitted to the glory of heaven through the Messianic blessings brought to the world by Christ.

That they should not be perfected without us. The faith of the heroes of the past has been perfected through the revelation vouchsafed to us.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, liturgy, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

This Weeks Posts: Sunday, Jan 30-Saturday, Feb 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2011

Note: Some posts are prepared in advance and will not be available until the time indicated. Posts without time indicators are available regardless of when they are scheduled.  During the week I will be adding more posts, these will include commentaries on the Mass readings for this coming Sunday and, hopefully, some posts on 1 Corinthians.


Resources for Sunday Mass, Jan 30. A weekly feature of this blog. Resources for next Sunday will be posted on Wednesday, Feb 2.

Last Weeks Posts.



Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 11:32-40). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 5:1-20). 12:10 AM EST.

Catholic Encyclopedia on St John Bosco. Also called St Giovanni Melchior Bosco.

Saint of the Day Podcast. Today on St John Bosco. Text also available.

Father Callan’s Notes on 1 Corinthians 13. See my Notes on 1 Corinthians page for more.

Father Callan’s Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:1-6. See my Notes on 1 Corinthians page for more


Mass Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 12:1-4). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 5:21-43). 12:10 AM EST.

NOTE: The following several links are for the Sunday Mass readings in the Ordinary Form.

Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Cor 2:1-5 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6.

Bernardin de Piconio (Picquigny) on 1 Cor2:1-5 for Sunday Mass, Feb, 6.

Father Callan on 1 Cor 2:1-5 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 5:13-16 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6.

Maldonado on Matt 5:13-16 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6.

Bishop MacEvily on Matt 5:13-16 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6.

NOTE: the following couple of links are for the Extraordinary Form of the Rite.

Bernardin de Piconio on Colossians 3:12-17 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6 (Extraordinary Form, 5th Sunday After Epiphany). 12:15 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 13:24-30 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6 (Extraordinary Form, 5th Sunday After Epiphany). 12:20 AM EST.




Mass Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s Epistle (Heb 2:14-18). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Luke 2:22-40). 12:10 AM EST.

Father Mass on Matt 13:24-30 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6 (Extraordinary Form, 5th Sunday After Epiphany). 12:15 AM EST.

Father Callan on Colossians 3:12-17 for Sunday Mass, Feb 6, (Extraordinary Form, 5th Sunday After Epiphany). 12:20 AM EST.

Feast of the Presentation Podcast. Text also available.

A Homily by Pope John Paul II on the Feast of the Presentation.

Resources for Sunday Mass, Feb 6, Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.



Mass Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 12:18-19, 21-24). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:7-13). 12:10 AM EST.


Mass Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 13:1-8). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:14-29). 12:10 AM EST.


Mass Readings.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 13:15-17, 20-21). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 6:30-34). 12:10 AM EST.

Catholic Encyclopedia on St Agatha.

Saint of the Day Podcast. On St Agatha. Text available.



Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Notes on Colossians, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on Luke's Gospel, Notes on Mark, Notes on Matthew, Notes on the Gospel of Matthew, Notes on the Lectionary, Quotes, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Father Callan’s Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:1-6

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2011

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 14:1-6

By his glorious tribute to charity the Apostle tried indirectly to withdraw the Corinthians from their inordinate desire for charisms. But even in their pursuit of these special gifts they were greatly mistaken in that they considered the ability to speak with tongues more excellent than prophecy, which they regarded as little above ordinary preaching. The aim of the present chapter is to correct this error and to show that prophecy is in every way more useful than speaking with tongues.

After eulogizing charity in the preceding chapter the Apostle now adds a final word, exhorting the faithful to strive for its possession. If they have this most excellent virtue, it is not forbidden them to be zealous also for gifts more unusual, though less perfect. But in seeking these latter, they should desire rather to prophesy than to speak strange tongues, for prophecy is more useful to the faithful.

1. Follow after charity, be zealous for spiritual gifts; but rather that you may prophesy.

Spiritual gifts are those mentioned in 12:8-10.

Prophesy. The gift of prophecy in the early Church consisted not only in foretelling the future, but also, and especially in the ability extemporaneously to preach and exhort the faithful under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Although prophecy is here compared only with the gift of tongues, it seems the Apostle rated it above all other charisms.

2. For he that speaketh in a tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man heareth. Yet by the Spirit he speaketh mysteries.

Speaketh in a tongue, i.e., in a strange language unknown to him before, and which neither the speaker, nor the hearer for the most part understood. The gift of tongues is frequently mentioned in the New Testament. In Mark 16:17 there is question of speaking “with new tongues”; and in Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6; and in 1 Cor 12-14 “tongues” are spoken of in different ways. There are various opinions regarding the nature of this gift, (a) Some Rationalists think it consisted in certain inarticulate and unintelligible sounds and cries uttered in a state of enthusiasm. But such an explanation is directly contrary to the obvious meaning of those passages of Scripture in which this gift is mentioned, and also to the manner in which it was regarded by those who heard the strange tongues on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:6 ff.). (b) Bisping and others believe it gave the faculty of speaking in the primitive language of our first parents. But if this were so, we could not explain the clear declarations of Scripture about divers tongues, and new tongues, (c) We hold, therefore, the common view that the gift in question meant the ability to speak in one or more foreign languages unknown to the speaker before, and for the most part unintelligible both to himself and to those who heard him. Thus on the day of Pentecost the languages spoken by the Apostles were not understood by any except those to whom they were native (Acts 2:8, 11). In Corinth it seems the strange tongues were not understood by any who heard them, nor as a rule by those who spoke them. Hence there was always need of an interpreter, or of the gift of interpretation on the part of the speaker.

Speaketh not unto men, etc. This shows that the gift of tongues was not for preaching and teaching, but for praying to God.

No man heareth, i.e., no one understood the strange language.

By the Spirit, i.e., with his soul and heart stimulated to utterance, although he would not understand. Since the article is not used with “spirit” in the Greek, it is better to understand the reference to be to the mind rather than to the Holy Ghost, as some think, and hence the term should not be written with a capital either in Latin or in English.

Mysteries, i.e., truths hidden by reason both of their nature and of the language in which they were expressed.

3. But he that prophesieth, speaketh to men unto edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Very different from the gift of tongues, which was unintelligible, apart from interpretation, both to speaker and hearer, was the gift of prophecy, which was understood by all and useful to all. Through prophecy the speaker edified the faithful by exciting them to good endeavors; he exhorted them to fervor and zeal; he comforted them in their temptations and difficulties in pursuing

It is clear that prophecy here does not so much refer to foretelling the future and revealing secrets, as to the special power of instructing, exhorting and comforting the faithful.

4. He that speaketh in a tongue, edifieth himself : but he that prophesieth, edifieth the church.

He that speaketh in a strange language, which neither he nor his hearers understand, edifieth himself, not because he necessarily understands what he is saying, but because he knows he is praising God and speaking to God in prayer, and in consequence his faith and love are stimulated and increased; but he does not help others who do not know what he is saying.

He that prophesieth, on the contrary, helps not only himself, but the church, i.e., the assembly of the faithful who hear him. See on 1 Cor 12:10, 28. Prophecy therefore is superior to the gift of tongues.

Dei of the Vulgate is not represented in the best Greek MSS.

5. And I would have you all to speak with tongues, but rather to prophesy. For greater is he that prophesieth, than he that speaketh with tongues: unless perhaps he interpret, that the church may receive edification.

The Apostle does not wish to be understood as despising the gift of tongues, which is very good in itself, but he would have the faithful seek rather to prophecy because that is more useful. “That which is useful only to the one who does it, is less than that which is useful also to others” (St. Thomas).

To prophesy. Literally, “That ye should prophesy.”

Interpret. The power of interpreting the gift of tongues was distinct from that gift, although both were sometimes united in the same person.

6. But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in doctrine.

If I come, etc. To show the inutility of speaking with tongues the Apostle refers to himself as an illustration. He asks the faithful of Corinth what profit he could be to them on his forthcoming visit, if he should speak to them only in a strange language which they could not understand. It is evident that, if he is going to be useful to them when he comes, he must speak either in revelation, i.e., as a prophet, communicating to them what he has received through revelation; or in knowledge, i.e., as a doctor explaining doctrine.

Modern authorities are agreed that there is question here of only two charisms, prophecy and doctrine, being regarded only as external manifestations of what is possessed internally through revelation and knowledge.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Father Callan’s Notes on 1 Corinthians 13

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2011

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

In these verses St. Paul treats of the necessity of charity; in verses 4-7 he portrays its exalted qualities; and finally, in the last section, verses 8-13, he shows that charity outlasts all other virtues. It was very shortsighted and foolish in the Corinthians to be seeking so ardently the extraordinary gifts of tongues, of prophecy, and of faith, while neglecting, in their hot pursuit of them, the very foundation of them all, that without which they all were as nothing, namely, charity.

1. If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

If I speak. Literally, “Even if I were to speak.”

The charity of this chapter is that supernatural virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for God’s sake. It is either identical with sanctifying grace, or inseparable from it. The Apostle begins by comparing it with the gift of tongues, because the Corinthians esteemed the latter so highly. He tells them that if they could speak the languages of all men, and knew the mysterious modes of intercommunication which the angels have, it would be of no use to them without charity: they would be like sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal, i.e., of some little use perhaps to others, but of no real profit to themselves, so far as eternal life is concerned.

As (Vulg., velut) is not in the Greek.

2. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Charity is now compared with four other gifts,—prophecy, wisdom, knowledge and faith. See notes on 1 Cor 12:8-10. If one should possess all these extraordinary gifts and powers, and still be without the love and grace of God, he is nothing in the sight of heaven.

3. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Here the Apostle compares charity with those gifts, such as “healings,” “helps,” and the like (1 Cor 12:28), which have mercy towards others for their object. Endowed with these extraordinary graces one might be willing to give all he possessed to relieve the distresses of others, he might be ready to cast himself into flames to save his neighbor; but all such heroic acts would profit their doer nothing toward life eternal without the supernatural virtue of charity.

The reading “that I may be burned,” has the majority of MSS. and the versions in its favor. But the three oldest MSS. give “that I may glory.” The latter reading, however, is out of harmony with the context and with the argument of St. Paul, because it introduces a bad motive for the heroic actions performed, and this alone would vitiate them, independently of the absence of charity. But St. Paul is supposing the actions to be good, to be extraordinary, yet of no worth in the supernatural order, simply on account of a want of charity in their author.

There is more probably no question in this verse, of one’s suffering martyrdom (against Estius), because martyrdom always confers sanctifying grace, and therefore charity; whereas St. Paul is here supposing the absence of charity. It is better, then, to hold with Comely that there is here question of death endured for some natural motive.

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

A striking difference between charity and the extraordinary gifts which the Corinthians prized is this, that it alone suffices for eternal life, while they are supernaturally of no avail without charity. The reason is that charity is the root and life giving principle of all the other virtues. In order that we may better understand the nature of this exalted gift, St. Paul now describes its characteristics and actual fruits,—both negative and positive. If the qualities enumerated seem to pertain directly only to the neighbor, it is (a) because the love of God is presupposed, as included in charity towards the neighbor; and (b) because there was more need of insisting on the love of one’s neighbor.

4. Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up;

Charity is patient, i.e., it endures evils without complaint or anger.

Is kind, i.e., is useful in helping others.

Charity envieth not, i.e., is not offended or saddened at the
good or success of others.

Charity dealeth not perversely, better, “is not boastful,” “is not pretentious” (περπερεύομαι = perpereuomai) in words and actions.

Is not puffed up, i.e., is not proud or boastful in thought.

5. Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own ; is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;

Is not ambitious. Better, “Behaveth not amiss” (ουκ ασχημονει).

Seeketh not her own, to the detriment and disregard of others.

Is not provoked to anger for injuries received.

Thinketh no evil, i.e., does not take account of the evils she suffers and put them down against the evil-doer; she bears no malice.

6. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, i.e., is not pleased with the evil others do.

With the truth, i.e., with the virtue and goodness that appear in others.

7. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Beareth, etc. (στεγει = stegei,) i.e., tolerates and excuses all the defects and faults of one’s neighbor.

Believeth . . . hopeth . . . endureth, i.e., according to the Greek Fathers, charity believes only good things about one’s neighbor, so far as possible, hopes for the best concerning him, and bears patiently all the evils that come from men. St. Aug. and St. Thomas, however, think the meaning is that charity believes all that God has revealed, hopes for all that He has promised, and endures with patience the fulfillment of His promises.

A Summary of 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Not only is charity the root and soul of all other virtues, but it endures forever. From their very imperfection charismata must cease, while charity abides even after hope has vanished and faith has given way to vision.

8. Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.

The Apostle now contrasts the durability of prophecies, of tongues, and of knowledge with that of charity. The former, he says, must cease either during this life, or at its close; whereas the latter will last throughout eternity.

There is no question in this verse of charity or grace being inadmissible in this life. Such a stupid heresy of the Reformers is clearly refuted by the Apostle in 1 Cor 9:27. Cf. Cone. Trid., Sess. VI., cap. XV. can. 27 (see below).

CANON XXVII.-If any one saith, that there is no mortal sin but that of infidelity; or, that grace once received is not lost by any other sin, however grievous and enormous, save by that of infidelity ; let him be anathema. (source).

9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10. But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

The reason is now given why charismatic gifts will cease hereafter, but charity will remain; namely, charisms, such as wisdom, knowledge and prophecy, like earthly knowledge also, are possessed only in part, i.e., they are imperfect, incomplete, because they suppose and depend on faith; but faith by its very nature is obscure. But when faith yields to vision in the life to come, then those gifts which have depended on it will also pass away. Charity, it is true, will be more perfect in heaven, but it will remain specifically the same.

Perfect (vs 10) refers to the vision of God hereafter in which we shall see and know all things.

11. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.

The imperfection of faith and of present knowledge, as compared with charity and the vision of God, is here beautifully illustrated by the difference between childhood and perfect maturity.

12. We see now througn a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known.

By another striking illustration the same truth is enforced; and while the Apostle has been speaking of charismatic knowledge, commentators are generally agreed that he now includes all our present knowledge of divine things.

We see now, etc. Better, “For now we see,” etc. (βλεπομεν γαρ), i.e., in the present life we do not know God directly, as He is in Himself, but only through the medium of creatures or of revelation, which, like a dim mirror, reflect the divine perfections only incompletely.

A glass, etc., means a mirror, which in ancient times was made of brass or polished steel, and, unlike our modern looking-glasses, reflected the object only dimly and imperfectly.

In a dark manner, i.e., obscurely, both because our knowledge of God is not immediate, and because our minds cannot now penetrate and understand with perfection the great mysteries which God has revealed to us (cf. Num 12:6-8).

But then, i.e., in the blessedness of heaven, we shall see God face to face, i.e., clearly and distinctly as He is in Himself.

Now I know in part, etc., i.e., in this present life I know only imperfectly, in an indirect and obscure manner; but then, i.e., in heaven, I shall know God and divine things immediately and perfectly, as God will know me. St. Paul does not mean that our knowledge of God will be equal to His understanding of us, but only that it will be similar; it will be direct and perfect in its kind.

13. And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.

13. But this happy state is reserved for the life to come.

Now, i.e., in the present life, there remain, etc. The Apostle insists on the permanent necessity in this life of the theological virtues, as contrasted with the transient character and utility of the charisms. Faith, hope, and charity are the very foundation of the Christian life; and hence they are far superior to those extraordinary gifts, such as, tongues and prophecy, which serve only a passing need in the Church. But of these three theological virtues charity is the most excellent, because, while faith gives place to vision (2 Cor 5:7) and hope to possession (Rom 8:24), charity remains throughout eternity.

Protestant commentators hold generally that faith and hope, as well as charity, remain in the future life; but this is opposed to St. Paul’s plain teaching in 2 Cor 5:7 and in Rom 8:24, just cited.


Posted in Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, Notes on 1 Corinthians, Quotes, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | 10 Comments »

This Weeks Posts: Sunday Jan 23-Saturday Jan 29

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 29, 2011

Some posts are scheduled in advance and will not be available until the time indicated. Further posts (e.g., commentary on next Sunday’s readings, etc) will be added to any upcoming day.



Last Weeks Posts: Jan 16-22.

Resources For Sunday Mass, Jan 23. This is a weekly feature on this blog, next Sunday’s Mass resources will be posted on Wednesday.



Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 9:15, 24-28). 12:03 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 3:22-30). 12:05 AM EST.

Some Online Works By and About St Francis de Sales. 12:10 AM EST.




Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Acts 22:3-16). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 16:15-18)12:10 AM EST.

Free Online Resources for the Feast of St Paul’s Conversion. 12:15 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 5:1-12 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

Bernardin de Piconio (Picquigny) on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for Sunday Mass Jan 30. This is actually a commentary on verses 18-31 but it is not terribly long.

Father Callan on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.



Readings. Note that the first reading has two choices.

Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (2 Tim 1:1-8). 12:10 AM EST.

Bishop MacEvily on the Alternate First Reading (Titus 1:1-5). 12:10 AM EST.

Father Callan on the Alternate First Reading (Titus 1:1-5). 12:10 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:1-20). 12:10 AM EST.

Resources For Sunday Mass, Jan 30. Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms.

Pope John Paul II on Psalm 146 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30.

Bernardin de Piconio on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Father Callan on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Bishop MacEvily on Romans 13:8-10 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matt 8:23-27 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

Cornelius a Lapide on Matt 8:23-27 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).

The Mystical Ship: Aquinas’ Homily Notes on Matt 8:23 for Sunday Mass, Jan 30 (Extraordinary Form).




Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 10:19-25). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:21-25). 12:10 AM EST.



Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 10:32-39). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Lecture on Heb 10:32-39.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:26-34). 12:10 AM EST.

The English Translations of Aquinas’ Major Works Online. Most of the titles are in Latin but the actual texts are in English.

An English Translation of Aquinas’ Commentary on the Psalms. Scroll down.

Thomas Aquinas. Online book. This is a famous study of his thought by Father Martin D’Arcy.

Medieval Philosophy Illustrated From the System of Thomas Aquinas. Online book. A very good introduction to his thought.

The Bread of Life: St Thomas Aquinas on the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar. Online book.

The Life and Labors of St Thomas of Aquino. Online book by Archbishop Roger Vaughn.



Father Callan on Today’s First Reading (Heb 11:1-2, 8-19). 12:05 AM EST.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Today’s Gospel (Mark 4:35-41). 12:10 AM EST.

Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible, Catechetical Resources, Catholic, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Latin Mass Notes, liturgy, Notes on 2 Tim, Notes on Acts of Apostles, Notes on Hebrews, Notes on Mark, Notes on the Lectionary, Notes on Titus, Quotes, Scripture, St Francis de Sales, St Paul's life, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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