Archive for September, 2010


September 30, 2010 Quick Summary

Let’s make-up for last weeks un-newsy note with this turbo-linked summary! 🙂

Today, we completed Romans 10 (vv. 14-21). Here are some highlights:

  • v. 15: In the Christian tradition, feet are considered “blessed, ” though in most Middle Eastern groups, feet and gestures with them are considered offensive. We can think not only of those who share the Gospel, but of Blessed Mother kissing Our Lord’s Bloody Feet on the cross (as in “The Passion”). At the end of each Mass, we are dismissed to “go-out” and share the Gospel.
  • v. 21: The “chosen” (whether Jewish/cradle Catholic/our “foolish nation” [v. 19]) often choose to refuse to respond to God’s call. God wants us to be awed and wonder about creation and the Creator. Cradle Catholics can take the “filet mignon” of the Faith for granted, while converts accustomed to scraps appreciate the Feast, particularly the Eucharist. This is evident in the casual way many receive Our Lord and even in the casual way some priests neglect purifying the vessels used for Communion, and in the recent Pew study that showed how few understand or believe in the Real Presence. See Fr. Z (whose site is a vital feed in the blog reader of any Catholic interested in the liturgy) on forced standing during Communion in San Jose and elsewhere and neglected fragments from over-sized hosts. It is also evident in the scanty time most parishes allow for Confession. It was suggested that we pray for those involved in these abuses — and even offer our Communions for them — rather than ruminating on the abuses.
  • We discussed talking about our Faith with Protestants and atheists — who are often more angry at God than disbelieving of Him, which is good, for the Lord can convert them rather than “vomiting” the apathetic (see Rev. 3:16) — (and aliens [!]). A suggested resource:  “Where Is That in the Bible?” by Pat Madrid (his site is excellent!).

Announcements

  • Due to a room-scheduling conflict, next week’s (October 7’s) study will be held at a private home. Details will be sent by e-mail to all on the e-mail list. As usual, the Rosary for Nathaniel will start at 10.
  • The Ladies’ Night Out will be Thursday, October 14, at about 6:30 at Yoshino’s at Blackstone and Bullard (or, if it’s too crowded, P. F. Chang’s). What happens in Ladies’ Night Out stays in Ladies’ Night Out (that is, no summary will be posted!) 🙂
  • Yet another Catholic study Bible (complete OT and NT, RSV-CE) is coming-out in October, this one by TAN/St. Benedict Press, with Catholic Scripture Study International. It has Archbishop Chaput’s imprimatur and endorsements from “all the usual suspects,” as well as articles by CUF (Catholics United for the Faith). It is also only available in rather fancy heirloom quality (leather cover, gilt-edges, ribbons, etc.) and thus pricey (at about $70 most places; perhaps it will be cheaper on Amazon). Odds are good that I’ll be getting it (As my hubby said with his usual wry appreciation of my book-collecting, “You can never have too many study Bibles!” He’s right: the commentaries complement each other rather nicely.), so those who would like to see it before taking the leap to buy it can see mine. 🙂
  • Also, I forgot to mention this new daily devotional from the Church Fathers that is currently winging its way to me: “A Year with the Church Fathers.” Can’t go wrong there…

As usual, the ladies can feel free to post any further comments below. 🙂

September 23, 2010 Quick Summary

This summary will be especially brief, as the ladies had an impromptu cake and coffee party, courtesy of Veronica. 🙂

As usual, several ladies prayed a Rosary for Nathaniel, and we also discussed a plethora of other prayer intentions. The study will resume on the 30th.

Announcements:

Jesse Romero will be coming to St. Anthony’s on November 12 (Spanish) and 13 (English).

The ladies will be discussing a ladies night out on the 30th.

September 16, 2010 Quick Summary

In this session, we looked primarily at Romans 10, vv. 2, 9, and 10. Regarding:

  • v. 2: We discussed true zeal versus fanaticism. We found that true zeal relies on and waits for God (unlike in vitro fertilization, for example), doesn’t use sinful or manipulative means to its ends (stoning St. Stephen, 9/11, the Protestant minister threatening to burn the Koran, etc.), and is prudent — taking risks and being brave for a reason and picking our battles (such as Blessed Mother Teresa advocating respect for life), joyful (the opposite of many anti-Christians), and loving.
  • vv. 9-10: We revisited the value of oral prayer (discussed last week), that it proves and shows our Faith, which by its very existence offends some, especially the use of the Holy Name Jesus. We also discussed the incompleteness of faith without works (sola fide), concluding that faith requires acts in God’s will, particularly as seen in Matthew 7:21 and James 1: 22-27 (for example: restraining the tongue and visiting orphans and widows).

Also:

  • Those who arrived early enough prayed a Rosary for Nathaniel (which will be done regularly — for the time being — at 10 a.m.) and discussed other prayer intentions.
  • We also discussed the need for a ladies’ night out soon (no date has been set) and — sometime in the future — a one-day or one-overnight retreat geared for homeschool/SAH moms.
  • The October 7 meeting will be in a private home. Details will be e-mailed out.

As usual, the ladies are invited to comment below! 🙂

Diane at Te Deum laudamus has done a thorough job of researching and — in my opinion — debunking the “Marian apparitions” at Medjugorje.

I don’t see the need to add much commentary. I will simply say that I do not believe that a spirituality based largely on any apparition (and belief in these is left to the discretion of the individual Catholic) is healthy; it is far more sound to ground one’s prayer life and apostolate on the certain teachings of the Church and the examples of Her saints. And, in the particular case of Medjugorie, there is enough weighing against the legitimacy of the “apparitions” to make devotion to it especially unsound — rebellion against the local bishop, the unedifying lifestyle of the “seers,” faulty predictions, endless “visions,” etc. If one has a devotion to Our Lady — and I do — why not supplement it with study on Fatima, Lourdes, and other Church-approved apparitions, instead of stubbornly grasping this dubious one?!

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners!

Our discussion of Romans 10: 1-13 today was especially fruitful. Here are some highlights:

  • v. 4: Jesus fulfills the Law, but doesn’t destroy it. One way of looking at this is that the Law is a necessary guide because we don’t believe in “once saved, always saved.” [Further reflection on St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on this verse reveals that since we can’t observe the Law “aright,” we need Jesus for “wholeness.”]
  • vv. 9-10: Oral prayer (confessing Jesus with our lips) serves several purposes, including helping us to learn and believe, assuring us, protecting us, and unifying us with the Church. This discussion led to several interesting linguistic and other asides, including: a) We are united in community only through Jesus, like spokes on a wheel. b) We are united, but distinct. For example, in the Extraordinary Form Mass, the parts are in Latin throughout the world, but the readings and teachings are in the vernacular; also, in Heaven, we will all be together, but we will each have our distinct (glorified) body. c) Even in the Church’s second greatest prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, when one is praying it alone, one is encouraged to at least to move her lips, if not actually speak the words aloud, to signify unity with the Church in praying the prayers. [I promised the ladies some links on the Divine Office. See this newly-revised post. I would love to find a way to introduce whoever is interested to this nourishing practice; perhaps I can bring my copy and we could try praying Morning Prayer before the study sometime.]
  • We also heard a report on the highlights of a local Catholic conference, including: a) the importance of following spiritual urges and inspirations; b) to dispose of negative thoughts and replace them immediately with the positive, as if the negative thoughts were hot coals; and c) a good way to diffuse anger is to ask “What is your expectation?”
  • The ladies who arrived early enough prayed a Rosary for Nathaniel. The group agreed that we are so grateful for how Nathaniel’s family shares their struggle with us, as our prayers and sacrifices for them are also serving to build our own faith.
  • There are a few dates that we will likely be without a meeting room, due to school resuming. An e-mail will be sent-out with the arrangements for those dates (which may include meeting in a home), starting with October 7.

As always, I invite the ladies to add to what I’ve posted or discuss it further in the space below.

9/8/10 — In preparation for our study of Romans 10, please see this link. (I’m not sure what our tech scene will look like tomorrow morning, so I’m going to try to have the links off of my post pre-loaded in my netbook for reference, but those of you with smartphones might be able to help, too, by bookmarking the link above. 🙂 )

Romans x.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Is for them. That is, for Israel, or the Israelites, named before. (Witham) — After having said that the greatest part of Israel was cast off by the Almighty, the apostle, to shew that he meant not to insult or provoke them, here testifies that he sympathizes in their misery, and with groans prays in their behalf to the Lord, that he would vouchsafe to grant them understanding, and open their eyes to the truth. Thus, though tenderly affected towards his countrymen, still he could not dissemble the truth, or flatter them in their incredulity, and hardness of heart. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. According to knowledge, &c. The Jews ran with ardour in the paths of the law, but saw not whither they were going; they followed the law, but did not know whither it conducted them. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. The justice of God. That is, the justice which God giveth us through Christ; as, on the other hand, the Jews’ own justice is that which they pretended to by their own strength, or by the observance of the law, without faith in Christ. (Challoner) — Seeking to establish their own. That is, for justice, or to be justified by their works, or the works of their written law. (Witham)

Ver. 5-7. Moses (Leviticus xviii. 12.[5.?]) wrote that the justice which is of the law….shall live by it. That is, shall have the recompense of a long temporal life, or even an everlasting life, by joining a faith in Christ their Redeemer, that was to come. But the justice which is of faith, speaketh thus, that is, Moses speaketh thus of it, (Deuteronomy xxx.) say not in thy heart, who shall ascend into heaven? &c. the apostle gives us the spiritual sense of the words, by adding, to bring Christ down, &c. The sense is, that it is now fulfilled in the new law, when Christ is come from heaven by his incarnation, and is also again risen from the abyss by his resurrection: and therefore,

Ver. 8. The word is near thee, is near to every one, who to be justified and saved, need but believe, and comply with the doctrine of the gospel which we preach, and make a confession or profession of it with his mouth; and then whether he hath been Jew or Gentile, he shall not be confounded. (Witham)

These resources cover the entirety of Romans 10. I’ll try to break-out text of particular interest to each week’s study verses in the appropriate posts, as well.

Haydock Douay-Rheims text and commentary on Chapter 10 (click link)

St. John Chrysostom on Chapter 10 (click links here and here)

Agape Bible Study commentary on Chapter 10 (with handout) (click on links)

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible study questions:

Chapter 10
For understanding
1. 10:4. What two meanings can be used of the Greek word translated end, referring to Christ as “the end” of the law? Which is more probable? Why?
2. 10:6–8. In the passage Paul paraphrases from Deut 30:12–14, what does Moses contend regarding the responsibility of Israel? In the spirit of Moses, what does Paul insist on? Why cannot Israel plead ignorance of the gospel?
3. 10:14–17. What is Paul stressing in these verses? In the passages excerpted from Isaiah, what does the prophet foresee? Why is Paul careful to say that not all in Israel have rejected Jesus as Messiah?
4. 10:20–21. What is Paul trying to demonstrate from Scripture here? Using two sequential passages from Isaiah, what stark contrast is Paul drawing?
For application
1. 10:2. What is “zeal for God”? What is the difference between zeal and fanaticism? How would you characterize your own zeal for God? What are some good examples among people you know of a properly directed zeal?
2. 10:9–10. What does verbal–that is, audible and public–confession of Jesus as Lord do for salvation that mere faith in the heart might not do? Why confess Jesus verbally?
3. 10:14–15. How would you answer someone who objected to Christian missionary outreaches to primitive tribes on the grounds that the Christian faith is alien to and destructive of their cultures and that their native religion is more appropriate to them? How would you apply Mt 28:18–20 here?
4. 10:17. How does Paul say we come to faith? How does this verse change the popular notion that “seeing is believing”?

Exhibit A: A man who doesn’t consider himself part of humanity and hates humans (and watches Al Gore’s movie) takes hostages and is killed.

So, that “protest” certainly did this man’s cause, the world — and the man himself — a lot of good!

Exhibit B: A man who hates God (scorns even the thought of His existence!), but is held to be a genius, publishes one of the dumbest assertions ever made: that the laws of nature made the world (no need for a Creator!).

So, Who made the laws of nature?! (I believe that this is referred to as “the uncaused Cause.”)

On the other hand, love (born of Love Himself) engenders wisdom and superhuman gifts.

Exhibit A: The wisdom of the saints (St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila, ad infinitum).

Exhibit B: Superhuman holiness in every age, from Jesus’ to St. Maximilian Kolbe’s, and on.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus on fire for Love of us, light our hearts on fire with Love, too! O my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thine Mercy!

Saints and Angels of God, pray for us!

There’s just no good reason to desecrate the Eucharist (or to gratuitously violate anyone’s religious beliefs)! Here’s the text:

To whom it may concern:

Please enforce your hate speech policy and remove from your site the videos of desecration of the Holy Eucharist, which Catholics recognize as the body of Jesus Christ, the central figure in our religion.

These videos quite clearly violate YouTube hate policies.  They are offensive specifically to Catholics and the Roman Catholic faith.  The comments on some of them indicate that the videos’ posters clearly intended them to be offensive to Catholics as an identified, targeted group.

For example: “We are fully aware of what we are desecrating.”

Your refusal to remove such videos would send a confusing message, given your past decisions to pull videos with content that you found offensive to Muslims.  YouTube should not be a platform for bigotry of any kind, against Catholics or otherwise.

It should especially not condemn bigotry against one group while condoning it against another.  Here is a sampling of the videos.

[links to some Youtube desecration videos are provided]

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Please sign.

Updated 9/4/10

Today, we completed Romans Chapter 9 (from verse 19 on). As usual, our discussion was rather far-ranging, but these were some key points from the reading and conversation:

  • Clay “vessels of mercy” are prepared by God “for beauty” and the “[riches of His] glory,” while “vessels of wrath” for “menial use” are “for destruction.” Regarding this, we had an interesting digression touching on chamber pots. 🙂

The Agape Catholic Bible study (well-researched and endorsed by Dr. Scott Hahn) observes (emphases mine):

Question: Who are these vessels of mercy which God has prepared long ago?  Hint: see Romans 9:24

Answer: The chosen people of the New Covenant: the Jews and Gentiles He has called into covenant, who exercising their own free will, have responded to that call.  The people of the Christian community are vessels of mercy, prepared beforehand by the Divine Potter to be filled with glory.  It is this community made up of the faithful remnant of Jews and newly formed Gentiles vessels, that is the realization in salvation history of God’s eternally divine plan that human beings were meant to share in the reflection of the glory of the risen Savior, Christ Jesus.  The mixing of the community formed of Jews and Gentiles is not an accident or an adjustment of God’s divine plan but is the fulfillment of the original design conceived in the mind of God before time began and which is being fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This union is the undoing of the broken vessels of the Tower of Babel when the family of humanity was scattered.  Now the Universal Church of Jesus Christ will reunite that family with the Jews leading the way and taking their Gentile brothers with them. Also see CCC# 63; 781; 1539.

  • the “remnant” (again!): The word study described this group as being survivors throughout history, reunited in Jesus. Apparently, there’s still more on this coming in further chapters of Romans. We started to get a little lost on that again, so we discussed…
  • Are our devotions out of faith or simply routine? If we overanalyze or rely on our work, we can trip on Jesus and fall. What matters most is our relationship with God, even more so than knowledge. Yet, there is willful ignorance (the “hard heart” we’ve discussed before), rooted in a lack of humility, that we must avoid. There was a digression here regarding mixed-religion marriages/relationships, and the importance of the Catholic being strong in the Faith, particularly when such situations produce children.

Perhaps of some additional interest here is this notation on vv. 30-32 from the Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible (emphasis mine):

“Scrupulous observers of the ceremonial law: esteeming too much their power, and pretended justice, they regarded the gospel and faith in Christ as of no advantage. Running in the path of the commandments with zeal, but without circumspection, they struck against Jesus Christ, who became to them a stumbling-block. They rejected him: they refused to believe. Thus did their works become dead works, without any fruit for eternity. (Calmet)”

And, St. John Chrysostom explains v. 33 (emphases mine):

You see again how it is from faith that the boldness comes, and the gift is universal; since it is not of the Jews only that this is said, but also of the whole human race. For every one, he would say, whether Jew, or Grecian, or Scythian, or Thracian, or whatsoever else he may be, will, if he believes, enjoy the privilege of great boldness. But the wonder in the Prophet is that he foretells not only that they should believe, but also that they should not believe. For to stumble is to disbelieve. As in the former passage he points out them that perish and them that are saved, where he says, “If the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved. And, If the Lord of Sabaoth had not left us a seed, we should have been as Sodoma.” And, “He hath called not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles;” so here too he implies that some will believe, and some will stumble. But stumbling comes of not taking heed, of gaping after other things. Since then they did give heed to the Law, they stumbled on the stone, “And a stone of stumbling and rock of offence” he calls it from the character and end of those that believe not.

Update 9/4/10: And look what Msgr. Pope has just posted about superficial piety (BTW, his is a good blog to put in your reader.)

  • When (if?!) we finish Romans, it will probably be around the holidays, so we might consider some lighter study, perhaps praying the Bible (especially the Psalms).
  • We also prayed a Rosary and updated on prayer intentions. Notably, Nathaniel is between chemo rounds right now and recovering from stem-cell harvesting and bowel issues. Gabriela’s outpatient surgery was apparently successful, though a careful routine must be followed and there will be a check-up later. And, the spot on Donovan’s tongue is apparently nothing worrisome.

Ladies, feel free to add anything interesting that I missed or that you wish to expound on in the comments!

Also, on the geek front: when I got home, I found an e-mail reply from the school’s tech person telling me that though there’s no wi-fi in our meeting room, there are some ports in the wall that should work for Internet by next week, so we shall see if I can fire-up my netbook for online commentary! 🙂

Finally, I wonder which is worse, to receive Our Lord with unbelief or to do so with disinterest, simply out of routine?! Knowing how distracted I can be at Mass, stories like this one give me pause.

St. Gregory the Great, Pope, Church Doctor, Italy (540-640):

“Pope St. Gregory the Great was a direct witness of this Miracle. One Sunday, while he was celebrating Holy Mass in the ancient church dedicated to St. Peter, at the time for distributing Holy Communion, he noticed that among the faithful standing in line there was also present one of the women who had prepared the bread for the Consecration. She was laughing out loud. The Pope, visibly disturbed, asked her what was the reason for her behavior. The woman defended herself by saying she could not bring herself to believe how it was possible that the bread which she herself had prepared with her hands, thanks to the words of consecration, had become the Body and Blood of Christ. At that point, St. Gregory prohibited her from going to Communion and implored God to enlighten her. Just when he finished praying, he saw the very portion of bread prepared by that woman change into flesh and blood. The woman, repentant, knelt down to the ground and began to weep. Even today, part of the Relic of the Miracle is preserved at Andechs in Germany, at the local Benedictine Monastery” (Antonia Salzano Acutis).

Pope St. Gregory the Great, please pray for us!

As I was driving today, trying to pray and examine my conscience — while staving-off non-stop questions from my four- and five-year-old girls — into my head popped this line from the aborted wedding scene in my favorite Shakespearean play, Much Ado About Nothing:

“Give not this rotten orange to your friend;
She’s but the sign and semblance of her honour.”

He further protests that he intends:

“Not to be married,
Not to knit my soul to an approved wanton.”

Or, as the hilarious SparkNotes “No Fear Shakespeare” translates it into modern English:

“Don’t insult a friend by giving him a beautiful orange that rots inside. She only appears honorable from the outside.”

And:

“I won’t be married. I won’t join my soul to such a proven slut.”

(Claudio, Act IV, Scene i)

I don’t usually think in Shakespeare, of course, but I just watched the excellent 1993 movie version a few nights ago.

Isn’t our reception of the Eucharist at Mass, and in a lesser way in spiritual communion, often this very sort of thing?! With whatever rot we’ve got inside of us (however we appear to others), we go to be joined to Our Lord. And — wonder of wonders — not only does He not refuse and make a scene as Claudio did, but He joins His Body and Soul to ours, over and over, if we but desire it! And, He offers to heal the rot, especially in Confession. Deo gratias!

Don’t insult a friend by giving him a beautiful orange that rots inside. She only appears honorable from the outside.
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