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!

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