Tag Archives: Scripture

Love one another…how?

Yesterday’s Gospel was St. John telling us how Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34)

Father D picked up on the fact that Jesus said this was a “new commandment” and said how new was it when throughout Scripture God has tried to get people to love one another? It was a good question.

Jesus said it was a new commandment because of how He wanted us to love. Having set His example in washing their feet and then feeding them with His Body and Blood (because God is not constrained by time – but that’s another issue) and Judas has left to do his dirty deed.

Jesus then says He is giving them a new commandment, that they love one another – not in the comfortable sense of love but as HE has loved them. In the Greek St. John uses the word “agapete” (from agape) for Greek has more than one word for love depending on what kind of love was being spoken about.

Agape love is the giving love that in Latin is charitas which in English we call charity – that is giving. Charity in it’s real meaning has a much deeper meaning than dropping a few unneeded coins in a box. Agape-charity is sacrifice. We give something we need (or think we need) for the sake of another.

This is the love that demands we forgive our enemies and love them and pray for those who persecute and damage us.

Jesus suffered hugely for love of us and poured out every last drop of blood for us. When He calls the disciples to do the same He means it. There is no way on earth we could obey that commandment.  We are naturally selfish and self serving. Surely He’s asking way too much of us!

Thankfully the context for this otherwise impossible commandment is that He has just provided the Eucharist, the soulfood that gives us what we need to be able to obey that commandment.

In English we bandy the word “love” around in such a way that we often forget what it means in different circumstances. Jesus knows exactly what He is saying when He uses the word love and if we are going to love the way He wants us to, we had better be sure we get to grips with His meaning of the word, rather than what we would rather it meant.

Holy Week; Spy Wednesday. Thinking like Judas.

Lazarus had been raised from the dead. Instead of doing this on the quiet as He had with Jairus’ daughter (I suspect for her sake) Jesus had raised Lazarus in front of a crowd. The following day He is sitting in the house with Lazarus when Mary comes in and pours very expensive Nard all over his feet.

Judas says the same thing I have heard from so many people who say they are followers of Christ, “Why hasn’t this expensive stuff been sold and the money given to the poor?”

John tells us something else about this statement. Judas was not interested in the poor, he was interested in the money.

How many people who use the same words as Judas about the Church have sold their goods and given the money to the poor?

Jesus says, “The poor you will have with you always….” And sadly this is true. Sell everything you have and give it to the poor and they will still be poor when it runs out.  We need to get our priorities in the right order. We cannot serve the poor properly unless we first serve God properly. We cannot give to the poor unless we first give to God so we can receive from Him everything we need to give to the poor. And if we look at some of the most beautiful buildings and vestments in many churches we find that it was the poor themselves who donated to make sure these things were there for the proper worship of God.

St. Francis of Assisi had nothing. He and his fellow Franciscans begged for their daily bread and worked among the poor all their lives. But Francis insisted on the very best vestments, chalices and altar cloths for the Mass because God is worth it.

Jesus didn’t need nard poured over him. Mary needed to do that. Jesus doesn’t need to see His priests and deacons in proper vestments using precious items for the Mass – we NEED to see that, because we are weak and so easily forget who God is.

When the Church is stripped of her wealth, as she was in England under Henry VIII, it is noteworthy that the wealth doesn’t get near the poor, but boosts the coffers of the already rich. While Henry destroyed everything the poor were thrown out of the hospices and monastery guest houses and the sick were left without the medicinal gardens and care of the monasteries and convents. The schools that had been open to the poor were shut.

Leprosy, which the work of the religious orders had eradicated from England was re-introduced.

And most famously of all the bee-keepers of the country were left destitute.

Judas is not unique. He got his thirty pieces of silver that he longed for, but it didn’t help him or any poor person.

The first person to refuse to offer to God what was right, was Cain, and he murdered his brother. Henry VIII murdered a lot of people, but gave us wonderful saints like St Thomas More and St John Fisher among many many others.

Judas saw to it that Jesus was crucified but from that we have our Salvation.

God makes straight with crooked lines, but God help the one who has made those crooked lines.

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows. (Mystery 6)

Jesus us taken from the cross and placed in the arms of His Mother.

Anyone who has lost a child will remember the pain, that deep soul wrenching pain that comes with the loss. Those of us who have watched, helpless, while a child of ours suffers terribly and the sense of them leaving us is a pain that is beyond description.

Mary had watched her Son be tortured to death. Now two brave men arrive with a signed permission from Pilate that they can receive the body of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was a relative of Jesus and Nicodemus was a friend of Joseph’s. Both these men had positions of status in the Temple and were (particularly as Pharisees) well aware of the Law.

In stepping into Pilate’s house that day before the Sabbath, which that year coincided with the Passover, they made themselves unclean. To make themselves so unclean they could not celebrate the Passover they went and took a bloody corpse down from a cross. They were so terribly ritually unclean now and yet that Precious Blood that they undoubtedly got over them did not make them unclean, but cleansed them.

St. Longinus, the Roman soldier pierces the side of Jesus so that blood and water flows out.

Jesus is laid in the arms of His Mother and she holds him as she had when he was a child.  The Pieta is a scene produced by many artists, the most famous I suppose is the sculpture by Michelangelo.

pieta1But I have to admit that it’s Mel Gibson’s scene in the Passion that I remember most vividly. You cannot look on that scene and not know that you are the one who brought it about – that He and she have suffered and drunk to the dregs the cup of suffering and all because of us.

Jesus is then wrapped in a shroud, traditionally a cloth belonging to St. Joseph of Arimathea, who is (again according to tradition) to be the first bringer of Christianity to Britain.

Jesus had said that even if a man should rise from the dead some people would refuse to believe. He told the Temple authorities they would only receive the sign of Jonah and He was in the belly of the earth for three days. But many people don’t ask “Why did He rise?” they ask “Why did He have to die like that?” Now, that’s a mystery, but I think part of the answer is that He wanted to show us just how utterly horrible sin really is. I think a lot of art has sanitized the Passion so much that we don’t get it any more.  

In seeing the horror and agony of the Passion, especially in seeing it from the point of view of a mother watching her son being whipped, beaten, forced to carry a heavy cross on a back already ripped and bleeding, having the nails hammered through him and then hung – and knowing that He became sin for us (1 Cor 5:21) we must see how dreadful sin is and we can never tire of  asking for forgiveness (and trying not to sin in the first place)

As Pope Francis has said, God never tires of offering forgiveness, it’s we who tire of asking for it. But we mustn’t. We must run the race to the end.

Throwing Stones and Casting out Snakes.

In 2 Peter 3:16 the good saint warns against misusing Scripture to our own destruction. If there are two bits of God’s Word that seem to get the most misuse it’s Christ’s words, “Jusdge not lest you be judged also,” (Matt 7:1) and the Gospel reading we had today about the woman caught in adultery.

I must admit I love the Gospel story of this woman and Jesus.

The Pharisees, who insist publically that they follow the Law and all the extra bits they have added to it and are therefore perfect before the LORD, bring a woman to Jesus, to entrap Him. They are not concerned that she has committed adultery, but rather are out to get Jesus.

As Father noted in his sermon this morning, it takes two people to commit adultery and yet they only brought one to Jesus. So the sin itself, if she was even guilty, was not the issue here.

They tell Jesus that they have caught her in the act and that the Law says she must be stoned. They are sort of correct although the Law (Deut 22:22) says both parties who have committed this horrible sin shall be stoned.

As it happens, however, Judea is under the authority of Rome and the Roman law takes all capital puncishment on itself denying the Jews any legal ability to give capital punishment. If Jesus says “Yes she should be stoned,” as per Jewish Law He would be arrested by the Romans. If He says “No, don’t stone her,” then he is nothing but a puppet of the Romans.

But Jesus is Jesus and silly traps won’t beat Him. We are never told what He writes in the dirt but He looks up and says, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

So now the Pharisees who declare themselves without sin must either start stoning the girl and get arrested by the Romans or admit publically that they are not perfect. Ouch!

Once they have all melted away Jesus speaks to the woman, “Has anyone condemned you?” She says no one has and He answers her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go on your way…” And that is usually all we hear of this story, but in fact Jesus said “And sin no more.” That is the depth of the message. He asks all of us to stop sinning. We aren’t supposed to take a piece of Scripture, strip it down and use it as an excuse to sin to our hearts content because Jesus will say “Neither do I condemn you.” If we misuse the Word of God as a way to get away with sinning then believe me, He certainly will condemn us. In fact He won’t have to, because by our own actions we condemn ourselves.

The story of the woman caught in adultery who is not condemned always reminds me of the story of Susanna the wife of Joachim who is entrapped with a false allegation of adultery by the elders. It is the child Daniel who speaks out for her. (Daniel 13:1+)

Today is also the feast of St. Patrick who brought Christ to Ireland and is famous for having cast out all the poisonous snakes. We can only pray that by his prayers and the grace God gives to Ireland and the Irish that they  will renew His presence and bring us all closer to God. It was from Ireland that so much of the Gospel was spread over the world; I can only hope, as Britain falls that we can be lifted up again and that Ireland will play a part in that. I think there may be prophecies about that.

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows (mystery 5)

At the foot of the cross

Having walked with Jesus her beloved Son, to the place of crucifixion, Mary stays with Him even as he is stripped nailed and hoisted up onto the cross. If ever you are tempted to see this as “ordinary” try and imagine watching your own child, or someone you love very much being tortured right in front of you while you stand by powerless to intervene.

We love our super heroes who come swooping in, often at the last minute, and save the innocent or good guy from the bad guys But here the mystery of iniquity is played out before us and it is allowed to happen. Jesus doesn’t show His power here.

Mary is not left to suffer alone. Just as Jesus had Simon of Cyrene, so Mary has those with her who are there out of love. Her sisters (that is close kin) Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary Salome the mother of James and John (widow of Zebedee) are there as is Mary Magdalene and Salome’s son John stands with them.

But even with these kind persons the pain, the twisting of the sword in her soul, must have been something that only God’s grace could have made bearable.

Watching another suffer, has got to be one the most difficult things any of us are called to do.

While she is there Jesus, taking note of her needs but also, as He suffers for us, taking note of our needs, gives her to John and through him, us to her. “Mother, behold your son; son behold your mother.” He doesn’t call John by name because in the word son is the sonship of all of us as Mary is made our mother and we can ask her to pray for us as we are her children.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a mother on earth or not, or whether she is a good mother or a bad one because you will always have a mother in heaven who wants the very best for you. Jesus said He wouldn’t leave us orphans; in His promise we have a Father and a mother.

MaryAtFootOfCross

As I have a soft spot for Mary Salome, I can’t help wondering what she thought at that moment. We are never told, but I don’t think she would have felt that John was being taken away from her and given to Our Blessed Mother. I think she would have realised that this moment was beyond a simple bit of Jewish law ensuring a widow without a son wasn’t left destitute – it was bringing all four Mary’s closer together in their relationship with the B. Mother and St. John.

A deeper mystery still is here in this moment of the crucifixion. Christ suffers and pours Himself out; every last drop of His Precious Blood given for us. But He doesn’t suffer alone. Our Blessed Mother, John, Mary of Cleopas, Mary Magdalene and Mary Salome suffer too. They suffer with Him and their suffering is united with His.

When we contemplate the sword of sorrow that pierced our Mother’s soul, we can follow her example in uniting our sufferings with Him, so that none of our suffering, of the crosses we accept to follow him, need be wasted. (cf Col 1:24)

The non-prodigal son.

I often point out that the reason I’m a practising Catholic is because I haven’t got it right. I have to keep practicing until I can get it right.

In the past the parable of the prodigal was powerful in that I had been the daft child who had squandered the gifts and graces God gave me. But then I came home and He welcomed me.

But what about the first born son? As Jesus tells His story the First born is the pharisees who follow all the laws God has given and have even made up a load He never gave just to seem holier. But the firstborn son is also Israel, for Israel is God’s first born son (Ex 4:22) and those of us who are of the gentile nations are the younger sons.

But there is also the warning that once we are Home we could be tempted to resent the newly returned sons. I’ve seen some cross words and even quite spiteful words spoken and written about the Ordinariate for example. Why should the Holy Father (emeritus) kill the fatted calf for these Anglicans who had stood by while their church nose-dived and now want special favours? It’s a bit mean to think that way.  If we really love God and His Home we should be happy when anyone else comes homes and be willing to join the celebration.

Doing what God wants only out of cold duty is not the way to heaven- and the first born son refused to enter the house where the celebration was taking place.

There is no place within God’s Home for joyless christianity.

For every prodigal that returns we are called to rejoice. And for many of us, that prodigal was us not so long ago.

 

Lent; The Chaplet of Seven Sorrows (mystery 3)

The Losing of the Christ Child in the Temple.

I think this mystery is incredibly profound. When we read of it in St. Luke’s Gospel I think we tend to concentrate on how Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the Temple; but in this meditation we are to consider how the sword pierced Mary (and I bet Joseph’s) soul as they discovered their loss.

The sense of loss, of fear without Him must have been horrendous. They had left the Holy City and it’s Temple behind and He wasn’t with them.

In order to find Him, they had to turn around and go back. They had to go where He was most likely to be, even if they didn’t understand why He was there and even though it would have been more convenient if He could meet them somewhere else. But when you really want Jesus back in your life, you will search for Him and be happy to go where He leads you and where you know you can find Him where they liked.

In the desert when Israel wouldn’t go up the mountain to find God, they ended up making a god at the bottom of the mountain.

Jesus commanded us (we need to stop taking what Jesus said plainly as merely suggestions) that we should FIRST seek the Kingdom of God.  This has been self-edited by too many of us who remember “ask and you shall receive” as though God is a magic slot machine – prayer in, whatever we ask for out.  This is a sure way of finding ourselves walking away from the Kingdom and losing sight of Him altogether.

Then we have to turn around – the word repent means to turn around – and seek the Kingdom again. Jerusalem has been a sign or type of the Kingdom of God from the Old Testament right the way through to John’s Revelation (the New Jerusalem descending from Heaven like a Bride).

God said, “I have not said to Jacob seek me in vain,” so if we seek Him we will find Him as Christ promised, “Seek and you shall find” but we have to seek Him where He is. There is nothing in Luke about Mary and Joseph searching throughout Jerusalem or the surrounding environs. They headed back to the Temple and there He was. If we try to get to know Jesus, properly, we will know where to find Him.

Mary and Joseph had a major advantage over the rest of us. They had one Jesus in their lives and they knew Him very well. These days we have to search among so many different Jesuses before we can truly find Him. (One red flag for me is when I see something with “the real Jesus” written over it. You can almost guarantee that it’s another golden calf Jesus). Beg God for discernment. Pray and be ready to accept Him, on His terms.

Manure around the Fig Tree.

It occured to me when listening to Jesus’ parable today at Mass (Luke 13; 1 – 9) that those people who see life as a set of events descibed as (sorry for the word) “Shit happens” may be experiencing the manure being dug around the fruitless figtree.

cursing-fig-tree-colorIt occurred to me that God had caused a lot of…manure… in my life and that I had   taken some time to realise that perhaps this wasn’t just “punishment” directly for sin, but because I needed to be, well, manured, to make me produce some good fruit.

We are supposed to make the most of the manure in our lives to produce some good fruit for God.

There’s another story of Jesus cursing a fig tree (shown in the Icon above). A tree that doesn’t produce fruit is eventually cursed so that it can’t. Sin makes us stupid. The less good we produce, the more of the curse we take on.

The fig tree in the parable is the faithless generation that saw Jesus and didn’t perceive him.  Jesus spent three years trying to teach them and get some good fruit from them, but they wouldn’t listen. In the following year He was crucified, died and Rose again, the Church was born – in Jerusalem and in that year Peter and John were arrested and imprisoned and St. Stephen was the first of many martyrs.

That faithless generation ended up like the Galileans and the men under the tower of Siloam as Jerusalem was destroyed and burned around them in 70 AD. This was the mini-Parousia a sign and prophecy of the Judgement of God. By this point the CHristians had left Jerusalem and the Church had her centre just outside Rome under the care of St. Linus.

So, next time you are thinking life is…manure. Just think, it could just be God trying to get some good fruit out of you. :P

Lent; Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows (mystery 2)

The Flight into Egypt.

The Gospels don’t give us an exact timeline of the infancy narratives, but you can kind of work out that after Jesus was born in Bethlehem,  He and His family stayed there for a while. He would have been circumcised there on the eighth day after birth and then Mary and Joseph took him the few miles north to Jerusalem for His presentation. Luke leaves out the rest saying when all was done they went back to Nazareth, but Matthew fills in the rest of all that was done.

The Magi came. Having read the signs properly, first, from the sky and very likely from the prophecy of Balaam which had been given to the pagans; they headed off to find the king of the Jews. Understandably they went to King  Herod in Jerusalem.

Herod didn’t want a Messiah, and to make sure there wasn’t one, he ordered all the boys under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed. The slaughter of the innocents was the result.

But an angel came to Joseph and warned him, telling him to take his little family and flee into Egypt.

Leaving their lives behind, Mary and Joseph headed off into the desert, taking our precious hope of salvation with them. The sword in Mary’s heart was not just the loss of home and extended family, and having to become a refugee, but the realisation that already people hated her beloved Son. They hated Him enough to want Him dead.

For so many of us, our journey with Christ, with the Divine Child, is through the desert. It’s a long journey of spiritual dryness where the joy of the Temple seems far behind and we feel we are facing a life in Egypt where we don’t belong, and long for home. A desert prayer life is a lesson in faith. It doesn’t feel good and there are no (or few) consolations, but we do it anyway. It’s a big sign of contradiction to “feel good Christianity” that’s for sure.

There are two lovely golden legends about this journey. The first tells us that the soldiers chased after the Holy Family. Joseph quickly led them, and the donkey off the path and hid them in a cave. But the soldiers were searching everywhere.

As the little family huddled at the back of the cave, a spider came and quickly made her webs around the mouth of the cave and a soft wind sent dust over the webs.

When the soldiers arrived they said, “These webs have been here a long time undisturbed so they didn’t come this way.” They turned and went away.

The second story tells us that along the road, not far from Bethlehem robbers came to attack the family. One of them, a young one, was so taken with the baby he said he would not steal from them and he ensured they were allowed to go on safely.

This was St. Dismas who would continue in his life of crime and get arrested. He would then be crucified on Calvary that Friday before the Sabbath and he would in his own agony, repent, accept his punishment, rebuke his fellow criminal (one of the spiritual works of mercy) and declare his belief in Jesus and His innocence. So much good done while in such terrible agony!

I hope that the faith of Dismas helped mitigate, just a little, the intensity of the sword that pierced Our Blessed Mother’s soul that day. As you can see I have a big soft spot for St. Dismas who not only picked up his cross but accepted being crucified on it too.

Lent; Chaplet of Seven Sorrows. (mystery 1)

I thought I should do something lentern, quick before it’s Easter!

The Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows is part of my daily prayer. To be honest I chose to day this instead of the rosary when my concentration got too bad to manage a rosary. This is easier. Yes, I know, not exactly a great reason…

But for Lent it’s a lovely meditation.

The first mystery is the Prophecy of Simeon at the moment of Jesus’ presentation at the Temple when He was 40 days old.

Mary and Joseph, in accordance with Mosaic Law had taken Jesus to the Temple when he was 40 days old to redeem him with the set sacrifices. Mary will have entered the purification baths as her days of postpartum impurity ended.

In the Temple at that time were two holy people, Simeon and Anna the widow of the tribe of Ashur (and Israelite).

They had awaited the Messiah for so lon and now they saw Him and knew Him.

At that moment Simeon prayed the beautiful Dunc Dimittus, said each night at Compline:

“At last all powerful Master, you may let your servant  go in peace according to Your word; for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have promised to the nations. A light to bring the gentiles out of darkness to the glory of your people Israel.”

Then he turned to Mary and made this prophecy on her role in salvation history;

“This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign of contradiction. And a sword shall pierce your own soul also, so that the thoughts of many will be laid bare.”

God doesn’t keep us in the dark, especially when He asks something of us. Mary kept many things in her heart over the years Jesus grew up. While she certainly didn’t know the whole of God’s plan for her Son or herself, she trusted and accepted that when she gave her “fiat” to the angel she was saying yes to everything God asked of her.

We are all called to say yes to God in some way or other and Jesus Himself says that we are to take up our cross daily to follow Him, so swords in the soul will come along as part of saying yes.

Oh no not the Immaculate Conception! What is it again?

Let’s start at the very beginning

A very good place to start

When you read you begin with A B C

It’s Adam and Eve in theology…

Ahem, yes that was really awful, but I couldn’t resist. So let’s start with Adam and Eve.

God created the heavens and the earth “all that is visible and invisible! (Nicene Creed). Then on the evening of Day 6 He created Adam out of the “red earth” (Adam means red earth) and gave him authority. How do we know Adam received authority from God? Adam named the animals. In Jewish thought, and strictly speaking this should still be Christian thought, naming is a sign of authority. Names are important, they carry meaning.

Adam doesn’t find a fit companion among the animals so God makes Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. To paraphrase St. Edith Stein; God didn’t take from Adam’s head that he might rule over her, or from a bone in his foot that he might trample her underfoot, but from a bone close to his heart that he might love her.

Now, I have a little theory on this – take it or leave it. I think God took the rib from Adam’s right side, nearest his heart to make Eve. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

I would like to believe that Adam bore a scar on his right side where the rib had been taken.

Adam named his bride Eve, the mother of all that live.

Adam and Eve sinned and God cursed Satan. “I will put enmity between you and the woman…you will bite at her heel and (he/she/they/it) will crush your head.” (There’s still a discussion on the proper translation of the word s’he it; I tend to lean towards the word “she” and I’ll explain why).

With the curse, God gave the Promise of a Saviour.

Then there’s the whole of the Covenant testaments as God made new Covenants with Noah, Abraham, Jacob/Israel and then Moses. Gradually God trains His Chosen people and reveals Himself a little more along the way.

Types of Mary occur through Scripture. Jael who put the tent-peg through the head of the enemy, (jdg 4:21) then Judith who beheaded the enemy (Jud 13) and an unnamed woman who dropped a massive stone block on the head of the enemy coming to attack Jerusalem. (can’t remember where this is in Scripture)

Then there’s the importance of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark is the great sign of God’s Covenant with Israel. It is made beautifully with gold, and more gold lining the inside.  The Ark contained the Law that God gave to Moses – His Word written by His hand; some manna- the bread from heaven and the rod of Aaron the High Priest.

So the groundwork is laid.

Now to the story of how Mary came to be conceived.

In the Protoevangelium of James we find Joachim and Anna who are good, saintly people but have never been blessed with a child. This theme is also found in the Old Testament; Sarah was barren until Isaac was given her, Rachel was barren until Joseph and Benjamin; Hannah was barren until Samuel…and so on.

The elders of the Temple gave Joachim a hard time because having no children seemed like a punishment from God.

After much heart ache and prayer, finally God sends an angel to tell Joachim that his wife will bear him a child. In this case, unusually, the promise is a daughter.

So Mary was conceived.

Some people have asked “how”? They are asking if she was conceived in the usual way, or miraculously. It is generally agreed that Mary’s conception happened in the usual way. Let’s not forget that God invented sex. Adam and Eve were built physically as people are today.

So why ask if Mary was conceived miraculously? It goes back to Adam and Eve.

Back in the Garden Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. They were man and wife. It doesn’t seem they had relations at this point. In fact from rabbinic tradition, it would have been proper to wait until Adam had made the sacrifice to claim his bride. Adam didn’t make the sacrifice – he ate the fruit instead. The tree of life remained untouched.

Then Adam and Eve covered themselves and we all know they covered up the sexual. life giving parts because they had consumed “death” with that fruit.

As a result sex between married couples will always be less than it could have been and brining forth life more difficult.

Blessed Catherine Anne Emmerich’s visions do suggest a miraculous conception of Mary. but there have been a number of issues with the recording of her visions – as someone else did it . Some man whose name I can’t remember.

Anway. Mary is conceived. So what makes her conception “immaculate”?

God, her saviour, fills her with grace just as He had done with Eve. She is the Second Eve, as her Son will be the Second Adam. She still has free will, just as Eve did, but she retains her sinlessness. The Second Adam will embrace the Tree of Life, as the first Adam did not, and He will pour out His Precious Blood for His Bride the Church. Mary is a model of the Church, the Bride. And of course the last pouring out of Blood an water comes from the side of Christ, between His ribs and I believe He was pierced on the right side for the vision of Ezekial saw water flow from the right side of the Temple and Jesus had already equated Himself with the Temple. God is neat.

Why does she need to be without sin?

It is said that strictly she didn’t “need” to be sinless but it is fitting she should be. It is also one of those things God would do. He’s good like that. Just as the inside of the Ark was of purest gold before it received the word of God, the Bread from heaven, and the symbol of priesthood – so Mary is purest gold before she can conceive the Son of God being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit.

She is the Ark of the New Covenant.

This is another reason she remains ever virgin. Just as no one would empty the old Ark and put a couple of good books in there, so no one could enter the womb that bore Jesus because, like the place in the Temple that was the Holy of Holies, no one but the High Priest could enter.

When she bears the Word of God, Satan does get his head stomped on.

Understanding the role of Mary means spending a lot of time with Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers. Once we get to understand her, fully human and utterly saved and loved, and loving she will point us to her Son, fully human and fully Divine. That is her primary role – to point us to Her Son.

I heard a very angry man on Catholic Answers who was absolutely furious at the notion of Mary being sinless. Personally I rather like the fact that God really is that generous towards His mother.

Advent 1: Going up to the mountain of the Lord

advent1After Sunday’s Gospel where Jesus gives a pretty full-on warning and promise about His Second Coming, the readings begin to unpack the fulness of that promise.

The New Covenant wasn’t just between God and Israel (You shall be My people and I shall be your God Jer.30:22) but now the gates are open wide and all the nations will come to gather at the mountain of the Lord. (Is 2:3)

What are we waiting for?

We await the shoot that will spring from Jesse and bring a much looked for peace to the nations of the earth. They will all come under the one Lord Jesus Christ who brings light out of the darkness of death and leads us on the path of peace (Benedictus of Zachariah Lk 1:68 said every morning in Lauds)

Where is this mountain?

I wonder about the symbolism of the mountain. John, in his vision of Revelation talks about the city built on Seven Hills and the argument has gone back and forth about whether that’s Jerusalem with it’s seven hills (Olivet, Acra, Moriah, Bezetha, Scophes, Ophel and Zion other lists have slightly different names). The Seven Hills of Rome (Quirinal,Viminal, Capitoline, Equiline,Palatine, Caelian and Avetine).

It’s an interesting coincidence that both this cities were built like this and John probably wanted readers to see the “twin” natures. One city crucified Our Lord and the other was busy crucifying the members of His Body – Nero did some truly hideous things in his slaughter of Christians.

Seven is an important number in Jewish faith. It is the number of the Days of Creation and it is the number for swearing and oath. It is from this we get the word Sacrament, which as Dr. Hahn points out means literally to “seven ourselves” when we bind ourselves to a holy oath – of which there are seven and therefore seven ways that God in His generosity pours out His graces on us.

Adam and Eve were made on the sixth day, but the Sabbath was then made for them (the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mk 2:27). But when they sinned they fell back to “working” instead of resting in the Lord and were people of the sixth day, longing for the Messiah.

Jesus is crucified on an eighth hill, just outside Jerusalem (Calvary to the Romans, Golgotha to the Jews). Peter is crucified on an eighth hill across the river from Rome. (Vatican)

Jesus rises on the Sunday which in the Holy week is day 8. He rises on the first day and remakes it. We are children of the eighth day. This is the day that the Lord has made (Ps 118:24)

When we ask Him to come, Marana tha, we are asking for glorious Christ to be heralded by the angels. He will come to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end (Creed).

What is a priest for?

The first priest was Adam. His role as priest was to care for his bride, tend his garden and when the time came to make the sacrifice.

When the test came, Adam was supposed to speak out for his bride and protect her. The dragon/serpent Satan would very likely have tried to kill him. But Adam had a great weapon, right there; the Tree of Life. Only Adam sinned instead and the rest salvation history.

While Adam lost grace and the garden, he didn’t lose his bride or his priesthood. But now that he couldn’t sacrifice himself, he had to sacrifice something very important. Cain and Abel understood this and were to bring their priestly sacrifices to the altar.  Adam, as their father-priest would have taught them.

Rabbinic tradition has it that the sacrifices Cain and Able brought to God (in Genesis) were to meet God’s approval for claiming a bride. Cain blew it big time.

God did not remove the priesthood from the father’s and first born sons. Instead Seth became a new father and a new firstborn son (priestly-wise speaking).

The epitome of the priesthood is Melchizedek – a name meaning King of Righteousness. He brings bread and wine as the priestly sacrifice when he meets with Abraham (who is also a priest remember).

The priesthood remained with father’s and first born son’s until the Golden Calf incident in the desert. After everything God had done for Israel, enough was enough. This time He did remove the priesthood.

He gave it to the Levites. The men of Levi received the priesthood as they had not worshipped the golden calf.  That priesthood was to be temporary, but it was in place to care for Israel in the Promised Land.

The first non-Levite priest to be ordained afer that was King David who was of the tribe of Judah.

You may remember that King Saul could have been ordained but he made a vital error. He decided he had the right to the priesthood without God’s permission. All he had to do was await the arrival of Samuel who, under God’s guidance, was to anoint Saul, but he went ahead and made the sacrifice without Samuel or God and lost his throne as a result.  No one, not even a king, has a “right” to the priesthood. God calls and He puts in place a system to ensure men are tested and anointed. In over-riding the authority Samuel had, Saul was over-riding God.

David received his priesthood legitimately and was allowed therefore to make the sacrifices. In his priesthood David brought the Arc of the Covenant home to Jerusalem.

Then Solomon the son of David, also of the tribe of Judah was made a priest-king after his father. God reminded everyone of His Promise to send a Saviour and made it clear to David that the Saviour would be of his household.

So we find the role of priest is expanded from Father-first born son, sacrificing for the bride and children; to a king.

Meanwhile the priesthood remains in the tribe of Levi.

Fast forward to St. John the Baptist. Here we find the First Born son of the High Priest. John is a Levite. He begins his work at the River Jordan when he is 30 years old. That is the age when a man of the tribe of Levi could be made a priest.

John is the last Old Covenant prophet, but he also symbolises the end of the Levitical priesthood.

Jesus comes to the Jordan six months later when He has reached the age of 30 – the age of priesthood – and John baptises Him.

Jesus is the New Adam. He must tend the garden and as the Bridegroom, He must make the sacrifice for His bride, and will have a Tree of Life to help Him.

Jesus chooses 12 men to be apostles (sent out) and overseer’s (bishops) of His church. We do know that St. John was a Levite, but the tribes of the other men are not mentioned. (We know that only Judah and Benjamin returned after the exile in great numbers so the fact that Anna the prophetess is of  Ashur is mentioned as a sign of the redemption of all Israel, not just a couple of tribes).

The role of the apostles was to take on Jesus’ priesthood. He is the eternal High Priest but they are all priests forever of the order of Melchizedek. They are to be Bridegrooms and fathers and they are to make the eternal Sacrifice for the bride. His Bride, the Church.

The priesthood of Melchizedek is about making the Perpetual Sacrifice. It is about passing on the Sacraments, the gifts Christ has given His church. It is NOT about power or politics. It’s about being a father and a bridegroom to Christ’s Church, His Body.

Want to get a deeper grip of this? Try Prof Kreeft’s lecture. Brilliant stuff.

Happy Feast of Christ the King.

Towards the return of the king

We are galloping, full tilt, to the end now. Next Sunday is the feast of Christ the King and the liturgical year goes out with a bang. I don’t think we should pass over these last weeks so quickly and easily always looking at Advent again. Wait a minute and concentrate on the story now. If you pray the Office the story has been getting more epic by the day. We’ve seen the Maccabees “world end” battle and the miracle of the one days worth of oil lasting 8 days so that the Hanukkah lights could be lit. We’ve seen Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great statue and with the 20/20 vision of hindsight we know that the feet of iron and clay was Rome and the little stone was Christ and the mountain is His Church.

We saw the writing on the wall which Daniel interpreted and then the rise of Darius the Mede. (silver on the statue).

Finally it is Darius who allows the remnant to return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

Daniel then receives another vision, another prophecy, while he stands on the banks of the Tigris. Daniel 12 tells us of the strange things he sees and the role of St. Michael as the guardian of Israel. In the vision of Daniel there is the hint that Michael will also be the angel of the Church (the New Israel) when the time comes.

It seems that just about all Bible prophecy has more than one fulfilment. So when the maiden conceived and bore a son, Hezekiah was born and then much later Jesus.  There are plenty of other examples.

This prophecy is layered. It was terrible in that others with Daniel, who didn’t see the prophecy sensed it and ran away.  One of the lines that stands out in this is verse 11;” From the time when the daily sacrifice (or perpetual sacrifice in a literal translation) is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up there will be 1290 days.

I think the general view is that at the end of the end times the Mass and Divine Liturgy, which is the perpetual sacrifice, “The Lamb who stands as though slain” (Rev) will be banned. It will remain illegal for three and half years and for three years the abomination will stand and then Christ the King returns.

The two men in Daniel’s vision might be Enoch and Elijah but I haven’t read anything on that so I can’t say.

The question that bugs me is this. The number of days are part of the prophecy and could be allegorical or metaphorical. Does the banning of the perpetual sacrifice have to happen in one foul swoop? Or could it be the historical ban on the Mass and Divine Liturgy that has happened all over the world for the last 500 years or so? Wherever tyrannical Governments have had power of the Church both east and Western Rites, and in Communism over the Orthodox Churches, the Mass and Divine Liturgy has either been made illegal outright, or heavily leaned on to make it almost impossible to attend.

In England you can still visit houses with hiding holes where priests and Mass things were hidden from the soldiers under the full scale persecution from the time of Henry VIII, worse under the dreadful Elizabeth and continued under the Stuarts and of course the horrible Cromwell. But Britain is by no means the only country where the perpetual sacrifice was banned. Japan, Vietnam, all the Eastern block countries. North Korea, China and of course Hitler had so many thousands of priests killed to stop Mass in Poland and surrounding areas.

In the north of Russia the Orthodox lost entire monasteries where the priests and monks were murdered, sometimes by being tied up and left to starve to death.

Underground churches and secret Liturgies have been going on against the cruel boot of government interference throughout the last five or six hundred years.

Is there going to be a time when the Sacrifice is banned throughout the world at the same time? Possibly. We can’t say, once we’ve looked at history, that it couldn’t happen can we?

Y of Faith: the fight for freedom of religion and conscience.

Divine Office at the moment is going through the Book of Maccabees, telling the story of what happened to the Jews after the time of Alexander the Great. The Scripture’s aren’t too enthusiastic about Alexander, showing him as a rapacious war maker. His empire is divided on his death and the divisions lead to more war.

Then from this mess arose Antiochus Epiphanes (215 to 163 BC) , a man whose level of evil knew no bounds. He went after Jewish religious practices to begin with, chipping away at their rights to practice their faith in freedom.

Slowly he tightened the screws until he demanded all should worship him as a god-manifest (hence the name he took Epiphanes) and the Temple was desecrated, the “abomination of desolation” set up there. From the ashes of a pretty large apostacy, Judas Maccabeus and his brothers stand up for freedom of faith and trust in God.

I think anyone who has done more than five minutes studying Scriptural typology will know that Antiochus was a type of Antichrist.

The whole story of the two Scriptural books of Maccabees is a great lesson for us. It’s not just the way the Jews lived through the wholesale persecution; the apostacy of so many and the powerful strength and faith of the few. It is the story of horror and death that leads to the bright lights of Hanukkah.(8 to 16th December this year).

No one can forget the strength and courage, the enormous  grace of the mother who was forced to watch her seven sons tortured to death. Not one of them gave in to their pagan torturers, but faced death, encouraged and strengthened by their mother.

Jesus referred back to this story and the prophecies of Daniel when He told us what to look out for in the end times. Of course we’ve been living in the end times since the Resurrection. We are children of the Eighth Day. Nevertheless we know the Eighth Day will come to an end. (Will a ninth day dawn? I’ve never quite got to grips with that.)

At the mini Parousia we saw the first fulfilment of Christ’s prophecy of the end of the world. In 70AD the world of the Old Testament was destroyed and there has been no Temple, no sacrifice for the Jewish people since that terrible time.

Ends come and go. The people who love God get persecuted, hounded, murdered and generally given a hard time. We have a whole load of history to go with Scripture and Tradition. I think when the time comes for the generations, countries and cities to be judged even the Canaanites and Aztecs will get an easier ride than us over whether they knew the wholesale human slaughter they were into was not advisable. Remember their cultures are long gone.

The Church has stood for over 2000 years. She will be there when Christ comes to claim His Bride.

Joshua and the ‘ban’ of Jericho.

Divine Office at the moment is covering the story of Joshua leading Israel through the parted waters of the river Jordan to Jericho. The story makes it very clear that God is in charge of these events. He parts the river; He organises the Ark of the Covenant where He is present to be carried in procession around the city, and all Israel has to do is follow Joshua into the city and …well, this is where the atheists and many of us Christians find a massive stumbling block – God places a “ban” on all the people of Jericho. Joshua is to kill every last one of them, men, women and children, apart from the hosuehold of Rahab.

Either Joshua is making this up and he’s a monster or else it’s true and God is the monster. So is there another explanation?

The soundbite answer I’ve heard too often is, “God is the author of life. If He wants to demand the death of everyone in a city, it’s up to Him.”

To be fair, the answer is true, up to a point. But the root of the question about the “ban” isn’t really about whether God has the right to have people slaughtered – I suppose He does – the root of the question is “WHY would a good, loving God, have people He made and loves, slaughtered?”

We are also made very uncomfortable by the notion of holy war. Thanks to a recent history of truly unholy wars, it’s difficult to see how any war could be done at the direct command of God. So if we accept that the Scriptures have this right, what was God up to?

There are a few clues in Scripture. When God is choosing Abraham, changing his name and making the Covenant between them, He gives Abraham a prophecy in which He warns that Abraham’s descendents will live away from their land as slaves for 400+ years until “the sins of the Amorites are filled up (Gen 15:16).

Finally the sins of those people will be so low, that God will destroy them all, but not before He gives them signs and warnings. The sins of the Amorites, Canaanites and relative tribes included child sacrifice, incest, and the whole money, sex and power gamut of truly vile behaviour.

God sent the Israelites to reclaim their land and they were supposed to be so holy a nation, so willing to follow the Presence of God in the Ark (fire and cloud- Shekinah) that the other nations would clean up their act.

Unfortunately Israel failed to be truly holy even with God right there, and the nations refused to change their ways even in the sight of the mighty deeds God was doing with Israel. Rahab confesses to the spies that enter Jericho that they are all aware of Israel and Israel’s God, but nothing was changing.

If the people refuse to listen, refuse to repent and refuse to surrender to God, then He’ll find a way to clean up the mess.  He might not have needed to demand so many killings if Israel had been better, but they had only survived the golden calf incident marginally and their priesthood was gone. A temporary ( God’s temporary can take a while) priesthood was set up with the sons of Levi, but that shouldn’t have had to happen.

Israel was supposed to help the nations clean up, but instead she was always on the edge of joining in with the mess they made. But Israel often repented and came back to God. And while the Jews are a scattered people, God still holds them. But the nations who sacrificed their own children for wealth, detroyed themselves. We ought to remember that.

One of the problems we have with the “ban” is in accepting that God has a right, and even a duty, to punish sin.  Partly this is rooted in the “fluffy Jesus, my nice friend” approach to Christianity, and a bigger part is rooted in our wanting to do whatever we like and not have to face any consequences. We certainly don’t want to accept that our sins cause wars and other disasters – that we are in fact, our brother’s keeper.

As recently as 1917 Our Blessed Mother came with a message from her not so fluffy Son warning that if we don’t change our hearts there would be another war. She said there would be a sign of lights in the sky, so we could even have a last minute chance of turning things around, (as Nineveh did when Jonah preached to them). We didn’t do it and the lights appeared in 1936 followed by the Second World War in 1939.

Those who want to play with death will meet it. Simples.

I wonder what happened to Malchus.

All four Gospels tell of how the High Priest’s servant got his ear cut off when Jesus was arrested. The synoptics don’t mention names and it is sensibly surmised that this is because Peter would have been in even more trouble if they had openly named him.

35893fJohn however names both Peter and the servant, Malchus. John was a relative of Caiaphas and Annas so he was probably in the know as to the names, but there is something about the deliberate way John says “The servant’s name was Malchus” that struck me yesterday when the Gospel was being read.

John understood the Jewish view of the power of names-of course. Malchus means counsellor or king. Oh the irony. While John is the only one of the writers to call Malchus by name (and name Peter as the sword swinger) so Luke the Greek physician is the only one to record that Jesus healed the sliced ear.

Outside of the Gospels though I don’t think we hear of Malchus again. There doesn’t appear to be a St Malchus and yet he seems like someone who would have become Christian in the end. He has heard both sides of the story. On the one side is the High Priest and the Temple who having waiting all this time for a Messiah don’t want the one on offer, and on the other side if the Gospel message Jesus brings. Malchus gets to choose his High Priest.

Jesus seems to make it remarkably easy for him.

The men arrive with Judas and Jesus asks them who they are looking for. “Jesus the Nazerene,” they say and He says “I AMHe.” At this John tells us they stepped back and fell to the ground. The implication is the power of the Word the “I AM” caused this. So Malchus ends up on the ground because of the Name of God.

After this Malchus gets his ear cut off and Jesus heals it back.

None of this makes any difference and Jesus is arrested and hauled off to the High Priest.

Caiaphas is in an interesting position. He is High Priest sitting on the seat of Moses and therefore God speaks through him in a way. I suspect-but I haven’t read anything on this, that just as the Pope is infallible (through Peter’s seat)-that is protected from teaching error in faith and morals, so was the High Priest. He has said “One man must die for the people”

Jesus is crucified and then there is the Sabbath when all is silent.

The apostles went back to the Upper room to hide out and feel sorry. NOT ONE of them went off with the women on Sunday morning to see if He had risen. They didn’t seem to believe He would.

Interestingly though Caiaphas had been listening and understood Jesus promise to rise all too well and wanted to make sure it didn’t happen. He sent guards to the tomb to make sure no one stole the body.

So what happens to Malchus? Who does he listen to once that ear is healed? We are not told and the silence on it bothers me. There are no legends from long ago, that I can find, that tell us Malchus was baptised.

Was he at the foot of the cross making sure the deed was done? Did he see the darkened sky, and feel the earthquake. Surely he saw the huge lintel above the Holy of Holys broken in two, ripping the great curtain from top to bottom.

But none of this appears to have moved him.

It seems that despite hearing what Jesus had to say, despite seeing up close and personal the spite and fear of Caiaphas; despite the miracles he witnessed and even received, Malchus never believed.

There’s a thing about donkeys…

Why is it I wonder that He who made the tyrannosaurus rex has such a thing about donkeys?

They crop up rather a lot in Scripture and of course today we had the two Gospels, so that we got the whole story of the Passion from the moment Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem.

duccio_entry_into_jerusalem250x233

Isaac rode a donkey to the foot of the mountain. Then he left the donkey behind and followed his father, carrying the wood of sacrifice.

Jesus enters Jerusalem through the Kings Gate. He rides as a king on a donkey, meaning a king who comes in peace. If a king rode a horse he came to make war. (Zech 9:9)

The people of Jerusalem recognise the symbolic gesture for what it was hence the cry “Hosanna to the son of David!” 

But why a donkey? And what’s with the colt?

I have an idea. It’s my idea so take it with a pinch of salt. Here it is anyway.

God uses donkeys to tell us about us.

The donkey is marked with a cross and is therefore (in this symbol) holy. She is a mother, with a colt, and Jesus rides her as King of Peace. She is the Church, the Mother and the colt is us Children of God.

In Exodus 34:20 God instructs the people of Israel to redeem the donkey by sacrificing a lamb. If the donkey cannot be redeemed for some reason it’s (stiff) neck is to be broken. So the LAMB redeems DONKEYS unless they will not be redeemed.

Mel Gibson got this. In The Passion of the Christ, he has the scene where Judas hangs himself from a tree-and there beneath Judas is a dead donkey with a rope around it’s broken neck.

Then we have the rather odd tale of Balaam and his donkey.lastman_bileam (Num22)

Balaam is a man with ability. He is a ‘soothsayer’ or psychic with a strong ability to bring about blessings or curses. The enemies of Israel are terrified by the strength of Israel and decide Balaam can be paid a pretty some to curse Israel and bring about her destruction.

God however tells Balaam firmly he may not do so.

Like a good’un Balaam tells the enemies of Israel he wont be offering any curses and they should go home. They go, but return with even more entreaties and a nice big bag of money. (Thirty pieces of silver perhaps).

Seeing the money offered Balaam decides not to take God’s ‘NO’ for an answer and tries it on a bit. God says, “If you’re going, go.” (Much as Christ said to Judas at the Last Supper).

Balaam gets on his she-donkey and sets off hoping to get a curse or two out against Israel. But the angel of the Lord stands there and while Balaam is blind the donkey can see plainly.

Again I think the donkey looks a lot like the Church. There are a lot of people like Balaam, wanting to bend God’s will to their own and like Balaam will beat the Church/donkey when she wont move in the direction they desire.

In the end every time Balaam opens his mouth he blesses Israel. Try as he might he can’t get those curses out. LOL. I love God’s sense of humour!

God uses donkeys to symbolise His people in other places in Scripture giving laws that a donkey (Israel) shall not be yoked with and ox (gentile) (Deut 22:10) which is linked with St Paul’s call not to be unevenly yoked with unbelievers (2Cor6:14). While there is obvious animal husbandry aspects to this law, there does seem to be a symbolism too. It is one picked up in with the traditional Christmas scene in which the ox and the ass are present; Israel and the gentiles as Christ has come for the whole world. At least that is what St Francis appears to have been saying with the scene.

I’m going to try and make the most of this Holy Week-and not make too much of an ass of myself.

donkeThere are a number of little legends about how the donkey received her cross. You can read one HERE.

Leprosy, Debt and Bearing False Witness

monasticmedI’ve been wanting to blog about leprosy since last Sunday. It’s time I got around to it.

Last Sunday the first reading was from the Book of Leviticus about how to deal with a person with leprosy. This was followed by the Psalm on turning to God in times of trouble, followed by St Paul telling us to avoid giving offence and be more like Christ and this followed by Christ showing mercy to the leper whom he heals and then in accordance with the Law as in Leviticus the man must show himself to the priest, make the proper sacrifice and be declared clean.

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Water From the Right Side and Destruction of the Temple

longinusTodays READINGS were pretty powerful-don’t you think?

I remember some time ago listening to someone phone into a Catholic radio programme and ask about the depiction of the crucified Christ. Which side, he wanted to know, should the lance wound be? The answer was that it didn’t matter.  It was one of the few occasions when I have disagreed with the answer given.

Ezekial sees the water flowing from the RIGHT side of the temple. The water is the water of healing-living water- that flows out to the sea and so all the nations are nourished by it. I wonder if Ezekial knew that this wonderful prophecy meant. Did he see the signs that meant the Messiah was coming?

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Am I my brother’s keeper?

Bringing our children up to be real brother’s and sisters.

It would seem there is such a thing as a stupid question. Of course Cain was trying to be clever. I often read MERE COMMENTS which I think is Evangelical (but I’m not sure). It’s an excellent blog. The post on being our brother’s keeper points out that Cain was NOT being asked to be a keeper to his brother, but a brother to his brother. The MC articles consider the act of theft Obama thinks is required to take money from those who have earned it and ‘redistribute’ it to those who haven’t. Meanwhile he has a huge amount of personal wealth and has not felt the need to redistribute it towards members of his own family. I have to say I do not think this will do him any favours in the long run. However what Obama does is not the point of this blog.

I am in the process of teaching my children that they are their brother and sister’s keeper or brother or sister. Each of them has a responsibility to the others. Although the (rather strange) culture of today is based on the individualism of Me Myself and I, the way God actually designed things is Family.

As parents it is our right and duty to love our children and educate them. Scripture warns right from the beginning that parents can make a pig’s ear of things by having favourites. Cain was Eve’s favourite. the ‘man’ she had been given who was, it seemed, her hope of the Messiah. Only he wasn’t and when Abel came along she named him “vain breath” as though the whole process of bringing him into the world was pointless. Poor lad!

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Why Priests are men (Iona’s RE lesson)

The Vatican had to reiterate recently that the priesthood is a male only state. I think the best comment I have found on this was EBETH’s.

Anyway as the subject has been back on the front boiler I decided it was a good time to discuss with Iona. After our discussion I set her the task of writing an essay as though she were explaining to a pro-women’s ordination friend why the Church will never ordain women. I believe this is an important area of catechises especially as I used to favour women’s ordination. Once I actually got the chance to learn the Faith properly, I realised I was wrong.

I went through the story of the priesthood with Iona.

God made Adam and Eve. Adam was to be a bridegroom and a priest. A priest is to offer sacrifice for his bride. Adam blew it at that notorious tree. He was silent rather than standing up for his bride-and it wasn’t good. We next see the priesthood in action when Cain and Abel are to bring their sacrifices to God. The primary role of a priest remember is to offer the sacrifice. Interestingly if you read the rabbinic traditions on this event they say Cain and Abel were offering the sacrifices to win their brides. In the end Abel is sacrificed and Cain steals his bride. It takes Seth to come along and be a new ‘first born son’ priest and bridegroom.

Abraham is a priest of God (as Noah had been) and serves under the High Priest Melchizedek. There is rabbinic thought that Melchizedek was Shem, the first born son of Noah. Scott Hahn likes this story, Jimmy Akin says it doesn’t hold water. I like the story and can see why the rabbi’s came up with it-but I don’t think it matters. What DOES matter is that Melchizedek was a priest of God who offered bread and wine.

The priesthood of the father and first born son continued right through the time Israel spent in Egypt. It continued until that Incident With The Golden Calf.

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Survived the first week of homeschooling this year

I’ve had quite a few phone conversations over the last couple of weeks with the other mums in our homeschool group-about new ideas, curriculum, books, tutors…you name it, we’ve discussed it.

I’ve organised the thank you letter writing and making. This time Ronan has wanted to have a go and with a little help has written two short letters.

My ‘brain book’ for 2008 is an A4 desk diary page per day. All the lesson notes, my jobs and important info is in here. It will be useful for when the Local Authority man comes over. He is a lovely (though very talkative) man who fully supports home education as a viable choice. He has a deep knowledge of schools you see.

Ronan has continued with the Linney’s Latin and I am trying a similar approach in teaching him Spanish. Just a phrase or a couple of words a day. This seems to be working and he is retaining his interest.

He is reading well with the Oxford Reading using phonetic cues and using the Magic Key website to add to this including his understanding of sentence structure. His letter formation is improving quite quickly. I am keeping ‘formal’ lessons short and there is still plenty of story time and play time.

Music:I have not done any piano at all with Roni this week, but we have read a lovely children’s story about Mozart. Now that Alex is at college and work such a lot we don’t seem to have Classic FM on all the time-so I think I need to either reintroduce that or get Roni to listen to some good CDs on his personal CD player. He uses it for some stories.

21q05c369vl__aa115_.jpgScripture and Catechism. I am using the Hamlyn Children’s Bible with Ronan either his dad’s or mine (which being the Catholic version has Maccabees). The language is a little harder than modern children’s Bible’s but at least I don’t worry about  weird interpretations and twaddle in the re-write. I also use the Children’s Picture Bible for those shorter story times or when Avila is joining in. Both are well illustrated-the Hamlyn higher quality but a Danish looking Jesus which is a bit irritating, while the smaller one has illustrations that actually give attention to historical detail.

I have started the Baltimore Catechism with Roni because he asked me “Why did God make me?”  Too Funny .

Iona has her own Ignatius Bible (RSV-CE) and I have the whole set of the Navarre Bibles (RSV-CE). We are studying the Gospel of Luke as it is Yr C. Ronan joins in for this.

RE. For the rest of Iona’s religious ed we have started “The Mind of the Maker” by Dorothy Sayers and with some of the great programmes with Dr Alice von Hildebrand we have discussed natural law.

Science Iona is using her Aplogia modules-(although she was stuck for today’s experiment because I have no red cabbage) and continuing her poisonous plants work as well as the forensic project which is to be this terms big wall project. Yesterday we had a look at forensic entomology and learned some fascinating but utterly gross facts. The people who do this work are to be admired for their ability to solve crime with blow fly maggots and other critters, but I have said NO PHOTOs on the wall display!

I’ll leave it at that for now.