During the month of November, we’ve been asking the question of whether or not all religions – specifically the faiths of Jews, Muslims, and Christians – pray to the same God. We began with Robert Reilly’s great introduction (watch video here), and continued with a study on the life of Abraham (video posted here).
We’re concluding this topic with a two-part series on the revelation of the Trinity in the Old Testament – we hope you can join us this Thursday! Full details can be found below, and you can watch last week’s presentation here.
Providentially, Pope Benedict XVI issued his first major address since his retirement (H/T Rorate Caeli), and has some amazing insight on this very topic:
Today many have the idea, in effect, that religions should respect each other, and, in dialogue with each other, become a common force for peace. In this way of thinking, most times there is a presupposition that the various religions are variants of one and the same reality; that “religion” is a category common to all, which assumes different forms according to different cultures, but expresses, however, one and the same reality. The question of truth, which at the beginning of Christianity moved Christians more than anything else, in this mode of thinking is placed within parentheses. It presupposes that the authentic truth about God, in the last analysis, is unobtainable, and that at best one can make present what is ineffable only with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of truth seems convincing and useful for peace among the religions of the world.
This is, however, lethal to faith. In fact, faith loses its binding character and seriousness, if everything is reduced to symbols that are at the end interchangeable, capable of referring only from afar to the inaccessible mystery of the divine.
What perfect timing that he is addressing this very issue just as we are studying the exact same question! I would encourage you to read this beautiful address by Pope Benedict XVI – please click here for the link.
One of our star presenters, Dr. John Cuddeback, keeps a blog with his reflections on philosophy, family and the household called Bacon from Acorns. If you haven’t read it yet, you should!
He recently wrote an article for the Front Porch Republic entitled “To Text or Not to Text?” This is great related reading for his upcoming presentations on:
Made for Excellence: Rediscovering our True Identity – this Sunday!
Why Did I Do That? Forming Vice or Virtue in the Human Heart – on November 11 & 18.
David Clayton, a past speaker and friend of the Institute, has a great blog – if you haven’t checked it out, you should: The Way of Beauty.
He wrote a great article last month on “A Model for a Cultural Center for the New Evangelization.” Read it and be inspired by the possibilities for engaging secular culture with the truth and beauty of Catholicism!
If you missed Bishop Morlino’s wonderful presemtation on “Familiaris Consortio: The Family Under Attack,” you’ll want to make sure to take the time to watch the video here.
In addition, we’ve posted a number of related written material for your further education, including this paper: “Recent Proposals for the Pastoral Care of the Divorced and Remarried: A Theological Assessment.” This is a great (30 page) document written in response to Cardinal Kasper and others’ view of communion for the divorced and remarried.
Know the faith! Love the faith! Live the faith!
For all those who have been patiently waiting for the latest in ICC audio to be posted, your wait is over.
Audio has been posted for:
St. Patrick, Apostle to Ireland, with Fr. Randy Sly
Christ in the Cosmos: St. John’s Book of Signs, with Dr. Timothy O’Donnell
Dies Domini: Learning to Live the Lord’s Day Today, with Msgr. Charles Pope
And there’s more to come! Many thanks to our newest ICC audio volunteers, who do such great work on our audio editing.
As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this Sunday, please remember not only your own mothers, grandmothers, and friends, but also the Mother of Our God, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I have compiled the following ICC lectures which focus on Our Lady, other holy women of our faith, and principles of femininity. Enjoy!
Mary: The New Eve – Untying the Knot of Sin
Body and Soul: A Study of the Feast of the Assumption
My Soul Magnifies the Lord: A Study of the Feast of the Visitation
Shadows of the Rosary: A Pilgrimage Study of the Mysteries of the Rosary
Shadows of the Virgin: Holy Women in the Old Testament
Mulieris Dignitatem: Radical Feminism & the Restoration of the Dignity and Vocation of Women
Papal Visit Lectures: The Family: Key to Peace
If you are taking part in our series on “An Introduction to Aquinas’ Summa Theologica,” Prof. John Cuddeback has asked that you read the following, if you are able, before Tuesday, May 13:
From the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, the following articles:
• Prima Pars: Question 12, Article 1: Can Any Created Intellect See The Essence of God?
• Prima Pars: Question 91, Article 3: Whether the Body of Man Was Given an Apt Disposition?
Enjoy, and we look forward to seeing you in person or online for our next class with Dr. John Cuddeback.
CHRIST IS RISEN! INDEED HE IS RISEN!
It has become our annual custom at the ICC to post a well-known and well-loved homily of St. John Chrysostom on Easter. I love to use the sermon below as the paschal blessing at my family Easter table and encourage you to do the same. I hope the power of St. John Chrysostom’s words and the power of the Truth he proclaims speak richly to your hearts. May each of you enjoy this wonderful day full of joy and radiant with grace.
Paschal homily of Saint John Chrysostom:
If any be a devout lover of God, let him partake with gladness from this fair and radiant feast.
If any be a faithful servant, let him enter rejoicing into the joy of his Lord.
If any have wearied himself with fasting, let him now enjoy his reward.
If any have laboured from the first hour, let him receive today his rightful due.
If any have come after the third, let him celebrate the feast with thankfulness.
If any have come after the sixth, let him not be in doubt, for he will suffer no loss.
If any have delayed until the ninth, let him not hesitate but draw near.
If any have arrived only at the eleventh, let him not be afraid because he comes so late.
For the Master is generous and accepts the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him who comes at the eleventh hour in the same was as him who has laboured from the first. He accepts the deed, and commends the intention.
Enter then, all of you, into the joy of our Lord. First and last, receive alike your reward. Rich and poor, dance together. You who fasted and you who have not fasted, rejoice together.
The table is fully laden: let all enjoy it.
The calf is fatted: let none go away hungry.
Let none lament his poverty; for the universal Kingdom is revealed.
Let none bewail his transgressions; for the light of forgiveness has risen from the tomb.
Let none fear death; for death of the Saviour has set us free.
He has destroyed death by undergoing death. He has despoiled hell by descending into hell. He vexed it even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he cried: Hell was filled with bitterness when it met Thee face to face below;
Hell is angered, for it was brought to nothing;
Hell is angered, for it was mocked;
Hell is angered, for it was overthrown;
Hell is angered, for it was put in chains.
Hell received a body, and encountered God. It received earth, and confronted heaven.
O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
Christ is risen!
And you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is risen!
And the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is risen!
And the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen!
And life is liberated!
Christ is risen!
And the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be Glory and Power, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages.
Something strange is happening: There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and Hades trembles with fear.
~ St. Epiphanius of Cyprus
As you pray during this silent time of the Easter Triduum, I would encourage you to print out and read a homily from St. Epiphanius of Cyprus as he tells of the Lord’s encounter with Adam in Hades. It is a beautiful telling, and well worth your time.
The entire homily is quite long, but I have an abbreviated section you can print out and read as a PDF.
To access the PDF, please click here: St. Epiphanius, “On Great and Holy Saturday”
We have received requests for Deacon Sabatino’s posts from last year on Lent. To make it easier for you to access them, I am compiling them here:
The Beginning of the Fast – St. John Chrysostom on Fasting
A Lenten Reflection with Pope St. Leo the Great
Prayer, Almsgiving & Fasting – Lenten Series Part II
Dying with God – the Midpoint of our Journey – Lenten Series Part III
The Cross of Christ: The Bridge to Paradise – Lenten Series Part IV
The Passover of the Lamb – Lenten Series Part V
He Descended into Hell” – Lenten Series Part VI
Also, you may be interested in some of the Institute programs we have hosted about Lent:
The Passion of the Christ: A Biblical Tour of Jerusalem’s Way of the Cross
The Seven Deadly Sins: Lenten Reflections
Icons of Conversion: St. Mary Magdalene: In the Garden of the Lord
Lives of the Apostolic Fathers
Saint Athanasius’ Life of Saint Antony of the Desert
The Lamb of God: Understanding the Sacrifice of Christ
A blessed Holy Week to you all!
Dear ICC Friends,
As we begin the great journey of Lent, I want to share with you an excerpt from a homily by Saint John Chrysostom on the true nature of fasting. Saint John was known by the nickname “Golden Mouth” because of the powerful words he delivered. I encourage you to print this three-page selection and use it for your spiritual reading this evening.
“Let the mouth too fast from disgraceful speeches and railing. For what does it profit if we abstain from birds and fishes; and yet bite and devour our brethren? The evil speaker eats the flesh of his brother, and bites the body of his neighbour.” St. John Chrysostom, On Fasting
If you just read Deacon Sabatino’s article about St. Matthew’s infancy narrative and the wondrous mystery of the Incarnation, you may be interested in reading Subdeacon Sebastian Carnazzo’s article on the perpetual virginity of Mary. Click here to read the entire article.
For those who are not on our email list – click here and sign up! And then read his entire article below – Deacon Sabatino is responding to several questions he received about Mary’s perpetual virginity, when St. Matthew states that she remained a virgin “until” giving birth to Jesus. Read this, and meditate on the Word of God and the revelation of the Incarnation of our Savior.
In these days of preparation for the Nativity of the Lord, many Christians are paying special attention to the biblical narrative of the birth of the Savior. Reading over the Scriptural text in prayer is one of the best ways to internalize the gift of Salvation that will be born in our midst on Christmas morning.
The biblical narrative of the birth of Christ, however, contains words and phrases that are difficult for the modern reader to understand and can sometimes lead to confusion. One such stumbling block is the text of Matthew 1:25, in which we read that Joseph “knew [Mary] not until she had borne a son.”
In what sense can we understand that use of the word “until” if we are to hold to the ancient tradition of Mary’s virginity before, during and after giving birth? “You see,” many of our Protestant brethren will say to us, “the Bible does not support your belief in Mary’s perpetual virginity!” How many of us cower in embarrassment at this attack and do not give a response?
Far from supporting the Protestant claim, however, the evangelist’s statement regarding the virginity of Mary is the foundation for the apostolic tradition and does not support the Protestant position in any way. To understand this point, we will need to look beyond the English translation of this text and our modern interpretation of “until” and ask ourselves what St. Matthew meant his readers to understand by his statement.
First, it is important to remind ourselves that St. Matthew’s concern for Mary’s virginity has nothing to do with the modern Catholic vs. Protestant debate over the role of Mary in our salvation. St. Matthew knew nothing of Protestantism! In fact, St. Matthew’s concern is not primarily about Mary at all, but rather about Christ.
Remember, the biblical narrative of the Nativity is a revelation about the Incarnation of God and was written to reveal the nature of the God-man to the world. St. Matthew’s concern is to show clearly that Joseph had no involvement in Mary’s pregnancy – it was wholly due to the work of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, as we read this text, we must stay focused on the wonder of the Incarnation. Mary’s virginal state reveals and gives evidence for the supernatural work of the Incarnation. In other words, St. Matthew’s concern in the opening chapter of his Gospel has nothing to do with proving or disproving Mary’s state in life after Jesus’ birth. Rather, the focus of the text is totally on the revelation of the Incarnate Word of God, in which no human father has taken part.
Now that we understand St. Matthew’s focus in his Infancy Narrative, we are still confronted with what appears to be an implicit denial of Mary’s perpetual virginal state. What else could St. Matthew mean, using the word “until,” other than that Joseph and Mary had marital relations after Christ was born?
The answer to this question is simple. In the original Greek text of Matthew’s Gospel, the word that is translated in our English Bible as “until” is heos. Heos, in the present context, does not indicate a change of state at some future time as our English word “until” often does, but rather is bound to the time in which the statement is referring. In other words, heos simply indicates that Joseph and Mary had no marital relations that would have resulted in Mary’s pregnancy.
To see a clear example of the use of heos that does not indicate a change of state in the future, turn to the final verse of Matthew’s Gospel, where we read of Christ’s final promise: “And lo, I am with you always, until (heos) the end of the age” (Matt 28:20; see also Matt 22:44). Here, the use of the word heos in the original Greek clearly does not mean that the Christ will cease to be with us when this age is complete.
Another example of this is found in 1 Timothy 4:13, where we read, “Until I come, attend to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, to teaching.” Clearly, St. Paul does not hope that his disciple will cease reading the Scriptures, preaching and teaching once St. Paul has visited him.
Finally, my favorite example to help us understand St. Matthew’s use of the word heos is found in 2 Samuel 6:23. Here we read of a certain woman named “Michal, the daughter Saul,” who “had no child until the day of her death.” Here, the use of heos in the Greek text of 2 Samuel sounds almost comical when translated into English. Obviously, Michal, who was barren, did not suddenly start bearing children after she had died!
With a clearer understanding of St. Matthew’s motives and his linguistic background, we are able to read the narrative of the birth of Christ in its original sense and not read into the text more than the author had originally meant. St. Matthew proclaims the Good News to us: the Eternal Word of God is with us – Emmanuel has been born! In no way can we deny it, for Joseph did not have any relations with her “heos” she had born a son” (Matthew 1:25).
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Touchstone Magazine has a great article in its archives about how we calculate the date of Christmas. Occasionally, you will hear that the dates for Christ’s birth and death are completely artificial and based on pagan festivals. To read the truth, read William Tighe’s article. A snippet:
December 25th as the date of the Christ’s birth appears to owe nothing whatsoever to pagan influences upon the practice of the Church during or after Constantine’s time. It is wholly unlikely to have been the actual date of Christ’s birth, but it arose entirely from the efforts of early Latin Christians to determine the historical date of Christ’s death.
If you weren’t able to attend Bishop Vasa’s lecture in person, take an hour now and go listen!
We thank Bishop Vasa for coming to the Institute and giving such a great presentation!