August 2018: Olive Tree
Volume II/Issue 28/August 2018
From The Editorial Desk:
"Saint Lawrence was a Roman deacon under Pope Saint Sixtus II. He was martyred four days after Pope Saint Sixtus II, probably during the persecution of Emperor Valerian. Lawrence was charged with the responsibility for the material goods of the Church, and the distribution of alms to the poor. He put together the remaining money including the proceeds from the sacred vessels he sold and distributed all to the poor, widows and orphans of Rome when he knew that he would be arrested. When the prefect of Rome demanded for the Church’s treasure, Lawrence gathered a great number of blind, lame, maimed, leprous, orphaned and widowed persons and presented them to him saying, “These are the treasure of the Church.” In great anger, he condemned Lawrence to a slow, cruel death. He was tied on top of an iron grill over a slow fire that roasted his flesh little by little. Before he died, he prayed that the city of Rome might be converted to Jesus and that the Catholic Faith might spread all over the world."
Why are so many hesitant to proclaim the message of discipleship? Because it will reduce the numbers in our Parishes. But what they don't realize is that the quality of their flock will become far better!!
When Jesus preached discipleship to the multitudes, it soon dwindled down to a handful of only eleven disciples. The others found the message too hard, and left Him. But it was with those eleven disciples who stayed on with Him, that He accomplished His purposes in the world finally.
St. Lawrence is a beautiful example of what being a disciple is all about. I think it is fitting that in the last month of me being a Deacon, is the feast day of St. Lawrence, a Deacon. Next month, I will, Lord willing be ordained a Priest. In some ways, nothing will change. As a Deacon I needed to die to self everyday. I needed to take up my cross and follow the Lord Jesus, In other words I needed to become a disciple of Christ. As a Priest I still need to die to self daily and follow Jesus. Deacon Lawrence was such a man. He was a beautiful example of what a Disciple should be.
We the Church on earth today, are also called to be disciples in the same way that the Apostles and St. Lawrence were called. To understand how to live a life of a disciple, I would like to leave you with a few points to ponder.
Luke 14: 25-35 reveals conditions of discipleship very clearly.
There Jesus spoke about a man who had laid a foundation for a tower, but couldn't complete it, because he was unable to pay the cost of construction (verse 28-30). That proves that it does cost something to be a disciple. Jesus told us to sit down first and count that cost before even starting to build.
God doesn't want us to wait for many years after we become converts, before understanding what discipleship really costs. Jesus told people about the cost of discipleship as soon as they came to Him. He also said that a believer who was unwilling to be a disciple was as useless to God as salt that had lost its savor (Luke 14:35).
For a convert to become a disciple, he must first of all cut off any attachment to his relatives that hinders him from following the Lord (Luke 14:26).
Secondly, he must be willing to deny himself and put his Self-life to death daily (Luke 14:27).
Thirdly, he must give up his love for material possessions (Luke 14:33). These are the three minimum requirements for anyone wanting to be a disciple.
The first condition of discipleship is that we must cut off the natural, inordinate love that we have for our relatives.
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26).
Those are strong words. What does it mean to 'hate'? To hate is the same as to kill (1 John 3:15). What we are asked to put to death here is the natural affection that we have for our relatives.
Does that mean that we are not to love them? No. It certainly doesn't mean that. When we give up our human affection for them, God will replace it with Divine love. Our love for our relatives will then be pure - in the sense that God will always be first in our affections, and not our relatives.
Many don't obey God because they are afraid to offend their father, mother or wife etc. The Lord demands first place in our life. And if we don't give Him that place, we can't be His disciples. Jesus must be Lord of all in our lives, or He will not be Lord at all.
The Father was always supreme in Jesus' affections. He expects us to have the same attitude towards Him too. After His resurrection, the Lord asked Peter whether he loved Him more than everything else on earth, before making him the supreme shepherd in the Church (John 21:15-17). Only those who love the Lord with all their heart and soul are given responsibilities in His church.
The Pastor of the Ephesian church was in danger of being rejected because he had lost his initial devotion for the Lord (Revelation 2:1-5).
If we can say, like the psalmist, "For what have I in heaven? and besides thee what do I desire upon earth?" then we have truly fulfilled the first condition of discipleship .(Psalm 73:25)
The love that Jesus demands from us is not the emotional, sentimental, human affection that expresses itself in singing stirring songs of devotion to Him. No. If we love Him, we will obey Him (John 14:21).
The second condition of discipleship is that we must hate our own self-life. Jesus said,
“If any man come to me, and hate not..his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26).
He amplified that further by saying,
“And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:27).
This is one of the least understood of all of Jesus' teachings.
Jesus said that a disciple would have to "deny himself, and take up his cross daily." (Luke 9:23). We have to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross daily. To deny our Self is the same as to hate our own life - the life that we have inherited from Adam. To take up the cross is to put that Self-life to death. We have to hate that life first, before we can slay it.
Our Self-life is the main enemy of the life of Christ. The Bible calls this 'the flesh'. The flesh is a store-house of evil lusts within us that tempts us to do our own will at all times - to seek our own gain, our own honor, our own pleasure, and our own way.
If we are honest, we'll have to admit that even our best actions are corrupted by evil motives that arise from our corrupt lusts. Unless we hate this "flesh", we will never be able to follow the Lord.
To hate our own life is to give up seeking our own rights and privileges, to stop seeking our own reputation, to forsake our own ambitions and interests, and to stop seeking our own way etc. We can be disciples of Jesus, only if we are willing to go this way.
The third condition of discipleship is that we must give up all our own possessions.
“So likewise every one of you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33).
Our possessions are what we possess as our own. To give them all up means that we no longer consider anything as our own.
All that we have must be laid on the altar and given up to God.
God may allow us to use some of those things. But we cannot think of them as our own any more. Even if we are living in our own house, we must consider the house as God's; and that He has allowed us to stay in it rent-free! This is true discipleship.
Have we done that with all our possessions? Our possessions include our bank-account, property, job, qualifications, gifts and talents, wife, children and everything else that we value on this earth. We have to lay them all on the altar if we want to be true disciples.
Only then can we love God with all our heart. This is the 'pure heart' that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:8. It's not enough to have a clean conscience. A clean conscience only means that we have given up every known sin. A pure heart means that we have given up everything!
And so we see that true discipleship involves a radical change of attitude towards:
our relatives and loved ones;
our self-life; and
Unless we face these issues squarely and honestly, it will be impossible to fulfill the whole purpose of God for our lives.
Saint Lawrence left his family to give his life completely to the service of the Lord. He was willing to suffer and die for Christ. And he gave up all his desires and wants to be a humble Deacon/Servant of the Lord. Let us look to him as a wonderful example of what a true disciple of Christ should be.
The Problem of Carnal Christianity
For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal. As unto little ones in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for you were not able as yet. But neither indeed are you now able; for you are yet carnal. For, whereas there is among you envying and contention, are you not carnal, and walk according to man? (I Corinthians 2:11-3:3)
In these verses we are introduced to three types of people, spiritual, sensual and carnal. Let us consider these three types of people and see which type we are.
Above we saw that only the spiritual can understand the things of God, because they are spiritually examined. The sensual and carnal cannot understand them. Our goal is to become totally spiritual.
The spiritual can truly distinguish between good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14) Saint Paul reminds us that we should be masters of the spiritual life. (Hebrews 5:12) Saint James (3:13) tells us that the spiritual have true wisdom. The spiritual are simple and sincere. (I Corinthians 1:12) Saint Gregory the Great contrasts the simple and sincere with the crafty and insincere. The spiritual understand the true spirit of the law. (I Corinthians 3:6) Indeed the spiritual have one foot in heaven already, which is our true home. Remember we are only in exile here on earth.
“For where envying and contention is, there is inconstancy, and every evil work. But the wisdom, that is from above, first indeed is chaste, then peaceable, modest, easy to be persuaded, consenting to the good, full of mercy and good fruits, without judging, without dissimulation. And the fruit of justice is sown in peace, to them that make peace.” (James 3:16-18)
Saint Paul tells us that the carnal are still envious and contentious. (I Corinthians 3:3; James 3:13-16) We also read that they are unskillful in justice. (Hebrews 5:13) Saint James (3:15) says that the carnal are inconstant.
“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul, having your conversation good among the Gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by the good works, which they shall behold in you, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:11-12)
The carnal are still little children. (I Corinthians 3:1; Hebrews 5:13) The carnal are not ready for the meat of the spiritual life, but only the milk, because they are not grown up in the spiritual life.
“At that hour the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Who thinkest thou is the greater in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus calling unto him a little child, set him in the midst of them, And said: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4) We must be converted and become as little children before Almighty God. That is we believe and obey God as simply as a little child does.
“Of whom we have much to say, and hard to be intelligibly uttered: because you are become weak to hear. For whereas for the time you ought to be masters, you have need to be taught again what are the first elements of the words of God: and you are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that is a partaker of milk, is unskillful in the word of justice: for he is a little child. But strong meat is for the perfect; for them who by custom have their senses exercised to the discerning of good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)
Pope Pius XI wrote: “The greatness and difficulty of our times does not allow any true disciple of Christ to be satisfied with mediocrity.” The carnal are still mediocre. And the problem is that many of in the Christian life are satisfied with mediocrity, but we think we are ready for the meat of the spiritual life. We want to find some altitude to level off at like an airplane does, when traveling from one place to another. The problem with that is that like the airplane, we will have to descend again to the earth to land. We are still attached to worldly things and are still carnal. Saint John (I John 2:15) warns: “Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him.”
Our destination is heaven, which is not a place on earth. If we board an airplane we will not get to heaven. We need to choose a rocket ship, which will take us away from the earth and towards our true home in heaven.
At the beginning of the spiritual life, we will still be somewhat carnal, but we must die. “And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Saint Paul says: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child.” (I Corinthians 13:15) We need to grow up and become adult spiritual Christians.
A footnote in the Douay-Rheims Bible tells us that the sensual man measures divine mysteries by natural reason, sense and human wisdom only. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written: I will catch the wise in their own craftiness.” (I Corinthians 3:19) The sensual man cannot understand spiritual things and will make the wrong decision, whereas the carnal can understand some of the basic principles, but see most things darkly. “We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face.” (I Corinthians 13:12)
“Who told you, that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. These are they, who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit.” (Jude 18-19) Notice that the sensual leave Christ and His Church. Saint John (I John 2:19) tells us why: “They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us.” A footnote in the Douay-Rheims Bible tells us: “they were not solid, steadfast, genuine Christians: otherwise they would have remained in the church.” The sensual can remain in the Church in a Pharisaical manner and have the “appearance of godliness”. (II Timothy 3:5) Of one group of such prideful, sensual people, someone commented that they were pure as angels, but proud as devils. Sensuality is not only on the level of the body, but take deep root in the heart and soul.
Let us return to Saint Gregory the Great, who compared the simple sincere person with the insincere crafty person. He compares these people to porcupines. When confronted with their sins, instead of taking the rebuke to heart, they bristle like the porcupine. They will even defend their sins as justifiable for them, because we simply do not understand the circumstances.
O Lord, make me a truly spiritual person after your own heart. Cleanse me of all carnal affections, so that you can live within me. May my only desire to be to do whatever You will me to do. Amen.
"Where Is Our Focus?"
"It would seem that people love pets, don't they? Cats, . . . Dogs, . . . Birds, . . . Fish, . . . Just walk into any pet store, for that matter, and look at all the things we can buy for our pets: food, toys, treats, pet beds, grooming supplies, collars, leashes, cages, etc., etc., etc. Part of the reason why people love their pets is because pets are fascinating, aren't they? Take my dog, for example. I notice that he is focused on one thing and one thing only: FOOD. Well, that and playing. Whether it's inside the house or sitting outside on the deck, he loves to play "fetch." Whether it is with a tennis ball or a beat-up old frisbee or one of his stuffed animals, he loves for me to throw the toy and then he runs as fast as he can and brings it back to me so that I can throw it again. Trust me, he will play this game as long as you let him. He loves it. And if you watch him he never takes his eyes off the toy as you are getting ready to throw it. He has his gaze totally focused on that toy in front of him. And what happens when I throw it? Of course, he follows right after it as fast as he can. He does this because he is focused on that toy. He won't take his gaze off of it.
We are like that sometimes, it seems to me. We stay focused on things and won't take our "gaze" off of what we are fixated on. In the scenario described above with the dog being focused on the toy, we know that the dog is not focused on anything else at all at that precise moment. The toy . . . or the bone . . . or the tennis ball . . . is his entire focus at that particular moment. But, again, we are like that sometimes, aren't we? For example, let's say a friend lets us down. Lets say this friend does more than simply let us down. Lets say this friend really hurts us deeply. Do we get mad? More than likely. Do we get hurt? Of course. But the question really isn't if we get angry or if we get hurt. You see, "Anger" is an emotion. Being "Hurt" is a feeling. As human beings, we all get angry. We all get hurt at times. Same as we all get happy . . . we all get sad . . . we all get tired . . . we all get joyful . . . we all get afraid. We all have emotions. We all have feelings. If we go all the way back to the Old Testament book of Genesis way back in Genesis 3:10, we hear the the very effect of Adam's sin was that he felt afraid: "And (Adam) said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, . . . " And we, just like Adam, experience feelings and emotions depending on the circumstances and our moods, etc. Adam was afraid. We get afraid. We also get angry. We also get mad, etc. So the point then becomes what do we do when we get angry? How do we act when we get disappointed? Many people when they get angry they end up dwelling on that anger and more specifically they focus on the cause of that anger. It's like the proverbial "snowball:" our anger when we are mad keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger . . . . The problem with emotions such as anger and rage and bitterness, etc. is that they actually do more harm to you than they do to the person that you are angry with.
Let's use a very simple example. Suppose I am driving to work on a nice sunny morning. And all the sudden out of nowhere someone cuts in front of me in traffic causing me to swerve and almost hitting me. In the process I spill my coffee all over my brand new shirt. So now I am angry. I'm angry that my car almost got hit and I'm angry that my brand new shirt has a big coffee stain all over it. Or how about the example of when you get into an argument with a friend or a neighbor or a coworker. You get into an argument, exchange words, and you leave angry. Now, again, just like previously when we described emotions and we said everybody has them. We really could say the same thing about accidents and arguments as well, couldn't we? Everybody has them every now and then. Nobody wants to have an accident. They aren't done on purpose. This is why we call them as "accident," right? Nobody wants to get into an argument. But they happen every now and then. But again the question becomes what do we do when someone cuts us off in traffic? What do we do when get into a fight? What do we do when someone treats us wrong and treats us like dirt?
Let's face it, so often when we are mad or when we are angry, we focus on that anger. We think about the person we got into a fight with and in our mind we relive the argument over and over and over again. Each time we think about new things we could have said . . . new insults we could have given. Or the person that cuts us off in traffic. We think of the things that we would like to do to that person. Again, it seems to me that getting angry is not necessarily the problem . . . getting angry is not really the issue. Remember, anger is an emotion, first and foremost. We all have emotions. Therefore sometimes we will get angry in life. But then question becomes what do we do with our anger? Remember the image of the dog that we discussed earlier? When the dog focuses on a bone or focuses on a toy that I am holding in front of him, his entire attention is focused on that ball, on that toy, on that bone. In other words, everything else is blocked out at that specific moment. He is just focused solely on the bone or toy held in front of him. Same way for us sometimes in regards to our fear, . . . our anger . . . our bitterness, . . . etc. We totally become focused on our anger and the reason for our anger, for example. Again, it's not that we got angry to begin with so much as we "choose" to be angry after that and "dwell" on our anger for an extended period of time.
And the longer we let anger, bitterness, jealousy, etc. boil up inside of us, the more harm it does to US. The person that I am mad at probably doesn't even know that I am mad. Or at the very least that person doesn't know the extent of how furious I am. And so the point is the same: when I am angry . . . or more accurately, when I choose to stay angry . . . . I cause more harm to myself than to the person I am angry with. When I hate someone, I cause more harm to myself than the person I choose to hate.
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." (I St. John 4:18)
When we do get angry, for example, we need to take time out and acknowledge that we are angry, yes, but we need to take it a step further. We need to recognize WHY we are angry. For example, are we mad solely because we got into a fight or is it more accurate to say that we are angry because we got into a fight with someone that we like or love? More than likely, we are more hurt by getting into squabbles with people that we love than when we get into arguments with people we do not know. If we are out in the store and a complete stranger is rude to us, we typically simply move on. We may notice, yes, that the person is being rude but beyond that we typically don't let it affect us. But contrast that when someone we love or someone we call a friend is rude to us. It's going to bother us much more. So in that example, we would state that we are angry because the person we got angry with is someone we love or like a great deal.
"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)
If we are going to get "focused" on anything, let us get "focused" on the fact that God loves us and He is our loving Father. As Christians, let us get "fixated" on the fact that God has a plan for each one of us. Let us "focus" on what God would have us do each and every day. As Christians, let us "focus" on staying away from sin as much as possible. God loves us. He loves all of us. The rest is up to us how "we" respond to His invitation. How do "we" respond to His call? Do "we" ignore Him and focus on what "we" want in life? Or do "we" choose to live for Him on a daily basis? The choice really is up to us. We have to choose in life what we get "focused" on."
The Funny Pharmacy
A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones. - Proverbs 17:22
Is it possible to obtain a list of who was invited to the conclave?
A list of all of those we personally notified is kept somewhere in the archives. However, that list would not be complete, because some of those we notified in turn notified others.
Each and every bishop consecrated in the Thuc-des Lauriers and Thuc-Carmona lines was notified of the election. This would have been done not only by us, but by the late Miss Heidi Hagen of Geneva, Switzerland, who had contact with them as well.
All of the sedevacantist listings in the late Radko K Jansky's Traditionalist Catholic Directory, which he published from Saint Louis, Missouri. It contained listings of all Traditionalist chapels in the world. He made a serious effort to keep it up to date until shortly before his death in about 1991.
Notable people, who were contacted in addition to the above would be Malachi Martin, who personally endorsed the pre-election book, Will the Catholic Church Survive the Twentieth Century? Elizabeth Gerstner was notified. Also Doctors Hiller and Heller of Einsicht out of Germany, a sedevacantist publication. The publishers of Veritas out of Louisville, Kentucky were notified.
At one point over 200 packages with the pre-election book were sent out worldwide.
The Pope Speaks: August 2018
How Do We Take The Truth To Heart?
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)
We can then conclude that if we do not know the truth, we shall be enslaved by error. Truth frees, error and lies enslave.
Certain truths are more important than others. Very few need to know rocket science, but all of us need to know the truths of our holy Faith. Three and a half decades ago We read a book, The Cult of Information, which demonstrated that we have been overwhelmed with facts. And this is before the internet explosion. There is much information, but little is really necessary and worth while.
What we need is the truth presented to us in a reasonable manner, so we can take and read, then take the truth to heart and live by it. Immediately we will see there is a lot of information we have absolutely no time or use for, and other information we need to spend very little time on.
Three and a half decades ago We were sorting out some serious questions about just where the Church is and more importantly, where it is not. We ran across some subject and realized We needed to understand it. We needed to immerse Our self in this subject. We needed to not only read, but consider. We need to eat, drink, and even sleep on the subject. And so, taking what resources We had, We did just this until We had taken the subject to heart.
Recently, in preparing a project recommended by Our staff, We ran across Saint Cyprian's piece on the Unity of the Church. We read this, making notes and marking it up. We realized that one thing people do not understand today is the unity of the Church. We found this piece to be very useful in presenting this subject.
There are several things that are misunderstood today, due to a lack of knowledge.
“My people have been silent, because they had no knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will reject thee, that thou shalt not do the office of priesthood to me: and thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children.” (Osee 4:6)
The good news is that ignorance is a curable disease. Especially today, much useful information is available, if only we go and look for it. We begin with those things that we are certain of, the teachings of the Church. And a good place to find these is in our basic catechisms, such as the Catechism of the Council of Trent. On some subjects we need more than the catechism contains, because the truths of the Faith have been obscured and ignored by many on these subjects.
Jesus warned of these times: “For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24) Because it is possible to be deceived, we need to concentrate our reading and thinking on what is most important, the truths of the Faith, so that we can apply them to our lives.
We need to avoid the many useless things. “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they grow much towards ungodliness.” (II Timothy 2:16) How much time is wasted today, especially on the internet in vain babblings? A quick look at Facebook will show a great deal of time is wasted there.
What we need to do at all times is to have a spirit of prayer. Daily we need to read from the Sacred Scripture. We need to have a set hour in which we retire to prayer, which is communication with Almighty God. During our time of prayer we need to make a meditation and a resolution from that meditation to carry into the rest of our life. Let us remember that Christianity is not a mere religion, but a way of life.
Let us ask the Holy Ghost for guidance and then set our priorities, putting God first and foremost in our lives.
Dear soul, it is a joy to write to you again. With each passing month as we learn and apply the counsels of Evagrius as we are growing in the life of prayer, we see both how simply stated the lessons can be and the profound and essential struggle which we must undertake to put those lessons into action.
This month, Evagrius gives us several counsels in which we might pause for reflection and instruction. Let us see what he has to say:
51. What is it that the demons wish to excite in us? Gluttony, unchastity, avarice, anger, rancor, and the rest of the passions, so that the intellect grows coarse and cannot pray as it ought. For when the passions are aroused in the non-rational part of our nature, they do not allow the intellect to function properly.
You see here, dear soul, that though clinically we can easily separate the composite parts of man, in real life one can not do so. Let no one think that the soul is not affected by the acts and the condition of the body, and vice-versa. Do we not chasten our bodies in order that both the body and the spirit might have life more abundantly?
Neither give any place in your heart to that incensative pride which masquerades today under the false name of "righteous anger." For there is true righteous anger, dear soul, which belongs unto God. And there is the wounding of one's pride by another, and the feigning of righteousness as we fan the flames of our own prideful anger. Be alert to this distinction, dear soul!
52. We practice the virtues in order to achieve contemplation of the inner essences (logoi) of created things, and from this we pass to contemplation of the Logos who gives them their being; and He manifests Himself when we are in the state of prayer.
Here we see that our contemplation passes from the created unto the Creator, if it is genuine contemplation. Even when on the level of contemplation creation, however, the genuine contemplative is to place the eyes of the mind not on discursive reveries or on self-satisfied colloquy. The contemplative heart, as Saint Augustine says, will remain "restless until they rest in Thee."
53. The state of prayer is one of dispassion, which by virtue of the most intense love transports to the noetic realm the intellect that longs for wisdom.
In this counsel, as well as those following, Evagrius makes clear the necessity of dispassion in the service of God and in the life of prayer. Little can be added to assist the clarity of this truth. Simply read these counsels, dear soul, and place them in your heart to grow. For it is through love that the passions are defeated.
54. He who wishes to pray truly must not only control his incensive power and his desire, but must also free himself from every impassioned thought.
Here we see the distinction made between the will and the intellect. If we do wish to pray truly, then both the intellect and the will must be brought under control. We see in the previous counsel how this is to be done: by love. That is, by the heart. For the will has goodness as its object and hope as its virtue. The intellect has truth as its object and faith as its virtue. The heart, however, has beauty as its object and charity as its virtue. Of the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and charity, the greatest is charity. Likewise the heart must rule the intellect and the will, and it does so through an indomitable love of the ultimate and only inexhaustible Charity: God Himself.
If you would be free from impassioned feelings and thoughts, then love God. This leads precisely to the next counsel:
55. He who loves God is always communing with Him as his Father, repulsing every impassioned thought.
Again, if you would be free from impassioned feelings and thoughts, then love God.
56. One who has attained dispassion has not necessarily achieved pure prayer. For he may still be occupied with thoughts which, though dispassionate, distract him and keep him far from God.
A timely reminder here, dear soul, from Evagrius. The contemplative is not called simply to a kind of stoicism, for dispassion is not an end in itself. Dispassion is the environment in which true prayer can grow. To acquire dispassion for its own sake is rather like plowing and preparing a field but planting nothing therein.
57. When the intellect no longer dallies with dispassionate thoughts about various things, it has not necessarily reached the realm of prayer: for it may still be contemplating the inner essences of these things. And though such contemplation is dispassionate, yet since it is of created things, it impresses their forms upon the intellect and keeps it away from God.
Here we see the necessity of genuine contemplation passing unto the Creator, and not remaining within even the essence of created things. This step can be achieved only through the grace of God, communicated to us within the sacred mysteries - or sacraments - of the Church.
This twofold necessity of dispassion through love of God and of the presence of God within the soul through sanctifying grace is shown in the final three counsels of Evagrius for this time, dear soul. Let us see:
58. If the intellect has not risen above the contemplation of the created world, it has not yet beheld the realm of God perfectly. For it may be occupied with the knowledge of intelligible things and so involved in their multiplicity.
59. If you wish to pray, you have need of God, 'who gives prayer to him who prays' (I Kings 2:9.). Invoke Him, then, saying: 'Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come' (Matt. 6:9-10) - that is, the Holy Spirit and Thy only-begotten Son. For so He taught us, saying: 'Worship the Father in spirit and in truth' (John 4: 24).
60. He who prays in spirit and in truth is no longer dependent on created things when honoring the Creator, but praises Him for and in Himself.
As is often the case, the most simply stated lesson can be those which are the most difficult to put into practice. The life of prayer, dear soul, is not lived in a moment, a day, a year. The life of prayer is meant to occupy our entire lifetime here on earth, and ultimately unto eternity in the world to come.
So take these few considerations and place them in your heart this month. Let us resolve all the more to love God so that the passions may be quieted. Let us resolve likewise to control the passions so as to give place to a welcoming environment within our hearts for the King of Kings. In a word, let us pray.
Evagrius the Solitary
Saints from East and West
Saints whose feasts are celebrated this month
August 28 (Byzantine) - Saint Moses the Ethiopian
The Monk Moses Murin lived during the Fourth Century in Egypt. He was an Ethiopian, and he was black of skin and therefore called "Murin" (meaning "like an Ethiopian"). In his youth he was the slave of an important man, but after he committed a murder, his master banished him, and he joined in with a band of robbers. Because of his mean streak and great physical strength they chose him as their leader. Moses with his band of brigands did many an evil deed - both murders and robberies, so much so that people were afraid even at the mere mention of his name. Moses the brigand spent several years leading suchlike a sinful life, but through the great mercy of God he repented, leaving his band of robbers and going off to one of the wilderness monasteries. And here for a long time he wept, beseeching that they admit him amidst the number of the brethren. The monks were not convinced of the sincerity of his repentance; but the former robber was not to be driven away nor silenced in demanding that they should accept him.
In the monastery the Monk Moses was completely obedient to the hegumen and the brethren, and he poured forth many a tear, bewailing his sinful life. After a certain while the Monk Moses withdrew to a solitary cell, where he spent the time in prayer and the strictest of fasting in a very austere lifestyle.
One time four of the robbers of his former band descended upon the cell of the Monk Moses and he, not having lost his great physical strength, tied them all up and taking them over his shoulder brought them to the monastery, where he asked of the elders what to do with them. The elders ordered that they be set free. The robbers, learning that they had chanced upon their former ringleader, and that he had dealt kindly with them, themselves followed his example: they repented and became monks. And later, when the rest of the band of robbers heard about the repentance of the Monk Moses, then they too gave up their brigandage and became fervent monks.
The Monk Moses did not quickly become free from the passions. He went often to the monastery hegumen, Abba Isidor, seeking advice on how to be delivered from the passions of profligacy. Being experienced in the spiritual struggle, the elder taught him never to overeat of food, to be partly hungry whilst observing the strictest moderation. But the passions would not cease for the Monk Moses in his dreams. Then Abba Isidor taught him the all-night vigil. The monk stood the whole night at prayer, not being on bended knees so as not to drop off to sleep. From his prolonged struggles the Monk Moses fell into despondency, and when there arose thoughts about leaving his solitary cell, Abba Isidor instead strengthened the resolve of his student. In a vision he showed him many a demon in the west, prepared for battle, and in the east a still greater quantity of holy Angels, likewise readied for fighting. Abba Isidor explained to the Monk Moses, that the power of the Angels would prevail over the power of the demons, and in the long struggle with the passions it was necessary for him to become completely cleansed of his former sins.
The Monk Moses undertook a new effort. Making the rounds by night of the wilderness cells, he carried water from the well to each brother. He did this especially for the elders, who lived far off from the well and who were not easily able to carry their own water. One time, kneeling over the well, the Monk Moses felt a powerful blow upon his back and he fell down at the well like one dead, laying there in that position until dawn. Thus did the devils take revenge upon the monk for his victory over them. In the morning the brethren carried him to his cell, and he lay there a whole year crippled up. Having recovered, the monk with firm resolve confessed to the hegumen, that he would continue to asceticise. But the Lord Himself put limits to this struggle of many years: Abba Isidor blessed his student and said to him, that the profligate passions had already gone from him. The elder commanded him to commune the Holy Mysteries and in peace to go to his own cell. And from that time the Monk Moses received from the Lord the power over demons.
Accounts about his exploits spread amongst the monks and even beyond the bounds of the wilderness. The governor of the land wanted to see the saint. Having learned about this, the Monk Moses decided to hide away from any visitors and he departed his own cell. Along the way he met up with servants of the governor, who asked him, how to get to the cell of the wilderness-dweller Moses. The monk answered them: "Go on no further to this false and unworthy monk." The servants returned to the monastery, where the governor was waiting, and they conveyed to him the words of the elder they had chanced upon. The brethren, hearing a description of the elder's appearance, all as one acknowledged that they had come upon the Monk Moses himself.
Having spent many a year at monastic exploits, the Monk Moses was ordained deacon. The bishop attired him in white vesture and said: "Abba Moses is now entirely white." The saint answered: "Master, what makes it purely white - the outer or the inner?" Through humility the saint reckoned himself unworthy to accept the dignity of deacon. One time the bishop decided to test him and he bid the clergy to drive him out of the altar, whilst reviling him for being an unworthy Ethiopian. With full humility the monk accepted the abuse. Having put him to the test, the bishop then ordained the monk to the priesthood. And in this dignity the Monk Moses asceticised for fifteen years and gathered round himself seventy-five disciples.
When the monk reached age seventy-five, he forewarned his monks that soon brigands would descend upon the skete and murder all that were there. The saint blessed his monks to leave in good time, so as to avoid the violent death. His disciples began to beseech the monk to leave together with them, but he replied: "I many a year already have awaited the time, when upon me there should be fulfilled the words which my Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, did speak: All, who take up the sword, shalt perish by the sword." (Mt. 26: 52). After this seven of the brethren remained with the monk, and one of these hid not far off during the coming of the robbers, The robbers killed the Monk Moses and the six monks that remained with him. Their death occurred in about the year 400.
August 30 - Saint Rose of Lima
Asia, Europe, and Africa had been watered with the blood of many martyrs and adorned for ages with the shining example of innumerable saints, whilst the vast regions of America lay barren till the faith of Christ began to enlighten them in the sixteenth century, and this maiden appeared in that land like a rose amidst thorns, the first-fruits of its canonized saints. She was of Spanish extraction, born at Lima, the capital of Peru, in 1586, her parents, Caspar de Flores and Maria del Oliva, being decent folk of moderate means. She was christened Isabel but was commonly called Rose, and she was confirmed by St Toribio, Archbishop of Lima, in that name only. When she was grown up, she seems to have taken St Catherine of Siena for her model, in spite of the objections and ridicule of her parents and friends. One day her mother having put on her head a garland of flowers, to show off before some visitors, she stuck in it a pin so deeply that she could not take off the garland without some difficulty. Hearing others frequenly commend her beauty, and fearing lest it should be an occasion of temptation to anyone, she used to rub her face with pepper, in order to disfigure her skin with blotches. A woman happening one day to admire the fineness of the skin of her hands and her shapely fingers, she rubbed them with lime, and was unable to dress herself for a month in consequence. By these and even more surprising austerities she armed herself against external dangers and against the insurgence of her own senses. But she knew that this would avail her little unless she banished from her heart self-love, which is the source of pride and seeks itself even in fasting and prayer. Rose triumphed over this enemy by humility, obedience, and denial of her own will. She did not scruple to oppose her parents when she thought they were mistaken, but she never wilfully disobeyed them or departed from scrupulous obedience and patience under all trouble and contradictions, of which she experienced more than enough from those who did not understand her.
Her parents having been reduced to straitened circumstances by an unsuccessful mining venture, Rose by working all day in the garden and late at night with her needle relieved their necessities. These employments were agreeable to her, and she probably would never have entertained any thoughts of a different life if her parents had not tried to induce her to marry. She had to struggle with them over this for ten years, and to strengthen herself in her resolution she took a vow of virginity. Then, having joined the third order of St Dominic, she chose for her dwelling a little hut in the garden, where she became practically a reclues. She wore upon her head a thin circlet of silver, studded on the inside with little sharp prickles, like a crown of thorns. So ardent was her love of God that as often as she she spoke of HIm the tone of her voice and the fire which sparkled in her face showed the flame which consumed her soul. This appeared most openly when she was in presence of the Blessed Sacrament and when in receiving It she united her heart to her beloved in that fountain of His love.
God favoured St Rose with many great graces, but she also suffered during fifteen years persecution from her friends and others, and the even more severe trial of interior desolation and anguish in her soul. The devil also assaulted her with violent temptations, but the only help she got from those she consulted was the recommendation to eat and sleep more; at length she was examined by a commission of priests and physicians, who decided that her experiences, good and bad, were supernatural. But it is permissable to think that some of them, if correctly reported, were due to natural physical and psychological causes. The last three years of her life were spent under the roof of Don Gonzalo de Massa, a government official, and his wife, who was fond of Rose. In their house she was stricken by her last illness, and under long and painful sickness it was her prayer, "Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase thy love in my heart." She died on August 24, 1617, thirty-one years old. The chapter, senate, and other honourable corporations of the city carried her body by turns to the grave. She was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671, being the first canonized saint of the New World.
The mode of life and ascetical practices of St Rose of Lima are suitable only for those few whom God calls to them; the ordinary Christian may not seek to copy them, but must look to the universal spirit of heroic sanctity behind them, for all the saints, whether in the world, in the desert, or in the cloister, studied to live every moment to God. If we have a pure intention of always doing His will we thus consecrate to Him all our time, even our meals, our rest, our conversation, and whatever else we do: all our works will thus be full.
Books to feed your faith!
Commentary on the Book of Psalms
By Saint Robert Bellarmine
The print of this edition is 12 point, larger than an earlier edition in print. In these days the Psalms are little used in the private devotions of lay Catholics; and forms of prayer, which have no authoritative sanction, and which are often little recommendable, either for sentiment or expression, are used, instead of those which have been dictated by the Holy Ghost. The reason of this notable change in the practice of the faithful must be that they do not understand the Psalms. This work was prepared for the use of the laity, but clergy and religious will find it very useful in understanding the psalms they pray in the Divine Office.
In reply to a petition made to him by the Bishops of the Province of Piceno, in which Loreto stands, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XV. has issued a Decree, dated April 12, 1916, ordering the Feast of the Translation of the Holy House to be henceforth observed each year, on the loth of December, in all the Dioceses and Religious Congregations of Italy and the adjacent isles. Moreover, by the same Decree he grants permission for the extending of the festival to all other Dioceses and Religious Congregations, on its being applied for by the Ordinaries. The Pontiff expressly grounds the granting of this favour on the acknowledged pre-eminence of the Loreto Sanctuary, it being. as the preamble states. II the House itself-translated from Palestine by the ministry of Angels-in which was born the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in which the Word was made flesh."
Considerations gathered from the Works of the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas The title itself of this book, intelligent and devout reader, gives you to understand the matter treated of, the source from which it is taken, in what manner and to what end it is proposed. The matter is Jesus Christ, not viewed however in every respect, but simply as the Word Incarnate. If it shall please God to grant us life, time and sufficient strength, we shall endeavor to offer you some time other considerations, drawn from the same pure sources of the angelic doctor, which regard Jesus Christ in his sacraments, especially in the Eucharist and in his Sacred Heart. But for this time we confine ourselves to consider him only as the Word of God, and the Word Incarnate, that is, we limit ourselves to that matter which is dealt with by St. Thomas in his summa theologica, both in the first part where he treats of the Person of the Word, and in the third part where he treats of the Incarnation. With this we have now indicated from what source the whole matter of the present volume is taken. It is taken from the works of the angelic doctor St. Thomas, chiefly from the summa theologica, but sometimes also from his other works, according as suited the various subjects which we had to explain. This will give you the reason why we omitted several points, by treating which we would have been able to render our labor more complete. We have omitted them, because they were not found in St. Thomas. For it was our intention in writing these pages, to confine ourselves, in explaining them, to the doctrine of St. Thomas and no other.
Saint Alphonsus Ligouri -Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. (I Corinthians 13:4-7) Saint Paul wrote wonderfully about charity in the 13th chapter of First Corinthians. Saint Alphonsus takes these words and gives a simple view of the Catholic way of life and an excellent introduction into the spiritual life. This is excerpted from his work, The Holy Eucharist, which has been excerpted from The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus, which was compiled and translated by Father Eugene Grimm. (1835-1891)
Summer gardens well-tended can be a source of abundant (even over-abundant) fruits and vegetables at this time of the year. This month, we have a couple of ideas for those tomatoes and zucchini which we know you'll like. Enjoy!
Simple Summer Gazpacho
TOTAL TIME: 15 MINS
PREP TIME: 15 MINS
COOK TIME: 0 MINS
2 pounds ripe roma tomatoes, halved and cored
1 small (1/2 lb) cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 medium green bell pepper, cored
1/2 small red onion, peeled
2 small garlic cloves (or 1 large clove), peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 thick slice of good white bread, soaked, crusts removed
optional garnishes: homemade croutons, chopped fresh herbs, a drizzle of olive oil, or any
leftover chopped gazpacho ingredients
Combine all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Puree for 1 minute, or until
the soup reaches your desired consistency. Taste and season with extra salt, pepper and/or
cumin if needed.
Refrigerate in a sealed container for 4 hours, or until completely chilled.
Serve cold, topped with your desired garnishes.
Mother's Own Zucchini Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts
Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the
creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan
on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.
Video sermons and instructions: Both brand new and from years past!
Sermon on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, 2011.
Sermon on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, 2011.
Sermon on the Feast of the Assumption, 2011.
Lamp and Light Scripture Study Presents: Can a Priest Forgive Sins?
VIE Catholic Radio Presents: Sacred Moments-Having Constant Victory In Our Lives
VIE CATHOLIC RADIO EVENTS FOR AUGUST
We have people from all over the world that tune in to the VIE Catholic Radio network! In fact, over the month of July we again doubled the number of listeners tuning in. We have continued to grow every month! But few contact us to tell us what they think. So I encourage you to please email us or write us with your thoughts and let us get to know you. For everyone that contacts us we will send a free copy of the Gospel of John, a rosary and a rosary pamphlet. It will be our gift to you, thanking you for taking the time to contact us. But please give us your mailing address so that we can send them out to you. To get OUR address, or to contact us by email please go to the contact page at www.VIECatholicRadio.com . And Lastly, these programs are provided for you free of charge but it does cost us money to get them out to you. We sure would appreciate any financial help that the Lord would lay on your heart to give. We have a small group of people who faithfully send us a gift to help us with the up keep of this station. And we are so grateful for what they give. And of course we all ways need your prayers. Thanks for taking the time to tune in and listen. We pray that our programs will continue to be a blessing to you and your family.
Saint Basil the Great: On Creation
On the Firmament
1. We have now recounted the works of the first day, or rather of one day. Far be it from me indeed, to take from it the privilege it enjoys of having been for the Creator a day apart, a day which is not counted in the same order as the others. Our discussion yesterday treated of the works of this day, and divided the narrative so as to give you food for your souls in the morning, and joy in the evening. Today we pass on to the wonders of the second day. And here I do not wish to speak of the narrator's talent, but of the grace of Scripture, for the narrative is so naturally told that it pleases and delights all the friends of truth. It is this charm of truth which the Psalmist expresses so emphatically when he says, How sweet are your words unto my taste, yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. Yesterday then, as far as we were able, we delighted our souls by conversing about the oracles of God, and now today we are met together again on the second day to contemplate the wonders of the second day.
I know that many artisans, belonging to mechanical trades, are crowding around me. A day's labour hardly suffices to maintain them; therefore I am compelled to abridge my discourse, so as not to keep them too long from their work. What shall I say to them? The time which you lend to God is not lost: he will return it to you with large interest. Whatever difficulties may trouble you the Lord will disperse them. To those who have preferred spiritual welfare, He will give health of body, keenness of mind, success in business, and unbroken prosperity. And, even if in this life our efforts should not realise our hopes, the teachings of the Holy Spirit are none the less a rich treasure for the ages to come. Deliver your heart, then, from the cares of this life and give close heed to my words. Of what avail will it be to you if you are here in the body, and your heart is anxious about your earthly treasure?
2. And God said Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. Genesis 1:6 Yesterday we heard God's decree, Let there be light. Today it is, Let there be a firmament. There appears to be something more in this. The word is not limited to a simple command. It lays down the reason necessitating the structure of the firmament: it is, it is said, to separate the waters from the waters. And first let us ask how God speaks? Is it in our manner? Does His intelligence receive an impression from objects, and, after having conceived them, make them known by particular signs appropriate to each of them? Has He consequently recourse to the organs of voice to convey His thoughts? Is He obliged to strike the air by the articulate movements of the voice, to unveil the thought hidden in His heart? Would it not seem like an idle fable to say that God should need such a circuitous method to manifest His thoughts? And is it not more conformable with true religion to say, that the divine will and the first impetus of divine intelligence are the Word of God? It is He whom Scripture vaguely represents, to show us that God has not only wished to create the world, but to create it with the help of a co-operator. Scripture might continue the history as it is begun: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; afterwards He created light, then He created the firmament. But, by making God command and speak, the Scripture tacitly shows us Him to Whom this order and these words are addressed. It is not that it grudges us the knowledge of the truth, but that it may kindle our desire by showing us some trace and indication of the mystery. We seize with delight, and carefully keep, the fruit of laborious efforts, while a possession easily attained is despised. Such is the road and the course which Scripture follows to lead us to the idea of the Only begotten. And certainly, God's immaterial nature had no need of the material language of voice, since His very thoughts could be transmitted to His fellow-worker. What need then of speech, for those Who by thought alone could communicate their counsels to each other? Voice was made for hearing, and hearing for voice. Where there is neither air, nor tongue, nor ear, nor that winding canal which carries sounds to the seat of sensation in the head, there is no need for words: thoughts of the soul are sufficient to transmit the will. As I said then, this language is only a wise and ingenious contrivance to set our minds seeking the Person to whom the words are addressed.
3. In the second place, does the firmament that is called heaven differ from the firmament that God made in the beginning? Are there two heavens? The philosophers, who discuss heaven, would rather lose their tongues than grant this. There is only one heaven, they pretend; and it is of a nature neither to admit of a second, nor of a third, nor of several others. The essence of the celestial body quite complete constitutes its vast unity. Because, they say, every body which has a circular motion is one and finite. And if this body is used in the construction of the first heaven, there will be nothing left for the creation of a second or a third. Here we see what those imagine who put under the Creator's hand uncreated matter; a lie that follows from the first fable. But we ask the Greek sages not to mock us before they are agreed among themselves. Because there are among them some who say there are infinite heavens and worlds. When grave demonstrations shall have upset their foolish system, when the laws of geometry shall have established that, according to the nature of heaven, it is impossible that there should be two, we shall only laugh the more at this elaborate scientific trifling. These learned men see not merely one bubble but several bubbles formed by the same cause, and they doubt the power of creative wisdom to bring several heavens into being! We find, however, if we raise our eyes towards the omnipotence of God, that the strength and grandeur of the heavens differ from the drops of water bubbling on the surface of a fountain. How ridiculous, then, is their argument of impossibility! As for myself, far from not believing in a second, I seek for the third whereon the blessed Paul was found worthy to gaze. And does not the Psalmist in saying heaven of heavens give us an idea of their plurality? Is the plurality of heaven stranger than the seven circles through which nearly all the philosophers agree that the seven planets pass — circles which they represent to us as placed in connection with each other like casks fitting the one into the other? These circles, they say, carried away in a direction contrary to that of the world, and striking the æther, make sweet and harmonious sounds, unequalled by the sweetest melody. And if we ask them for the witness of the senses, what do they say? That we, accustomed to this noise from our birth, on account of hearing it always, have lost the sense of it; like men in smithies with their ears incessantly dinned. If I refuted this ingenious frivolity, the untruth of which is evident from the first word, it would seem as though I did not know the value of time, and mistrusted the intelligence of such an audience.
But let me leave the vanity of outsiders to those who are without, and return to the theme proper to the Church. If we believe some of those who have preceded us, we have not here the creation of a new heaven, but a new account of the first. The reason they give is, that the earlier narrative briefly described the creation of heaven and earth; while here scripture relates in greater detail the manner in which each was created. I, however, since Scripture gives to this second heaven another name and its own function, maintain that it is different from the heaven which was made at the beginning; that it is of a stronger nature and of a special use to the universe.
4. And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. Genesis 1:6-7 Before laying hold of the meaning of Scripture let us try to meet objections from other quarters. We are asked how, if the firmament is a spherical body, as it appears to the eye, its convex circumference can contain the water which flows and circulates in higher regions? What shall we answer? One thing only: because the interior of a body presents a perfect concavity it does not necessarily follow that its exterior surface is spherical and smoothly rounded. Look at the stone vaults of baths, and the structure of buildings of cave form; the dome, which forms the interior, does not prevent the roof from having ordinarily a flat surface. Let these unfortunate men cease, then, from tormenting us and themselves about the impossibility of our retaining water in the higher regions.
Now we must say something about the nature of the firmament, and why it received the order to hold the middle place between the waters. Scripture constantly makes use of the word firmament to express extraordinary strength. The Lord my firmament and refuge. I have strengthened the pillars of it. Praise him in the firmament of his power. The heathen writers thus call a strong body one which is compact and full, to distinguish it from the mathematical body. A mathematical body is a body which exists only in the three dimensions, breadth, depth, and height. A firm body, on the contrary, adds resistance to the dimensions. It is the custom of Scripture to call firmament all that is strong and unyielding. It even uses the word to denote the condensation of the air: He, it says, who strengthens the thunder. Scripture means by the strengthening of the thunder, the strength and resistance of the wind, which, enclosed in the hollows of the clouds, produces the noise of thunder when it breaks through with violence. Here then, according to me, is a firm substance, capable of retaining the fluid and unstable element water; and as, according to the common acceptation, it appears that the firmament owes its origin to water, we must not believe that it resembles frozen water or any other matter produced by the filtration of water; as, for example, rock crystal, which is said to owe its metamorphosis to excessive congelation, or the transparent stone which forms in mines. This pellucid stone, if one finds it in its natural perfection, without cracks inside, or the least spot of corruption, almost rivals the air in clearness. We cannot compare the firmament to one of these substances. To hold such an opinion about celestial bodies would be childish and foolish; and although everything may be in everything, fire in earth, air in water, and of the other elements the one in the other; although none of those which come under our senses are pure and without mixture, either with the element which serves as a medium for it, or with that which is contrary to it; I, nevertheless, dare not affirm that the firmament was formed of one of these simple substances, or of a mixture of them, for I am taught by Scripture not to allow my imagination to wander too far afield. But do not let us forget to remark that, after these divine words let there be a firmament, it is not said and the firmament was made but, and God made the firmament, and divided the waters. Genesis 1:7 Hear, O you deaf! See, O you blind!— who, then, is deaf? He who does not hear this startling voice of the Holy Spirit. Who is blind? He who does not see such clear proofs of the Only begotten. Let there be a firmament. It is the voice of the primary and principal Cause. And God made the firmament. Here is a witness to the active and creative power of God.
5. But let us continue our explanation: Let it divide the waters from the waters. Genesis 1:6 The mass of waters, which from all directions flowed over the earth, and was suspended in the air, was infinite, so that there was no proportion between it and the other elements. Thus, as it has been already said, the abyss covered the earth. We give the reason for this abundance of water. None of you assuredly will attack our opinion; not even those who have the most cultivated minds, and whose piercing eye can penetrate this perishable and fleeting nature; you will not accuse me of advancing impossible or imaginary theories, nor will you ask me upon what foundation the fluid element rests. By the same reason which makes them attract the earth, heavier than water, from the extremities of the world to suspend it in the centre, they will grant us without doubt that it is due both to its natural attraction downwards and its general equilibrium, that this immense quantity of water rests motionless upon the earth. Therefore the prodigious mass of waters was spread around the earth; not in proportion with it and infinitely larger, thanks to the foresight of the supreme Artificer, Who, from the beginning, foresaw what was to come, and at the first provided all for the future needs of the world. But what need was there for this superabundance of water? The essence of fire is necessary for the world, not only in the economy of earthly produce, but for the completion of the universe; for it would be imperfect if the most powerful and the most vital of its elements were lacking. Now fire and water are hostile to and destructive of each other. Fire, if it is the stronger, destroys water, and water, if in greater abundance, destroys fire. As, therefore, it was necessary to avoid an open struggle between these elements, so as not to bring about the dissolution of the universe by the total disappearance of one or the other, the sovereign Disposer created such a quantity of water that in spite of constant diminution from the effects of fire, it could last until the time fixed for the destruction of the world. He who planned all with weight and measure, He who, according to the word of Job, knows the number of the drops of rain, knew how long His work would last, and for how much consumption of fire He ought to allow. This is the reason of the abundance of water at the creation. Further, there is no one so strange to life as to need to learn the reason why fire is essential to the world. Not only all the arts which support life, the art of weaving, that of shoemaking, of architecture, of agriculture, have need of the help of fire, but the vegetation of trees, the ripening of fruits, the breeding of land and water animals, and their nourishment, all existed from heat from the beginning, and have been since maintained by the action of heat. The creation of heat was then indispensable for the formation and the preservation of beings, and the abundance of waters was no less so in the presence of the constant and inevitable consumption by fire.
6. Survey creation; you will see the power of heat reigning over all that is born and perishes. On account of it comes all the water spread over the earth, as well as that which is beyond our sight and is dispersed in the depths of the earth. On account of it are abundance of fountains, springs or wells, courses of rivers, both mountain torrents and ever flowing streams, for the storing of moisture in many and various reservoirs. From the East, from the winter solstice flows the Indus, the greatest river of the earth, according to geographers. From the middle of the East proceed the Bactrus, the Choaspes, and the Araxes, from which the Tanais detaches itself to fall into the Palus-Mæotis. Add to these the Phasis which descends from Mount Caucasus, and countless other rivers, which, from northern regions, flow into the Euxine Sea. From the warm countries of the West, from the foot of the Pyrenees, arise the Tartessus and the Ister, of which the one discharges itself into the sea beyond the Pillars and the other, after flowing through Europe, falls into Euxine Sea. Is there any need to enumerate those which the Ripæan mountains pour forth in the heart of Scythia, the Rhone, and so many other rivers, all navigable, which after having watered the countries of the western Gauls and of Celts and of the neighbouring barbarians, flow into the Western sea? And others from the higher regions of the South flow through Ethiopia, to discharge themselves some into our sea, others into inaccessible seas, the Ægon the Nyses, the Chremetes, and above all the Nile, which is not of the character of a river when, like a sea, it inundates Egypt. Thus the habitable part of our earth is surrounded by water, linked together by vast seas and irrigated by countless perennial rivers, thanks to the ineffable wisdom of Him Who ordered all to prevent this rival element to fire from being entirely destroyed.
However, a time will come, when all shall be consumed by fire; as Isaiah says of the God of the universe in these words, That says to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers. Isaiah 44:27 Reject then the foolish wisdom of this world, and receive with me the more simple but infallible doctrine of truth.
7. Therefore we read: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. I have said what the word firmament in Scripture means. It is not in reality a firm and solid substance which has weight and resistance; this name would otherwise have better suited the earth. But, as the substance of superincumbent bodies is light, without consistency, and cannot be grasped by any one of our senses, it is in comparison with these pure and imperceptible substances that the firmament has received its name. Imagine a place fit to divide the moisture, sending it, if pure and filtered, into higher regions, and making it fall, if it is dense and earthy; to the end that by the gradual withdrawal of the moist particles the same temperature may be preserved from the beginning to the end. You do not believe in this prodigious quantity of water; but you do not take into account the prodigious quantity of heat, less considerable no doubt in bulk, but exceedingly powerful nevertheless, if you consider it as destructive of moisture. It attracts surrounding moisture, as the melon shows us, and consumes it as quickly when attracted, as the flame of the lamp draws to it the fuel supplied by the wick and burns it up. Who doubts that the æther is an ardent fire? If an impassable limit had not been assigned to it by the Creator, what would prevent it from setting on fire and consuming all that is near it, and absorbing all the moisture from existing things? The aerial waters which veil the heavens with vapours that are sent forth by rivers, fountains, marshes, lakes, and seas, prevent the æther from invading and burning up the universe. Thus we see even this sun, in the summer season, dry up in a moment a damp and marshy country, and make it perfectly arid. What has become of all the water? Let these masters of omniscience tell us. Is it not plain to every one that it has risen in vapour, and has been consumed by the heat of the sun? They say, none the less, that even the sun is without heat. What time they lose in words! And see what proof they lean upon to resist what is perfectly plain. Its color is white, and neither reddish nor yellow. It is not then fiery by nature, and its heat results, they say, from the velocity of its rotation. What do they gain? That the sun does not seem to absorb moisture? I do not, however, reject this statement, although it is false, because it helps my argument. I said that the consumption of heat required this prodigious quantity of water. That the sun owes its heat to its nature, or that heat results from its action, makes no difference, provided that it produces the same effects upon the same matter. If you kindle fire by rubbing two pieces of wood together, or if you light them by holding them to a flame, you will have absolutely the same effect. Besides, we see that the great wisdom of Him who governs all, makes the sun travel from one region to another, for fear that, if it remained always in the same place, its excessive heat would destroy the order of the universe. Now it passes into southern regions about the time of the winter solstice, now it returns to the sign of the equinox; from thence it betakes itself to northern regions during the summer solstice, and keeps up by this imperceptible passage a pleasant temperature throughout all the world.
Let the learned people see if they do not disagree among themselves. The water which the sun consumes is, they say, what prevents the sea from rising and flooding the rivers; the warmth of the sun leaves behind the salts and the bitterness of the waters, and absorbs from them the pure and drinkable particles, thanks to the singular virtue of this planet in attracting all that is light and in allowing to fall, like mud and sediment, all which is thick and earthy. From thence come the bitterness, the salt taste and the power of withering and drying up which are characteristic of the sea. While as is notorious, they hold these views, they shift their ground and say that moisture cannot be lessened by the sun.
8. And God called the firmament heaven. Genesis 1:8 The nature of right belongs to another, and the firmament only shares it on account of its resemblance to heaven. We often find the visible region called heaven, on account of the density and continuity of the air within our ken, and deriving its name heaven from the word which means to see. It is of it that Scripture says, The fowl of the air, Fowl that may fly...in the open firmament of heaven; Genesis 1:20 and, elsewhere, They mount up to heaven. Moses, blessing the tribe of Joseph, desires for it the fruits and the dews of heaven, of the suns of summer and the conjunctions of the moon, and blessings from the tops of the mountains and from the everlasting hills, in one word, from all which fertilises the earth. In the curses on Israel it is said, And your heaven that is over your head shall be brass. Deuteronomy 28:23 What does this mean? It threatens him with a complete drought, with an absence of the aerial waters which cause the fruits of the earth to be brought forth and to grow.
Since, then, Scripture says that the dew or the rain falls from heaven, we understand that it is from those waters which have been ordered to occupy the higher regions. When the exhalations from the earth, gathered together in the heights of the air, are condensed under the pressure of the wind, this aerial moisture diffuses itself in vaporous and light clouds; then mingling again, it forms drops which fall, dragged down by their own weight; and this is the origin of rain. When water beaten by the violence of the wind, changes into foam, and passing through excessive cold quite freezes, it breaks the cloud, and falls as snow. You can thus account for all the moist substances that the air suspends over our heads.
And do not let any one compare with the inquisitive discussions of philosophers upon the heavens, the simple and inartificial character of the utterances of the Spirit; as the beauty of chaste women surpasses that of a harlot, so our arguments are superior to those of our opponents. They only seek to persuade by forced reasoning. With us truth presents itself naked and without artifice. But why torment ourselves to refute the errors of philosophers, when it is sufficient to produce their mutually contradictory books, and, as quiet spectators, to watch the war? For those thinkers are not less numerous, nor less celebrated, nor more sober in speech in fighting their adversaries, who say that the universe is being consumed by fire, and that from the seeds which remain in the ashes of the burnt world all is being brought to life again. Hence in the world there is destruction and palingenesis to infinity. All, equally far from the truth, find each on their side by-ways which lead them to error.
9. But as far as concerns the separation of the waters I am obliged to contest the opinion of certain writers in the Church who, under the shadow of high and sublime conceptions, have launched out into metaphor, and have only seen in the waters a figure to denote spiritual and incorporeal powers. In the higher regions, above the firmament, dwell the better; in the lower regions, earth and matter are the dwelling place of the malignant. So, say they, God is praised by the waters that are above the heaven, that is to say, by the good powers, the purity of whose soul makes them worthy to sing the praises of God. And the waters which are under the heaven represent the wicked spirits, who from their natural height have fallen into the abyss of evil. Turbulent, seditious, agitated by the tumultuous waves of passion, they have received the name of sea, because of the instability and the inconstancy of their movements. Let us reject these theories as dreams and old women's tales. Let us understand that by water water is meant; for the dividing of the waters by the firmament let us accept the reason which has been given us. Although, however, waters above the heaven are invited to give glory to the Lord of the Universe, do not let us think of them as intelligent beings; the heavens are not alive because they declare the glory of God, nor the firmament a sensible being because it shows His handiwork. And if they tell you that the heavens mean contemplative powers, and the firmament active powers which produce good, we admire the theory as ingenious without being able to acknowledge the truth of it. For thus dew, the frost, cold and heat, which in Daniel are ordered to praise the Creator of all things, will be intelligent and invisible natures. But this is only a figure, accepted as such by enlightened minds, to complete the glory of the Creator. Besides, the waters above the heavens, these waters privileged by the virtue which they possess in themselves, are not the only waters to celebrate the praises of God. Praise the Lord from the earth, you dragons and all deeps. Thus the singer of the Psalms does not reject the deeps which our inventors of allegories rank in the divisions of evil; he admits them to the universal choir of creation, and the deeps sing in their language a harmonious hymn to the glory of the Creator.
10. And God saw that it was good. God does not judge of the beauty of His work by the charm of the eyes, and He does not form the same idea of beauty that we do. What He esteems beautiful is that which presents in its perfection all the fitness of art, and that which tends to the usefulness of its end. He, then, who proposed to Himself a manifest design in His works, approved each one of them, as fulfilling its end in accordance with His creative purpose. A hand, an eye, or any portion of a statue lying apart from the rest, would look beautiful to no one. But if each be restored to its own place, the beauty of proportion, until now almost unperceived, would strike even the most uncultivated. But the artist, before uniting the parts of his work, distinguishes and recognises the beauty of each of them, thinking of the object that he has in view. It is thus that Scripture depicts to us the Supreme Artist, praising each one of His works; soon, when His work is complete, He will accord well deserved praise to the whole together. Let me here end my discourse on the second day, to allow my industrious hearers to examine what they have just heard. May their memory retain it for the profit of their soul; may they by careful meditation inwardly digest and benefit by what I say. As for those who live by their work, let me allow them to attend all day to their business, so that they may come, with a soul free from anxiety, to the banquet of my discourse in the evening. May God who, after having made such great things, put such weak words in my mouth, grant you the intelligence of His truth, so that you may raise yourselves from visible things to the invisible Being, and that the grandeur and beauty of creatures may give you a just idea of the Creator. For the visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, and His power and divinity are eternal. Thus earth, air, sky, water, day, night, all visible things, remind us of who is our Benefactor. We shall not therefore give occasion to sin, we shall not give place to the enemy within us, if by unbroken recollection we keep God ever dwelling in our hearts, to Whom be all glory and all adoration, now and for ever, world without end. Amen.
Description of the Church; The House of God
As we have said in Lesson 11 On the Church, the word Church means a calling forth. In common Scripture usage the word signifies "the Christian society only, and the assembly of the faithful; that is, of those who are called by faith to the light of truth and the knowledge of God, that, having forsaken the darkness of ignorance and error, they may worship the living and true God piously and holily, and serve Him from their whole heart. in a word, The Church, says St. Augustine, consists of the faithful dispersed throughout the world" -The catechism of the Council of Trent.
Names given the Church in Scripture
I. The House of God
That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. I Timothy 3:15
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners; but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God, Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord. In whom you also are built together into an habitation of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22
St. Paul calls the Church, that is the gathering place of the Church as the "house of God." in the Old Testament the Tabernacle (A tent. A temporary habitation), was described as the House of God by God Himself when he was speaking to Moses concerning the Law.
Thou shalt carry the firstfruits of the corn of thy ground to the house of the Lord thy God. Exodus 23:19
Later the Temple was described as the House of God by King Solomon.
But now the Lord my God hath given me rest round about: and there is no adversary nor evil occurrence. Wherefore I purpose to build a temple to the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying: my son, whom I will set upon the throne in thy piece, he shall build a house to my name. III Kings (I Kings) 5:4-9
In the New Testament we as Catholics become the Temple, the House of God.
Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are. I Corinthian 3:16-17 (again, see I Timothy 3:16)
A. A house has furniture.
The Temple/House of God in the Old Testament had furnishing which represented many things pertaining to us as Catholics.
Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat (cover on top of the Ark of the Covenant)
A symbol of God’s law, the Ark was made of wood covered with gold. The Ark was the throne of God where His glory rest on the Mercy Seat (top), a symbol of His mercy. The sacrificed blood was sprinkled on the Ark to cover the sins of the people.
The phrase “Mercy Seat” also means “propitiation.” Jesus is the propitiation for us today (Romans 3:25; I John 2:2.) His blood was shed to cleanse our sins. We come to God through Him and offer our spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5,9).
2. The Inner Veil
The Inner Veil hung between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies and was passed only once a year by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16).
Hebrews 10:19-20 teaches that this Veil represents Christ’s body which was given for us on the cross. When He offered up His spirit, the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom, thus allowing us to come at any time into God’s presence (Matthew 27:50-51).
3. Altar of Incense
Incense was continually burned at this altar that stood before the veil separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The High Priest was to make atonement on its horns once a year before entering the Holy of Holies.
The Altar of Incense was a symbol of prayer. Christians are to be continually in prayer (Romans 12:12).
4. Table of Showbread
A symbol of God’s providence, the Table held the twelve loaves of bread that were a reminder that the tribes were constantly in the presence of God and that God saw all that they did (Leviticus 24:5-9). The bread also reminded the people that God fed His people.
God provides what we need (Matthew 6:25-34). We as Christians are daily in God’s presence. We are to “feed on” God’s truth (Matthew 4:4). Jesus is the Bread of Life and we feed on Him when we partake in the eucharist. (John 6:35)
5. Golden Lampstand
Symbolizing light from God, the intricately patterned Lampstand was to give light continually, fueled by clear olive oil (Exodus 27:20)
Rev. 1:12-20 indicates individual parishes in a Diocese are represented by golden lampstands. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). Christians are to be a light to the world, also(Matthew 5:14).
6. Bronze Altar
The Bronze Altar stood in the courtyard of the Tabernacle. This is where the animals were sacrificed to cover the sins of the Israelite people.
Jesus’s death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He is pictured in all the sacrifices God commanded Israel to bring (Leviticus 1-5; Hebrews 10:1-14).
7. The Bronze Laver
It was here at the bronze laver that the priests washed their hands and feet before entering into and coming out of the holy place. The laver was made from the bronze mirrors of the women and filled with water for the continual cleansing of the priests as they ministered in the work of the Lord. (Ex 30:17-21)
It represent our own need for a cleansing as well. (Hebrews 10:22, John 7:38)
B. A House has a Father
"The Church is called a house, because it is, as it were,one family governed by one father of the family...."-Catechism of the Council of Trent
Not only do we have a God that is our Father, (Matthew 6:9 "Our Father who art in heaven,"), but he has given us fathers here on earth. That is the Pope and our Priest. The Pope being a Prime minister for God here on earth and one who should be considered our father on earth. "And he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Juda". Isaias (Isaiah) 22:21b. St. Paul calls himself a father to the people of the Corinthian Church.
For if you have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus, by the gospel, I have begotten you.
I Corinthians 4:15
C. A House has a Mother
The Blessed Virgin Mary is our Mother.
When Jesus therefore had seen his mother and the disciple standing whom he loved, he saith to his mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, he saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own. John 19:26-27
St. Epiphanius, wrote “Against Eighty Heresies” where he affirmed: “Eve was called the mother of the living ...after the fall this title was given to her. True it is...the whole race of man upon earth was born from Eve; but in reality it is from Mary the Life was truly born to the world. So that by giving birth to the Living One, Mary became the mother of all living”
According to St Irenaeus, Mary "became a cause of salvation for the whole human race" (Haer. 3, 22, 4; PG 7, 959), and the pure womb of the Virgin "regenerates men in God" (Haer. 4, 33, 11; PG 7, 1080). This is re-echoed by St Ambrose, who says: "A Virgin has begotten the salvation of the world, a Virgin has given life to all things" (Ep. 63, 33; PL 16, 1198), and by other Fathers who call Mary "Mother of salvation" (Severian of Gabala, Or. 6 in mundi creationem, 10, PG 54, 4; Faustus of Riez, Max. Bibl. Patrum, VI. 620-621).
In the Middle Ages, St Anselm addressed Mary in this way: "You are the mother of justification and of the justified, the Mother of reconciliation and of the reconciled, the mother of salvation and of the saved" (Or. 52, 8; PL 158, 957), while other authors attribute to her the titles "Mother of grace" and "Mother of life". (1)
D. A House has Brothers and Sisters
St. Paul tells St. Timothy...
An ancient man rebuke not, but entreat him as a father: young men, as brethren: Old women, as mothers: young women, as sisters, in all chastity. I Timothy 5:1-2
There are verses after verses showing that those in Christ are brothers and sister. Not only is Jesus our brother, but all of us are spiritually related to each other.
So today ask yourself "Am I acting like I am the Temple of God, a House of God?" Is some of your furnishing, like the altar of Incense, which is a prefigurement of prayer to God, is it covered over with a sheet or become real dusty from lack of use? Scripture does say "My house is a house of prayer" Matthew 21:13. what other furnishings have been neglected?
Are you under the Authority of your "Father" and "Mother"? Or are you being rebellious and doing your own thing? Do you pick and choose what you want to obey.
Do you treat your brothers and sisters with the respect and love they deserve? St. John says, "For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?". I John 4:20
Just somethings to think about.
How Do Sins Of My Forefathers Affect My Life?
Understanding Your Spiritual Heritage
Recognizing the iniquities of your forefathers
Looking back to our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, we can often trace our physical features, strengths, and weaknesses through the family line. In the same way, we can observe character traits and spiritual influences that span the generations. A Godly heritage offers a sturdy foundation of virtue and faithfulness, but deeds such as anger, lust, and bitterness set destructive patterns that need to be recognized and overcome.
In the Biblical account of Abraham’s family, the iniquity of deception became a stronghold that affected the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s sons. (See Genesis 12:10–20, 20, 26:1–11, 27:1–40, 37:12–36.) On the other hand, the New Testament examples of Lois, Eunice, and Timothy demonstrate the richness of a heritage of faith.
Calling to mind that faith which is in thee unfeigned, which also dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice, and I am certain that in thee also. (II Timothy 1:5.)
When we understand how our lives are influenced by our forefathers, we can respond appropriately to that influence. We should appreciate and celebrate the good that has been passed down through our families. Also, we should acknowledge the iniquities of our forefathers, repent of our own sins, and endeavor to overcome the tendencies toward specific sins that we have inherited. While we are not held responsible for the sins of our ancestors, we are susceptible to their areas of weakness and should be alert to these inclinations.
Identify Generational Iniquities
When God gave the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel, He included this description of His character and ways: “....I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: And shewing mercy unto thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments. ” (Exodus 20:5–6). God repeats this warning about generational iniquities in Exodus 34:6–7,Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9–10.
What we do matters to the next generation......
because children have a natural tendency to imitate their parents. When parents do something that is wrong, their children are very likely to justify the same action. In fact, they often justify even more destructive attitudes and actions, going beyond what their parents deemed permissible.
The most vivid example of this influence is seen in Adam’s sin.
“Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.” (Romans 5:12).
Because of Adam’s decision in the Garden of Eden to disobey God’s command, each person on earth has inherited a nature of rebellion against God.
An example of how our forefathers’ actions can influence us for good is found in the seventh chapter of Hebrews: “. . .Levi who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham: For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedech met him. ” (Hebrews 7:9–10). Although Levi was not born until many years after Abraham and Melchisedec met, he is credited with paying tithes because he was a physical part of Abraham when Abraham paid the tithes.
This concept rests at the heart of our inherited strengths and weaknesses. Because we are a physical part of our ancestors, we are deeply influenced by their decisions and the patterns of their lives. We can see this influence clearly in Abraham’s family.
Learn From the Testimony of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Abraham is known as the Friend of God and the “father of all them that believe.” (See James 2:23 and Romans 4:11-12.) His responses of faith and obedience in the major decisions of his life pleased God. However, when Abraham went down to Egypt as a result of a famine, he adopted a deceptive practice.
And when he (Abraham) was near to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife: I know that thou art a beautiful woman: And that when the Egyptians shall see thee, they will say: She is his wife: and they will kill me, and keep thee. Say, therefore, I pray thee, that thou art my sister: that I may be well used for thee, and that my soul may live for thy sake. (Genesis 12:11–13).
Abraham’s deception put Sarah in moral jeopardy, and Pharaoh soundly rebuked Abraham when the lie was discovered. Years later, Abraham used this lie again when he and Sarah traveled in Gerar. (See Genesis 20.) In both situations, God moved to protect Sarah and others from the sin of adultery, but in the years to come the iniquity of deception played a significant role in the lives of Abraham’s descendants.
Abraham and Sarah’s son Isaac followed Abraham’s example and lied about the identity of his wife, Rebekah, when they traveled in Gerar: “Isaac said to them: Why are ye come to me, a man whom you hate, and have thrust out from you?” (Genesis 26:7). When the Philistine king, Abimelech, discovered Isaac’s deception, he rebuked Isaac for exposing other men to the possible sin of adultery. (See Genesis 26:9–10.)
In the next generation, the lies were directed toward immediate family members. Rebekah and her son Jacob schemed to deceive Isaac into giving secondborn Jacob the firstborn blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau. Taking advantage of Isaac’s failing eyesight, Jacob deceived his own father: “Which when he had carried in, he said: My father? But he answered: I hear. Who art thou, my son? And Jacob said: I am Esau thy firstborn: I have done as thou didst command me: arise, sit, and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.” (Genesis 27:18–19).
Decades later, Jacob’s sons deceived him concerning the welfare of his son, Joseph. The older brothers, jealous of Joseph’s favor with Jacob, sold Joseph as a slave: “And they took his coat, and dipped it in the blood of a kid, which they had killed: Sending some to carry it to their father, and to say: This we have found: see whether it be thy son' s coat, or not. And the father acknowledging it, said: It is my son' s coat, an evil wild beast hath eaten him, a beast hath devoured Joseph.” (Genesis 37:31–33). Not until years later did Jacob discover the truth of what had happened to Joseph. (See Genesis 45:26.)
In these examples, we can see how the iniquity of deception was taken up by one generation after another, deepening and becoming more desperate through the years.
Acknowledge the Sins of the Forefathers
Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and others understood that God wanted them to agree with Him about the iniquities of their parents and purpose to not continue them. These men of God acknowledged the iniquities of their fathers when they confessed their sins:
In the days when Nehemiah worked to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Ezra the priest gathered the people together and read to them out of the Law of God. When they realized how far they had strayed from God’s commandments, they repented: “And the seed of the children of Israel separated themselves from every stranger: and they stood, and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.” (II Esdras/Nehemiah 9:2).
When Jeremiah realized that God’s hand of judgment was upon the land of Judah, he acknowledged the iniquities of their forefathers. He prayed, “We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, the iniquities of our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.” (Jeremias/Jeremiah 14:20).
When Daniel discerned by the Scriptures that it was time for Israel to be restored to the land, he sought the Lord’s forgiveness through prayer and supplication, with fasting. He prayed, “O Lord, against all thy justice: let thy wrath and thy indignation be turned away, I beseech thee, from thy city Jerusalem, and from thy holy mountain. For by reason of our sins, and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem, and thy people are a reproach to all that are round about us.” (Daniel 9:16).
Recognize Personal Responsibility
As we acknowledge the sins of our forefathers, we must also accept personal responsibility for our own sins. For example, a son cannot blame his father for his own sin, nor can a father blame his son. God will deal with each person on the merits of his own actions. “In those days they shall say no more: The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the teeth of the children are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that shall eat the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.” (Jeremiah 31:29–30).
This truth brings clarification to God’s warnings about visiting iniquity on future generations, which Jeremiah repeats in the next chapter: “Thou shewest mercy unto thousands, and returnest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: O most mighty, great, and powerful, the Lord of hosts is thy name. Great in counsel and incomprehensible in thought: whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the children of Adam, to render unto every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his devices.” (Jeremiah 32:18–19).
Generational iniquities follow the laws of the harvest: we reap what we sow, we reap where we sow, we reap more than we sow, and we reap in a different season than we sow.
“Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For what things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the spirit, of the spirit shall reap life everlasting. ” (Galatians 6:7–8).
Find Freedom in Jesus Christ
When we become aware of the sins of our forefathers, we should respond in the following ways:
Acknowledge generational sins before God
Repent of similar sins in our own lives
Receive cleansing and forgiveness through Christ and the confessional
Submit to the Word of God and His Church as it relates to the areas of our inherited weaknesses
To repent of something does not mean merely to be sorry or remorseful but to turn away from it, to change, to go in the opposite direction. Understanding our forefathers’ sins provides insight for turning away from those specific attitudes and actions. We must learn how we can honor God in these areas. Often we may need to build boundaries in our lives to help protect us from the temptations that are common in our background (for example, temptations to drunkenness, gossip, theft, or immorality). As we set aside activities that present temptations in these areas, our tendency toward generational sin patterns will diminish.
The power to overcome generational sins comes only by the grace of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul encourages us, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh in its concupiscences [lusts].” (Romans 13:14).
Jesus said: “Amen, amen I say unto you: that whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. Now the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth for ever. If therefore the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:34–36).
Pray for the Holy Father! Pray with the Holy Father!
- Your prayers are asked this month and every month for the intentions of the Holy Father, Pope Michael.
- Your prayers are asked for Frater Francis Dominic as he completes the last of his studies and preparation before his Priestly Ordination.
- Pray for those outside the Church and those who do not know God, that they may see the light of grace and be led safely home to the refuge of the Holy Catholic Church.
- As always, we also ask that you pray for yourself! Never forget your own state of soul. God is calling you to His service in His love. We know that our Lord can count on you to answer.
- We are all praying especially for you, too. May you correspond with every grace of God!
- In what other needs or intentions may we pray for you? Let us know!
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