"Our Lady of Lepanto", Ora Pro Nobis!

"Our Lady of Victory", Ora Pro Nobis!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jacob's Dream; Has it Come True?

"Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold , the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!...And he was afraid , and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate to heaven...." ( Genesis 28:10-22 )

This is the dream of Jacob, whose name by God has been changed to Israel, and the promise of eternal salvation has been offered to all of the children of Israel. The questions to be asked and answered are; has this dream and the promise been fulfilled or is it awaiting? This is the question for all Jews, Christians, and Muslims throughout salvation history to ponder and proclaim. This dream and promise has caused more confusion and misunderstanding than any other incident in history so we may want to make sure we have the correct answer. After all, if you ask a Jew they believe their promise is truth. If we ask a Muslim they will also proclaim the they have the truth. And if you ask a Christian they also will profess they have the faith of truth. So, which faith has the Fullness of Truth, what and where is Jacob's Ladder?

Truth, what is it? Pontius Pilate asked Jesus the same question; "What is Truth?" (Gospel of St John 18:38 ) The Truth is a person and his name is Jesus Christ! Pontius Pilate had the answer to the entire world's confusion right before his eyes and he allowed Truth to pass him by. In Jesus' own words he gave the world the answer to Jacob's Dream. He tells us in the Gospel of St John 1:51;
"Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
Jesus and his Church are the fulfillment of the dream and therefore the gateway to heaven. All of those who are baptized in the Holy Trinity become the children of Israel. It is not a piece of land that so many confused Christians, Jews, and Muslims tend to believe because the Kingdom of heaven dwells in the heart and souls of the baptized into Jesus Christ and his Church is our Mother. Listen to the Spirit in the words of St Paul;
"Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.
Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to present day Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.....
Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free women." So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free women."
( Galatians 4:21-31 )
This is a challenging piece of scripture from St Paul but he can not be any more clear to what he is saying; we who have been baptized are the children of the promise and the fulfillment of Jacob's Dream, the Ladder of Christ, his Church, and the New Israel!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"The Battle of Lepanto", the battle that saved Western Civilation

If you took a Gallup Poll in any large city in the United States and asked the question, "Name the most important and significant battle in the history humanity?" you might receive a variety of responses. However, the one battle you may not have ever be told is "The Battle of Lepanto " on October 7th, 1571. You will most likely get the look ,what the heck are you talking about? I ask this question because I was reviewing a common high school history book just the other day titled, "The History of Western Civilization" and guess what? the Battle of Lepanto was not mentioned.

The Battle of Lepanto can be described as the third most significant battle in the history of Christendom behind the battle and defeat of death by Jesus Christ on the cross and the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD by the Roman Emporer Constantine I in his defeat of the Dioclesian armies of the Roman Empire and legalizing Christianity. The Battle of Lepanto was the war of wars for the spread of Christianity in Western civilization. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire had overtaken all of Eastern Christendom in the Byzantine Empire and only remaining was Western Europe and now have their sites on Western Europe and the expansion of Christendom in the Americas.

Under the orders of Pope St Pius V, the Holy League was formed ( Spain, The Republic of Venice, Papal States, Republic of Genoa, Duchy of Savoy, and the Knights of Malta ) under the leadership of Don Juan of Austria. This battle was fought in the Bay of Lepanto off the coast of Western Greece. The Turks were headed straight to Western Europe primarily Spain, Rome, and Vatican City the eternal city and capitol of all Christendom. The Catholic Church had other battles going on as well, The Protestant Reformation and the spreading of Christendom and the creation of the Spanish Missions in the New World Americas. Pope Pius V continued the warnings to the reformers but they withdrew any support for the Church in the battle that with a defeat would wipe away Christianity throughout the entire world, not only to Catholics but any Protestants communities. The Moslems would have overtaken all of Europe and the elimination of the spread of Christendom in the New World Americas! Therefore, I would not be writing this blog and you would not be reading it.

The Church was all alone in this conflict except with the greatest battle artillery directly from heaven above; The Ark of the Covenant - the intersessional prayers of the Queen of Heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the prayers of the Holy Rosary. Against an over sized and out numbered opponent and a 30 mph wind hitting the Holy League directly in the face, it would require a heavenly miracle to overcome the substantial odds. St Pope Pius V called upon all Christians to gather together throughout the world and begin praying the gospel mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Pope Pius V gathered all of the local Cardinals and Bishops to the basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary; "Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore" in Rome and began to pray the sacred mysteries of Christ in the Holy Rosary. When the battle began the miracle occurred, the 30 mph winds instantly shifted 180 degrees into the faces of the Moslem Turkish army as they underwent an overwhelming defeat from the Holy League army of the Church. This victory meant the protection of the Church and the continued spread of Christendom. This devastating defeat of the Turks has been credited to the intercessional prayers of the Blessed virgin Mary of the most Holy Rosary.

It is documented that later returning to the Vatican, St Pope Pius V whom had no information given to him about the outcome saw a vision of the Virgin Mary as he went across to the window and cried out, "The Christian Fleet is victorious", and shed tears of thanksgiving to God. From this victory, the expansion of Christendom in the New world Americas resumed and Western Civilization as we have it today would maintain the "Great Commission" from our Lord;

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the close of age." ( Gospel of St Matthew 28:18-20 )

Pope Pius V would later be buried in the Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore due to the location of the prayers of the Holy Rosary in the great battle for all Christendom throughout the world. We owe the Catholic Church great honor for standing up for Christ Jesus and his Church, The Kingdom of Heaven on earth as it is in heaven! Amen

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Senses of Sacred Scripture ( Part 2 of the History of the Bible )

Here we are in the first week of Lent. A time of year to say "Let's get it on, all joking aside, and let's get down to business!" The beginning of the 40 day period when we begin the participation of the "Temptations of Christ" and prepare for the "Octave" of Holy Week. This blog is part 2 on the history of Sacred Scripture and the Senses needed for correct interpretation. The misinterpretation of scripture is the delimna of Christianity and why it has divided into over 33,000 so called christian denominations. Everyone believes they have the correct meaning behind the words of the Holy Trinity. I have news for all, there is only ONE with the correct interpretation! So which one has it right?

What was so wrong with Satan's temptations to Jesus Christ? on paper they do not have the appearance of a serious crime. In my own ignorance I could have chosen worse. Satan's error was this; he attempted to "Proof Text" the Word and Logos Jesus Christ, the author of sacred scripture and attempt to confuse Jesus due to his own intellect determining if he is the Messiah. This is how Satan continues the same temptation throughout Christendom. He has convinced the Christian world to proof text the Body of Christ in order to confuse the Church and true disciples of Jesus Christ.
What is a proof text? a proof text is taking a passage of scripture and interpreting it "literally". In other words, this is what the lines say on the page so this is what they mean . This is not how the early Church Fathers and Councils read sacred scripture when deciding which books are inspired and the ones not inspired. So what gives us the privilege to read and interpret the sacred Words of our Lord the way we want in proof text? we don't have that privilege. There is only one Holy Spirit and not 33,000. We are held accountable to read sacred scripture in the same senses of the Holy Spirit who exists in Holy Mother Church. So what are the Senses of Sacred Scripture that lay in the soul of the Holy Spirit? the senses of Literal and Spiritual ( Allegorical, Moral, and Anagogical ). Any attempt outside these senses have the potential of misinterpretation, entrapment, and snares of the evil one. Allow me the opportunity to share the senses of scripture the same as the Holy Spirit.

Taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church #115-119 the Literal Sense is defined as what is the meaning the author is trying to convey? and quoting St Thomas Aquinas, "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal" not to be literally.

The Spiritual Sense - God's plan speaking to us as signs through the following senses:

*Allegorical- We can acquire a more profound understanding of the the events by recognizing their significance in Christ and thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of
Christ's victory and also Christian Baptism.
Another example taken from the Gospel of St John 3:14;

"And Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,...

this is the fulfilment from the book of numbers 21:8-9;

"And the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it up as a sign; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and set it up as a sign; and if a serpent bit any man, he would look at the bronze serpent and live."

I thought the Lord commanded us not to make graven images and he turns around and instructs Moses to make one. Is God confused? no, man is and his misinterpretation. Now we can appreciate a corpus of Jesus on a Crucifix in our churches so we can continue to look upon it as Moses and the Israelites perpetually looked upon the brazen serpent. The brazen serpent was a sign pointing to the "Crucifixion" for all mankind to look upon. Put Jesus back on the cross not to be continually crucified but as a sign of his love to mankind. Read forward in St John's Gospel chapter 5: 45-47;

"Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"

*Moral Sense- The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act
justly. As St Paul says, they were written "For our instruction."

*Anagogical Sense - We can view realities and events in terms of their
eternal significance, leading us toward our true
homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem."

Now some examples of "Proof Texts" and their harmful nature. Taking from St Paul's letter to the Church in Romans 3:10-12;

"None is righteous, no, not one;...no one does good, not even one..."

When we read this passage literally with a proof text, it appears no one is holy but here is the proof text error; St Paul is quoting Psalm 14 and referring to the fallen Israelites of the Mosaic Law and not referring to the righteous people of the Christian era. This is the passage used by evangelicals to dispute the perpetual sinless nature of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a hazardous doctrinal error.
In the Gospel of Matthew 23:9, Jesus states;
"Call no man your father on earth...."
and then in St Paul's letter to the Corinthians 4:4-15 Paul states;
"For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel"
in the book of Exodus 20:12 the 4th commandment says;
"Honor your father and mother"
Jesus and St Paul must be confused because they both appear to be contradicting sacred scripture. However, they are not confused, it is my proof text that is confused. When we read the letters of St Paul and Jesus in his Gospels, all of Old Testament and New Testament quotations are to be read in their entirety. When we read the Passion narrative in the synoptic Gospels and Jesus cries out; "My God, my God why have you forsaken me?" if you proof text this quotation you interpret it as saying, "God the Father has turned his back on his Son in shame". This is not the meaning of this scriptural text and what happens when we proof text our Lord. Our heavenly Father could not be more proud and joyous to witness the obedience of his Son. When we read it in the Literal sense you will realize Jesus is quoting and referring the entire Psalm 22 and fulfilling his messianic prophecy in the act of thanksgiving and praise to our heavenly Father. Read the entire Psalm and you will clearly see the beauty and truth in the crucifixion and the perpetual power and dominion it has on the entire world. Embrace the Crucifixion and Psalm 22 as a sign of Faith, Hope, and Love. It is the sign of evil defeated!

This blog represents a small example present throughout the entire bible and I hope you understand the explanation. We have clearly discussed the Senses of Scripture in the bible and how the Holy Spirit teaches mankind the fullness of Truth in the Word of God. Do we continue to tempt Christ and his Church through "Proof Texts" in the Incarnate Word that became flesh and continues to dwell among us? Let's continue to experience the beauty of Truth that flows through the teachings of Christ Apostolic Church and to continue to grow deeper through the mysteries of Christ's Gospel and the entirety of all scriptures read together as one book in harmony with our Creator and not only a few selected, given to us through the soul of The Church as we close with two great quotes from two great saints and doctors of the Church founded by Christ, St Augustine and St Jerome;

"The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New"
"Ignorance in the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ"!


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Holy Bible and where it came from

My oldest son Kendall brought to my attention," the most stolen book in the world is the Holy Bible." This leads to the new movie, "The Book of Eli." I have not seen but I understand the plot. It is 30 years post apocalyptic times in America and Eli is walking his way to Los Angeles holding the book everyone wants their hands on, The Holy Bible -King James Version, believing its possession will change the world and Eli's mission is to protect the sacred book at whatever cost. The book of Eli, is it worth his life?
Someone asked Pastor Billy Graham one time,"What is the best bible translation to read?" and he stated, "The one you read." On the surface this statement sounds good but wait a second and let's look into the history behind the sacred scriptures. After all, Jesus never wrote anything down and did not tell his apostles to write anything down except when St John was taken into heaven and was instructed to write what he witnessed. So the question is "where did we get the inspired scriptures we have today"? Did our Lord come back to earth and say, "Oh by the way, I forgot to give you this book on what to teach all people?" No, so where did it come from and which is the inspired translation? there are too many unauthorized and uninspired translations to count, so which one?
What is the Bible? The Bible is a written collection of some of the inspired teachings of Jesus Christ handed down to his apostles. It is important to understand not everything Jesus taught was written down. There were 13 apostles including St Paul but only 6 wrote down what is considered Inspired. Does this mean the other apostles teachings were not inspired? No, they taught the unwritten inspired teachings of Jesus Christ, so let's move forward to the history of the Bible and which is the inspired interpretation and how did we get it, and how do we interpret.

To begin, the first book of the New Testament was written by St Paul before the gospels were written. Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is traditionally excepted as the earliest writing dating around 51 AD. If Jesus ascended into heaven around 30 AD , we have around 20 years without any inspired scriptures of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How did the apostles teach the people of God without a bible? how were they saved? by the Oral teachings of the apostles. The unwritten and inspired teachings of Jesus Christ is known as " Sacred Tradition" and equal to but not greater than "Sacred Scripture". This sacred teaching is important to understand and makes moral sense. For mankind to begin to comprehend where the bible came from and how it should be read and interpreted can be traced to the apostles and Church established by Jesus. From Sacred Tradition we received Sacred Scripture. Listen to the Spirit in the writings from St Paul and his command in Sacred Scripture;

"And so, brothers, stand firm, and hold to the traditions that you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle" ( II Thessalonians 2:14 )

The above images of the bible are considered the oldest surviving collections of the ancient Greek manuscripts considered inspired. The first is called "The Codex Vaticanus" written in the early 4th century located in the Vatican Library. The second image is "The Codex Sinaiticus" also written in the early 4th century and located at St Catherine's Monastery Mount Sinai where Moses received The "Ten Commandments" and not the ten suggestions. The third image is called "The Gutenberg Bible" and it is the first bible printed dating around 1450 AD. Research reveals there were around 180 printed and located across the world. All three contain 46 books of the "Septuagint" and 27 books of the New Testament. The Septuagint is the Greek interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures. The Greek interpretations of Old Testament was cannoned around 250BC. This is the Old Testament used by Jesus and his apostles. So one may ask "why the Greek Septuagint and not the Hebrew scriptures?" because the Palestinian Jews were divided on which books were inspired and had not closed their canon but the Greek speaking Alexandrian Jews chose the closed cannoned Septuagint. We have to remember not all Jews in the time of Christ were Hebrew speaking and from the Palestine area. The question now is how important is having a complete collection of the Old Testament to followers of Jesus? some will say "the New Testament is all I need to read." Is this what Jesus taught? Let's go to sacred scripture for the answer from the gospel of St Luke on "The Road to Emmaus."

Jesus states, "These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled". ( Luke 24:44 )

Jesus clearly states the entire Old Testament is about him, they are "Christological". Jesus is not referring to the New Testament because they had not been written, So how many books of the Old Testament is inspired? This was the issue at hand for the first 4oo years of Christianity. Most people do not recognize the bible was not completely put together until the late 4th century. In the the year 382 AD, the Bishop of Rome Pope St Damasus I ended the debate using his Papal authority at the Council of Rome and clarified the 46 books of the Greek Septuagint and 27 books of the New Testament are the official and inspired words of sacred scripture and confirmed in the "Council of Hippo in 393 AD , Council of Carthage in 397 AD and confirmed at the Council of Trent in 1545 AD." Pope St Damasus I required his secretary St Jerome to translate the inspired Greek and Hebrew scriptures into the common language of the inhabited world known as "The Latin Vulgate", the official and inspired Bible of Mother Church and all Christendom. The Sacred Tradition of the Holy Roman Catholic Church gave the world the Sacred Bible. Also, the Gutenberg Bible is the first printed bible in Christendom and happens to be St Jerome's Latin Vulgate written and printed before Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation. Gutenberg Bibles today are said to be valued at around 9 million dollars. Placed together with the most stolen book in the world, one can now appreciate why during the middle ages and medieval times all bibles were locked and chained so no one could steal them.

Now the dilemma is how do we read and interpret the sacred scriptures written in Greek and Latin when St Peter states;

"First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." ( II Peter 1:20-21 )

The question again; which version of the Holy Bible should we read? The same one read in the same spiritual senses as the Church. After all, it is she who gave it to the world. The same Spirit that inspired the writers Must Be the same Spirit to interpret i.e., Holy Mother Church! Oh, let us not forget "reading alone" is not the commission given by Christ Jesus. We still need to follow all the commandments of The Lord and Love one another. Amen!

The Peace of Jesus Christ be with you all!

Monday, February 1, 2010

St Thomas Aquinas; "Faith, Reason and Science"

Reflecting back from last weeks feast celebrations in the Holy mass, I was confused on what to discuss. I mean after all, on Monday we celebrated the feast of the Conversion of Saul to Saint Paul. However, all Christian denominations are fairly familiar with his sacred encounter with the Crucified,Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus in the Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 9, but how familiar are we with Thomas Aquinas' encounter with the same Crucified, Resurrected and Ascended Lord? We know he wrote the unfinished work "Summa Theologica" but do we all know why it was left unfinished? One day during Holy mass a few of Aquinas Dominican Brothers enter into the church and witness Aquinas elevating in ecstasy 1 cubit from the ground and the vision of Jesus coming forth from a crucifix stating to Thomas Aquinas; "Thomas you have written well of me....." This had an everlasting affect on Aquinas . He was a somewhat young and vibrant man in his forties when this event occurred but never recovered from the emotional and spiritual encounter with our Lord, he could write no further because he felt after seeing the vision of the Lord, his writings were reduced to a mere "Straw" and obviously nothing compared to the full glory of our God. So lets back up and investigate some of the things he did for mankind most people in the West have no idea, especially most people in the United States. After listening to Fr Mitch Pacwa this past Friday night on EWTN, I feel he gave me more in site I want to share.

The image above comes from the Vatican and is a work from the famous Renaissance painter of the 16th century, Raphael. The two men are images of Plato on the left holding his Timaeus and Aristotle on the right holding his Ethics taken from the famous painting ;"The School of Athens". One may ask, "What does Aristotle and Plato have to do with Christianity"? St Thomas Aquinas can assist us with the question. Both of these great Greek philosophers laid the foundation of Western philosophy to our Western theology. In the 4th Century AD, The great Theologian St Augustine brought to the Christian world the philosophical influence of Plato and Aquinas brought the West the philosophy of Aristotle. Aristotle philosophy had not entered into Western theology before Aquinas but what is the significance? Before this introduction, "Reason" into our "Faith" had not fully developed until Aquinas filled in the missing length that brought the complete understanding and relationship existing between "Faith and Reason" i.e., Jesus Christ the Logos and Word Incarnate as the fulfilment of our faith and the manifestation of our reason. Unfortunately, some of us have not captured the need for reason and satisfied with "Faith Alone". This has limitations and when an individual will apply "Reason" to their Christian belief, one may experience the fullness and Beauty of Truth in Christ Jesus. Faith alone veils the mind, soul, and heart by reducing the harmony existing with Reason. Internal faith, hope, love, and peace begin to fertilize the seed of the soil in mans soul when we allow the Spirit of Harmony and Unity to unveil the fullness of Truth.

In the 13th century, the 7 liberal arts taught by Plato and Aristotle were brought into Christianity. Created from the Liberal Arts was the creation of the Universities in the West. St Thomas Aquinas is responsible for the growth of the Universities into Western Civilization. What are the 7 Liberal Arts? The Quadrivium ( mathematics, astronomy, music, geometry ) and the Trivium ( rhetoric, logic, grammar). To Aquinas and the medieval minds of the universities of Paris, Bologna, Oxford, and the Cathedral school of Chartres, the 7 liberal Arts bring us to the Wisdom of God combined with the 7 sacraments of the Church, bring us to the fullness of our faith together, to return mankind to "The image and Likeness" of the Trinity (Genesis 1:26).

This is what St Thomas Aquinas did for mankind and Western Civilization. A return to the 7 sacraments and the 7 Liberal Arts are the answer to our moral confusion in the 21st Century. The medieval mind was brighter and more holy than 21st century secular culture. We have left the Wisdom of God! do we understand from sacred scripture what the first thing God created? Wisdom! so listen to the Spirit of the Lord in the following passages;
"The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first before the beginning of the earth....before he made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep.... (Proverbs 8:22-31)

We owe so much to St Thomas Aquinas and what he did for mankind in his teachings in Philosophy and Theology in the creation of the Universities by the Roman Catholic Church. Shortly after his encounter with Jesus in the 13th century at the age of 49, Aquinas past on to our Lord after receiving the sacraments, but at bedside, his final words of Wisdom in Beauty and Truth needs to be shared:
"If in this world there may be any knowledge of this Sacrament (Eucharist) stronger than that of faith, I wish now to use it affirming that I firmly believe and know for certain that Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament (Eucharist).....I receive Thee, the price of my redemption, for Whose love I have watched, studied, and laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught. Never have I said anything against Thee: if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. Neither do I wish to be obstinate in my opinions, but if I have written anything erroneous concerning this Sacrament (Eucharist) or any other matters, I submit all to the judgement and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from this life."

Peace of Christ be with you!