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"Our Lady of Victory", Ora Pro Nobis!

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"!



  1. Dear Brad,

    Let me share with you some thoughts about the temptations of Jesus that I have been mulling over for several years. The original inspiration came from the author John Shea, but I have probably left his ideas in the dust back somewhere.

    The first temptation: turn these stones into bread. Satan is really saying, "if you are really God's beloved, you shouldn't be suffering." Jesus says, "I am the Beloved of God and I still suffer." God is not a God who removes all suffering, but who wants passionately to be involved with each human being, even in the midst of suffering.

    Second temptation: jump off the temple. Satan is tempting Jesus to look for popular acclaim and success. Jesus answers, "I don't need popular acclaim and success. Even if nobody follows me, I will do the Father's will."

    Third temptation: get power over all the kingdoms of the world. Satan says, "You can have political power over the world. Look at how much good you could do if you had such power." Jesus answers, "The Father calls me to his faithful service. I don't need political power."

    We all get tempted to think that if we are hurting, God must not love us. Christians often get tempted to think that we need popular acclaim if God is to be honored (I think of some televangelists). Christians have too often been tempted to think that they need to control society if God's kingdom is to come about. I think the Catholic Church finally learned, after fifteen centuries or so, that we don't need that. It's sad to see some Protestant groups falling victim to the same temptation these days.

  2. We all should thank the Catholic Church for the Bible and for helping us interpret how scripture is speaking to us.

    The scriptures, as we all know, have layer upon layer upon layer of depth, meaning and teaching, which I believe all of us here in this blog agree on. I may be a simple person who does not seek to be the smartest and most intellectual person when it comes to theology and scripture. All I desire is to truly know, love and serve my Lord. But what I do learn from the readings from the first Sunday of Lent regarding temptation is this:

    We all have been prosperous at the hand of the Lord, and may have then allowed ourselves to be puffed up with pride and allowed that pride to take ourselves away from God to become slaves to sin and to live in exile, far away from our Lord. If we truly come to know God's word, and allow it to dwell in our hearts, then when we face temptations, we will be more able to recognize temptation as temptation and allow God's Holy Word to help us to not give in to them, keeping us safely within God's loving graces. We must choose to know what our faith is and be able to defend it.

    When Jesus was tempted in the desert, he was tempted with greed, power, vain-glory. He was being tempted to trust in something other than God. These were actually very subtle temptations - much like how satan tempts us all. To see how subtle these temptations are, I think back to my days in the corporate world. As my desires to provide better for my family became known to my superiors, I took every opportunity to show them how much I could do and how it could benefit them. The temptations were to work harder, longer, making the job the top priority over everything. When I was tired physically, tired of not spending time with my family, some days was too tired to even go to church because Sunday may have been the only day I didn't work 16 hours, and I needed a break, I was often reminded I really "deserved" to move up the ladder and I was worth the higher position and pay, but I needed to show others my value and worth as an employee - in other words, keep going in the direction you are going in, and we'll make sure you think that direction is up! This all seems so normal to us in the working world, but these are similar to the temptations Jesus had, just in a more modern setting. Would the average person even look at this scenario as temptation? Probably not, unless they really understood their faith. Fortunately, I had a faithful prayer life and the Lord showed me the truth. Our Lord rescued me and took me away from that destructive pattern of living.

    The heart of the matter is know your faith - let the Word live in you, recognize temptation and look above for the power from our Father to overcome temptation, and when we fall into the hands of the enemy, trust in God's love, grace and mercy and be reconciled with Him. We can do nothing on our own, but only by the powers of heaven.

    Finally, when Christ came and established God's kingdom here on earth, Christ established a Church, where the gates of hell will not prevail against it. As a convert to the Catholic faith, I remember questioning why my previous church believed certain things. At one point I was told I should probably think about starting my own church. My response was: "why would I do that when I know Christ established one Church?". The reformation was needed, however, I do wonder why, when others continue to want to reform the reformed, they don't look back to the beginning and the foundation then build upon that, and tear down that which contradicts Christ's truth. If Christians would did that, we would not see 33,000 + denominations. Instead, all Christians would come back to the one, holy, universal (catholic), apostolic Church.

    Thanks be to Jesus Christ for Mother Church! Thank you, Jesus for my faith. May Christ and His Church continue to guide us all along the path chosen for us which leads to eternal life, in His glory!

  3. I see a few typo's on my previous post - a "did" instead of a "do", and others. Please forgive me for them.

    Peace of Christ be with you!