Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008!

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! Thank you Lord for blessing me to have a merry Christmas and celebrate your birth with joy! Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jacob of Serugh

Update 12/3/2009:

From New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd. ed., s.v. "Jacob of Sarug (Serugh)," p. 688:
In 1716, E. Renaudot, in his Liturgiarum orientalium collectio, accused James of being a Monophysite. Three years later, J. S. Assemani began publishing his monumental Bibliotheca orientalis in which he argues strongly for the orthodoxy of James. With the publication in 1876 of several key letters, P. Martin seemed to many to have settled the issue: James was a Monophysite. ... P. Krüger has questioned James' orthodoxy; and T. Jansma, in three masterful articles, has proved conclusively that James was a Monophysite of the Severian school and remained so all his life.
T. JANSMA ... "The Credo of James of Sarug: A Return to Nicea and Constantinople," Nederlandsch Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis 44 (1960) 18–36; "Die Christologie Jakobs von Serugh und ihre Abhängigkeit von der alexandrinischen Theologie und von der Frömmigkeit Ephraems des Syrers," Muséon 78 (1965) 5–46; "Encore le Crédo de Jacques de Saroug," L'orient syrien 10 (1965) 75–88, 193–236, 331–370, 474–510.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth, Part II

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1. This was going to be a term paper for Faith & Critical Reason but for sundry reasons it was not to be and it did not end up nearly long enough anyway; my term paper was instead on reasons for safeguarding the environment. I was moved by the style of the Church Fathers to write this in a homiletic manner, but there is probably a great deal of rambling because I was trying to draw things out to meet the required paper length:

2. These days the majority of Biblical scholars, i.e. the mainstream, would have us believe that the creation story in Genesis communicates important religious truths but is not literally historically true. Most of these scholars, influenced by the scientific consensus in favor of evolution, would thus deny that God formed a man called Adam literally from the slime of the earth, and that God anesthetized Adam and literally formed from his side the body of his wife Eve. However, God indeed formed Adam from the slime of the earth and formed Eve from his side. To deny this is to greatly undermine the special dignity of humankind above all other animals, the most profound and holy unity between man and woman which forms the basis for the sacrament of marriage and the prohibition of divorce, the sacramental formation of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church from the side of Christ on the Cross, confidence in the ancient norms of interpretation used by the Magisterium, the equality of dignity between men and women, and the order of creation and authority which God designed to maintain harmony, peace, justice, and love the Church and in every family.

3. We have a special dignity above all the animals and this needs to be stressed, but not, of course, at the expense of our affirmation of responsibility for caring for the rest of creation. Indeed, part of the special dignity we must affirm is our dominion over all the animals and plants and understanding and appreciating this dominion, not tyranny, instills in us a motivation to live frugally rather than extravagantly, and to maintain clean air and water supplies and avoid pernicious practices like slash and burn agriculture which lead to desertification of once lush jungles and the extinction of, for example, plant species that could have provided a cure for several types of cancer and even congenital diseases.

4. Nevertheless, what swine, what mosquito, what cobra, is created in the image of God? Amen, I say to you, of all the corporeal creatures humans alone are created in the image of God; we alone among the corporeal creatures have immortal souls which, after death, are immutably fixed in either good or evil. What beast of the field was suitable to be the partner of Adam? [Gen 2:20]. To which of the brute animals did God grant the priceless gift of original justice? We have religion, music, art; truly of us alone among the corporeal creatures can be predicated that term civilization. We have divine authorization to eat animals, as befits our place and high honor in God's creation [Gen 9:2-3].

5. It is more fitting that Adam be created separately, and not come about as the descendant of soulless hominids, in order to illustrate marvelously and unforgettably this special dignity of humanity over the rest of animals. It is more fitting that Eve should come from the body of Adam, so that she and all her children are shown to possess the same dignity above the animals.

6. The formation of Eve from the side of Adam during his sleep parallels the formation of the Church from the side of Jesus Christ while He was experiencing the deep sleep of death on the Cross. The sacramental formation of the Church from the Sacred Heart of the Lord, pierced by our sins, is a fact of history. If the statement in Genesis that God fashioned Eve from the side of Adam is not a fact of history, where is the strength of the parallel? The parallel, built on a foundation of sand, would collapse. Would not a parallel for the historical event of the formation of the Church be strongest if it were also part of the class of historical events?

7. To no lesser degree is the question of the bodily origin of Adam and Eve related to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The basis for this beautiful sacrament is nothing less than the profound and singular unity that exists between man and woman. This unity and reciprocal love is manifested and consummated in the marriage act whereby husband and wife become, in the words of Christ, not two, but one flesh. And who can separate what God joined together? Thus becomes clear the basis for the prohibition of divorce: the marriage bond lasts until death does them part. The affirmation of the literal formation of Eve from the side of Adam, already grounded in many solid foundations, can only serve to strengthen belief in the sanctity and power of marriage, and to remind us sinners of the gravity of adultery so that we might, with the grace of God, avoid that abomination. On the other hand, where goes the singular unity between man and woman when we introduce the novel proposition, unheard of until the 19th century, that Adam was the son of a soulless hominid, or otherwise taken from the living matter of some animal? And to where but the abyss does that precious unity go when we affirm that Eve is not bone of Adam's bones and flesh of Adam's flesh?

8. The thesis of the literal creation of Adam from the ground and Eve from the side of Adam has important ties to and implications for feminist theology. If Eve really came from the side of Adam, then she is much more clearly side by side with, i.e., equal to, Adam in dignity. Thus men and women are clearly of equal dignity, a truth most dear to feminist theologians as it ought to be most dear to everyone. And yet it also puts a check on feminist theology. In St. Paul the Apostle's First Letter to Timothy, the creation story serves as a basis for an irreformable moral teaching, that women cannot usurp the roles which God gave to men in Church and must keep silent while in church. While feminist theologians might strive for more prerogatives in this area for women, we must obey the word of God because it is not open to debate, for inspiration is incompatible with all errors and defects, including moral shortcomings. The Apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, repeatedly affirms the headship of the husband in the family. Ought we not to trust God for making things this way? Does not God, Who does not merely have wisdom but is Wisdom itself, order all things sweetly? [Wisdom 8:1]. Is not this order of authority designed to foster mutual harmony and love? St. Paul plainly affirms that "Adam was formed first" and this is one of the reasons for this divinely inspired doctrine. Thus to deny that Eve was in very truth formed from the side of Adam is to, whether consciously or not, remove one of the indispensable bases for the doctrine of different ecclesial and familial roles for men and women and make the Spirit of Truth Who inspired St. Paul a spirit who commits fallacies. Let us shrink from such a crime!

9. Finally, in addition to the above arguments from right reason, it must be said that the affirmation of the formation of Adam from the slime of the earth and Eve from the side of Adam is most fitting in order to foster a stronger confidence in the Magisterium to interpret correctly the sacred literature God left us. The thesis of this paper is the unanimous consensus of the Church Fathers, which is infallible. Ought we not to give precedence to the saintly Doctors throughout the centuries rather than to modern Biblical scholars who have departed from the ancient traditional norms of the interpretation? Ought we not to see the literal sense of Scripture as the sense on which all other senses of Scripture are based? Are we wiser than all the Church Fathers, who were handed the exegetical rules and methods of the very Apostles themselves?

10. It is more sensible to safeguard the literal, straightforward historical interpretation which has been perpetually cherished throughout the two millennia of the history of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Far from neglecting and overshadowing the deeper religious truths of the creation story, the literal approach forms the strong and unshakable basis for these salvific truths. If we deny that Eve was formed from the body of Adam, how will we account for the name "woman" which describes all the female offspring of our first parents? And indeed if we say that Adam evolved from a lesser ape, how is he ultimately one of our two first parents? The buck stops with Adam and Eve. With the denial of the real historicity of the Genesis creation narrative, what becomes of the use of Genesis 1:26 as support, from the use of the first person plural, for the doctrine of the Trinity, especially when we evangelize our Jewish friends who would look first to the Torah and Tanakh before considering any of the New Testament? What becomes of the religious truth that men will sweat and work hard in order to feed themselves until the moment of their death if we reduce to mere allegory the reason God Himself is recorded as providing: "for out of [the ground] you were taken"? [Gen 3:19]. All the more could Adam love Eve as himself and as his own body in accordance with Ephesians 5:28,33, if the body of Eve came from him. By saying such things we erode the types and bases for marriage, the formation of the Church, the social relationships and roles of men and women, the dignity of men and women far above and apart from that of the animals. Thus let us believe firmly, and never doubt, the plain sense of one of the earliest statements in God-breathed Scripture: "And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul" [Gen 2:7]. Amen.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Lives of the Saints Are Tearjerkers

About a week ago, I was reading some hagiography as I usually do, and there were three saints whose stories drove me to tears. I can't remember all three and I should have written them down; I pray that God will refresh my memory. The first was Ven. Antonietta Meo (I pray she will be canonized soon!), and I believe the second was St. Dominic Savio the Child Wonderworker of Piedmont.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not by works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us

Predestination to glory in abstraction from grace is post prœvisa merita

1. It seems that predestination to glory in abstraction from grace is ante prœvisa merita. This seems to be more consistent with Scripture than the opposing theory of post prœvisa merita. This is my conclusion after reading a lot on the issue and pondering the treatment of the issue by St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor Angelicus in his must-read Summa Theologica.

Predestination Ante Prœvisa Merita in the Pauline Epistles
2. St. Paul the Apostle says in Titus 3:5, "Not by works of justice which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us." After quoting this passage, St. Thomas rightly affirms that "as He saved us, so He also predestined that we should be saved."{1} Thus it would seem from this and other passages to follow shortly that we should probably answer negatively to the question of "whether God pre-ordained that He would give the effect of predestination to anyone on account of any [foreseen] merits."{2} St. Thomas again quotes St. Paul, who says [Rom 9:11-12], "For when they were not yet born, nor had done any good or evil … not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said of her: The elder shall serve the younger."{3} Because "no principle of action can be imagined previous to the act of thinking," we should conclude that nothing "begun in us can be the reason of the effect of predestination" from the statement of St. Paul in 1 Cor 3:5 that "we are not sufficient to think anything of ourselves as of ourselves."{4}

Merits Following the Effect of Predestination Are Not the Cause of Predestination
3. St. Thomas rebuts the thesis "that merits following the effect of predestination are the cause of predestination" by pointing out that "what is of grace is the effect of predestination" and "cannot be" called "the reason of predestination" because "it is contained in the notion of predestination."{5} We can say of the effect of predestination in particular "that God pre-ordained to give glory on account of merit and … pre-ordained to give grace to merit glory."{6} But "the whole of the effect of predestination in general" does not "have any cause as coming from us; because whatsoever is in man disposing him towards salvation, is all included under the effect of predestination; even the preparation for grace," which is clear from the statement of St. Jeremiah the Prophet in Lam 5:21: "convert us, O Lord, to Thee, and we shall be converted."{7}

4. Nevertheless I will have to do a lot of Patristic studies before my opinion can really cement.

Agreement With Fr. William G. Most
5. I agree with Fr. William G. Most, who exemplary Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong rightly calls a genius, that predestination to glory comes before foreseen merits but after the foreseen absence of final impenitence.

Notes & References
{1} St. Thomas Aquinas (Doctor Angelicus), Summa Theologica I, q. 23, art. 5.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.
{7} Ibid.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Apologia Pro Papa Sergius Tertius

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Pope Sergius III murdered Pope Leo V and Antipope Christopher, conducted a Second Cadaver Synod, and fathered Pope John XI with Marozia
1. Pope Sergius III indeed imitated Pope Stephen VI and annulled the ordinations of Pope Formosus,{1} and he indeed praised Stephen VI on his tombstone.{2}
Phantom Flaws
2. (1) Sergius III did not murder or order the murder of Pope Leo V and Antipope Christopher.{3} (2) Sergius III did not father Pope John XI with Marozia. Horace Kinder Mann,{4} Reginald L. Poole,{5} Peter Llewelyn (Rome in the Dark Ages), Karl Josef von Hefele, August Friedrich Gfrörer,{6} Ludovico Antonio Muratori, and Francis Patrick Kenrick{7} maintain that Pope John XI was sired by Alberic I of Spoleto, Count of Tusculum. (3) Sergius III did not conduct a Second Cadaver Synod as Platina alone claims.{8} Joseph Brusher, S.J. says that "Sergius [III] indulged in no resurrection-man tactics himself"{9} and Schaff, Milman,{10} Gregorovius,{11} von Mosheim,{12} Miley,{13} Mann,{14} Darras,{15} John the Deacon of Naples, Flodoard, and others make no mention of this story.

3. Pope Sergius III defended Archbishop John of Ravenna from the Count of Istria and ratified the establishment of several new English sees,{16} and he also completely restored the Lateran Palace and opposed Greek heresies.{17} Other contemporaries describe him respectfully, a point on which I will elaborate soon.

Notes & References
{1} "Sergius at once declared the ordinations conferred by Formosus null; but that he put his two predecessors to death, and by illicit relations with Marozia had a son, who was afterwards John XI, must be regarded as highly doubtful. These assertions are only made by bitter or ill-informed adversaries, and are inconsistent with what is said of him by respectable contemporaries [such as Flodoard]." Mann, Horace. "Sergius III." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 22 Dec. 2008. <>. See (12/10/2008), "Pope Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod" @
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Poole, Reginald L. (1917). "Benedict IX and Gregory VI". Proceedings of the British Academy 8: 230.
{6} Gfrörer, August Friedrich, Allgemeine Kirchengeschichte, vol. III, Stuttgart: A. Krabbe, pp. 1133-1275, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-06.
{7} Kenrick, Francis Patrick (1855), The Primacy of the Apostolic See Vindicated, Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., p. 418, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-06.
{8} "Nor was he [Sergius III] content with thus dishonouring the dead Pope [Formosus], but he drags his carcass again out of the grave, beheads it as if it had been alive, and then throws it into the Tiber, as unworthy the honour of human burial." Platina, Bartolomeo, The Lives of the Popes From The Time Of Our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII, vol. I, London: Griffith Farran & Co., p. 243, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
{9} Brusher, Joseph, S.J. (1959). Sergius III. Popes Through the Ages. Neff-Kane. Retrieved on 2008-01-02.
{10} Milman, Henry Hart (1867), History of Latin Christianity, vol. III (4th ed.), London: John Murray, pp. 287-290.
{11} Gregorovius, Ferdinand (1903), The History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. III (2nd ed.), London: George Bell & Sons, pp. 242-248, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-08. Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. notes that Gregorovius was "a bitter enemy of the popes." See Hardon, John (1998). "IV. Recognizing the True Church". Christ to Catholicism. InterMirifica. Retrieved on 2008-01-02.
{12} von Mosheim, Johann Lorenz (1852), Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, Ancient and Modern, vol. II (5th ed.), New York: Stanford and Swords, pp. 120-121, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
{13} Miley, John (1850), The History of the Papal States From Their Origin to the Present Day, vol. II, London: T.C. Newby, pp. 269-281, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
{14} Mann, Horace Kinder (1910), The Lives of the Popes In The Early Middle Ages, vol. IV, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, & Co., Ltd., pp. 119-142, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
{15} Darras, Joseph-Epiphane (1898), A General History of the Catholic Church, vol. II, New York: Excelsior Catholic Publishing House, pp. 560-564, <>. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
{16} Mann, Horace. "Sergius III." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 22 Dec. 2008 <>.
{17} Ibid.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pope Stephen VI and the Cadaver Synod

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Stephen VI [r. 5/22/896-8/897]
Pope Stephen VI was forced by Emperor Lambert and his mother Ageltruda to conduct the Cadaver Synod.{1} His caving into secular pressure led to one of the most bizarre and embarrassing episodes in Church history. He had the body of Formosus exhumed and placed before an unwilling council while a deacon answered charges that Formosus acted as a bishop after being deposed and illicitly passed from the See of Porto to the Holy See.{2} The body of Formosus was divested of the papal vestments and the fingers to give the sign of benediction were severed, and he was clothed as a layman and quickly buried.{3} It was ultimately re-exhumed and thrown into the Tiber River.{4} Stephen forced a number of men ordained by Formosus to resign.{5} Before he was strangled in prison he granted a few privileges to churches.{6}

Notes & References
{1} Mann, Horace. "Pope Stephen (VI) VII." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 29 Nov. 2008 <>.
{2} Ibid.
{3} Ibid.
{4} Ibid.
{5} Ibid.
{6} Ibid.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Happy Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

God bless you on this great feast day of the Immaculate Conception of the Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, protectress of all Christians, and far and away the holiest of all creatures. Your heart burns with more love for God than the Seraphim. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen. Believe firmly, and never doubt, that St. Mary never contracted any stain of original, venial, or mortal sin.

Mass today, like the previous masses here at college, almost made me cry with tears of joy at the promises of God and tears of sorrow for my sins. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

There has not been such great distress in Israel since the time prophets ceased to appear among the people

1 Maccabees 9:27 means that 1 Maccabees is not inspired Scripture
1 Maccabees 9:27 reads, "There has not been such great distress in Israel since the time prophets ceased to appear among the people." Protestant apologists claim that this means that 1 Maccabees is not divinely inspired. To see why the are wrong, see "Demolishing Fallacious Arguments Against the Deuterocanon." The Banana Republican. 14 Mar. 2006. 3 Dec. 2008 <>.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water

St. John the Evangelist records in following in Jn 7:37-39: "And on the last, and great day of the festivity, Jesus stood and cried, saying: If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink. He that believeth in Me, as the scripture saith: Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Now this He said of the Spirit which they should receive who believed in him: for as yet the Spirit was not given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." But we find this quote verbatim nowhere in the Old Testament. I see two possibilities to explain the difficulty of why this "scripture" is not a verbatim part of the canon. The first is that the Greek graphe can be any written document. The second is that our Lord was doing some sort of midrash or other rabbinical exegesis or paraphrase of Sir 24:40-42: "I, Wisdom, have poured out rivers. I, like a brook out of a river of a mighty water; I, like a channel of a river, and like an aqueduct, came out of paradise. I said: I will water My garden of plants, and I will water abundantly the fruits of My meadow."

Notes & References
{1} Holding, James Patrick. "Shooting Yourself in the Foot: An Anti-Missionary Site on Contradictions in the NT." Tekton Apologetics Ministries. 2 Dec. 2008 <>. Mr. Holding made a typo; Witherington's Scriptural citation should be 24:40-42 instead of 24:30-32.
{2} Ibid.