By: Mary Woodward
Picture this: At the crack of dawn on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene comes bursting into the room where the Twelve (well, Eleven) are somberly standing and waiting for something to happen. They have no idea what to do next: their friend, teacher, and Father is dead. With these thoughts weighing on their minds, it comes as quite a shock (that might be an understatement) when Mary Magdalene announces that the tomb.... is empty.
Peter and John take off running, not yet daring to hope but knowing that something bigger than death is going on. When they arrive, the shroud is folded neatly to the side, away from the other burial cloths. And Jesus?
He's nowhere to be found.
What is it about the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus that's so amazing?
Think about it: Jesus defied the laws of nature and rose from the dead, which is amazing, but it had been done before. Jesus called Lazarus back to life, and he had been dead for four days. Rising from the dead wasn't a unique feat for Jesus.
Jesus took away the sins of the world, which is beyond amazing, but can we expect less from the God who loves us endlessly and infinitely? Surely this is not what so grasps our attention.
What makes the events of the past few days so amazing is simple: Jesus is only human. Yes, his humanity was perfectly unified with his divine nature, but it was a human body that was tormented on the cross. It was a human body that was laid in the tomb. It was a human body that took the sins of the world onto its shoulders, and it was a human body that rose from the dead.
At any point in time, God could have banished death and removed the punishment of our sin. In fact, at any given moment he could annihilate evil completely, but he allows it to endure so that we can always choose to love him instead of following because there's no other option.
He didn't snap his fingers and destroy sin, though. Instead, he conquered it by becoming the very thing that was a slave to sin- a human. That's what makes the destruction of sin by his death and Resurrection so amazing- not that it happened, but that it happened through the love of a human. God loves us so much that he was willing to forsake the infinite power of his divinity and limit himself to the capacity of a finite human.
So here's why the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus are so amazing: it was all the work of a human. A human saved us from sin, and now mere humanity is accounted worthy to participate in the Trinity.
But even more than that, what amazes us is that, like Jesus, we are only human, too.
"The secret of success is to make your vocation your vacation." - Mark Twain
The last month of school in my religion class was dedicated to vocations. I was blown away by how much content and "good stuff to know" I learned throughout the process! And just for you all, I have a whole notebook stocked full with quotes, thoughts and other randomness about vocations and other people’s vocational journeys. Just kidding, I had to take notes anyways. (I mean, it's school! What do you expect!)
But I learned throughout this process, how difficult and daunting this process can be. I mean, how can a 13 year old learn what to do with her life? But hopefully, through this Vocation Series, both you and I can learn how to answer this call from God thoroughly and with great joy and purpose.
When most young people (including me) think about vocation, they think about just about the main question. Will I be married? A priest? Single? A sister?
Yet, a vocation is so much more. A vocation is a direct call to holiness from God that will make you happy.
Key words- holiness, God, and happy.
To make your vocation your vacation, you must be happy.
What comes to mind when you think of a vacation? I always think of sleeping in, good food, nice hotels and my family around me.
Now what do you think of a vocation? Right now in my life, I think of a happy life covered with a fog of uncertainty because right now, I have no clue whatsoever what God is calling me to do in life. Well, maybe a little bit, but not much. :)
I bet most of you are in the same boat of "what should I do with my life". If so, please take this series to heart. If not, have fun (and learn from) looking at the confused people who are still deciding what to do with their lives. :)
So join me in trying to make your future vocation a vacation.
Inside and outside the Catholic world, Pope Francis has undeniably become (to borrow a somewhat trite phrase from social media) a “trending” figure since March 2013. It seems to me that, since his election, hardly a week has been able to go by before some new article or blog post has been published about him (like this one). His off-the-cuff remarks and airplane interviews are quickly seized by news outlets, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and quite often are used to paint him as a more-or-less revolutionary figure, one who is finally willing to discuss hot topics that were previously closed-off. Within the Church, to give a hugely oversimplified summary of things as I’ve seen them (one not meant to be exhaustive in any sense), it seems that those on the left see him as either a disappointment (since he hasn’t gone as far as they’d like) or as a long-overdue savior who has helped to rescue the Church from the Middle Ages—a savior from whom promising changes are sure to come. It appears that Catholics on the right see him either as a disappointment (since he has thoroughly maintained and even deepened the “modern status quo”) or, depending on how “far” right one looks, as a genuine danger to the wellbeing of the Church.
There’s also the interestingly-polarizing issue (largely discussed in the Catholic blogosphere, but in secular sources as well if the issue can be used to set up an easy dichotomy between this man and those who have come before him) of the pope’s clothes. Some people treat his wardrobe like a breath of fresh air, seeing in him a genuinely “human” pope whose prompt abandonment of papal trappings and customs is a move well-worth praising. Jesus, after all, lived a humble life from His birth to His death, so why should the pope treat himself like medieval royalty? Others, generally those who would be designated by titles such as “conservative” (or the more stigmatizing “traditionalist”), are unsettled by this same approach, seeing in it a disrespect to the dignity of the Papal office, an attempt to make the pope “just like everyone else,” or a political statement about the “humility” (or lack thereof?) of his predecessors. Still others couldn’t care less what the pope wears.
As for me, I’ve generally avoided sharing any personal opinions concerning our much-talked-about Pontiff. I’ve also avoided talking about the controversial issues that so many of his statements have caused. Those are left to people smarter than I, and besides, although this is certainly not true across the board, I think that, in some cases, no one besides Pope Francis knows clearly what Pope Francis means when he says the latest ambiguous or unsettling comment. I still don’t plan to delve into those areas, really, as I don’t think it’s necessary for me to do that.
But I just remembered something that would do everyone, and most especially Pope Francis himself, a lot of good.
Remember when Pope Francis first stepped out onto the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica two years ago? What did he ask people to do as his pontificate went forward?
“Pray for me.”
Let me ask you this: do you remember to pray for Pope Francis? Whether people like or dislike the man, he needs prayers. He’s human. He may be the Vicar of Christ on Earth, but he has strengths and weaknesses, just like anyone else. I can’t speak for others, but I, for one, get so distracted by the frequent discussions about Pope Francis that I rarely remember to ask God to give His divine aid to the man who leads His Church. On and off the internet, I’ve heard people say they wish the Holy Father would measure his words more carefully, so as not to give way to unorthodox interpretations of his statements. I’ve heard some say they wish he’d not be so quick to hurl names at groups he disagrees with. I’ve heard people say they wish he’d stop giving his own opinions about so many things. Those are all perfectly understandable wishes, especially considering that the pope is a prime target for secular news outlets that are eagerly awaiting for new statements to spin. But (and again, I can’t speak for others—this is purely food for thought) no amount of frustration over the Latest Papal Comment, however well-founded (and they frequently are well-founded), will have any good effect compared to frequent and genuine prayers on the Holy Father’s behalf. If people want the pope to become a fierce and unambiguous defender of orthodoxy, they ought to frequently and ardently pray that God would move him to be one. To some extent, one might say the goodness of the pope is as good as the number of people who pray for him.
Whether people like or dislike Pope Francis, there is one request of his that everyone can, and indeed must, fulfill: the request to charitably pray for him as he fulfills his Petrine ministry.
As one who has frequently forgotten to do this, I now want to assure the Holy Father that I will do my best to remember to pray for him, frequently and genuinely, from now on.
Would others please do so with me?
By Michael B.
By: Nick John
With the topic of contraception addressed, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical talks about the problems that could come about if artificial birth control was used. It begins with, “…consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men -- especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point…” (Humanae Vitae 17). This is exactly what we see today. Pope Paul then goes on and says, “It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion” (Humane Vitae 17, emphasis added). “As a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment…” There is no doubt that society has come to that point. If it is really thought about though, Pope Paul’s prophesy is very logical. Contraception has played a huge part in the immorality that is seen today.
Additionally, Humane Vitae points out the roles of those in authority, and the temptations that assail people every day.
On this occasion, we wish to draw the attention of educators, and of all who perform duties of responsibility in regard to the common good of human society, to the need of creating an atmosphere favorable to education in chastity, that is, to the triumph of healthy liberty over license by means of respect for the moral order.
Everything in the modern media of social communications which leads to sense excitation and unbridled customs, as well as every form of pornography and licentious performances, must arouse the frank and unanimous reaction of all those who are solicitous for the progress of civilization and the defense of the common good of the human spirit. (Humane Vitae 22)
To Rulers, who are those principally responsible for the common good, and who can do so much to safeguard moral customs, we say: Do not allow the morality of your peoples to be degraded; do not permit that by legal means practices contrary to the natural and divine law be introduced into that fundamental cell, the family. (Humanae Vitae 23)
Beloved priest sons, by vocation you are the counselors and spiritual guides of individual persons and of families. We now turn to you with confidence. Your first task -- especially in the case of those who teach moral theology -- is to expound the Church's teaching on marriage without ambiguity. (Humanae Vitae 28)
Although Humanae Vitae gives more emphasis on people in authority, every one of us has a responsibility to live up to. We have the command to live purely in the world that is impure. Be aware of the tasks entrusted to your station in live. More importantly though, be aware for the temptations that are directed for you, and how to fight them.
The whole papal encyclical Humanae Vitae has prophetic statements. If contraception became widespread, Humanae Vitae stated that, “A change is also seen both in the manner of considering the person of woman and her place in society, and in the value to be attributed to conjugal love in marriage, and also in the appreciation to be made of the meaning of conjugal acts in relation to that love” (Humanae Vitae 2) This is exactly what is done today. Through the scandals sexual activity today, women are viewed as objects of pleasure; and the gift of sexuality, which is a sacred gift to be only used in marriage, is being used so much that there is no “appreciation to be made of the meaning of conjugal acts in relation to that love.” Another statement made in Humanae Vitae is “Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious?” (17) This is where we could be at; Obama’s HHS mandate is only a small step toward this goal. Humanae Vitae did prophecy about what would happen if contraception was used.
Some of the reminders that Pope Paul gave to couples were that:
By it [the graces received at baptism and the sacrament of matrimony] husband and wife are strengthened and as it were consecrated for the faithful accomplishment of their proper duties, for the carrying out of their proper vocation even to perfection, and the Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world.32 To them the Lord entrusts the task of making visible to men the holiness and sweetness of the law which unites the mutual love of husband and wife with their cooperation with the love of God the author of human life. (Humanae Vitae 25)
And also that married couples need to be taught “The indispensable way of prayer; prepare them to have recourse often and with faith to the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance, without ever allowing themselves to be discouraged by their own weakness” (Humanae Vitae 29) It is through the reception of the sacraments that all couples are able to live the responsibility of being a “Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world.”
Humanae Vitae has much for us to learn from. Addressing the topics of natural procreation of children, true love, contraception, temptations, the responsibilities of those in authority, and prophetic statements, gives a general over view of the marriage life. Now
It can be foreseen that this teaching will perhaps not be easily received by all: Too numerous are those voices -- amplified by the modern means of propaganda -- which are contrary to the voice of the Church. To tell the truth, the Church is not surprised to be made, like her divine Founder, a "sign of contradiction",22 yet she does not because of this cease to proclaim with humble firmness the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical. Of such laws the Church was not the author, nor consequently can she be their arbiter; she is only their depositary and their interpreter, without ever being able to declare to be licit that which is not so by reason of its intimate and unchangeable opposition to the true good of man. (Humnae Vitae 18)
The Catholic Church knows that humans can and will fall. Therefore, she “…has compassion on the crowd, receives sinners; but [since she is the “pillar and foundation of truth] she cannot renounce the teaching of the law which is, in reality, that law proper to a human life restored to its original truth and conducted by the spirit of God” (Humanae Vitae 19). Humane Vitae was told us what could happen if contraception was used, and here we are, just like it prophesied. It is time for people to understand God’s gifts to them, and to more fully understand that “…Children are really the supreme gift of marriage…” (Humanae Vitae 9).
By: Nick John
The encyclical Humanae Vitae was directed at the topic of Birth Control. This was a question that the Church had to settle for the wellbeing of its flock. Thus Pope Paul VI writes this letter to not only priests and bishops but also to “the Faithful and all Men of Good Will.” This encyclical shows the beauty of love between spouses, the importance of God’s most precious gift of children, and is very prophetic of what we see today. Therefore, this papal letter has a lot of information for us today…. All it is waiting for is a review.
There are many aspects of the family life that this encyclical covers, one of them being the natural action of procreating children. Humanae Vitae begins with this topic. It states, “The most serious duty of transmitting human life, for which married persons are the free and responsible collaborators of God the Creator, has always been a source of great joys to them, even if sometimes accompanied by not a few difficulties and by distress” (Humanae Vitae 1). This first paragraph has the whole teaching of this encyclical in it. It is said, and rightly so, that we need to let God have control of every part of our lives. Notice that it is said “every part”, this means even the sexual intercourse that spouses have. This stated in the quote above, in the part about “…married persons are the free and responsible collaborators of God the Creator…” What Pope Paul is saying is that since married persons are partners (with God) in God’s plan of procreation, it is logical that we human beings let God be part of the union.
Now along the same topic of procreation is the subject of love.
“This love is first of all fully human, that is to say, of the senses and of the spirit at the same time. It is not, then, a simple transport of instinct and sentiment, but also, and principally, an act of the free will, intended to endure and to grow by means of the joys and sorrows of daily life, in such a way that husband and wife become one only heart and one only soul, and together attain their human perfection” (Humane Vitae 9).
It also explains what true love is: “Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but for the partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself” (Humanae Vitae 9). This love is for life, with death the only thing to cut that bond. Contrary to the modern society, “The example of so many married persons down through the centuries shows, not only that fidelity is according to the nature of marriage, but also that it is a source of profound and lasting happiness” (Humanae Vitae 9). So what Pope Paul is trying to point out is that love does not look for anything in return. Rather, if one truly loves another, he will give without expecting a return. If one loves another he will not exercise his/her sexual right over his/her spouse because “…a conjugal act imposed upon one's partner without regard for his or her condition and lawful desires is not a true act of love…” (Humanae Vitae 13).
The most commonly associated thing with this encyclical is the topic of contraception. Humanae Vitae is very clear on this topic. It says, “…the Church…teaches that each and every marriage act…must remain open to the transmission of life” (Humanae Vitae 11). This really explains, without any confusion, what the truth is on this matter. It reaffirms this later by stating;
Now, some may ask: in the present case, is it not reasonable in many circumstances to have recourse to artificial birth control if, thereby, we secure the harmony and peace of the family, and better conditions for the education of the children already born? To this question it is necessary to reply with clarity: the Church is the first to praise and recommend the intervention of intelligence in a function which so closely associates the rational creature with his Creator; but she affirms that this must be done with respect for the order established by God.
If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier. (Humanae Vitae 16)
This is where Natural Family Planning (NFP) comes in. NFP is not a “non-artificial contraception”. Rather, NFP is a way of insuring a way of healthy contraption in a spirit of generosity. What NFP does is, like it is stated in Humane Vitae, a way “…to renounce the use of marriage in the fecund periods when, for just motives, procreation is not desirable, while making use of it during infecund periods to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love” (16). What it is saying is that during the fertile times, during the gestation, the couple abstains from procreating children. Then, during the infertile times, the spouses consummate the marriage bond. Why NFP is different than contraception is because contraception prevents the sperm from reaching the egg (or kills the embryo during its gestation). Whereas, NFP allows the natural process of fertilization, it just that the woman’s body is not, naturally, fertile.
And also that married couples need to be taught “The indispensable way of prayer; prepare them to have recourse often and with faith to the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance, without ever allowing themselves to be discouraged by their own weakness” (Humanae Vitae 29) It is through the reception of the sacraments that all couples are able to live the responsibility of being a “Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world.”
TO BE CONTINUED
God is really so amazing. So, so, so very amazing.
On a chilly night a few weeks ago, I experienced an emotional rollercoaster.. It was my school's biannual Father Daughter Dance. I was actually pretty excited! I loved my dress, and I made my hair look all fancy (which I don't get to do very often. :D). My dad, my sister and I went to a nice, quaint little Italian restaurant. It was all going pretty well, and I loved it so far!
I got to the dance, and not a lot of people were there. So we took some pictures, went into the Photo Booth, and got a picture with Elsa. (Yes, the Elsa from Frozen was actually there. I was quite excited.)
I sat down with my dad, and we started talking. It was actually really cool, because most of the time I talk to my mom about my social problems and stuff. But to hear it from my Dad, I realized how much we are alike.
For some reason, I had a longing to go talk to God. The church was actually open, and empty, so my Dad and I went in there. It was dark except for the candle that is on almost the whole year. And all of these messy and raw emotions were pouring out of me, and I couldn't stop crying. I didn't get it. I just didn't get it. I felt like I have always been there for all of my friends. I would help them if they needed a ride home, or if they were feeling sad I would cheer them up. If their family member died, I would always try to tell them it would be okay.
So shouldn't they want to talk to me? Am I not social? Am I awkward, or weird? Why don't they want to socialize with me?
I remember one time I was invited to go bowling. I was so excited because like I mentioned before, I don't get invited to much. Turns out, I couldn't make it. Our family commitment this year has been Adoration. We will never miss Adoration unless it is an emergency. Well, guess when my event was? Right in the smack dab middle of our hour.
It's okay though, I went to CVS and my mom bought me some Oreos. I ate them all (it was a small box) and I didn't regret it.
So anyway, here I was, in the front pew of a dark church, crying. I didn't get it, I didn't get anything. But the only thing I did get is how amazing God is to let me cry out all my feelings to him.
My dad, who was with me during some of that time, left to go check on my sister. So it was just me and God, in an empty church.
I started whispering to God everything that I felt that time. I feel like God took all of my anger, and sadness, and turned it around into grace and comfort. I could feel Him working inside of me, comforting me.
Jesus is ultimately the best friend anyone could ever have. Everything He does is perfect for us. He will always be here for us, and yet sometimes we ignore Him in turn for our other "friends". He is constantly crying for our sins. But He still has the time to comfort us, even with our piddly little human ramblings.
He died for us, and we just continue to turn our backs. So who was I to complain about not having girls want to talk to me?
I sat in God's presence for awhile.. then I heard a crack and realized that someone else was in the church. So, as you can imagine, I skedaddled out of there. I apologize to that person if they heard my ramblings.
All in all, the last part of the night was wonderful. We went out for ice cream afterward... a perfect end to a crazy day.
God really will take all your sorrows and mold them into something better. I remember telling God in the church "I know something good will come out of this, but I am not sure what." Well now I do.
God, you are so amazing.
All through Christ,
My dear friends,
Last Sunday, we heard one of the more unsettling Gospel readings of the liturgical cycle. St. John relates the happenings for us (Jn. 2:14-17):
Jesus found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money changers seated there. He made a whip out of chords and drove them all out of the temple area, and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves He said, 'Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a market place.' His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me.
The temple referred to here is, of course, a physical building, and Christ here is attempting to cleanse it of those who would use it improperly. But this reading, coming as it does during Lent, that penitential time of the Church's calendar, makes me think of a second, and much more important, type of temple: human persons.
I have such a difficult time remembering that my body and soul, really and truly, constitute a temple of God. Being in God's grace does not just mean that one is "without mortal sin," or that one is "kinda, sorta right with God."Being in the state of grace means the real, genuine, and personal indwelling of God within the soul. Our Lord said to His disciples, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our dwelling with him" (Jn. 14:23). This wasn't some kind of nice figure of speech that has no real affect on reality—it's a genuine assurance, a real sign of God's love for each person individually. The person who follows God is not just given a ticket to heaven when he dies, but rather, he receives the true indwelling of the Three Divine Persons in his soul.
Not only the soul, but the body, too, constitutes a temple. "Do you not know," St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, "that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, bear and glorify God with your bodies" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
"You are not your own."
It's hard to remember that, isn't it?
The passage from John's Gospel quoted above says that "zeal for God's house" consumed Our Lord as He drove everyone from the temple. If we, too, human persons, are temples, then what is Lent but a time to drive damaging vices, corruptions, and influences from ourselves? Zeal for the physical temple consumed the Lord Jesus, yet any physical temple is destined for decay. The human soul, however, is a temple which will last forever, either in heaven or hell, depending on whom we have followed in our time on earth. The human body, too, the temple of the Holy Spirit, will be resurrected at the end of time, to add either to our glory and happiness in heaven with God, or our torment in hell apart from Him.
Part of the idea behind the customary Lenten sacrifices that Catholics take on is that they might be an aid in purifying the soul, quelling vices, and bringing one closer to God. But without a zeal for the soul as God's temple, they can become an arbitrary chore that might as well not be taken on. Are you performing a sacrifice this Lent out of a sense of obligation, or do you truly want to grow closer to God through this offering? Is there some vice you want to eradicate? Perform your sacrifice with the mind of Christ in this Gospel: get a whip, knock over tables, and drive out that which makes your relationship with God a kind of contract, but not a relationship of personal and genuine love.
Let zeal for your house, for your temple, consume you.
May God bless you all, and have a holy Lent.
As we all know, the Super Bowl was played just a little bit more than a month ago. Now I realize that Boston, because of all the snow they have gotten recently, has forgotten already (I don’t know how) that they won the Superbowl. A couple of interesting things happened that day. No I am not talking about Brady giving his truck to Malcolm Butler (although that was neat). I am talking about that Super Bowl the commercials went for 4 million dollars for a 30 second commercial. Now it was just a couple of years ago that it hit the headlines that a 30 sec. Super Bowl commercial price was 2 million dollars. So the commercials have doubled in price over the past years. Now the companies who pay for these commercials know that it is worth the price.So maybe the Catholic Church needs to have a couple of commercials in 2016 Superbowl? Is that the way to renew the Catholic Church’s vigor and strength that it had before?
Although commercials are good motivators to get us to buy something, we know that they are fake. Although they are fake, the goal of a commercial is to have the audience forget that it is staged. Rather, the goal of a commercial is to get us thinking about buying the product that it is trying to sell. That is the job of the commercial designers to make the commercial more appealing. If a commercial is good enough, it can boost sales and help the company achieve its goals.
Now as most of us know, the Catholic Church is losing its members. The members that the Catholic Church still has are growing older. Many people offer this or that suggestion about how to draw more people, especially younger people, into the Catholic Church. The suggestions are endless. The more traditional Catholics claim that if the Mass was more reverent, in Latin, sung in Gregorian Chant, ect… that it would be more appealing. On the other hand, there are those who say that if the music is more upbeat, the congregation is actively participating (by that they mean doing something at mass), the mass is no longer than one hour 10 mins, ect… it would draw in the modern crowd. Now these points may or may not work, this blog is not going to go into that, but there is one point that is missing. This missing point is the key, I believe.
Today’s world has many people who say one thing but live another way, just look around. The problem is that this world is thirsting for authentic lives. The examples that show this are numerable, just look at history and how all the saints had people flocking to them. Some of the modern examples, though, include Saint John Paul the Second and Saint Mother Theresa. Both Mother Theresa and John Paul the Great were constantly sought out by everyone. Now guaranteed that John Paul was the Pope a the time, but there was a special attraction that drew people in. What was it though that was so attractive about Mother Theresa and JohnPaul? The simple answer is that they were trying to "become-the-best-version of themselves" as Matthew Kelly coins it. In both of their different stations of life, one as a missionary serving the "poorest of the poor" in India and other places, while another the leader of the Catholic Church for more than 26 years; they tried to live the mission that God gave them, while also trying to become-the-best-version of themselves. It was this life that they lived, not a life that was for a "show" but a life that was in accord with their words and beliefs, that was the magnet for their popularity.
Returning back to the original question asked; if the Catholic Church invested in some Super Bowl commercials, will that help bring people back to the Church (since it does work for companies)? Maybe maybe not. Nevertheless, there is a much better way for the Church to publicise itself. This better way is mostly our responsibility, as the laity. We need to live authentic lives. Yes the priests have this responsibility too, but we ourselves have our own opportunity to evangelize. Nevertheless though, we can not be that light to "Set the World Afire" (not literally though) without, first, we ourselves, individually, trying to become-the-best-version of ourselves.
So what are some ways to start to become-the-best-version of ourselves, especially during this time of Lent? First and foremost, always, it is through prayer. Matthew Kelly suggests that people spend five minutes in quiet prayer. By the way, this is one-hundred times easier to do if your in a quiet place. Just let God do the talking. Fr. Larry Richards says that the reason why we can't hear God is because we need to "shut-up". He explains that sometimes when we pray, we just have a one-sided conversation, with us doing all the talking, without letting God have a chance to say anything. So spend your five minutes and let God do all the talking.Try to block the distractions, have quality one-on-one personal time with God. If you want a starting idea, to help keep your mind focused, open the Bible to a random verse. Read the first verse that catches your eye. Then say, "Ok God your servant is listening" and let Him do the rest for once. You may not get anything, but you will enjoy that 5 minutes of being away from the noise. Another idea includes reading some spiritual book. Lent is not only about giving up stuff, you can spend your Lent doing something extra, like reading a spiritual book. It is amazing how much a good spiritual book can help you, give it a try.
In conclusion, commercials are used to get people to buy the product that the ad is trying to sell. The goal of a commercial is to make it “real”. This is based off of the fact that an authentic life is one that attracts people. Some of the modern examples of an authentic life include Sts. Mother Theresa and John Paul II. Both of these people were an attraction to the modern world due to the fact that their life was not a fake one. It is our job as Catholics, and Christians, to be the light of Christ to this world today, through our lives. Therefore, let us pray to Mother Theresa and John Paul the Second, so that we may fulfill the role that we are called to live. Thanks for reading this blog (comment any thoughts you have about it), and God bless!
By Nick John
“To you, therefore, most merciful Father” – (Somewhat) Theological Observations About the Canon of the Mass, Part 1
Until the current form of the Mass was officially promulgated in late 1969, Catholics of the Roman rite would have only known one Eucharistic Prayer. That prayer, now the first option among many (and commonly known as the Roman Canon), had sustained the Church almost entirely unchanged for over a millennium, and was, it might be argued, a hallmark of the Church’s liturgical faith against the ideas of people such as the founders of Protestantism.
The Council of Trent gave a glowing endorsement of this particular prayer with the following statement (read carefully, as it’s a bit of a mental tongue-twister): “And since it is becoming that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and since, of all things, this sacrifice is the most holy, the Catholic Church, to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, instituted many centuries ago the holy canon, which is so free from error that it contains nothing that does not in the highest degree savor of a certain holiness and piety, and raise up to God the minds of those who offer. For it consists partly of the very words of the Lord, partly of the traditions of the Apostles, and also of pious regulations of holy pontiffs” (Session XXII, Ch. IV).
Despite such high praise, despite the fact that the Church fostered it for centuries, and despite the generations of Catholics who were formed by it, it has been virtually thrown out of the ecclesial window and into the ecclesial trash heap since the end the of Second Vatican Council. Most often used in its place are Eucharistic Prayer II (a significantly shorter prayer with a much thinner level of substance) and Eucharistic Prayer III (a prayer which was written to be, in many ways, a reworking of the Canon so as to fix its perceived problems). Unless they have a priest who particularly likes it, Catholics today will generally hear the Roman Canon a few times a year (probably at Christmas, Easter, and All Saint’s Day—the last one due to the lists of individual saint names present in the prayer). But otherwise, several centuries of tradition have been discarded, with priests finding the Canon too long, the new prayers more streamlined, or the content of the new prayers more appealing (if a priest is reading this and has other reasons for not using the Canon, let me know; I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth). As for me, though, I’ve felt a strong affinity for the Roman Canon ever since the Mass was retranslated a few years ago, and I feel like some of my readers might appreciate reflections going into why I like it and why I wish it were once again prayed frequently.
NB: a) Before I go into my many thoughts on the matter, let it be said that I’m not an academic, and I’ve only studied this stuff at the level of personal interest, so I recognize that many solid objections could probably be brought up against the things I say.
b) Where there is a portion of Latin in this post, it will be the case for the most part that the translation used is the one promulgated in 2011. If it’s my own translation, I’ll have written something like, “literally translated as…”
The beginning of the Canon in a missal from 1962 (the last edition promulgated of the previous liturgical form). Considering the sweeping changes which would take place in the years following Vatican II, it’s almost surprising that, at least as far as text is concerned, this prayer was virtually untouched (there is a difference in the immediate Consecration formulas, but that might be better discussed elsewhere).
The beginning of the prayer is already markedly different from most of the other options. Most of the other Eucharistic Prayers, making a direct connection with the Sanctus, the Holy, Holy, Holy, address God with the words, “You are indeed holy, O Lord.” Some perceive this as a definitive strength of the new prayers, since they have a greater connection to what has preceded them. That’s a topic for a different post, but at any rate, for those who aren’t used to the Roman Canon and have gotten used to hearing a correlation between the Holy and the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer, the introduction of the Canon might seem strange: “To you, therefore, most merciful Father, we make humble prayer and petition, through Jesus Christ, your Son, Our Lord.” This already establishes a different tone than the other prayers, most of which begin, not with an immediate statement of humility, but a statement of praise. Now, before somebody jumps on that, I’m not saying there’s something wrong with praise and that we should be always and everywhere approaching the Lord in sackloth, ashes, and lamentations. But to me, the tone of these words suggests the weight, the responsibility, the majesty of the action the priest and faithful are going to take part in, and, for me, it provides a deeper mental preparation going forward than the comparatively “joyful” characteristics of the newer prayers. The faithful in Mass are going to be present to God and to all the angels and saints of Heaven, yes, but they’re also going to be transported to the scene of the Cross, the scene of our Good Lord’s suffering and death, and this, I think, is aided by words that recognize, like the centurion, “Lord, I am not worthy” (Mt. 8:8).
The Prayers Before the Consecration
One of the things immediately noticeable about the Roman Canon is that, both in its Latin text and when translated literally (as opposed to the translation approved in the late 1960s), there is an almost poetic quality to it throughout. It uses strings of words that give it an arguably rhythmic tone. It begins, for example, asking God to accept and bless, in the Latin, “haec dona, haec munera, haec sancta sacrificia illibata”—as the current English translation renders it, “these gifts, these offerings, these holy and unblemished sacrifices.” As the priest offers them for the Church, the reader will notice there is yet another set of rhythmic phrases as the priest asks God to “be pleased to guard, unite, and govern her throughout the whole world” (“quam pacificare, custodire, adunare, et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum”).
Going on, it makes immediate mention of the Pope, the bishops, and the clergy, almost as a way of saying that prayers for the Vicar of Christ, whom Our Lord has made His spokesperson on Earth and the Rock of His Church, belong in a prominent place during the Sacred Action. The priest prayers also for all those who “cultivate” or “hand on” the Catholic and Apostolic faith (“et omnibus orthodoxis atque Catholicae et Apostolicae fidei cultoribus”). There is no sense of vagueness in this prayer. It is certainly declaring the Church headed by the Pope and bishops to be the universal faith, the same faith given from the Apostles themselves.
The next section, coupled with its counterpart later in the prayer (which some liturgists suggest were together in the Canon’s earlier development) shows an important truth about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as affirmed by the Council of Trent: that the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice, able to forgive our sins and able to be offered for the souls of Christians both living and dead.
Known as the Memento vivorum, the Remembrance of the Living, the section begins, “Remember, Lord, your servants, and all those gathered here, whose faith and devotion are known to you.” The next line is important, because it clearly enunciates a truth only able to be grasped in the other prayers by way of interpretation. This truth is that the Eucharist is offered, not just communally as a “we,” but separately as well. “I” offer it for my own needs, “you” for yours, and the ordained priest does so differently than the laity present.
And so the prayer says, “For them we offer you this sacrifice of praise, or they offer it for themselves and all who are dear to them”—and pointing to the propitiatory, or sin-forgiving, nature of the Offering, it goes on— “for the redemption of their souls, in hope of health and well-being.” Something to notice is that the word “health” here is a translation of the Latin word “salutis,” which could also be translated as “salvation.” However it’s translated, it’s difficult not to notice, again, that repetitious, almost rhythmic quality I mentioned: the Mass is offered for “redemption, health, and well-being,” things which can all be taken to mean similar things, but which add a poeticism to the prayer by their individual presence.
The next section, the Communicantes, is, like so much of this prayer, clearly Catholic through and through, beginning with a clear and direct affirmation of Mary’s divine maternity. “Communicantes et memoriam venerantes, in primis, gloriosae semper Virginis Mariae, Genetricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi“—literally, “Having communion with and venerating the memory, in the first place, of the glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.” The mention of the many individual saints calls to mind the host of holy men and women who have made it to Heaven, and also helps those present at the Mass to remember that they have intercessors in Heaven constantly praying for their sake. There is a clearly Catholic air, too, as the prayer closes, with the priest asking that by the “merits and prayers” of the saints mentioned, and all the saints in Heaven, the Christian faithful might always experience God’s protection and aid.
In the prayer preceding the Consecration, one can’t help noticing, yet again, that rhythmic repetition which marks so much of the prayer, as the priest asks God to (literally translated) “make this oblation blessed, approved, ratified, reasonable, and acceptable,” that it might become the Body and Blood of His Beloved Son.
More to come, my dear readers, in Part 2, which will take a look at the rest of the Canon from the Consecration onward. That, in fact, is when I’d say things get most striking.
God bless, and may you all have a holy Lent until next time!
Still wondering what to give up for Lent? (Believe me, I've been there before.) Check out this post, and it's accompanying YouTube video.
40 Things to Give up for Lent:
Since Lent is not only a time for giving things up here is a list of things you can do just to make your life better. Maybe choose a couple of your favorites to incorporate in your daily routine.
By Abi P.
‘Tis the season of penance and fasting. That doesn’t have quite the same jingle as the original Christmas song, but you get the idea.
Lent, lent, lent, lent, lent. I mean even the word makes us sigh and groan. If there’s anything most American people hate it’s having to give up the things they like.
When I was thinking about this topic today, which went something long the lines of:
“Oh my gosh it’s Lent again! Dang it, I forgot.” I felt kind of panicked. Every year I give things up, sometimes I fail miserably, sometime I do alright. But each year I kind of give myself this high and lofty ideal. “Lent is coming so I’ve got to do something good.” As if Lent was some sort of holier-than-thou race.
I mean be honest with yourself, how often do you decide to give something up because it sounds good, versus giving something up because you think God wants you too.
I’m hearing crickets in my mind.
In today’s mass readings the responsorial psalm says: “Offer to God a sacrifice of praise”.
Wow. Is it just me or does that sentence blow your mind just a bit? I mean, I feel like that sentence is a bit of a paradox. How does that even work? Usually sacrifice and praise are words on opposite sides of the spectrum, yet here they are working together. What does this mean?
Let’s take a moment and do something a bit different. Why don’t you join me in prayer right now. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Cross yourself.
We’re going to pray right now, at this very moment when you’re reading this, and ask God to show us what this means. And also ask him what we should give up for Lent.
So here we go.
“In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Come Holy Spirit, Jesus and God the Father, come into my heart this morning, like you do when I receive you in Holy Communion. Lord I love you, I worship you, I give you myself. All of me, to do with as you please.”
Take a minute to really think about these words, what you are asking of God. Think about what it means to give yourself as a living sacrifice to God because you love him.
“Lord I ask you humbly today, to tell me what I should give up for Lent.”
Lent is a time for humility, a time to lower ourselves before God and say we are human, He is God.
“Lord I don’t want my will. I want yours. I don’t want to take the easy road, and I don’t want to shy away from the narrow road. I want what you want. Lord give me the grace to offer you a sacrifice of praise. Lord please teach me what that means. Give me joy this lent. Amen.”
Don’t just say these words, or skim over what you’re reading. Please take time, take this to your daily prayer time. Mean the words. Really ask God what He wants of you this Lent.
You can give up eating everything but bread and water, you can give up chocolate and Facebook. But if you don’t take time to give up what God wants you to give up, then trust me, your Lent will not live up to it’s full potential.
If you want to check out the mass readings for today here’s a link: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021615.cfm
Merry Saturday, everyone. Look at this picture for a moment, if you would.
What we have here is a painting of a child and his guardian angel.
Now let me ask you a question: how often do you end up forgetting that your guardian angel is there? I know that this happens to me quite a bit. It may even be tempting for you to think of guardian angels as something little kids have, but as something adults don’t need. If you do think that, I can hardly blame you. The popular prayer to guardian angels (“Angel of God, my guardian dear…”) is child-like in tone, and since guardian angels are almost never talked about among adults, it can be very easy for adults to forget about them. In fact, the words of the Lord Jesus Himself only seem to indicate that “little ones” have guardian angels, since He only mentions children specifically and doesn’t refer to adults (Mt. 18:10).
And yet, adults do have guardian angels, and although this may not be blatantly laid out in Sacred Scripture, it has, nevertheless, been a constant tradition of the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas writes that, “. . . as guardians are appointed for men who have to pass by an unsafe road, so an angel guardian is assigned to each man as long as he is a wayfarer. When, however, he arrives at the end of life, he no longer has a guardian angel; but in the Kingdom he will have an angel to reign with him, in Hell, a demon to punish him” (Summa Theologica, Prima Pars, Q. 113, Art. 4). Pope St. John XXIII said in 1959, “In this earthly life, when children have to make their way along a path beset with obstacles and snares, their fathers take care to call upon the help of those who can look after them and come to their aid in adversity. In the same way our Father in heaven has charged His angels to come to our assistance during our earthly journey which leads us to our blessed fatherland, so that, protected by the angels’ help and care, we may avoid the snares upon our path, subdue our passions and, under this angelic guidance, follow always the straight and sure road which leads to Paradise” (Meditation for the Feast of the Guardian Angels, October 2, 1959). There is also a multitude of quotes from the Church Fathers concerning guardian angels, and, most recently, Pope Francis said that the existence of guardian angels is a “reality”, and that we should actively attempt to form a relationship with ours.
I think it’s a little backwards when we primarily associate guardian angels with children. I would say that adults should be the ones to give their guardian angels more focus, because adults are well past the so-called age of reason, and therefore are going to be held more accountable than children when they sin. One of the best ways to avoid sin is to have your focus continually on what is “above”, since this puts priorities and even temptations into their proper perspective. Being mindful of the presence of your guardian angel can serve to keep temptations at a distance, as it will keep you aware of God and the things of God.
Furthermore, speaking of temptations, guardian angels have power to defend us against the allurements that demons and life’s circumstances give us. They can help us fulfill difficult tasks, they can remind us of things which need to be remembered, they can aid us while we pray (and pray on our behalf), and, if nothing else, they can remind us we’re never going to be alone in life. The point is, you and I should give our guardian angels more focus. They’re given to us to benefit our lives in so many ways, and really, it seems hardly grateful to forget they exist.
By Michael B.
Temptation is one of the most... well tempting things in our lives to just ignore. We all know what it means, and we all know that it's bad, but do we really think about it?
Now let's straighten out a few things. First off, temptation is not a sin. It is the desire to commit a sin. Secondly, temptation blocks off your inner conscience. Do you ever feel those voices battling in your head sometimes? That's your conscience (God) and temptation (the Devil). When you follow through with the action that the Devil is tempting your towards, then you have committed a sin.
There was this one time where I was feeling very tempted. (To do what? You might ask. My lips are sealed.)
By Nick John
In my YouTube video for Fire of the Spirit, I quickly talked about five apologetic verses that Catholics need to know. These five verses are biblical quotes that prove what the Catholic Church teaches. Because of the briefness of the YouTube clip, this blog will go into a bit more depth each of the topic addressed.
In my video I looked at Luke 1:48. I used this verse to prove that it is right for us to honor (not worship, that is for God alone) the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was very holy. The Ark had three things in it; some manna (the bread that feed the Israelites in the desert), Aaron's staff, and pieces of the original Ten Commandments. Now the Blessed Virgin Mary carried Jesus Christ in her womb for 9 months. Which is more important Jesus or the Ark of the Covenant? Obviously Jesus is. Then, remembering the honor that the Ark received, what type of honor should the Mother of God get?
Martin Luther used a verse from Romans to help uphold his “reformation”. He quoted that “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (RSV Rom. 3:28). What Luther was trying to say is that we are saved by faith alone. This is not what the Bible says. The only place that the Bible says “faith alone” is “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (RSV James 2:24). What Paul is trying to say is that “Because the gift of faith is supernatural, no previous good works can deserve it… James tells us that after a man has received the gift of faith he is expected to live up to it” (Rumble 37). James 1:22, or James 2:24, are a quick way to show that the “faith alone” interpretation of Romans is not correct.
In the second epistle of Peter, chapter 2 verses 19-20, he talks about how some scripture is hard to understand. It is not logically possible to base our Christian faith on the Bible alone. If we were supposed to base our faith on the Bible alone (sola scriptura), then we should be able to biblically prove it through the Bible alone. There are many problems with this interpretation though. One problem is that fact that sola scriptura would not be possible biblically (see my blog post on this topic here). Another thing is that nowhere in the Bible does it talk about using the books as a teaching authority. Yes Paul says that “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (RSV Tim. 3:16). The problem is what was scripture? The New Testament was not put together yet! When Paul wrote to Timothy, there were books in the New Testament that were not written yet. If you follow this link and look at the chart you will see which ones are after second Timothy. Also, the compilation of the New Testament books, as we know it now, “…must wait till 397(AD) for the Council of Carthage, before we find the complete collection of New Testament books settled as we have it today (excluding versions that, following Martin Luther, removed certain books)” (Graham 31).
Second Thessalonians 2:15 tells us that we need to rely on tradition. This also goes with the above paragraph about private interpretation. As pointed out above, sola scriptura is not a solid argument. Therefore, without private interpretation, we also need tradition. Also the early Church Fathers would have had a better understanding of scripture since they were in communication with the Apostles.
Timothy 3:15 explains that the church should be one and universal. In Matthew it states that “If your brother sins against you…tell it to the church” (RSV Matt. 18:15). Now, as Steve Ray points out in is talk “Finding the Fullness of Faith”; if there is a Baptist and a Lutheran who need to go to “the church” (as the Bible says) to which church do they go to? It would not be logical for the Lutheran if they go to the Baptist’s church leaders. The Lutheran does not believe in the Baptist’s sect, or else he would be Baptist himself. Nevertheless, for the same reason, it would not be understandable for the Baptist to submit to the Lutheran’s church elders. Even if one were to go to the other’s elders, if it was ruled against him, he would just go and disregard their authority (Finding the Fullness of Faith). So Paul’s verse about the church elders having the authority to rule and govern does not make sense unless there was one church that has the authority structure that the Catholic Church has.
In conclusion, the Catholic Church is shown to have a biblical base for its beliefs. The five verses that I chose are a very few of the countless verses that uphold the Catholic Church. With the many different Bible verses to choose from, it may be hard to memorize many of them for when you’re challenged about your faith. But these five verses can be used to cover a lot of what the Catholic Church teaches. Merry Christmas!
Feel free to comment below… Maybe you could post some of your favorite apologetic verses?
“Finding the Fullness of Faith”. Steve’s Ray’s conversion talk.
Revised Standard Version. Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1946. Print.
Graham, G. Henry. Where We Got the Bible. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1977. Print.
Rumble, Leslie. Radio Replies. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1977. Print.
For better or for worse, some passages of Scripture are just confusing. I'm sure you've all had times where you've mulled over the meaning of some Bible verse, wondering why in the world the Good Lord couldn't have had the inspired author to write more clearly.
One of those passages is 1 Corinthians 15:24, 25, & 28, which are frequently employed by those who don't believe in the Divinity of Christ: "He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet...then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to [God the Father] ... When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will be subjected to the one who put all things beneath Him, that God may be all in all" (NASB).
Does this not sound like the Son will reign for a time, and then stop reigning, give everything to the Father, and undergo voluntary subjection to the Father? Doesn't it imply, almost, an inferiority of the Son? Well, it seems to. But there's a lot to be unpacked here, so let's take it piece by piece.
We'll start with the issue of the Son "handing over the kingdom", then go into the issue of His subjection to the Father, and finally, we'll address the problem of Him "reigning until" He has subjected all things. In the first respect (that of Christ handing the Kingdom over to Father), it's helpful to turn to three particular verses from the Gospel of John. Early on in there, John the Baptist says (3:35), "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand." Then in John 16:15, Christ Himself says to the Apostles, "All things that the Father has are Mine"; and finally, in His prayer to the Father, He says, "All that is Yours is Mine, and all that is Mine is Yours" (17:10).
We need to bear this principle in mind: all that is the Son's is the Father's, and all that is the Father's is the Son's. What does this mean with regard to the Son "handing over the Kingdom"? It means that, although the Son gives it to the Father, the Father, having "given all things into Son's hand" out of love for the Son, does not seize it for Himself, however much He would have a right to do so, but instead gives it back to the Son, due to the infinite and selfless love between the two. Furthermore, because "all things that the Father has" are the Son's, then even though the Son gives the heavenly Kingdom to the Father, He does not lose it Himself, because as long as the Father has it, the Son has it in equal measure. Either way, the Son does not lose the Kingdom or cease to rule over it by giving it to the Father.
Now, let's look at the issue of the Son "being subjected", shall well?
There are several ways to answer this, but for the moment, we'll stick with the most commonly-used one. Many who comment on difficult Christ-centered passages of Scripture use the following principle to interpret them. Some of you are probably familiar with it already, but it’s good to bear in mind whether you’ve heard it or not. As mentioned by St. Augustine in his work, On the Trinity: “[T]he Son of God is both understood to be equal to Father according to the form of God … and less than the Father according to the form of a servant which He took” (Book II, Chapter I).
With this principle in mind, that the Son is equal to the Father as God, but less than the Father as man, let’s consider it more deeply. St. Paul writes that Christ “became obedient” in His “humbled” nature (Phil. 2:8). So one of the primary arguments you'll find to explain the Son "subjecting Himself" is that He is subjected as man, and that's what the passage is getting at. This might seem too simple at first glance, but with further inspection, it actually makes a lot of sense, as we'll see, and it isn't just a weak attempt to explain the verse. So how does this work?
St. Paul says in the context of the verse above that Christ humbled Himself and became obedient in that form He took "as a servant" (2:7). Well, we know that Christ kept His human nature, His "servant" and "obedient" nature, even after the Resurrection, and has it even now in Heaven. So it actually makes perfect sense to say that He would still be obedient and subservient in this form, for as long as He has it (which will be forever). Yes, He is equal to God. Yes, the Father’s kingdom is going to be the Son’s, since the Father gives it to the Son as much as the Son gives it to the Father, as I hopefully demonstrated above. Thus, there should be no question for us about the inferiority of one Divine Person to another, and we shouldn’t think that one Divine Person possesses the Kingdom of Heaven while another is without it. And yet, precisely because He is permanently man, and thus permanently obedient, the Son will always be subservient as man (though not as God), and will always be “subjected” to the Father according to that subservient nature.
St Augustine had somewhat similar explanation for this issue. He said it’s possible that the passage was written this way in order to show that the Son does not give up His “subjected” nature of humanity, that it does not go away at the end of time, but that He is now, forever, man as well as God, inferior as well as equal, to the Heavenly Father (De Triniate, Book I, Ch. 8).
Finally, there comes the issue of what seems to be the "temporary" nature of the Son's reign, thanks to the word "until" ("He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet"). The first thing I'd like to do is point out something that the infallible voice of God the Father says to the Son, according to St. Paul: "But to the Son, God says, 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice'" (Hebrews 1:8, emphasis mine). If God Himself says the Son will reign forever, that should give us pause in interpreting any verses that seem to run contrary to this idea. Something to remember here is that, many times in Scripture, the word "until" will be used in such a way that it doesn't mean "up to a certain point, but not after that". For example, in Genesis 28:15, God says to Jacob, "I will be with you and protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you into this land, for I will not leave you until I have done as I have said" (emphasis mine). Would anyone say in this case that God is going to depart Jacob after He has done as He promised? Or, from the New Testament, there is the statement concerning Joseph that he did not "know Mary" (i.e., engage in marital relations with her) until she gave birth to Jesus (Matt. 1:25). But this does not by any means imply that Joseph and Mary did anything of the sort after the birth of Christ. Indeed, the stance of the Catholic Church in this regard, as well as that of John Calvin and Martin Luther, has been to interpret the word "until" in such a way that it doesn't imply that the consummation of their marriage occurred later (you can read Calvin's commentary here, and many sources from Luther on the matter are quoted here). In any case, the use of the word "until" concerning the reign of the Son does not, by any means, imply that His reign is going to end.
With all this said, I hope I've been helpful in some way with regard to this passage. God bless and keep you as we approach Christmas.
By Michael Baker
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here