Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Missing Books

The Protestant version of the Old Testament excludes seven books and several parts of two more.
* Tobias
* Judith
* Wisdom
* Ecclesiasticus
* Baruch
* I Machabees
* II Machabees
* Parts of Esther (10:14-16:14)
* Parts of Daniel (3:24-90; 13; 14)

The Protestant reformers labeled these books "Apocrypha" (i.e. spurious, uninspired) in a calculated attempt to make them appear unreliable in the eyes of uninformed and uneducated readers. Thus, while they were inventing the doctrine of "sola Scriptura" with the one hand, with the other hand the reformers were modifying the Scriptura to better conform to their new doctrines.

Isn't it a dangerous game to go monkeying with the Word of God? You bet.

The rationalization was that they were reverting to an older, purer form of the old Jewish Scriptures that excluded said books and chapters. The Septuagint version, they argued, was newer and scribed by the 70 Jews of the Diaspora in Alexandria in 250 BC; they were not the Scriptures of the Jews of Palestine. As such, the Protestants would not use that version; rather, it was to be the Palestinian version of the Scriptures for them.

At a gloss this might seem plausible. The position turns out to be terminally weak, however.

First, to give credit for the correct component: there were in fact two versions of the Jewish Scriptures in the 1st century AD:
(1) The Palestinian Hebrew Scriptures
(2) The Septuagint Greek Scriptures

Now for the additional details that help shed the proper light on the matter.
* Both versions were considered to be reliable by the Jews of the time of Christ.
* The original Hebrew version of the Palestinian Scriptures had been lost (wars and occupations and various calamities, you see).
* The copies of the Hebrew original had many errors -- thus, there was no longer an authoritative Hebrew version.

What's more:
* The New Testament contains about 350 references, quotations, and citations to both sets of Jewish Scriptures. Of the 350 references, only 50 were of the Palestinian Hebrew version; Christ and His Apostles relied on the Greek version about 300 times. The ratio is 6:1.
* In the 2nd century AD, Jewish Rabbis used the Greek Septuagint to correct the errors of the Hebrew version to establish an authoritative Hebrew Scripture.

In light of these facts, why would the 16th century Protestant reformers exclude books, if not for greater certainty that they were relying on the more accurate documents?

The most probable explanation is that they sought to exclude history and teachings that supported the Catholic position and undermined the Protestant one. For example, the Catholic teaching of saying prayers for the dead -- i.e. assisting the souls in Purgatory -- is seen clearly in II Macchabees 12:46: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."

The reason the Catholic Church has historically condemned unauthorized translations of the Bible is not because She fears competition or that She dreads a loss of control, but that the alternate translations are unreliable and that people can go to Hell because of the misinformation they contain and the material they lack. Besides, the Catholic Church who wrote the New Testament also compiled the Bible; of course She should have final say on who gets to use Her material.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Who Should We Read?

Fr. Robert Barron writes a conciliar Catholic blog called Word on Fire. In an essay published Friday, he described his experience dealing with militant aggressive atheists who engage in seek-and-destroy missions against people like himself.

By way of suggesting a suitable apologetic response, Father wrote, "Have we read the great Christian apologists -- G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Ronald Knox, Fulton Sheen -- and can we wield their arguments against those who are coming at us? In my own Catholic Church, we sadly jettisoned much of our rich apologetic tradition in the years after Vatican II, convinced that it would be better to reach out positively to the culture. Well, at least part of that culture has turned pretty hostile, and it is high time to recover the intellectual weapons that we set aside."

Betrayed again by Vatican II. Not that the atheists were surprised; in fact, they were instrumental in getting the Church to let down its guard at the Council so that the anti-religionists could take a more free hand in assaulting the works of God. To their eternal shame, most of the Churchmen of the time allowed the Church's enemies to largely have their way.

For the record, even better apologists to read are men like Fr. Henri Le Floch, Bp. Antonio Castro de Mayer, Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, and Cdl. Alfredo Ottaviani.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Next Heritage Tour

Today I hop on a series of flights that will land me in Vienna, Austria, good Lord willing. This will be the start of my next pilgrimage, which will wind its way through the Austrian countryside, through a bit of Germany, and end in Switzerland.

Vienna
Vienna (German: Wien) is the capital of Austria. The former capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Vienna is a cultural center for music and the arts, science, and fine cuisine. The city is 50% Catholic, and is home to numerous beautiful churches; my stops will include St. Stephen's Cathedral (which houses the miraculous icon of Maria Potsch and the body of St. Valentine) and the Church of St. Mary where the relics are kept of St. Clement Mary Hofbauer, patron of Vienna.

Danube Excursion
Overlooking the Danube is the baroque basilica of Maria Teferl, which is my next stop. After that I'll visit the renowned Benedictine Abbey of Melk, with its famous library and scriptorium; the whole is embellished with a vast array of marble sculptures and brilliantly colored frescoes.

Salzburg
Salzburg is next, with a stop in Mariazell, who 800 year old shrine is the chief Marian pilgrimage site in Austria. Then a visit to the church of Maria Plain and other sacred sites.

Altotting
I'll hop across the German border for a second visit to Altotting, returning to Salzburg in the evening.

Innsbruck
Innsbruck is next, for some sight-seeing and souvenir gathering.

St. Gallen
I cross the Swiss border this time, arriving at the Benedictine abbey of St. Gallen and its famous library.

Einsiedeln
The Benedictine monastery of Our Lady of the Hermits in Einsideln is next.

Fribourg
A tour of the Gothic cathedral of Fribourg is my next destination; from there I'll go to the church of St. Michael, which houses the remains of the Jesuit St. Peter Canisius. Afterward, the Abbey of St. Maurice, where the Theban Legion was martyred.

Econe
A personal high point of the trip, Econe is a small town where Abp. Marcel Lefebvre formed the first seminary of the SSPX and so commenced Operation Survival. His tombs is in the seminary crypt, where I will go to pay my respects and offer my petitions. The next day I will attend the ordinations of several new traditional priests.

Geneva
I'll get only a peek of Geneva: it's where the will be that will carry me back to the States.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

One Year In

June 7th marked my first anniversary with my employer. When someone hits the anniversary of their hire date at my company, the custom is for their manager to send out a humorous email to the entire office. Below is the installment for yours truly.

=======

Dear team,

Join me in congratulating the one and only Sean in his first year.

Everyone that had the opportunity of working with Sean (Speedy) can speak of his design skills, commitment, work ethics, collaborative spirit and plain awesomeness. Sean is been travelling a lot lately but if you happen to see him at the office please give him a hand shake or a hug or mess with his gray hair. It’s great to have people like Sean in our company.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Opting Out of Opting Out

In this blog entry I described how Orlando airport had decided to opt out of TSA involvement of its airport security and privatize its screening processes.

In this news article we see that TSA has abruptly rescinded the option to do any such thing.

From the article: "TSA stopped the program with little warning and without adequate justification" and "TSA agents actively protested the airport’s attempt to privatize, going so far as to stand at gates in uniform and tell passengers they would be less safe if the airport joined the SPP."

The old Bait and Switch is alive and well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Travel Tale

The flight to Hartford today involved three airplanes.

Plane #1 got off the ground, but a stuck rudder meant the plane could not achieve the necessary speed to reach flying altitude, so the pilot returned to Atlanta airport 15 minutes after taking off.

Plane #2 didn't even get that far: passengers were seated, and then the pilot came on saying that this plane had a mechanical problem as well.

Plane #3 could have left at 5:00 pm or 10:00 pm, depending on who you asked at which time, but we finally made it into the air at 1:15 pm.

Considering the flight was originally scheduled to depart at 7:25 AM, it made for an unusually long day.

Hopefully all the travel kinks are now out of the way for my next big trip...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

They Get One Right

Pentecost Sunday

Source

From the article: "In late March, the doctrinal committee of the US bishops’ conference warned the faithful about a book by Fordham University theologian Sister Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God. The committee said that the book 'contains misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors that bear upon the faith of the Catholic Church as found in Sacred Scripture, and as it is authentically taught by the Church’s universal magisterium.' The committee noted that it had a pastoral duty to issue the warning, given Sister Johnson’s prominence and popularity and the book’s use as a 'textbook for the study of God' at Catholic universities. The warning generated angry complaints from members of the Catholic left who always find it shocking and 'controversial' when bishops exert themselves to defend Church teaching."

Well done, U.S. bishops: you have warned people about an angry feminist agitator who is abusing her role to remake reality after her own image.

Hat Tip: Helmut

Why be Catholic?

Pentecost

All being requires a First Cause.

That Cause, to be the First, must be Being Itself, which must be all-perfect being, because any second god, to differ from the First, would have to have some perfection lacking to the First.

So the true God can be only one.

This one true God took human nature once, and only once, in the divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who proved his divinity by a quantity and quality of miracles that have accompanied no other man ever, but have accompanied his Church ever since: the Roman Catholic Church.

Membership of that Church is by faith and is open to all men.

If they believe, that is the indispensable start of their eternal salvation.

If they refuse to believe, they are on their way to eternal damnation.

c.f. Mark 16:16

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Revolution Whimpers Out

From DICI 236, Fr. Alain Lorans:

“Wanted: First Aid Technician for Leftist Diocese”

You might soon find an announcement like this in diocesan newspapers…judging from the letter addressed in May by 21 French priests to the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops asking him for pastors less enthralled by the “spirit of the Sixties generation” (sic).

“In our country,” they write candidly, “for the last three or four decades, Catholicism has dwindled and continues to dwindle dramatically (a constant decline in Sunday Mass attendance, in the number of priests, religious, catechists and vocations, etc.). It is possible that the Holy See will soon be compelled to transform some French dioceses into apostolic administrations, given the ridiculously low number of active priests in them.

“Now this Catholicism is sick but not dead,” they continue. “This Catholicism wants to turn the page on lethal liturgical abuses, disastrous preaching about marital morality, a latent anti-Roman complex, deviant sacramental practices (blessing the “remarriages” of divorced-and-remarried couples, general absolution), dubiously Catholic catechesis about the Eucharist, etc.”

And these 21 religious and diocesan priests, all of them less than 50 years old, conclude: “In this context, the [current] episcopal nominations seem incomprehensible to us.”

The post-Sixties crew wearing miters can’t get over it. These protesters, witnessing with revulsion protests against their revolution, are growing old and embittered. What will they do in a little while when they read: “Wanted: first aid technician for leftist diocese. Paleo-progressives need not apply”?

Friday, June 10, 2011

You Won't Believe This

Lunch today included a discussion about the nature of belief.

As Catholics use the term "belief," they mean faith, which is accepting as true what has been revealed by a reliable authority. This applies on a mundane level -- e.g. if I tell you there's a great restaurant at a certain location and you think me a credible source, then you will drive there some time to enjoy a good meal. In a religious context, belief or faith is knowledge by which we yield our understanding assent to whatever the authority of our Holy Mother the Church teaches us to have been revealed by Almighty God: for the faithful cannot doubt those things of which God, who is truth itself, is the author (CCT).

To my colleagues across the table, belief is whatever one accepts as credible or true or beneficial in the absence of any reasons. It is necessarily devoid of thought or intellectual activity; it is always necessarily blind and unthinking; as such it is worthy of nothing but condemnation. Operating under this definition, belief is not limited to the arena of religion: a secularist can be a believer in some cause, and it is his belief that makes him a fanatic (of whatever stripe).

In this instance one wonders if invincible ignorance could apply. Not that my colleagues are incurably stupid -- that is not what the term "invincibly ignorant" means -- but that they have such an incorrect notion of what the Christian faith obliges that they are actually incapable of forming a correct judgment about it.

I'm not qualified to judge, in any event, and so the only safe course was to try to correct their misunderstanding. I don't know that I observed any lights go off after our exchange, but at least they'd heard a different perspective.

Faith is not a mindless activity -- just the opposite: if your intellect is not engaged, you are not capable of making an act of faith. Nothing is more reasonable than trusting an infinitely true and beautiful and good God -- in fact, it is the most reasonable act a human being is capable of.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Louisiana Bishops: Fast and Pray

The Louisiana bishops designated last Friday, June 3, as a day of fasting and prayer in their dioceses as hurricane season begins.

See http://www.arch-no.org/News.php?mode=read&id=920&title=Friday+is+a+day+of+Prayer+and+Fasting

It's good to see that they've proposed a Catholic solution.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Most Difficult Requirement

The Ascension of Our Lord

After reading Eight Years a Tertiary, a woman I know asked, "of all the requirements of a Third Order Tertiary...which do you find to be the most difficult?"

Short Answer
Unlearning the bad habits I acquired before I joined the 3rd Order.

Long Answer
Much of living a Catholic life is developing the right customs and habits and then being faithful to them. Daily Mass was not possible until a traditional priest was stationed in Atlanta, so making a daily meditation become the way I kept the Rule. Developing a routine when I made took a healthy amount of effort: even though one is obliged to make a meditation of only a quarter of an hour each day, a solid 15 minutes of focused meditation does not come easy to a convert who was raised on MTV. I experimented with different times of the day (i.e. morning vs. evening vs. lunch hour), different locations (e.g. home vs. church vs. walks in the park), and different meditation books (e.g. Imitation of Christ vs. lives of the saints vs. Scriptures). I found that I consistently had the best success when I made my meditation first thing each morning (i.e. before breakfast) in my little living room oratory with the statue of our Lady; there I read a chapter from the Imitation, and then I reflected on the contents (on a Retreat the priests give good counsel on how to meditate well), after which I made a resolution for the day in which I asked for our Lady's help in applying some lesson or fruit gained from the reading and meditation. At first I was able to do this only sporadically -- in fact, when I began, all I could manage reading the chapter sans meditation; making a sustained reflection on it came only after a lot distracted effort (moderns are not exaggerating when they say the old rituals of the Faith do not hold their attention: they really do have trouble focusing on anything that is not some species of a paroxysm). After a Retreat I made a resolution to just grit my teeth and commit to keeping that schedule every morning for three weeks; by the time I'd kept this resolution for 21 days, I found that I had the solid beginnings of a new habit that have stayed with me ever since. Not only that, but the success in developing this new custom served as a beach-head for addressing other efforts in a consistent manner: e.g. morning and evening prayers, spiritual reading, daily examination of conscience, keeping the Lenten fast, and even mundane things like tackling difficult projects at work that I used to dread. On this last note, I have a current example: my manager is a militant atheist who finds it strange that I am a practicing Catholic; he has little good to say about the Catholic Church, he loves Obama, and he and I have several times had religious, philosophical, political, and moral discussions in which we profoundly disagree. And last week he told me that I was an extremely reliable worker in a business known for people not being reliable, and he encouraged me to go to our boss and ask for more money because of my performance on our projects together. I don't mean to suggest that developing a daily routine that involves a period of meditation is comparable to dealing with contrarian co-workers at the office, but conquering bad habits and acquiring good spiritual ones to replace them certainly served as a foundation for bigger battles that came after.