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“Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”
In our monthly discussion group, today we began our discussion on Christian Prayer. I wanted to highlight something in particular that Fr. Dominic expressed early in our discussion where the Catechism focuses on the woman encountering Jesus at the well in the Gospel of John Ch. 4. Christ asks her for a drink, and in fact, in prayer, it is here where it is revealed that God thirsts so we may thirst for Him. The woman at the well is such a beautiful image of the give and take of prayer life. The woman encounters the Incarnation is the prime revelation of God and the prime revealer. The more I thought about it today with its connection to Jesus on the cross, “I thirst” and St. Mother Teresa the more and more it became clear. So, I thank Fr. Dominic highlighting it. It is when we take up our cross and join it with Jesus that our thirst begins to be quenched by living water.
In fact, St. Teresa of Avila uses the imagery of well in her famous autobiography to illuminate the development of prayer. She explains that it is the constant struggle of pulling up buckets sometimes filled with mud that is part of the development of prayer. The more one sends down the bucket the more one begins to pull up water to grow a beautiful garden.
What is this beauty? It is the fruit of joy from our relationship with God! It must all begin with prayer or there can be no relationship with God. “Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God” So, if prayer is the response of faith then ask yourself “how is your prayer life?” What does this tell you about your faith?
This discussion group is available for all patrons of the Pilgrims of Christ tier.
 Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 614.
 Catholic Church, Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 614.
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A box has the following items:
2 Microfiber cloths
Empty Spray Bottle
1 Household cleaner (various)
There are other items upon request, but not knowing the need of every facility we’ve tailored it down to basic items in the care package.
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It’s the fraternity’s hope with time to provide a more detailed break down of each particular texts for reference to specific chapters and parts. Of course, until that time, the text is easily referenced using your “find” feature on your computer.
For further edification, please feel free to read my post On the Influence of St. Augustine and check out my videos where I give small lectures on main topics found in each lesson in the Baltimore Catechism.
Thanks for watching the videos. These videos were made to get down the format–it’s still being worked on. The plan is to post videos weekly. God Bless.
The Pilgrim’s Rule
- From the rule of St. Augustine, it is said: Before all else, beloved, love God and then your neighbor, for these are the chief commandments given to us. (cf. Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:28-34) The Pilgrim will observe it.
- The Pilgrim will commit to observing the obligation of Holy Mass weekly and all Holy Days of Obligation.
- The Pilgrim will observe a regimen of prayer. In our present age, an age where culture at large has been separated from the life of the Church, a Pilgrim should seek to offer daily prayers to God and actively live the liturgical seasons observing the penances and feasts of the Church. A regimen of prayer should be built from a small seed and continued to be watered over time, as St. Teresa of Avila explains in her autobiography. The Pilgrim should strive to build a daily Holy Hour of prayer. The common means for prayer: Daily Mass, Divine Office, Lectio Divina, Rosary, Arrow Prayers, Hymns, Christian meditation, Christian contemplation, and others. It is encouraged for the Pilgrim to incorporate the Divine Office into their daily practice of prayer.
- The Pilgrim will devote himself to the study of Sacred Scripture. A Pilgrim can partake in such a study by incorporating the daily lectionary readings into their prayer life. One can also use various reading plans by various Catholic publishing houses like Ascension Press and Ignatius Press.
- The Pilgrim will seek to build up the Domestic Church by teaching all those in their family the faith. It is encouraged that the Pilgrim become familiar with the Catechism of the Catholic Church or various other Catechisms. It shall be observed that it is the duty of the parent to teach the faith to their children. The Church and its Catechists will supplement these principal teachings from the parents in accord to the Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC 1653, 1654, 1655.
- The Pilgrim will commit to observing all fasting and abstinence observed by the Church. The Pilgrim is encouraged to take on more fasting and abstinence. For example, The Ember Days, Wednesday penance, or others. It is encouraged to take on the traditional means of fasting from food. A Pilgrim can supplement this discipline with fasting from entertainment (internet, television, sports, non-essential purchases, warm showers, etc.)
- The Pilgrim is encouraged to celebrate the many feasts of the Church. These feasts include, but are not limited to the Patron Saints of this ministry: Pope St. John Paul II (October 22nd) St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (September 5th). Days that should be celebrations in the life of the Pilgrim: The Baptismal date of each Pilgrim, the feast day of the namesake of their Confirmation, the feast of their patron of the Parish, the feast day of the patron of their local diocese, and any feasts of Particular interests, and others.
- The Pilgrim will commit to tithing to their local Church, Diocese, and to give alms to Charity. It is encouraged to use the 10% model (8% to the local parish, 1% Diocese, 1% to Charity) or what is recommended by the local Bishop. These offerings will build up both the Church’s mission in the community, as well as aid those who are in need in the community.
- The Pilgrim should be proactive with their mission of evangelization and charity. The act of charity depends on an act of the will, so do not be afraid to ask others in leadership roles how one can assist the community. A Pilgrim shall offer or provide help when the Holy Spirit compels one to act.
- Fidelity to the Pope and the local Bishop. Prayer for both their health and most holy intentions
I mentioned earlier this year that I hoped to publish this book by year’s end. The book is a compilation of my earlier work in history as an undergraduate student, posts and debates that had been published on this blog and material written from my most recent Master’s class in theology on the Synoptic Gospels.
The book looks for a historical foundation within the gospel texts under a proper understanding of historicism. An understanding of the influence of both era and culture of the authors in their proper contexts. It expresses agreement with Pope Benedict XVI that the writers do not give a video camera recording of the Gospels, but rather gives a substance of the historical truth–no different from modern testimony. The book sets out to explain why there is good evidence to believe that the Christmas date is of Christian origin and not of pagan origin. It explains via Thomas Aquinas why Jesus had to be born in Bethlehem and what Bethlehem was like when Jesus was born. In the book, I examine the veracity of the census found in Luke’s gospel account. The book also examines the traditions of Mary–the Mother of God, Old Testament typology and prophecy, different historical figures found in the infancy narratives. Finally, the book concludes with a chapter on what is the importance of the genealogies found in the texts of the gospels and the Incarnation of Christ.
The conception of this book began a few years back, originating from a course I took in college called “The History of Christmas”. The course introduced me to many of the written sources presented in this book as well as fostering a great interest in the infancy narratives of Jesus Christ. After some years, I decided to present some of the material in a discussion group at my local parish to discuss some of the historic legitimacy of infancy narratives found in the Gospels. The book’s text expands on my notes and outlines from this discussion group.
My goal for this book is to distill the many arguments about and ideas on the infancy narratives into one, easily accessible analysis, as well as to shape the dense academic historiography and theological typology into something more palatable for lay readers. Naturally, in this project, some generalizations are needed to summarize the extensive academic scholarship on the subject, so I fully encourage readers to look beyond this book and to explore all sources that I’ve presented here.
In his essay “Farewell to the Devil?”, Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) examines and rebuts the argument presented by Swiss Catholic Theologian Herbert Haag, who asserts that Satan does not exist and that Satan was an idea that manifested ancient Jewish culture’s understanding of evil and sin. (Ratzinger, Farewell to the Devil? 197.) Haag’s thesis was written during the time of great cultural upheaval both in secular culture and in Catholic Culture as his book “Farewell to the Devil” would be printed after the Vatican II council. It should be no surprise that Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Sosa, has recently made comments that Satan is an analogy making very similar points as presented in Haag’s argument ( A comment that Fr. Sosa has since walked back a bit).
Ratzinger explains that this position is one that uses a methodology that is devoid of literary analysis of scripture but rather is a methodology that focuses on a false historicism (emphasis mine) that those of a different era are either stupid, naive, or both, so in effect, Haag’s position is based on the rhetoric fallacy of “poisoning the well” of the witness testimony of Jesus and the Apostles as it is presented in the New Testament. Haag’s thesis is refuted by Ratzinger by examining the New Testament in which Satan and Demons exist, and the Devil is not a synonym for sin which is claimed by Haag (Ratzinger, Ibid.).
It’s so glaringly obvious in the belief of those in scripture that both Satan and Demons exist that Haag had to admit this is a commonly held belief of those in 1st century Palestine. However, Haag argues that these people were victims of their understanding and culture during this period of time. Again, it’s important to reiterate that Haag’s position is based on his own cultural bias in which he has already assumed those in Jesus’ time are inferior to his own understanding. Naturally, this type of assertion is one of the most dangerous facets of a strict historical-critic exegesis and the use of historicism by modern scholars. Ratzinger does a good job acknowledging that it’s Haag’s bias that has predetermined his conclusion on this matter, Ratzinger writes, “Haag bids the devil farewell, not in his capacity as exegete or interpreter of Scripture, but rather as a contemporary, who considered the existence of a devil untenable (Ratzinger, 198).”
One of the key aspects in understanding Satan and Demons, after examining the role of the Old Testament as being dependent on the New Testament, is understood when Ratzinger writes, “The spiritual battle against the enslaving powers, the exorcism pronounced over a world blinded by demons, is an inseparable part of Jesus’ spiritual way that belongs to the heart of his own mission and of the mission of his disciples.” (Ratzinger, 202). Furthermore, Ratzinger indicates that our understanding of the faith must be rendered within the faith community. If it is to be determined that Satan is merely an analogy to sin or a sort of moral taboo then the Church’s sacramental life with the foundation of baptism would be moot. Ratzinger writes, “One must be able to take baptism at its word, especially in its central action. It indicates what takes place in becoming a Christian and what does not…exorcism and the renunciation of Satan are part of the central action of baptism.” (Ratzinger, 203.)
At the end of the essay, Ratzinger questions what Haag means that the Devil cannot be understood to exist by what we know in our modern age. In many respects, I believe the question of “Farewell to the Devil?” is one that originates in the metaphysical and spiritual and moves into the material, perhaps, there is to be understood better the sacred and the profane. A good measurement of whether something is contingent on faith testimony which is the essence of the faith is its relation to the Incarnation itself.
How does Satan, the demonic, and hell relate to the Incarnation? In the course of the history of the Church, the great heresies have always been misguided teachings on who is Jesus Christ. Satan and hell must be articles of faith as without those parts of revelation, it would render the Incarnation useless. If theologians eliminate Adam and Eve, the fall, hell, and then the slope—as we see today—leads to there being no such thing as sin, then those theologians have rendered Jesus Christ merely an ancient understanding of the world.
Pope Benedict XVI explained in his 1988 Erasmus lectures, “The debate about modern exegesis is not at its core a debate among historians, but among philosophers”. (Matthew J. Ramage, Jesus Interpreted, 9).
Is the discussion of the Holy Scriptures primarily a philosophical debate of those who claim there is a God and those who do not?
The statement appears to be correct on the surface; however, the difficulty with this particular assertion is that it is a false dichotomy when it comes to the interpretation of what is true and what actually happened as it is described in the written word. In attempting to determine what is true, the historian–both secular and religious–deals with the axiological value judgment of the truth just as much as any philosopher would when it comes to scriptural exegesis and the matter of what is the truth.
Make sure to pre-order my new book: The Birth of God in Historical Context: An Examination of the Infancy Narrative of Jesus Christ:
O’ Ancient Beauty
Thy torrents call deep to deep
Thy Word makes it be
Darkness; frost and chill
The Sun rises into vale
Thy word; speak and melt
O’ Morning Sun, shine forth
Thy rays of promise to renew
A Handmaid says, “yes.”
Water drops renew
For those who repent unto law
Now Binds all to He
Hand to Hand—Matters
a seed that died now revived
Single touch from He