Friday, April 17, 2015

Mercy Sunday Reflections


This past Sunday was Mercy Sunday.  Our priest gave a great homily on the necessity of the Mercy of God through the Sacrament of Confession but also for us, being members of the Body of Christ, our necessity of doing His work.  Works like feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, burying the dead and so on.

 

I was incredibly moved by his homily because when he began speaking on the need of protecting the defenseless I couldn't help but picture a young person in the womb whose heart is being stopped intentionally through abortion.  Who is more defenseless than a baby not yet born?  And what are we doing to defend him or her?  You see, a 6 week-old embryo is just that, a baby.  A young one but a baby nonetheless. 

 

This young one, this person who was conceived into this world only six weeks prior already has a beating heart.  This living organism is growing, therefore is alive.  Its parents are human beings therefore IT is a human being.  A living human being growing in the womb with its own distinct DNA, different from either of its parents.

 

Our call as Christians is to have mercy on those who need it.  This entails us to DO something to those who need our support and protection.  How much have we done to help these defenseless human beings from dying horribly?

 

These babies not only have a beating heart at 6 weeks gestation, they also develop earlobes, fingers, have a brain and can even move their limbs.  These babies even have fingernails by the end of the twelfth week of gestation which is the end of the first trimester when most abortions occur.  

 

Let us not neglect our Christian duty by ignoring this holocaust.  It is indeed a holocaust of massive proportions.  Around 6 million Jews died during those years while there are about 1.5 million abortions A YEAR in this country alone.  That comes to about 55 million dead babies since Roe v. Wade passed in 1973.

 

Let’s stand up and be counted.  Let’s do whatever we can to reduce the number of abortions a year by voting for those who have pro-life stands into office that they may institute pro-life laws.

 

God Bless
Nathan

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Perpetual Virginity of Mary

CA:  What does the other ancient Christian church (Orthodoxy) have to say about this?

THE EVER-VIRGINITY OF THE MOTHER OF GOD


By Fr. John Hainsworth


LAST year for the Feast of the Nativity, I gave a lecture about one of the central claims of the Christian faith: the Virgin Birth of Christ. This was all well until I used in passing the phrase “ever-virgin” with reference to the Lord’s Mother. Someone asked, “Do you actually mean that Mary remained a virgin after Jesus’ birth?” I said yes, that is what the Orthodox Church teaches. The look of surprised bemusement on the audience’s faces said it all. The miracle of the Virgin Birth is one thing, but lifelong abstinence from sexuality? That’s impossible!

The lives of monastics and ascetics around the world and throughout history attest to the fact that of course it is possible. Sexual purity is only one of many challenges set for these spiritual warriors, and for many, perhaps most of them, it is not the greatest. The Orthodox have no difficulty, then, considering the ever-virginity of Mary a nonnegotiable fact and its alternative unthinkable. But why should this necessarily be so? Why insist on the idea that Mary (who was married, after all) did not go on to have a “normal” married life?

A Consistent and Unbroken Tradition


The question could be inverted. Why not believe in her ever-virginity? The Eastern Church has witnessed to the perpetual virginity of the Theotokos steadfastly for two thousand years and shows no sign of tiring. In the West, the idea was largely undisputed until late in the Reformation; even Luther and Calvin accepted the tradition.

Indeed, to suggest (a) that the tradition about her perpetual virginity could have been introduced after apostolic times, (b) that this tradition would have gone little noticed by a Church in the throes of questioning everything about what it believed in the first millennium, (c) that such a novel tradition should be considered inconsequential enough to pass without discussion before it became universally proclaimed, and (d) that such a tradition should have no discernible literary or geographical origin and yet be universally accepted from very early in the Church’s history, is to form a very unlikely hypothesis.

Set Apart to God


To argue against Mary’s perpetual virginity is to suggest something else that is greatly implausible, not to say unthinkable: that neither Mary nor her protector, Joseph, would have deemed it inappropriate to have sexual relations after the birth of God in the flesh. Leaving aside for a moment the complete uniqueness of the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity, recall that it was the practice for devout Jews in the ancient world to refrain from sexual activity following any great manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

An early first-century popular rabbinical tradition (first recorded by Philo, 20 BC–AD 50) notes that Moses “separated himself” from his wife Zipporah when he returned from his encounter with God in the burning bush. Another rabbinical tradition, concerning the choosing of the elders of Israel in Numbers 7, relates that after God had worked among them, one man exclaimed, “Woe to the wives of these men!” I cannot imagine that the fellow to the left of him replied, “What do you mean, Joe?” The meaning of the statement would have been immediately apparent.

Whether these stories relate actual events or not, they express the popular piety in Israel at the time of the birth of Christ. That culture understood virginity and abstinence not as a mere rejection of something enjoyable—to what end?—but as something naturally taken up by one whose life has been consecrated by the Lord’s Spirit to be a vessel of salvation to His people. The intervening centuries of social, religious, and philosophical conditioning have made us suspicious of virginity and chastity in a way that no one in the Lord’s time would have been.

Mary became the vessel for the Lord of Glory Himself, and bore in the flesh Him whom heaven and earth cannot contain. Would this not have been grounds to consider her life, including her body, as consecrated to God and God alone? Or it more plausible that she would shrug it all off and get on with keeping house in the usual fashion? Consider that the poetically parallel incident of the Lord’s entry through the east gate of the Temple (in Ezekiel 43—44) prompts the call: “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it, for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut” (44:2).

And then there is Joseph’s character to consider. Surely his wife’s miraculous conception and birthgiving (confirmed by the angel in dream-visions) and the sight of God incarnate in the face of the child Christ would have been enough to convince him that his marriage was set apart from the norm. Within Mary’s very body had dwelt the second Person of the Trinity. If touching the ark of the covenant had cost Uzzah his life, and if even the scrolls containing the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets were venerated, certainly Joseph, man of God that he was, would neither have dared nor desired to approach Mary, the chosen of Israel, the throne of God, to request his “conjugal rights”!

The Lord’s “Brothers”


There are several questions based on Scripture that are often raised by those skeptical about the doctrine of ever-virginity. The first of these involves the passages which state explicitly that the Lord had “brothers.” There are nine such passages: Matthew 12:46–47 and 13:55–56; Mark 3:31–32 and 6:3; Luke 8:19–20; John 2:12 and 7:3–5; Acts 1:14; and 1 Corinthians 9:5. The Greek word used in all these passages and generally translated “brother” is adelphos.

The Septuagint—the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures used by the Apostles (abbreviated LXX)—includes specific words for “cousin,” notably adelphinos and anepsios, but they are rarely used. The less specific word adelphos, which can mean “brother,” “cousin,” “kinsman,” “fellow believer,” or “fellow countryman,” is used consistently throughout the LXX, even when cousin or kinsman is clearly the relation described (such as in Genesis 14:14, 16; 29:12; Leviticus 25:49; Jeremiah 32:8, 9, 12; Tobit 7:2; etc.). Lot, for instance, who was the nephew of Abraham (cf. Genesis 11:27–31), is called his brother in Genesis 13:8 and 11:14–16. The point is that the commonly used Greek word for a male relative, adelphos, can be translated “cousin” or “brother” if no specific family relation is indicated.

Is there anywhere a clear statement in the Scriptures establishing Jesus’ brothers as literally the children of Mary? In fact, there is not. Nowhere is Mary explicitly stated to be the mother of Jesus’ brothers. The formula for speaking of the Lord’s family is “His mother and His brothers.” In Mark the possessive,anavtou—”of Him,” is inserted before both “His mother” and “His brothers,” making a clear distinction. In Acts 1:14, the separation is more pronounced: “Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.” Some manuscripts use the conjunctive syn—“along with, in company with,” so that the text reads “Mary the mother of Jesus, along with His brothers.” In any case, Mary is never identified as the mother of Jesus’ brothers (nor they as her children), but only as the Mother of Jesus.

The Meaning of “Until”


Another objection to the idea of Mary’s perpetual virginity is that the Scriptures use the word “until” or “till” in Matthew 1:25: “. . . and [Joseph] did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son.” Whereas in English the word “until” necessarily indicates change after the fact, in the ancient languages of the Bible this is simply not the case. For instance, if we read Deuteronomy 34:6, 2 Samuel 6:23, Psalm 72:7 and 110:1 (as interpreted by Jesus in Matthew 22:42–46), Matthew 11:23 and 28:20, Romans 8:22, and 1 Timothy 4:13, to reference just a few examples, we will see that in none of these passages does the word “until” indicate a necessary change. If it did, then apparently among other things we would be meant to understand that Jesus will at some point stop sitting at the right hand of the Father, and that on some unhappy date in the future He intends to abandon the Church! The use of “until” in Matthew 1:25, then, is purely to indicate that Christ was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, not conceived by Joseph and Mary, since they did not “know” each other “until” the birth. In this context “until” is really synonymous with “before.” If on the contrary it were meant in its full contemporary English sense—that is, if it really meant that Joseph and Mary’s chaste relationship changed after the birth—then the stylistics present another big problem: the reader would have to believe that Matthew was actually inviting contemplation of the couple’s later sexual activity. This is doubtful to say the least.

The Meaning of “Firstborn”


Another objection might be based on the word “firstborn,” prototokos in Greek. The problem again is that the Greek word is not identical in semantic range to the English rendering. The English “firstborn” usually (though, it must be said, not always) implies the existence of subsequent children, but with prototokos there is no such implication. In Hebrews 1:6, for example, the use of prototokos in reference to the Incarnation of the Word of God cannot mean that there is a “second-born” Word of God! Nowhere is the term used to express merely the order of birth; instead in Romans 8:29, Colossians 1:15, 18, Hebrews 11:28 and 12:23, and Revelation 1:5, the title is applied to Jesus as the privileged and legal Heir of the Kingdom, attesting that He is truly “first in all things.” To the contemporary ear, a better translation might indeed be “heir,” which is similarly silent on the subject of other children and carries the same legal and poetic force that is intended by “firstborn.”

“Woman, Behold Thy Son”


Also, consider the moving passage from St. John’s Gospel in which our Lord commits His Mother into the care of St. John as He dies on the Cross. Why would He do so if she had other children to look after her? Jewish custom dictated that the care of a mother would fall to the second born if the firstborn died, and if the widow had no other child she would be left to take care of herself. Since she is without other children, her Son gives her into the care of the beloved disciple. The Women at the Cross and the Identity of the Lord’s Brothers Who exactly are the “brothers of the Lord” if not fellow sons of Mary His mother? (Here, I am gratefully indebted to Fr. Lawrence Farley’s article, “The Women at the Cross.” [publication ref?]) A close study of the women at the Cross in Matthew 27:55, 56 yields a plausible answer. These women were said to be:
(1) Mary Magdalene; 
(2) the mother of the sons of Zebedee;
(3) Mary the Mother of James and Joseph. In the parallel passage in Mark 15:40, 41, the women are said to be:
(1) Mary Magdalene;
(2) Salome;
(3) Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses.
In John 19:25, the women are listed as:
(1) Mary Magdalene;
(2) Christ’s Mother;
(3) His mother’s sister, Mary wife of Clopas. 
For our purposes we should focus on the woman who is referred to by St. Matthew as “Mary the mother of James and Joseph,” by St. Mark as “Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses [a variant of Joseph],” and by St. John in his list as “His mother’s sister, Mary wife of Clopas.”

Note that in Matthew the names “James and Joseph” were mentioned before. Indeed, the way Matthew mentions “Mary mother of James and Joseph” in 27:55, 56 presupposes that he has already introduced these “James and Joseph”—as indeed he has. In Matthew 13:55, we read that our Lord’s “brothers” are “James and Joseph and Simon and Judas.” Similarly, in St. Mark’s Gospel, “James and Joses” are mentioned as if we already know who “James and Joses” are, which in fact we do from Mark 6:3, where Christ’s “brothers” are listed as “James and Joses and Judas and Simon.”

It seems beyond reasonable dispute that the Mary at the Cross in St. Matthew and St. Mark is the mother of our Lord’s “brothers,” “James and Joses.” Also, it is inconceivable that Matthew and Mark would refer to the Lord’s Mother at the foot of the Cross as the mother of James and Joseph, but not mention that she is the Mother of Jesus as well!

If it is the case, as the Scriptures suggest, that Mary wife of Clopas is the same as the mother of James and Joseph, we have the following conclusion: the Theotokos had a “sister,” married to Clopas, who was the mother of James and Joseph, our Lord’s “brothers.” Here, the question ought to immediately arise concerning the Theotokos’ relationship to this Mary: What kind of “sister” is she?

Hegisippus, a Jewish Christian historian who, according to Eusebius, “belonged to the first generation after the apostles” and who interviewed many Christians from that apostolic community for his history, relates that Clopas was the brother of St. Joseph, foster-father of Christ (apud. Eusb. Eccl. H. iv:22). If this is so (and Hegisippus is generally acknowledged as fully reliable), then “Mary wife of Clopas” was the Virgin Mary’s “sister” in that she was her sister-in-law.

The puzzle therefore fits together. St. Joseph married the Virgin Theotokos, who gave birth to Christ, her only Child, preserving her virginity and having no other children. St. Joseph’s brother, Clopas, also married a woman named Mary, who had the children James and Joseph (along with Judas and Simon, and daughters also). These children were our Lord’s “brothers” (using the terminology of Israel, which as we have seen made no distinction between brothers and cousins but referred to all as “brothers”).

St. Matthew and St. Mark, focusing on our Lord’s family (Matthew 13:53ff and Mark 6:1ff), naturally refer to Clopas’ wife Mary as “the mother of James and Joseph (Joses).” St. John, on the other hand, focuses on our Lord’s Mother (cf. John 2:1ff) and just as naturally refers to this same woman as “His mother’s sister, Mary wife of Clopas.” But it is apparent that it is one and the same woman being referred to by all. This reconstruction is the best that can be made (though others exist, they all contain serious weaknesses) given both the Scriptural and historical evidence.

Why Mary’s Ever-Virginity Is Important


Some would say that even if it can be proved, Mary’s ever-virginity is not essential to the proclamation of the Gospel, and this is true on a certain level. In its essence, the Orthodox Church proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is our message, our reason for being, the very life of our life. Teaching about Mary is really meant for the initiates, those who have already accepted the Gospel and have committed themselves to Christ and to service in His Church.

This is so because what Mary teaches us about the Incarnation of the Word of God requires that we first accept the Incarnation. Once we do, then her virginity not only after birthgiving, but also before—and indeed the character of her entire life—become in themselves a wellspring of teaching about life in Christ and the glory of God. Indeed, she said as much herself. By stating that “all generations shall call me blessed,” Mary was not vainly contemplating her own uniqueness, but proclaiming the wonder that her life was to manifest God’s glorious victory in His Christ for all time.

Mary was not a happenstance vessel of God; rather her role in our salvation was prepared from the beginning of the ages. The entire history of Israel—the patriarchs, the psalms, the prophets, the giving of the commandments—converged in the young woman who would answer the way all Israel should always have answered, and as we all are expected to answer now: “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.”

But her purpose in salvation history did not end there. She was not cast aside as an article that is no longer useful. Instead her whole being and life would continue to point us without distraction to her Son. At the wedding of Cana in Galilee we hear her words: “Whatever He says to you, do it” (John 2:5). At her Son’s crucifixion, she stands fast at the foot of the Cross, this time pointing not with words but by her refusal to leave His side even in the face of what seemed an impossible nightmare. As we undertake to imitate this faithfulness in pointing always to God, we will begin to see in the same measure that Mary’s perpetual virginity is in fact her ever-ministry, the ideal example for our own ministry.

It is important to recover the proper veneration of Mary which the apostolic Church has always held, not because Mary is the great exception but, as one Orthodox theologian has said, because she is the great example. This veneration is beautifully expressed in an Orthodox hymn that poetically recounts Gabriel’s first encounter with Mary, who was about to become the Ark of the New Covenant, the throne of God, the flesh which gave flesh to the Word of God:

Awed by the beauty of your virginity
and the exceeding radiance of your purity,
Gabriel stood amazed, and cried to you, O Mother of God: 
“What praise may I offer you 
that is worthy of your beauty?
By what name shall I call you?
I am lost and bewildered,
but I shall greet you as I was commanded:
Hail, O full of grace.”

CA: Original article is no longer online, but it can be accessed through the Internet Archive:


CA:  Bottom line, Orthodoxy is in line and consistent with the Latin Church on this matter.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Happy Easter!

He Is Risen!

He Is Risen Indeed!

A glorious and holy Easter Sunday to you!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Holy Saturday

His Cross stands empty in a world grown silent
Through hours of anguish and dread;
In stillness, earth awaits the Resurrection
While Christ goes down to wake the dead.
(Holy Saturday Divine Office Hymn)

Yesterday, as the evening of Sabbath grew near, our Lord was taken from the Cross and hastily placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.  It's Sabbath now, no one is permitted to do work until it ends, which is at sunset.  The women will wait until Sunday morning now to go back to finish preparing the body properly for burial.

Holy Saturday is time for us to meditate on what transpired the week before.  A week which began in joy and triumph is shattered by betrayal, torture and agonizing death.  It all happened so quickly!  How many of us, today, took time out to pray with our Lord on Holy Thursday?  Did we pause, even for a moment Friday morning as our Lord was being beaten, whipped and dehumanized?  In the hours between noon and 3pm, did we think about Jesus hanging on the Cross?  At 3pm, did we stop and remember the moment He died for our sins?  Were we too busy and distracted to do anything for Holy Week?

Today we sit in silence.  It is our time to reflect upon His Passion.  There has been no consecration of the Eucharist since Thursday.  Last night at a Mass of preconsecrated Host, we escorted any remaining Host out of the sanctuary and off to perhaps a side chapel which for this day, Holy Saturday, will represent His tomb.  Last night all the lights in the church were turned off.  Our churches sit in silent darkness awaiting the Lumen Christi from the "new fire" which is lit from flint at the start of the Easter Vigil - this begins traditionally at about 10:30pm.  Why so late?  Because at the stroke of midnight begins the First Mass of Easter!  All the statues and sacred images which were shrouded in purple on Passion Sunday (two weeks ago) are uncovered as the choir sings out the Alleluia!  Lent will have ended and the great Feast of Easter will have begun.

For now, however, we sit in silence and in prayerful meditation.  Meditating on the week which just passed, the week which literally rocked the whole world nearly 2000 years ago - and continues to rock it to this day.  We have an eager anticipation for Easter Sunday - while remaining mindful of what just happened in the last couple days.

A blessed Holy Saturday to you, and a great and Holy Easter tomorrow (or tonight!) to you as well.

Here we sit in silent mourning, 
Eagerly awaiting for the morning. 
The dawning of our victory,
The greatest Sonrise of history.
S. Windsor 2015

Friday, April 03, 2015

Good Friday

Also called Holy Friday.  The Passion of our Lord began last night, Holy Thursday and reaches its mortal climax earlier this afternoon, at 3pm local time. 

On this day Catholics are to observe both fasting and abstinence from meat.  Why do we do this?  We do it to call into remembrance that which our Lord and Savior went through this past week - Holy Week.  The week begins with Jesus entering Jerusalem triumphantly, being praised and adored by the people of Jerusalem who are waving palms and laying them down as He passes in honor of Him.  Four days later, one of His own Apostles will betray Him, handing him over to the Jewish leaders who seek to have Him put to death.

Betrayal at the Garden

We left last night with Jesus being betrayed, arrested, bound and beaten as He is taken before Caiaphas, the High Priest for judgment.  This is still in the evening of Holy Thursday, actually.  After many witnesses came and gave false testimony, and Caiaphas not finding Him guilty of anything - finally two witnesses come forth and charge that He claimed that He would destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.  Jesus remained silent.  Then Caiaphas asked Him if He really was the Christ (Annointed One), the Son of God.  At this point Jesus broke His silence and said "You have said it..." and continue with "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."  The High Priest tore his vestments and said, "What need of we of more witnesses?!  He has blasphemed!  He deserves to die."

Good Friday Morning

The Jews, being occupied by the Romans, had no authority to put someone to death, so they took Jesus before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor.  Pilate could not find anything to convict Jesus to death, so he had Him scourged till He was barely alive and barely recognizable.  Bringing Him back before the Jews, Pilate said "Behold the man!"  The Jewish leaders still wanted nothing less than a death sentence and got the crowds to chant "Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!"  Pilate even tried to dissuade them from killing Jesus and offered to free either Jesus or the notorious criminal, Barabbas.  The Jewish leaders got the crowd to cry out for the release of Barabbas - and to crucify Jesus.  Pilate washes his hands and states, "Do with Him what you will, I will not have the blood of this innocent Man on my hands."  The Jews cried out, "Let His blood be upon us and upon our children." 

The Stations of the Cross by St Alphonsus Liguori

Preparatory Prayer
My Lord Jesus Christ, Thou hast made this journey to die for me with love unutterable, and I have so many times unworthily abandoned Thee; but now I love Thee with my whole heart, and because I love Thee, I repent sincerely for ever having offended Thee. Pardon me, my God, and permit me to accompany Thee on this journey. Thou goest to die for love of me; I wish also, my beloved Redeemer, to die for love of Thee. My Jesus, I will live and die always united to Thee.
The First Station
Jesus is Condemned to Death
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how Jesus, after having been scourged and crowned with thorns, was unjustly condemned by Pilate to die on the Cross.
My adorable Jesus, it was not Pilate, no, it was my sins that condemned Thee to die. I beseech Thee, by the merits of this sorrowful journey, to assist my soul in its journey towards eternity. I love Thee, my beloved Jesus; I repent with my whole heart for having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
Dear Jesus, Thou dost go to die
For very love of me:
Ah! let me bear Thee company;
I wish to die with Thee.
The Second Station
Jesus Carries His Cross
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how Jesus, in making this journey with the Cross on His shoulders thought of us, and for us offered to His Father the death He was about to undergo.
My most beloved Jesus, I embrace all the tribulations Thou hast destined for me until death. I beseech Thee, by the merits of the pain Thou didst suffer in carrying Thy Cross, to give me the necessary help to carry mine with perfect patience and resignation. I love Thee, Jesus my love; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Third Station
Jesus Falls the First Time
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider this first fall of Jesus under His Cross. His flesh was torn by the scourges, His head crowned with thorns, and He had lost a great quantity of blood. He was so weakened that he could scarcely walk, and yet he had to carry this great load upon His shoulders. The soldiers struck Him rudely, and thus He fell several times in His journey.
My beloved Jesus, it is not the weight of the Cross, but my sins, which have made Thee suffer so much pain. Ah, by the merits of this first fall, deliver me from the misfortune of falling into mortal sin. I love Thee, O my Jesus, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to separate myself from Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Fourth Station
Jesus Meets His Sorrowful Mother
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider the meeting of the Son and the Mother, which took place on this journey. Jesus and Mary looked at each other, and their looks became as so many arrows to wound those hearts which loved each other so tenderly.
My most loving Jesus, by the sorrow Thou didst experience in this meeting, grant me the grace of a truly devoted love for Thy most holy Mother. And thou, my Queen, who wast overwhelmed with sorrow, obtain for me by thy intercession a continual and tender remembrance of the Passion of thy Son. I love Thee, Jesus my love; I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Fifth Station
Simon Helps Jesus to Carry the Cross
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how the Jews, seeing that at each step Jesus from weakness was on the point of expiring, and fearing that He would die on the way, when they wished Him to die the ignominious death of the Cross, constrained Simon the Cyrenian to carry the Cross behind our Lord.
My most sweet Jesus, I will not refuse the Cross, as the Cyrenian did; I accept it; I embrace it. I accept in particular the death Thou hast destined for me; with all the pains that may accompany it; I unite it to Thy death, I offer it to Thee. Thou hast died for love of me; I will die for love of Thee, and to please Thee. Help me by Thy grace. I love Thee, Jesus my love; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Sixth Station
Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how the holy woman named Veronica, seeing Jesus so afflicted, and His face bathed in sweat and blood, presented Him with a towel, with which He wiped His adorable face, leaving on it the impression of His holy countenance.
My most beloved Jesus, Thy face was beautiful before, but in this journey it has lost all its beauty, and wounds and blood have disfigured it. Alas, my soul also was once beautiful, when it received Thy grace in Baptism; but I have disfigured it since by my sins; Thou alone, my Redeemer, canst restore it to its former beauty. Do this by Thy Passion, O Jesus. I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Seventh Station
Jesus Falls the Second Time
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider the second fall of Jesus under the Cross—a fall which renews the pain of all the wounds of the head and members of our afflicted Lord.
My most gentle Jesus, how many times Thou hast pardoned me, and how many times have I fallen again, and begun again to offend Thee! Oh, by the merits of this new fall, give me the necessary help to persevere in Thy grace until death. Grant that in all temptations which assail me I may always commend myself to Thee. I love Thee, Jesus my love; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Eighth Station
The Women of Jerusalem Weep over Jesus
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how those women wept with compassion at seeing Jesus in such a pitiable state, streaming with blood, as He walked along. But Jesus said to them: Weep not for Me, but for your children.
My Jesus, laden with sorrows, I weep for the offences I have committed against Thee, because of the pains they have deserved, and still more because of the displeasure they have caused Thee, who hast loved me so much. It is Thy love, more than the fear of hell, which causes me to weep for my sins. My Jesus, I love Thee more than myself; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Ninth Station
Jesus Falls the Third Time
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider the third fall of Jesus Christ. His weakness was extreme, and the cruelty of His executioners was excessive, who tried to hasten His steps when He had scarcely strength to move.
Ah, my outraged Jesus, by the merits of the weakness Thou didst suffer in going to Calvary, give me strength sufficient to conquer all human respect, and all my wicked passions, which have led me to despise Thy friendship. I love Thee, Jesus my love, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Tenth Station
Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider the violence with which the executioners stripped Jesus. His inner garments adhered to His torn flesh, and they dragged them off so roughly that the skin came with them. Compassionate your Savior thus cruelly treated, and say to Him:
My innocent Jesus, by the merits of the torment Thou hast felt, help me to strip myself of all affection to things of earth, in order that I may place all my love in Thee, who art so worthy of my love. I love Thee, O Jesus, with my whole heart; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Eleventh Station - (It's now about noon, local time on Good Friday)
Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how Jesus, after being thrown on the Cross extended His hands, and offered to His Eternal Father the sacrifice of His death for our salvation. These barbarians fastened Him with nails, and then, raising the Cross, allowed Him to die with anguish on this infamous gibbet.
My Jesus! loaded with contempt, nail my heart to Thy feet, that it may ever remain there, to love Thee, and never quit Thee again. I love Thee more than myself; I repent of having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Twelfth Station
Jesus is Raised upon the Cross, and Dies
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how thy Jesus, after three hours’ Agony on the Cross, consumed at length with anguish, abandons Himself to the weight of His body, bows His head, and dies.
O my dying Jesus, I kiss devoutly the Cross on which Thou didst die for love of me. I have merited by my sins to die a miserable death; but Thy death is my hope. Ah, by the merits of Thy death, give me grace to die, embracing Thy feet, and burning with love for Thee. I yield my soul into Thy hands. I love Thee with my whole heart; I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Thirteenth Station - (It is now about 3:00pm, Good Friday)
Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how, after the death of our Lord, two of His disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus, took Him down from the Cross, and placed Him in the arms of His afflicted Mother, who received Him with unutterable tenderness, and pressed Him to her bosom.
O Mother of sorrow, for the love of this Son, accept me for thy servant, and pray to Him for me. And Thou, my Redeemer, since Thou hast died for me, permit me to love Thee; for I wish but Thee, and nothing more. I love Thee, my Jesus, and I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.
The Fourteenth Station - (The sun is setting, the Sabbath is beginning, there is no time for the full preparation of the body, this will have to wait until the sun is rising after Sabbath is over, Sunday morning).
Jesus is Laid in the Sepulchre
V. We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee.
R. Because by Thy holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.
Consider how the disciples carried the body of Jesus to bury it, accompanied by His holy Mother, who arranged it in the sepulchre with her own hands. They then closed the tomb, and all withdrew.
Oh, my buried Jesus, I kiss the stone that encloses Thee. But Thou didst rise again the third day. I beseech Thee, by Thy resurrection, make me rise glorious with Thee at the last day, to be always united with Thee in heaven, to praise Thee and love Thee forever. I love Thee, and I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always; and then do with me what Thou wilt.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, etc.

Prayer to Jesus Christ Crucified

Behold, O kind and most sweet Jesus, I cast myself upon my knees in Your sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, I pray and beg You to impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, with true repentance for my sins, and a firm desire of amendment, while with deep affection and grief of soul I ponder within myself and mentally contemplate Your five precious Wounds, having before my eyes that which David spoke in prophecy; "They have pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all my bones."

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Holy Thursday

What is the Triduum?  It is the culmination of the Passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It begins with Holy Thursday with the foot washing of the Apostles as they prepare for the celebration of Passover - which will become the Christian Pascha, the Eucharist - the first celebration of the Catholic Mass/Divine Liturgy.  Both Eastern and Latin traditions trace the roots of their Eucharist to THIS night nearly 2000 years ago. The Triduum is the three days of the Passion, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

How is tonight different from other nights?

This is the question the Jews have asked in celebrating Passover for nearly four thousand years!  Whereas Abraham is the Father of the Jews - Moses is the Father of Judaism.  Passover celebrates the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, specifically - the Tenth Plague which Pharoah brought upon the Egyptians because of his hardened heart - but this Tenth Plague took the first born from everyone in Egypt who did not paint their door sills with the blood of a sacrificed lamb.  On this night God sent the Angel of Death over the land and for those whose doorposts were marked with the blood, the angel "passed over" but to every household which did not have their doorposts so identified, the angel went in and took the life breath from the firstborn of each household - including Pharoah's own son.  Pharoah was so grieved, he finally relented and told Moses to take his people and whatever spoils they could carry with them and get out of Egypt.

So, tonight they eat quickly and pack everything they can, and all the spoils of Egypt they can, and make a hasty exit.  They don't sit for a "normal meal" for "tonight we are like royalty and we recline to the left in the manner of kings and queens."  Though they reclined like kings and queens, they were also dressed for a trip, for they were leaving Egypt in the morning - for the rest of their lives. This is why they use unleavened bread, for there was no time to let the bread rise.  It had to be prepared and eaten quickly.

"You shall tell your child on that day, saying, 'It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'" (Exodus 13:8)

The Footwashing

This is not part of the Jewish practice - but is an important part of the Catholic tradition.  Jesus, the Leader and Chief Shepherd, humbles Himself and takes a basin of water and a towel and washes the feet of the Apostles who have reclined for the Passover celebration.  Peter at first refuses, but after Jesus explains this is necessary - he over-responds and asks that Jesus not only wash his feet, but bathe him completely.  The feet are enough, Peter!

The Four Cups

It is not certain when the use of the Four Cups began, but certainly it was before Jesus was celebrating the Passover on this Holy Thursday night.  The use of the Four Cups is taught in the ancient writings of Judaism, (Pesahim 10:1).  The Cup being taken on Holy Thursday is the Third Cup - the Cup of Redemption or the Cup of Blessing.  The irony of the Catholic tradition began by Christ here - He gets up and goes off into the night before the Fourth Cup!  The Fourth Cup, the "Cup of Hope," therefore, in the Catholic tradition is that cup which Jesus prayed about at Gethsemane - and pray that this cup be removed from Him, unless it be the Will of the Father that He endures this cup.  This cup therefore is our Hope for salvation - it is the Sacrifice of Calvary.

Holy Thursday

It begins with Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles and ends in the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss.  Jesus is arrested and by this time tomorrow - He will be dead and buried.  As we go into Good Friday, let us be mindful of what Jesus was enduring in these last hours of His natural human life.

(Passover this year actually begins at sundown on Holy Saturday, 15 Nissan).

A Jewish explanation of the Passover Seder:  http://www.jewfaq.org/seder.htm

Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_Seder

The Fourth Cup, transcript of Dr. Scott Hahn's talk on the Passover of Holy Thursday: http://zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m4/4cp.html



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quirinius and the Census - Was Luke Wrong?

For quite some time now critics of biblical inerrancy point to Luke's accounting of the Nativity Narrative and state that "If Herod was alive, Quirinius was not governor of Syria."  They base most of this upon Josephus, but if you read Jimmy Akin's piece (link cited below), Josephus was clearly wrong in this matter, citing impossible dates, etc.  Rather than reinventing the wheel at this time, there exists several good arguments to counter the skeptics.  Will the skeptics be convinced?  Probably not, but these, at the very least, cast doubt upon their "dogmatic" stance that Luke somehow was "wrong" in their arguments opposing biblical inerrancy.  Below I quote from three articles and cite a fourth.

Argument 1:  Was Quirinius "Ruling" in the Region?"

Historical sources indicate that Quirinius was favored by Augustus, and was in active service of the emperor in the vicinity of Syria previous to and during the time period that Jesus was born. It is reasonable to conclude that Quirinius could have been appointed by Caesar to instigate a census-enrollment during that time frame, and his competent execution of such could have earned for him a repeat appointment for the A.D. 6/7 census (see Archer, 1982, p. 366). Notice also that Luke did not use the term legatus—the normal title for a Roman governor. He used the participial form of hegemon that was used for a Propraetor (senatorial governor), or Procurator (like Pontius Pilate), or Quaestor (imperial commissioner) [McGarvey and Pendleton, n.d., p. 28]. After providing a thorough summary of the historical and archaeological data pertaining to this question, Finnegan concluded: “Thus the situation presupposed in Luke 2:3 seems entirely plausible” (1959, 2:261).

Finegan, Jack (1959), Light From the Ancient Past (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).

https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=907

Argument 2:  Historical Evidence for Quirinius and the Census

     And as for Quirinius being the governor of Syria during this census, it is worth noting that the Bible never calls him the governor, at least the New King James Version doesn't. It says he was governing in Syria. And we know that Quirinius was indeed governing in some capacity in this region at this time.

       Records also indicate that Quirinius was no minor figure in Roman politics. His name is mentioned in Res Gestae - The Deeds of Augustus by Augustus placing him as consul as early as 12 B.C.

      After Caesar's young son Caius was sent to administer Syria as an Imperial Legate in 1 B.C., the Roman historian Tacitus mentions that Quirinius was then sent by Augustus to be an advisor to Caius while in Armenia around 1 A.D.    

       Evidently, Augustus wanted someone who was experienced in previously administering the region to advise his son. Who better then Quirinius?

      The Biblical census was probably implemented by Herod at the command of Rome to coincide with their decree that all peoples should take an oath of allegiance to Augustus which took place in history around 2 B.C.

       This oath, forced upon everyone in Israel, is recorded by the first century historian Josephus.

      Josephus also mentions that Quirinius became governor of Syria, many years later, after Herod the Greats son, Archelaus, was dethroned. He wrote:

      "Quirinius, a Roman senator who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them all until he had become consul, was appointed governor of Syria by Caesar and was given the task of assessing property there and in Judea."
      So who was in charge as the assessor of property in Judea during the first census?  Just as the Bible had said all along, Quirinius.

http://www.biblehistory.net/newsletter/quirinius.htm

Argument 3:  Like the above and, Census One v. Census Two?

No so fast. Critics used this text for many years to make their case for a Bible that is unreliable. But no more. Today, there are a number of reasons for giving Luke the benefit of the doubt. Over and over (in references to 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands) the doctor has proven himself to be a reliable historian, as demonstrated by famed scholar and archaeologist, Sir William Ramsey.
See ChristianAnswers' Web Bible Encyclopedia: What is a census?
To date, the only census documented outside the Bible near this time under Quirinius is the one referred to by the historian Josephus (Antiquities XVIII, 26 [ii.1], which he says took place in 6 A.D.

But notice that Luke 2:2 says that the census taken around the time Joseph and Mary went down to Bethlehem was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. This implies that there was a later census--most likely the one referred to by Josephus--which Dr. Luke would have also certainly known about.

There is good reason to believe that Quirinius was actually twice in a position of command (the Greek expression hegemoneuo in Luke 2:2which is often translated “governor” really just means “to be leading” or “in charge of”) over the province of Syria, which included Judea as a political subdivision. The first time would have been when he was leading military action against the Homonadensians during the period between 12 and 2 B.C. His title may even have been “military governor.”

A Latin inscription discovered in 1764 adds weight to the idea that Quirinius was in a position of authority in Syria on two separate occasions. There was definitely a taxing during this time and therefore, quite possible, an associated census, the details of which may have been common knowledge in Luke's time, but are now lost to us.

Scholars have advanced a number of other altogether viable explanations which would allow Luke's record (and therefore the Bible) to continue to be regarded as 100% trustworthy.

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aiia/census-luke2.html

One more for good measure, but rather than quote the whole article, I'll just provide the link.  This one is also from a Catholic source:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/the-100-year-old-mistake-about-the-birth-of-jesus/

The Bottom Line

When we encounter these skeptics of biblical inerrancy we must call them out on their ironically dogmatic stance.  How can they be so sure (and dogmatic) in their arguments when valid counter arguments have been made?  Do they just refuse to consider an argument which goes against their paradigm?  These same people like to claim they have taken a rational position in opposing the Catholic Faith, but truly - especially in this case - their position, while making some valid points is highly irrational to proclaim their position as the ONLY (and non-falsifiable) position.

More reading:

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/jesus-birth-and-when-herod-the-great-really-died

http://www.themoorings.org/apologetics/chronology/Chrmas.html

http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/jesus-historical-jesus/herods-death-jesus-birth-and-a-lunar-eclipse/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Lesson
Reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Hebrews
Heb 9:11-15.
Brethren: When Christ appeared as high priest of the good things to come, He entered once for all through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands - that is, not of this creation, - nor again by virtue of blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of His own blood, into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkled ashes of a heifer sanctify the unclean unto the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the Blood of Christ, Who through the Holy Spirit offered Himself unblemished unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And this is why He is mediator of a new covenant, that whereas a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions committed under the former covenant, they who have been called may receive eternal inheritance according to the promise, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.


Gospel
Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to John
R. Glory be to Thee, O Lord.
John 8:46-59.
At that time, Jesus said to the crowds of the Jews: Which of you can convict Me of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear is that you are not of God. The Jews therefore in answer said to Him, Are we not right in saying that You are a Samaritan, and have a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil, but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. Yet, I do not seek My own glory; there is One Who seeks and Who judges. Amen, amen, I say to you, if anyone keep My word, he will never see death. The Jews therefore said, Now we know that You have a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets, and You say, ‘If anyone keep My word he will never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Whom do You make Yourself? Jesus answered, If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing. It is My Father Who glorifies Me, of Whom you say that He is your God. And you do not know Him, but I know Him. And if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be like you, a liar. But I know Him, and I keep His word. Abraham your father rejoiced that he was to see My day. He saw it and was glad. The Jews therefore said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am. They therefore took up stones to cast at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out from the temple.


It is interesting that the Jewish Torah reading for this week, Tzav (Sabbath beginning on Friday, 3/27 at sunset through sunset Saturday, 3/28) deals with burnt sacrifices...

Torah Portion:  Tzav for this week:

Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36
This translation was taken from the JPS Tanakh
Chapter 6
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Command Aaron and his sons thus:
This is the ritual of the burnt offering: The burnt offering itself shall remain where it is burned upon the altar all night until morning, while the fire on the altar is kept going on it. 3 The priest shall dress in linen raiment, with linen breeches next to his body; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar and place them beside the altar. 4 He shall then take off his vestments and put on other vestments, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a clean place. 5 The fire on the altar shall be kept burning, not to go out: every morning the priest shall feed wood to it, lay out the burnt offering on it, and turn into smoke the fat parts of the offerings of well-being. 6 A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar, not to go out.
7 And this is the ritual of the meal offering: Aaron's sons shall present it before the Lord, in front of the altar. 8 A handful of the choice flour and oil of the meal offering shall be taken from it, with all the frankincense that is on the meal offering, and this token portion shall be turned into smoke on the altar as a pleasing odor to the Lord. 9 What is left of it shall be eaten by Aaron and his sons; it shall be eaten as unleavened cakes, in the sacred precinct; they shall eat it in the enclosure of the Tent of Meeting. 10 It shall not be baked with leaven; I have given it as their portion from My offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 11 Only the males among Aaron's descendants may eat of it, as their due for all time throughout the ages from the Lord's offerings by fire. Anything that touches these shall become holy.
12 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 13 This is the offering that Aaron and his sons shall offer to the Lord on the occasion of his anointment: a tenth of an ephah of choice flour as a regular meal offering, half of it in the morning and half of it in the evening, 14 shall be prepared with oil on a griddle. You shall bring it well soaked, and offer it as a meal offering of baked slices, of pleasing odor to the Lord. 15 And so shall the priest, anointed from among his sons to succeed him, prepare it; it is the Lord's — a law for all time — to be turned entirely into smoke. 16 So, too, every meal offering of a priest shall be a whole offering: it shall not be eaten.
17 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 18 Speak to Aaron and his sons thus: This is the ritual of the sin offering: the sin offering shall be slaughtered before the Lord, at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered: it is most holy. 19 The priest who offers it as a sin offering shall eat of it; it shall be eaten in the sacred precinct, in the enclosure of the Tent of Meeting. 20 Anything that touches its flesh shall become holy; and if any of its blood is spattered upon a garment, you shall wash the bespattered part in the sacred precinct. 21 An earthen vessel in which it was boiled shall be broken; if it was boiled in a copper vessel, [the vessel] shall be scoured and rinsed with water. 22 Only the males in the priestly line may eat of it: it is most holy. 23 But no sin offering may be eaten from which any blood is brought into the Tent of Meeting for expiation in the sanctuary; any such shall be consumed in fire.
Chapter 7
1 This is the ritual of the guilt offering: it is most holy. 2 The guilt offering shall be slaughtered at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and the blood shall be dashed on all sides of the altar. 3 All its fat shall be offered: the broad tail; the fat that covers the entrails; 4 the two kidneys and the fat that is on them at the loins; and the protuberance on the liver, which shall be removed with the kidneys. 5 The priest shall turn them into smoke on the altar as an offering by fire to the Lord; it is a guilt offering. 6 Only the males in the priestly line may eat of it; it shall be eaten in the sacred precinct: it is most holy.
7 The guilt offering is like the sin offering. The same rule applies to both: it shall belong to the priest who makes expiation thereby. 8 So, too, the priest who offers a man's burnt offering shall keep the skin of the burnt offering that he offered. 9 Further, any meal offering that is baked in an oven, and any that is prepared in a pan or on a griddle, shall belong to the priest who offers it. 10 But every other meal offering, with oil mixed in or dry, shall go to the sons of Aaron all alike.
11 This is the ritual of the sacrifice of well-being that one may offer to the Lord:
12 If he offers it for thanksgiving, he shall offer together with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes with oil mixed in, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of choice flour with oil mixed in, well soaked. 13 This offering, with cakes of leavened bread added, he shall offer along with his thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being. 14 Out of this he shall offer one of each kind as a gift to the Lord; it shall go to the priest who dashes the blood of the offering of well-being. 15 And the flesh of his thanksgiving sacrifice of well-being shall be eaten on the day that it is offered; none of it shall be set aside until morning.
16 If, however, the sacrifice he offers is a votive or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and what is left of it shall be eaten on the morrow. 17 What is then left of the flesh of the sacrifice shall be consumed in fire on the third day. 18 If any of the flesh of his sacrifice of well-being is eaten on the third day, it shall not be acceptable; it shall not count for him who offered it. It is an offensive thing, and the person who eats of it shall bear his guilt.
19 Flesh that touches anything unclean shall not be eaten; it shall be consumed in fire. As for other flesh, only he who is clean may eat such flesh. 20 But the person who, in a state of uncleanness, eats flesh from the Lord's sacrifices of well-being, that person shall be cut off from his kin. 21 When a person touches anything unclean, be it human uncleanness or an unclean animal or any unclean creature, and eats flesh from the Lord's sacrifices of well-being, that person shall be cut off from his kin.
22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 23 Speak to the Israelite people thus: You shall eat no fat of ox or sheep or goat. 24 Fat from animals that died or were torn by beasts may be put to any use, but you must not eat it. 25 If anyone eats the fat of animals from which offerings by fire may be made to the Lord, the person who eats it shall be cut off from his kin. 26 And you must not consume any blood, either of bird or of animal, in any of your settlements. 27 Anyone who eats blood shall be cut off from his kin.
28 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 29 Speak to the Israelite people thus: The offering to the Lord from a sacrifice of well-being must be presented by him who offers his sacrifice of well-being to the Lord: 30 his own hands shall present the Lord's offerings by fire. He shall present the fat with the breast, the breast to be elevated as an elevation offering before the Lord; 31 the priest shall turn the fat into smoke on the altar, and the breast shall go to Aaron and his sons. 32 And the right thigh from your sacrifices of well-being you shall present to the priest as a gift; 33 he from among Aaron's sons who offers the blood and the fat of the offering of well-being shall get the right thigh as his portion. 34 For I have taken the breast of elevation offering and the thigh of gift offering from the Israelites, from their sacrifices of well-being, and given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons as their due from the Israelites for all time.
35 Those shall be the perquisites of Aaron and the perquisites of his sons from the Lord's offerings by fire, once they have been inducted to serve the Lord as priests; 36 these the Lord commanded to be given them, once they had been anointed, as a due from the Israelites for all time throughout the ages. 37 Such are the rituals of the burnt offering, the meal offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the offering of ordination, and the sacrifice of well-being, 38 with which the Lord charged Moses on Mount Sinai, when He commanded that the Israelites present their offerings to the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai.
Chapter 8
1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 Take Aaron along with his sons, and the vestments, the anointing oil, the bull of sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread; 3 and assemble the whole community at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. 4 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. And when the community was assembled at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, 5 Moses said to the community, "This is what the Lord has commanded to be done."
6 Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. 7 He put the tunic on him, girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him, girding him with the decorated band with which he tied it to him. 8 He put the breastpiece on him, and put into the breastpiece the Urim and Thummim. 9 And he set the headdress on his head; and on the headdress, in front, he put the gold frontlet, the holy diadem — as the Lord had commanded Moses.
10 Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the Tabernacle and all that was in it, thus consecrating them. 11 He sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times, anointing the altar, all its utensils, and the laver with its stand, to consecrate them. 12 He poured some of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head and anointed him, to consecrate him. 13 Moses then brought Aaron's sons forward, clothed them in tunics, girded them with sashes, and wound turbans upon them, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
14 He led forward the bull of sin offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bull of sin offering, 15 and it was slaughtered. Moses took the blood and with his finger put some on each of the horns of the altar, cleansing the altar; then he poured out the blood at the base of the altar. Thus he consecrated it in order to make expiation upon it.
16 Moses then took all the fat that was about the entrails, and the protuberance of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat, and turned them into smoke on the altar. 17 The rest of the bull, its hide, its flesh, and its dung, he put to the fire outside the camp — as the Lord had commanded Moses.
18 Then he brought forward the ram of burnt offering. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the ram's head, 19 and it was slaughtered. Moses dashed the blood against all sides of the altar. 20 The ram was cut up into sections and Moses turned the head, the sections, and the suet into smoke on the altar; 21 Moses washed the entrails and the legs with water and turned all of the ram into smoke. That was a burnt offering for a pleasing odor, an offering by fire to the Lord — as the Lord had commanded Moses.
22 He brought forward the second ram, the ram of ordination. Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the ram's head, 23 and it was slaughtered. Moses took some of its blood and put it on the ridge of Aaron's right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. 24 Moses then brought forward the sons of Aaron, and put some of the blood on the ridges of their right ears, and on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet; and the rest of the blood Moses dashed against every side of the altar. 25 He took the fat — the broad tail, all the fat about the entrails, the protuberance of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat — and the right thigh. 26 From the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord, he took one cake of unleavened bread, one cake of oil bread, and one wafer, and placed them on the fat parts and on the right thigh. 27 He placed all these on the palms of Aaron and on the palms of his sons, and elevated them as an elevation offering before the Lord. 28 Then Moses took them from their hands and turned them into smoke on the altar with the burnt offering. This was an ordination offering for a pleasing odor; it was an offering by fire to the Lord. 29 Moses took the breast and elevated it as an elevation offering before the Lord; it was Moses' portion of the ram of ordination — as the Lord had commanded Moses.
30 And Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood that was on the altar and sprinkled it upon Aaron and upon his vestments, and also upon his sons and upon their vestments. Thus he consecrated Aaron and his vestments, and also his sons and their vestments.
31 Moses said to Aaron and his sons: Boil the flesh at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and eat it there with the bread that is in the basket of ordination — as I commanded: Aaron and his sons shall eat it; 32 and what is left over of the flesh and the bread you shall consume in fire. 33 You shall not go outside the entrance of the Tent of Meeting for seven days, until the day that your period of ordination is completed. For your ordination will require seven days. 34 Everything done today, the Lord has commanded to be done [seven days], to make expiation for you. 35 You shall remain at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting day and night for seven days, keeping the Lord's charge — that you may not die — for so I have been commanded.
36 And Aaron and his sons did all the things that the Lord had commanded through Moses.
Taken from Tanakh, The Holy Scriptures, (Philadelphia, Jerusalem: Jewish Publication Society) 1985. 

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani”

Does Jesus, dying on the cross, truly believe that God the Father has abandoned him when he cries out: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani” which means: “My God, my God why have you forsaken/abandoned me?” (Matt 27:46)

Just prior to these words we read in verse 42 how the chiefs, scribes and elders mocked Jesus and taunted him saying: “He saved others; he cannot save himself… Let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him”

Jesus answers: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

You see, Jesus isn’t lamenting his condition.  Jesus IS God, he can’t abandon himself.  Jesus was in fact answering their taunts by pointing to Psalm 22.  In those days, the Psalms weren't numbered.  To point to a particular Psalm for others to know which one you were talking about, the Jews would cite the first line of it.  And that's why Jesus said what he did and also why the Jews understood what Jesus meant when he said those words.

This Psalm speaks of a suffering servant where his attackers are “casting lots” for his garments (Ps 22:35 ), and “those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads” (Ps 22:8) as well as referencing the mode of death as being crucified: “They have pierced my hands and feet—I can count all my bones” (v.16-17)  but most importantly and most clearly Psalm 22 speaks of those who mocked the Psalmist writer and curled their lips that he “relied on the Lord – let him deliver you; if he loves you, let him rescue you.” The exact same statement by the scribes and elders toward Jesus.

The overall message in the Psalm can be seen as the psalmist presenting distress being contrasted with God's past mercy in Psalm 22:2-12. In Psalm 22:13-22 enemies surround the psalmist. The last third is an invitation to praise God (Psalm 22:23-27), becoming a universal chorus of praise (Psalm 22:28-31).  While at the same time pointing to those who were taunting him at the foot of the cross that he, Jesus Himself, is the one being referenced in that Psalm.

That is Jesus’ message.  Everything is occurring as it should and even though it seems as though his suffering and his impending death is fast approaching, God’s Will shall overcome and all will praise Him.

The chiefs and scribes finally understood this in the end because we see them leaving, beating their chests once Jesus died (Luke 23:48) because now they know that the blood of a truly righteous man is on them (Mat 27:25).

God Bless
Nathan