He Is Risen!

Christ is Risen from the dead! By dying he trampled death, and to those in the tombs he granted life!

St. John Chrysostom’s Homily on Pascha (Easter), or the Hieratikon, is always a great read on this most holy of days:

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival! Is there anyone who is a grateful servant? Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting? Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour, let them receive their due reward; if any have come after the third hour, let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of Our Saviour has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive. Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead; for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

   To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

These words by King David also are fitting on a day such as this:

The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof,
    the world and those who dwell therein;
for he has founded it upon the seas,
    and established it upon the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
    And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
    and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
    and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
    The Lord, strong and mighty,
    the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
    and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
    that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
    The Lord of hosts,
    he is the King of glory!

(Psalm 24)

 

A wonderful and blessed Easter and Paschal season to all my readers.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #150

In the Eastern Catholic Churches the liturgy today celebrates the life of St. Mary of Egypt. For those unaware, she was a harlot who underwent a conversion in Jerusalem and then went to the desert for the rest of her life, living as an ascetic until she died.

Here is the wiki article about her.

In honor of her, here is some scripture about women in similar positions who became children of God.

First, we have this account from the Book of Joshua:

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went, and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. And it was told the king of Jericho, “Behold, certain men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring forth the men that have come to you, who entered your house; for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them; and she said, “True, men came to me, but I did not know where they came from; and when the gate was to be closed, at dark, the men went out; where the men went I do not know; pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” But she had brought them up to the roof, and hid them with the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof. So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords; and as soon as the pursuers had gone out, the gate was shut.

Before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no courage left in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God is he who is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. 12 Now then, swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign, 13 and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.”

15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she dwelt in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers have returned; then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours which you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down; and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 If any one goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we shall be guiltless; but if a hand is laid upon any one who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath which you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed; and she bound the scarlet cord in the window.

22 And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the harlot’s house, and bring out from it the woman, and all who belong to her, as you swore to her.” 23 So the young men who had been spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father and mother and brothers and all who belonged to her; and they brought all her kindred, and set them outside the camp of Israel. 24 And they burned the city with fire, and all within it; only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. 25 But Rahab the harlot, and her father’s household, and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive; and she dwelt in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

(Joshua 2:1-21, 6:22-25)

Rahab is an ancestor of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. So one can fall far, and yet achieve greatness in the eyes of God. Then we have this story from Luke:

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”[d] 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

(Luke 7:6-50)

Mary had sinned much, and being forgiven that, loved our Lord all the more. Let us then, who hopefully have not fallen as far as she, love greatly too. For much has been given to us that we can never deserve or repay.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #149

I have tried to make it a practice to pray out a Psalm every day. A few days ago I was praying Psalm 11, and it caught my attention.

In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me,
    “Flee like a bird to the mountains;[a]
for look, the wicked bend the bow,
    they have fitted their arrow to the string,
    to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
and his soul hates the lover of violence.
On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur;
a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.

(Psalm 11)

In particular I was caught by this:

If the foundations are destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

My understanding is that the foundations referred to there are the public order. So what David is saying here is that when society has been turned upside down, what can a just person do? Which leads to my next interesting observation- there is no answer given. No advice is offered here for the one caught in such a position. Probably because there is no advice that can be offered other than wait on the Lord.

Sometimes we just have to persevere- to hold out until God comes to our rescue. At least, that is how I see it. That message seems to be repeated in the New Testament as well:

11 When they bring you to trial and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 13 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

(Mark 13:11-13)

My readers are of course invited to off their own thoughts.

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And I Just Can’t Contain This Feelin’ That Remains

 

I was reading through Ace of Spades most recent post, and came to an epiphany:

 

Solomon was an addict.

 

Every woman he added to his harem was yet another attempt to chase the dragon.

 

And every temple he built to a foreign god was a payment made to his dealer.

 

All to ensure he always had his fix.

 

Like many an addict, his addiction eventually led to the point where it brought to ruin everything he had built up in his life.

 

In his desire to take the edge off, he ensured that the pain only increased.

 

And that is because no drug, whether the kind ingested, injected, smoked… or welcomed into ones arms, can ever fix the pain.

 

It can only numb it.

 

There is only one cure to the pain.

 

And that is Death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pulled Every Which Way

One of the points I have made on this blog before is the following:

~Women live in a perpetual state of contradiction~

It isn’t a unique claim, other bloggers have made similar statements before. But it is still an important point to make, because men do not grasp this at first and need to in order to truly understand women.

In today’s post I want to explore one dimension of this crucial aspect of female behavior: that Mate “Idealism” versus Mate “Pragmatism.” You see, women have two opposing natures which are always fighting against each other when it comes to selecting a mate. I don’t think I am going to cover any new ground here, but if anything I hope this post will serve as a bit of a recap.

The first of these is what I will call “Idealism.” This is expressed in the female desire for the best mate possible. Sometimes this is called Hypergamy, but that isn’t really an accurate descriptor of the behavior involved. Rather, what women experience is a sort of “Ruthless Idealism” which screams for the best possible man possible, compromises be damned. They will ignore the good or even the great in a mad desire for the perfect.

On the other end of the spectrum we have what I will call “Pragmatism.” This can be summed up by the expression “any port in a storm.” Otherwise stated, women can experience a “Ruthless Pragmatism” which will find that any acceptable man (and that can be very generous indeed) will do and try and lock him down as swiftly as possible.

These two… forces… are naturally opposed to one another. And as a general rule a woman is guided by either one or the other at any given time. However, there is usually still some “play” or flexibility. After all, the other force is still there, even if suppressed. Also, I suppose it is possible that a woman might fall somewhere in the middle for some reason or another, but I believe this to be a temporary state. Given any appreciable period of time she will revert to one of them.

My personal belief is that while genetics likely plays some role in where a woman falls on this spectrum, the primary guide is the environment. The environment that a woman lives in will shape her perceptions and beliefs, and possibly the deep seated neurological functions which control her mating behavior. Some environments will naturally favor Ruthless Idealism, and other environments will favor Ruthless pragmatism. My educated guess is that a forgiving environment with plentiful resources and a great deal of safety will encourage a woman to favor the Ruthless Idealism force. On the other hand, an environment which is unstable, or has limited resources, or is dangerous will likely cause her to favor Ruthless Pragmatism.

Now, because of changes both in herself and in the environment, a woman will not be stuck in one direction forever. It is possible for her to favor one most of her life, and then to move to the other and stay there. Or she could shift back and forth several or even many times. It all depends on the particular woman, and the environment she finds herself.

This can be very problematic if one supports lifetime monogamy, as it means a woman’s perception on what men are “acceptable” mates or not can shift over time. This means that she might marry a man while she finds him acceptable, and then later when she shifts he is no longer acceptable- meaning of course she will want to dump him.

A common trope in the ‘sphere is the former carousel rider who gets close to the Wall, develops Baby Rabies and then tries to lock down a nice, pliable Beta. In that example, we have a woman who was riding the Idealism train for years, only for the environment (featured in her fading looks and fertility and possible social cues) telling her she needs to settle, and fast. She then switches over to a Pragmatism mindset, during which she tries to lock a “good man” down. And she succeeds, only for her to divorce him a number of years later. My speculation is that she has switched back to an Idealism mindset, perhaps guided by the fact that she has a few kids now and so can afford to be more reckless (after all, her genetic future is now relatively secure). Also, her financial status and security are likely much better than they were before marriage.

In the past, the general layout of society was to create an environment which fostered the Pragmatism force within women. A good example was ancient Israel, which was no favorable towards unmarried women in its economics or laws. Given that kind of environment, it isn’t shocking that the writer of the Book of Sirach might note that for a woman, any man will do. After all, the alternative to having a man is to be a social nobody with basically no rights or power. That kind of environment would naturally encourage a Ruthless Pragmatism.

In the present age, however, the environment has changed dramatically. Women have financial and political and social power on a mass scale they have never experienced before. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are guided by Ruthless Idealism. The risks to them are relatively low, and the potential gain of locking down a top notch male, or at least bearing children by him, are great. One might go so far as to say that this is the default  setting for women these days, and only certain factors will push them towards Ruthless Pragmatism- and that only for a limited time.

I will try and wrap this post up by noting that men must understand this feature of women if they are actively trying to find a wife. Marrying a woman who is in the Ruthless Pragmatism phase is dangerous. After all, that pragmatism is bound in desperation, and desperate people do stupid things. Not to mention, that her “attraction” to you is bound up in a perceived pragmatic need. If she no longer feels that need, than any prior feelings towards you are likely to disappear. Unless you have managed to meet the expectations of her Idealism, she will reject you as a possible mate. This means, at best, a miserable marriage, and at worst adultery and/or divorce. So my advice is simple: men need to avoid women driven by that force.

Of course, that leads to the question of how one determines whether a woman is driven by Idealism or Pragmatism. But that is a subject for another post.

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Different Room, Same Building

[Or otherwise called “Different Faith Tradition, But Same Culture”]

Reader and Commenter Patrick recently left a link to a Catholic blog which goes by the name Traditional Catholic Femininity. The link was for a post titled “Shortage of Marriageable Prospects Among Traditional Catholics.”

To warn everyone, it is a long post. Too long even to even just cut quote from. So I will make an effort to summarize it, if only poorly. All the same, it would be best to read the whole thing. Here is my attempt at a TLDR version:

First off, we have the quotes from another post that are the foundation-

  • Too many Catholic women cannot marry, or at least marry well, because there is a real shortage of good, marriageable Catholic men.
  • This shortage is because Catholic men think they are ready but are not, and need to seriously up their game.

At this point the proprietress of the blog chimes in, and offers the following:

  1. The solution to the problem is for Catholic women to marry older men, preferably 10-15 years older and at least 35.
  2. Because women mature faster than men women will find men their age to be immature, so to find mature men they need to look at older men.
  3.  All of this means that men are just not ready to be married before their 30s in any way.
  4. If you marry an older men he will love you more for it, and be less likely to cheat/abandon you, etc.
  5. Men choose mates based on youth and beauty, and women chose mates based on the physical and material security he can provide.
  6. This dynamic is proven to work! Look at Joseph and Mary! And see what happened with Adam and Eve!
  7. Don’t marry a man just because he is hot, marry because he is able to provide, otherwise don’t marry at all
  8. Younger men need to work hard, build themselves up, become leaders, etc.
  9.  If you are a younger man and you think you are ready for marriage, you are fooling yourself. You just want a housekeeper you can have sex with.
  10.  Only a handful of men who are young are there. Most of the rest of you are losers. Fix yourselves up.
  11.  If you are concerned about sexual sin, that just means you are weak and lack self discipline. Learn to control yourself. If you can’t then you are just basically a sexual predator.
  12. Oh, and women are attracted to a disciplined and self-controlled man.

That is gist of it.

So what do I think of the post? Well, I think that Elspeth, in her comment to that post, said it well: “This whole screed is filled with bad logic and inconsistencies.”

It is bad. Really, really bad. I mean, where to begin?

You have the standard men bad, women good trope. It disguises itself somewhat by saying it is merely about younger men being immature, but really, it is

You have a misunderstanding about the maturation rates of women and men. The author seems to think it simply means men are slow- rather than understanding it means that men can continue to mature past where women do.

You have a misunderstanding about what women find attractive in men, in a bad way. All of the focus on “Beta traits”, while completely ignoring or down-playing the “Alpha” or Attractive traits.

You have a misunderstanding of both Mary and Joseph’s marriage, as well as Adam and Eve’s.

The author takes time to repeatedly trash younger men. I don’t know about my readers, but I sensed real disdain here. Like visceral disdain.

Oh, and of course a complete misunderstanding of, and a downplaying of, male sexuality.

And did I mention that none of this is founded in Scripture or the writings of the Fathers of the Church or Saints?

So yeah, bad.

Mind you, the advice for women to marry older men is well-intentioned, so there is that. Unfortunately, few will actually listen to this advice, so it doesn’t accomplish much. Instead this post, rather than coming across as advice to women, seems much more like an exercise in bashing men.

And that is where the post’s title comes from. Not that there was ever any doubt, but Catholics, even Big T “Traditional” ones, still swim in the same culture as other Christian faith traditions. And that culture carries with it some of the things I mentioned above. The particular expression might vary, but the ingredients are the same, if you will.

Of course, my readers might have their own thoughts on the subject. I encourage them to off their ideas in the comments below.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #148

I have been reading through St. Paul’s letter to the Romans the last few days. While he has some other letters which cover a lot of theological territory, I feel safe in saying that this epistle is special- it has a little something for everyone and everything. Whatever your theological pursuit, you can find an answer here. Part of it, I think, is because it is written more as a primer on Christian faith than as a response to specific questions or problems in the Church in Rome. A few passages have stood out to me so far, but I want to dedicate today’s post to Chapter 5.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

As I mentioned in my previous post, hope is a difficult thing for me. Yet Saint Paul lays it out clearly here why we should have hope, no matter what. God has already fulfilled a promise by the Gift of the Spirit. And he has promised yet more still, and we know his promises are sure.

While we were yet helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

This passage always brings a tear to my eye. It is one thing to say that God loves us. But it is another thing to actually know God loves us. But we do know- because of what he has sacrificed on our behalf, despite our utter unworthiness. There is no room to ever say that God doesn’t care for us- He does, more than we can ever express.

12 Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned 13 sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

Even the righteous figures of the Old Testament were still trapped by death. With the exceptions of Elijah and Enoch, they were waiting the savior to free them from the prison of Sheol.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We see here the contrast between the “first” Adam and the “second” Adam. Both of them, by their actions, made significant impacts on humanity and our fate. This should comfort us greatly. After all, it is obvious to anyone who looks that the magnitude of Adam’s effect on the world was terribly great. So Saint Paul reminds us that the effect of Jesus, by his redemptive sacrifice, is just as great, if not greater. For good is greater than evil, and so the effects of grace and righteousness must dwarf those of sin.

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