Monthly Archives: December 2014

Selected Sunday Scriptures- #56

The first passage for today comes from the Book of Proverbs:

18 Three things are too wonderful for me;
    four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a maiden.

(Proverbs 30:18-29)

This passage appealed to me today in large part because I believe that we can understand all of these. Science can help us explain how a bird can fly. Or a snake’s movement works. Science helps ships navigate on the seas, and explains how sails actually work. And of course this blog exist in part to try and explain that fourth mystery, which one might call socio-sexual interactions between men and women. Worth noting is that this part of the Book of Proverbs is not attributed to Solomon.

 Something that I have always found interesting is the constant call in both Proverbs and Sirach for the disciplining of children. A few examples:

Do you have children? Discipline them,
    and make them obedient from their youth.

(Sirach 7:23)

He who spares the rod hates his son,
    but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

(Proverbs 13:24)

Many more examples exist, especially in Proverbs. What I find interesting is that some commentators see these verses and conclude that those who lived in biblical times were terribly cruel to their children. Myself, I come to the opposite conclusion. I think that many parents were far, far too lax. After all, how many good kings of Judah ended up having bad sons? More than a few. My own suspicion is that the wisdom writers were so vehement about the importance of discipline because parents were pretty bad at it. The constant moral troubles of Israel and Judah would seem to back this up.

And when we look at the world around us, the importance of discipline, even and especially harsh discipline, becomes apparent. Of all my peers that I still communicate with or know about, few if any that were poorly disciplined in their youths have turned out well. Most have fared poorly, and I know of several that have spent time in prison (and who weren’t necessarily the type you would expect to end up there). Whatever else I can say about my parents, I am grateful to them for their strict discipline when I was growing up. I cannot imagine what a wreck my life would be without that.

Since we are on the topic of discipline, this passage from the Letter to the Hebrews seems appropriate:

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons?—

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor lose courage when you are punished by him.
For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

(Hebrews 12:3-11)

 We reap what we sow. Both in ourselves, and in our children.

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End Of The Year Off-Topic Post

Since folks seem rather intent on going off-topic, I figured a post devoted to that purpose seems appropriate. Please continue any discussions from the old threads that weren’t relevant to those topics here. This will be a lightly moderated but I would ask folks to show at least some restraint.

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Saturday Saints- #48

Today’s saint is Saint Ubald:

Ubald of Gubbio (Italian: Ubaldo; Latin: Ubaldus; French: Ubalde; ca. 1084–1160) was a medieval bishop of Gubbio, in Umbria, today venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church. Saint Ubaldo Day is still celebrated at the Basilica of Sant’Ubaldo in Gubbio in his honor, as well as at Jessup, Pennsylvania.

A few quick facts:

  • He was apparently born to some wealth, but gave it all away.
  • Ubald rejected several offers to become a bishop before finally accepting the role of bishop of his home city.
  • He apparently played a role in keeping Frederick Barbarossa from sacking his home city of Gubbio.

More can be found out about St. Ubald at his wiki.

St. Ubald

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Tradition Thursday- #4

Today is Christmas, a celebration of the Nativity of the Lord. Both the Gospel of Luke and the Gospel of Matthew contain a history of the ancestry of Jesus. His lineage contains many names from biblical history, including some which are quite illustrious, and others which are… less so. Here is an explanation from St. John Chrysostom’s 3rd Homily on the Gospel of Matthew about why the bloodline of Jesus contains some deeply flawed individuals:

3. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. Matthew 1:3 What doest thou, O man, putting us in remembrance of a history that contains an unlawful intercourse? But why is this said? Since, if we were recounting the race of a mere man, one might naturally have been silent touching these things; but if of God Incarnate, so far from being silent, one ought to make a glory of them, showing forth His tender care, and His power. Yea, it was for this cause He came, not to escape our disgraces, but to bear them away. Therefore as He is the more admired, in that He not only died, but was even crucified (though the thing be opprobrious, yet the more opprobrious the more does it show Him full of love to man), so likewise may we speak touching His birth; it is not only because He took flesh upon Him, and became man, that we justly stand amazed at Him, but because He vouchsafed to have also such kinsfolk, being in no respect ashamed of our evils. And this He was proclaiming from the very beginnings of His birth, that He is ashamed of none of those things that belong to us; while He teaches us also hereby, never to hide our face at our forefathers’ wickedness, but to seek after one thing alone, even virtue. For such a man, though he have an alien for his ancestor, though he have a mother who is a prostitute, or what you will, can take no hurt thereby. For if the whoremonger himself, being changed, is nothing disgraced by his former life, much more will the wickedness of his ancestry have no power to bring to shame him that is sprung of an harlot or an adulteress, if he be virtuous.

But he did these things not only to instruct us, but also to bring down the haughtiness of the Jews. For since they, negligent about virtue in their own souls, were parading the name of Abraham, thinking they had for a plea their forefathers’ virtue; he shows from the very beginning that it is not in these things men ought to glory, but in their own good deeds.

Besides this, he is establishing another point also, to show that all are under sin, even their forefathers themselves. At least their patriarch and namesake is shown to have committed no small sin, for Thamar stands against him, to accuse his whoredom. And David too had Solomon by the wife whom he corrupted. But if by the great ones the law was not fulfilled, much more by the less. And if it was not fulfilled, all have sinned, and Christ’s coming has become necessary.

For this cause he made mention also of the twelve patriarchs, by this again bringing down their pride at the noble birth of their fathers. Because many of these also were born of women that were slaves; but nevertheless the difference of the parents did not make a difference in the children. For all were equally both patriarchs and heads of tribes. For this is the precedence of the Church, this the prerogative of the nobility that is among us, taking its type from the beginning. So that whether thou be bond or free, you have from thence nothing more nor less; but the question is all about one thing only, namely, the mind, and the disposition of the soul.

4. But besides what we have said, there is another cause also, wherefore he has mentioned even this history; for to be sure, Zara’s name was not cast at random on that of Phares. (For indeed it was irrelevant, and superfluous, when he had mentioned Phares, from whom he was to trace Christ’s genealogy, to mention Zara also.) Wherefore then did he mention him? When Thamar was on the point of giving birth to them, the pangs having come upon her, Zara put forth his hand first. Genesis 38:27 Then the midwife, when she saw this, in order that the first should be known, bound his hand with scarlet; but the child, when he was bound, drew in his hand, and when he had drawn it in, Phares came forth first, and then Zara. The midwife when she saw this said, Why was the hedge broken up for you?

Do you see the dark expression of mysteries? For it was not without purpose that these things were recorded for us: since neither was it worth our study to learn, what it might be that the midwife said; nor worth a narrative to know, that he who came out second, put forth his hand first. What then is the mysterious lesson? First, from the name of the child we learn what is inquired, for Phares is a division, and a breach. And moreover from the thing itself, which took place; for it was not in the order of nature that, having thrust out his hand, he should draw it in again when bound; these thing neither belonged to a movement directed by reason, nor did they take place in the way of natural consequence. For after the hand had found its way out, that another child should come forth before was perhaps not unnatural; but that he should draw it back, and give a passage for another, was no longer after the manner of children at the birth, but the grace of God was present with the children, ordering these things, and sketching out for us by them a sort of image of the things that were to come.

What then? Some of those who have examined these things accurately say, that these children are a type of the two nations. And so in order that you might learn that the polity of the latter people shone forth previously to the origin of the former, the child that has the hand stretched forth does not show itself entire, but draws even it in again; and after his brother had glided forth whole, then he too appears entire. And this took place also with regard to the two nations. I mean, that after the polity of the Church had been manifested in the times of Abraham, and then had been withdrawn in the midst of its course, the Jewish people came, and the legal polity, and then the new people appeared entire with their own laws. Wherefore also the midwife says, Why was the hedge broken up for you? because the law coming in had broken in upon the freedom of the polity. For indeed the Scripture is ever wont to call the law a hedge; as the prophet says: You have broken down her hedge, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck off her grapes: and, I have set a hedge about it: and Paul, Having broken down the middle wall of the hedge. But others say, that the saying, Why was the hedge broken up for you? was spoken touching the new people: for this at its coming put down the law.

5. Do you see that it was not for few nor small causes that he brought to our remembrance the whole history concerning Judah? For this end he has mentioned Ruth also and Rahab, the one an alien, the other an harlot, that you may learn that He came to do away with all our ills. For He has come as a Physician, not as a Judge. Therefore in like manner as those of old took harlots for wives, even so God too espoused unto Himself the nature which had played the harlot: and this also prophets from the beginning declare to have taken place with respect to the Synagogue. But that spouse was ungrateful towards Him who had been an husband to her, whereas, the Church, when once delivered from the evils received from our fathers, continued to embrace the Bridegroom.

See, for instance, what befell Ruth, how like it is to the things which belong to us. For she was both of a strange race, and reduced to the utmost poverty, yet Boaz when he saw her neither despised her poverty nor abhorred her mean birth, as Christ having received the Church, being both an alien and in much poverty, took her to be partaker of the great blessings. But even as Ruth, if she had not before left her father, and renounced household and race, country and kindred, would not have attained unto this alliance; so the Church too, having forsaken the customs which men had received from their fathers, then, and not before, became lovely to the Bridegroom. Of this therefore the prophet discourses unto her, and says, Forget your people, and your father’s house, so shall the king have pleasure in your beauty. This Ruth did too, and because of this she became a mother of kings, even as the Church did likewise. For of her David himself sprung. So then to shame them by all these things, and to prevail on them not to be high-minded, he has both composed the genealogy, and brought forward these women. Yes, for this last, through those who intervened, was parent to the great king, and of these David is not ashamed. For it cannot, nay, it cannot be that a man should be good or bad, obscure or glorious, either by the virtue or by the vice of his forefathers; but if one must say somewhat even paradoxical, he shines forth the more, who not being of worthy ancestors, has yet become excellent.

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The Gift Of Advice

Long time readers might be familiar with the book A Christian Man’s Guide to Love and Marriage in the 21st Century, which I plugged last year. The author of the book, Don Riefstahl, has edited and updated his book and just released a second edition. Even better, he is offering a free PDF copy to anyone interested. If you want to check it out, or would like to send a quick and easy gift to a man in need, you can download it here. The book is published under a creative commons license and can be freely shared and copied.
The book itself is short (about a hundred pages) and provides a very brief encapsulation of much of what is discussed here and on other Christian monsopherian blogs. Don has cleaned up a lot since his first edition, and the book reads better and gets the point across much more smoothly. One thing that Don deserves a lot of credit for is sourcing – he has lots of footnotes providing all the sources for his quotes and statistics. They definitely raise the credibility of the book significantly.
The book is aimed at the dating crowd, however, even if a Christian man isn’t interested in marriage (or is too young), this book still has a lot of value. Don explores a great deal of male and female nature which every man should know. Truthfully, there is a lot in there for pretty much any Christian man to find something educational and edifying.
As Don explained it to me:
I have yet to find a book this size (or any other size for that matter) that shows how gender relations work in the framework of a contract between the sexes, and how that contract was built upon how God designed men and women. This book also tackles the wage gap myth, MGTOW, and “manning up” – all key topics that men today need to be aware of, whether they are looking to get married or not.The church today largely doesn’t understand these issues, so they are blaming men (and single men especially) for the breakdown in the system. We need to get this message to the men of the church so that change can come from informed believers within.
While this book is not an exhaustive treatise on everything a Christian man should do or know, it does serve as an effective primer and “wake-up call” for the average Christian man. It provides a good, basic explanation of socio-sexual behavior that will be helpful to nearly anyone. So I strongly recommend it to those who are new to this part of the web or who haven’t ever heard this kind of message before.
For those interested in a paper copy as a gift, it is sold via Amazon.

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #55

The conversation in my latest Tradition Thursday Post has drifted to the subject of the resurrection, along with righteousness and depravity. This inspired my choice of scripture for today’s post. We begin with St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians:

35 But some one will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50 I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

51 Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

(1 Cor 15:35-58)

Another part from the same letter:

For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

(1 Cor 5:3-5)

Here we can see, along with other parts of scripture, that suffering is necessary to purge us from our sins. Which gives us all the more reason to avoid sinning, for it means less purging will be necessary.

 

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Saturday Saints- #47

We are closing out on the Alphabet again, and will soon need to start over. Yet we aren’t quite there yet, and have a few letters yet to go. This brings us to today’s saint,Saint Teresa of Avila:

Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, an author of the Counter Reformation and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites along with John of the Cross.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV and on 27 September 1970, was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work El Castillo Interior (trans.: The Interior Castle) are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices as she entails in her other important work, Camino de Perfección (trans.: The Way of Perfection).

Far, far more can be read about her at her wiki, located here.

St. Teresa of Avila

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