Monthly Archives: October 2015

Saturday Saints- #88

The letter H is the sponsor of today’s post. Hence, our saint for today is St. and Pope Hilarius (no joke about that name):

Pope Hilarius (died 28 February 468) was Pope from 19 November 461 to his death in 468.

Hilarius was born in Sardinia. As archdeacon under Pope Leo I, he fought vigorously for the rights of the Roman See and vigorously opposed the condemnation of Flavian of Constantinople at the Second Council of Ephesus in 449 to settle the question of Eutyches. According to a letter to the Empress Pulcheria collected among the letters of Leo I, Hilarius apologized for not delivering to her the pope’s letter after the synod, but owing to Dioscurus of Alexandria, who tried to hinder his going either to Rome or to Constantinople, he had great difficulty in making his escape in order to bring to the pontiff the news of the result of the council.

Hilarius erected several churches and other buildings in Rome, for which the Liber Pontificalis, the main source for information about Hilarius, praises him. Two oratories in the baptistery of the Lateran, one in honor of St. John the Baptist, the other of St. John the Apostle, to whom he attributed his safe escape from the Council of Ephesus, are due to him, thus satisfying the question as to which Saints John the Lateran had been dedicated. He also erected a chapel of the Holy Cross in the baptistery, convents, two public baths, and libraries near the Basilica of St. Lawrence outside the Walls, in which church he was buried.

His feast day is celebrated on 17 November or 28 February.

More can be found out about him at his wiki, located here.

St. Hilarius

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Tradition Thursday- #41

As Thursday has come again, we feature another Tradition Thursday post highlighting St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures. Our post for today covers the first part of his 17th Lecture:

1 Corinthians 12:8

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, etc.

1. In the preceding Lecture, according to our ability we set before you, our beloved hearers, some small portion of the testimonies concerning the Holy Ghost; and on the present occasion, we will, if it be God’s pleasure, proceed to treat, as far as may be, of those which remain out of the New Testament: and as then to keep within due limit of your attention we restrained our eagerness (for there is no satiety in discoursing concerning the Holy Ghost), so now again we must say but a small part of what remains. For now, as well as then, we candidly own that our weakness is overwhelmed by the multitude of things written. Neither today will we use the subtleties of men, for that is unprofitable; but merely call to mind what comes from the divine Scriptures; for this is the safest course, according to the blessed Apostle Paul, who says, Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:13 Thus we act like travellers or voyagers, who having one goal to a very long journey, though hastening on with eagerness, yet by reason of human weakness are wont to touch in their way at various cities or harbours.

2. Therefore though our discourses concerning the Holy Ghost are divided, yet He Himself is undivided, being one and the same. For as in speaking concerning the Father, at one time we taught how He is the one only Cause ; and at another, how He is called Father , or Almighty ; and at another, how He is the Creator of the universe; and yet the division of the Lectures made no division of the Faith, in that He, the Object of devotion, both was and is One—and again, as in discoursing concerning the Only-begotten Son of God we taught at one time concerning His Godhead , and at another concerning His Manhood , dividing into many discourses the doctrines concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, yet preaching undivided faith towards Him—so now also though the Lectures concerning the Holy Spirit are divided, yet we preach faith undivided towards Him. For it is one and the Self-same Spirit who divides His gifts to every man severally as He will 1 Corinthians 12:11, Himself the while remaining undivided. For the Comforter is not different from the Holy Ghost, but one and the self-same, called by various names; who lives and subsists, and speaks, and works; and of all rational natures made by God through Christ, both of Angels and of men, He is the Sanctifier.

3. But lest any from lack of learning, should suppose from the different titles of the Holy Ghost that these are various spirits, and not one and the self-same, which alone there is, therefore the Catholic Church guarding you beforehand has delivered to you in the profession of the faith, that you believe in one Holy Ghost the Comforter, who spoke by the Prophets; that you might know, that though His names be many, the Holy Spirit is but one—of which names, we will now rehearse to you a few out of many.

4. He is called the Spirit, according to the Scripture just now read, For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom. 1 Corinthians 12:8 He is called the Spirit of Truth, as the Saviour says, When He, the Spirit of Truth, has come. John 16:13 He is called also the Comforter, as He said, For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. But that He is one and the same, though called by different titles, is shown plainly from the following. For that the Holy Spirit and the Comforter are the same, is declared in those words, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost John 14:26; and that the Comforter is the same as the Spirit of Truth, is declared, when it is said, And I will give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth ; and again, But when the Comforter has come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth. And He is called the Spirit of God, according as it is written, And I saw the Spirit of God descending John 1:32; and again, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:14 He is called also the Spirit of the Father, as the Saviour says, For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you Matthew 10:20; and again Paul says, For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, and the rest;… that He would grant you to be strengthened by His Spirit. Ephesians 3:14-16 He is also called the Spirit of the Lord, according to that which Peter spoke, Why is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord Acts 5:9? He is called also the Spirit of God and Christ, as Paul writes, But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. But if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. Romans 8:9 He is called also the Spirit of the Son of God, as it is said, And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son. Galatians 4:6 He is called also the Spirit of Christ, as it is written, Searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify ; and again, Through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ Philippians 1:19 .

5. You will find many other titles of the Holy Ghost besides. Thus He is called the Spirit of Holiness, as it is written, According to the Spirit of Holiness. Romans 1:4 He is also called the Spirit of adoption, as Paul says, For you received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. He is also called the Spirit of revelation, as it is written, May give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:17 He is also called the Spirit of promise, as the same Paul says, In whom you also after that you believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. He is also called the Spirit of grace, as when he says again, And has done despite to the Spirit of grace. Hebrews 10:29 And by many other such-like titles is He named. And you heard plainly in the foregoing Lecture, that in the Psalms He is called at one time the good Spirit , and at another the princely Spirit ; and in Esaias He was styled the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel, and might, of knowledge, and of godliness, and of the fear of God Isaiah 11:2. By all which Scriptures both those before and those now alleged, it is established, that though the titles of the Holy Ghost be different, He is one and the same; living and subsisting, and always present together with the Father and the Son ; not uttered or breathed from the mouth and lips of the Father or the Son, nor dispersed into the air, but having a real substance , Himself speaking, and working, and dispensing, and sanctifying; even as the Economy of salvation which is to usward from the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, is inseparable and harmonious and one, as we have also said before. For I wish you to keep in mind those things which were lately spoken, and to know clearly that there is not one Spirit in the Law and the Prophets, and another in the Gospels and Apostles; but that it is One and the Self-same Holy Spirit, which both in the Old and in the New Testament, spoke the divine Scriptures.

6. This is the Holy Ghost, who came upon the Holy Virgin Mary; for since He who was conceived was Christ the Only-begotten, the power of the Highest overshadowed her, and the Holy Ghost came upon her Luke 1:35, and sanctified her, that she might be able to receive Him, by whom all things were made. John 1:3 But I have no need of many words to teach you that generation was without defilement or taint, for you have learned it. It is Gabriel who says to her, I am the herald of what shall be done, but have no part in the work. Though an Archangel, I know my place; and though I joyfully bid you All hail, yet how you shall bring forth, is not of any grace of mine. The Holy Ghost shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you; therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God Luke 1:35 .

7. This Holy Spirit wrought in Elisabeth; for He recognises not virgins only, but matrons also, so that their marriage be lawful. And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost Luke 1:41, and prophesied; and that noble hand-maiden says of her own Lord, And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me ? For Elisabeth counted herself blessed. Filled with this Holy Spirit, Zacharias also, the father of John, prophesied , telling how many good things the Only-begotten should procure, and that John should be His harbinger through baptism. By this Holy Ghost also it was revealed to just Symeon, that he should not see death, till he had seen the Lord’s Christ Luke 2:26-35; and he received Him in his arms, and bore clear testimony in the Temple concerning Him.

8. And John also, who had been filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb , was for this cause sanctified, that he might baptize the Lord; not giving the Spirit himself, but preaching glad tidings of Him who gives the Spirit. For he says, I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He that comes after me, and the rest; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Matthew 3:11 But wherefore with fire? Because the descent of the Holy Ghost was in fiery tongues; concerning which the Lord says joyfully, I have come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled Luke 12:49?

9. This Holy Ghost came down when the Lord was baptized, that the dignity of Him who was baptized might not be hidden; as John says, But He which sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, the same is He which baptizes with the Holy Ghost. John 1:33 But see what says the Gospel; the heavens were opened; they were opened because of the dignity of Him who descended; for, lo, he says, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and lighting upon Him Matthew 3:16: that is, with voluntary motion in His descent. For it was fit, as some have interpreted, that the primacy and first-fruits of the Holy Spirit promised to the baptized should be conferred upon the manhood of the Saviour, who is the giver of such grace. But perhaps He came down in the form of a dove, as some say, to exhibit a figure of that dove who is pure and innocent and undefiled, and also helps the prayers for the children she has begotten, and for forgiveness of sins ; even as it was emblematically foretold that Christ should be thus manifested in the appearance of His eyes; for in the Canticles she cries concerning the Bridegroom, and says, Your eyes are as doves by the rivers of water.

10. Of this dove, the dove of Noe, according to some, was in part a figure. For as in his time by means of wood and of water there came salvation to themselves, and the beginning of a new generation, and the dove returned to him towards evening with an olive branch; thus, say they, the Holy Ghost also descended upon the true Noe, the Author of the second birth, who draws together into one the wills of all nations, of whom the various dispositions of the animals in the ark were a figure:— Him at whose coming the spiritual wolves feed with the lambs, in whose Church the calf, and the lion, and the ox, feed in the same pasture, as we behold to this day the rulers of the world guided and taught by Churchmen. The spiritual dove therefore, as some interpret, came down at the season of His baptism, that He might show that it is He who by the wood of the Cross saves them who believe, He who at eventide should grant salvation through His death.

11. And these things perhaps should be otherwise explained; but now again we must hear the words of the Saviour Himself concerning the Holy Ghost. For He says, Unless a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. John 3:5 And that this grace is from the Father, He thus states, How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. Luke 11:13 And that we ought to worship God in the Spirit, He shows thus, But the hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth; for the Father also seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. John 4:23 And again, But if I by the Spirit of God cast out devils Matthew 12:28; and immediately afterwards, Therefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. And again He says, And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you for ever, the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him; but you know Him, for He abides with you, and shall be in you. John 14:16 And again He says, These things have I spoken unto you being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said unto you. And again He says, But when the Comforter has come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me. And again the Saviour says, For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you. …. And when He has come, He will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment ; and afterwards again, I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He the Spirit of Truth has come, He will declare unto you all the truth; for He shall not speak from Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak, and He shall announce unto you the things to come. He shall glorify Me, for He shall take of Mine, and shall announce it unto you. All things that the Father has are mine; therefore said I, That He shall take of Mine, and shall announce it unto you. I have read to you now the utterances of the Only-begotten Himself, that you may not give heed to men’s words.

12. The fellowship of this Holy Spirit He bestowed on the Apostles; for it is written, And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and says unto them, Receive the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained. John 20:22 This was the second time He breathed on man (His first breath having been stifled through wilful sins); that the Scripture might be fulfilled, He went up breathing upon your face, and delivering you from affliction. But whence went He up? From Hades; for thus the Gospel relates, that then after His resurrection He breathed on them. But though He bestowed His grace then, He was to lavish it yet more bountifully; and He says to them, I am ready to give it even now, but the vessel cannot yet hold it; for a while therefore receive ye as much grace as you can bear; and look forward for yet more; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be clothed with power from on high. Luke 24:39 Receive it in part now; then, you shall wear it in its fullness. For he who receives, often possesses the gift but in part; but he who is clothed, is completely enfolded by his robe. Fear not, He says, the weapons and darts of the devil; for you shall bear with you the power of the Holy Ghost. But remember what was lately said, that the Holy Ghost is not divided, but only the grace which is given by Him.


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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #94

The first passage in today’s post is inspired by this post over at Scott’s new blog. During the excellent discussion Deep Strength quotes a verse from the Book of Sirach. I wanted to include the whole passage, which concerns advice on how to deal with women:

Do not be jealous of the wife of your bosom,
    and do not teach her an evil lesson to your own hurt.
Do not give yourself to a woman
    so that she gains mastery over your strength.
Do not go to meet a loose woman,
    lest you fall into her snares.
Do not associate with a woman singer,
    lest you be caught in her intrigues.
Do not look intently at a virgin,
    lest you stumble and incur penalties for her.
Do not give yourself to harlots
    lest you lose your inheritance.
Do not look around in the streets of a city,
    nor wander about in its deserted sections.
Turn away your eyes from a shapely woman,
    and do not look intently at beauty belonging to another;
many have been misled by a woman’s beauty,
    and by it passion is kindled like a fire.
Never dine with another man’s wife,
    nor revel with her at wine;
lest your heart turn aside to her,
    and in blood you be plunged into destruction.

(Sirach 9:1-9)

Scott’s post focused on the visual, and it is no coincidence that Ben Sira has several warnings about “looking” as well. Men are visual creatures, and sight along can stir up passion to blind reason. Now, it is not a sin to look (alone), but that look can quickly escalate beyond merely a gaze. Hence, it is important that we not only learn to control ourselves, but also avoid instances of temptation as well. If we avoid the temptation in the first place, then we avoid the possibility of that event bringing us into sin in the first place.

There was a comment of Scott’s that I wanted to address from that post. He said this:

I once heard a Catholic priest on the radio say that if a man lusts after his own wife, he is committing the sin in this text. If I stop lusting after my own wife, just shoot me.

Now, my understanding of Catholic theology is still not where I would like it, but from what I do understand the sin of lust is disordered passion. Passion itself, if properly ordered, is not wrong. But when it strays from what God intended then it does become disordered and then it becomes the sin of lust. As a general rule, your wife making you passionate is not a sin. In fact, it is quite far from it, as Proverbs indicates:

18 Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19     a lovely hind, a graceful doe.
Let her affection fill you at all times with delight,
    be infatuated always with her love.

(Proverbs 5:18-19)

From what I recall, disordered passion within marriage, aka, lust, would involve a deliberately selfish use of passion that would deny the other spouse the enjoyment of the conjugal act. Basically to intentionally try and deprive your spouse of pleasure and intimacy. That is when passion becomes disordered- at least, I’m fairly sure that is how it works. All of which means that a healthy passion towards one’s wife is no sin at all. In fact, it is what good intended, and thus a Good Thing.

Finally, on the subject of self control, St. Paul had this to say:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from fornication; that each one of you know how to control your own body[b] in holiness and honor, not with lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)

I left that footnote in because another interpretation of that passage could mean “how to take a wife for himself.” But in a sense they are the same, because self-control can be exercised in different ways. For some it might be total abstention, and for others to direct our passion towards its proper place: within the borders of holy matrimony. For neither is an impure state, unless our thoughts make it so.

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Saturday Saints- #87

Today’s letter for a saint is the letter “G.” This gives us today’s saint, St. Gregory of Nazianzus:

Gregory of Nazianzus (Greek: Γρηγόριος ὁ Ναζιανζηνός Grēgorios ho Nazianzēnos; c. 329 – 25 January 390), also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople. He is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained orator and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.

Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek- and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the “Trinitarian Theologian”. Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three Persons of the Trinity. Along with the brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, he is known as one of the Cappadocian Fathers.

Gregory is a saint in both Eastern and Western Christianity. In the Roman Catholic Church he is numbered among the Doctors of the Church; in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Eastern Catholic Churches he is revered as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs, along with Basil the Great and John Chrysostom.

Much more about this influential and important saint can be found at his wiki, located here.

St. Gregory the Theologian

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Filtering For Non-Compliance *Women Only*

[This is the first of my dual or split posts, one for male commenters and one for female commenters. As noted earlier, this is something of an experiment. Further, I used a less than stellar post to test everything out. This particular post is for the women. The previous one will be for men.]

In my post Good Guy’s Don’t Exist, commenter Maea related stories she had heard first hand from women who had tried online dating. In particular, that if they explained they were “waiting for marriage” men would call them “prudes.” She later clarified her earlier statement with this:

I believe it’s Catholic Match that has a 5-question litmus test. One of the questions pertains to maintaining chastity until marriage. The answers are yes or no. I’ve talked to people IRL who’ve reported difficulty in getting dates when all of their responses are in line with Catholic teaching.

That is, unless they are really, really good looking. But usually their respondent is the same.

My first reaction was to wonder how often this occurs. So for this post I would like to hear from my female commenters who have tried out online dating in the past. What are you experiences with this phenomenon? How frequent was it? How did you react? Any difference between secular or Christian sites? If you have heard from other women about this matter, please feel free to mention what you know in this post.

Additionally, was there any difference in this between online dating and “real-world” dating? Was this more frequent offline, or less?

*Again, this post is for female commenters only. Violating comments will be deleted.*


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Filtering For Non-Compliance *Men Only*

[This is the first of my dual or split posts, one for male commenters and one for female commenters. As noted earlier, this is something of an experiment. Further, I used a less than stellar post to test everything out. This particular post is for the men. The next one will be for women.]

In my post Good Guy’s Don’t Exist, commenter Maea related stories she had heard first hand from women who had tried online dating. In particular, that if they explained they were “waiting for marriage” men would call them “prudes.” She later clarified her earlier statement with this:

I believe it’s Catholic Match that has a 5-question litmus test. One of the questions pertains to maintaining chastity until marriage. The answers are yes or no. I’ve talked to people IRL who’ve reported difficulty in getting dates when all of their responses are in line with Catholic teaching.

That is, unless they are really, really good looking. But usually their respondent is the same.

At first, I had wondered how often this occurs. However, what I would like to explore with this post is not so much the frequency of that particular behavior but the reason for it. [I have addressed the final point in her comment before, and might do so again at some point. For the moment it is outside the scope of this post.]

I am curious why men would look at a Christian dating/marriage site (and a Catholic one focused on marriage in particular) and seek women who wouldn’t live up to Christian standards of conduct. Or, if finding those who did, would try and shame them for it. While Maea was talking only about Catholic Match, I would expect to see this behavior elsewhere, and so would include this post to cover all nominally Christian dating/marriage sites.

I can understand the desire for sex certainly, but why would they look towards a Christian dating site for that? Wouldn’t a secular one be a better choice? Assuming, of course, they are only interested in sex. If they are looking for more and actually want to get married, that again raises the question of why they are going about it that way. I guess what bothers me is this: why would you go on to a site which is supposedly for people with certain values, and then seek those without such values, and attack those who do? Otherwise stated, why marry a woman who only purports to be Christian, or is only a “so-so” Christian?

Here are a few things that I have thought of, so far (in no particular order and not mutually exclusive):

  • This behavior is mostly irrational. The men who do this aren’t really thinking through the inherent hypocrisy. It really isn’t conscious rationalization but habit, borne out of living essentially secular lives in a secular age.
  • These men don’t mind marrying “so-so” Christian women because they themselves are “so-so” Christian men. They don’t see any contradiction in their actions because they pick and choose what to believe. In the Catholic Church these kinds of people are called “Cafeteria Catholics.” I suppose “Buffet Christians” would also work.
  • For whatever reason these men feel they need to marry a Christian woman, but of course don’t want to actually carry out a proper courtship process. Perhaps their family expects its. Or maybe they think they would make better mothers or something.
  • Related to that, perhaps these men think that such a woman represents a lesser divorce threat to them. For Catholic Match in particular, men who “call out” women as “prudes” are perhaps hoping to find women who might sleep with them before the “I do” but won’t divorce them.
  • Lets not forget the effects of Original Sin, of course. Concupiscence is a constant thorn in our side, and one finds its way into the recesses of our mind quite easily. Given the power of the male sex drive, making excuses for it is relatively easy. So setting aside one particular part of teaching/doctrine wouldn’t be intellectually trying.
  • They could also be caught up in the whole “try before you buy” mentality that is quite prevalent right now. Of course, that mentality isn’t a new one, but this age certainly is embroiled in it.

I invite my male readers to offer their own thoughts on what might be involved here.

*Again, this post is for male commenters only. Violating comments will be deleted.*



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Divide And Conquer

I am currently working on the first of my “segregated” posts, which I hinted of here. My hope is to upload it by the end of tomorrow, if not sooner. Now, my original plan was to simply restrict it to male commenters. However, based on a suggestion by one commenter, I will instead create two separate posts. They will be identical in subject matter. The first post will be restricted to male commenters, and the second will be restricted to female commenters. Comments which violate the policy will be deleted. Those who transgress repeatedly will be banned.

Furthermore, I want commenters to stick discussing the post and the comments in their specific post. They are not to respond to comments in the other post. Act as if the other post doesn’t exist. Personal attacks across the posts will not be tolerated. Those who have questions may use this post for that purpose. Anyone who feels that they are being unfairly treated is invited to contact me via e-mail. Comments to voice grievances will again not be tolerated. We will see how this experiment goes before I decide to commit to anything in particular.


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Tradition Thursday- #40

We continue our series on St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures. The second part of his sixteenth lecture is featured today.

17. Peter was not with Ananias and Sapphira when they sold their possessions, but he was present by the Spirit; Why, he says, has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost Acts 5:3? There was no accuser; there was no witness; whence knew he what had happened? Whiles it remained was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart ? The unlettered Peter, through the grace of the Spirit, learned what not even the wise men of the Greeks had known. You have the like in the case also of Elisseus. For when he had freely healed the leprosy of Naaman, Gehazi received the reward, the reward of another’s achievement; and he took the money from Naaman, and bestowed it in a dark place. But the darkness is not hidden from the Saints. And when he came, Elisseus asked him; and like Peter, when he said, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much Acts 5:8? He also enquires, Whence do you come, Gehazi 2 Kings 5:25? Not in ignorance, but in sorrow ask I whence do you come? From darkness are you come, and to darkness shall you go; you have sold the cure of the leper, and the leprosy is your heritage. I, he says, have fulfilled the bidding of Him who said to me, Freely you have received, freely give Matthew 10:8; but you have sold this grace; receive now the condition of the sale. But what says Elisseus to him? Went not mine heart with you? I was here shut in by the body, but the spirit which has been given me of God saw even the things afar off, and showed me plainly what was doing elsewhere. Do you see how the Holy Ghost not only rids of ignorance, but invests with knowledge? Do you see how He enlightens men’s souls?

18. Esaias lived nearly a thousand years ago; and he beheld Zion as a booth. The city was still standing, and beautified with public places, and robed in majesty; yet he says, Zion shall be ploughed as a field , foretelling what is now fulfilled in our days. And observe the exactness of the prophecy; for he said, And the daughter of Zion shall be left as a booth in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. And now the place is filled with gardens of cucumbers. Do you see how the Holy Spirit enlightens the saints? Be not therefore carried away to other things, by the force of a common term, but keep fast the exact meaning.

19. And if ever, while you have been sitting here, a thought concerning chastity or virginity has come into your mind, it has been His teaching. Has not often a maiden, already at the bridal threshold , fled away, He teaching her the doctrine of virginity? Has not often a man distinguished at court , scorned wealth and rank, under the teaching of the Holy Ghost? Has not often a young man, at the sight of beauty, closed his eyes, and fled from the sight, and escaped the defilement? Askest thou whence this has come to pass? The Holy Ghost taught the soul of the young man. Many ways of covetousness are there in the world; yet Christians refuse possessions: wherefore? Because of the teaching of the Holy Ghost. Worthy of honour is in truth that Spirit, holy and good; and fittingly are we baptized into Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. A man, still clothed with a body, wrestles with many fiercest demons; and often the demon, whom many men could not master with iron bands, has been mastered by the man himself with words of prayer, through the power which is in him of the Holy Ghost; and the mere breathing of the Exorcist becomes as fire to that unseen foe. A mighty ally and protector, therefore, have we from God; a great Teacher of the Church, a mighty Champion on our behalf. Let us not be afraid of the demons, nor of the devil; for mightier is He who fights for us. Only let us open to Him our doors; for He goes about seeking such as are worthy and searching on whom He may confer His gifts.

20. And He is called the Comforter, because He comforts and encourages us, and helps our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered Romans 8:26, that is, makes intercession to God. Oftentimes a man for Christ’s sake has been outraged and dishonoured unjustly; martyrdom is at hand; tortures on every side, and fire, and sword, and savage beasts, and the pit. But the Holy Ghost softly whispers to him, Wait on the Lord , O man; what is now befalling you is a small matter, the reward will be great. Suffer a little while, and you shall be with Angels for ever. The sufferings of this present time art not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us Romans 8:18 . He portrays to the man the kingdom of heaven; He gives him a glimpse of the paradise of delight; and the martyrs, whose bodily countenances are of necessity turned to their judges, but who in spirit are already in Paradise, despise those hardships which are seen.

21. And would you be sure that by the power of the Holy Ghost the Martyrs bear their witness? The Saviour says to His disciples, And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and the magistrates, and authorities, be not anxious how you shall answer, or what you shall say; for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in that very hour, what you ought to say. Luke 12:11-12 For it is impossible to testify as a martyr for Christ’s sake, except a man testify by the Holy Ghost; for if no man can say that Jesus Christ is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost , how shall any man give his own life for Jesus’ sake, but by the Holy Ghost?

22. Great indeed, and all-powerful in gifts, and wonderful, is the Holy Ghost. Consider, how many of you are now sitting here, how many souls of us are present. He is working suitably for each, and being present in the midst, beholds the temper of each, beholds also his reasoning and his conscience, and what we say, and think, and believe. Great indeed is what I have now said, and yet is it small. For consider, I pray, with mind enlightened by Him, how many Christians there are in all this diocese, and how many in the whole province of Palestine, and carry forward your mind from this province, to the whole Roman Empire; and after this, consider the whole world; races of Persians, and nations of Indians, Garbs and Sarmatians, Gauls and Spaniards, and Moors, Libyans and Ethiopians, and the rest for whom we have no names; for of many of the nations not even the names have reached us. Consider, I pray, of each nation, Bishops, Presbyters, Deacons, Solitaries, Virgins, and laity besides; and then behold their great Protector, and the Dispenser of their gifts;— how throughout the world He gives to one chastity, to another perpetual virginity, to another almsgiving, to another voluntary poverty, to another power of repelling hostile spirits. And as the light, with one touch of its radiance sheds brightness on all things, so also the Holy Ghost enlightens those who have eyes; for if any from blindness is not vouchsafed His grace, let him not blame the Spirit, but his own unbelief.

23. You have seen His power, which is in all the world; tarry now no longer upon earth, but ascend on high. Ascend, I say, in imagination even unto the first heaven, and behold there so many countless myriads of Angels. Mount up in your thoughts, if you can, yet higher; consider, I pray you, the Archangels, consider also the Spirits; consider the Virtues, consider the Principalities, consider the Powers, consider the Thrones, consider the Dominions —of all these the Comforter is the Ruler from God, and the Teacher, and the Sanctifier. Of Him Elias has need, and Elisseus, and Esaias, among men; of Him Michael and Gabriel have need among Angels. Naught of things created is equal in honour to Him: for the families of the Angels, and all their hosts assembled together, have no equality with the Holy Ghost. All these the all-excellent power of the Comforter overshadows. And they indeed are sent forth to minister Hebrews 1:14, but He searches even the deep things of God, according as the Apostle says, For the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knows the thing of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 .

24. He preached concerning Christ in the Prophets; He wrought in the Apostles; He to this day seals the souls in Baptism. And the Father indeed gives to the Son; and the Son shares with the Holy Ghost. For it is Jesus Himself, not I, who says, All things are delivered unto Me of My Father Matthew 11:27; and of the Holy Ghost He says, When He, the Spirit of Truth, shall come, and the rest…. He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. John 16:13-14 The Father through the Son, with the Holy Ghost, is the giver of all grace; the gifts of the Father are none other than those of the Son, and those of the Holy Ghost; for there is one Salvation, one Power, one Faith; One God, the Father; One Lord, His only-begotten Son; One Holy Ghost, the Comforter. And it is enough for us to know these things; but inquire not curiously into His nature or substance : for had it been written, we would have spoken of it; what is not written, let us not venture on; it is sufficient for our salvation to know, that there is Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost.

25. This Spirit descended upon the seventy Elders in the days of Moses. (Now let not the length of the discourse, beloved, produce weariness in you: but may He the very subject of our discourse grant strength to every one, both to us who speak, and to you who listen!) This Spirit, as I was saying, came down upon the seventy Elders in the time of Moses; and this I say to you, that I may now prove, that He knows all things, and works as He will. 1 Corinthians 12:11 The seventy Elders were chosen; And the Lord came down in a cloud, and took of the Spirit that was upon Moses, and put it upon the seventy Elders ; not that the Spirit was divided, but that His grace was distributed in proportion to the vessels, and the capacity of the recipients. Now there were present sixty and eight, and they prophesied; but Eldad and Modad were not present: therefore that it might be shown that it was not Moses who bestowed the gift, but the Spirit who wrought, Eldad and Modad, who though called, had not as yet presented themselves, did also prophesy.

26. Jesus the Son of Nun, the successor of Moses, was amazed; and came to him and said, Have you heard that Eldad and Modad are prophesying? They were called, and they came not; my lord Moses, forbid them Numbers 11:28 . I cannot forbid them, he says, for this grace is from Heaven; nay, so far am I from forbidding them, that I myself am thankful for it. I think not, however, that you have said this in envy; art thou jealous for my sake, because that they prophesy, and you prophesy not yet? Wait for the proper season; and oh that all the Lord’s people may be prophets, whenever the Lord shall give His Spirit upon them Numbers 11:29! saying this also prophetically, whenever the Lord shall give; For as yet then He has not given it; so you have it not yet.— Had not then Abraham this, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph? And they of old, had they it not? Nay, but the words, whenever the Lord shall give evidently mean give it upon all; as yet indeed the grace is partial, then it shall be given lavishly. And he secretly alluded to what was to happen among us on the day of Pentecost; for He Himself came down among us. He had however also come down upon many before. For it is written, And Jesus the son of Nun was filled with a spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him. Deuteronomy 34:9 You see the figure everywhere the same in the Old and New Testament—in the days of Moses, the Spirit was given by laying on of hands; and by laying on of hands Peter also gives the Spirit. And on you also, who art about to be baptized, shall His grace come; yet in what manner I say not, for I will not anticipate the proper season.

27. He also came down upon all righteous men and Prophets; Enos, I mean, and Enoch, and Noah, and the rest; upon Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; for as regards Joseph, even Pharaoh perceived that he had the Spirit of God within him. Genesis 41:38 As to Moses, and the wonderful works wrought by the Spirit in his days, you have heard often: This Spirit Job also had, that most enduring man, and all the saints, though we repeat not all their names. He also was sent forth when the Tabernacle was in making, and filled with wisdom the wise-hearted men who were with Bezaleel.

28. In the might of this Spirit, as we have it in the Book of Judges, Othniel judged Judges 3:10; Gideon waxed strong; Jephtha conquered ; Deborah, a woman, waged war; and Samson, so long as he did righteously, and grieved Him not, wrought deeds above man’s power. And as for Samuel and David, we have it plainly in the Books of the Kingdoms, how by the Holy Ghost they prophesied themselves, and were rulers of the prophets—and Samuel was called the Seer 1 Samuel 9:9; and David says distinctly, The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me 2 Samuel 23:2, and in the Psalms, And take not your Holy Spirit from me , and again, Your good Spirit shall lead me in the land of righteousness. And as we have it in Chronicles, Azariah 2 Chronicles 15:1, in the time of King Asa, and Jahaziel in the time of King Jehoshaphat, partook of the Holy Ghost; and again, another Azariah, he who was stoned. And Ezra says, You gave also Your good Spirit to instruct them. But as touching Elias who was taken up, and Elisseus, those inspired and wonder-working men, it is manifest, without our saying so, that they were full of the Holy Ghost.

29. And if further a man peruse all the books of the Prophets, both of the Twelve, and of the others, he will find many testimonies concerning. the Holy Ghost; as when Micah says in the person of God, surely I will perfect power by the Spirit the Lord Micah 3:8; and Joel cries, And it shall come to pass afterwards, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh Joel 2:28, and the rest; and Haggai, Because I am with you, says the Lord of Hosts Haggai 2:4; and My Spirit remains in the midst of you ; and in like manner Zechariah, But receive My words and My statutes which I command by My Spirit, to My servants the Prophets Zechariah 1:6; and other passages.

30. Esaias too, with his majestic voice, says, And the Spirit of God shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and godliness; and the Spirit of the fear of God shall fill Him Isaiah 11:2; signifying that the Spirit is one and undivided, but His operations various. So again, Jacob My servant,….. I have put My Spirit upon Him. And again, I will pour My Spirit upon your seed ; and again, And now the Lord Almighty and His Spirit has sent Me ; and again, This is My covenant with them, says the Lord, My Spirit which is upon you Isaiah 59:21; and again, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me Isaiah 61:1, and the rest; and again in his charge against the Jews, But they rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit , and Where is He that put His Holy Spirit within them ? Also you have in Ezekiel (if you be not now weary of listening), what has already been quoted, And the Spirit fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus says the Lord. Ezekiel 11:5 But the words, fell upon me we must understand in a good sense, that is lovingly; and as Jacob, when he had found Joseph, fell upon his neck; as also in the Gospels, the loving father, on seeing his son who had returned from his wandering, had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And again in Ezekiel, And he brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldæa, to them of the captivity. Ezekiel 11:24 And other texts you heard before, in what was said about Baptism; Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you , and the rest; a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and then immediately, And I will put My Spirit within you. And again, The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the Spirit of the Lord Ezekiel 37:1 .

31. He endued with wisdom the soul of Daniel, that young as he was he should become a judge of Elders. The chaste Susanna was condemned as a wanton; there was none to plead her cause; for who was to deliver her from the rulers? She was led away to death, she was now in the hands of the executioners. But her Helper was at hand, the Comforter, the Spirit who sanctifies every rational nature. Come hither to me, He says to Daniel; young though thou be, convict old men infected with the sins of youth; for it is written, God raised up the Holy Spirit upon a young stripling ; and nevertheless, (to pass on quickly,) by the sentence of Daniel that chaste lady was saved. We bring this forward as a testimony; for this is not the season for expounding. Nebuchadnezzar also knew that the Holy Spirit was in Daniel; for he says to him, O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, of whom I know, that the Holy Spirit of God is in you. Daniel 4:9 One thing he said truly, and one falsely; for that he had the Holy Spirit was true, but he was not the master of the magicians, for he was no magician, but was wise through the Holy Ghost. And before this also, he interpreted to him the vision of the Image, which he who had seen it himself knew not; for he says, Tell me the vision, which I who saw it know not. You see the power of the Holy Ghost; that which they who saw it, know not, they who saw it not, know and interpret.

32. And indeed it were easy to collect very many texts out of the Old Testament, and to discourse more largely concerning the Holy Ghost. But the time is short; and we must be careful of the proper length of the lecture. Wherefore, being for the present content awhile with passages from the Old Testament, we will, if it be God’s pleasure, proceed in the next Lecture to the remaining texts out of the New Testament. And may the God of peace, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, count all of you worthy of His spiritual and heavenly gifts:— To whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.


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Restoring Order

Scott has decided to enact some basic restrictions on his blog concerning when and where women can comment. This follows after a policy Cane Caldo enacted some time ago to cut off female comments entirely. While I decided against adopting Cane’s policy when he first announced it, I have been leaning in the direction Scott has taken for some time. A number of my comment sections have been completely derailed by female/male spats, and that has disrupted some otherwise good conversations. Not all did so because of malice; the disparity in communication styles was responsible for some of the disruptions. But disruptions are disruptions, and I would rather they stop.

Towards that end, I am going to start restricting certain posts to only male commenters. These will probably still be the exception, and won’t encompass my weekly posts. Such posts will have prominent notices in them to warn folks. Offending comments will be deleted. Those who repeatedly break the policy will be banned. If a woman feels that she can contribute to the discussion in a way that another commenter hasn’t done thus far, she can e-mail me with what she wants to say. Depending on the message, I might post it myself. However, I reserve the right to edit any such comments. And of course I will only post those comments I feel will contribute.

The first such post may come about later this week, depending on how much free time I have.


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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #93

Today’s rather short post begins with a Psalm of King David:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
    he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil;
for thou art with me;
    thy rod and thy staff,
    they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil,
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    for ever.

(Psalm 23:1-6)

I sometimes wonder during which part of his life David wrote this Psalm. Before he was king? After? Was it a single event? Or perhaps a composite of different times, with different writings, that were all put together later (presumably by his son Solomon).

However it was written, it is a powerful message of hope and trust in the Lord despite the most dire of circumstances. When I find myself giving in to despair, it remains for me one of the most effective means of reassurance. Sadly, I need that reassurance more often than I would like. My life is far from a disaster, but there are certainly burdens and trials I would rather not have to endure. I have asked God for help in this, but I suspect my answer is that same as that given to Paul:

And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

As difficult as it may be to carry on, it is comforting still to know that God’s Grace is sufficient to overcome my own weakness. Even when I think I can’t, I know that He can. It is a difficult thing, to explain how this affects me. On the one hand I am saddened, as I realize that things may not get better for me (at least as I see it). But on the other, I know that it will all turn out well in the end. Perhaps it is not something that can really be explained, but only experienced. Time will tell, I suppose.


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