Friday, April 24, 2015

Brief Bible Study of Revelation 14:1-5: On the Qualifications of the "144,000" Elect Ones



Brethren, Peace be with you.

Today, as I reflected upon Revelation 14: 1-4 (NAB) during lectio divina, I noticed something I'd never noticed before. Read the highlighted portion by yourselves:
The Lamb’s Companions.* 1Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion,* and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.a 2I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing water or a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. 3They were singing [what seemed to be] a new hymn before the throne, before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth.b 4These are they who were not defiled with women; they are virgins* and these are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb.c 5On their lips no deceit* has been found; they are unblemished.d
That brought to mind the Jehovah's Witnesses' (JWs) insistence that this number of 144,000 elect ones, whom they insist are to reign with Jesus as "spiritual" creatures and whose ranks are filled solely by JWs, and whose Governing Body are assured members of the 144,000 elect ones.

Now, in my view this poses a hermeneutical conundrum, because, an interpreter cannot declare a fragment of a statement as literally true and judge the rest of the verse as "symbolic" and still expect the statement to make sense. In this instance. if the number 144,000 elect-ones is to be interpreted literally, and not as a symbolic gematria of 12x12x1,000 - which carries its own meaning - then the other contextual verses are to be considered literal also. What this means is that in order to qualify for the 144,000 chaste, the individual JW, whether rank-and-file or member of its governing body must be a male virgins However, if this virginity requirement is to be understood symbolically, then the 144,000 number should also be seen as symbolic. The interpreter, in this case the JWs, can't split the difference and solve the problem unless they are bending the text to their own theological agenda, which they are.

Not that there isn't any kind of writing that allows the mixing of symbols, metaphors, similes, and realistic description in a single texts. We usually call those kinds of texts poetry and poetry comes with its own rules and styles, of which the author always gives to the reader a clue. I got news for you: Revelation 15:1-5 isn't poetry either.

Do you get the point? I mean, the requirement of a life of consecrated virginity probably comes as bad news to any JW claiming to be a member of the 144,000 but that's what Scripture says, if interpreted in a literal-grammatical way, as the JWs often do, without consistency and coherence. Moreover, in Revelation 7 we see that these 144,000 elect-ones were gathered from the 12 tribes of Israel. In other words, to be a member of the 144,000 one has to be of Jewish descent.

To conclude: a member of the 144,000 will have to be literally Jewish, or descended from Jews; always a male; who's never told a lie; and who's never ever engaged in sexual intercourse. Goyim like you, me, all women, and most of the JWs who ever lived need not apply!

Oops.

Read also:
What is the significance of the number 144,000 to Jehovah's Witnesses? 

How do I refute the Jehovah's Witness claim about the 144,000?

More Stumpers for the Jehovah's Witnesses
 Courtesy of Catholic Answers.com

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Welcome 1,000th Google+ Vivificat Follower!

Brethren, Peace be with you.

Today this blog reached a milestone: its 1,000th follower!. I want to thank you all for allowing this humble work to inform you every so often. It is my honor and privilege. You are one of the 4,254 readers who access Vivificat Media Ministry through eight Internet social media platforms. May the Lord richly bless you!


Below, I provide you with an Infographic depicting where this blog stands in terms of its social media presence:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Quote from St. Anselm of Canterbury


Brethren, Peace be with you.

Today we remember St. Anselm of Canterbury, monk, theologian, archbishop, and Doctor of the Church. He is also known as "the Father of Scholasticism." Here's a quote from one of his works, the Monologion:
If any man, either from ignorance or unbelief, has no knowledge of the existence of one Nature which is highest of all existing beings, which is also sufficient to itself in its eternal blessedness, and which confers upon and effects in all other beings, through its omnipotent goodness, the very fact of their existence, and the fact that in any way their existence is good; and if he has no knowledge of many other things, which we necessarily believe regarding God and his creatures, he still believes that he can at least convince himself of these truths in great part, even if his mental powers are very ordinary, by the force of reason alone. 
I wonder what St. Anselm would've thought of our age when most intellectuals refuse to use their powers to recognize the obvious despite the force of reason alone. He would have been disappointed at the stupidity that passes for wisdom these days. Yet, as a true son of God and brother of Jesus, St. Anselm would have found a way to communicate the Truth anew.

Monday, April 20, 2015

My response to the "your Church is a nest of pedophiles" or the "you support pedophiles" slanders


Brethren, Peace be to all in Jesus' Name and to those who visit this blog and read this post with the animus of insult me and share your invectives: may the Lord truly and richly bless you.
*Blessed be the LORD, my rock,

who trains my hands for battle,

my fingers for war;


2My safeguard and my fortress,

my stronghold, my deliverer,

My shield, in whom I take refuge,

who subdues peoples under me.
~ Psalm 144: 1-2 (NAB)

How many times have I had to stand the accusation that my Church is a nest of pederasts, that it is crammed with pedophiles, their protectors, and their enablers, or that I myself support them or even applaud them? Well, the answer is: many times.

More often than not, those level these accusations are not interested in either the truth or justice for the victims of clerical sex abuse, much less are they advocating for a truly fair and just process to obtain rightful support and compensation to the victims. In fact, more often than not, the accusation and invective comes from people with an established Anti-Catholic agenda and animus for which this sad scandal came hell-sent. Their primary purpose is to silence observant Catholics by shaming them, and to continue to erode the moral authority of the Catholic Church and in this way, deny us the right to bring our consciences to bear upon matters of public interest. Their secondary purpose is to sack the Church 's patrimony and thus pauperize her materially, so that if the shaming doesn't effect silence, the pauperized Church will at least be rendered ineffective.

The reality of the scandal, its facilitation, and cover-up are a matter of record. To our perpetual shame, lots of people in position of responsibility handed this weapon freely to the enemies of the Church. I can't deny it and I don't. I have repeated as a mantra throughout my coverage of the clerical sex-abuse scandal something like the following statement:
Sexual abuse by anyone having a position of trust or authority in the Catholic Church is intolerable to me. Any such individual engaging in sexual abuse should be promptly identified to civil authorities and be subject to dismissal from his of her position after administrative or canonical due process concurrent with the criminal investigation carried out by civil authorities, or shortly after the findings by the civil authorities take place. Bishops, or those subordinated administrators who shuffle clergy or consecrated religious about from parish to parish, or to other jurisdictions in order to cover-up the abuse, should be held responsible before both civil and canon law. Finally, true victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy or other personnel in positions of trust should be fair and justly compensated and afforded all the pastoral and medical care they need.  

This is my stance and always has been. Any other stance attributed to me contrary to my statement above is false, malicious, and libelous. If your care enough, such libels break the VIII Commandment.

I know the underlying causes of clerical sexual abuse pretty well, and I am aware of the uneven application of the solutions to this egregious problem across the Church in the United States and elsewhere. Also, I will oppose any proposed solution of the clerical sex abuse scandal that violates the constitution of the Catholic Church granted by the Lord himself such as the monarchical episcopate, the Church's hierarchical structure, and the reservation of the priesthood only to qualified males.

What those who level the accusation at me - or at the Church, I'm certain - will never achieve is to silence me. Despite our collective  (mine, and the Church's) shortcomings, I will witness to the power and the glory of the Church of Christ and the Gospel He entrusted to Her until He calls me to His presence to account for my words and deeds. I advice anyone interested that there's no adverse power on this earth or under the earth who can stop me from the missionary vocation my baptism and confirmation conferred upon me and upon every Catholic Christian alive in the world today .

May all Glory be given to the Father, the Son, + and the Holy Spirit unto the ages of ages, the Triune God from whom I ask every grace and every strength in my weakness to carry out my task, Amen.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Yes, the Liturgy of the Hours in English Needs Updating

Also, a short Bible Study on 1 Peter 3:18-22

Brethren, Peace be with you.

The Resurrection of Christ,
by Carl Bloch
As you know, I pray Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as the Office of Readings and Night Prayer, frequently. I've been doing so for more than a decade, thanks be to God.

In all that time I've developed preferences for certain psalms and canticles, and objections to certain readings and prayers. One of the readings I dislike is the New Testament reading of the Evening Prayer for the Thursday of the Second Week of the Psalter. Mind you, it's not the reading that disturbs me, but it's the translation and redaction that grates on me:
READING 1 Peter 3:18, 22

The reason why Christ died for sins once for all, the just man for the sake of the unjust, was that he might lead you to God. He was put to death insofar as fleshly existence goes, but was given life in the realm of the spirit. He went to heaven and is at God’s right hand, with angelic rulers and powers subjected to him.
The highlighted portion and the skipping of verses 19-21 makes this selection sound as a text-proof for a kind of Docetism - similar to what the Jehovah Witnesses (JWs) teach regarding the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, which, they maintain, was realized in his spirit but not in his body. (A teaching which the JWs may have moved away from but which still  remains vague, since in their most current teaching regarding the resurrection of Jesus available online, the JWs don't tell us what was resurrected in the Lord's resurrection. But I digress).

The problem, of course, is the version of the New American Bible (NAB), the official Catholic translation used in the English liturgy in the U.S. Yet, again, the problem is not the NAB itself, but the year of the NAB version from which the readings in the Psalter originate: 1970.

On the other hand, Today's revised NAB reads thus for all verses in 1 Peter 3:18-22:
For Christ also suffered* for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit.g 19In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,* 20who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water.h 21This prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God* for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,i 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.j
Gone is this "given life in the realm of the spirit" phrase in which the qualifier in the realm of is a product of the translator, absent from original Greek and official Latin versions - check it out yourself here, and see also how the Douay-Rheims translators rendered the verse.

You can see, then, that a better rendition and selection of the verses in question are free from Docetism or the wrong tendency to spiritualize the Resurrection of Christ.

There are other examples of grating which the current version of the Hours vexes me with, but I'll discuss those later.

I know that the U.S. Bishops are working on a new revision of the Liturgy of the Hours in English for use in the United States. This revision will revamp the whole language of the Hours, including the Psalter, and for what I've read of the Psalter, the work is beautiful and reverential.  I can hardly wait! And, boy, the guys at DivineOffice.org, whose recordings I use daily for prayer, will have their work cut out for them when the new revision is published.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tidbits from Hither and Thither - @LCWR_US, #PatriciaJanuzzi, #ArchbishopCordileone, #CINOs

Brethren, Peace be with you.

Welcome to another iteration of my irregular, quick-draw, short news commentary. Let's get going.

The canonical visitation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a national, canonically-erected umbrella group of Catholic women religious congregations, has come to an end, with the LCWR making the necessary concessions in order to maintain their canonical status. The LCWR has been recalcitrant in its self-avowed "prophetic" stance, often obstructing the work of the U.S. Catholic bishops by disconnecting the Church's prolife stance from their general - and often commended - social justice work, as well as engaging in, or favoring radical feminist critiques of theology and church discipline. Their stance has a deleterious effect in the consecrated lives in their congregations whose members tend to be aging, and the number of new vocations in sharp decrease. I have followed the LCWR's travails on this blog thread. I hope and pray that the LCWR sticks to the letter and the spirit of the agreement, and not stick it to the rest of the Church by the passive-aggressive resistance which often characterizes the LCWR. Oh, and I'll be watching them.


New Jersey Catholic School teacher Patricia Jannuzzi has been reinstated in her job and the hanging threat of firing her from her job, rescinded, Deo gratias. You may remember me talking about this sad case and about the vestment-renting in triggered in many different quarters. The local authorities consider the matter closed and so will I, although I agree with this writer at CatholicCulture.org that we ought not to see Patricia's reinstatement as a complete victory or vindication. Besides, as I explained on my post on the subject, there are many ways in which "they" can still force her to leave. I pray for her and for all involved so that they avoid that temptation. Of course, I'll be watching.


One hundred "Catholics" in name only (CINOs) are lobbying hard to have the Pope fire San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. The list is a "who's who" among generous donors to far-left causes. These poor souls object to Archbishop Cordileone's principled stance in favor of natural marriage between one man, and one woman, a notion now anathema on the Left and also encroaching on the Right. Even corporations are now an enemy on this matter and ally of the very same progressives that waste no chance to berate them. The CINOs also take exception at Archbishop Cordileone's clear stance regarding the duty of Catholic teachers to live and exemplify the faith they are supposed to teach in Catholic schools. Needless to say, I support Archbishop Cordileone in his struggle to preach and live the Gospel specially now that it's out of season. The San Francisco CINOs don't speak for Catholics there, or elsewhere.

That's it for now! Please consider bookmarking or subscribing to the Flipboard e-magazines and Paper.li newsletters I curate. That's where I store most of the news I find interesting and worth preserving in various repositories. You may see list of these publications and other Vivificat points of presence, here.

May the Lord richly bless us all.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Turkey should accept the truth about her role in the #ArmenianGenocide


Brethren, Peace be with you.

My apologies for my extended silence. My wife and I have been recovering from a bout of influenza. She's almost recovered, but I'm spent still. All for the Glory of God and in acceptance of his Sovereign Will.

Pope Francis (L) with The Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,
Karekin II (R), during the Mass for the centenary of the Armenian 'martyrdom' .

As you know, the Holy Father has chosen to speak openly about the Armenian Genocide, which began 100 years ago under the auspices of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor state of the modern Turkish Republic. The genocide cost the life of about 1.5 million Armenians, most of them Christian. Those who converted to Islam were spared. It also cost the life of 1 million Syrians and other nationalities. The Holy Father made this recognition in the presence of the President of Armenia and the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch, as well as of Armenian Catholic prelates.

The reaction from Turkey has ranged from outrage to indifference. The official position has been fierce in its condemnation of the Holy Father's words, and the word on the street has been "let's get over this and look toward the future." Sort of like "forgive and forget" without the forgiving part.

To me, in Twitter, in a post re-echoed by others, the charge has been leveled against the Holy Father for being "divisive" and, implicitly, ignorant of history - the history written by the winners, that is, with a link kindly provided to their version of history:


My stance coincides with that of the Holy Father and the more than 20 countries who have recognized the Armenian Genocide as what it was: the first systematic ethnic and religious cleansing worthy of the neologism "genocide". Forgetting is not an option. Whitewashing is not an option. I'm pretty sure that if the roles have been reversed and the Turks had been the victims of genocide, they would wish for the world to acknowledge their experience and their pain.

The desperate effort to destroy the Armenian people's historical memory under legalisms reminiscent of Bill Clinton's "it depends on what 'is" is" brings increasing shame and dishonor to Turkey and her apologists in the face of wanton tragedy. I also question why Turkey, despite progress made on recognizing Armenian suffering, is now circling the wagons around its Ottoman identity, specially since the founding of the Turkish Republic represented a rejection of its Ottoman past. Why is Turkey so invested with its Ottoman past is a question that can only be answered in terms of its increasing Islamization. The more secular Turkey of yore would have found it easier to blame the Ottoman Empire for the genocide while affirming that in the "new Turkey" such things would be impossible. That's not what I am hearing, though.

I close by saying that if the Turkish leaders want us to learn from "history", I must point to the four minarets surrounding the Church of Holy Wisdom in Istanbul, and the constant persecution and vexation of its Christian minority since 1453. That's a history I know, and that I'm not liable to forget either.