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Sunday, 21 December 2014

On Today's Readings part three

Mary is called "highly favored" in some translations by the Archangel Gabriel, the messenger. In the Judaic tradition, Gabriel is not only the messenger of God, but the destroying angel at the Passover in Egypt.

That Gabriel, who caused, in God's will, the last plague, which led directly to the freeing of the Hebrews from slavery, is the angel who tells Mary she will be the Mother of the Messiah, the Son of God, seems to be a happy non-chance.

I do not see in my imagination a soft, cuddling, feminine image of Gabriel. I see strength, a spirit of power and grace. Gabriel bursts into history again, as he did in the Old Testament.

He who paved the way for Moses to lead the people to freedom comes to announce to Mary that she leads us to freedom through her Son, Jesus Christ.

Mary is highly favored, she is blessed. She, alone of all humans, from conception, is full of grace. Gabriel knows this. He would not only be full of love, but awe at the call of this woman. Mary, as the Theotokos, the God-Bearer, now becomes Queen of all angels.

Her call reminds us of the long salvation history of the Old Testament. Gabriel comes to this lowly Hebrew young woman, explains God's will for her life, and waits for her answer. He who destroyed the first born of the Egyptians, brings news of the First Born of all creation, the Incarnate One, the Son of God, prefigured in Moses. Christ is the Savior, the real freedom fighter of all mankind. Gabriel waits.

Fiat voluntas Dei.

Gabriel returns to God and history is never the same. God enters the world through the womb of a young daughter of the Jewish people. All history points to this moment and all history moves away from this moment. Human life would never be the same again. Praise God!

On Today's Readings part two

In the second reading from Romans Chapter 16, St. Paul encourages us as well as the Romans. We see that it is our duty to preach the Gospel to the pagans, here called Gentiles.

This is a command. We are a missionary Church and it is in obedience that we spread the Faith.

It was in obedience that David let Solomon build the temple, a project which was in David's heart and mind. But, God had other plans.

We are strengthened by God to do certain works. God in His wisdom calls us to obey His will, His plans.

The other day, someone I know was in a bus accident in St. Paul's Bay, the place of Paul's shipwreck. One can stand on the edge of the town and see the island of the shipwreck. Bus wrecks and ship wrecks dot our lives, but Paul, who endured all types of troubles, kept preaching to the Gentiles. Indeed, he is the "Apostle of the Gentiles". Without him, my ancestors would not be Catholic, as they came from places where Paul preached and sent others and where other missionaries, such as SS. Cyril and Methodius, carried on the missionary work of God.

If we keep our minds, hearts, souls, imaginations and wills focused on God, we shall endure. But, like Paul, endurance is found in the face of suffering. If we focus on ourselves, we can become easily disturbed and weakened in our resolve.

St. Paul's Shipwreck Ludolf Backhuysen 1630 – 1708

25 Now to God, who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

On Today's Readings part one

The first reading for today from Second Samuel shows us how much David loved God. But, as a "man of war", a man who had to subjugate the enemies of the Hebrews and bring order into the Kingdom, David was not chosen by God to build a physical temple.

That was left to his son, God's chosen one, a king who presided over a peaceful kingdom.

One of the lessons for us in this passage is that we must calm our own warlike instincts before building the space God wants us to have in order to meet us-St. Catherine's little cell.

God came to Jerusalem in a great presence, the Shekinah glory, and resided in the Temple. He comes to us in baptism and if we are trained in the virtues, even young ones can open their hearts, minds, soul.

David had a heart most like God's, but God chose Solomon to build the temple. God chooses the persons He wants to do certain works.

Yesterday, I saw a letter from St. Ignatius in a museum. I had seen this letter before at an exhibit years ago in Valletta. It is heartening for those of us who want to do things or think God is calling us to do things to know that some of the saints could not accomplish some plans. Do not think that everything went smoothly in their lives according to their plans.

St Ignatius wanted to come to Malta and could not. Catholics sometimes think that when God plans something, it always happens, but men, politics, wars, governments, thwart God's perfect plans as we all have free will.

God's permissive will allows us to make decisions and our will is sacred to Him, as that is how we are made in His image and likeness-one way.

Some people think God's perfect will always happens. It does not. God had raised David to be His king, but David had to win that kingdom for God.

Perhaps if he had not been called to be such a great warrior, which he was, he would have been called to build, but he was not.

God's plans are mysterious.

All my plans were changed this morning by a small cell phone alarm. Things happen.

An accident on the bus changed my plans several days ago, and a map on line which was wrong changed my plans yesterday as well.

Men's mistakes and mishaps change plans.

But, God had a plan for Israel. He wanted David to unite the country and leave it in peace, and He wanted Solomon to build on that peace.

Jerusalem -City of Peace.

Then, the temple.....

One learns to listen and to follow God daily. One learns to be flexible within God's order.

God promised a "house" for David.

But, of course, David's House is the House of Christ, the Son of David, in the line of the kings.

And, Christ came during the Pax Romana, the time of certain peace because of the rule of the empire.

Here is the entire section from the Bible on David's promise and disappointment. Of course, the promise is that of the Coming of Christ.

from Second Samuel:7 NRSVCE

God’s Covenant with David

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.”Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders[a] of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lorddeclares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. When he commits iniquity, I will punish him with a rod such as mortals use, with blows inflicted by human beings. 15 But I will not take[b] my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me;[c] your throne shall be established forever. 17 In accordance with all these words and with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David.

David’s Prayer

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. May this be instruction for the people,[d] O Lord God20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, so that your servant may know it. 22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.23 Who is like your people, like Israel? Is there another[e] nation on earth whose God went to redeem it as a people, and to make a name for himself, doing great and awesome things for them,[f] by driving out[g] before his people nations and their gods?[h] 24 And you established your people Israel for yourself to be your people forever; and you, O Lord, became their God. 25 And now, OLord God, as for the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, confirm it forever; do as you have promised. 26 Thus your name will be magnified forever in the saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel’; and the house of your servant David will be established before you.27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’; therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant;29 now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you; for you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Praying About A Decision

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about discontinuing the blog. I wanted to wait until I had a real community instead of a virtual community, but it is getting more difficult to blog for several reasons.

I am praying about this. I honestly do not feel that my blog is necessary for news, as there are so many Catholic news services, and people like Michael Voris do a fantastic job.

I have said much of what I want to share with people and have realized that there are limitations as to what I can write. The only thing I have not shared, which I think is important, is more commentary on St. Thomas Aquinas.

Also, the danger of blogging has become more and more real to me since August of this year. Governments, and some individuals, hate bloggers, as we are free of the moneyed and other influences with whom large media groups have decided to cooperate.

In addition, my numbers are down, as people want zazzy political Church gossip which I am not going to push on this blog. Religion is not the same as Vatican politics.

So, dear Readers, pray for me in this time of discernment.

I am also called to more prayer and quiet. I have to find the balance here in this type of ministry.

I made a comment on this post

Too Many Lonely People

What is wrong with Western Culture? I have met so many people, men and women, who will be spending Christmas alone. One man is having Christmas with friends, his first invitation in years.

I cannot understand this. When I was in graduate school and could not get home for Christmas because of the horrible weather, I would invite all those other students in for a meal so that no one would be alone.

And, when I had my own home, we always invited single people who had no families in for dinner and the day.

I cannot understand why families do not invite those who are alone for the day.

Christianity is not merely to be practiced in the immediate family.

Are you aware of people in your parish who may not have anyone with whom to celebrate Christmas or New Year's? Hospitality is a virtue under the larger category of charity.

As a single person, my heart breaks for those who have no place to go. I shall be eating out, with a special person, as neither of us have a place big enough to cook or convenient for company.

How sad that neither one of us was invited to Christmas dinner.

Catholics under persecution will be worse off than this. It is time to reconsider what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Inns Are Full

Many good priests have been preaching from the pulpit the necessity for preparation for Christmas in matters spiritual and not merely material.

I am afraid that too many events create four weeks of celebration, instead of penance. I am also afraid that some priests deny that Advent is a penitential time, hence, the purple vestments. Most of the sermons I have heard have emphasized this time of penance.

If we do not make room for the Incarnate God, Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, we cannot celebrate His Coming. If we are busy going to concerts, baking, cooking, shopping, and decorating, we end up like the innkeeper who told Mary and Joseph there was no room at the inn.

Inns were built with courtyards, which filled up with noisy animals and people who did not mind sleeping "rough" as long as they were behind the closed door of the inn. Mary and Joseph needed the quiet, silent place in order for Jesus to come into this world.

Are we making a silent place for His coming? I have some friends who are doing this-taking time daily to read daily prayers, going to extra Masses, and so on.

But, too many are doing less spiritual preparation, and they will end up like the innkeeper. Christ wants to come to them, but there is no room in their hearts, minds, souls, imaginations.

The will has decided that other things are more important than preparation.

We all have habits of self-deceit, because humans do not want to face that they are lacking in some thing, or doing something wrong. To say "I wish I could go to daily Mass, but I am too busy" when one can do so, or visit Christ in Adoration, and read the Scriptures, is self-deceit.

We create our own busyness. We can say no.

I have done little but pray. I have met a few friends who are going to other countries for Christmas and I shall not see them as I shall be gone when they return.

If I were here permanently, there would have been no need to meet up for lunch before Christmas.

I know families who do not have Christmas trees but trees which look like Christmas trees. I call them Advent trees. These family members tell me the trees were put up and decorated weeks ago and will come down right after New Year's day.

I asked these people whether they knew about Epiphany or the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The answer was "no". Sad that such riches of our heritage have been lost. The identity of the Catholic way of celebrating Christmas has been washed away by consumerism and parties in Advent. I refuse to go to concerts or parties. I have said no to years, and people who know me now ask me to come over after Christmas. Many weeks exist for celebration after Christmas.

To go back to work right after Christmas is a creation of both the Puritans, who hated celebrations which were based in Catholic identity, or by the secular pagans, who worship another god-Mammon.

To hold on to Catholic identity in the world is difficult, but not impossible.

I sincerely hope that none of us are like the innkeeper who had no private rooms for Mary, Joseph and the coming Jesus in his inn.

Christ will come to those who have made space for Him. He will manifest Himself to those who are paying attention, waiting for him.

Too many inns are full.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Awake and Asleep

Many, many times I have written about people who are ostriches and who are asleep, not seeing the signs of the times, as well as the need for conversion.

What is happening in Europe and the States regarding the erosion of rights, such as the new ruling in GB that senior midwives cannot say no to assisting with abortions, and the recent suppression of discussion on the sin of homosexual actions, cannot but get worse

I ask readers to consider speaking with family members with whom they may "have Christmas" about the signs of the times, the disappearing of protections for those who want to live their religion publicly.

As one who has not succeeded with bringing my own siblings to the truth, I understand the difficulties of spreading the Gospel of repentance to those we love. Sometimes, all we can do is pray. However, we can pray for "openings", for those hints in conversation that maybe someone is ready to hear more about Christ and His Church.

God does not create suffering in families, but He allows it to bring some people back to Him. He allows suffering to strip away the false idols and crutches people cling to desperately in their lives. He also allows it to purify those who suffer for Christ and His Church.

Pray for those openings. Pray for the protection of St. Michael and your guardian angels when visiting or having visitors come to your house for Christmas.

Remember, just as God revealed His Son to the lowly shepherds in the fields around Bethlehem, so too, He wants to reveal His love to all our family members.

Pray, pay attention, be patient, and do not ever pass up an opportunity to spread the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our Lord, Emmanuel.

American Travelers, Please Be Wise and Prudent

VIP Read This And Act!

What Is Dangerous

For years, pundits, priests and teachers have been explaining what things or people or ideas are dangerous to the Church's success in both evangelization and in maintaining Catholics.

Many things and ideas, like materialism, consumerism, and relativism have been pin-pointed as the greatest danger to the Church.

In my opinion, and this is merely opinion, I think the most dangerous single idea or problem for the Church is stupidity. That people refuse to learn the Faith and incorporate it into their daily lives causes the Church to weaken and even die in some areas.

Stupidity is caused mainly by two things. The first is the lack of study, (see post last week on the virtue of studiosity), and the second is sloth.

Sloth must be one of the most common evils among Catholics, both laity and clergy alike.

To not study the Faith, to ignore the overwhelming amount of information on the net and in books, CDs and DVDs cannot be explained away by a lack of time.

It is a lack of interest, or, simply, laziness.

I talk to people who watch hours of television per week, who talk to friends and text or spend time on Facebook, but never read the Scriptures or take time to pray.

This is dangerous and totally "fixable". In this last week before Christmas, examine how much time is wasted on temporal and ephemeral things, instead of on prayer and study.

Your soul may be in danger.

Bisy Bakson

Read some sustaining book today. I am bisy but will be bak son. I see some light in the sky here at 6:30 a.m peeping out behind some clouds.

The Desert Can Also Be Wet And Cold

How odd that I find it much easier to be a hesychast  when it is hot or warm and the sun is shining, and much more difficult when it is cold and wet.

The temperature and climate affect me, especially in counties where there is minimal temperature control.

But, why I should pray more easily when hot or warm is interesting. Perhaps the aches and pains of the cold and damp dampen my purpose as well and make me tired. It is tiring carrying around pain, as those who have such know. My fingers now hurt all the time with chilblains, and my feet most of the time.

I do not mind being in the real desert, but the desert gets very cold when the sun sets.

Yesterday, twice, I had to go out and come back again, Both times it was bucketing down with water, and the major roadway where I wait for the bus flooded both times. Both times, car after car rushed by and I was sprayed with water over and over again. I had never experienced being so wet, soaked through to my skin all over. No exaggeration. Every piece of clothing was very, very wet.

My wooden clogs, which I wear in the rain as I do not have boots, many, many hours later, are still wet-the wood soaked through.

I tried to think of Mary Our Mother, and forgive all those drivers who could have slowed down so as not to splash dirty water over those of use waiting for the bus. A few did.  One young man jumped up on a wall to avoid the sprays and splashes. I could not do that and nor could another lady.

Forgiveness and being humble enough not to be angry takes practice and, yesterday, I had a lot of practice. I try not to waste moments of humiliation. It got easier as the day worn on.

Then, I had to sit on the bus in drenched clothes for over two hours to get to a needed destination.

I tried to imagine whether Mother Mary ever was cold and wet. I think the answer was yes. I mentioned this to someone who told me that (at the age of 55), they had never in their life waited for or taken a bus. Interesting. They looked at me and judged me as being poor for being very wet and a bit dirty. Another humiliation. Someday, when I am perfected, these things will not longer bother me. And, that is God's plan in allowing me to walk around for hours in drenched clothing on a cold day.

It is practice....the practice of the virtues and the dying to comfort and vanity. God knows what He is about.

The desert can also be wet and cold.

Raissa's Journal Footnote Perfection Series VIII Part XXXI

Raissa writes something which pagans simply do not understand. I remember years ago at Notre Dame, one of my professors saying that the Catholic Church was perverse because of the teaching of celibacy and chastity, which encouraged suffering and self-denial.

Yes, it does. Our God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, died on a cross. He showed us the way to self-denial and redemptive suffering. He call us to love without return, to sacrificial love.

Raissa writes something which reminds me of St. Bernadette's comment that although she suffered terribly from tuberculous of the bone, the waters of Lourdes were not for her.

Raissa notes that she knows that God will not give her any happiness in this world. She was not created to be happy on earth, but to suffer. She writes that she will never have but moments of joy with God alone, and not human happiness, not natural happiness except in rare moments.

Some people may find this idea shocking, that God would, from the beginning of a person's life, call them to the via negativa, denying that person any human or Godly consolation while on earth.

The person who is called to live in suffering has a vocation which now is popularly called being a "victim soul". Raissa knew that she was a victim soul but expresses it in different words in her diary.

One cannot decide to be a victim soul, one just is. God decides that a person will live in a darkness and a loneliness. One is called to a complete detachment of normal human joys. One cannot expect human love.

That Raissa was Jewish, and that the Jews gave us the beginning of the Revelation of God, also allows her to understand the mystery of the unknown God, the God of the Burning Bush, the God Who wrestled with Jacob in the night, the God Who disappeared from Jewish history directly for several hundred years before Christ, when prophecy dried up and the world awaited the Messiah, the Revelation of God,  the via negativa was mixed with the via affirmativa. 

One who is centered on Christ may be called to times of both ways. But, one way usually is dominant. Some people are asked to be rooted in the joy of the Incarnation. Some have to rest in the Passion of Christ.

Years ago, I read The Philokalia, which includes some of the writings of Maximus the Confessor, a proponent of the via negativa. What we do not know about God is just as important as what we do know, especially when one is in the Dark Night of the Spirit. God wants to strip us of false images of Him. 

That God is hidden in the darkness of that spiritual time cannot be denied. He is and He is not present. One knows He is present, one senses the Presence of God by faith. This causes a suffering of denial even of desire, which is very hard, but not impossible.

Raissa needed Jacques' love although they were separated on a regular basis because of his work. She still had that basis, but God called her to Himself as the Bridegroom and her suffering was both purgative and redemptive. She did not use the term "victim soul" but she knew she was suffering for Jacques, who was constantly attacked by the liberal Catholics and secular philosophers, and for others.

The couple brought many people into the Church.

To be in the Presence of God which is also an Absence is a mystery which causes the person to live in faith, hope and love, in that order. It is the mystic way and the way of the contemplative.

I shall return to her Journal in a few days. I am taking a break from it for a day or two to read some other books and to ponder on these hard words, Here is Raissa in her own words. 

"Human felicity has not place in my destiny. I know very definitely that god will never allow me to belong to myself and to seek my own happiness. He has never allowed it. I belong to Him, and through Him and with Him to those whom He wishes. It is He who chooses any intimates for me. In the midst of all my sufferings, God has given me a very clear view of my destiny. I have a destiny, and that, in itself, is marvellous. For a destiny make the unity, the usefulness and beauty of life. And my destiny is not to belong to myself. God has granted Jacques and me the same destiny and, as a viaticum, a unique and marvellous mutual affection."

I wish God had given me such a companion in destiny, but it has not been so. She admitted later in life that for her to be celibate and without Jacques was much harder on her than him. Such was her intense love for him, but God did not allow her that consolation. That was all part of their mission in the world. 

I also wish that God would make it clear to many of us the destiny of our lives. In these days of chaos, so much like the times of the Maritains, we need direction to keep us focused. But, not knowing is also humbling and part of the suffering.

to be continued..

Thursday, 18 December 2014

A Saint Day for A Royal Chapel-St. Manirus

I was looking for information of an Apostle to Scotland and found this on a Norwegian site.

I was thrilled, for I like this hardly known saint of this day, or tomorrow, depending on the calendar one has, St. Manirus of Scotland.

Excuse google translate, unless one of my Norwegian readers would like to have a go...
The Holy Manirus (Manira, Monir, mini, Nini) was born sometime on 700 in Scotland. He was one of the apostles of northern Scotland and is said to have been one of the holy Drostan s successors Deer, and he should have had a foundation in the district structured as Aberdour. But his main activity sphere was in upper Deeside, in the district Crathie, where he established his church. His work looks mainly to have been among the converts inhabitants in the Highlands , the mountainous area north of Glasgow and Stirling in Scotland, often associated with Gaelic culture.
Manirus was a strong opponent of the idolatrous or superstitious practices among the barbaric people he preached to, used to introduce into their cultivation of God. It is said that he restrained the many dialects as spoken in the district where he lived, to be able to preach the faith to all.
Manirus' foundation is Rhynabaich, a knoll north of North Deeside Road in the district Crathie. A single standing stone is all that is left of Manirus' settlement, but the local place names that are eaglais , "church creek" Creag eaglais , "church hill" pollmanire , "Manirus' sculptures" - a deep salmon sculpture of the River Dee almost opposite Balmoral Castle - reminiscent of the activities of this almost forgotten saint. The old church site in Crathie, south of the present Crathie Kirk, is under his invocation.
Manirus should have been subjected to persecution, but he did not receive the crown of martyrdom. He therefore occurs in the calendars as a confessor, not a martyr. He died in 824, and it is believed that he was buried in his church in Crathie. His memorial is December 19, but December 18 is also mentioned. He was especially venerated in Crathie and Balvenie. He was the last of the Celtic apostles who brought the gospel to Deeside, some writers let him share this honor with the sacred Devenick , although their foundations were far apart. Most, however, believe Devenick lived several centuries earlier, in the 500's.
Now, one really interesting thing about this saint is that his church is where the royal family of Great Britain worship when they are at Balmoral.
Here is a snippet from Wiki on this:
Crathie has been a place of Christian worship since the 9th century when a church was founded on the banks of the River Dee by Saint Manire (Bishop of Aberdeenshire and Banffand a follower of Saint Columba, the pioneer of Christianity in Scotland). It is traditionally held that Manire baptised Pictish converts in a pool of the Dee east of the modern village of Crathie. A single standing stone at Rinabaich is all that remains of Manire's church (where Manire himself is reputedly buried).
Subsequent places of worship were situated further west, near the location of present day Crathie village. The ruins of a 13th-century church, dedicated to Saint Manire, stand on the riverbank south of the current structure.
A later church was built at the current site in 1804. Queen Victoria worshipped there from 1848, and every British monarch since has worshipped at Crathie Kirk. Victoria laid the foundation stone for a new, much larger, church in 1893. Queen Victoria's decision to worship at the Crathie Kirk initially caused a scandal, particularly when it was discovered that she had received communion there, because she was head of the Church of England. Victoria asserted that as Queen of Scotland, she was also entitled to worship in a Scottish church, and further, Crathie is the closest church to Balmoral Castle.

Blog Readers

I have a very, very important request for prayer, please pray very hard for me and for my son.

That is all I can say. Do not worry, just pray.

When I can, I shall share more.

This is something exciting, but unsure...

Just read this....and pray like you never have before for Supertradmum

St. Iranaeus Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 20)

6. Men therefore shall see God, that they may live, being made immortal by that sight, and attaining even unto God; which, as I have already said, was declared figuratively by the prophets, that God should be seen by men who bear His Spirit [in them], and do always wait patiently for His coming. As also Moses says in Deuteronomy,We shall see in that day that God will talk to man, and he shall live. Deuteronomy 5:24 For certain of these menused to see the prophetic Spirit and His active influences poured forth for all kinds of gifts; others, again, [beheld] the advent of the Lord, and that dispensation which obtained from the beginning, by which He accomplished the will of the Father with regard to things both celestial and terrestrial; and others [beheld] paternal glories adapted to the times, and to those who saw and who heard them then, and to all who were subsequently to hear them. Thus, therefore, was God revealed; for God the Father is shown forth through all these [operations], the Spirit indeed working, and the Son ministering, while the Father was approving, andman's salvation being accomplished. As He also declares through Hosea the prophet: I, He says, have multiplied visions, and have used similitudes by the ministry (in manibus) of the prophets. Hosea 12:10 But theapostle expounded this very passage, when he said, Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are differences of ministrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.1 Corinthians 12:4-7 But as He who works all things in all is God, [as to the points] of what nature and how great He is, [God] is invisible and indescribable to all things which have been made by Him, but He is by no means unknown: for all things learn through His Word that there is one God the Father, who contains all things, and who grants existence to all, as is written in the Gospel: No man has seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; He has declared [Him]. John 1:18
7. Therefore the Son of the Father declares [Him] from the beginning, inasmuch as He was with the Father from the beginning, who did also show to the human race prophetic visions, and diversities of gifts, and His own ministrations, and the glory of the Father, in regular order and connection, at the fitting time for the benefit [of mankind]. For where there is a regular succession, there is also fixedness; and where fixedness, there suitability to the period; and where suitability, there also utility. And for this reason did the Word become the dispenser of the paternal grace for the benefit of men, for whom He made such great dispensations, revealing God indeed to men, but presenting man to God, and preserving at the same time the invisibility of the Father, lest man should at any time become a despiser of God, and that he should always possess something towards which he might advance; but, on the other hand, revealing God to men through many dispensations, lest man, falling away from God altogether, should cease to exist. For the glory of God is a living man; and the life of man consists in beholding God. For if the manifestation of God which is made by means of the creation, affords life to all living in the earth, much more does that revelation of the Father which comes through the Word, give life to those who see God.
8. Inasmuch, then, as the Spirit of God pointed out by the prophets things to come, forming and adapting us beforehand for the purpose of our being made subject to God, but it was still a future thing that man, through thegood pleasure of the Holy Spirit, should see [God], it necessarily behooved those through whose instrumentality future things were announced, to see God, whom they intimated as to be seen by men; in order that God, and the Son of God, and the Son, and the Father, should not only be prophetically announced, but that He should also be seen by all His members who are sanctified and instructed in the things of God, that man might be disciplinedbeforehand and previously exercised for a reception into that glory which shall afterwards be revealed in those who love God. For the prophets used not to prophesy in word alone, but in visions also, and in their mode of life, and in the actions which they performed, according to the suggestions of the Spirit. After this invisible manner, therefore, did they see God, as also Esaias says, I have seen with my eyes the King, the Lord of hosts, Isaiah 6:5pointing out that man should behold God with his eyes, and hear His voice. In this manner, therefore, did they also see the Son of God as a man conversant with men, while they prophesied what was to happen, saying that He who was not come as yet was present proclaiming also the impassible as subject to suffering, and declaring that He who was then in heaven had descended into the dust of death. Moreover, [with regard to] the other arrangements concerning the summing up that He should make, some of these they beheld through visions, others they proclaimed by word, while others they indicated typically by means of [outward] action, seeing visibly those things which were to be seen; heralding by word of mouth those which should be heard; and performing by actual operation what should take place by action; but [at the same time] announcing all prophetically. Wherefore also Moses declared that God was indeed a consuming fire Deuteronomy 4:24 (igneum) to the people that transgressed the law, and threatened that God would bring upon them a day of fire; but to those who had the fear of God he said, The Lord God is merciful and gracious, and long-suffering, and of great commiseration, and true, and keeps justice and mercy for thousands, forgiving unrighteousness, and transgressions, and sins.Exodus 34:6-7
9. And the Word spoke to Moses, appearing before him, just as any one might speak to his friend. Numbers 12:8But Moses desired to see Him openly who was speaking with him, and was thus addressed: Stand in the deep place of the rock, and with My hand I will cover you. But when My splendour shall pass by, then you shall see My back parts, but My face you shall not see: for no man sees My face, and shall live. Exodus 33:20-22 Two facts are thus signified: that it is impossible for man to see God; and that, through the wisdom of God, man shall see Him in the last times, in the depth of a rock, that is, in His coming as a man. And for this reason did He [the Lord] confer with him face to face on the top of a mountain, Elias being also present, as the Gospel relates,Matthew 17:3, etc. He thus making good in the end the ancient promise.
10. The prophets, therefore, did not openly behold the actual face of God, but [they saw] the dispensations and the mysteries through which man should afterwards see God. As was also said to Elias: You shall go forth tomorrow, and stand in the presence of the Lord; and, behold, a wind great and strong, which shall rend the mountains, and break the rocks in pieces before the Lord. And the Lord [was] not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord [was] not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord [was] not in the fire; and after the fire a scarcely audible voice (vox auræ tenuis). 1 Kings 19:11-12 For by such means was the prophet— very indignant, because of the transgression of the people and the slaughter of the prophets— both taught to act in a more gentle manner; and the Lord's advent as a man was pointed out, that it should be subsequent to that law which was given by Moses, mild and tranquil, in which He would neither break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax. Isaiah 42:3 The mild and peaceful repose of His kingdom was indicated likewise. For, after the wind which rends the mountains, and after the earthquake, and after the fire, come the tranquil and peaceful times of His kingdom, in which the spirit of God does, in the most gentle manner, vivify and increase mankind. This, too, was made still clearer by Ezekiel, that the prophets saw the dispensations of God in part, but not actually God Himself. For when this man had seen the vision Ezekiel 1:1 of God, and the cherubim, and their wheels, and when he had recounted the mystery of the whole of that progression, and had beheld the likeness of a throne above them, and upon the throne a likeness as of the figure of a man, and the things which were upon his loins as the figure of amber, and what was below like the sight of fire, and when he set forth all the rest of the vision of the thrones, lest any one might happen to think that in those [visions] he had actually seen God, he added: This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God. Ezekiel 2:1
11. If, then, neither Moses, nor Elias, nor Ezekiel, who had all many celestial visions, saw God; but if what they did see were similitudes of the splendour of the Lord, and prophecies of things to come; it is manifest that the Father is indeed invisible, of whom also the Lord said, No man has seen God at any time. John 1:18 But His Word, as He Himself willed it, and for the benefit of those who beheld, did show the Father's brightness, and explained His purposes (as also the Lord said: The only-begotten God, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared [Him]; and He does Himself also interpret the Word of the Father as being rich and great); not in one figure, nor in one character, did He appear to those seeing Him, but according to the reasons and effects aimed at in His dispensations, as it is written in Daniel. For at one time He was seen with those who were around Ananias, Azarias, Misaël, as present with them in the furnace of fire, in the burning, and preserving them from [the effects of] fire: And the appearance of the fourth, it is said, was like to the Son of God. Daniel 3:26 At another time [He is represented as] a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, Daniel 7:13-14 and as smiting all temporal kingdoms, and as blowing them away (ventilans ea), and as Himself filling all the earth. Then, too, is this same individual beheld as the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, and drawing near to the Ancient of Days, and receiving from Him all power and glory, and a kingdom. His dominion, it is said, is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom shall not perish. Daniel 7:4 John also, the Lord's disciple, when beholding thesacerdotal and glorious advent of His kingdom, says in the Apocalypse: I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And, being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks One like the Son of man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle; and His head and His hairs were white, as white as wool, and as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like fine brass, as if He burned in a furnace. And His voice [was] as the voice of waters; and He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword; and His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength. Revelation 1:12 For in these words He sets forth something of the glory [which He has received] from His Father, as [where He makes mention of] the head; something in reference to the priestly office also, as in the case of the long garment reaching to the feet. And this was the reason why Moses vested the high priest after this fashion. Something also alludes to the end [of all things], as [where He speaks of] the fine brass burning in the fire, which denotes the power of faith, and the continuing instant in prayer, because of the consuming fire which is to come at the end of time. But when John could not endure the sight (for he says, I fell at his feet as dead; Revelation 1:17 that what was written might come to pass: No man sees God, and shall live Exodus 33:20), and the Word reviving him, and reminding him that it was He upon whose bosom he had leaned at supper, when he put the question as to who should betray Him, declared: I am the first and the last, and He who lives, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of death and of hell. And after these things, seeing the same Lord in a second vision, he says: For I saw in the midst of the throne, and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing as it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. Revelation 5:6 And again, he says, speaking of this very same Lamb: And behold a white horse; and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness does He judge and make war. And His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns; having a name written, that no man knows but Himself: and He was girded around with a vesture sprinkled with blood: and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in pure white linen. And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He may smite the nations; and He shall rule (pascet) them with a rod of iron: and He treads the wine-press of the fierceness of thewrath of God Almighty. And He has upon His vesture and upon His thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lordof Lords. Revelation 19:11-17 Thus does the Word of God always preserve the outlines, as it were, of things to come, and points out to men the various forms (species), as it were, of the dispensations of the Father, teaching us the things pertaining to God.

more be continued....

Help from Rome on Discernment....




Origin and character of these norms

During the annual Plenary Session in November 1974, the Fathers of this Sacred Congregation examined the problems relative to presumed apparitions and to the revelations often connected with them and reached the following conclusions:
1. Today, more than in the past, news of these apparitions is diffused rapidly among the faithful thanks to the means of information (mass media). Moreover, the ease of going from one place to another fosters frequent pilgrimages, so that Ecclesiastical Authority should discern quickly about the merits of such matters.
2. On the other hand, modern mentality and the requirements of critical scientific investigation render it more difficult, if not almost impossible, to achieve with the required speed the judgments that in the past concluded the investigation of such matters (constat de supernaturalitate, non constat de supernaturalitate) and that offered to the Ordinaries the possibility of authorizing or prohibiting public cult or other forms of devotion among the faithful.
For these reasons, in order that the devotion stirred among the faithful as a result of facts of this sort might manifest itself in full communion with the Church, and bear fruits by which the Church herself might later discern the true nature of the facts, the Fathers judged that in this matter the following procedure should be promoted.
When Ecclesiastical Authority is informed of a presumed apparition or revelation, it will be its responsibility:
a) first, to judge the fact according to positive and negative criteria (cf. infra, no. I);
b) then, if this examination results in a favorable conclusion, to permit some public manifestation of cult or of devotion, overseeing this with great prudence (equivalent to the formula, “for now, nothing stands in the way”) (pro nunc nihil obstare).
c) finally, in light of time passed and of experience, with special regard to the fecundity of spiritual fruit generated from this new devotion, to express a judgment regarding the authenticity and supernatural character if the case so merits.


A) Positive Criteria:
a) Moral certitude, or at least great probability of the existence of the fact, acquired by means of a serious investigation;
b) Particular circumstances relative to the existence and to the nature of the fact, that is to say:
1. Personal qualities of the subject or of the subjects (in particular, psychological equilibrium, honesty and rectitude of moral life, sincerity and habitual docility towards Ecclesiastical Authority, the capacity to return to a normal regimen of a life of faith, etc.);
2. As regards revelation: true theological and spiritual doctrine and immune from error;
3. Healthy devotion and abundant and constant spiritual fruit (for example, spirit of prayer, conversion, testimonies of charity, etc.).
B) Negative Criteria:
a) Manifest error concerning the fact.
b) Doctrinal errors attributed to God himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or to some saint in their manifestations, taking into account however the possibility that the subject might have added, even unconsciously, purely human elements or some error of the natural order to an authentic supernatural revelation (cf. Saint Ignatius, Exercises, no. 336).
c) Evidence of a search for profit or gain strictly connected to the fact.
d) Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject or his or her followers when the fact occurred or in connection with it.
e) Psychological disorder or psychopathic tendencies in the subject, that with certainty influenced on the presumed supernatural fact, or psychosis, collective hysteria or other things of this kind.
It is to be noted that these criteria, be they positive or negative, are not peremptory but rather indicative, and they should be applied cumulatively or with some mutual convergence.


1. If, on the occasion of a presumed supernatural fact, there arises in a spontaneous way among the faithful a certain cult or some devotion, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority has the serious duty of looking into it without delay and of diligently watching over it.
2. If the faithful request it legitimately (that is, in communion with the Pastors, and not prompted by a sectarian spirit), the competent Ecclesiastical Authority can intervene to permit or promote some form of cult or devotion, if, after the application of the above criteria, nothing stands in the way. They must be careful that the faithful not interpret this practice as approval of the supernatural nature of the fact on the part of the Church (cf. Preliminary note c).
3. By reason of its doctrinal and pastoral task, the competent Authority can intervene motu proprio and indeed must do so in grave circumstances, for example in order to correct or prevent abuses in the exercise of cult and devotion, to condemn erroneous doctrine, to avoid the dangers of a false or unseemly mysticism, etc.
4. In doubtful cases that clearly do not put the good of the Church at risk, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority is to refrain from any judgment and from any direct action (because it can also happen that, after a certain period of time, the presumed supernatural fact falls into oblivion); it must not however cease from being vigilant by intervening if necessary, with promptness and prudence.


1. Above all, the duty of vigilance and intervention falls to the Ordinary of the place.
2. The regional or national Conference of Bishops can intervene:
a) If the Ordinary of the place, having done his part, turns to it to judge the matter with greater certainty;
b) If the matter pertains to the national or regional level; always, however, with the prior consent of the Ordinary of the place.
3. The Apostolic See can intervene if asked either by the Ordinary himself, by a qualified group of the faithful, or even directly by reason of the universal jurisdiction of the Supreme Pontiff (cf. infra, no. IV).


1. a) The intervention of the Sacred Congregation can be requested either by the Ordinary, after he has done his part, or by a qualified group of the faithful. In this second case, care must be taken that recourse to the Sacred Congregation not be motivated by suspect reasons (for example, in order to compel the Ordinary to modify his own legitimate decisions, to support some sectarian group, etc.).
b) It is up to the Sacred Congregation to intervene motu proprio in graver cases, especially if the matter affects the larger part of the Church, always after having consulted the Ordinary and even, if the situation requires, the Conference of Bishops.
2. It is up to the Sacred Congregation to judge and approve the Ordinary’s way of proceeding or, in so far as it be possible and fitting, to initiate a new examination of the matter, distinct from that undertaken by the Ordinary and carried out either by the Sacred Congregation itself or by a special Commission.
The Present Norms, deliberated in the Plenary Session of this Sacred Congregation, were approved by the Supreme Pontiff, Paul VI on 24 February 1978.
In Rome, from the palace of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 25 February 1978.

Francis Cardinal Šeper

Jérôme Hamer, O.P.