“Do You Equate Debate with Treason?”—by Cameron Daly

Page 701 notes that “Stalin’s growing paranoia and crude hunger for absolute power led him to equate debate with betrayal and treason.” How often do you equate betrayal or treason with those who disagree or debate with your views? Could this be a signal of similar motives to Stalin’s within yourself?

(Each week in Western Civilization, the students are asked to pose a question to their classmates. I here post mine also to the readers of Roman Catholic Reflections. The textbook quoted is The West: A Narrative History, vol. 2: Since 1400, 3rd ed., by A. Daniel Frankforter and William M. Spellman.)

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“Loving Lord, So Gentle and So Strong”—Poem by a Classmate

Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter Season!
Though it isn’t specifically Easter-themed, an anonymous fellow Holy Apostles student worked throughout Lent to compose the following poem for Roman Catholic Reflections in time for Easter. Thank you so much to that student for your work (and for a job very well done!), and I hope that it is enjoyed by all of its readers!
Loving Lord, so gentle and so strong,
All hearts and minds on earth to Thee belong.
What mind that contemplates the ocean blue,
The starlit heavens or the morning dew,
Can help but wonder at Thy unseen might
Which rules creation’s workings, day and night?
And what heart, seeing that the very small
Need have no fear of those great Hands at all
Which keep the cosmic powers all in line,
Can help but smile that God is so benign?
What human mind can think of Jesus’ Hands
Stretched forth in blessing o’er the Holy Lands
To calm the storms, call back the very dead,
Without a thrill of awe, almost of dread?
And yet what human heart can see those Hands
Stretch forth so tiny from the swaddling bands
To softly touch His Mother’s glowing face,
And not shed tears at God’s so gentle grace?
O loving Lord, so gentle and so strong,
All hearts and minds on earth to Thee belong.
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The Kidron Valley

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”

The Kidron Valley is mentioned by name only eleven times in the entirety of Sacred Scripture. Nevertheless, the Kidron has an association with several of the most important moments throughout Salvation History. This paper will briefly touch upon the significance of this valley as well as the Biblical stories which have their roots tangled throughout the Kidron’s rocks and tombs.KidronValley

Between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives to the east is strung a valley, carved out of the Jerusalem countryside: the Kidron Valley. In the Old Testament, the name “Kidron” is always preceded by the Aramaic word “Wadi,” which has the double meaning of “brook” and “valley,”[1] a testament to its dual role of seasonal river and deeply gored valley. Though the valley descends a staggering 3,912 feet[2] along its twenty mile span, King David is shown to be passing through it in the first reference to the Kidron in Sacred Scripture. Fleeing from his own son, Absalom, David was attempting to save his life and his throne. According to the second book of Samuel, “The whole country wept aloud as all the people passed by; the king crossed the Wadi Kidron… weeping as he went, with his head covered and walking barefoot.”[3] Here a tie to the betrayal of Jesus recounted in Saint John’s Gospel is already visible. Only two people in the Bible end their lives through hanging: Ahitophel, Absalom’s conspirator in the betrayal of King David, and Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Christ the King.[4]

The reputation of the Kidron Valley appears to remain entangled with death and destruction throughout the remainder of the Old Testament. During the establishment of the kingdom of Solomon, David’s son, Shimei (the man who had cursed David during his flight from Absolom) was given mercy as long as he remained in Jerusalem, under the decree: “For on the day you go out, and cross the Wadi Kidron, know for certain that you shall die; your blood shall be on your own head.”[5] Unfortunately for Shimei, he chose to disobey and was slain on account of “all the evil that [he] did to…David.”[6]

The books of First Kings and Second Chronicles begin to present the Kidron Valley as somewhat of a garbage dump for unclean objects – such as idols or dead bodies.[7]    By the year 600 B.C. Sacred Scripture makes mention of common graves in the Kidron Valley. It is upon these graves that King Josiah scatters the pulverized dust of an image of the Canaanite mother-goddess Asherah, after having cleansed the Temple of all idol worship.[8] Simultaneously, in the same valley[9], Josiah also burned the vessels used for idol worship and disposed of idolatrous rooftop altars.

The final reference by name to the Kidron Valley in the Old Testament is in Jeremiah’s prophecy of hope to the people of God in exile. In this prophecy, not only is there promised a safe return, a new covenant, and individual retribution, but also the enlargement of Jerusalem wherein “the whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Wadi Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord.”[10] Nevertheless, the Kidron Valley appears once more, though not specifically mentioned by name. In perhaps the most tragic of the moments recorded in the Old Testament (excluding the fall of Adam and Eve), the departure of the Shakina Glory Cloud from the Temple forever, the prophet Ezekiel witnesses God’s presence depart from the Temple Mount [pass through the Kidron Valley] and hesitate for a moment over the Mount of Olives to the east of the city, before disappearing completely.[11]  It is upon this memory that Saint John introduces Jesus Christ – the Son of David – God Himself in human flesh, as He journeys from Jerusalem “with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples [enter].”[12]

There can be no denying the parallel between Jesus and King David evoked through Saint John’s use of words in the above passage. Clearly, Saint John desired to paint for the early Christian community the image of the King of Kings, sinless – unlike King David – yet accused, who faces His betrayer rather than fleeing from him and accepts death for the life of His unworthy subjects. This, though, is not the only reason Saint John chose to name the Kidron Valley. Through His pilgrimage among the tombs, Jesus prefigures the harrowing of Hades which will occur with the fast approaching defeat of death. In His divine presence, the Son of God follows the same path as the Glory Cloud – revealing in fullness what before had been visible only as a shadow. Finally, as the “Image of the invisible God,”[13] the Word made flesh eternally destroys the dark grip of idolatry which clutches at ignorance of God. This cleansing and lifting up of all that was previously shrouded under the cover of death is summarized in Saint John’s Gospel through the prayerful words of Christ to His Father as He climbed the rocky path through the Kidron Valley – a path so familiar to He and His disciples,[14] yet now so threatening – “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”[15]

In conclusion, the Kidron Valley is a place which bears the memory of the consequences brought about through the actions of many individuals in a span of over a thousand years. Betrayal, death, and the possessions of paganism tainted its name, making a valley of trash and tombs. Yet, in Jesus’ actions – and the consequences which poured forth from them – it is transformed, becoming an integral part of the accomplishment of His glorious hour.

– Grace Marie Urlakis; March 28, 2018.

Holy Apostles College and Seminary, SAS 461: Gospel of John.

©GraceMarieUrlakis2018

[1] Emil G. Hirsch, M. Seligsohn, 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, at http://www.jewishencylopedia.com.

[2] M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, (Thomas Nelson, 1897), public domain, at http://www.biblestudytools.com.

[3] 2 Samuel 15:23&30, all citations from The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition.

[4] Custer, John S., The Gospel of John: A Byzantine Prospective, (Pittsburg, PA: God With Us Publications (2004), pg. 348.

[5] 1 Kings 2:37.

[6] 1 Kings 2:44.

[7] 1 King 15:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16.

[8] 2 Kings 23:6.

[9] 2 Kings 23:4 &12.

[10] Jeremiah 31:40.

[11] Ezekiel11:22-23.

[12] John 18:1.

[13] Colossians 1:15.

[14] John 18:2.

[15] John 17:24.

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Hypothetical Lesson from the Apostles’ Creed to Pagans—by Cameron Daly

When you figure you should stick to pastoral or practical topics (as opposed to in-depth theological ones) in your Mission and Evangelization class … but then you go ahead and decide to write this.

Following is a discussion post for my Mission and Evangelization class, preceded by the discussion prompt. My teacher’s response seems to indicate it came out well enough!

Prompt:

In his article, “Saint Paul Offers Five Ways of Dialogue and Mission,” Fr. Mariasusai Dhavamony, S.J., shows how Saint Paul refers “to the various religions in different ways…to the Hebrews in the Synagogue of Antioch of Pisidia (Acts 13, 15-41); to the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers of Athens (Acts 17, 18-31); to the followers of Cosmic polytheism of Lystra (Acts 14, 11-18); to the Gnostics of Asia Minor (Eph, Col); and to the polytheist and ambiguous cults of Corinth (I Cor 10, 19-22).”

After reading and reflecting upon Fr. Dhavamony’s article, select one of the twelve articles from the Apostles’ Creed. Next, present it as if you were addressing one of the groups to which Saint Paul refers in contemporary society. What would you say? Which method, or necessary tool of missionary spirituality, would you use in your evangelization?

My post:

“[Jesus Christ] was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary” taught to the followers of Cosmic polytheism of Lystra

There is a distinct difference between what you believe to be gods and what I believe to be God. I mean no disrespect when I say this, but by my standards of the divine, the “gods” that you believe in are no more than creatures themselves.

I think that a perfect demonstration of this can be given in how you hold that these gods reproduce with humans. When this happens, what are the offspring? Individuals that you refer to as demigods, because they are half-god and half-man. This goes to show that the gods exist on the same level as the humans they’re reproducing with—because the two natures are theoretically able to blend or mix. (And when I say “theoretically,” while I am implying that I don’t believe in such a thing, I mean no disrespect to your own belief in it.)

My God has but one Incarnate Son, Who has a human Mother. While you might assume that He’s just like the demigods you believe in, that is not the case; for He is not half-and-half. He is fully God, that is, the one God Himself, and fully man. His nature as a human being did not have to be diminished or lessened in order for the divine nature to be united to it (cf. Fr. Robert Barron, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith, introduction, The Catholic Thing, Kindle).

Of course, I can’t blame you if you find this completely confusing at this point. You might be thinking something like, “but He’s one Person; how can He have two full natures?” I’ll certainly admit that this is mysterious, but I can explain how it is possible. The God I believe in is not just another individual Who possesses being. That’s what you believe your gods to be: you hold them to be things that exist, like you and me. But the God I believe in is not. The God I believe in is perfect existence itself (cf. Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity [illustrated], chapter 3, He Who Is, Kindle). We have existence to certain degrees; He is existence. If He should will it, then, it is certainly possible for Him to unite the fullness of His nature to the fullness of a human nature—because the two do not exist on the same level. They are not in competition, so to speak; as Fr. Robert Barron put it,

“God does indeed enter into his creation, but the world is thereby enhanced and elevated. The God capable of incarnation is not a competitive supreme being but rather, in the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the sheer act of being itself, that which grounds and sustains all of creation, the way a singer sustains a song” (Catholicism, introduction, The Catholic Thing, Kindle).

Summary of the explanation

I would say that I am here engaging in interreligious dialogue, as it is outlined by Redemptoris missio §55-56. I keep dialogue closely connected to evangelization (hopefully not too much—though keep in mind, what I’ve written is just what I’m saying, not including any attempt on the part of the polytheists to dialogue back), and I think I hold decently well to the admonitions to “Those engaged in this dialogue must be consistent with their own religious traditions and convictions, and be open to understanding those of the other party without pretense or close-mindedness, but with truth, humility and frankness” (some of those mentioned in §56).

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The Angelus (A Midday Prayer)

Below I’ve pasted a really neat prayer called the Angelus, as it was posted by EWTN (https://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/Angelus.htm). According to a daily prayer booklet I have (put out by the Priests of the Sacred Heart), this is considered a midday prayer. Please pray and enjoy!

“He who prays is certainly saved. He who prays not is certainly damned”–St. Alphonsus Liguori (“The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection,” Chapter 1, conclusion).

The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit. 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of
our death. Amen. 

Behold the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done unto me according to Thy word. 

Hail Mary . . . 

And the Word was made Flesh: And dwelt among us. 

Hail Mary . . . 


Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray: 

Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

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“Jesus on the Missionary Vocation,” Holy Apostles Mission and Evangelization Class Paper by Cameron Daly

Holy Apostles College & Seminary

Jesus on the Missionary Vocation

by

Cameron Daly

Dr. Marianne Siegmund

PAS 511: Mission and Evangelization

1 February 2018

 

Everyone is called, in some way or another, to partake in the Church’s mission to mankind. “All who are called to follow Christ are sent by Christ.”[1] This doesn’t mean that everyone’s required to go to South America or Africa to try and evangelize tribal peoples. While this is surely what some are called to do, what everyone is called to do is to recognize and act on the fact that they are sent by God to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to anyone around them who has not yet properly heard of Him.[2] Thankfully, Our Lord does not leave us unprepared for what He asks us to do. At the end of the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel according to John, Jesus gives both encouragement and the starting point of an explanation for our missionary vocation.

In verse eighteen, Jesus points out that “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you” (RSVCE). He further notes that we should

“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me” (vv. 20-21, RSVCE).

In saying all of this, He offers us a sort of boost of morale during the tougher parts of evangelization, essentially saying “If they treat you like dirt, it’s not necessarily because you did something wrong, but because you’re doing well at representing Me.” This is important for us to remember when those we try to evangelize seek to drag us down with resentment or coldness or by trying to make us feel guilty or stupid. They did the same to Christ before us; and we know He was right in what He said.

Our Lord was also right in saying that “If [He] had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin” (v. 22). But this might arouse a very important question, which will lead to a key way of viewing the Church’s mission: if His speaking to certain people would cause them to have sin, then why would He go to them? Isn’t sin what He came to save us from? He most certainly did; but one of the effects of sin is ignorance.[3] God gave mankind the gift of free will, to choose to be with Him or against Him. It is His will that all of us should be able to use it. Ignorance of God, however, prevents a person from doing this. Therefore, in a certain sense, even if one were to use his will to reject God (though hopefully he would not), it would seem to be better than if he were to remain ignorant concerning God—for the latter would mean that his God-given gift of free will was being stifled. This, then, could be said to be one reason why we are called to evangelize those who would otherwise be ignorant of God and of objective moral values, and might end up being “saved” on account of their ignorance. While it is certainly true that “in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him,” ignorance is ignorance, and is thus still an inhibition of the free acceptance of Himself God desires for us. “[T]he Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”[4]

Christ not only prepares us for evangelization, but is “with [us] always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). Along with this being the case as far as His being in our hearts and in the Tabernacles of our Churches, He is also with us in His words of advice and insight, and in His Eternal Word as a whole. We are not left alone in our part in the Church’s mission; quite the contrary, He Who sends us is with us every step of the way.

 

 

[1] Marianne Siegmund, class notes on The Trinitarian Foundation of Mission and Evangelization (Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018), q. Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary.

[2] Marianne Siegmund, class notes on The Nature of Mission and Evangelization (Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018).

[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., 418, at St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, at http://www.scborromeo.org.

[4] CCC, 848, q. AG 7.

 

Bibliography

Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nd ed. At St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, at http://www.scborromeo.org.

Siegmund, Marianne. Class notes on The Nature of Mission and Evangelization. Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018.

Siegmund, Marianne. Class notes on The Trinitarian Foundation of Mission and Evangelization. Cromwell, CT: Holy Apostles College & Seminary, distributed 15 January 2018.

The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition. At Bible Gateway, at http://www.biblegateway.com.

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Happy Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day/Check Out Our New Prayer Request Page

Wishing you all a happy and blessed Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! Remember that, though Ash Wednesday actually is not a Holy Day of Obligation, the faithful are required to fast (eat only one normal sized meal and two smaller meals amounting to no more than the normal-sized one) and abstain (refraining from eating meat) today. No Valentine’s Day candy for snacks!!!! Please save it for Thursday, and offer up not eating it as Lenten penance!

Also, please take a look at our new prayer request page, put together mostly by Grace Marie (who did great work as usual! See https://camerondaly.wordpress.com/prayer-requests/)! Please read through it, and feel welcome to post any prayer request in the comments section! (And a note on that … for anyone who tried to post something in a comment on the suggestions page but could not, I have fixed that. Turns out I made a page asking for comments that didn’t allow comments….)

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