Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Sacrament, Belief, And Eating

In understanding Jesus' words of eating flesh and having eternal life, Augustine explains: "believe and you have already eaten" stating:
“They said therefore unto Him, What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” For He had said to them, “Labor not for the meat which perishes, but for that which endures unto eternal life.” “What shall we do?” they ask; by observing what, shall we be able to fulfill this precept? “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent.” This is then to eat the meat, not that which perishes, but that which endures unto eternal life. To what purpose dost thou make ready teeth and stomach? Believe, and thou hast eaten already. Faith is indeed distinguished from works, even as the apostle says, “that a man is justified by faith without the works of the law:” (Rom. 3: 28) there are works which appear good, without faith in Christ; but they are not good, because they are not referred to that end in which works are good; “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.” (Rom. 10:4) For that reason, He wills not to distinguish faith from work, but declared faith itself to be work. For it is that same faith that works by love. (Gal. 5:6) Nor did He say, This is your work; but, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He has sent;” so that he who glories, may glory in the Lord.
- St. Augustine, John: Tractate XXV:12 trans. Philip Schaff

Monday, January 25, 2010

On Pope Leo XIII's Prayer To St. Michael

In 1947 Father Domenico Pechenino related what he had witnessed over six decades before.

“I do not remember the exact year. One morning the great Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a Mass and, as usual, was attending a Mass of thanksgiving. Suddenly, we saw him raise his head and stare at something above the celebrant’s head. He was staring motionlessly, without batting an eye. His expression was one of horror and awe; the colour and look on his face changing rapidly. Something unusual and grave was happening in him.

“Finally, as though coming to his senses, he lightly but firmly tapped his hand and rose to his feet. He headed for his private office. His retinue followed anxiously and solicitously, whispering: ‘Holy Father, are you not feeling well? Do you need anything?’ He answered: ‘Nothing, nothing.’ About half an hour later, he called for the Secretary of the Congregation of Rites and, handing him a sheet of paper, requested that it be printed and sent to all the ordinaries around the world. What was that paper? It was the prayer that we recite with the people at the end of every Mass. It is the plea to Mary and the passionate request to the Prince of the heavenly host, (St. Michael: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle) beseeching God to send Satan back to hell.”

Cardinal Giovanni Batista Nassalli Rocca di Corneiliano wrote in his Pastoral Letters on Lent: “the sentence ‘The evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls’ has a historical explanation that was many times repeated by his private secretary, Monsignor Rinaldo Angeli. Leo XIII truly saw, in a vision, demonic spirits who were congregating on the Eternal City (Rome). The prayer that he asked all the Church to recite was the fruit of that experience. He would recite that prayer with strong, powerful voice: we heard it many a time in the Vatican Basilica. Leo XIII also personally wrote an exorcism that is included in the Roman Ritual. He recommended that bishops and priests read these exorcisms often in their dioceses and parishes. He himself would recite them often throughout the day.”

The Prayer written by the Pope is of course the famous prayer to Saint Michael:

Sancte Michael Archangele,
defende nos in proelio;

contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium.

Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur:

tuque, Princeps militiae Caelestis,

satanam aliosque spiritus malignos,

qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo,

divina virtute in infernum detrude.

This is the version I learned as a boy:

Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the battle.

Be our protection against the malice and snares of the Devil.

We humbly beseech God to command him.

And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,

by the powers of God,

cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits

who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

On God's Faithfulness

My prayer:

"Father, give me strength this weekend to glorify you by exalting the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit in all things, for the joy of all peoples."

My Response:
Lord you are faithful. Thank you for the work of your Spirit in the preaching of Christ. Thank you for the relationships you have given me. Lord you are faithful. Keep me faithful to you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On The Sovereignty Of God And Missions

"My heart rose up to the Lord Jesus; I saw Him watching all the scene. My peace came back to me like a wave from God. I realized that I was immortal till my Master's work with me was done. The assurance came to me, as if a voice out of Heaven had spoken, that not a musket would be fired to wound us, not a club prevail to strike us, not a spear leave the hand in which it was held vibrating to be thrown, not an arrow leave the bow, or a killing stone the fingers, without the permission of Jesus Christ, whose is all power in Heaven and on Earth. He rules all Nature, animate and inanimate, and restrains even the Savage of the South Seas."

- John Paton, John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebredes, An Autobiography Edited by James Paton (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965, orig. 1889, 1891), 207. Quote from John Piper, "You Will Be Eaten by Cannibals! Lessons from the Life of John G. Paton" at the Courage in the Cause of Missions 2000 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors, February 8, 2000. http://desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Biographies/1482_You_Will_be_Eaten_by_Cannibals_Lessons_from_the_Life_of_John_G_Paton/

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On Massachusetts

"Brown's margin of victory is significant, making it difficult for any potential challenges to slow down his certification as the winner. The state senator becomes the first Republican to be elected to the Senate from the Bay State since 1972."

Mitt Romney is quoted saying: "This is epic."
- Trish Turner, Molly Line and Jake Gibson, "Brown Beats Coakley in Massachusetts Senate Race" January 19, 2010. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/01/19/polls-close-competitive-massachusetts-senate-race/

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On The Glory Of Christ

Come, Thou long expected Jesus Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.

- Charles Wesley (1707-1788), "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus"

Friday, January 8, 2010

On The Value Of Godliness

Dr. Mitchell was talking with me today about his life -specifically about God's faithfulness. God opens doors and uses those who are faithful to Him. Truly, we are to work hard and are to be faithful to God. However, God is the one who cares for us. He is the faithful one. Over the course of the discussion, in my heart, the concept of godliness began to take root. I began to ask: Why have I have cheapened my desires with anything less than the desire for Jesus Christ? Have I set before me idols of school and knowledge? Where is the passion for godliness? Shall I not pursue faithfulness to God alone? Paul's words offer sobriety from the slavish concoction of secularism:

"But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the dpresent life and also for the life to come."

- 1 Timothy 4:7

Lord, I confess, the virtue of scholasticism rests teleologically in proportion to its subordination and expedience of godliness. Indeed, I must work hard and not be lazy. But I must work hard in my faithfulness to you first. To be sure, I must make sure, I am serving the only true God our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hear the notions: Do not value wisdom and knowledge for its own sake. Such is empty and vain. Will I not strive for godliness? Will not godliness direct my steps? Is not godliness supreme in my heart? Is there not an ultimate passion for the glory of God? Is all my joy not found in you alone? Lord help me to transcend beyond notional assent; may I taste your goodness. I confess my wayward idolatry. Forgive me Lord. I renounce worldly wisdom and its fleeting temptation. Father, guide me and conform me to your Son, Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit in my body, soul and - especially today -in my mind.