Potpourri of Popery, St. Mark Edition

Yesterday was the feast of St. Mark, disciple of St. Peter and author of the earliest gospel: a feat more amazing because he apparently had disfigured hands. Tradition calls him "stump-fingered." He's also patron for an odd collection of persons & things: Egypt, attorneys, prisoners, stained-glass window makers, notaries. And patron against: scrofulus diseases, insect bites and impenitence. But on to
Papal Teaching
Yesterday's audience covered Origen, who, with St. Jerome, essentially gave us the Bible. Jerome famously translated it, and Origen "popularized" it one might say. He taught how to read it and grounded theological debate in the scriptures.

He read the Bible with the intent to understand the text as best he could and to offer a trustworthy explanation. This, for example, is the first step: to know what is actually written and to know what this text wanted to say intentionally and initially. He carried out a great study with this in mind and created an edition of the Bible with six parallel columns, from right to left, with the Hebrew texts written in Hebrew -- Origen had contact with rabbis to better understand the original Hebrew text of the Bible.

He then transliterated the Hebrew text into Greek and then did four different translations into Greek, which permitted him to compare the various possibilities for translation. This synopsis is called "Hexapla" (six columns). This is the first point: to know exactly what is written, the text in itself.

Something I remember from reading Origen in college is his belief that the scriptures were deliberately incomplete in some respects so that the believer, through contemplation, could complete them in his own life. Translators, by the choices they make, necessarily preclude ideas that the orginal text makes room for. A simple example is that the Greek word for "mother-in-law" can also mean "stepmother." There's a whole life for St. Peter we invent because Christ healed his "mother-in-law" that may or may not be so --it's an open question.
Origen was especially responsible for teaching the Church how to read the Old Testament rather than simply chucking it as superceded. Talking about Origen allows Benedict to speak about the importance of reading the Bible and knowing how to read it (four-fold method of exegesis, anyone?).
I invite you to welcome the teachings of this great teacher of the faith into your hearts. He reminds us that in the prayerful reading of Scripture and in a coherent way of life, the Church is renewed and rejuvenated.
Take that, historical-critical method! Coincidentally, last night I attended a lecture by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, ostensibly about psychology, but actually about his favorite theme, how the historical-critical method of exegesis destroyed the seminaries. He told a funny anecdote about reading a biography of Romano Guardini (whose seminal work The Lord devotes its final chapters to eviscerating the h/c method) years ago, in which the biographer was positive, but lamented Guardini's being too old and closed to the new methods of criticism. "Why," he observed, "the only person who agrees with Guardini today is --sputter--Joseph Ratzinger." Heh.
  • Wednesday was World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and the Holy Father's message marking the occasion includes an overview of what he's trying to accomplish with this series of audiences.
Go here for a round-up of links related to the Pope's trip to Vigevano & Pavia this past weekend, but don't miss reading Saturday's homily for yourself. Meditating on John 21, when the disciples have returned to fishing, the Pope's description of their experience could describe the spiritual life at times, no?
Their nets were empty. In a certain way, this seems to sum up their experience with Jesus: they had known him, they had been beside him, and he had promised them so many things. Nevertheless, they found themselves with empty nets and no fish.
And they'd promised him many things, too....But dawn comes.
"Daybreak" in the Bible often points to God's extraordinary interventions. In the Book of Exodus, for example, it was "in the morning watch" that the Lord intervened "in the pillar of fire and of cloud" to save his people in the flight to Egypt (cf. Ex 14: 24). And again it was dawn when Mary Magdalene and the other women who had hastened to the tomb met the Risen Lord.
At his word, even fishing at the wrong time, there's a miraculous catch. And so with us.
I have come among you above all to encourage you to be daring witnesses of Christ. It is trusting adherence to his Word that will make your pastoral efforts fruitful. When work in the Lord's vineyard seems to have been in vain like the nightlong efforts of the Apostles, you must never forget that Jesus can reverse everything in an instant.
  • Rome: B16's had some visitors: Ban-Ki Moon, Abbas. And a pontifical commission's studying Global Warming.
  • Germany: Angie & B16 exchange letters. And German Vanity Fair profiles B16.
  • Russia: Interfaith prayer for Boris Yeltsin, whom Archb. Kondrusiewicz credits for a time of spiritual renaissance.
  • China: The bishop of the Patriotic Church of Beijing passed away, heightening tensions and opportunities in the relations between the Vatican and China. Meanwhile, a Patriotic Bishop approved by Rome has been under arrest for a month. Possibly related: the Pope held a surprise meeting with the Roman Curia April 16th. Letter to Chinese ready?
  • Mexico: Liberalizes abortion law in Mexico City over papal protest. Law not expected to make it through the Courts, however. Still, how can they let that happen in Guadalupe's city?
  • UK: vocations on the rise 4th straight year.
  • Western media: As Zadok predicted, did not get the story on Limbo. At all. (Here's a hint: a non-binding theological report has issued the opinion that what the Church didn't know previously it still doesn't know. Radical.) Zadok summarizes the isssues well.
  • U.S.: New bishop (when Flynn retires) for the Twin Cities; Bishop Burke takes on Sheryl Crow.

And finally:All those birthday notes? The Pope says thanks. And: The Holy Whapping Television Network.