There are more important languages to learn than Latin


This past Sunday, the Sixth Sunday of Easter of 2013 saw a debate between an orthodox conservative and an avowed liberal. The conservative discussed a fellow parishioner who had kneeled while taking the blood of Christ, and had asked for the blessed chalice before in a complete kneeling state.

Lake Tahoe     This did not seem to upset the liberal in any way. The orthodox conservative next presented the view that Latin is the official language of the church and should be the preferred language to learn. The liberal argued for other languages to be the preferred language to learn.

Unlike Protestants, who believe in Solo Scriptura, Catholics and Semitic people have a strong preference for reading the divine writings in light of tradition. They receive this idea from the Ten Commandments, which begins:

Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and correct judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your ear, this day, that you may learn them and guard to observe them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, cut a Social Contract with us at Mt. Sword; not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day. Deuteronomy 5:1-7

In the Summa Theologica, The Second Part of the Second Part, Question 81 noted how our word, “religion,” relates to the Latin understanding of the concept.

Religion may be derived from “religare” [to bind together], wherefore Augustine says (De Vera Relig. 55): “May religion bind us to the one Almighty God.” In addition to the founding of Rome itself, the Roman sense of authority comes from the sanctity of house and hearth. The Romans understood how the gods had Shekinah, (presence) lived among the Romans, so was re-ligatus, bond together in present time, through all time, with the people.

Scene from GalileeThe interesting things about customs, “הַחֻקִּים” and correct judicial precedents, “מִּשְׁפָּטִים,” is that they develop over time. They do not develop over night, and are therefore not the kinds of things Moses could have received at Mt. Sword. The Jewish tradition is that all the rulings that have come since are the customs and correct judicial precedents, which we are to view as if they came from Moses at Mt. Sword. Catholic and Easter Orthodox teachings mirror this ancient Semitic understanding.

The Ten Commandments begins by telling us, “Not with our fathers did the Personal Name cut this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day.” To argue that the Roman Rite is somehow different from any other rite is to argue that it does not link back, tie back to Mt. Sword in present time. It is to cut the church off from its roots, both the roots of Sinai, and the roots of the cross.

This brings us to the idea of home and hearth. Revelations 12:17 tells us how the great sea serpent went off to wage war with the woman and her offspring, those who keep faith with the witness and the Mitzvah of God. Revelations 12:5 tells us how this woman gave birth to a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.”

This child is clearly Jesus, so the woman must be our Blessed Virgin. We, alive, here, this day, are the offspring of Our Blessed Virgin, in present time, as are all those who lived from the time of Our Blessed Virgin until today. To argue for Latin, the Roman Rite in Latin is to cut ourselves off from this woman, Our Blessed Virgin, who almost certainly did not speak Latin.

The orthodox Catholic is correct in understanding that it is important for the blood of Christ not to fall on the floor. The liberal thinker was also correct in understanding that there is something more at issue here than wine, the blood of Christ falling on the floor. Through the Eucharist, we relive the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. We also relive the events of Mt. Sword, our rescue from oppression. We undergo a religious transformation from death to new life.

IsraelSt. Paul tells us in Romans 5 and Galatians 2, “We, who are Jews by nature and not deviants from among the nations, know that a person is not justified by works of Torah but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

St. Paul comes from the Jewish neighborhood of Tarsus, Turkey. The native language of the first century for that town was Koine Greek. On the other hand, St. Paul comes from the Jewish neighborhood of that town. We need to think of the late nineteenth century, and early twentieth century Brooklyn Jewish neighborhood. The people of Brooklyn spoke English.

horse and carriage at south lake tahoeThe Brooklyn neighborhoods, on the other hand, spoke the languages of the immigrants who lived there. The people of the Jewish quarter spoke Yiddish. When the more religious of that neighborhood went to college, they went to Yeshiva, most likely in Jerusalem. Likewise, St. Paul learned the Yiddish of his time, Aramaic. As a religious, he went off to Yeshiva in Jerusalem, the Academy of Shammai. There he learned Hebrew.

Thinking in Hebrew, St. Paul would have meant, using the Hebrew and Aramaic word for Justice, Tzaddic, We, who are Jews by nature and not deviants from among the nations, know that a person is not Tzaddic/made charitable by works of Torah but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be Tzaddic/made charitable by faith in Christ and not by works of Torah, because by works of Torah no one will be made charitable.”

Elsewhere, St. Paul tells us, “Put on the new self, created in God’s way in Tzaddic and dedication of truth.” The rest of the chapter, of which Ephesians 4:24, resides describes this Tzaddic as God means for us to live out our everyday life.

Deuteronomy 6:20-25 tells us what St. Paul meant by Tzaddic as well:

Incline Village homeWhen your son asks, “What do these witness statements customs and correct judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, enjoined on you, you shall tell your son, “We were once slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Personal Name brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and wrought before our eyes signs and wonders, great and dire, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and his whole house.

He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our fathers. The Personal Name commanded us guard all these customs in fear of the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, that we may always have as good a life as we have today. This is our justice/Tzaddic.

In our transformation, we no longer worry about the little things. Our neighbor in Christ is far more important than even the blood of Christ falling on the floor. Christ will protect his precious blood. During the Passion, far more blood that is precious fell on the floor, the Via Delarosa, than the few drops that might fall if the chalice spills. Yes, we do need to be careful with the precious blood, but the precious blood points to something even more important, human life as life lived in the image of God.

Meadow in IsraelThis brings us to the importance of Latin in Mass. For doctoral seminary, Latin might be an important language to learn, in order to read the Summa, the City of God, the Moralia, and other writings of the church fathers. If we plan to discuss theology with the church doctors at the Vatican, Latin could come in handy. For the rest of us, Latin is a great language of nostalgia, to help us remember the Tridentine Mass of Pre-Vatican II.

Presenting this view, brought the discussion of whether Jesus knew Latin. Interesting it was, that the liberal presented the view that Lake Galilee, where Jesus and the apostles did their preaching and fishing, is so much like Lake Tahoe. So interesting it is how the orthodox Catholic opposed this view. They are the same, inland, crystal blue lakes. They are lakes famed for being resort hot spots where celebrities and other rich folk lived out their lives. As such, to live in these areas, one almost has to be multilingual.

The “Church Language” of the first century was Hebrew. The language of the masses was Aramaic, which people of the time mistakenly referred to as Hebrew. As a rabbi, Jesus would have known both Hebrew and Aramaic. To be a fish trader on Lake Galilee one would almost certainly have had to know the language of trade, Koine Greek. St. Peter shows an understanding of this language in the two letters he wrote, and which are in our New Testament. James also shows fluency in Greek, in his New Testament letter, as does St. Paul, in his letters.

The question is about Latin. The Latin people had the ethnocentric trait Americans have. They sent their soldiers and state department officials to countries with no training in the languages or cultures of their conquests. If Jesus talked with soldiers as he did in Luke 7:1-10, it was almost certainly in Latin.

Further, in John 18:28-40 Jesus has a discussion with Pilate. If Pilate did not speak any language other than Latin, the discussion must have been in Latin. St. Mark calls the crazy man Jesus heals, Legion, a Latin name.

Dei Verbum, from Vatican II states:

God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, (6) the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words. To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to “literary forms.” For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts, which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse.

This means, the question is not, whether Jesus, or anyone else could have had an intelligent discussion in Latin, but in what language Jesus and the apostles thought, and that language was Aramaic. In the case of Torah, Navy, and Writings, that language is Hebrew. Because the oldest extant writings are in Koine Greek, Koine Greek has a claim for study.

It is important to notice how Greek, Latin, and the Semitic languages used the present tense. From our pre-Vatican II days, we use to interpret Matthew 3:1-2, “In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, “Do Penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” English has what grammarians call the “dandy do.” The original word in Greek, Latin, or the Semitic languages can be interpreted as, “Repent,” “Be Penitent,” or “Do Penance.” In church language, “Do Penance” means going to confession and doing as the priest asks as one’s “Sign of contrition.” Those not knowing ancient languages were confused by this ambiguity.

Dei Verbum, from Vatican II tells us that we need to read the text in light of how the original writers understood the text. Our “Instruction on the Historical Truth of the Gospels,” tell us, “The sacred writers when composing them followed the way of thinking and of writing current amongst their contemporaries.” John the Baptist wrote long before confession, as we know it today, so could not have had this in mind as he preached. Contemporary translations correctly translate the text as “Repent,” and not, “Do Penance.” Learning Latin would help us understand the ambiguity of Pre-Vatican II history, but not help us much in understanding current translations of the Bible.

This brings the questions of which languages would be important to learn, for the serious Bible scholar. Clearly, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek make this list. Where does Latin fit in? Jesus probably spoke Latin, but “Legion,” is one of the very few Latin words used in any of the Gospels, and the New Testament never uses Latin in the context of explaining Christian doctrine.

The church fathers used Latin, but most of the Scholastic teaching is being replaced by German existentialist teaching through the writings of Johann Mohler, Karl Rahner, Richard Rohr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Bernard Lonergan. Learning German would be far more beneficial in the academic setting than Latin.

The goal of reading any ancient language is being able to present what we learn to the masses. That means learning French, German, Polish, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, and with the rapidly growing African church, the African languages. Latin is way down the list.

We need to understand what is going on at Mass. We need to understand how we are not just taking in bread and wine. We are taking in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That means know who Jesus Christ the first century Jew, and the Son of God is. That means enmeshing ourselves in the Semitic culture.

“Jesus is the same, Yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” Hebrews 13:8. “At the beginning, Personal Name, you established the earth, you are the same, and your years will have no end.” Hebrews 1:10-12.  The word of God did not change as the church moved from a Semitic group to the Latin church, as those who emphasis the Latin Rite would have us believe.

The difference between corporeal and spiritual food lies in this, that the former is changed into the substance of the person nourished. It cannot avail for supporting life except it be partaken of. Spiritual food changes man into itself, according to that saying of Augustine (Confessions 7.  Third Part of the Summa Question 73 Article 3

I found myself to be far from You, in the region of dissimilarity: I am the food of strong men; grow, and you will feed upon me; nor will you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me. Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 10

Jesus was the great healer and forgiver. If we are to get into him, who is what we are to become, we need to become healers and forgivers.

Our Reno Cathedral mural helps us understand our Eucharistic Heritage pt 4


To our right, we see St. Clair as she holds up the Sacred Host, against the Saracen invaders. First, we notice that St. Clair is not inside, but outside of the Abbey. Second, notice the shape of the monstrance. It contains an equilateral triangle with the Blessed Host inside. It symbolizes the omnipresent and omniscient God, who watches over all things, the Trinity. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was used in Courts of Justice to remind judges of their responsibilities. It reminds us of our responsibilities, as it is under Pope Pious X, to bring justice into our world.

Behind her, we note the abbey she was defending. The left side of our mural balances this with the portrait of Ruth, grandmother of King David who holds wheat for our Sacred Host. Behind her is the tabernacle where the Hebrew people stored the Ten Words of God to balance the abbey on the right side of the mural.

Edith and Isabel next present us with church officials, “Cohen” in Hebrew, “Episcopus,” in Latin and Greek, or Bishops in English. On the right side stand St. Charles Borromeo with St. Pascal Baylon the patron of the Children’s Eucharist. St. Charles Borromeo was a leading figure during the Counter-Reformation and was responsible for significant reforms in the Catholic Church, including the founding of seminaries for the education of priests.

Should we not follow their example and support the education of our children and the higher education of our young adults. Should we not emphasis being Catholic, being community, over being rugged individualists, followers of the Protestant work ethic?

St. Charles Borromeo facilitated the final Council of Trent deliberations. St. Charles Borromeo took a large share in the creation of the Tridentine Catechism:

“That the faithful may approach the Sacraments with greater reverence and devotion, the Holy Synod charges all the bishops about to administer them to explain their operation and use in a way adapted to the understanding of the people…

The bishops will have these instructions carefully translated into the vulgar tongue and explained by all parish priests to their flocks . . .” It is divided into four parts: The Apostles’ Creed; The Sacraments; The Decalogue; and Prayer.

In 1564, St. Pascal Baylon joined the Reformed Franciscan Order as a lay brother. We are a Franciscan Parish, emphasizing Penance and living the Gospel life. He chose to live in poor monasteries because, he said, “I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance.”

He lived a life of poverty and prayer, even praying while working, for the rest of his life. He is noted for his devotion to the Eucharist and the patron of the Children’s Eucharist. Should we not be also?

King David at the Cathedral Words of Institution St. Clair of Assissi with host of Saracen invaders with St. Charles  BorromeoOn the left side of the altar stand leaders from the Old Testament, King David, and the prophet Nathan. Nathan is famous for telling King David the parable of the rich man who had many sheep and the poor man had only one. Nathan complained to King David about how the rich man killed the poor man’s lamb instead of taking from his own.

When King David ordered the rich man punished, Nathan complained, “But the rich man is you as you killed Uriah the Hittite so you could take his wife, Bathsheba.” We see in the placement of these two men, the importance of the rich to care for the poor, and not exploit them as we all too often see in America, in particular in states like Wisconsin and Michigan.

Answering Tough Questions & Mr. Holland’s Opus relate to our trying times part 3


There is no one who does not wish to have peace. Those who make war desire nothing but victory desire, to attain to peace with glory. What else is victory than the conquest of those who resist us? When this is done there is peace. With the desire for peace wars are waged. Peace is the end sought for by war. Every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. They who intentionally interrupt the peace only wish it changed into a peace that suits them better. They do not wish to have no peace, but only one more to their mind.

When men separate themselves from the community, they do not effect what they wish, unless they maintain some kind of peace with their fellow-conspirators. Robbers take care to maintain peace with their comrades, that they may with greater effect and greater safety invade the peace of other men…

He makes it his aim to be at peace with his wife and children; their obedience to his look is a source of pleasure to him. If this is not rendered, he chides and punishes; to secure the calm peace of his home. Peace cannot be maintained unless all the members of the domestic circle be subject to one head, such as he himself. If a city or nation submit itself to him, to serve him in the same style as he had made his household serve him, he would no longer lurk in a brigand’s hiding-places, but lift his head as a king. St. Augustine City of God Book 19 Chapter 12

In the Answering Tough Questions debate of 7 November, the affirmative made some points.

“Our basic understanding of right and wrong is what re-orients us in a time of crisis, when the world is surreal and the rules do not seem to apply. Our post election buzz points to a coming crisis in America, a surreal world, where the rules to not seem to apply. Our basic understanding of right and wrong must be simple, allowing no exceptions.”

To define faithful discipleship, we must define the role of government. “All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”

Deuteronomy 30 relates, “This Mitzvah, I give you today is very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart… Choose life!” All life is life in potentiality. We increase life or we decrease it.” Life as potentiality, as lived in the image of God is our definition of life

Catholics believe in the Physical Presence, rescuing us, as a community, for the first time, each time, we celebrate the Mass. Jesus’ Last Supper was Pasach and was pregnant with all the customs and meanings going with it. Deuteronomy 5 begins as an address to the nation. God rescues those who struggle with God, as a nation. He calls us to love him, as a nation. Our heritage means remembering our oppression, in 19th century Europe, as nation, and our working in the sweatshops of the early 20th century, as a nation.

Our post election buzz includes the financial cliff about to engulf our nation at the first of the year. Both sides want peace, on their terms. Neither side looks to the basic principles of right and wrong or asks the questions, “What is the purpose of government?” “Who are we as Americans?” These basic answers would tell us what to fund. Then we could tax ourselves to pay for these expenses.

The affirmative in the November 7 debate related, “The Greek word for a house is “Oikos,” from which we derive, ‘Economy.’ ‘Baal’ is the Hebrew word for the head of the house. Throughout history, the name has changed; the identity has not. Baal’s alternative names include Hermes, Mercury/god of merchants and thieves, ‘The Market,’ and, as a recent candidate stated:

The invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government.’

Adam Smith wrote, ‘He is led by an invisible hand …’ This speaking of ‘led,’ leadership is ‘Thought,’ by something greater than oneself, another head of the household.

The conservative focus as is worship of this invisible hand. They also support Ares, in Latin, Mars, god of war. The US spends $739 Billion in Defense each year. The rest of the top nine countries, combined, spend $89.9 Billion. The conservatives worship this invisible hand and Mars in the name of Christianity. If you do not worship the invisible hand and Mars, you cannot be a good Christian.

This put off the liberals, those not believing in Baal or Mars. They want a separation of church and state, as the church is presented by the conservatives. They do not see their foundation as promoting life lived in the image of God, and are out of balance. Neither side is able to look to their basic understanding of right and wrong, or the foundation upon which we built our nation to guide us in the budget process.

Can we right ourselves in time to avoid the fiscal cliff? As the affirmative related about the next election, in two years:

We have 250 Catholic colleges and universities and 26 law schools, combined, graduating 70,000 students each year. We cannot find one to run for public office? Are our universities failing that badly? Lawyers are present who complain they cannot find true pro-life candidates. If you cannot find the solution in the world, the solution is in the mirror. You are the solution you are looking for. God demands, “Get busy!” Should a true pro-life candidate run, voting for them is Catholic Action/faithful discipleship.

 

Answering Tough Questions and Mr. Holland’s Opus relate to our trying times


“Humanae Vitae came forty-four years ago. It is time to get back to our Catholic roots. While we engage in another forty-four years of talking points, God’s children are dying, and God is angry.” So ended the affirmative at the Answering Tough Questions at Our Cathedral this November 7, 2012. Upon returning home, the movie on the tube was Mr. Holland’s Opus, a movie that included the negative impact of Kemp/Roth, along with the tax and budget mania of the ‘80s, the turn of the century and the conservative push for the same in present time.

It is sad to report, but given the choice of a penitential look at the past 32 years and asking the role they might have played in the poverty and suffering coming from the events of those years, and sticking with their current agenda, they chose their current agenda. The affirmative’s point was very clear; each side, right and left, engages in its talking points. Their side is not serious about a solution. Talking points is so much easier.

The US Department of Census Reports on the number of abortions each year, and it reports the rate went up or remained steady from 1974 until the Presidency of Bill Clinton. After that time, it has declined every year, regardless of who the president was. 86.2% of all abortions are performed on women earning less than $60,000 per year. 48.2% are performed on women earning less than $30,000 per year.

Abortion rates are clearly tied to poverty. That means any meaningful attack on the abortion rates to bring them down to the Catholic and Christian ideal of zero, must include an attack on poverty. The conservatives made it clear that for them the only acceptable issues are what they call the Five Non-negotiable Issues, of which abortion is one. Poverty is not one of those issues. That means, even though an attack on poverty is required to bring down the abortion rates, they are not willing to attack poverty. George Gallup reports on his website:

The percentage of Americans identifying as Roman Catholic has stayed within a range between 20% and 30% over the last 60 years. Catholics were 22% of the U.S. adult population in 1948. That percentage rose reaching its high point in the 1970s, when the U.S. population was nearly 30% Catholic. In the last several years, Gallup’s estimate has been Catholic 22% to 23%.”

The conservatives choose to blame the decline on church identification upon the so-called liberal interpretation of Vatican II. Vatican II opened on 11 October 1962 and closed on 8 December 1965. Clearly, the Second Vatican Council did not cause the decline in church identification, neither did Humanae Vitae or other papal encyclicals. Properly interpreted, these documents support social justice and this brings non-Catholics into the church.

CNN ran an article on the church’s decline, and four of their top seven reasons for Catholics leaving the church do tie to conservative politics. These included the church stance on homosexuality (2), Perception church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics (5), Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics (6), the status of women (7).

Jesus does have clear statements about divorce and the affirmative speaker did make very clear how the church’s teaching does not change. The church also has very clear teaching about homosexual behavior.

Look at the context of at least one of those passages, Romans 1:17 through chapter 2. This passage breaks into two parts. In the first part, St. Paul plays the role of the revivalist minister. They do this; they do that; they do the other thing; they know better, so they earn their way to perdition. That is the Romans 1 section. Romans 2:1 begins a new section to the same passage. “You are without excuse, each of you passing judgment. By the standard you judge another you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the very same things.” The rest of the passage excoriates the Romans and us for judging others before we look at ourselves. That is what the rest of Romans is about.

In the debate the affirmative showed election results, also from CNN, showing how the marginalized and the poor, put off by the conservative diatribes, went on to form their own, home based churches. They are now separated from the Eucharist and the Catholic faith. These are the people who voted for the liberals in the past election. As a result, we now have the second two term liberal president in a row, who supports everything our church opposes, but he does support pro-life for them.

As the affirmative pointed out, the solution is not changing Catholic Social Doctrine. The word of God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The solution does include how we package that faith. The affirmative in the debate related from Psalms 72 and 82, along with the liturgy of the hours, how we need to promote life, as life lived in the image of God for all people.

If we promote life, life lived to its fullest, as our focus, if we promote Vatican II, we can bring these people we chased away back into the church and eliminate the ills we as Catholics, conservative and liberal, so much detest. Until then, conservatives will argue against abortion, while they promote it with their economic programs, and liberals will argue against intrusion in their lives, while they promote that intrusion with their wayward lives. Look forward to 44 more years of the same.

We define what separates Catholics from Protestants


The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter asking, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter replied, “Yes.” Jesus asked, “What is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth tax, from their subjects or from foreigners?” Peter replied, “From foreigners,” Jesus retorted, “The subjects are exempt.”

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Jesus told them, “The kings of the nations lord it over them… Among you, it shall not be. Allow the greatest among you be as the youngest, the leader as the servant. Who is greater, the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table!”

Thomas Jefferson’s, “He who governs least governs best,” separates liberals from conservatives. The socialist thinks people are by nature bad, so government control is governing the least. The capitalist, the communist, and the anarchist believe people are good and need no government. To argue for less than necessary government is to argue for irresponsibility.

The phrase, “He who governs least governs best,” begs, “The least to do what?” What does governing least mean in practical terms? Without answering the “To do what,” government falls upon the foreigner, those foreign to us. For the rich, the poor need more government. For the poor, it is the rich.

We are not one nation, but two, one black, one white, one enslaved by wealth, one by poverty. To bring this nation back to being one nation we need to define the proper role of government as it relates to life and civil harmony.

Our Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. Among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.” Conservatives and Liberals disagree on the definition of life, and the proper role of government, in particular as it relates to our American heritage.

One definition of life states life is blood. Anything with two cells has blood. This definition tells us when life begins. To understand when it ends we need more. We need to know how blood makes life. Dead people still have blood, but it does not flow, it is not vibrant. The Catechism states, “God made us in his image. C.C.C., section 1701.

Deuteronomy 30 relates, “This Mitzvah which I am giving you today is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart… Choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” This is one of the 613 Mitzvah of Jewish traditions. How is this Mitzvah? All life is life in potentiality. Either we increase life in all of its potentiality or we decrease it.” Life as potentiality, as lived in the image of God is the definition of life we will use in this debate.

Capitalists believe corporate CEOs, and business owners are by nature good and do not need regulation. Wisconsin has a Congressman who voted, twice, to prevent stockholders from setting top executives’ salaries. This congressman’s party shows by their actions, they believe some men do not need checks and balances, upon their actions.

Catholics believe the writings of John Locke who noted that no man is a fair judge in his own case. That includes the corporate CEO, and our political leaders. St. Augustine, the man in the mural relates, we are all imperfect human beings, born with original sin. People are neither good nor bad; we are a mix of both. Our C.C.C. Section 1882 tells us Catholics believe man is a social animal. Catholics did not used to believe in the Protestant Work ethic or rugged individualism.

The Eucharist is building upon the source, the rock, which is how Jesus finishes the Sermon on the Mount. Conservatives build upon the bottom 50% of the population earning only 19% of all income, the sand. We saw the result with the so-called Reagan economic boom. When the earthquake hit, the sand went into liquefaction and great was the fall of that house.

Solidarity must have a foundation. Cardinal Ratzinger tells us in, “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,” “The Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one… Christians can learn from a Jewish exegesis practiced for more than 2000 years.”

In Mark 10, our Gospel reading for just a few weeks ago, Jesus quotes the last six of the Ten Commandments, as he understood them. He combines St. Augustine’s last two. Jesus’ first Mitzvah comes from Deuteronomy 5:1-7, the call to Eucharist. God tells us, as a community, “The Personal Name cut this Social Contract with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am God your Almighty Judge who rescued you from the land of Oppression, the house of menial labor” You will remember what it was like to be there, and you will remember your rescue.

Catholics believe in the Physical Presence in the Eucharist, rescuing us, as a community, for the first time, each time, we celebrate the Mass. Deuteronomy 5 begins as an address to the community. God rescues those who struggle with God, as a community. He calls us to love him, as a community. Our heritage means remembering our oppression, in 19th century Europe, as community, and our working in the sweatshops of the early 20th century, as a community.

Catholic teaching moral teaching has not changed in two thousand years


St. Peter, whose picture adorns our mural, provides the pretext for our Gospel reading for the Nineteenth Monday of ordinary time, Matthew 17:24.

The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter replied, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” Peter said, “From foreigners,” Jesus replied, “The subjects are exempt.”

Government regulation and taxation falls upon the foreigner, at least those who are foreign to us. For the rich, the poor need regulation and taxes. For poor and minorities, it is the rich. Liberals push taxes and regulations upon the rich. Conservatives push the reverse. We are leaves blowing in the wind.

An argument broke out among the apostles about who was the greatest. Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors. Among you, it shall not be so. The greatest among you is to be as the youngest, the leader as the servant. Who is greater, the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.” Koine Greek has no punctuation. Context gives the punctuation.

Conservatives believe corporate CEOs, and business owners are by nature good and do not need regulation. Catholics believe the writings of John Locke, “Nemo iudex in causa sua,” “No man is a fair judge in his own case,” Second Treatise on Government, Chapter 2, section 13.” That includes the corporate CEO, our religious leaders, the union chiefs, and our political leaders.

The conservative Vice Presidential candidate voted against this basic principle in reference to the Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act, H.R.3269 as, “On the Issues,” an unbiased reporting agency reports. He believes some people as basically good and can set their own salaries. Our Catholic tradition teaches differently.

We have tri-partite government because we believe everybody needs regulation, in particular the regulator. We believe God created man in his image and likeness. St. Augustine, the man in the mural relates, we are also born with original sin.

We are imperfect. Our leaders are no different from the rest of us. We find the words in Deuteronomy 16:20, “צֶדֶק צֶדֶק you will pursue.” The first צֶדֶק refers to justice, the second to charity. The second on the conservative party ticket requires his staff to read Ayn Rand. “Every man is an end in himself. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of life. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism.”

In keeping with the social nature of man, the good of each individual is necessarily related to the common good, which in turn can be defined only in reference to the human person. Catholic Catechism Section 1905

The common good requires the social well-being and development of the group itself. Development is the epitome of all social duties. It is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life: food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information, the right to establish a family, and so on. Catholic Catechism Section 1908

The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. The earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men. Catholic Catechism, Section 2402

The universal destination of goods remains primordial. Catholic Catechism, Section 2403

“In his use of things man should regard the external goods he owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others , in the sense that they can benefit others.” The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of communicating its benefits to others. Catholic Catechism, Section 2405

Political authority has the duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good. Catholic Catechism, Section 2406

The Church refused to accept, in the practice of “capitalism,” individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor.” Catholic Catechism, Section 2425.

The State cannot limit itself to “favoring one portion of the citizens,” the rich and prosperous, nor can it “neglect the other,” which clearly represents the majority of society… “When there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the defenseless and the poor have a claim to special consideration… wage-earners, since they mostly belong to the latter class, should be specially cared for, and protected by the Government.”

We must first save the unfortunate working people from the cruelty of men of greed, who use human beings as mere instruments for money-making. “The more individuals are defenseless within a given society, the more they require intervention of governmental authority.” “The State has the duty to watch over the common good and to ensure every sector of social life contributes to achieving that good.”

It is truly embarrassing, but the second person on the conservative ticket preaches Ayn Rand, and claims to be Catholic. His teaching is 180 degrees off being Catholic, whose teaching has not changed in two millennia.

Deuteronomy 17 tells us of our leaders, political, religious, and in private enterprise, how they are to remain one of us. To qualify as leader, a person must know the price of a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, and of gasoline, how many homes, cars, and horses he owns.

The Washington Post reports how the lead candidate of the conservative ticket put his Irish setter on the roof of his station wagon for 12 hours. When one abuses animals, it is not long before he abuses people. The conservative candidate for president was the high school bully. The New York Times from 10 May of this year reports how this candidate engaged in bullying. The conservative candidate likes firing people, according to ABC News, from January 9 of this year.

The BBC reports how the conservative candidate for president touts his big oil, off shore drilling plan, not two years and a few months after the Deep Water Horizon Oil disaster, which killed 11 people. If you were a relative of one of those killed, how would you take listening to this presidential candidate saying, “You do not matter; what matters is corporate profits.” How many more people have to die before the conservatives have had enough. I know the answer for me. In John 10, Jesus compares these corporate raiders with robbers. In John 18, Jesus sets the acceptable loss rate at zero. Ezekiel 18:32 agrees. The acceptable loss rate is zero. Now we await to hear the conservative loss rate.

When we say the Pledge of Allegiance we need to understand what a republic is. St. Augustine gives Catholics, our definition in his City of God, Book 2 chapter 21. He compares a republic with a one hundred-piece orchestra. Each piece of the orchestra comes with differing pitches, timbers, and volumes, guided by an orchestra leader to create harmony and concord.

A republic is the good of the people. A republic is a people with a common understanding of what is right, and who work together to promote the interests of all. The job of St. Augustine’s orchestra conductor is to make sure the tuba does not drown out the flute. That is precisely what we do not see in America today. The results are staggering.

Some 45,000 people die in America as a result of a lack of adequate health care, not counting 8,000 babies in the first year of life, half of which are pre-born. What shall we tell the parents and the relatives of these people? Of the 45,000, “Sorry, you had the bad luck of being born; you no longer matter?” What of the 4,000 pre-born who die, “Sorry, you had the bad luck of being poor. Sorry, you do not matter? What should their response be? An apology for bringing it up?

Paul Ryan supported the Regulation from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act which would have made reasonable regulation of industry much harder, costing tens of thousands of lives. What should we tell the relatives of those losing their lives as a result? Sorry, corporations are people, and you are not? What response should we expect as a result? How many more people must die before the conservatives have had enough? He opposed The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act of 2012. What should we tell the unemployed? You are unemployed! You are not a corporation. You do not matter?

There were 1,238,490 workplace injuries in 2009. The conservatives tell our children, “Sorry your father suffered. If you are hungry, it is because your father was careless. It is not our problem! If you were that child, or the spouse of that person, how would you respond? We must ask the conservatives, how many people must die before it is enough? We ask you to own up to and defend your culture of death.

Some 50.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Of these individuals, 12.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.” “Torah teaches you to honor your parents.” “If you are hungry it is because your father is a lazy loser. We are the winners. Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well.” What should these children, in America and throughout the world think of those who say this? Are they wrong to spit in our faces? How can we see anything else but the culture of death in the conservatives when they hold these positions?

We are in debate in Reno,” points out, conservatives preach minimalist government, but without referent as to a required predicate. All want the least government. The socialist believes this is government control of all. The capitalist, the communist, &the anarchist believe this is no government at all. To argue for less than is required argues for incompetence. Nobody argues for that. To argue for more than is required argues for waste. Surely, nobody argues for that. The truth lies in the dirty middle.

The article, “Life is Messy,” says it all. Life is messy. The founder of Capitalism, Adam Smith, wrote his work in England, for the other guys, in 1776. Nothing in our Declaration of Independence, written in the same year, or our Constitution, written a decade later indicates our founding fathers had any clearly defined concept of any economic system. They were right.

Humanae Vitae speaks well. “Sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it.” Our Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “For a failure to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal failure is failure in whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.” Section 1857

Voting to promote the poverty and the suffering listed above is a grave matter. Having read this article, you now have full knowledge. Nobody forces you to vote. If you vote for these men, it is with deliberate consent. Unless a fourth category is found, to vote for these men is mortal failure. There are 225 Catholic colleges and universities graduating 70,000 students each year. There are also 25 Catholic law schools. We have the ability to create a third alternative, a moral choice for public office. Failure to act in this regard is in itself a moral failure.

The article, “The Sacrament is the μυστήριον” says it well.” Something happens on our altar. Jesus dies on that cross, again, for the first time, each time, and we die with him. We become new people. We become Jesus for the world, showing what our resurrection means and how the world can join us, if it but wills. We must remember what is going on at that altar. A man is dying, and we are dying with him, nothing more and nothing less. As a result, this candidate and those who support him show by their actions that they do not know what is happening on that altar. They need to reconsider their participation in the Eucharistic feast until they show they understand what is happening upon that altar.

There is a great debate in Reno


If there is anything, which separates liberals from conservatives it is the conservative quoting of Thomas Jefferson, “He who governs least governs best.” We as liberals have problems with this quote. Thomas Jefferson never said it; Henry David Thoreau did. Thomas Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase with an executive authority never given to him by the Constitution.

The phrase, “He who governs least governs best,” needs a predicate. He who governs least governs best to do what? To argue for more government than the least is to argue for incompetence. To argue for more government than is required argues for waste and nobody argues for waste. The socialist thinks government control of everything is governing the least. The capitalist, the communist, and the anarchist believe it is no government at all. If we want to see no government at all, look at Afghanistan or Somalia. It is not a pretty picture.

We look for the solution in two quotes from the Gospel. St. Peter, whose picture adorns our mural, says it all. Matthew 17:24 provides the statement and the context:

The collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” Peter replied, “Yes.” When Peter came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, “What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?” Peter said, “From foreigners,” Jesus replied, “The subjects are exempt.”

Without a predicate to guide our way, government regulation and taxation falls upon the foreigner, at least those who are foreign to us. For the rich, the poor need regulation and taxes. For the poor and minorities, it is the rich. When the liberals control Congress, they push taxes and regulations upon the rich and when the conservatives are in power, the reverse happens. We are leaves blowing in the wind, Ephesians 4:11-16. The second quote is as follows.

An argument broke out among the apostles about who was the greatest. Jesus told them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors. Among you, it shall not be so. Allow the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? It is not the one seated at table! I am among you as the one who serves.” Koine Greek has no punctuation, therefore no question marks. Context alone gives the punctuation.

As Christians, God calls us to act better. The last poll I found showed that 75% of Americans claim to be Christian. There is no reason for Matthew 17:24 applying to this great nation.

The conservatives believe that some men, corporate CEOs, and business owners are by nature good and do not need regulation. Liberals believe the writings of John Locke who noted that no man is a fair judge in his own case. That includes the corporate CEO, our religious leaders, the union chiefs, and our political leaders. We have tri-partite government because we believe everybody needs regulation, in particular the regulator. We believe that God created man in his image and likeness of God, but as St. Augustine, the man in the mural relates, we are also born with original sin. We are all imperfect.

As liberals, we believe our leaders are no different from the rest of us. We find the words in Deuteronomy 16:20, “Justice, justice shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, is giving you.” The Hebrew word is repeated. The first time it refers to justice, the second time to charity. In the movie Schindler’s list, the Jewish community refers to Schindler as a Tzaddic. He violates the rules in the name of charity. St. Luke refers to St. Joseph as a Tzaddic in Matthew 1:19. He violates the rules in relation to our Blessed Virgin, in the name of Tzaddic, charity. צֶדֶק means God calls us to serve each other.

A chapter later Deuteronomy says of our leaders, political, religious, in private enterprise, and otherwise, “You may indeed set over you a ruler whom the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, will choose. From among your own kindred you may set a ruler over you; you may not set over you a stranger, no kin of yours. He will not have a great number of horses; nor make his people return to Oppression to acquire many horses. He will not accumulate silver and gold.” Our leader is to be one of us and he is to remain one of us. To qualify as leader, a person must know the price of a loaf of bread, a gallon of milk, a gallon of gasoline, how many homes he owns, and how many cars and horses he owns.

We are all imperfect human beings trying to get from the cradle to the grave in one piece. God made us all in his image, as our Catholic doctrine has always thought. Simon Legree is a work of fiction. St. Augustine, whose picture also graces our mural, taught us pure evil is harmless. Pure evil repulses everyone, depriving it of its power. God made us all in his image and likeness, liberal and conservative. We are also all born with original sin. We all need regulation, including our regulators/rulers.

There is the baseball game. Seventeen kids join together to play baseball. None has ball, bat, gloves, or the other tools of the game. They are unable to play until an eighteenth player comes along with all of this. Being a wealthy child, he wants to decide the rules and writes them to his advantage. The first question is, “Who owns the game?” They all do. The second question is, “Who owns the ball, bat, and gloves?” The last kid does and he is free to take his stuff home any time he desires.

If we are the uncle of this last child, aught we to act on behalf of the other seventeen? The true answer is yes and no. We do not act to protect the other seventeen. We act to protect the family name and the proper moral and ethical development of our nephew/or niece. We do act. Further, we act with the understanding that it is not our game. We have no claims to the game, or to the tools of the game. Government acts as an outside to the game, but as in insider in reference to his nephew/niece. We call our government Uncle Sam. Because all are citizens, nieces and nephews, government serves to protect us all. Government officials and employees are just citizens themselves. They are also only nieces and nephews, neither greater nor lesser than the rest.

We all like to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands. Catholics need to define just what we mean by a republic. The definition we learned in high school is that it is any form of government not a monarchy. This is really no definition at all. St. Augustine gives Catholics, a far better definition in his City of God, Book 2 chapter 21:

As among the different sounds, which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, a conductor maintains a certain harmony, which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed. He elicits this in full, absolute concordiam by the modulation of voices unlike one another. Where we allow reason to modulate the diverse elements of the state, we obtain perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds. What musicians call harmony, is concord in matters of state, the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice is extinct.

St. Augustine agrees that running a state is about harmony. In matters of state, he calls this concordiam. Going on to quote Cicero, who quotes Scipio he writes, “A republic is the good of the people. The people, is an assemblage associated by a common acknowledgment of law, and by a community of interests.” A republic is a group of people with a common understanding of what is right, and who work together to promote the interests of all.

We are all in the game of life, a very serious game, but a game nonetheless. All bring to the game are resources, knowledge and skills. We all come to the game to get something out of the game. Some requests are reasonable; some are not. The job of St. Augustine’s orchestra conductor is to make sure the tuba does not drown out the flute. That is precisely what we see not happening in America today. The results are staggering.

In 1968, the poorest 50% of the population brought home 27% of all income, per the US Department of the Census. Today that figure is 19% and dropping. In in 1968 the richest 20% of the population brought home 56.1% of all income. Today that figure is 71.3% of all income. In America, 45,000 people die each year as a direct result of not having adequate healthcare. Eight thousand die in the first year of life, half pre-born, from a lack of adequate neo-natal care. Fifty.2 million people lived in food-insecure households, including 17.2 million children. Twelve.2 million adults and 5.4 million children lived in households with very low food security.

We also look at the crooked governor of Wisconsin who slashed salaries of teachers and firefighters, who locked the doors of the state capital with people inside, much as happened at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory and at the Hamlet chicken factory. We see the voter suppression in states like Florida, Wisconsin, and throughout the conservative south. We see the conservative governors supporting tax and budget cut madness, all in the name of minimalist government.

It becomes clear. Supporting minimalist government supports a culture of death. As Catholics, we support a culture of life and love of neighbor. The Hebrew word for Father is Abba. The Hebrew word for the one who is to come is Haba. The Hebrew word for love is Ahabbah. In Matthew 22:32 Jesus uses the Hebrew construct case to say, “‘I am the God of Abraham/ E Pluribus Unum, of Isaac, and of Jacob’? He is not the God of death but of life.”

 

Deuteronomy 30 speaks to the subject. This Mitzvah, which I am giving you today, is not too wondrous or remote for you. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who will go up to the heavens to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may do it?” No, it is something very near to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.

This mitzvah is not found in great inductive logic, or old-fashioned deductive logic. It is not found in some “illative sense.” It is found in our hearts.

Deuteronomy 30 goes on, “I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.”

This last passage is one of the 613 Mitzvah of Jewish law, but what would it mean for this to be a Mitzvah? The command is to choose life. The answer per a Jewish sage I once read is that all life is life in potentiality. Deuteronomy 5 relates the temple was to have no steps. We are either going up the latter or down in promoting life. We are either promoting life to its fullest, or we are decreasing it, for ourselves or for others. God calls us to promote life for each other. Our debate is not about when life begins or when it ends. Our Pope has already decided that, if we did not already have the answer in Torah. The question is what life is in the meantime. Are we means of production, which our Catechism condemns, or are we made in the image of God. If the latter, as we treat each other, we treat the image of God within each of us.

The conservative candidate likes firing people, according to ABC News, from January 9 of this year. The Washington Post reports how this candidate put his Irish setter on the roof of his station wagon for 12 hours. When one abuses animals, it is not long before he also abuses people. The conservative candidate for president was the high school bully. The New York Times from 10 May of this year reports how this candidate engaged in bullying.

This candidate brandishing a pair of scissors led other boys on a hunt for a Mr. Lauber, teasing him and holding him down while the future candidate snipped off his long locks. When confronted, the candidate reported that he could not remember all of the harmless pranks he did as a kid. Mr. Lauber is no longer alive, the New York Times reports. For this candidate, this is a harmless prank. He cannot remember all the harmless pranks he pulled. This implies there are others, many others. My debate opponent likes inductive logic and illative sense. That is a fancy way of talking about probability. There is a trend here. It is a trend toward the culture of death.

There were 1,238,490 workplace injuries in 2009, not counting 5,000 deaths. The conservatives want minimalist government, which means cutting regulations and allowing these figures to increase. As liberals, we must ask the conservatives, how many lives must you waste before it is enough? We are not asking you to defend a pro-life position. We ask you to defend the culture of death.

We all remember the Deep Water Horizon Fire and the deaths coming from it. We all remember the conservatives apologizing to BP for re-implementing regulations to keep it from happening again. Minimalist government also contributed to the Monongah Mine Disaster of a century ago, which resulted in hundreds of deaths. In the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire, hundreds of more dead, more recently the Hamlet fire of ’92, with dozens dead. This is the result of minimalist government. The illative sense speaks to us very strongly to us here.

None of this promotes a republic, a people with a common understanding of what is right, who work together to promote the interests of all. None of this promotes life lived to its fullest potential for all people. Nation comes from the same root as nativity. A nation is a group of people born together, by common heritage, if not geography or blood. In our Pledge of Allegiance, we speak of one nation under God, not two, one black one white, one rich one poor, one enslaved by poverty, and one enslaved by its wealth.

We must ask just who is in the republic of which we speak. Our Pledge of Allegiance speaks of Truth and Justice for all. Deuteronomy 6 has an interesting quote:

When your son asks you, “What do these witnesses, customs and judicial precedents mean?” which the Personal Name, our Mighty Judge enjoined on you, you will tell your son, “We were once menial labor of Pharaoh in Oppression, but the Mighty Judge brought us out of Oppression with a strong hand… He brought us from there to bring us in and give us the land he had promised on oath to our ancestors. The Personal Name commanded us to do all these customs looking to the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, always to have the satisfying life as we do today. This is our Tzaddic before the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge: to do carefully this whole Mitzvah he has enjoined on us.”

Jesus tells us in Chapter 5 of Matthew, “Unless your charity surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Jewish tradition coming from Deuteronomy 6 sets a very high standard.

From this comes the Jewish tradition of the four sons. Two of these sons apply to this conversation, the wise son, and the Russia son, the one who thinks himself first. The Russia son asks, “Why do you do these things?” The key word is “You.” He cuts himself off from the community. The wise son asks, “Why do we do these things.” We are all members of the community. We are all working people, striving to play the game of life.

The Ten Commandments begin with a prologue, the Prologue the Jewish community refers to as the first commandment: Moses summoned all those who struggle with God and told them, Hear, you who struggle with God, the customs, and judicial precedents, which I proclaim in your hearing, this day, to learn them, and guard to do them. The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name, who brought you out of the land of Oppression, the house of menial labor. You will not have other mighty judges beside my face.

We stand before the Eucharistic altar. Little Flower parish makes the scene a little clearer. One descends from the back of the church until they reach the steps to the altar. At our Cathedral, we also see steps. This reminds us of our trip to Mt. Sinai, and our trip to the transfiguration. We walk up and down hills and valleys until we arrive at the promised mountain. Mt. Sinai is a volcano, and we represent this with incense.

We hear in the words, “The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Social Contract with us at Horeb; not with our fathers did the Personal Name make this Social Contract, but with us, each of us, alive, here, this day…” The Jewish community has the concept of the Physical Presence. For the Jewish community this Physical Presence is the escape from Oppression, through Passover. Our Eucharist commemorates the words behind the curtain, the Last Supper. Jesus broke that bread and passed the cup during Passover. We both celebrate the Physical Presence during the same feast.

We look up to the upper right in our mural. Pope Pius X leads working people to the Lamb of God. We look to St. Joseph, a carpenter. When we say we are no longer working people, we cut ourselves off from the greater community. The Ten Commandments no longer apply to us, but neither does the reward, eternal life.

We look to our Liturgy of the Hours, with the Magnificat and the song of Zachariah. Just how has The Mighty One done great things for our Blessed Virgin? “He dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.  He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with nobility and the rich he sent away empty.” Those were revolutionary words then and they are revolutionary words now.

Zechariah tells us, “God promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: salvation/Jesus from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers, to be mindful of his holy Social Contract and of the oath he swore to Abraham/E Pluribus Unum our father, to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, we might give public service/Latria to him without fear in divine law and Tzaddic before him all our days.

There is a condition to our rescue, just as there was a condition to the rescue from Egypt. We, as a nation, and as individuals are to be Tzaddic, charitable. In Mark 10, Jesus quotes the Ten Commandments, at least the last six, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear vain witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother.” Jesus starts with the last five, and then moves back to grab the fifth commandment, as he understood them. If Jesus combines our last two, how does he come up with ten? The first one is the one listed above. It is the call to community, personally remembering what oppression is like, and then taking action when we see others suffer. Ultimately, it is the call to Eucharist and all that it means.

This brings another complaint we as liberals have with conservatives. Conservatives define our heritage in terms of economic prosperity. As liberals, we define it in terms of the words on our Statue of Liberty. “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” As liberals, we look to our Battle Hymn of the Republic, as the place to look for our heritage:

“In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.” Our participation in the transfiguration transfigures us. It causes us to be willing to die for others, to make them free, free from slavery, Freedom of speech and expression, Freedom of worship, Freedom from want, Freedom from fear. This is what being a liberal means and I am proud to be a liberal.

In a sense, we have come to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today America has defaulted on this promissory note. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given us a bad check, which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in this nation. We come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We refuse to believe there are not sufficient funds to pay a living wage to all people working full time jobs. We refuse to believe there are not sufficient funds to allow our children the highest quality education. We refuse to believe not all people can have life lived to its fullest in safe and comfortable housing, and in workplaces that are physically, mentally, and psychologically safe.

Do liberals have everything right? We are also human beings, in need of regulation. When we are wrong, we also need correction. Our focus is ready and our focus is sure. As I finish this statement one fact is sure, we cannot begin to discuss issues until we define who we are as human beings and as Americans. When we accomplish that, we come to cash that check.

We also do not want to hear about picking the worst of two evils. Our Encyclical Humanae Vitae tells us, “It is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it to do evil in the hope good may come from it,” in Section 14. The Pope quotes Romans 3:8. In logic, there is the logical fallacy called false dilemma. We have 250 Catholic colleges and universities and 26 law schools, combined, graduating 70,000 students each year. There may well be lawyers watching this debate. Why do they not run for public office, supporting all of Catholic moral teaching? From this, we cannot find 535 willing to run for Congress and for President? We cannot find one? Are our universities failing that badly? Where are the Catholic/Christian candidates?

If we are here to receive nourishment from the four rivers of life, welcome to the Eucharist.


Elijah got up, ate, and drank… He walked to the mountain of the Almighty Judge, Horeb. He came to a cave, where he took shelter. The אמֶר/word of the Personal Name came to him, “Why are you at this opening, Elijah/My God is the Personal Name?” Elijah answered: “I am hot, hot for the Personal Name, the Almighty Judge of the great procession of heaven. The Israelites abandoned your Brit, destroyed your altars, and murdered your prophets by the Horeb. I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.”

In America, we see two camps locked into mutual combat, conservative and liberal. Each one says, “I alone remain, and they seek to take my life.” The conservatives speak of the HHS Mandate. “I alone am left, and they use this mandate to take my life, my liberty, my ability to choose.” The liberals use conservative opposition to the mandate using the same words. “They are against us poor people having health care. Some 45,000 people die each year from a lack of healthcare, including 8,000 babies in the first year of life, of which half are pre-born. The conservatives are out to get us.”

Elijah caused fire to consume the sacrifices of Baal. God never told Elijah to do this. Elijah has upset the king, and now the king is out to get him. Nothing causes people to be out to get you like paranoia. There is no force more likely to start a fight than mutual paranoia. This is Elijah, and this is our conservative/liberal debate.

We pledge Allegiance to a Republic. Our Blessed St. Augustine, whose picture adorns our Reno Cathedral in Book 2 chapter 21 of his City of God quotes Scipio who destroyed Carthage:

As among the different sounds, which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, a conductor maintains a certain harmony, which a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed. He elicits this in full, absolute concordiam by the modulation of voices unlike one another. Where we allow reason to modulate the diverse elements of the state, we obtain perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes as from various sounds. What musicians call harmony, is concord in matters of state, the strictest bond and best security of any republic, and which by no ingenuity can be retained where justice is extinct.

St. Augustine agrees that running a state is about harmony/הרמוניה/αρμονία. In matters of state, he calls this concordiam. Elijah is not the only prophet left in among those who struggle with God. We all struggle with God in our own way. Deuteronomy 6:20:

When your son asks you, “What do these witnesses, customs and “from the lips” (of Almighty Judge) mean?”you will tell him, “We were once menial labor of Pharaoh in the land of Oppression. The Personal Name brought us out of Oppression with a strong hand… The Personal Name gave us Mitzvah to do all these customs, looking to the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, so we may live the satisfying life we have today. This is our charity/ justice/צְדָקָה before the Personal Name, our Almighty Judge; to guard this whole Mitzvah he enjoined on us.”

Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This Mitzvah brings the tradition of the four sons. The Russia son and the wise son are the sons under discussion. The Russia son/puts himself first, as does Elijah, the conservatives and the liberals. He asks, “Why do you do such things?” He puts himself apart from the community. The wise son asks, “Who do we do such things?”

You may set over you a king whom the Personal Name, your Almighty Judge, chooses. Someone from among your own kin you may set over you. You may not set a stranger over you who is not kin. He will not have a great number of horses; nor make his people go to Oppression to acquire horses. Do not go back that way again. He will not accumulate silver and gold.

We are all to be one nation/born together by heritage if not blood, under Almighty God, with liberty and justice for all. The king is orchestra conductor, no more and no less, one of us. Our prophets, religious leaders are one of us. They are human beings, no more, no less. Our leaders in private enterprise are human beings, no more and no less, one with us. They are not to acquire silver and gold.

“Economy” comes from “οικονος,” house. The Canaanite fertility god בעל, was the god of Carthage that Scipio defeated. Hannibal means charity of Baal. The Hebrew word for husband, as provider of the house is בעל. Our national house only has one provider. There is only one head of our house/our economy, God.

At our Cathedral, God asks, “Why are you here?” “Are you here because people are out to get you?” In the City of God, Book 4 Chapter 15, St. Augustine reminds us, if we have a gripe against our neighbor, he also has one against us. We are wise to inquire what our neighbor’s grievance is, and reconcile with him. Jesus tells us the same in Matthew 5:32-26.

“The אמֶר/word of the Personal Name came to him: Why are you at this opening, Elijah/My God is the Personal Name?” “אמֶר” means “Word,” and Lamb in Aramaic. On our Reno Cathedral mural is the Lamb and the four rivers of life. The אמֶר asks, “Why are you here?” If we are here because we are oppressed, we need to ask why. If we are here to receive nourishment from the four rivers of life, welcome to the Eucharist.

Learning from our mural in Reno Nevada


We have a beautiful mural at our Cathedral in Reno. At the top of that mural stands the Lamb of God. In Aramaic, the word for “a word” and the word for a “lamb” are both “Omer.” The writer of St. John’s Gospel spoke Aramaic and knew the two words are the same. From the Lamb/Word of God comes a glow that enlightens the entire mural, our world. Below the Lamb/Word are the rivers of life.

Agnus Dei and the rivers of living water which flow into our hearts through the Eucharist.

To the right of the Lamb/Word of God a young couple kneels, much like the people in our congregation. To the left stands Malachi, predictor of Jesus coming into our world. Below sits the altar through which Jesus enters us, through the Eucharist. The Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter Gospel reads, “Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father. That will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?”

Philip is not the first person to ask such a question. Moses beat him to it, Exodus 33:18-23 relates the incident:

Moses said, “Please let me see your importance!” The PERSONAL NAME answered: I will make my goodness pass before you, and proclaim my name, “PERSONAL NAME,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will… Here, is a place near me where you will station yourself on the rock. When my importance passes, I will set you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I pass by. I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back.”

Jesus continues, “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.”

Of these works, Exodus goes on to relate, “The PERSONAL NAME passed before him proclaiming: The PERSONAL NAME, the PERSONAL NAME, a Mighty Judge merciful and kind, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and faith, continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving, rebellion, transgression and failure; and pardoning.

As we read the Gospels, notice that Jesus quotes Scripture directly to nobody except the Great Accuser, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. He never quotes Scripture to the crowd and he never quotes it to those who he heals, and he does heal, often. St. Mark, the smallest Gospel, relates fourteen healing episodes. In our mural, those are rivers of living, flowing water. They are rivers of water that cleanse, not condemn. Like Moses, we station ourselves upon the rock nearest God, and the rock is Christ.

At our Cathedral, we see the intertwining flames as they shoot from the candles. One candle represents the Trinity, Father, Son, and Dedicated Spirit. Another represents God, Holy Mother Church, and us, the congregation. We are all one.

One of the puns of Hebrew is that the Hebrew word for Father is “Abba.” The One who is to come, is “Ha bah.” The Hebrew word for Love is “A Ha bah.” God is the One who comes into our hearts so we can pass him on to others. We welcome our neighbor into our hearts, warts and all, because Jesus did so with us, first.

In our Gospel, Jesus states, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.” Those works are, being merciful and kind, being slow to anger, and abounding in kindness and faith. They also include continuing his love for a thousand generations, (healing others) forgiving, rebellion, transgression and failure; and pardoning. Continuing his love for a thousand generations includes doing as Jesus did, healing others and helping them to return to the intertwining flame, which is upon our altar.

Philip asks, “Show us the Father.” Jesus replies, “I show the Father, not with a drawing, but with what I do.” If we see the Father, we do even greater works than Jesus does. We show greater mercy, greater kindness, greater patience, greater kindness and faith, and greater healing. We do so, not because the people are deserving people, but because Jesus did it for us first, before we were deserving. Are we on our mark? Are we ready? Are we set? After the Eucharist, we are back to the great race of life, ready or not. The world is watching. They will see God or not see God by what we do.

Baltimore Catechism or New Catholic Catechism? You decide


Parishioners at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada often notice the changes in the liturgy. Things seem to be going back to the old Latin Mass. Some parishioners complain about this. Many old timers were in a rush to see the old Latin Mass go away. One parishioner noted that there are many foreign words in our liturgy.

We now say, “Kyrie, eleison.” One old timer parishioner complained, “It is all Greek to me.” There was nothing to respond but, “It is all Greek to me too.” The original letters are, “Κύριε ελέησον.” The phrase is Greek. The Latin is “Dominus misericordiam” Another foreign word is “Amen.” The word is Hebrew. “Hosanna in the Highest” transliterates הושענא בִהעֶלְיוֹן. The phrase is Hebrew, not Latin. The Latin is “Glory in ExcellciusDei.”

St. Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of our Cathedral in Reno Nevada

The New Catechism came with the ‘60s. Because of the GI Bill, more people were going to college and people were better educated. That is no longer the case. For thirty years, budget cuts have ruled the politics of America. As a result, people are not as well educated as they were thirty years ago.

Because of lower wages, people who might otherwise go to Catholic school now go to secular school and miss the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children entirely. Many attending Catholic school do not seem to know their catechism very well. Parish staff complains that many parents view baptism, not as rebirth into the Mystical Body of Christ, but as a ceremony no different from christening a ship. Parochial education is clearly missing at home as well.

St. Augustine standing over and guarding the Mystical Body of Christ, the Eucharist, and our humble parish

In this new world order, there is something to be said about that old Baltimore Catechism. Learning by rote, is learning with no depth. Our grandparents learning this way has contributed to the problem. Still, there is something to be said about learning why we are here on this earth as related in the Baltimore Catechism:

1. Question. Who made the world?
Answer. God made the world.

2. Question. Who is God?
Answer. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

3. Question. What is man?
Answer. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

6. Question. Why did God make you?
Answer. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

The Baltimore Catechism follows the scholastic dialectic style and is very simple. Children learning this know why they are on this planet. They grasp very early, who they are and who they are in relation to God.

10. Question. How shall we know the things, which we are to believe?
Answer. We shall know the things, which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.

11. Question. Where shall we find the chief truths, which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths, which the Church teaches in the Apostles’ Creed.

Using the Baltimore Catechism our children also learn that they are not by themselves, but are part of larger community, the Roman Catholic Church. They also study the Apostle’s Creed where they begin to understand they are not by themselves, but are part of a grander whole, the Roman Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ and a world that is grander still.

When Vatican II arrived, and later, the New Catechism, fallen away Catholics, Protestants, and those outside of our Holy Mother Church bitterly complained that the church really did not change, only the packaging did.

St. Anthony at our parish. The humble cross behind the brilliance of St. Augustine and the great heart of St. Francis. We are a Franciscan parish.

Our response is, “You are right! Our church did not change. It still teaches the same truths it always did. God’s truth does not change states Hebrews 13:8. We still teach the Corporal Works of Mercy, and the Spiritual Works of Mercy. We still teach that we are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We still teach Church Militant and Church Triumphant. We still teach that the church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our teaching has put on a new packaging, one appropriate for the wiser ‘60s and ‘70s, but regrettably, not so well suited to our modern times. At our St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno Nevada, and in our Diocese of Reno, we need to return to the wiser teachings of the Baltimore Catechism, while retaining the modern teaching methods of more recent times. We need to remember, that chief among the Scholastics was St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of our Cathedral and St. Augustine whose portrait graces our altar.

A Franciscan parish, we can never forget St. Francis.