The Old and New Testament

 ‘For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.’ (John 1:17) The Sacred Scriptures lead to eternal life in two ways: by telling us what we must do to live eternally and by helping us to do these things. We are told what we must do in the Old Testament and we are given help to execute these commands in the New Testament. These commands are called the Law and this help is called Grace. Keeping in mind the end of Sacred Scripture, that we may live the life of God, it makes sense that we, … Continue reading The Old and New Testament

What is a Textual Division

Divisions of a text were basic exercises for ancient and medieval students aimed at answering a couple of questions: what is the goal of this piece of writing, what are the parts of this writing, and how are the parts and the goal related? Before a student could begin to analyze a text, that is examine the specific arguments of the text, he had to be able to state clearly its end and its form. A text’s end or goal dictates everything else about the text. Indeed this is true of everything. If my end is to get to New York from Los Angeles I had … Continue reading What is a Textual Division

The Divine Division of Scripture

In our previous posts we discussed what a textual division is and how to construct one. Now we will take up the question of why a textual division is a good way to study Sacred Scripture. Often Scripture is approached using a historical method, presenting the events in a chronological order. Indeed, a quick glance at the table of contents of the Revised Standard Version will show that the books are arranged in an attempt to present them chronologically. Because of this the reader, and often the teacher, find themselves at a loss when presenting those books which have little … Continue reading The Divine Division of Scripture

The Hagiographers

My son, keep the commandments of your father (Proverbs 6:20) The books of the Hagiographers: Joshua, Chronicles, Judith, Maccabees, Tobit, Esther, Ezra, the Psalms, Job, Wisdom, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Sirach warn us of the consequences if we do not follow the commands established in the Law which are necessary for us to follow if we are to arrive at eternal life. Here moral virtues are taught as though a father were teaching his sons: by word and by deed. Some of the books teach in one of these ways exclusively and one teaches moral virtue by both word … Continue reading The Hagiographers

The Prophets

And Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, as one of the messengers of the Lord, spoke. (Haggai 11:13) The books of the Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Kings… seek to induce the reader to follow the Law which established the commands necessary for us to follow if we are to arrive at eternal life. A herald has two jobs: declaring the kings laws to the people and those benefits gained by following the law. Four books present the benefits of following the law: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and Kings. Joshua presents the reward we inherit from those who bound themselves to the Law of … Continue reading The Prophets

Life: The Purpose of Scripture

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.’ (John 20:31) The first step to making a division of a text – that is, an account of all the parts and their purpose in relation to the whole piece of writings purpose – is to know what the purpose of the writing is. This is no less true of the collection of books that together compose the Bible, as it is of a sonnet or trade paperback. In his Inaugural Lectures at the University … Continue reading Life: The Purpose of Scripture

Senses of Scripture

It is often difficult to discern the meaning of a particular passage of Scripture. St Thomas speaks of two different ways in which a passage of scripture can be understood: literally and spiritually, by which terms he means according as the words used signify things and then according as the things signified in their turn signify other things. The literal sense, that sense in which the thing properly signified by the words is considered has four major types: historical, etiological, analogical, and metaphorical or as they refer to things in a straightforward way, as the words refer to the causes of … Continue reading Senses of Scripture

The Law

 ‘For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our King.’ (Isaiah 33:22) The books of the Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, establish those commands necessary for us to follow if we are to arrive at eternal life. Elsewhere St Thomas defines a law as, “An ordinance of reason by he who has care of the common good and is promulgated.” St Thomas likens the role of God in the Law to that of a king. A king is one who has care of the common good of his people and thus is … Continue reading The Law

Active Recollection

Mindfulness Meditation and books like Mindsight by Dr. Dan Siegel have received, especially among psychiatric circles, much attention in recent years. Even the Simpsons and South Park have, in their unique ways, made reference to Mindfulness in their latest seasons. Nevertheless, it is a frequent reaction among Catholics and Christians to instantly reject practices which look too much like eastern spirituality, however I hope that my readers will hear me out on what I believe is a healthy use of Mindfulness practices in the Christian Spiritual Life. Active Recollection is the name given in the Christian Spiritual Tradition to practices which when … Continue reading Active Recollection

Investiture of the Letterman

Where Soto Street and Whittier Blvd meet in the City of the Angeles sits a collection of buildings which has housed the young men enrolled at Salesian High School since 1958. The year after the school was founded saw the institution of the schools Letterman Society. Every year the young men who are enrolled in this society, the schools oldest, hear in the second reading at Mass about those who persevered in the combat, those who “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14). This is because it is the schools tradition to invest their … Continue reading Investiture of the Letterman