Sunday, July 31, 2005

A thought about clapping in church

which is an odious custom of modern times. I was reading a story to my daughter the other day, in which a young boy becomes an inspiration in holiness to a monastery on Mt. Athos. One thing struck me: when the monks recognize the greatness of the boy in their midst, they don't clap for him, but sing hymns of praise to God, from whom all gifts come. Note the many times St. Paul encourages his readers to sing psalms, hymns, and canticles. He never says "applaud one another."

There's a reason for this. To clap in church is to clap for each other, to give each other praise. This is the last place in the world where we should be praising each other. Rather, if one among us has done great things, we ought to praise God for the gift. What if, instead of clapping for the various good things we do for each other in our parishes, we sang a hymn of praise? In my church we sing "God grant you many years," and "Axios" at ordinations. Perhaps you Romans out there could learn a Te Deum? Imagine the following scene:

Fr. So-and-so: I'd like to announce that the youth group has sold enough cookies at the bake sale to finance their trip to Washington for the Pro-Life March. Isn't that great?

Congregation: "Te Deum, laudamus. . . "

Fr. So-and-so: The ladies auxilary did a marvelous job cleaning up the church for the parish festival.

Congregation: "Te Dominum confitemur."

Etc. Wouldn't that be marvelous? It would be much better than clapping, since you would be praising the one who really deserves to be praised.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A good man is hard to find

Over at the Painted Stoa, the Old Oligarch uses a passage from Hosea to argue that the problems besetting women come about because of the irresponsibility of men. I read a similar passage this morning from Isaiah:

Isa 22:1-5 The oracle concerning the valley of vision. What do you mean that you have gone up, all of you, to the housetops, (2) you who are full of shoutings, tumultuous city, exultant town? Your slain are not slain with the sword or dead in battle. (3) All your leaders have fled together; without the bow they were captured. All of you who were found were captured, though they had fled far away. (4) Therefore I said: "Look away from me; let me weep bitter tears; do not labor to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people." (5) For the Lord GOD of hosts has a day of tumult and trampling and confusion in the valley of vision, a battering down of walls and a shouting to the mountains.

Note that the city in question, the "daughter of my people", can literally be the women of the city, or a figure of the Church, which is always characterized as a bride, as a daughter. The Church/women have been despoiled, conquered, but not "with the sword or dead in battle." Rather they have been captured without a swordstroke falling, since "All your leaders have fled together; without the bow they were captured." It fell through cowardice.

The contemporary situation both in Church and in the status of women grows directly out of the abandonment of both by men. Rather than do what we are supposed to do, giving our lives for our wives and for the Church (Ephesians 5:9ff), we turn tail and run, and the enemy despoils our brides and the Bride of Christ.

Do you think women would sell themselves as cheaply if men were really men? We need to shape up, gentlemen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

We're all brides, theologically speaking

Marriage is one of the most common images used to describe the relationship between God and his people in scripture. It is also a central theme of John Paul's Theology of the Body. I knew this, and I agreed with it, but then I found a passage in scripture that makes the marriage of God to us absolutely explict. Unfortunately, you won't find it in the New American Bible.

In Romans 7:3-4, Paul talks about marriage. I give the NAB translation:
3 Consequently, while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress if she consorts with another man. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and she is not an adulteress if she consorts with another man.
In the same way, my brothers, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong to another, to the one who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God.

The key passage is in italics. The word used for "belong" is "gignomai," which can in fact mean "belong," but which also can mean "be married to" when used with the dative. In fact, it is the word used in the previous verse for "consorts", which really should read "is married to", since Paul isn't suggesting the woman can simply have relations with another man, but that she can be married to another man if the first husband dies. So, "gignomai" is translated incorrectly and differently in both places it appears. It is a particularly awful translation, which makes the meaning obscure.

Now, look at the same passage correctly translated, from the King James Version:

Rom 7:3-4
[3] So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
[4] Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Note that here the word "gignomai" is correctly translated in both places where it occurs as "be married to". The meaning is clear. We are all to be married to Christ, the Bridegroom.

I always think of neat things to post here,

but then I don't post them. In my defense, I have two young children, one who doesn't like to let me type on a computer. I think posts here will likely continue to be infrequent. Thus, take a look at the atom feed link on the sidebar. That way, your email reader can let you know when there is a new post here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

New Template and Atom Feed

Dear Reader(s),

I've finally gotten around to updating my template here, and getting rid of Squawkbox comments, which kept disappearing. I have also instituted an XML feed at, which will allow you to have my rare but valuable posts come to your attention without you having to visit this page.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ecumenism on the ground

Mrs. Athanasius and I and little Macrina and Mary of Egypt (not their real names) went to St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church's Greek Festival tonight. We had meals that were much too large, listened to some music, and then browsed through their collection of icons and books. I struck up a conversation with several of the people working behind the tables. There was no animosity at all in the discovery that I was Catholic, and not even when I told them I was a Byzantine Catholic. One man told was explaining to me that the Orthodox believe "the same things" as Catholics, the same liturgy, the same Eucharist, but (with a shrug) "we're separated." I expressed a wish that I live long enough to see the mutual separation ended, and the book lady agreed. "We'll have to live a long time. Maybe in our children's time."

I don't want to wait that long. Who's with me? I think Pope Benedict is.