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If the gold head of the statue in Daniel 2 signifies Nebuchadnezzar/Babylon, then is the golden idol in Daniel 3 an idol of Nebuchadnezzar himself? An extension of the gold head from Daniel 2 as an act of refusal to accept that his kingdom will pass into the hands of another metal/empire?

In a booklet called Catechism of Mental Prayer (a basic Baltimore Catechism style Q&A on mental prayer), the author (Fr. Joseph Simler) asks the question, “Has the religious who is devoted to an active life any special reason for applying himself to mental prayer”. Fr. Simler answers yes, with one of his reasons being that “Because Our Lord, Who came on earth to save mankind, devoted far more time to prayer than to preaching.”

Not being opposed to the thought (in fact I’m definitely partial to the idea), I nonetheless wonder on what basis Fr. Simler states such. Certainly we see our Lord retreating to the mountains for prayer, stating that the interior life is the one thing necessary, praying from the cross, etc. Nonetheless, do we not actually read Him preaching more times than praying?

Just before the year 1300, Blessed Mechtilde was asked by a certain brother to put this question to our Lord in prayer: “Where are the souls of Samson, Solomon, Origen and Trajan?” He answered her: “That which My love has done with the soul of Samson, I wish to be unknown, that men may fear to avenge themselves further upon their enemies. What My mercy has done with the soul of Solomon, I wish to be hidden from men, so that they may the rather shun carnal sins. What My kindness has done with the soul of Origen, I wish to be hidden, so that no one, trusting in his own science, should dare be lifted up. And what My generosity has commanded concerning the soul of Trajan, I wish men not to know, that the Catholic faith may thereby be the more extolled: for although he was excellent in all virtues, he lacked Christian faith and baptism” (quoted by Cornelius a Lapide, Commentary on Ecclesiasticus, 47:22).

Anything to quibble with here?

The 11 resurrection appearances (Mt 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20-21; Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor 15:5-8)

  • First and second appearances (Mt 28:1-10; Mk 16:1-11; Lk 24:1-11; Jn 20:1-18)
    • Mary Magdalene, Aunt Mary (wife of Cleopas, Joseph’s brother), Cousin Salome (daughter of Cleopas and Mary), and Joanna see the angels and empty tomb, and at some point therein Magdalene leaves to get Peter and John (Mt 28:1-8; Mk 16:1-8; Lk 24:1-9; Jn 20:1-10)
    • The other women eventually leave to give the testimony of the angels to the apostles, which is denied, while Mary Magdalene returns to the tomb with Peter and John (Lk 24:10-11)
    • First appearance to Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter Sunday (Mk 16:9-11; Jn 20:11-18)
      • Peter and John return to the upper room, while Magdalene encounters the risen Christ after mistaking him for the gardener
      • Magdalene’s testimony is denied by the apostles
    • Second appearance on Easter Sunday to Aunt Mary, cousin Salome, and Joanna at an undetermined place in Jerusalem (Mt 28:9-10)
      • Christ appears to the women after their testimony from the angels was denied by the apostles
      • Their testimony is again denied by the apostles
  • Third appearance on Easter Sunday to Peter, but no details are recorded (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5)
  • Fourth appearance on Easter Sunday to Uncle Cleopas (Joseph’s brother) and an unnamed disciple on the Road to Emmaus (Mk 16:12-13; Lk 24:13-35)
  • Fifth appearance on Easter Sunday to the 10 apostles (except Thomas) in the upper room for the institution of the Sacrament of Penance – the apostles should have immediately gone to Galilee upon the testimony of the women, but Christ must condescend to “prove” himself amidst their unbelief (Lk 24:36-49; Jn 20:19-23)
  • Sixth appearance the following Sunday to the 11 apostles in the upper room for the “doubting Thomas” episode (Mk 16:14; Jn 20:26-29; 1 Cor 15:5)
  • Seventh appearance an unspecified time thereafter at the Sea of Tiberias to the apostles Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John of Zebedee, and 2 unnamed disciples (Jn 21:1-23)
  • Eighth appearance an unspecified time thereafter at Galilee to more than 500 disciples, along with the “Great Commission” (Mt 28:16-20; Mk 16:15-18; 1 Cor 15:6)
  • Ninth appearance an unspecified time thereafter to cousin James the Lesser (son of Cleopas and Mary), but no details are recorded (1 Cor 15:7)
  • Tenth appearance at the Ascension on the 40th day after Easter Sunday at the Mount of Olives to the faithful (Mk 16:19; Lk 24:50-52; Acts 1:6-11; 1 Cor 15:7)
  • Eleventh appearance a few years thereafter on the Road to Damascus for Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor 15:8)

 

Some possible arguments, as well, as to why the Galilee appearance with the “Great Commission” in the Gospels in the same as the appearance to more than 500 disciples that Paul mentions:

  • Galilee seems to be the biggie, as it was spoken of from day 1, with both the angels and Christ telling the women to instruct the apostles to go to Galilee, which they seemingly should have on Easter Sunday, simply based on the testimony of the women. Thus, it seems reasonable that this biggie would be the one with the most witnesses.
  • Since this is the one resurrection appearance that is anticipated (Matthew says that they go to the mountain that Jesus directed them to, so the apostles seemingly know ahead of time when this is going to happen after having failed to respond to the call on Easter Sunday), the apostles would have been able to gather up all the troops in preparation. How else would more than 500 disciples otherwise be gathered together for a spontaneous resurrection appearance?
  • Matthew writes that those at Galilee worship Christ, though some doubt, but what apostles could still be doubting at this point? Surely there must be others there who have yet to see the risen Christ. This then explains why the Church was smaller come Pentecost Sunday, as some don’t believe, and so they fall away.
  • Galilee is the “Great Commission”, so it makes sense that the whole Church would be gathered together, as that way you can witness the authority that Christ has given to the apostles and the task distinct to the Church.
  • It’s on a mountain, a place where more than 500 could conceivably be gathered.

Rather prescient too…

“The observance of Lent is the very badge of the Christian warfare. By it we prove ourselves not to be enemies of the cross of Christ. By it we avert the scourges of Divine justice. By it we gain strength against the princes of darkness, for it shields us with heavenly help. Should mankind grow remiss in their observance of Lent, it would be a detriment to God’s glory, a disgrace to the Catholic religion, and a danger to Christian souls. Neither can it be doubted that such negligence would become the source of misery to the world, of public calamity, and of private woe.”

~ Pope Benedict XIV

I remain convinced that when the Church has triumphantly risen from its present ashes (unless our Lord’s return happens before then!), one of the most mind-boggling points of fact will be the death of the Catholic school. We shall look back and wonder how such a thing ever happened, not just about how heretics infiltrated everything, but also the simple fact of how even supposedly orthodox schools didn’t take theology seriously enough as the queen of the sciences. How, for instance, do supposedly orthodox high schools hire intellectually unqualified, even if morally fit, teachers for theology classes?

As St. Thomas writes, theology is the greatest of the speculative sciences, given its greater certitude than any other inquiry, being built upon Divine truth and not fallible human reason, as well as the fact that it treats of higher matters in pertaining to truths beyond human reason. And as a practical science it is likewise the noblest, given that it pertains to a greater end that all the others, namely eternal bliss, which everything else is subject to. This is not something to be trifled with, even if he/she be a “good person”!

In Sapientiae Christianae, Pope Leo XIII briefly notes Paul’s statement in Romans 10 that faith comes by hearing: “nevertheless, the objects themselves to which faith is the be applied are scarcely known in any other way than through the hearing. ‘How shall they believe Him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? Faith then cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.’ Since, then, faith is necessary for salvation, it follows that the word of Christ must be preached.”

It seems nonsensical to suppose otherwise than the necessity of explicit faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation, for to suppose otherwise is to imply that the word of Christ that must be preached, He being the fullness of Divine revelation, is essentially no different than the implicit faith of the Old Testament. Implicit faith saved you then and implicit faith can save you now, effectively rendering the cross inconsequential. Unless, of course, implicit faith can no longer save you, for what is this word of Christ to be preached and believed if not the Son in the bosom of the Father?

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