Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Novena of Meditations on the Priesthood

First Day - Luke 22:14-20

Second Day - John 20:19-23

Third Day - Acts 20:16-32

Fourth Day - Romans 15:14-21

Fifth Day - 1 Corinthians 4:1-16

Sixth Day - 2 Corinthians 5:11-20

Seventh Day - Colossians 1:24-29

Eighth Day - 1 Timothy 4:4-16

Ninth Day - 1 Peter 5:1-11

Other related passages: 1 Corinthians 9:13-23, 2 Corinthians 4:1-61 Thessalonians 2:1-11, 2 Timothy 2:1-13, 2 Timothy 4:1-8,  Hebrews 7:11-28, James 5:14-15

"Even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all."  Philippians 2:17

Friday, August 24, 2012

Old Testament Saints

Here is a list of Old Testament figures who are listed as Saints by the Roman Martyrology, along with their feast days and links to the entries in the Roman Martyrology in which they are mentioned.

Abraham, Patriarch - October 9

Moses, Lawgiver and Prophet - September 4

Aaron, Priest of the Levitical Order- July 1

Joshua (Josue) - September 1

Gideon (Gedeon) - September 1

Samuel, Prophet - August 20

David, King and Prophet - December 29

Esdras, Prophet - July 13

Job, Prophet - May 10

Isaiah (Isaias), Prophet and Martyr - July 6

Jeremiah (Jeremias), Prophet and Martyr - May 1

Ezekiel (Ezechiel), Prophet and Martyr - April 10

Daniel, Prophet - July 21

Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael (Ananias, Azarias, and Misael) - December 16

Hosea (Osee), Prophet - July 4

Joel, Prophet - July 13

Amos, Prophet and Martyr - March 31

Obadiah (Abdias), Prophet - November 19

Jonah (Jonas), Prophet - September 21

Micah (Michaes), Prophet - January 15

Nahum, Prophet - December 1

Habakkuk (Habacuc), Prophet - January 15

Zephaniah (Sophonias), Prophet - December 3

Haggai (Aggaeus), Prophet - July 4

Zechariah (Zacharias, Zachary) - September 6

Malachi (Malachias, Malachy), Prophet - January 14

Maccabees (Machabees) and their mother, Martyrs - August 1

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Novena of Meditations on the Blood of Christ

First Day - Exodus 12:21-27

Second Day - Mark 14:12-26

Third Day - John 6:47-59

Fourth Day - John 19:31-37

Fifth Day - 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

Sixth Day - Ephesians 2:11-16

Seventh Day - Hebrews 9:11-22

Eighth Day - Hebrews 12:18-24

Ninth Day - 1 Peter 1:13-21

"If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin."  (1 John 1:7)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Maledictory Psalms

I have tried putting together a list of the so-called maledictory psalms since I have not been able to find such a list online myself. These psalms are called "maledictory" since they contain prayer that God would exact some kind of punishment against the psalmist's ememies, God's enemies, or "the wicked". They are also called the imprecatory psalms; C.S. Lewis called them the "cursings" (he wrote a chapter on these psalms in his book, Reflections on the Psalms). In some cases, the actions the psalmist prays that God would take against others are described in violent and graphic language. For example, in Psalm 58 , the psalmist prays that God would "let [the wicked] be like the snail which dissolves into slime, like the untimely birth that never sees the sun" (v. 8). In some cases, though it is clear that the psalmist is wishing ill upon others, the punishment the psalmist prays that God would inflict them is more moderate: "Break thou the arm of the wicked and evildoer" (10:15). In other cases, the language is so incredibly benign that one could easily miss the language as representing a prayer against another. A common example of such mild cursing appears three times in the psalter: "Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life!" (35:4, cf. 40:14, 70:2). Such prayer may even be considered that for one's own protection. Since such passages' inclusion in the maledictory psalms may be questioned, I have created two lists here: one of what I identify as true maledictory passages, whose language is more concrete, though sometimes moderate, and a list of passages whose language is so mild or indirect with regard to its wishing of ill upon others, I label them as "quasi-maledictory".

It is also worth noting that almost always does the offending language appear within small portions of the verses within the psalms listed. There are only two instances I found - Psalms 83 and 109 - where the majority of the verses in the psalms consist of prayer against one's enemies. Almost half of the verses in Psalms 35 and 58 contain such language. Other than those four examples, one may safely say that only fractions of the psalms in question contain prayer against others. For this reason, I have listed the verses containing the offending language in parantheses after each psalm listed.

Sometimes these maledictory verses' juxtaposition to passages containing poetic and uplifting praise of God can be baffling. One such example is with verses 19 through 22 of Psalm 139, in comparison to the rest of the Psalm. (Check it out for yourself to see what I mean!) However, I would say that such bafflement may say more about how far removed we are from the psalmist's culture, time period, mindset, and familiarity with certain literary genres than about the psalmist's discretion in inserting such language among that of a different tone and purpose.

At this point, one may be asking, "What about the psalms of praise? About God's great majesty? [i.e., "Psalms of Praise", "Psalms of Thanksgiving", "Psalms of Supplication", "Pilgrim Psalms", "Psalms of Enthronment", "Royal Psalms", etc.] What's with this fixation on the psalmists' cursing others?" My reply: because lists of the specific psalms within those categories are easily found with little effort using your favorite search engine. The specific maledictory psalms are not.

Following the lists, I offer some commentary on the maledictory psalms, and so doing offer thoughts on their potential use for spiritual warfare, but mostly in light of the fact that one may easily observe that they contain language which runs counter to both Jewish and Christian teaching regarding the attitudes that we should have toward others.

I cannot say these lists are exhaustive. There is a chance I missed a couple along the way, especially with the more benign "quasi-" list.

Maledictory Psalm Passages

10 (v. 15)

17 (v. 13-14)

28 (v. 4)


59 (v. 12-13)

68 (v. 1-2, 30)

69 (v. 22-28)

79 (v. 6, 12)

80 (v. 16)

83 (v. 9-18)

109 (v. 6-20, 27-29)

139 (v. 19-22)

104 (v. 35)

140 (v. 9-11)

Quasi-Maledictory Psalm Passages

7 (v. 6)

25 (v. 3)

35 (v. 3-6, 8, 26)

40 (v. 14-15)

71 (v. 13)

86 (v. 17)

129 (v. 5-8)

135 (v. 18)

143 (v. 12)

149 (v. 6-9)

I was initially interested in finding a list of the maledictory psalms because I thought they could be helpful prayers for spiritual warfare. When feeling spiritually attacked, I could pray these psalms with the intention that God would rebuke my spiritual enemies as the psalmist prayed that God would punish his physical enemies. This connection between the psalms and prayer for spiritual protection can be even more readily sensed when one prays the psalms of protection (e.g., 61, 91, 121, 140). If the the psalms of protection may be considered defensive prayers for spiritual warfare, then the maledictory psalms may be considered offensive prayers, and not in the sense that they offend people's sensibilities.

The psalms serve as an irreplaceable resource for prayer, and one may truly augment his or her prayer life by praying them. This value by which the psalms benefit one's prayer life is realized as one learns to make the words of the psalms his or her own prayer, and offer these words from the heart. As I have come across the maledictory psalms and attempted to offer their words from the heart, I found I was able to do this as I considered that the enemies I am praying against may be my spiritual enemies, i.e., demons. This analogy may even be supported by imagery from the psalms themselves in comparing the fate of the wicked to that we know demons suffer; "the wicked shall depart to Sheol" (9:17 [though Sheol and hell are not exactly the same place]), and "on the wicked [the Lord] will rain coals of fire and brimstone" (11:6). And, with the help of God's protective angels "you will tread on the lion and the adder" (91:13), just as according to Christian theology Christ is considered the seed of the woman mentioned in Genesis 3:15 who would crush the serpent's head, as the serpent in Genesis represents Satan.

However, though this analogy between the psalmist's enemies and one's own spiritual enemies may have value when praying the psalms, it still does not completely explain the place of the maledictory psalm passages within scripture, especially in light of the fact that they reflect attitudes that run counter to those we are taught - from both the Old and New Testaments - we are to have toward others.

As a means to easily dismiss the maledictory passages' offending language, many may be tempted to ignore the them as remnants of bygone ages. But for a Christian to brush off the maledictory psalms as some outdated form of expression that was perhaps justified under some part of the code of morality oulined by the Old Testament would be ignorant. C.S. Lewis explains in his commentary on the maledictory psalms, or the "cursings" as he calls them:

"Within Judaism itself the corrective to this natural reaction [of the psalmists toward their enemies] already existed. 'Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart..thou shalt not avenge or bear any grudge against the chlidren of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,' says Leviticus (19: 17, 18). In Exodus, we read, ' If thou seest the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden...thou shalt surely help with him,' and, 'if thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him" (23: 4, 5). 'Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth' (Proverbs 24:17). And I shall never forget my surprise when I discovered that St. Paul's 'If thine enemy hunger, give him some bread', etc., is a direct quoteation from the same book (Proverbs 25:21). But this is one of the rewards of reading the Old Testament regularly. You keep on discovering more and more what a tissue of quotations from it the New Testament is; how constantly Our Lord repeated, reinforced, continued, refined, and sublimated, the Judaic ethics, how very seldom he introduced a novelty." (Reflections on the Psalms, pp. 26-27)

So, the maledictory psalms cannot be dismissed as the leftover expressions of others who shared a generally dissimilar morality. Since both the Old and New Testaments present this ethos to which the attitudes reflected by the maledictory psalms run counter, the passages' need for explanation becomes more apparent. Though some may point out that this dissonance presents some sort of Scriptural self-contradiction which diminishes the Bible's credibility at a whole, the assumption that the words of the maledictory passages are meant to present some morally legitimate attitude we may have toward our enemies would be itself be foreign to Scripture. Such an assertion would have to be imposed upon the text from the outside. Rather, the question about the maledictory psalms' place would revolve around the matter of divine inspiration: to what purpose did the Holy Spirit inspire the maledictory psalms?

To say that the psalms - including the maledictory passages - are divinely inspired does not necessarily mean that God intended these passages to be a presentation of his own voice. Under the Holy Spirit's impetus, the psalmists were impelled to write the psalms, though words themselves and the attitudes they reflect proceed from the person of the psalmist. In some cases, the voice and words of the psalmist are identified as praising God, imploring him for deliverance and protection, and thanking him for his marvelous works. In these cases, we may surely borrow the words of the psalmist, make them our own, and praise and thank God with them. The purpose God had in inspiring such psalms appears in such cases to be to provide us with words we may use to pray to him and thus learn to direct our hears to him, speak with him, and come into closer relationship with him. With these psalms of praise and thanksgiving, we also identify that though these psalms are divinely inspired, the being whose voice is presented is that of a person directing his prayer to God, and not that of God directing prayer to himself. One may make the case that God inspires even the prayer that we direct to him. But he whom God inspires is a person, and it is the voice of the person of the psalmist - not God's - which is speaking within such psalms.

The voice within the psalm as proceeding from a distint person becomes even more apparent in what may be called the psalms of sorrow or oppression (cf. 6, 13, 22, 41-44, 55, 56, 69, 79, 80, 102, 109, 120, 143). We recognize the person of the psalmist in these psalms as one who is suffering what is at times soul-crushing oppression, on account of either sorrow for his own sins, his perception that God himself is putting the psalmist through such straits, or that oppression imposed by other people. In Psalms 69 and 109, the psalmist reacts to his oppression by wishing ill upon his oppressors, thus producing two of the maledictory passages I listed above. One may even identify a similarity between the oppression the psalmist is suffering and the ill fate he prays be visited upon his enemies. In Psalm 109, the psalmist laments to God that "wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues" (v. 2) and then further prays, "Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser bring him to trial" (v. 6). Though such attitudes are not morally justified by the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, we see that the voice behind the maledictory passages in such cases stems from one oppressed: one whose ill will toward others is a reaction against the oppression he is suffering. Without playing the victim card for the psalmist in an attempt to justify the presence of the maledictory passages, one may nonetheless point out that the voice behind these psalms proceeds from a distinct person who is offering his prayer to God, and, though God moved him to write his prayer down to produce what would eventually be a part of the Book of Psalms we have today, that neither God nor the psalmist meant to reflect God's voice as that speaking behind the maledictory passages.

The question would remain then why God would move someone to write such words which, though they do not reflect God's own voice, do reflect such malicious and vengeful attitudes. I am not God, and can only speculate why. I think the maledictory passages serve an illustrative function of presenting pictures of the persons of the psalmists and their historical conditions, which pictures themselves may serve theological purposes. The raw anger and malice behind the maledictory passages illustrate the same human condition to which God "stoops down" from the heavens (Psalm 113:6), "for his steadfast love endures forever" (Psalm 136). The reactionary hatred toward the psalmists' enemies who oppress him, though morally unjustified, helps accentuate the picture of the oppression that the nation of Israel has historically suffered, even in the psalmists' time. This historical picture makes it more understandable that a Jewish understanding of the Messiah involved one who be Israel's savior from certain political conditions.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Novena of Meditations on Listening to God

First Day - 1 Samuel 3

Second Day - Isaiah 50:4-9

Third Day - Matthew 7:21-27

Fourth Day - Matthew 13:10-17

Fifth Day - Mark 7:31-37

Sixth Day - Luke 8:4-15

Seventh Day - John 10:1-5

Eighth Day - Hebrews 3

Ninth Day - James 1:22-25

Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire; but thou hast given me an open ear.  (Psalm 40:6)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Happy Feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist!

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is a Solemnity (the most solemn class of feast day) and is celebrated on June 24 - six months before Christmas ("In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God..." Lk 1:26). It is traditional to begin praying a novena in honor of a saint so that the it ends the day before his or her feast day, or by beginning the novena on the feast day itself. In light of St. John the Baptist's upcoming feast day, here is a list of nine gospel passages which may be daily prayerfully read, or meditated upon, in his honor. They follow the life and ministry, from beginning to end, of this great saint, of whom our Lord said "among those born of women, none is greater than John" (Luke 7:28). At the core of his message is how to receive Christ in a spirit of repentance and poverty of spirit, that we may be forgiven and become children of God through "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn. 1:29, cf. 36).

First Day - Luke 1:5-25

Second Day - Luke 1:39-56

Third Day - Luke 3:1-18

Fourth Day - Matthew 3:13-17

Fifth Day - John 1:19-34

Sixth Day - John 3:22-30

Seventh Day - Luke 7:18-35

Eighth Day - Mark 6:14-29

Ninth Day - Luke 1:57-80

The voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." (Isaiah 40:3)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart!

For tomorrow's Feast of the Sacred Heart, here is a novena of meditations on God's love:

First Day - Deuteronomy 7:6-13

Second Day - Hosea 11:1-9

Third Day - Luke 15:1-10

Fourth Day - Luke 15:11-32

Fifth Day - John 3:13-21

Sixth Day - John 14:18-24

Seventh Day - John 19:28-37

Eighth Day - Romans 5:1-11

Ninth Day - 1 John 4:7-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy Trinity Sunday!

I thought I might republish this post on the Holy Trinity for today.

May meditation on the central mystery of our faith, that of the Holy Trinity, strengthen your own faith.

First Day  - Matthew 28:16-20

Second Day - Mark 1:9-11

Third Day - Mark 12:35-37

Fourth Day - John 14:15-24

Fifth Day - John 15:18-27

Sixth Day - John 16:12-15

Seventh Day - 1 Corinthians 12:1-6

Eighth Day - Ephesians 2:11-22

Ninth Day - Ephesians 4:1-6

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Novena of Meditations on Living Water

First Day - Exodus 17:1-7

Second Day - Isaiah 44:1-5

Third Day - Ezekiel 47:1-12

Fourth Day - John 4:1-30

Fifth Day - John 7:37-39

Sixth Day - John 19:31-37

Seventh Day - 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Eighth Day - Revelation 21:1-7

Ninth Day - Revelation 22:1-17

On that day living waters shall flow from Jerusalem.  (Zech. 14:8)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Novena of Meditations on the Good Shepherd

First Day - Psalm 23

Second Day - Jeremiah 31:10-14

Third Day - Ezekiel 34:11-16

Fourth Day - Luke 15:1-7

Fifth Day - John 10:1-10

Sixth Day - John 10:11-18

Seventh Day - John 10:22-30

Eighth Day - 1 Peter 2:21-25

Ninth Day - Revelation 7:13-17

He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.  (Isaiah 40:11)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Novena of Meditations on Being a Man

First Day - Joshua 1:1-9

Second Day - Psalm 15

Third Day - Psalm 112

Fourth Day - Matthew 2:13-23

Fifth Day - Matthew 26:36-46

Sixth Day - 1 Corinthians 15:42-58

Seventh Day - Ephesians 3:14-21

Eighth Day - 1 Timothy 6:6-16

Ninth Day - Hebrews 12:1-13

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; but when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Novena of Mediations on Fasting

I thought I might re-post this old post on fasting for Lent. Enjoy!

Reinvigorate fasting in your spiritual life by meditating for nine days on the following Scripture passages about the practice. While you're at it, read Pope Benedict XVI's Message for Lent (from 2009) on the same topic.

First Day - Genesis 2:4-17

Second Day - Isaiah 58:1-9

Third Day - Jonah 3

Fourth Day - Matthew 4:1-11

Fifth Day - Matthew 6:14-21

Sixth Day - Mark 2:18-22

Seventh Day - Mark 9:14-29

Eighth Day - Luke 16:19-31

Ninth Day - John 4:31-38

"My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work." (John 4:34)

A Devotion to Saint Michael

Here's a devotion I have come up with. It combines praying the St. Michael Prayer while meditating on scriptural passages referring to St. Michael, much like a decade of the scriptural rosary. Suffice it to say this devotion could be used for spiritual warfare.

Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory be

1 - "At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble." (Dan 12:1) Saint Michael Prayer

2 - "But at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book of life." (Dan 12:1) Saint Michael Prayer

3 - "When the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not pronounce a reviling judgment on him." (Jude 9) Saint Michael Prayer

4- "But he said, 'The Lord rebuke you.'" (Jude 9) Saint Michael Prayer

5- "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon." (Rev 12:7) Saint Michael Prayer

6- "And the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. " (Rev 12:7-8) Saint Michael Prayer

7- "And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, 'Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come.'" (Rev 12:10) Saint Michael Prayer

8- "For the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before God." (Rev 12:10) Saint Michael Prayer

9- "And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death." (Rev 12:11) Saint Michael Prayer

10- "Rejoice then, O heaven and you that dwell therein!" (Rev 12:12) Saint Michael Prayer

Prayer to the Guardian Angel

Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
To whom His love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light, to guard, to rule, and guide. Amen.

For reference, here is the St. Michael Prayer:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

A Novena of Meditations on Spiritual Warfare

Lent is a good time to whet your sword of the spirit for spiritual warfare. I am thus re-posting this old post on the topic.

First Day - Matthew 10:24-31

Second Day - Matthew 17:14-20 or Mark 9:14-29

Third Day - Luke 10:17-20

Fourth Day - Luke 11:14-26

Fifth Day - John 8:31-47

Sixth Day - Ephesians 4:25-32

Seventh Day - Ephesians 6:10-20

Eighth Day - 1 Peter 5:6-11

Ninth Day - Revelation 12:7-12

The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.  (Exodus 14:14)

Email Your Representatives

This is a very quick way to email your representatives to ask them to support the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, against the HHS mandate. Just click on the below link, enter your name and address, and it takes care of the rest for you, finding out who your representatives are and emailing a message asking them to support the Act. Thanks!