Saturday, July 31, 2010

PTY: "The Wait" (1996)

The older people always say,
“You’re better off to wait,
You will have plenty time to play,
When you have wed your mate.”

But yet among my peers I find
I do not quite belong
I get the feeling that I’m kind
of doing something wrong.

My elders praise me just because
I’m waiting for Miss Right,
Yet I see not what good it does
To be alone each night.

But as two virgins on our wedding date,
We’ll say “Indeed, it was well worth the wait!”

TOB: Men go to Hell, Women go to Heaven

I was reflecting on the tendency men have towards workaholism recently and the many examples of it I have known about, and it made me think about this statement from St. Therese, the Little Flower:

“Ah! Poor women, how they are misunderstood! And yet they love God in much larger numbers than men do and during the Passion of Our Lord, women had more courage than the apostles since they braved the insults of the soldiers and dared to dry the adorable Face of Jesus. It is undoubtedly because of this that He allows misunderstanding to be their lot on earth, since He chose it for Himself. In heaven, He will show that His thoughts are not men’s thoughts, for then the last will be first”.

This is the way it goes: Men go out and do a lot of stuff, accomplish things, and get notoriety and satisfaction from it, which strokes their egos and gives them a swelled head. In the process, they neglect their domestic duties and their most important relationships, because after all, they do not get as much of an “ego boost” from reading bedtime stories and changing diapers as these things are more hidden and humble and men do not regard such “trivial” and “little” things as being “a “big deal” and really don’t enjoy doing it anyway. As a result of their pride and misplaced priorities, they end up on the road to hell.

Women, on the other hand, hold the whole family together, hidden in humility and service, tending the children and many other important domestic and familial matters while their husbands are out being “busy” with more “important” matters. The women suffer and bear their crosses patiently, and as a result, they end up in heaven.

Catholic women – especially single Catholic women – often bemoan the ratios of women to men at Catholic events, which usually ranges between 2:1 and 3:1, if not higher. Well, ladies, you’d better get used to it, because that is the kind of ratios you will be looking at when you get to heaven. And men, you won’t have to worry about women ruling the roost in hell – you will have the majority vote, as well as the highest places there :o

In a future article, I will speak about four reasons why I would believe women are greater than men if faith did not tell me they were equal. No, I am not trying to score brownie points with women – I really do believe these things. And hey, St. Therese, Church Doctor, said it before me – so you can’t accuse me of spreading pernicious novelties.

REF: Batman Dark Knight (Response to Audrey)

This is a lengthy reply I gave to a Facebook friend's note on the movie "Batman: Dark Knight". It is an example of how I tie the arts into the spiritual and ecclesial. I put Audrey's final response in not to pat myself on the back, but to show how the conversation ended. It is long, so this is not for the faint of heart. For the rest of you - enjoy!

Audrey: “When Batman Dark Night ended, there was something so unsatisfying left in my soul that I decided to write my own sequel [note: not included here]. Batman's last words were ‘sometimes the world doesn't need the truth. Sometimes, what the world needs is a lie.’ I sat there thinking to myself: ‘Wait, the world needs another lie? No Thank you Batman. You suck for speaking the words the devil whispers in my ear daily.’ ... Ok, so we left off with Batman running from the police and the people for crimes he didn't commit, not the same as Jesus suffering for crimes He didn't commit. Why? Because Jesus said the ‘Truth shall set you free.’ Not ‘I'm going to lie about what kind of a man Harvey Dent was because the world needs to think he is good.’ Big difference yo ...

Wade: Hi Audrey,

Sorry for the delay in responding. It’s the Christmas season, after all!

Now, I must issue one caveat: I can hardly give a sufficient answer, because I did not (yet) watch the movie. That will make it impossible for me to place it in the proper context. All I have to go on is the plot outline found at Wikipedia, which is hardly enough. However, I wanted to respond nonetheless.

I would have to disagree with your take on Batman’s final words. He said, “sometimes the world doesn't need the truth. Sometimes, what the world needs is a lie."

A. First of all, you say Batman is not a type of Christ here because Batman lies about what kind of a man Harvey Dent is so that the world will think he is good, whereas Christ speaks the Truth that sets us free. You call this a “big difference – yo”.

B. You also said you disagreed because there are already too many lies in the world, and that the Devil continually lies to you. I would agree that lies are a bad thing, they are too common, and that the Devil uses them against us

However, I would not tie that in with what Batman said, nor do I agree with your assessments, and for the following reasons:

1. Batman does not “lie”, does he? From what I understand, he rather allows a lie to be believed. Keep in mind that “it may sometimes be permitted to discreetly and prudently attenuate or disguise the truth by an equivocal statement”, and that “it is not always advisable to tell the whole truth” (St. Francis de Sales, “Intro to the Devout Life”, pg. 234).

2. Now, does Christ do any different than Batman when false charges were brought against him? When “false witnesses came forward” (Matt 26:60) and gave “false testimony” (Matt 26:59) regarding what He said about the Temple, the Bible tells us what Jesus’s response was to the charges: “Jesus was silent”. (Matt 26:62). Yes, he did eventually speak, but that is only because the high priest said, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ”. (Matt 26:63) Such an abjuration, which the high priest had the authority to give, not only put the person under oath but also required Him to respond. Jesus had to then speak to the charges. Notice He does not deny the charges, however. Rather, He simply goes on to incriminate Himself. So, in other words, Christ allows the false accusations, the “lies”, to stand, to go unchallenged, and to be believed.

3. That is also one reason why I agree with Batman when he says that the world sometimes needs a lie instead of the truth. Without that lie, Christ would have never been crucified, and we would still be unsaved.

4. I think you ended up speaking to all this when you spoke about the vision given to Pope Leo XIII. You spoke about how “God agreed to this [giving the Devil power over the 20th Century] believe it or not so that a greater good would come from it”. God bringing good out of evil – the secondary theme (the primary theme being love) of Scripture and Church history. Is lying not an evil? Is it not, in fact, the Devil’s modus operandi? Our Lord calls him “a liar and the father of lies” and a murderer
(John 7:44) because he killed Adam and Eve spiritually – and did so through what else but a series of three lies. (Gen 3:1-5) And that is how he leads us to spiritual death. And that is how he led Jesus Christ to death.

5. a. But God brings good out of evil, just like he brings good and truth from lies. That is why I agree with Batman: because I believe the world sometimes needs a lie, because without the lie, sometimes we will never find the truth, and without evil, sometimes we will never arrive at the good.

b. Where would the Church be today without the Protestant Reformation? We would still have Popes with four mistresses and seven illegitimate children (Alexander VI), wealthy nobles in charge of all the different dioceses of Ohio and Pennsylvania – having purchased the offices of bishops in all those dioceses at a price, priests living openly with women and fathering children, itinerant theologians getting rich of the selling of indulgences, etc. It took heresy and schism (and a threat to the Church’s coffers) to finally light a fire under the butts of the Roman Curia to get serious about Church reform, after over 700 years of such abuses as I just outlined. The examples from Scripture and Church history can be multiplied – as many times over as there are books in the Bible, or chapters in the books on Church history. It is a recurring theme.

c. Here is another lie: when Nero had Rome set on fire, he blamed the Christians. What began was the first of ten violent persecutions against the Christians – each one of them fuelled by lies. But what did Tertullian say about that? “Kill us, torture us, condemn us, grind us to dust; your injustice is the proof that we are innocent. ... The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed” (Apology, 50). [If you read the whole excerpt, you will see a good explanation of the principal spoken of earlier, namely, how it is that God sometimes needs the lie and evil to bring about the truth and good]. How was the Roman Empire Converted? Through the bold witness of Christians. The pagans saw them going eagerly to their deaths, and said, “Wow, if they love this Jesus so much that they are willing to die for him, I want to believe in this Jesus too!”. It’s like in the “Love Comes Softly” series, when the farmhands were invited but declined the little “church service” the farm’s owners had every Sunday in their house. After the couple went inside, the one farmhand said to the other, “if believing the way they do makes them be the way they are, I think that’s something I might want to get in on”. Anyway, without the lies, there are no martyrdoms, no conversion of the Roman Empire, and Europe remains pagan to this day (well, one could argue it is pagan again, but I digress . . .)

6. a. It is the same with lies: we sometimes need the lies in order to discover the truth or convince others of it. A common theme in the writings of the Church Fathers is that heresies are necessary, so that the Church can come to a fuller understanding of the truth. (John 16:13). For instance, the Church did not really figure out the Trinitarian mystery (and Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as Communion of Life and Love – how central has that become to us now?!) until Arius started preaching and spreading his heresies. No, it took four heresies and four ecumenical councils for us to really find out who Christ and His Father were.

b. Keep in mind what a heresy is, now. A heresy is a false belief, a “lie”, inspired by none other than Satan. And yet, God uses this to bring about the truth. The Church has arrived at a deeper understanding of the truth primarily through doctrinal controversies and heresies. Thus, heresies are what help the Church most profoundly to arrive at the “development of doctrine”. So, St. Augustine says: “Those who err in belief do but serve to bring out more clearly the soundness of those who believe rightly. For there are many things which lay hidden in the Scriptures, and when heretics were cut off they vexed the Church of God with disputes; then the hidden things were brought to light, and the will of God was made known." (St. Augustine on the 54th Psalm, No. 22.) and “It often happens that when it becomes necessary to defend certain points of Catholic doctrine against the insidious attacks of heretics they are more carefully studied, they become more clearly understood, they are more earnestly indicated; and so the very questions raised by heretics give occasion to a more thorough knowledge of the subject in question." [De Civitate Dei, Lib. 16, Cap. ii., No. 1.] You see, Augustine himself says that God has providentially allowed heretical “lies” so that we can understand better the Scriptures! “O happy fault, o necessary sin of Adam, which won for us so great a Redeemer”, could be rephrased: “O happy sin, o necessary lie of Satan, which won for us so great a Truth”.

7. a. There is another reason we sometimes need “a lie”. Because Colonel Nathan Jessep from “A Few Good Men” was right: sometimes some of us can’t handle the truth.

b. I think back here to the Simpsons episode, where Lisa discovered that Jebediah Springfield the town hero was in reality Hans Sprungfeld, a murderous pirate. She was going to expose the secret, but had second thoughts. Her explanation was that “the myth of Jebediah has value too”, but I think part of the value the myth had was that if the truth came out and destroyed the myth, the people would have become disillusioned, and lost faith in not only the town and its institutions, but perhaps in humanity in general. For some, it does not take much. I remember Jimbo Jones saying to someone who let him down, “I don’t believe in nothing no more – now I’m going to become a lawyer”. You see how horrible that can be! But seriously, Lisa could handle the truth – most of the townspeople could not.

c. The Fathers of the Church also speak about how we need to slowly impart the truth, just as a baby has to be weaned, because if you try to give a baby too much too soon, it will either spit it up or even choke. Sometimes, it is better for people to believe a lie for the meantime than to have the truth crammed down their throats. For instance, I know about someone who, although famous and popular in the Church, is a phoney, a fake. But it would not be good for them if I was to tell them everything I knew. When they say to me, “isn’t he great?”, my response is, “his teaching is fabulous”. It is not that I ignore the problem – I have written him personally and have addressed this with his superior. But I fear that if I was to tell my friends all what I know, they might lose their faith. Remember the sexual abuse crisis? It is said that five percent of ex-Catholics or lapsed Catholics explain that the scandal of the sexual abuse crisis was the main factor which (perhaps finally) prompted them to leave. I want to avoid that, without, of course, keeping them from the fact that sometimes people in the Church are not as they appear, nor does “orthodoxy” always accompany a good Christian life.

Okay, I could write more about this, but I think that is enough for now.

Audrey: Thank you for the many things to think about....You always do you research...I don't.

But throughout the movie, Batman kept saying over and over again, you cannot use a bad means so that good will come from it. He said this to 2face. Doesn't Batman then contradict this at the end of the movie by doing exactly what He originally said was unacceptable?

And the priest scandals in our diocese, the head hanchos in the Church covered up and kept quiet the evils some of the priests were doing because they didn't want more scandal, they didn't want people to leave the Church. This infuriated some people who ended up leaving the Church because the Bishops kept things hidden. You lose trust in the people who keep things hidden from you. Is that right? Just a little hidden truth never hurt anybody? I don't think that's true.

Wade: 1a. I think a distinction must be made between our committing evil in order to bring about a good and our permitting or allowing evil for a time. The Church Herself makes such a distinction. The reason the Church does the latter is because some things are out of Her control, and the only way She can sometimes eradicate the evil is to allow it to go on for a while. For instance, the Vatican has allowed the Modernists to get away with all kinds of spiritually destructive things for the last 45 years. Why? Because had She tried to stamp it out heavy-handedly, (a) there would have been a massive schism (in which the Church would have lost hundreds of millions of souls to a newly-created schismatic Modernist Church), and (b) modernism would continue to flourish well into the future. By allowing it to continue and treating the leaders of the movement with kid gloves, two things have happened: (a) we kept their children in the Church, and (b) we were thus able to present to them an orthodox Catholicism, so that the only Modernists left are old and the movement will soon die with them. The Church has learned from Her errors. In the 16th Century, had we exercised a similar patience, and allowed the Protestants to remain in the Church (instead of excommunicating Luther), we would have eventually won over the future generations. Every heresy that did not result in schism has died, while every heresy that ended in schism still lives - and also remains in a schismatic community. Anyway, that is sort of a tangent. Back to Batman . . .

b. It seems to me that Batman did not contradict himself (or maybe he did - I have not watched the movie). He said we cannot commit evil so that good might come out of it. What Batman ended up doing was not committing an evil, but allowing or permitting an evil. To my knowledge, Batman was already suspected of being guilty, without his coming out and saying "hey, I'm the one who did it". The latter would be an example of a lie and the committing of evil, and if this is what he did, then yes, I agree, I would have to say that like you, I am not in favour of what Batman did.

c. However, even then I would not be so hard on Batman, which I will explain at the end of my next response, which was to your second paragraph:

First, sorry about my emotionally-fueled criticism of the 16th Century Roman Curia - the one thing that gets me most upset in this world is scandal in the Church. Then again, I am not without guilt when it comes to hypocrisy.

2a. With that said, the main problem with the bishops in the abuse crisis was not that they covered things up - the biggest thing was that they shuffled child molesting priests from parish to parish and allowed them the opportunity to victimize more children. What the bishops should have done was when they found out a priest molested a child, they should have turned him into the police and defrocked him immediately.

b. Should they have also made it public that these priests molested children? I don't know. In the ideal world where the Church was as She should be, yes, the bishops should have come out and said "Fr. So and So has been charged with abusing one of our Catholic children, and he has been defrocked". The problem is this: the Church is an all-too human institution replete with structural and systemic deficiencies that have corrupted Her. These defects have been been handed down to us, and we have to act and function within that damaged and dysfunctional institution and do the best with the situation we find ourselves in. Vatican II tried to correct much of this, but most of it was never implemented (I have written a whole manuscript on this subject that I cannot even begin to get into).

3a. What I am getting at is this: If the Church was as She should be, few molestors would make it to ordination, the bishops would do the right thing no matter the cost, and the faith of the laity would be strong enough to handle all the cold hard truths the bishops are privy to. But, because Church leadership over the years has either created or allowed such anomalies to exist in our Church's structures, the waters get muddied. The choices are between bad and worse, and it is hard to know what the right thing to do is. That is the predicament Batman is in. He is caught between a rock and a hard place, and besides this, he has to make a split-second decision that really requires more deliberation. So he makes the best choice that is available to him (or so he believes) - and that choice is between bad and worse. His heart was certainly in the right place.

3b. It is a fallen world, and the Church is caught up in that.

4a. As for your last point, bishops keep things hidden because for one thing, the faith of people is weak. They should evangelize and catechise the people so as to make the people stronger in their faith. But (a) they sometimes don't know how to even do this; and (b) if they do, it sometimes requires effort and sacrifice, and some aren't willing to do that. The fact is, over the years, bishops have become rather "aloof" and self-serving, instead of Shepherds willing to lay down their lives for their sheep and becoming last and servant of all. Secondly, bishops also hide things sometimes because it is easier for them that way - easier in many ways, but I won't get into that.

4b. Yes, you are right. They should be more transparent and more accountable. But that is not the way they are, nor have they ever been. And they probably never will be. You have no doubt heard the story of how Napolean captured the Pope, and bragged to him that he was going to destroy the Church. The Pope responded, "our own priests and bishops have been trying to destroy the Church for over 1800 years, and we haven't been able to do so. Do you really think you're going to succeed?" My Church history professor at seminary taught us, "Every renewal movement in the Church started at the grassroots, and every period of decline in the Church started from the top-down". It is what it is - however unfortunate that may be.

Audrey: Wade your reasoning is astounding and the Wisdom is true. Thank you for the analogies. You never even saw the movie but your philosophy is sound. I will have to think about this for a while. Happy New Year.

ART: Exegesis - "Look of Love" by ABC


There is so much going on in this song & video that I cannot possibly be comprehensive in my treatment of it. We will have to just go with a “bare bones” exegesis and highlight some of the main points and cite a few examples.

This video is really about illusions, deception, and false pretenses. A number of sayings come to mind as I watch, such as “things are not always as they appear”, and “appearances can be deceiving”, and “you’re putting on a show”, etc. Just to cite a few examples. (1) The clown with the lipstick-kiss on his face. The “sad clown” artistically symbolizes the attempt to conceal one’s depressed mood by appearing happy. Thus Smokey Robinson and the Miracles sung about “The Tears of a Clown”, and Lou Christie sung about concealing his sorrow around his ex in “Two Faces Have I”. (2) The guy with the “chattering teeth” device lip-synchs the lyrics “all I’m saying” but he is trying to make it look like the device is saying it. Likewise, the ventriloquist lip-synchs “all I’m doing” in a similar vein. (3) The funhouse mirrors. These mirrors show various distortions of reality – from thinner to split in two to stilts-for-legs. (x) We could also mention the parrot, the “flying nun”, etc.

Of special note is the fact that the band members appear as Vaudeville actors. Actors, of course, “play a part” – they “act” as though they are someone other than who they really are. Not only this, but the actors also seem to be making a sales pitch – akin to the snake-oil salesman or the used car salesman [or a faith healer or televangelist]. (See Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson in “Say, Say, Say” – although I must say Paul is a rather subdued salesman). And the “sales pitch” in such commercials or presentations always strike us as inauthentic, as seeming “fake”, and rightfully so, because they often are.

Of course, as we can tell by even the title, all this is being applied to the topic of “love”. But note it is called “the 'Look' of Love”. It is the “look” of love because it only “looks” to be or “seems” to be or “appears” to be love, in contrast to it 'really' being love.

This is the lyric that explains what the author is getting at: “if you judge a book by the cover, then you judge a look by the lover". Now there are two possibilities with this verse: (1) the author inverts these two in order to get the stanza to rhyme properly. After all, you would think it should be the surface (the look of the lover) which is deceptive in judging the person (the lover). However, (2) I think the structure is intended that way. If so, this is the meaning: one begins with the knowledge that the other person is in love, has a “significant other”, and that knowledge skews his perception of the “cover”, of the “look”, because he assumes that “that person is in a relationship – therefore he MUST be happy, certainly happier than I, who am single”. And thus whatever expression one has, one’s knowledge of their being in a relationship projects onto that expression a look of happiness which may or may not really be there. But this is an “extreme” – because many who are happy are single, while many who are in relationships are not. The truth, therefore, is somewhere in the middle.

That is why the author says, “you know you’re missing out on something, well 'that something depends on you'”. Happiness is 'a state of mind', even though we sometimes think or feel as though what we are missing out on is “a significant other”. But the singer is “blind” to this truth, which can be seen by his being stabbed in the eye with a violin. He says to the man eating the spaghetti, “your reason for living’s your reason for leaving”, which means that because we live for love and live to give and receive love, the man’s wife has left the relationship because she no longer “feels loved”, she has fallen “out of love”.

However, there is some truth to this. Watch how the man is eating his spaghetti – instead of using the spoon to help him twirl the spaghetti around his fork, he uses them alternately to shovel food into his mouth. The love of man and woman is about complementarities – just like a fork and a spoon – which together “complete” each other and make for each fulfilling its purpose by supplying what is lacking in the other. What is shown here is the “need” – and what a mess we make when the need is left unfulfilled, when the two work as individuals instead of together as a unit, as partners!

To indicate and reinforce this, the author three times says “the one thing, the one thing” – speaking, in other words, of two individuals who have NOT “become one” but “remain one” (as the Spice Girls sang about, or as Ty Herndon sung, “oh the world just lost two lonely people” in “Livin’ In A Moment”).

But on the other hand, he says “my friends ... say ‘maybe one day you’ll find true love’. I say, ‘Maybe, there must be a solution to the one thing, the one thing, 'we can’t find'’”. Notice he doesn’t say “'I' can’t find” but “'We' can’t find”. In other words, none of us can find “true love”, because there is 'always' something lacking in our relationships. In the video, where earlier you saw happy couples, you now see them separated or in crisis (arguments, leaving the other, rejection, etc.).

However, on the other hand, you now see the “single” people from earlier in the video now happy, most of them in company with other single people from before (such as the clown and the Charlie Chaplain impersonator). This is when the singer begins to sing about “sisters and brothers” helping each other. So he seems to indicate that “true love” is not necessarily a “romantic” love, or that one who is lacking that romantic partner need not find that a barrier to giving and receiving love and thus being happy.

It is also interesting to note that his choice of words and manner (like “sisters and brothers” and “heavens above”) of presentation at the end is reminiscent of a revival preacher, which he launches into after saying “the one thing we can’t find”. Now, we can interpret this one of two ways: (1) through religion we can find “true love” because via our religious faith we have access to God and a relationship with Him; or (2) religion too is an “illusion”, a “show”, and thus although religion points us to the Divine as our ultimate source of love, and true love at that, religion too does not get us there, does not really deliver what it promises.

I think that both are true. To synthesize, religion CAN lead a person to God, but some religion is false, is a sham, or is hypocritically lived. Religion like this does not lead one to God. However, religion authentically presented, modeled, and live can. Even if the author does not intend this, that is what I would submit is the truth. Notice it is after the author says “the one thing, the one thing” for the third time that the singer launches into his “preacher” mode. I would say that if the author intended #2, he unconsciously and undeliberately pointed us toward the Trinity by doing so! In many songs – especially country songs – certain things are repeated three times (see “Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw, for instance). There seems to be this innate draw towards the idea that “great things come in threes”. I think this has something to do with the “Life, Death, Resurrection” cycle of – well everything. All things are created in the image of the Trinity. “Life, Death, Resurrection” is what occurs in the processions of the Trinity – and it is what happens with all things in life, including the Christian faith and the Life of Christ. The solution to the mystery of why “love” always seems lacking is The Trinity. An excellent parallel and I would say the interpretive key to this song/video is the song/video “What is Love” by Howard Jones, who asks “does anybody love anybody anyway?” and profoundly conveys this throughout the song and especially throughout and in a powerful way at the end of the video.

LIT: Mass and Marriage (Part I)

1. The Mass consists of two parts - the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Each part consists of two movements - in the Liturgy of the "Word", Man "speaks" to God and God in turn "speaks" to man, while in the Liturgy of the "Eucharist", Man "gives" himself to God and God in turn "gives" Himself to Man.

A. In the Confiteor (I Confess), the Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy), the Gloria (Glory to God in the Highest), and the Collect (Opening Prayer), and later in the "Alleluia" (Gospel Acclamation), the Credo (I Believe), and the General Intercessions, Man speaks words of faith and repentance, praise and thanksgiving, and petition and intercession.

God in turn responds by speaking to us through His inspired Word: in the First and Second Readings, the Gradual (Responsorial Psalm), the Gospel, and the Homily (in which the Holy Spirit uses the words of the priest to touch the hearts and minds of the people).

B. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Man offers to God all he is (his soul, his life), all he has (his possessions and all that is bonded to him), and all he has done (his prayers, works, joys, and sufferings) by uniting it to Christ's sacrificial offering through the elements of bread and wine.

God in turn receives this sacrificial offering and gives back to Man his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - His whole self - in the Eucharist.

1. Form and Matter. In marriage, something similar happens. Man and Woman exchange "words" (vows) at the altar (which is the "form" of the sacrament) and then ratify the covenant through the marital "act" by making a "gift" of themselves to each other through the "offering" of their bodies and by extension their whole selves as persons.

2. Consummation. Mass is the "Source and Summit" of the Christian life. It is the summit of our Christian lives because it is there we gather all we have and have done throughout the week and give it to God through the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the source because God in turn receives this gift of ours and in the measure we have given He gives us in return all He is and has to offer, thus transforming us and increasing our love for Him so that we might go forth again to live and love more faithfully and more deeply in our journey. Sexual union, as well, is the "Source and Summit" of Marriage. It is the summit of marriage because it is there we gather all we have and have done in the time since we last came together and communicate or express it to the other through the sexual union. It is the source because in "making love", our bonds are strengthened and our love increased so that we might go forth again to live and love more faithfully and more deeply in our journey together.

A. Of course, here too, the measure we have given is the measure by which we will receive. If one does not love his wife throughout the day or the week, the sexual act will not be very fruitful - if it even happens at all. It is similar to one who lies and loses his temper and fails to pray throughout the week - he will have very little to offer God in the Mass (remember, God wants obedience not sacrifice - and the degree of one's obedience will determine the degree to which the sacrifice is pure) and thus he will receive very little in return.

To be continued ...

SCR: Genealogies (Lines of Cain and Seth)

Like many readers of Scripture, I used to think the genealogies in Scripture were pretty much meaningless. However, through my graduate studies, I discovered how wrong this is! In fact, some of the most profound things are conveyed “between the lines” in Scripture and in what is implied and can be seen in the broader context of the whole Scripture – and this includes genealogies. That which seems the least significant is often the most significant!

I learned about “the Lines of Cain and Seth” through my professors at Steubenville. The descendants of Cain are spoken of in Genesis 4:17-24, while the ancestral line of the righteous Seth is listed in Genesis 4:25-5:32.

The etymology is very interesting. My Good News Bible states in the notes that “Cain” means “to acquire”, while “Seth” means “has given”. Anyone who is familiar with Theology of the Body will notice the theme of “Love” here. To “love” means to “give” of oneself for the good of the other. The opposite of “love” is to “use”, which means to “take” or “acquire” something from the other for one’s selfish gain, be it his goods, his reputation, his self-esteem, his freedom, etc. Hence, those descended from Cain are those who “use” others, while those descended from Seth are those who “love”. St. Augustine spoke about how spiritually, we are all either descendants of Cain or Seth – we are all either children of God who “love” and “call upon His name” in worship and put Him first (Genesis 4:26), or we are “children of men” (Genesis 6:2, 6:4) who do not “become partakers of the divine nature” (2Peter 1:10) through love because we are selfishly using others.

We know that Seth was a replacement for Abel (Genesis 4:25), whose name interestingly means “breath” - which is the word used to identify the Holy Spirit, who is the “Love” between Father and Son in the Blessed Trinity. The connotation “breath” carries in the case of Abel is that of emptiness, which is interesting because once again, the spiritual masters have always spoken in terms of how we must “empty” ourselves (Philippians 2:7) so God can fill us up!

The etymology of the descendants of both lines are also telling (every name is very important and revealing in Scripture) – but we cannot get into that here.

There is another interesting contrast between the two. The line of Cain is spoken of in terms of their talents and accomplishments – Cain was a city founder and engineer, Jabal was a hunter and farmer, Jubal was a musician, Tubal-Cain was a handyman. (Oh, and one of the grand-daughters of Cain was “Naamah”, which means “beauty” or “pleasure” in the illicit sense [note to Theology of the Body readers]). The line of Seth says nothing about any of the descendants – it only prefaces the line with this statement: “At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord”. (Genesis 4:26) In other words, children of Cain (Man) take pride in and are known for what they do, while children of Seth (God) identify themselves by who they are – namely, men who are children of God and are in relation with their heavenly Father. They are also in relation to their other children who are also children of God – which is why the only things mentioned about the descendants of Seth is “he had other sons and daughters” – something not said about any of the descendants of Cain.

Now here is where it gets interesting. The fifth descendant of Cain was “Lamech”. He was a polygamist (Gen 4:19), a wife-beater (Gen 4:23a), and a violent man with a hot temper (Gen 4:23b), and most likely a murderer too (there is evidence the righteous Enoch, who was also the seventh generation from Adam and thus a contemporary of Lamech, was “taken away” by God before Lamech could kill him – but we cannot get into this). Now, Enoch’s son, Methuselah, had a son and named him – get this – Lamech! Children are often named after people that their parents admire. This means Methuselah of the line of Seth (God) admired Lamech! However, the “good Lamech” did not follow his father’s footsteps – he gave birth to Noah, and lived 777 years – the number of perfection repeated three times – the number of the Trinity (not only are names important and revealing in Scripture – but every number is as well). Now this goes to show that even though children often become like their parents, each child can either follow in his father’s footsteps (which is the easiest and most natural thing) or make choices to be different (which is the more difficult thing) – for better or for worse. There could be an entire college course devoted to this theme as it is found throughout Scripture (and in fact, it is what enabled Christ to become the “New Adam”), so we cannot get into this.

Now, this is what is interesting. Methuselah was 187 when Lamech was born. (Gen 5:25) Lamech was 182 when Noah was born (Gen 5:28), which means Methuselah was 369 when Noah was born. Noah was 600 years old when the flood came. (Gen 7:6). This means that Methuselah was 969 when the flood came. And that is the age he was when he died. (Gen 5:27) In other words, Methuselah, Noah’s grandfather, was one of the unrighteous who died in the flood!

Now what exactly happened that upset God? The “sons of God (Seth)” married the “daughters of men (Cain)” out of impure motives. These were the first “mixed marriages”. And it may be surmised, based on what we said earlier, that Methuselah is the one who started it and probably began a pattern, as can be seen in Genesis 6:2. It seems clear to me what happened: Methuselah married Lamech’s daughter “Naamah” (whose name meant “beauty” or “pleasure” – see Gen 6:2) out of lust (“use”) rather than “love”, and they named their child after the child’s grandfather!

This is the kind of great stuff that can be found in genealogies! The brief outline of Abram’s family and the seemingly sparse details (Genesis 11:26-32) is also a goldmine. All kinds of goodies there – but that will have to wait for another day.

As will Peter and John - who are the "New Cain and Abel" as found in John 21:15-23.