Written in stone

This quote from Psalms was engraved in stone over the entrance to St. Bede hall at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.

written in stone KMassa

It says “I will bless the lord, who hath given to me understanding.” – Psalm 15.7

I like reading Bible quotes in context, so I went to look this up. However, there was a problem.
There is no Psalm 15:7. Psalm 15 stops at verse 5. So it isn’t even a numbering issue. Christians often number the Psalms differently, as well as change up the order of the books of the Bible from what is in the Hebrew Scriptures. Why this is done is a topic for another post, another day. But this wasn’t the issue in this case.

It reference has to be to Psalms 16:7, but only one translation says “understanding” – most say “counsel”.

It was the Douay-Rhiems translation that said “understanding”. No other one has that word, so I don’t think it is accurate. I did more research.

According to Wikipedia, “The Douay–Rheims Bible is a translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English made by members of the English College, Douai, in the service of the Catholic Church.” It dates from 1582.

The translation is from a translation – so it is already suspect. You want to go to the original. You’ll always lose something in translation – especially from Hebrew which has so many layers.

So the only thing wrong on this is the citation, in terms of the stonecarver. I’m sure he was going by what he knew to be correct. It – however, is wrong. Should I tell them?  I have a strong suspicion that they wouldn’t care what a non-Catholic, and especially a  woman, has to say about this.

 

This discovery calls the phrase “written in stone” into question.  It implies that something is permanent and trustworthy.   And yet we see here that nothing should be left without examination.  We cheat ourselves when we accept everything at face value.  We need to use the minds that God gave us to dig deeply and learn truth.

 

I didn’t have a copy of the Psalms in Hebrew, so I looked up the word “counsel” in my Hebrew dictionary. The word is a verb and a noun, and has a slightly different form for each. I went with the verb, as that is how it is used in all of the other translations. I would look up “understanding” if I didn’t get anywhere with “counsel”.

Strong’s says the word is used in Psalm 16:7, so I could stop there.

The Lord gives us counsel, not understanding.  We are not ever able to truly understand anything, being limited as we are as mortal beings.  “Counsel” makes far more sense as a word, as Jesus tells his disciples that he will send the Counselor (also known as the Holy Spirit) to them, to instruct them in new ways. There were things he wanted to tell them that they were not ready to hear at that time. He wanted to make sure that they would be guided into truth after he was no longer with them.

John 16:5-13
5 “But now I am going away to Him who sent Me, and not one of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6 Yet, because I have spoken these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send Him to you.8 When He comes, He will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment: 9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me; 11 and about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. 12 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.

Isaiah 11:1-3
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear;…

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

 

Here are some various translations from Psalm 16:7, copied from Bible Hub – –
New International Version
I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.

New Living Translation
I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.

English Standard Version
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

New American Standard Bible
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

King James Bible
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I will praise the LORD who counsels me– even at night my conscience instructs me.

International Standard Version
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; indeed, my conscience instructs me during the night.

NET Bible
I will praise the LORD who guides me; yes, during the night I reflect and learn.

New Heart English Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I shall bless Lord Jehovah who counsels me and my kidneys teach me in the nights.

GOD’S WORD® Translation
I will praise the LORD, who advises me. My conscience warns me at night.

JPS Tanakh 1917
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel; Yea, in the night seasons my reins instruct me.

New American Standard 1977
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

Jubilee Bible 2000
I will bless the LORD, who gives me counsel: my kidneys also instruct me in the night seasons.

King James 2000 Bible
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

American King James Version
I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.

American Standard Version
I will bless Jehovah, who hath given me counsel; Yea, my heart instructeth me in the night seasons.

Douay-Rheims Bible
I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night.

Darby Bible Translation
I will bless Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the nights my reins instruct me.

English Revised Version
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: yea, my reins instruct me in the night seasons.

Webster’s Bible Translation
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night season.

World English Bible
I will bless Yahweh, who has given me counsel. Yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.

Young’s Literal Translation
I bless Jehovah who hath counselled me; Also in the nights my reins instruct me.

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On marriage for priests.

There is heated debate these days on whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. Some priests have felt so strongly that they should be able to marry that they have left the Catholic church and become Episcopal or Lutheran. All Protestant denominations allow their ministers to marry, but these are the closest in ritual to Catholicism.

So, let us look at examples from the Bible, so that we don’t rely upon our own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5) Christians learned about God from the Jews, so it is fitting to look at the Hebrew Testament to see what Jews understood was God’s plan for their priests. Their traditions became the blueprint that the early Christian church started with.

The rules for what renders a person fit to be a priest are in Leviticus.  Among rules such as not touching a dead body except that of a close family member and not shaving the edge of his beard, we find these specific rules about who they aren’t allowed to marry –

They are not to marry a woman defiled by prostitution. They are not to marry one divorced by her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.” (Leviticus 21:7)

By spelling this out, we know that there are allowed to marry other people.

Then there are instructions about their daughters in 21:9.   We can logically infer from this that the daughter was legitimately conceived – hence the priest was married.

Verses 13-15 give more information as to who a priest is allowed to marry.   13 “He is to marry a woman who is a virgin. 14 He is not to marry a widow, a divorced woman, or one defiled by prostitution. He is to marry a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he does not corrupt his bloodline among his people, for I am Yahweh who sets him apart.”

This further proves that priests are allowed to marry.  Why say who they can and can’t marry if they aren’t allowed to?  Thus, marriage is appropriate and allowed for priests in Judaism.

These instructions are repeated and added to later in Ezekial 44:22.    “He is not to marry a widow or a divorced woman, but must marry a virgin from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.”

God does not want us to be alone.  It isn’t part of God’s plan for us. In Genesis 2:18 we read 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

One of Jesus’s early miracles was healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter.  From this we must conclude that he was married – he wouldn’t have a mother-in-law otherwise.  Remember this is the person that Jesus built his entire Church upon (See Matthew 16:18).  He wouldn’t have chosen someone for so important a role that was doing something he thought was wrong.

“As soon as they left the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus and the disciples went into Simon Peter’s house. His mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her. He went to her, and taking her by the hand, he rebuked the fever. Immediately she was healed and she began to wait on them. Later that evening, people began bringing those who were sick and possessed to him. He healed them by laying his hands on them and he drove out demons with a word. Those who were possessed had demons who were shouting “You are the Son of God!” But he told them not to speak because it wasn’t time yet for this to be known. What was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled with his actions. “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Isaiah 53:4)”  (MT 8:14-17, MK 1:29-34, LK 4:38-41   Condensed Gospel)

Paul, in giving instructions to Titus, says in Titus 1:5-9
“5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you, 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. 7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; 9 he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

These elders become bishops – leaders over others. They are allowed to marry – but only once. But they are allowed to marry.

But – all of this is irrelevant.  Jesus didn’t want priests to be different from the congregation.  He wanted us to all be equal, like brothers.  To have any group of people separate from the rest of the Body of Christ is to go against Christ’s teaching.

Luke 22:24-27   24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(All Bible translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted)

Jesus’ family – on the lie of the ever-virgin Mary

Why does the Catholic Church insist on saying that Mary is forever a virgin? She was a virgin at Jesus’ birth, but did not remain so. The Gospels tell us that Jesus had brothers and sisters in many different stories – in one they are even named. These are not step-children. Joseph had not been married before, and he and Mary did not divorce. Thus, all of his brothers and sisters were the children of Mary.

Does the Church presume that all of his siblings were also immaculately conceived?

Do they presume that Joseph never had marital relations with Mary? Is that reasonable?

It is normal an in fact encouraged for Jewish families to “be fruitful and multiply”. Having many children is a mitzvah. In fact, a woman is looked down on if she does not have many children.

Why does the Catholic Church insist on perpetuating this lie? And perhaps more importantly, why do Catholics accept it?

If they will lie about something so easily verified by the text, then what else would they lie about?

Here are the places in the Gospel that refer to Jesus’ siblings.

Luke 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

John 7:1-9
Jesus traveled in Galilee from then on. He didn’t want to travel in Judea because the Jewish authorities were trying to find a way to have him killed. The Jewish festival of Sukkot was approaching.
Jesus’ brothers said “You should leave here and travel to Judea in order that your followers can see the miracles you are doing. Nobody does something privately if he is seeking public acclaim. If you are going to do these works, you should do them so everyone can see.” Not even his brothers believed in his message.
He said “My time isn’t here yet, but yours is always present. There is no reason for the world to hate you, but it hates me because I speak up about it and its evil acts. Go up to the festival by yourselves. I’m not going yet because it isn’t my time.” He stayed in Galilee after he said this.

MT 12:46-50, MK 3:31-35, LK 8:19-21 (Condensed Gospel)
His mother and siblings came to him while he was speaking with a large crowd but they couldn’t reach him. They sent word that they wanted to speak with him. Someone in the crowd told him “Look, your mother and siblings are standing outside waiting to speak with you.” Instead of going out, he said “Who is my family?” Indicating his followers who were seated in a circle around him, he said “Here they are! Whoever hears and does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother and brother and sister.”

((This was the response of the congregation after Jesus declares that the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled by him –

MT 13:54b-57a, MK 6:2b-3, LK 4:22 (Condensed Gospel)
They were amazed and said “How did he get to be so wise, and how is he able to perform miracles? Isn’t this Joseph the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother Mary, and isn’t he the brother of James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters sitting here with us? Where does he get these ideas?” They were offended by what he said.

Mary in the Woods

On Friday morning while on retreat at St. Meinrad, I found one of the two grottoes with Mary that are on this campus. Both of these special places are hidden away in the woods, away from the church, not on the map.  They are nearly impossible to find unless you ask for directions from someone who has been there.

mary1

I’ve read that statues of Mary have been discovered in caves and in fields – and when they are removed and placed in churches, within a few days they have miraculously returned to where they were found.  It is as if Mary does not want to be in church, in a cold, lifeless building.  Mary is all about being among us, the commoners, where we are, as we are.

I find it significant that this image of Mary depicts her as if she is a non-Catholic at Mass.  This arm position says to the priest to give a blessing only – that this person cannot take Communion.  Following their rules – she could not take Communion because she was not Catholic.  She was Jewish.  But if it weren’t for her saying “Yes” to God – to letting the Holy Spirit of God work through her, Jesus would never have come into this world.  The Catholic Church could learn a lot from Mary.

mary2

The other grotto is quite far away.  You have to walk away from the seminary, the guest house, the church.  You have to walk by two small lakes and into the woods. I found it on Saturday.  This is the view looking back at the place where we stayed on retreat.  It is the closest building to this grotto, and also the furthest building from the church.  This is significant.

The actual grotto is another five minute’s walk from here.

mary8

There are no signs or path.  You’d never know that this was here until you are almost upon it.

mary3

Mary greets you with open arms.

mary4

mary5

Notice the detail – she is barefoot, and she is stepping on a snake with fruit in it’s mouth. This is the snake from the Garden of Eden, and that is the apple that Eve and Adam ate.  Mary is the antidote to that poison.  It is said that they brought original sin into the world with this act of rebellion against God.  Mary brought grace into the world by acting in accordance with the desires of God.

mary6

Someone had been here before me and left an offering of wildflowers for her.  They had faded and were musty.  We must daily refresh our faith and reconnect to the true Vine in order to remain alive in spirit.

mary7

Monastery Immaculate Conception

150 Sisters of Saint Benedict live in community in Ferdinand, Indiana.  Here are some pictures I took when I went on a silent retreat there.

I hope you are in good shape if you go there.  The dormitory is downhill from everything else – dining hall, the chapel…and there are over 70 steps to get there.

There is a way to get where you need to go if the weather is bad.  There can be some pretty impressive snowfalls in Indiana, so there are tunnels all over this complex. They can be a bit damp, however.

Here’s one of the places you are headed to – the dining hall.  The food is served cafeteria style, and guests and nuns eat the same food.  They keep a separate eating area for us so we can be silent. The nuns are quite chatty and amiable, and while that is nice, it is hard if you are trying to have a silent retreat.

dining1

Some scenes in the dormitory.

In my room, I made  little votive shrine of the saint cards I bought at the gift shop.  All churches should have gift shops, in my opinion, and the Catholics do not disappoint in this regard.

icons1

In the basement is a lounge area with a lot of recliners.  It is quite homey and inspires naps.  I wonder if the chairs came from the nuns when they entered and had to give up all their possessions?

There is a statue of a young Mary with Jesus in the basement dining area – I’ve seen the same statue, painted, at a Sisters of Mercy convent.

There are some other interesting things in the dormitory that seem very old.

The various services were quite confusing.  We were fortunate that the nuns understood and took the time to set up our prayer books for us so we could follow along without getting lost.  They recite the office of the hours several times a day. Note all the different bookmarks – this is for just one service.

 

inside7

The pews were cleverly designed – you could create your own bookstand. This is closed, and then open.

Here is the pew-side view of the service.  The nun who helped us at this one is sitting in front of me on the right.  They no longer wear their habits. But you can still tell they are nuns by their kindness.  They have a sort of inner glow.

More of their impressive chapel – the baptismal font is the first thing you notice (on purpose).  Ideally, it is always in line with the table where the Lord’s supper is celebrated. This unites the two sacraments.

 

Views from outside the chapel, and the grounds.

I was especially enamored of this corner, and took the time to sketch it. It looks a little strange broken up like this, but I didn’t know my phone could do panoramas at this point. While sketching, some nuns noticed me and started to ask me questions.  They thought that I should stay with them.  I’m not sure how that would work out since I’m married, not a Catholic, and past their age requirement for entry. But it was kind of them to see a calling in me.

 

 

Saint Joseph’s chapel

This is a small chapel at St. Meinrad’s.  While it looks very simple and humble, they’ve stored the altarpiece from the original Abbey here.  It is overwhelmingly ostentatious.  Fortunately it is at the back of the room so you don’t get distracted by it when there is a service here.

This is in the hallway on the way to the chapel. 19

This is in the chapel itself. You enter from a raised area. Interestingly to me, there was a small hand drum to the right of the chapel.  Even though it was a silent retreat, I enjoyed playing it at one point during my time there.  There was nobody else around, and I played softly, so I didn’t disturb anyone else.  This chapel is attached to the building that has the seminary, not the guest house.

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Here is the over-the-top altarpiece.  It was removed when they renovated the Abbey to make the altar no longer attached to the back wall, but in the center of the room, among the people.  That was part of a movement after Vatican 2 that tried to make the symbols of the church match the message of the church – that Jesus is among us, not hidden away, far removed.

 

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Here are some details.

 

Imagine how much money and effort was required to make this.  Imagine how many hungry people could have been fed with that money and effort.  While this is outwardly beautiful, it is a direct affront to the very call of Jesus.  We are specifically not to build up treasures for ourselves here – we are to take care of people.

 

This is to the side of the chapel. A bit of glass has broken and is now on the music and nobody else has noticed.

 

I wish that Protestant churches had guest houses for silent retreats so I could go there instead and I wouldn’t get so wound up about the hypocrisy of it all.  This place is beautiful, don’t get me wrong.  But only until all people are taken care of (no more homelessness, no more sickness, no more wars or poverty) can we even think about building places that are this opulent.  They are extras.  Money and effort has to go to following the instructions of Jesus first.  If more Christians followed Christ instead of Christianity, the world would be a better place.

Private places

There are places at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey that are most certainly off limits.  They spell it out with signs, saying that you are not welcome in this area.

 

There was one area that had a sign and a frosted glass window.

chapter house 2

 

 

But there was a clear spot higher up, so I just held up my camera.

chapter house1

 

There is a lock on the holy oil vials, presumably to keep you from accidentally anointing yourself, or from desecrating it.  Wonder why these vials are on public display then, if they are not for public use?  To show off how pretty they are? These were prominently displayed at the center of the Abbey.

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There are enclosed gardens that I wanted to explore.  I saw them on Google Maps before I went there and looked forward to going.  There were not open to lay people, however.  But there were windows, so I took pictures. I was sad to see them not even being used by the monks.  These beautiful gardens, alone, locked away, unappreciated.  Perhaps the monks stare at them from their rooms, while they are locked away from the world they are called to serve?

 

They even tried to block the view with signs like this.

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But I found a way around it.  These pictures are taken through the glass.

 

Monasticism as it is practiced was not mentioned by Jesus at all. Living together, sharing resources, sharing lives – yes.  It is good for all to work together for the common good.  However, he did not intend that we were to separate ourselves from the world entirely.  When we work together and share what we have, we are stronger people, better able to help others.  However, when we focus all of our energy inwards to the group, we defeat the purpose of what Jesus calls us to do.

 

With all these signs, I was continuously reminded of the “us and them” approach the Catholic church has to life in general – either you are “in” (a Catholic) or “out” (either not Christian, or just not Catholic).  The most obvious example of this is with their approach to communion.  This exclusionary practice is not Christ-like, and will turn more people away from the message of Jesus than they could ever imagine.

 

Interestingly, I spent time at their “sister” community, just down the road a few months later.  The Sisters of Saint Benedict have a community in Ferdinand, IN, called Monastery Immaculate Conception.  I walked all over that place and only saw one sign saying “private”.  In fact, the nun who took us on a tour of the place told us we could sit in that area if we wanted.  I’m pretty sure I accidentally wandered into some areas I shouldn’t have, but nobody got upset with me.  Their monastery was older, a little shabbier.  It was obvious that their “brothers” got more money and better resources.  But the Sisters were far more kind and welcoming, always helpful and kind, with open smiles.