St. Jerome is the author of the Vulgate Bible, the official bible of the Catholic Church. But, this wasn’t Jerome’s only work. Among others, he also wrote a pamphlet entitled Altercation of a Luciferian with an Orthodox. This work concerned a purported debate between the bishop of Cogliari, Lucifer, and an orthodox parishioner. Apparently, Lucifer and his followers did not agree with the Church position that those who believed in Arianism and repented should be forgiven and restored to their former positions.

While the Council of Nicaea condemned the Arian speculation that the Son was a subordinate person to God the Father, it also declared that those who now rejected such beliefs in obedience to the Church should be restored to their former positions. All Christians were asked to confirm their belief by repeating the Nicene Creed as developed by the council. The creed confirmed that the Father and the Son were of one substance.

Lucifer and his followers continued to insist that all priests who had participated in Arianism should be deprived of their offices, and that bishops who recognized the rights of even repentant heretics should be excommunicated. Jerome’s paper fully supported the Nicene position and redemption.

This is just another interesting fact as found in my novel The Scholar’s Challenge. Amazon carries it at goo.gl/MPqLV6.

Beautiful Religious Articles

Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show

Every year, sellers of religious articles and books from around the world convene to present their products to American bookstore owners. The Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show this year is being held July 31-August 3 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is the largest display of Catholic books and religious articles at wholesale prices found anywhere. It is noteworthy that the Catholic Writers Guild, to which I belong, holds its annual conference in cooperation with the CMN.

I will be participating in the Author Event Giveaway at the Trade Show by giving a free copy of my latest book Rock of the Apostles: A Brief History of Catholic Tradition to eighteen lucky bookstores. Included within each book will be a Eugenios: Servant of Kings bookmark and a Seal of Approval from the Catholic Writers Guild. If your bookstore doesn’t carry one of these books, it can easily order them. The Trade Show is not open to the public: attendees must be either a member of the CMN or the CWG. Sorry.

Contra Celsus

Answering the Literate

If there was a book in the early third century, which could be considered a “best seller,” it would have been Celsus’ The True Doctrine. Celsus wrote from Alexandria in Egypt, the center of the world of philosophy having taken on that mantle from Athens in earlier generations. The True Doctrine criticized Christianity in excruciating detail. Celsus wrote that Christians didn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand their own philosophical reasoning.

A prolific writer, philosopher, and teacher by the name of Origen writing from Caesarea answered Celsus. Through a masterful work known as Contra Celsus Origen refuted all major and minor pagan rumors and misrepresentations as itemized by Celsus. For example, when Celsus wrote that the Christians knew little of the Greek giants and couldn’t converse in an intelligent manner, Origen, having studied such men as Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, answered plainly. “We Christians wish to make all men worthy of God by feeding them meat if they are capable of understanding or baby’s milk if lacking the experiences of life. True doctrines are aimed at both the stupid and the learned, for the goal is to win over all peoples by the love of the Father. Whose vocabulary reaches all, the best of the Greeks or Christ and his disciples? The refined style of Plato benefits but a few.”

Origen was director of the largest theological library in the world and he possessed a reputation matched by only a handful of men. His comprehensive response is still read as a model of apologetic writing. Many of the arguments therein are as valid today as they were then.

The life and accomplishments of Origen are covered in my novel The Scholar’s Challenge. It may be found on Amazon by going to goo.gl/MPqLV6.

 

Pope Benedict

Receives a Gift

Recently, a friend (if I may be so bold as to claim this relationship) met one of my idols–a pope no less. I know Rev. John Sheehy (the friend) from the days when we both served the Catholic War Veterans as national officers. He has since purchased my many books and thought enough of them to write at least one admiring review (probably overblown) on the Amazon site. Needless to say, for this, he earned my eternal gratitude. Anyway, as I was saying, he recently met Pope Benedict to present a copy of the New Testament in braille as well as a special 9/11 anniversary coin from the American Legion. Father John was the Agency Director for the Xavier Society for the Blind and is a navy veteran.  I have read many of Cardinal Ratzinger’s (Pope Benedict’s) books and hope the Church will one day declare him a Doctor of the Church. Just my opinion, of course, but Ratzinger’s explanatory works are that good. Maybe, if Father John reads this, he will consent to visit the historic Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, here at the Charlestown Retirement Community  and give a lecture so that I can shake the hand that shook Pope Benedict’s hand.

 

Seal of Approval

From Catholic Writers Guild

Our novel, Eugenios: Servant of Kings has just been awarded the prestigious Seal of Approval from the Catholic Writers Guild. This means that bookstores will assured that this novel carries with it the high standards of the Guild, including a recognition that this historical novel meets all editorial and ecclesial guidelines for accuracy. We feel honored to be awarded this approval for it is not easily granted. Additional information about any of our books may be found by tapping the covers on the right or by going to the Amazon website: goo.gl/MPqLV6.

Fishermen of Galilee

Were They Unusual?

Two thousand years ago, the Sea of Galilee was full of fish. The fishermen there were unusually pious holding an honorable place in society. After all, they provided the fish needed for everyday meals by following a dangerous profession.

Fishermen either used a round, throwing net, with leads all around the edge or worked with others to spread out a five-hundred-foot (or more) net from shore, one edge of which was taken out to sea by boat, and then returned farther down the beach in a huge semi-circle to other men who would then pull in the net and the fish trapped within.

The Galilean fishermen carefully set aside the various types of fish for they could be sold for differing amounts. Practicing Jews would not eat unclean fish—those without skin or scales—such as catfish and eels. Non-Jews would purchase these fish as well as scaled fish—trout, perch and pike. It was usual for the men of the villages to form co-ops so that major purchasers of fish could not play one off against another.

Being pious, patient, loyal and courageous, it should not seem strange that Jesus found his apostles Simon, Andrew, James, and John from their ranks. They would follow Him and become “fishers of men.”

Join the blog on the right or the author’s facebook page at goo.gl/2lWm2v.

The Olive Tree

Bountiful and Durable

Why was the olive tree mentioned so many times in the Bible? It existed in the Holy Land long before the Hebrews arrived. Olives may be eaten cooked or raw. The oil that is pressed from the fruit of the tree was used in cooking, lighting rooms, in medicine, and for religious anointing. Its wood was considered so valuable that Solomon used it to make the cherubim within the Temple. Yet, the tree grew so slowly that it seemed to live forever. Perhaps, its slow growth was due to the stony soil so pervasive together with a sun that never seemed to hide in Israel. In any case, the tree’s properties enthralled the Scripture writers who saw in this amazing tree a similarity between the human inhabitants of Judea and a bountiful, durable tree that can handle any adversary.  See Eugenios for more on early Judeo-Christian lives. goo.gl/MPqLV6

Ancient Shoes

What Might Jesus Have Worn?

Footwear worn two thousand years ago in the Middle East were of two kinds ordinarily. The traveler might wear hard hob-nailed sandals to make them stand up to long journeys. The day-to-day wear was more likely to be a camel-skin shoe with a sole made of palm-bark or rush. Neither shoe nor sandal were worn with socks. The Jews had brought back from Mesopotamia, the half-boot to which some later modified to include the four bands of the Romans. For inside wear, the common bedroom slipper, with which we are so familiar, was sometimes worn. However, in the sanctuary of the temple and in all holy places, everyone, regardless of rank, was required to walk barefoot.

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Inlaid Pictures at Turin

Extraordinary Artisans

The Royal Palace of Turin in Northern Italy houses some of the most beautiful tables ever designed with inlaid wood scenes encompassing the life and times of Jesus Christ. When one considers the time needed to layout and form the pictures with such amazing detail one can only gasp in wonder. How long were these skilled men, these artisans, apprentices before taking on such intricate scenes?

My good friend Barrie Schwortz, took the attached photos while a member of a scientific group (STERA) investigating the Shroud of Turin in 1978. With his permission, one of the tables is shown here. You can read more about the Shroud at www.Shroud.com. This website includes more original papers and scientific data on the Shroud, pro and con, than any other website in existence.

My novel (The Hidden Saint: The Sixteenth Century Church in Crisis) includes a scene in which St. Charles Borromeo walks barefoot over the Italian Alps to visit the Holy Shroud which is now housed in its own chapel adjoining the west wing of the Royal Palace of the House of Savoy in Turin. See my facebook account at www.goo.gl/2lWm2v and stay informed.

 

Finding Truth Through Science

Priest-Scientists Search for God

Over the centuries, thousands of priest-scientists have searched for the truth in nature using scientific principles and contributing significantly to human knowledge. The Augustinian abbot, Gregor Mendel, determined the basic laws that govern the passage of traits within a species. It was his discovery of dominant or recessive genes that became the key to modern genetics. For this reason, he is called the Father of Modern Genetics.

A Belgian priest, Georges Lamaître, a professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, first proposed the Big Bang theory as the origin of the universe. He called his work a “hypothesis of the primeval atom” or the “Cosmic Egg.” Lamaître was also the first scientist to conclude that through this “creation-like” event, the universe was not only expanding, but that the expansion was actually accelerating. The latter contention was confirmed in 1990 with the Hubble Space Telescope.

From its very origins, the Church has supported and encouraged scientific discovery for the knowledge gained helps us to better understand the nature of God. We learn who he is by studying his creations. We believe that the Holy Scriptures, the prophets, and Jesus Christ told us about God and what it is that he wants from us. The apostles and their successors, our bishops, carry this message forward. They are supported in their efforts though supernatural events, miracles generated by Jesus Christ. Christians contend that miracles are divine interferences with the physical laws of nature. They are preternatural, which means beyond nature, and visible. Is this God’s way of saying, “Pay attention”? Certainly our priest-scientists are interested in anything that challenges the laws of nature. If it were possible to prove the miracles of Christ were natural events, they would like to be the ones to do so.