Friday, February 28, 2020

A Physician’s Analysis of the Crucifixion

The Crucifixion of Christ by Andrea Mantegna
From YWAM:
Several years ago I became interested in the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop’s book, The Day Christ Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years – that I had grown callous to its horror by a too-easy familiarity with the grim details. It finally occurred to me that, as a physician, I did not even know the actual immediate cause of Christ’s death. The gospel writers do not help much on this point.
Since crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetimes, they undoubtedly considered a detailed description superfluous. For that reason we have only the concise words of the evangelists: “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified … and they crucified Him.”
Despite the gospel accounts’ silence on the details of Christ’s crucifixion, many have looked into this subject in the past. In my personal study of the event from a medical viewpoint, I am indebted especially to Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who did exhaustive historical and experimental research and wrote extensively on the topic.
An attempt to examine the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate God in atonement for the sins of fallen man is beyond the scope of this article. However, the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s passion we can examine in some detail. What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture? (Read more.)

Monday, February 24, 2020

Preparing for Lent

Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder
Here is a meditation by a Carmelite tertiary who shall be known on this blog as Mi Amigo:
Our first parents ate, against the will of our Father, the forbidden fruit. What is the fruit? We might consider, "Is the 'fruit' of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil the birth of “conscience”? Prior to eating the fruit, Adam and Eve did not have any knowledge of evil in their nakedness. Was their realization of “something wrong” in their self-exposure the birth of human conscience?
The Banishment of Adam and Eve by Masaccio 
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1776, states, "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment….For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God….His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."

In the human heart, God inscribes his Law. In the heart, we are either single-minded toward the will, the law, of God, or we are double-minded, divided in ourselves between God and the world. The season of Lent is upon us, a time of reflection, to turn within to our most secret core and sanctuary, our conscience, and listen to the voice of God echoing in our depths, a time to repent from our double-mindedness and, a time of conversion, to re-commit ourselves with single-mindedness to the will and love of God in those areas of our life to which our conscience directs us.

This Lenten season, let us turn within and from our hearts pray as Thomas a Kempis, "O God my Truth, make me one with you in eternal love. Often I become weary with reading and hearing many things. You are all that I want and desire. Let all teachers be mute and all creation keep silence before you. Speak to me, You and You alone."
Jesus in Gethsemane by Carl Bloch

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Castle at Lourdes



Aside from being the site of the famous apparitions of 1858, Lourdes has an interesting history, surprisingly turbulent at times for a place that is truly in the middle of nowhere. Most of the events were focused on the Ch√Ęteau-Fort de Lourdes, the old castle which was at one time a Moorish stronghold, although its origins go back to antiquity. According to a traveler's guide:
The Gauls, Roman, Barbars and Moors successively took turns to strengthen the Lourdes rock on which the castle stands. This antique fortress is clothed in legend. In 778, Charlemagne and his army besieged the castle which was occupied at the time by Mirat, the Saracen, and his Moors. Despite attacks by the Francs and the onslaught of famine, Lourdes castle remained impenetrable.

Suddenly an eagle appeared in the sky. It flew around the fort and dropped an enormous trout from its beak, which landed at Mirat's feet. The clever Moor grabbed the fish and took it to Charlemagne to make him believe that he still had plenty of food reserves.

Charlemagne was just preparing to lift the siege when Turpin, his friend and Bishop of Puy-en-Velay, became inspired and was granted permission to go and talk to the besieged. He suggested that Mirat surrender, not to the sovereign but to the Queen of the skies.

This proposal pleased the Moor leader who promptly set down his weapons at the foot of the Black Virgin of Puy and was baptized. On the day of his baptism, Mirat was given the name "Lorus". This name was transferred to the village, which, in time, became Lourdes.
When I first visited Lourdes in April 1994 the castle intrigued me almost as much as did the shrines. I had never heard of it until arriving there, and when our guide took us up inside, the view of the Pyrenees was breathtaking. There are all kinds of legends and mysteries associated with the castle, including the caves which lie underneath the edifice. I decided to make it the setting for a novel about the Cathars, since for a time it had been a Cathar fortress. In spite of heresy and turmoil, it is a spot favored by the Mother of God.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Veil: A Mystical Symbol

Most people are familiar with the injunction of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11: 5,6, 13 for women to wear veils in church. It is interesting, however, to reflect upon other scriptural passages in which persons or things are covered out of reverence for God, beginning in the Old Testament. In ancient times, covering oneself, and especially hiding the face, was a sign of respect and obeisance. In Genesis 24:65 Rebecca covers herself at the approach of her bridegroom. In Exodus 34:33 Moses veils himself after beholding the glory of God. Exodus 36 describes in detail the curtains which were to veil the Holy of Holies. What was sacred was generally veiled. When I was a child, the tabernacles of Catholic churches were always veiled.

In II Kings 15:30 King David ascended the Mount of Olives weeping for his sins, barefoot like one in mourning, with his head covered so that no one could see him. In III Kings 19:13 Elias covers his face with his mantle at the manifestation of the power of God. Isaiah (6:2) describes the seraphim covering their faces with their wings before the Divine Majesty. Ezekiel 16:8 describes the spouse covering the bride with his garment.

The Navarre Bible footnotes present an interesting commentary on 1 Corinthians 11: 5-13. Women were to cover their heads as a sign that they have an important role in the Church, but one distinct from men. "Christian practice and profane custom show women's dress to be not unimportant.... Customs are a way of thinking. External comportment is important because it reflects people's inner dispositions." In our society, what is feminine is replaced by what is immodest and yet modesty and chastity are the greatest ornament of women. Head-coverings for women at Mass are part of an ancient tradition which the Apostle St. Paul insisted upon in the new dispensation as a continuation of a sacred sign of bridal holiness and reverence. All women are to be brides at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

There have been interesting discussions over the years on the topic of head-coverings for women in the National Catholic Register. I believe that if women feel called to wear hats or veils in the house of God then they should do so, without human respect.

More HERE.
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