Friday, April 3, 2015

A look at the ecumenism-based resistance to the Good Friday Reproaches (Improperia)

Are the Good Friday Improperia, also known as the reproaches, anti-Semitic? They have been controversial, particularly since Vatican II and Nostra Aetate. Some Jewish commentators resent them, saying that they are a parody of the Dayenu of the Haggadah. They do bear some resemblance (one would expect liturgical similarities between the rites of Judaism and those of Christian antiquity). I don’t think the similarity is strong enough to suggest derivation.

Regardless, it’s clear from the opposition that the Improperia are controversial. It may seem that since they are “optional” it may be un-ecumenical to include them. But is that really the case? I maintain that to exclude a liturgical rite for such reasons is not only bad ecumenism but also un-Catholic; the reasons for this conclusion I will detail below.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Read any Greek word ... Yes, you!

I thought I would publish some of my notes. Since 2011, I have been teaching Biblical Greek at JP Catholic University. One of the things that always surprised the students was how quickly they could read the Greek characters. You have probably noticed that I use a lot of Greek on this blog. I do presume that some of my readers know Greek, but I also cannot help it. I love it. Everyone should learn Greek if he or she does not yet know it. In fact, the classical languages of Latin and Greek would likely have been included in your basic curriculum had you grown up a little over a century ago (that in itself is proof that forward movement in time does not always equal progress in culture).

There are many reasons to learn Greek: reading the Sacred Scriptures in their original language, appreciating the beauty of the classics, improving your English vocabulary, preparing for medical studies, better understanding of poetry. Greek is a sacred language. “Jesus the Nazorean the King of the Jews” was not written on the Cross of Christ in English, or even Old English. But it was written there in Greek: Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ βασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων.

If you read this post, you will be able to read any Greek word that I post. If you want to learn more, at the end I will recommend some grammars to you and you can be on your way. I have two words for you: μὴ φοβηθῇς (Fear not!)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Jimmy Akin correct that the Gospel of John was written during Peter's lifetime?

Recently, the Catholic Answers apologist Jimmy Akin wrote a very interesting post on the dating of the Gospel of John. I read the text differently than he does. Below is a synopsis of his argument (I would encourage you to read the whole post on his blog on the NC Register). First, the Scripture in question:

John 21:18-19 (RSV):
Truly, truly, I say to you,
when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would;
but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”
(This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.)

Update: New Domain Name

Blogger read my mind. The kevinmclarke.blogspot.com address now redirects to the current one, www.thecharcoalfire.com. That's far more fitting. When I looked into the address a while back, it was taken, so it must have opened up. If you stumble upon this Web site looking for tips for starting a fire, stick around and explore as you warm yourself. Maybe I can track down some guest bloggers and stoke the coals a bit now that my name is not in the URL.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Maximus the Confessor on Priestly Celibacy (7th century)

I stumbled upon a pretty awesome articulation of the theology of priestly celibacy from the 7th century. This defense of priestly celibacy from the patristic era is a very pithy and theologically loaded response in Maximus the Confessor's work Quaestiones et dubita (English translation available here: Questions and Doubts). Note that his answer has nothing to do with priestly corruption or practical concerns of governance (κ.τ.λ., as goes the modern narrative). The Greek is provided, and the translation is from D.D. Prassas.

St. Maximus, whom a pope should one day declare doctor of the Church, hits it out of the park, as usual:


Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Flesh is Willing, But the Spirit is Weak: An Invitation to Black Friday Masses to Darken Better-Illumined Doors

“Land of the pilgrims’ pride,” why do you keep a vigil tonight? For a TV? The latest video game console? A toy for a dear child? Perhaps you have done this before: For tickets to a sporting event? Or a concert?

And what do you suffer for it? Biting cold. Sleep loss, Constant discomfort from standing in one spot for hours on end, not realizing you would become hungry? Do you enjoy the company of those in line with you? Will there be bruises and aggression when those doors finally open? Will your expectations be fulfilled, and if so, do you expect they will satisfy?

Here you are in the elements under the stars, in a quiet moment as you wait for an open door. Have you had a quiet moment since last year’s vigil? Does it not pull at your heart, that maybe there is something more?
When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars which thou hast established;
what is man that thou art mindful of him,
and the son of man that thou dost care for him?
Yet thou hast made him little less than God,
and dost crown him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-5).

It seems that you and we have contrary problems. Let me explain.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Flowchart: Shall I, a Catholic, Talk to the Media about the Catholic Church?

After watching debacle after disaster of episcopal interviews with the mainstream media and having to deal (along with my fellow laypeople) with the "fallout" of these things, I decided to take a couple of minutes to put my limited flowchart-making skills to the service of the Church.

This is likely about as close to infallible as I can get as a layman.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Need a Gift Idea for the Perpetual Student in Your Life?

For your career academic: While I usually don't do non-book product endorsements, I cannot begin to tell you how awesome this is a.) for reading comfortably at one's desk, b.) for annotating margins, and c.) for typing extended quotes. I bought one in August and love it. Don't know how I made it through 19 years of schooling without one. The perpetual student you know would thank you forever.

KLOUD City - Wood bookstand iPad holder

A friend purchased this one, and it looks awesome, too.



I suppose one could also use it to hold cookbooks. Note the great reviews.

You're welcome!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Cardinal Burke, like the saints before him, walk upon the narrow path

If you have 90 seconds to spare, be sure to go sign this petition of thanks to Cardinal Burke for his many years of exemplary service to the Church. Sign here.

My thoughts are as follows.

Friday, November 7, 2014

You are going to be judged, so let’s put to rest the whole ‘judgmental’ narrative

So I stumbled across the Oatmeal’s smear of Catholicism, and of religion in general. One would think I would learn my lesson about stumbling (particularly into 2-year-old oatmeal). True to form, oatmeal done well can be a pleasant (albeit inferior) breakfast thing, but bad oatmeal is a bottomless bowl of misery and loathing. Well, it didn't sit too well in my stomach, and now you will have to deal with my consequent logorrhea.

In thinking about the popularity of this line of thought, it occurred to me that one of the great crises of today is that people do not have hope for eternal life. Why else would one post such drivel as,



“Does [your religion] help you cope with the fact that you are a bag of meat sitting on a rock in outer space and that someday you will DIE and you are completely powerless, helpless and insignificant in the wake of this beautiful cosmic [expletive]storm we call existence?  Does it help with that? Yes? Excellent! Carry on with your religion! *Just keep it to your [expletive] self.”

No. Not possible for Catholics. And Catholics who think it’s possible are doing Catholicism wrongly. Therefore, I thought I’d write the most judgmental thing I can muster.