The Pope, the Word & the World

At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun;
to the furthest end of the sky is its course.
There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.

(Psalm 19)

How funny. Not funny, “ha-ha” but funny “strange.” And good.

The pope announced last week
that he would begin a televised reading of all 73 books of the bible beginning yesterday. Spare me notes arguing about the number of books in the bible – I’m not going to get mired down in apologetics – and just stick with me.

So, think about it – right now GOING OUT OVER THE AIR – from Rome, is The Word. In its entirety, whole and complete, without any books tossed aside or neglected.

Who rules the air? Who does St. Paul call “the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now works on the children of unbelief…” in Ephesians 2:2?

That’s right.

This is a battle. There are things seen and unseen. Right now we see a battle being played out, politically, economically and socially. But there is another battle being played out as well – all around us, borne on the invisible air. I think Benedict is brilliant in doing this. The Word being breathed into the air, unabridged, and the Holy Spirit rides on the breath. This is very cool.

And then today, the whole world financial picture runs precarious, and Benedict steps up and says, essentially, “it is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in princes…” (Psalm 118;9)

Pope says world financial system “built on sand”.

Pope Benedict XVI today said that the global credit crisis shows that the world’s financial systems are “built on sand” and that only the works (sic) of God have “solid reality”.

… ”He who builds only on visible and tangible things like success, career and money builds the house of his life on sand”. He added: ”We are now seeing, in the collapse of major banks, that money vanishes, it is nothing. All these things that appear to be real are in fact secondary. Only God’s words are a solid reality”.

I love that: “only God’s words are a solid reality…” and this very day the Pope has people reading that Word out to the world.

It doesn’t really matter if no one listens. Some will, some won’t. The major portion of the Word will be read to no audience at all. But by the very act of reading it – of sending those words forth, on the air – the power of the Word is unleashed, and will still be efficacious. Just as a prayer said when one is tired, distracted and woebegotten is as much a prayer as one said fervently, there is power in this act of Benedict’s, as the prophet Isaiah foretold: So shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

Do you remember President Bush’s first inaugural address, wherein he quoted John Paige in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, “Do you not think an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?

The operative word there may well be “directs.” While things may feel very chaotic right now, I feel confident that all things are working to God’s purpose and glory, and so I am enormously consoled and watching with great interest – and I urge us, again, to prayer and fasting.

Prayer and Fasting: If you cannot “fast” in the classic manner, consider fasting in a different way. Give up a cigar, or chocolate or a particular treat you’ve been looking forward to. Make a sacrifice – but a real one, even if it seems trite to you; offer it up for the triumph of good over evil in this battle that you know is being fought all around us. Yesterday I really, really wanted oatmeal for breakfast and my husband, noting how badly I wanted it, said “if you want it that badly and you’re fasting, perhaps you should give it up.”

He was right. I offered it up and had something I did not want, instead.

That sounds silly, doesn’t it? But the truth is, this is all a part of the “training exercise” that I think we’re being called to with our fasting and prayer: to try self-abnegation instead of self-gratification, to deny ourselves instead of instantly answering every desire of our hearts. In this way we start to separate the wheat and chaff that have accumulated in our own lives, indeed within our very souls. The oatmeal is a good example. I wanted it, I craved it; I did not need it. I lived without it. I said “no” instead of “yes” to myself and I survived.

The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing
— Psalm 145, KJV

It’s a small thing. But we may find ourselves, soon, being asked to do with less and less, and to give up more and more – to increasingly turn away from the world, in all of its illusions, and toward The One who Is and Was and Ever Shall Be (curiously enough, that is not Barack Obama). Best to train for that, and discipline ourselves a bit. Best to reconnect with the truth that Pope Benedict sends our way – along with the Word – this very week: only the Word is a solid reality.

Pray for the good. Pray for the victory of good over evil. And while we’re at it, let us not forget to pray for President Bush, surely the most put-upon man of the last 100 years. Even I – sadly – was tempted to forget that last week. But then I remembered this (H/T Michelle Malkin) and snapped out of it.

I’ll have more to write about Bush later, but keep in mind, he has had a role to play, here – a difficult one that has required unfathomable humility: he’s been the sheep to the slaughter, opening not his mouth in his own defense. There is power and purpose, I am sure, in that as well. I’m going to write more on that tonight, so check back.

Meanwhile – I like this psalm and leave if for you as I head out to Adoration. You can get a taste of that here, thanks to these fine ladies, and how odd, when you stop to think of it, that last week, their benefactor had offered the flower donation “for the intentions of President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI.”

More things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of…

In today’s Liturgy of the Hours, for Day Prayer we read:
The law of the Lord is perfect,
it revives the soul.
The rule of the Lord is to be trusted,
it gives wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right,
they gladden the heart.
The command of the Lord is clear,
it gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the Lord is holy,
abiding for ever.
The decrees of the Lord are truth
and all of them just.

They are more to be desired than gold,
than the purest of gold
and sweeter are they than honey,
than honey from the comb.

So in them your servant finds instruction;
great reward is in their keeping.
But who can detect all his errors?
From hidden faults acquit me.

From presumption restrain your servant
and let it not rule me.
Then shall I be blameless,
clean from grave sin.

May the spoken words of my mouth,
the thoughts of my heart,
win favor in your sight, O Lord,
my rescuer, my rock!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • ultraguy

    Amen, sister!!!!

    Now here’s the scary and, for the faithful, tremendously exciting bit… This pouring out of the Word into the air ends when? Later this week?

    Revelation 16:17 tells us that:

    The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and out of the temple came a loud voice from the throne, saying, “It is done!”

    The next bit is even scarier… Gulp. Fasting and praying indeed…

  • Bridey

    With reference to the Hamlet quote, something I thought of today is from one of my favorite things in the world, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King:

    If thou shouldst never see my face again,
    Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
    Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
    Rise like a fountain for me night and day.

    I find the idea of a voice in prayer rising perpetually, like an ever-flowing fountain, a powerful one. Maybe it adds something that Arthur is speaking to Bedivere, the first man he knighted and the last left beside him after the long final battle with traitorous forces. The kingdom Arthur built has collapsed into chaos, poisoned by deception and betrayal at the highest levels.

    Sir Arthur also said, “Cast all your cares on God. That anchor holds.”

  • VinceP1974

    I have been increasingly drawn to these two parts of the NT

    2 Timothy 3:1

    Ministry in the Last Days

    But understand this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, savage, opposed to what is good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, loving pleasure rather than loving God. They will maintain the outward appearance of religion but will have repudiated its power. So avoid people like these. For some of these insinuate themselves into households and captivate weak women who are overwhelmed with sins and led along by various passions. Such women are always seeking instruction, yet never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

    Revelation 3:14
    To the Church in Laodicea

    “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following

    “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see!

    All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent! Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me. I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

  • Gayle Miller

    As I write this, I am playing – as I have done all day – the CD called “Prayers” by Sumi Jo – everything from Amazing Grace to Ave Maria and good stuff in between. It keeps me from hearing all the babble about how horrible Sarah Palin is and the wonders of the Obamamessiah! Are we going to survive this test of our faith – I have no idea whatsoever! But prayers cannot hurt. And they might help.

  • VinceP1974

    The gloves are off!!!

    McCain today:

    My opponent has invited serious questioning by announcing a few weeks ago that he would quote — “take off the gloves.” Since then, whenever I have questioned his policies or his record, he has called me a liar.

    Rather than answer his critics, Senator Obama will try to distract you from noticing that he never answers the serious and legitimate questions he has been asked. But let me reply in the plainest terms I know. I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people. And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn’t seek advice from a Chicago politician.

    My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, there’s always a back story with Senator Obama. All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.

    Our current economic crisis is a good case in point. What was his actual record in the years before the great economic crisis of our lifetimes?

    This crisis started in our housing market in the form of subprime loans that were pushed on people who could not afford them. Bad mortgages were being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it was only a matter of time before a contagion of unsustainable debt began to spread. This corruption was encouraged by Democrats in Congress, and abetted by Senator Obama.

    Senator Obama has accused me of opposing regulation to avert this crisis. I guess he believes if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough it will be believed. But the truth is I was the one who called at the time for tighter restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that could have helped prevent this crisis from happening in the first place.

    Senator Obama was silent on the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his Democratic allies in Congress opposed every effort to rein them in. As recently as September of last year he said that subprime loans had been, quote, “a good idea.” Well, Senator Obama, that “good idea” has now plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    To hear him talk now, you’d think he’d always opposed the dangerous practices at these institutions. But there is absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did. He was surely familiar with the people who were creating this problem. The executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have advised him, and he has taken their money for his campaign. He has received more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than any other senator in history, with the exception of the chairman of the committee overseeing them. Did he ever talk to the executives at Fannie and Freddie about these reckless loans? Did he ever discuss with them the stronger oversight I proposed? If Senator Obama is such a champion of financial regulation, why didn’t he support these regulations that could have prevented this crisis in the first place? He won’t tell you, but you deserve an answer.

    Who is the real Senator Obama? Is he the candidate who promises to cut middle class taxes, or the politician who voted to raise middle class taxes? Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch?

    Is he the candidate who promises change, or is he the politician who has bought into everything that is wrong with Washington? We can’t change the system with someone who’s never fought the system.

    Washington is on the wrong track and I’m going to set it right. The American people know my record. They know I am going to change Washington, because I’ve done it before. They know I’m going to reform our broken institutions in Washington and on Wall Street because I’ve done it before. They know I’m going to deliver relief to the middle class, because that’s what I’ve done.

  • Sweetbriar

    If you are interested in watching the live internet feed, this links directly to Italian television.

    Click on the upper right red box for the live feed to the reading. It’s in Italian. They’re up to Judges 17 as of Monday 4:45 EST.

    Anchoress is right. It’s The Word. It wars against the powers of darkness…. in every language.

    [Thanks for that, Sweetbriar - edited to admit link, admin]

  • Fr. Steve Leake

    I am so grateful we have a Holy Father who can lead us in difficult times. Let’s pray enough voters show up to vote for a real political leader who can guide us as well! Prayer and fasting…!

  • Jeanette

    It’s strange but I just listened to a sermon about the wise man building his house on a rock and a foolish man building his house on the sand. When the rain came down you know which house survived.

    The Word of God is as a rock. We even have a huge rock in our youth area of our church. It’s the centerpiece of that area and is called “The Rock”.

    I don’t think we are in the times of Revelation yet (the Tribulation where the horns are blown) as I do dabble in prophecy. All prophecy in the Bible is 100% correct because God is not constrained by time and to Him it has already happened.

    Jesus told us He will come back for us secretely at first. The Church as a whole, meaning all believers from all times, to unite our bodies with our souls. That’s what we Baptists and others call the “Rapture”, and I believe that time is very close.

    After the Tribulation is the millenial Kingdom where Jesus will rule supreme. Then the judgment of the wicked and the final locking up of the prince of darkness and his demons with the key to be thrown away.

    The Pope reading the Gospel to the world fits in because Jesus told us everyone in the world would hear the Gospel, even if the angels have to proclaim it to those in places we don’t even know yet.

    My husband and I were talking about the crowns we get in Heaven yesterday and I couldn’t remember all of them. He said as long as he has the crown of life he doesn’t care.

    All true believers have the crown of life and no one can take it away. Praise God for His wonderful love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    I’m not nitpicking but we have just 66 books in our Bible. If you know which are the extra 7 I’d be interested to know.

    [Jeannette - I don't get too caught up in "end times" stuff - possibly because my dear, departed mother spent pretty much her whole life talking about them. As to which books we have that you don't, I have to look it up. It's the ones Martin Luther threw out. Sirach, James...I'll look it up! :-) -admin]

    [Jeannette, here is the list of what is different in the bibles... -admin]

  • Obis_Sister

    Dear Anchoress,
    After the last couple of posts on prayer and the whiff of evil in the air, I just had to jump up and blurt this out…

    Have you ever read either of the Frank Peretti books on spiritual warfare? They are both fiction; “This Present Darkness” and “Piercing the Darkness.” What I remember most about both of these books, is that certainly there are those who are targeted by darkness – they could feel the evilness of the demon’s wings as they fluttered about them. God’s angels watch those under attack and fight the evil back. The battles take place in the AIR.

    Lots of folks down here talk about End Times, especially since the Left Behind books were so popular. Me, I don’t worry about it that much. Jesus said He would return like a thief in the night, and if He said it, I believe it. I’m ready.

  • Scott H

    Anchoress: My mother spends, I think, a bit too much time preoccupied with the End Times. I know far more than I ever wanted to know about it, and I knew it at perhaps too early of an age. If I could discuss this subject with you more over email, I would appreciate it.

    Jeanette: As you are probably aware, Catholics do not believe in the Rapture per se. The sticking point is that we, the Faithful, must be purified, and that is the point of the Tribulation. (This is clearly shown in the very terms we use to describe it.) Thus, for a Rapture to occur _before_ the Tribulation makes little sense. However, there are schools of thought that believe a Rapture-like event will occur sometime during the Tribulation (rather than at the end).

    I was actually reading Lewis’s _The Problem of Pain_ over the last few days, and in it he underlines the reason for pain. It is there to instruct us in our fallen state (if I may put so eloquent an argument in a few woefully insufficient words). As such, we must understand that the Tribulation is not ‘only’ punishment, but intended for those that can realize it to return to God. Free will, being what it is, however, means that the possibility always exists for someone to not return, and that is a very sad state to contemplate.

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  • Bender B. Rodriguez

    I don’t think we are in the times of Revelation yet

    Actually, most of the times of Revelation were about 1900 years ago, during the time of the Nero persecution of the Church. However, the teachings of Revelation as pertaining to those times do apply in any time of persecution — that evil does not have the final say and that those who remain faithful to the end will be saved.

  • VinceP1974

    I think we’re very close to the Last Day.

    Most Americans think it’s going to happen the way it’s laid out in Left Behind.. but they’re wrong. Oh so wrong.

    The Revived Roman Empire paradigm doesn’t fit.

    The empire of the Antichrist will be a revived Caliphate, under the leadership of the Mahdi , who is supported by Isa (The Muslim Jesus).

    On my website I reference a book which explains, along with a video “trailer” for the book.

    BTW: The Has anyone considered that the 3rd Seal is not necessarily famine? It could be about worthless money.

    Rev 6:5 Then when the Lamb opened the third seal I heard the third living creature saying, “Come!” So I looked, and here came a black horse! The one who rode it had a balance scale in his hand. 6:6 Then I heard something like a voice from among the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat will cost a day’s pay and three quarts of barley will cost a day’s pay. But26 do not damage the olive oil and the wine!”

    Note that it doesn’t say that there is no food, just that it is super expensive, and yet pleasurable things (and drugs?) seem abundant as well as affordable.

    I’m not saying that right now is the 3rd seal… I frown against taking these things out of their context and applying them singularly… that doesn’t work.

    I’m just raising the issue from a new POV.

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