So That No One May Boast

From the last post we see that after Jacob’s warring with Essau in the womb of Rebekah, Jacob now must war with God for heeding his mother and stealing the birthright that would lead to the Messiah. His war with the Angel of God left him with a new name, Israel, and an affliction. Often needed to break the pride of those destined to be united to God, the mark of Christianity. So that no one may boast. Witness how the story of the betrayal, burial, and resurrection of Christ the Messiah was subsequently foretold in the story of Israel’s son Joseph and his betrayal, burial, and reemergence (Genesis 37).

From this point the People of God urge on the coming of the Messiah, the day for God’s answer to Abraham that He will provide the Lamb of sacrifice. So that God Himself will offer up His own Blood for man. Witness how Moses emerges from purgatory and Elijah from his hiding place to urge Jesus on to His crucifixion at the mountain of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17). The dream of Jacob is fulfilled. Heaven has opened up.

The lineage cannot boast but in Christ the Messiah.

LUKE 3:8. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.

And how could God be conceived in the flesh without the boast of parents? Witness Joseph’s humiliation from the virginal conception of Mary (Matthew 1). But to eternally protect the incarnation of our Lord from the boast of lineage, God reached back before the fall of man that came from Adam’s sin of pride. To create the most exquisite creature every created and ever will be. Who will never boast but in God and His grace, but in whom we all can be proud. Who alone has the grace to undo the knot of pride tied by Rebekah.

The War of First-Borns and the Limp of Jacob

The war between first-born brothers is from the ages, beginning with Abel and Cain (Genesis 4). It is ongoing. A war was even apparent in the womb of Rebekah as Jacob grabs Esau’s heel (Genesis 25:26). The title and blessing of first born in this chapter was forfeited by shallowness first and then stolen through deception (Genesis 27). An often despised story, but nonetheless leading to Christ the Messiah.

Why did God keep silent? Or did He? Did He not confront the birthright thief as the Angel of God resulting in a handicap (Genesis 32) for him and a reminder for us of his deception? And until when?

Romans 3:25. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. 26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

1 Corinthians: 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that NO ONE may boast before Him.

If the Messiah came from Esau’s first-born birthright, one might be weakly able to say His descendants could boast. But descendants of Jacob’s deception could not. We are justified by Christ, not His lineage.

Hebrews 12:22-24. What you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel’s.


Troparion of Saint James

O Holy James, as a disciple of the Lord, you received the Gospel. As a martyr, you displayed an unyielding will. As a brother of God, you have special power with Him. As a hierarch, you have the right of intercession. Intercede therefore with Christ God that He may save our souls.

The Beast and The Bride of Christ

Whether or not one feels we are entering into the apocalypse before Christ’s final coming, we can see how the Church, the Bride of Christ, is lured into the beast of the end times. The beast is the system that can usher in the Anti-Christ. The method is exactly that, an incorporation. In this case a tax entity. God can do no wrong and no evil can overwhelm without disobeying God. So God must have the Word that protects against evil. Certainly the unfaithfulness of the shepherds on issues of morality is at the core, but the lure of incorporation and consolidation of the Church into the beast may be related to disobeying another, if not command, then at least, a suggestion Christ directly made to the Apostles. Pay your taxes.

The Church teaches rightly that we should pay our taxes. But why don’t they pay their share? Only the defrauded can recognize the fraud. Tax structures have the potential to create an illusion of a moral code, a self-deluded perception that we are okay. In the code of governments, Al Capone was a tax-evader, not a murderer or illicit business operator. In the code of governments, natural immunity does not exist, only immunity from regular vaccinations

Look carefully at the words of our Lord in the following Matthew passage.

Matthew 17: 23 And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that received the didrachmas, came to Peter and said to him: Doth not your master pay the didrachmas? 24 He said: Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying: What is thy opinion, Simon? The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute or custom? of their own children, or of strangers? 25 And he said: Of strangers. Jesus said to him: Then the children are free. 26 But that we may not scandalize them…thou shalt find a stater: take that, and give it to them for me and thee.

Jesus is stating the arbitrary nature of the tax and addressing His bride directly, He says pay it. He is saying that by not paying it, she (His Bride) becomes like the children of the kings of the earth, not of His Kingship.

Does the Church have to go underground for us to realize this? Christ is directly addressing the concept of a tax exemption here. It is time to grow up. If we want history to continue.

Christ the King Icon in Maaloula Syria
Christ the King Icon in Maaloula Syria

Kontakion of Saint Matthew

When you renounced the instruments of a tax-collector, to choose those of justice, you became an excellent merchant, rich in Divine Wisdom. You preached the Word of Truth, and you exhort us to be always ready by your vivid description of the last judgment.

The Holiness of Restraint and Privacy

The devil cannot read our thoughts. For the devil’s craving to fill our mind with temptation and distraction, God designed a protection from satan’s plan for each of us through our will. Privacy, discretion, and prayer. So that each of us become like a portal to and from Heaven while living in a corrupt world. In our early years, it is the family that is supposed to protect our mind for lack of will. Protected in these ways we become invisible to satan.

Once our thoughts take on concrete word or action however, they become visible to satan. He then can show up. Look only how Jesus lived hidden from the world most of His life beginning with His conception in the womb of the Virgin. Even the angels of God did not know the exact moment of His conception, but could only announce it beforehand.

“The angel announces the birth to the virgin not after the conception, lest she should be thereby troubled, but before the conception he addresses her…”

St. John Chrysostom

“…the virginity of Mary was meant to baffle the prince of the world, who, when he perceived her espoused to a man, could cast no suspicion on her offspring.”

St. Ambrose

Satan showed up however once Jesus was directed to become public by the Virgin mother at the wedding feast of Cana. There was no temptation of Jesus in the wilderness before that. There was no visibility. When Jesus attempted to become public as a youth by teaching at the temple, He was whisked away by His mother and stepfather. Zeal is not a sin but timing is everything. With this invisibility, Satan’s only option are indiscriminate attacks, like the mass killings by King Herod, triggered by a moment of indiscretion by the three wise men. Note also, for later discussion, the context of the Nativity, which was the call to government census.

So are our holy thoughts to remain in us, never manifesting into action or word? Of course not. This is the realm of Holy prudence, discretion, patience and restraint. Designed to protect us from the devil and enemies. There is an incubation period needed. A formation. Charity can always manifest however in invisibility and can even enhance it, so do not restrain that. But charity can be imprudent and presumptuous sometimes. In phony cultures, the government deems charity must be public, such as for tax exemption, but that is not the way God works (Matthew 6:3).  In fact, most of God’s work is hidden from the world (John 21:25).

We can also act without speaking first to maintain invisibility. Not everything needs to be announced. God is the important witness of our acts.

How can we know more about when to act or speak? By God of course. But who protected and directed God the Son? The Virgin Mother. And who protected and directed her? Only God could have done that. The whole story of Jesus, from His conception to His crucifixion cries out that she must have been prefigured without sin. The devil may be in the details but the details of God are in the Virgin Mother.  Christianity without the Virgin Mother is unrestrained, even reckless.

In our understanding of all this, what can we make of our culture’s and government’s obsession with records, data, details of your life, notoriety, and fame. How can it be for any good? Can it really be for our protections or is it a framework for satan and our enemies. God certainly does not need it for our sanctity.  Take pornography for example:  If the  very act that creates us is public domain, then you have the guarantee that your life will be public domain from conception to grave. A corporation or government that spies on citizens has gone beyond their definitions. One that does the same while professing to be Christian is quite a distortion. But let’s restrain ourselves there.

“But still more has it baffled the prince of this world, for the malice of devils soon detects even hidden things, while they who are occupied in worldly vanities, cannot know the things of God.”

St. Ambrose

The Greater Story of Potiphar’s Wife

In the town of Maghdouche overlooking Sidon in southern Lebanon, is where legend says the wife of Potiphar (circa 1500 BC) is buried, seductress of Joseph from the Bible, which does not name her.  Jewish, Islamic, and Persian literature have her name Zulaikha. The story in the Bible is that after Joseph’s betrayal and sale into slavery by his kin (Genesis 39), he finds favor in the eyes of Potiphar, the captain of the Egyptian palace guard.  In that household, Joseph rejects the advances and seduction of Zulaikha. In the event that led to his imprisonment,  Zulaikha grabs the garment of Joseph but he escapes naked running out of the palace. She lies to Potiphar saying that he was the instigator and Joseph is sent to prison. There, Joseph finds new and greater favor and position with the Pharaoh, ultimately becoming a source of salvation and blessings for his kin, the very people who betrayed him.

This story reminds us two recurring themes of God’s grace and mercy:

1. In being wronged and betrayed, we can become a source of grace for  people, many more people and much more grace than would have been available if the betrayal and evil had never been done.  In receiving God’s grace and mercy we bring along other people too.

2. The continuum of grace always occurs through the fulcrum of chastity.

But this story is only an early chapter, with earlier, later, and other chapters to come.

The town of Magdouche is an ancient promontory and look-out post for Sidon. During Phoenician times (peak 1200-800 BC) the promontory had the shrine to Astarte, the pagan goddess of war and sexuality. The pagan legend has Astarte bearing two sons from her brother, Eros and Lust. Astarte is likely the same pagan goddess of Sidon, Ashtoreth, who captured the heart of Solomon, son of David (1 Kings 11:5).

The shrine was taken over by Christians after the Virgin Theotokos stayed in a cave there while waiting for her Son to return from preaching in Sidon.  Jesus’ work in Sidon is referenced in many places in the new Testament (Matthew 11:21-22, Mark 3:8 and 7:31, and Luke 6:17) with even Matthew 15:21 referencing the city as a place of refuge for Jesus.

It took the convincing of St. Helena in the 4th Century by the devoted town folk for the empire to issue an icon of the Theotokos, reportedly painted by St. Luke, to the cave/Byzantine chapel: the Virgin of Mantara (the Waiting) or Virgin of Magdouche.

In the 8th Century, the cave was buried and hidden by locals to escape the detection of the local Moslem governors. Unlike the Caliph Omar who spared Jerusalem, they feared the cave would be destroyed by those leaders. Many of the region then dispersed into the higher mountains or converted to Islam. The Crusaders of the Latin Rite in Sidon of the 12th and 13th Centuries never suspected the chapel’s existence even with their own castle and chapel a stone’s throw from the hidden cave.

The cave’s legend lingered however.

Under the rule of the benevolent Druze Prince Fakhriddin II in the early 17th Century, peace and religious freedom was granted to the region. Byzantine Archbishop Euthymios Michael Saifi of Sidon (1682 – 1723) offered recognition of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Around that time, the grotto was rediscovered when a goat-herder boy went after a goat who had fallen into the cave.  The boy, we can call him Indiana Jones Jr., noticed the icon as the goat ran back into his arms.  He piled rocks to escape with his beloved goat, alerting the townsfolk of his accidental excavation. The  pilgrimages restarted.

So the worship of Astarte was replaced with love and devotion, now restarted, to the chaste and virgin Mother of God, the Living Ark of the Covenant. Her chaste and virgin Son was also wronged and betrayed, becoming a source of grace offered for all people, infinitely more than would have been available if the betrayal and evil had never been done. Lest anyone think that this is not related to the Potiphar story or that God’s hand does not sign scripture, read the evangelist Mark’s stunning account of what happened immediately after Jesus was betrayed in the garden of Gethsemane:

Mark 14:51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

The winter now is past, the rains have gone away. Arise my love, my bride from Lebanon and come. How you are beautiful my love, how you are fair. Among all women as a lily in the thorns.

Veni Sponsa Christi

Contraception and the Soul and Body Decoupling

TRINITY BY RUBLEV
TRINITY BY RUBLEV

God is triune, three Persons in One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A glimpse of this mystery can be facilitated by looking at who any one of us are. God made man in His image. So there must be a clue in us about God.

Any one of us must be a son or daughter of someone. We can espouse and become a spouse. We can procreate or adopt and become father or mother. So each one of us can mirror the three persons in one, although we are each only one person. Even those that do not marry or do not have children, still have that three-in-one reminder of God in their very being.  We exist for the glory of God. The triune character of man or woman, has an inherent potential to be faithful, like a spouse, or care for another, like a mother or father would. The Holy Virgin has a triune character: Crowned Daughter, faithful Spouse, and Virgin Mother.  Meet the new Eve, the Realm of God’s Love. Her triune character is all for the glory of God.

In the capacity or actuality of the three-in-one character in us, there is then the mark or reminder of the Divine.  Note that this state is not contingent on having sexual relations; rather it is a primordial and eternal state of the soul.  A characteristic of the Divine substance.  The teaching and notion of the Holy Virgin embodies this truth. This leaves the sexual act in its proper place: the creation of new life. And this teaches male-female relationships without sexuality.

In creating man, God meant that no gift be not subject to the will.  Contraception. like an illicit drug,  effectively makes a decision for you and in direct opposition to the triune character.  It is replacing your will, a component of the soul, so the will weakens. In the case of the contraceptive drug, the effect can also weaken the male’s will, who has to interact with the female in everyday life. Contraception produces a subtle distortion in the soul made for the glory of the Triune God, leading to the soul’s dysfunction.  Male and female. Meet the curse of the modern age.

Now man in the image of God is created body and soul. Intimately intertwined. The body then manifests the soul, along the principle that form follows function. The bodily change that results from contraception contradicts the function.  With this understanding, such an alteration of the body might be expected to result in ill-effects on the physical health of the person. And it does. These effects of contraception have been documented in the medical literature but have been effectively swept under the rug by the main-stream culture:

Blood clots in the extremities and pulmonary emboli.  In recent decades, there was the not infrequent puzzle of explaining chest pain in young women with normal chest x-rays. With the current use (and abuse) of CT scans, small pulmonary emboli are now known to be the cause. Small and insignificant, is the the current cultural rationalization to carry on.

The cyclical nature of contraceptive drugs is designed to trick the body into recognizing a pregnancy that is not there. The ovulation is thwarted. The uterus also looses the natural cycle, now capable of denying the implantation of breakthrough fertilization. If these organs are to be so fooled on a monthly basis for most of the adult life of a person, then how can we not expect the rest of our organs and tissues to be not fooled? Month after month. What about the cumulative effects? This background is the scientific explanation of the statistically proven dysplasia in breast tissue from contraceptives that increases the risk of cancer. It is called biological plausibility, the long lost spouse of biostatistics. A doctor should be able to explain things to patients in terms they understand.

Not to be left undone, the male has his equivalent. There is the emerging realization of the link between vasectomies and aggressive prostate cancer.

And what about other tissues? The brain for example. If it is well known that pregnancy causes psychological effects, then why not monthly phony pregnancies?

The analogy of mind-altering drug use is appropriate: Illicit drugs block the intellect, will, and memory, components of the soul, and produce adverse health-effects on the body.

But can we stop with contraception?  If the person develops habits that deny the triune nature of the soul then might we not develop yet unstudied effects on the body from other inventions like barrier methods to avoid pregnancy, or even masturbation or pornography? What is the effect of the soul, our will and intellect, by these habits? Our productivity? Our peace of mind? Do we become like deer during rut season, except all year round and for all our lives?

Dysfunctional souls are easy prey for predators. Without even mentioning the devil and his goals, the dysfunctional soul becomes fodder for the proponents of population control that deny the freedom, will, and the means available to humans. They believe in animal husbandry. You are a cow in a herd. You have no control over your facilities. They propose contraception while encouraging seduction, the continual hum of the culture. Just like the medical industry  creates pathology for treatment and the war industry, conflict for hardware.

James 4: 1, From whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not hence, from your concupiscences, which war in your members?

“Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better that what is admitted to be good.”

Saint John Chrysostom, De virginitatae

XY

The lack of teaching the truth of the Faith is coming to fruition and taking leadership positions. Ordaining a female priest is as impossible as a male delivering a baby. Know what you are getting into. When you enter the Faith, you consume the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate in a male. XY.  This is not a symbol or the imagination. So having a female say the words of consecration “This is my Body” is to tell a lie in public. God cannot change the sex of a human once conceived. That is the realm of a myriad of religions and philosophies available to hide your conscience, that believe in reincarnation. Because we are conceived male OR female in love; and God cannot undo His work of Love. We can only reject His work. The Divine Liturgy is a Divine Opera that enacts God’s redemptive work and presents His Incarnate Divine Son in the flesh for consumption. XY. And not only XY, but the exact chromosome set of God Incarnate.  So a male only can act as Priest, just as a woman only can carry and delivery a baby. Any other other way will not produce consumable mysteries. Consider this a nutrition label.