Five Reasons to Add Josephus to Your Summer Reading List

The Jewish War is Josephus’ personal account of the Roman siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and is indispensable to anyone interested in the New Testament. Once started, it is very hard to put down.

Josephus had been the general in charge of protecting the Galilee from the Roman legions who were on the march. After his capture by Vespasian, who was not yet emperor, he defected to the Roman side and tried to negotiate with the Jews of Jerusalem on its behalf.

His real name was Joseph Matthew but changed it to Flavius Josephus when he was granted Roman citizenship. Flavius was the family name of his patrons, Emperors Vespasian and Titus.

The first reason to read it is that it sheds light on the nature of “mob rule” in 1st-century Palestine. Jesus was the victim of a mob a week after he was hailed a king by one. In Josephus mobs are everywhere and are the source of much of the instability in the region.

The second reason is that you will learn about the incredible intensity with which the Jews believed that religion was a matter of life and death. This was in stark contrast to the Romans and took them by surprise.

The third is that you will find interesting the difference among the various procurators (governors). Some would try to be accommodating to the Jews while others, like Gessius Florus (AD 64-66), simply despised them. The trouble started when Florus, an appointee of Emperor Nero, believed that the Temple in Jerusalem contained immense wealth and he wanted to get his hands on it. His intentional duplicity was meant to provoke the city to rebellion.

The fourth is that there are insights into the bitter relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. Minor conflicts led to major ones, including massacres and pillage.

Finally, the details in Josephus’ reporting of what happened to Jerusalem in 70 AD are quite shocking, an example of God’s justice and retribution on the scale of that which befell Sodom and Gomorrah. It is also a reminder to the Church today that God will not hesitate to chastise when His people have become unfaithful.

The secret to reading Josephus, in my opinion, is not to start at the beginning, a very dry and detailed accounting of the life of Herod the Great. I would recommend skipping these chapters and start with chapter seven, “Judea Under Roman Rule”. This was when the Jews of Jerusalem started having problems with the Procurators, starting with Pontius Pilate.

…rjt

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The Progressive Loss of Eucharistic Faith in Today’s Church

Senator John Kerry

At one time, a bishop’s public denial of communion to a pro-choice politician could be costly. It has been suggested that Cardinal Raymond Burke’s public insistence that communion be withheld from Senator John Kerry might have cost him the 2004 presidential election. Pope Benedict later sent the USCCB a private letter supporting Burke’s position.

In April of 2008, however, during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States, what occurred at two papal Masses might have tipped the scale in the other direction: Continue reading “The Progressive Loss of Eucharistic Faith in Today’s Church”

Has Pope Leo XIII’s 100-Year Vision Reached its Terminus?

Pope Leo XIII

This highly credible prophecy from around 1884 was a revelation to Pope Leo that God would be agreeing to a frightening request from Satan:

“Grant me one century and more power of those who will serve me, and I will destroy it [the Church].”

One can try to ascertain when the 100-year period began by looking for possible watershed events that tipped the Church into the trend of decline that persisted throughout most of the 20th-century. Conversely, one can look for the opposite as well, events suggesting that the deterioration in the Catholic Church that’s been evident for generations might have been reversed. Archbishop Vigano’s recent exposure of the corruption in the Church and the naming of authorities at the top of the Church hierarchy may have represented the latter.

Over at the Remnant, Christopher Ferrara draws a conclusion that is shared by many:

“I believe that Archbishop Viganò’s precious testimony is a sign that Heaven itself is now responding to the “need for justice” in the Church.  Whether or not justice involves the resignation of the most wayward Pope in Church history, the inevitable season of justice will culminate in the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Church’s restoration. This will be a final victory over the enemies within and their apologists.”

Continue reading “Has Pope Leo XIII’s 100-Year Vision Reached its Terminus?”

The Grim Consequences of Growing Wealth Inequality in the U.S.

French economist Thomas Piketty’s 2014 best seller, Capital in the 21st-Century, is a historical study of wealth inequality since the industrial revolution. He demonstrates that an increase in income inequality was inherent to capitalism. The formula was simple, if the rate of growth on income derived from invested assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) is higher than the gross domestic product (GDP — the rate of growth of the economy), then national wealth will be gradually concentrated in the hands of existing holders of investment assets.

The author’s painstaking statistical analysis was the first of its kind and his work is admired by a broad range of economists. He notes that there are troubling social consequences when inequality reaches a certain level, as it did just before WWI and WWII. He also discovered that the inequality is never corrected by economic growth. Continue reading “The Grim Consequences of Growing Wealth Inequality in the U.S.”

The Celestial Phenomenon on Sept. 23 and Revelation 12

Stellarium screen shot, 9/23/2017

The following will occur in the daytime sky on Sept. 23rd:

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars: And being with child, she cried travailing in birth, and was in pain to be delivered” (Revelation 12:1-2).

As the sun envelopes the constellation Virgo (a virgin maiden in Greek mythology) the moon will cross beneath her feet. At the same time twelve stars will congregate just above her head, nine from the constellation Leo plus three visiting planets: Mercury, Venus, and Mars.* The planet Jupiter (mythological king), which had entered Virgo’s torso back on Dec. 1, 2016, will have just exited between her legs on Sept. 12th, 9 1/2 months later. (Recall that Jupiter’s entry into the constellation Leo represented the birth of a prince in Babylonian astrology and inspired the journey of the Magi). Continue reading “The Celestial Phenomenon on Sept. 23 and Revelation 12”

St. Hildegard’s Unsettling Vision of the Bride of Christ

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Bride of Christ, Scivias, Book III, vision 11, chapter 13

It is generally agreed that the illuminations which accompany Hildegard’s Scivias (Rupertsberg Manuscript) were either sketched and painted by her, or produced under her supervision. The image of the Church as a Bride appears periodically throughout her visionary work. In Book III, Vision 11, chap. 13, which immediately follows her description of the era of the Grey Wolf, she describes the vision that corresponds to the illumination here:

“And I saw again the figure of a woman whom I had previously seen in front of the alter that stands before the eyes of God, …but now I saw her from the waist down. And from her waist to the place that denotes the female, she had various scaly blemishes, and in that latter place was a black and monstrous head.”

The Bride who appeared in an earlier vision only from the waist up is now seen fully complete, which reflects that the last days have arrived. Importantly, Hildegard adds that by this time the Church will be “…replete with the full number of her children” (Chap. 13); it will have completed her mission of evangelization. Continue reading “St. Hildegard’s Unsettling Vision of the Bride of Christ”

The Vatican Bank May Be Running Out of Time

In canon lawyer Ed Condon’s recent article critical of the Pope’s actions against the Knights of Malta, he makes an astute observation about possible unintended consequences:

The disregard for the mutually sovereign relationship between the Holy See and the Order sets a precedent in international law, which will now lurk under the Secretariat of State’s dealings with other governments like an unexploded bomb.

Cardinal Parolin should prepare to see today’s actions cited as legitimate precedent when the IOR, commonly called the Vatican Bank, finds its sovereign independence under renewed pressure from other countries or international bodies. [emphasis mine]

With respect to the bank, one has to ask just how long the Italian government’s going to tolerate this institution? While the current pontiff had promised to clean up Vatican finances, he recently ordered Archbishop Becciu to abruptly cancel an outside audit of the bank by PricewaterhouseCooper. According to journalist Edward Pentin, it was over the issue of transparency: Continue reading “The Vatican Bank May Be Running Out of Time”

The Upcoming Elections

election1If the arguments presented in my book, The Five beasts of St. Hildegard, are compelling, and that the historical eras that are represented by the animal symbols have been underway, then current events would be expected to be consistent with or at least not contradict Hildegard’s vision. The current era, the Black Pig (1991-present), is the fourth period and is described as a time when leaders enact laws that are contrary to divine natural law.

There are two keys Hildegard provides to help us recognize these eras: one is that each one will have a singular dominant social evil, the other is that this evil will be evident from the very beginning of the period to its end. The latter is symbolized by the ropes extending from the mouth of the beast to a mountain which represents the individual sin. She explains that the blackness of the ropes symbolizes the attachment of the people (in this era that’s a reference to governmental authorities) to the sin and its persistence throughout the era. For example, the era of the Pale Horse (1914-1945) was described by Hildegard as an era of militarism and unjust wars, which is exactly how historians describe that period. Continue reading “The Upcoming Elections”

Is the Sign of Jonah Hanging Over Today’s Church?

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The Prophet Jonah Before the Walls of Nineveh, Rembrandt

In 2010, Msgr. Charles Pope penned an article entitled “What is the Sign of Jonah and Has it Come Upon Us“. He focused on the Lucan version of the story, exploring the history of Jonah’s encounter with the Ninevites to come up with a deeper meaning for the “sign”. This eventually leads him to wonder if there is a similar threat which is directed at Western society today and the Church in particular, offering his own words of warning. Much has changed since 2010 and in revisiting this article Monsignor’s words seem almost prophetic.

The passage from St. Luke:

“This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here” (Luke 11:29-32).

Continue reading “Is the Sign of Jonah Hanging Over Today’s Church?”

Contraception and the Guilt of Homicide

lightningSt. Hildegard wrote that in a period of time that precedes the Antichrist the Catholic Church will be punished for many sins, noting three in particular: fornication, rapine (theft or plunder), and murder (Scivias Book III, Vision 11, Chapter 13). The case for the first two as being present today isn’t difficult to make: the clerical sex abuse of children is probably the worst sexual scandal in Church history, and the well-documented troubles of the Institute for the Works of Religion (the Vatican Bank) should be a cause of embarrassment and anger for all Catholics (see Gerald Posner’s recent book, God’s Bankers). But what about homicide?

The murder accusation could be made for a number of reasons, like supporting an unjust war or the uncovering of murderous intrigues within the higher levels of the hierarchy. The latter likely only occurs in mystery novels and the former isn’t very conceivable; on the question of war the Church seems to be moving in the direction of pacifism.

But what about the refusal of Church authorities to enforce the its prohibition on the use of artificial birth control? Continue reading “Contraception and the Guilt of Homicide”