Old Testament Prophesies of Christ: Born of a Virgin

Old Testament Prophesies of Christ: Born of a Virgin LiveCatholic.net

The Old Testament shows God’s love and plan of salvation for His people. It is filled with many, many prophesies of the Messiah – the Christ who will come into the world to save it. You may have heard some of these prophesies, but if you haven’t really been paying attention you may have missed the connection. These hundreds of prophesies are some of the proof that the Apostles, and evangelists after them, use to show that Jesus really IS the Christ. And if Jesus really, truly is the Messiah, what are you waiting for? Your life can be better, filled with love, peace, mercy,  and the real joy that only God can give you. You just have to open your heart.

Today is the Annunciation, the day we celebrate the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, Jesus’ mother, to ask her if she will be the mother of the Savior. The day God became a man, so that man can become like God.

In honor of this, I thought I would start a special project I have been contemplating for some time: highlighting the Old Testament prophesies of Christ with the New Testament fulfillment of them. Over time you’ll be able to see that Jesus really is the Savior promised for thousands of years. I’m also adding a link to the Catechism for more information.

Old Testament Prophesy #1: The Messiah Will Be Born Of A Virgin

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin* shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.**

(Isaiah 7:14, DRV, 800 BC)

New Testament Fulfillment:

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:26-38, RSVCE)

*Some versions say “young woman.” The original Hebrew word “almah” means young, unmarried woman. The Greek translations used by the early Christians, used the word “parthenos,” which means virgin.

**Emmanuel means “God is with us.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church Connection: Paragraphs 484-511.

 

Not The Sort of King They Wanted

This is the first of an occasional series of meditations.

Meditation on Mark 15:2-15, Jesus Before Pontius Pilate

The crowds before Pilate wanted an earthly leader. One that would bring them power, glory & free them from the Romans.

In the Old Testament (1st Samuel, Chapter 8) the people rejected God as their king. They wanted a king like the other countries had. Even though Samuel warned them the costs of a king: taxes, being servants to the king, etc., they still wanted someone to lead them into battle, someone they could look up to and lead them to glory. They rejected their Creator, who made the universe and everything in it; the God who rescued them from Egypt and gave them a land flowing with milk and honey. How could they have thought that an earthly leader could protect them better than the creator of everything? They did not trust God. They saw the Red Sea part, they saw the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire lead and protect them as they escaped the servitude of Pharaoh, but they still did not trust.

Then, after one thousand years of heartbreak, and longing for the promised Messiah, Jesus enters the world. Could He be the one they had waited for, the one to deliver Israel from the hands of the Romans? The one to make Israel great and powerful? But then they watch and listen to Him. Sure, he heals people and is popular, but his sayings are hard. And confusing. Love your enemies? (Matthew 5:44) Eat his flesh and drink his blood? Many leave following him because they can’t accept that (John 6:66.) This is not the guy they were expecting. This is “not the sort of king they wanted.“¹

They wanted power, glory and freedom, but they didn’t understand that Jesus is the only one that will bring them true power, true glory, and true freedom – the freedom from sin. It is only because of our hardness of hearts that we don’t recognize how awful sin is – how it separates us from God. How sad God must be that His beloved people reject Him.

Our culture today also does not want the sort of king that Jesus is. We continue to reject God in every part of our society. Our leaders reject Him. Our governments reject Him. Our courts reject Him. Our schools reject Him. Our families reject Him. Even some of our churches reject Him.

We just recently celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of her apparitions to the children of Fatima, for most of this year. During the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, our Blessed Mother, and the angel that preceded her, made it clear that many souls have lost faith and trust in God, and many will be lost. They don’t follow God or even acknowledge Him, they don’t believe in him, and therefore will not be saved. We need to pray for them. Our Lady told us we need to pray and sacrifice as reparation for the sins of the world. It is all our sins that cause the chaos in the world. It is our sins that cause war and famine. Learn the message of Fatima, pray the Rosary for peace around the world. And pray that the world will accept Jesus as their real King.

References:
¹Commentary on Mark 15, from the Navarre Bible Commentary, “Gospels & Acts.”
Fatima For Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope,” Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR

What Does The Word Believe Mean?

Lately, the daily Gospel readings have been from the Gospel of John and have talked about the Eucharist and believing in Jesus. But what IS believing? What exactly does that mean? I recently discovered this excellent explanation from the Introduction to John’s Gospel from the Navarre Bible Commentary:

“Believing means knowing revealed truth or, better, recognizing the authority of God revealing truth in fact, in this Gospel we often find the verbs “to believe” and “to know” side-by-side in the one phrase; sometimes they seem to be interchangeable. The verb “to know” has the meaning not just of knowing intellectually, of grasping the truth; it takes on an Old Testament meaning, indicating unreserved adhesion to the truth that is Jesus Christ. Therefore, faith includes the act of trusting commitment as well as the act of knowing. Recognizing supernatural truth through the testimony given us, we adhere to the truth and, by accepting it with our whole heart we obtain deep knowledge of God’s truth.”

Some other helpful quotes in this section:

“Growth in faith goes hand in hand with growth in knowledge of Jesus Christ.” 

“Faith is at one and the same time a free gift of God and a free action on man’s part: man reaches genuine freedom to believe when God gives him the grace which enables him to adhere to revealed truths.”

“No one can believe in him unless it is granted him by the father.”

Painting: “Maria, sister of Lazarus, meets Jesus who is going to their house” – Nikolai Ge, 1864. Courtesy: WikiArt

Read This! 12 Catholic Books on the Spiritual Life You Should Read in 2016

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1622822285/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1622822285&linkCode=as2&tag=liveca-20&linkId=OHRV37HXG7AUBLES

Here are the books I think you should read in 2016. They are indispensable classics for me and they all sit next to me in my prayer corner or next to my bed. These are ones that have really helped me in my spiritual life. Each is amazing in its own way. Some are easy to read, some are ones you want to take the whole year to read carefully.

1) These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body by Emily Stimpson. When I first saw this book I thought, “Oh no, the difficult Theology of the Body.” Boy, was I wrong. This is super easy to read and brings this great topic to every part of your life. Just reading what the culture thought of man, before the Enlightenment, was breathtaking. It turns out that sex is only a really small part of John Paul II’s teaching on the body. It is a wonderful way to guide your whole life into beauty and holiness. You can tell the author is an expert on the topic and has synthesized years of study on this topic into a really easy to understand and implement teaching. I’m planning on reading it again this year.  I also really enjoy Emily’s website The Catholic Table and recommend you pay a visit. I’m a BIG fan of her Polenta recipe.

2) Worshipping a Hidden God by Archbishop Luis Martinez. I had this book on the shelf for years before I actually read it. I can’t believe I waited so long. Abp. Martinez was a Mexican bishop, poet and mystic and this book completely changed my view of God. It is geared to helping you through problems with prayer and your spiritual life and understanding the nature of God. I cried through several chapters. It was a breakthrough for me and I hope it will help you too.

3) Fatima for Today: An Urgent Marian Message of Hope by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. This book has everything you ever wanted to know about the Marian apparitions at Fatima and what happened afterward. During this time of chaos, confusion, and darkness, the Blessed Mother’s message is more imperative than ever in saving the world from evil. If you have ever wanted to know how or why to do the Five First Saturday devotions, or why the Rosary is so important, this is for you.

4) Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina by Tim Gray. This is an excellent explanation of how to pray using the Scriptures. Easy to read and understand.

5) The Navarre Bible: Gospels & Acts by the University of Navarre. This has been my mainstay Bible commentary for years. I use it constantly. I have several volumes of the Navarre Bible but, of course, this is the one I use the most. Other volumes I love are The Pentateuch (The first 5 books of the Old Testament) & the Letters of St. Paul. I highly recommend all the volumes. They have extensive commentary on all the text using lots of writings of Pope St. John Paul II, St. Josemaria Escriva and lots of other saints and Church writings.

6) Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay. Gives advice on finding a spiritual director. What I find the most profitable in this book is the advice in the back third of the book on problems and questions in the spiritual life. I’m definitely going to read this again this year. A related type book is Dan Burke’s Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey To God. I read this when it first came out a few years ago, but I, unfortunately, don’t own a copy. It is excellent though, and helps guide you in spiritual direction and how to determine your main faults so you can overcome them.

Dan Burke also has several other resources that I can recommend. He has edited two other books that I do own and think you will profit from them: Finding God Through Meditation by St. Peter of Alcantara – St. Teresa of Avila’s spiritual director, which I am reading now; and selected letters of St. Teresa of Avila on prayer, 30 Days With St. Teresa of Avila, which I really enjoyed. He has the bestwebsite on prayer and the spiritual life online (and I don’t say that lightly,) Catholic Spiritual Direction is just excellent. I remember a time when everything online about Catholic prayer was wrong, or vacuous, or tainted with techniques from other religions that were the opposite of what Catholic spirituality taught. You still can find that stuff online, but this website was a revolution, and happily it is filled with excellent advice and direction, and others have followed the lead with the true teachings of Christian prayer. What we now have is a blossoming of the spiritual life. 

Also, check out the related Relevant Radio’s Divine Intimacy Radio show and podcast, among other helps. Another radio show, from Radio Maria is Carmelite Conversations. It is absolutely my favorite podcast and I cannot tout it highly enough for discussions on Catholic spirituality, books, and Carmelite saints. I have learned so much!

7) 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. A very approachable and understandable preparation for consecration to Jesus through the Blessed Mother. It uses teaching from Mother Teresa, Pope St. John Paul II, St. Louis de Montfort, and St. Maximilian Kolbe. Everyone I know who has read it has been very impressed. 

8) Trusting God With St. Therese by Connie Rossini. A lovely book on how St. Thérèse of Lisieux allowed God to guide her through difficult times in her life and how you can trust God in hard times too. 

Other books I can recommend but am not finished with yet:

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI. I have the first of the three volumes.
 
The Hidden Power of Kindness: A Practical Handbook for Souls Who Dare to Transform the World, One Deed at a Timeby Lawrence G. Lovasik 
 
An Introduction to the Devout Lifeby St. Francis de Sales, excellent for beginners. 
 
Spiritual Combat: How to Win Your Spiritual Battles and Attain Peaceby Lorenzo Scupoli. St. Francis de Sales carried this in his pocket for years.

Quick Book Review: Praying Scripture for a Change

Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina

“Lectio Divina is an integral part of the Church’s game plan for the renewal of faith in our times.” Praying Scripture for a Change

I finally finished the book Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina, by Dr. Tim Gray.  I ordered it a couple of months ago from Interlibrary Loan and even though it is a short book (only 120 pages) I’ve had a lot going on in my life, and had to renew it for another month.  Waiting for my son in the dentist’s office while he got a root canal, was an excellent opportunity to read through it and take copious notes.  I really liked it and will add this to my books every Catholic should read.

It is really hard for some reason to find information about how to do Lectio Divina (or divine reading – praying with the scriptures) properly.  A lot of websites have co-opted this method of prayer, which can lead to infused Contemplation, and have mingled it with Eastern prayer methods/Centering Prayer.  Eastern prayer methods, and it’s offshoot Centering Prayer, are not really compatible with true Christian prayer which is not an “emptying of the mind” but a “love look with the heart.”  Christian prayer is a conversation between persons who love each other.  Eastern prayer is a technique, not an exchange between lovers.

Lectio Divina is an ancient technique developed by a monk that starts with a slow, careful reading of the scriptures, followed by meditation, then prayer and then contemplation.  Christian meditation is not a relaxation technique but a “chewing” on of the scriptures to gain what you can from the text.  It is to figure out what the scripture means and what God is trying to tell you.  This leads to prayer and then a time of quiet with God that may, if God brings it to you, Contemplation.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It is simple, easy to understand and perfect for anyone truly wanting to know how to pray with the scriptures.  One thing that caught my attention was Dr. Gray’s explanation of the fact scriptures are not written like modern day books that practically throw away words, but each and every word was written in scripture to be important and link to other places in the bible to make a cohesive whole.  Over a long time you slowly gain knowledge of this and can gain greater insight into how God works and what He is trying to say.

In practicing Lectio Divina, I think the hardest part is deciding which scriptures to use.  The steps themselves are easy and flow into each other, especially after reading Dr. Gray’s text.  Buy this book, or find it in your library or through Interlibrary loan, but I highly recommend it and will be practicing Lectio Divina myself as often as I can.

Win a NABRE Bible

New American Bible Revised Edition - NABRE Premium Ultra Soft Black

I just found a new bible blog, Catholic Bibles and they are having a contest to win a new NABRE bible! The NABRE is the new revised edition of the New American Bible. So go on over there and enter. The contest ends on Saturday, August 13 11:59PM EST.

Christmas Gift Idea #11

The Catholic Bible Concordance for the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSV-CE)
Another great gift idea is a companion to the Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (RSV-CE) Bible, the translation that most serious Catholic bible scholars use.  The Catholic Bible Concordance would be an excellent reference for Bible study.  A concordance is a verbal  index to the bible.  If you want to look up a specific word in the Bible to find passages, or see where that word occurs throughout, this is the reference for you.  It really makes things easier.  This is the first concordance for the RSV-CE that I know of, and I would love to have one myself.  So, pick one up for your budding bible scholar this Christmas.

Christmas Gift Idea #10

Catholic Bible Dictionary
In my last post I told you about study Bibles, today I want to tell you about a couple of great new books from one of the best Catholic Bible scholars in the world, Scott Hahn.  If your gift recipient likes Dr. Hahn, one of these would really fit the bill.  First is the Catholic Bible Dictionary.  This is a tremendous resource that will really help the owner delve deeply into the Bible.  It’s a dictionary, so you get the idea, but a fantastic one they will use constantly.
Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots
Next is Signs of Life:  40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots.  If you ever wanted to know where we get the Sign of the Cross, or the Sacraments, or why we pray with the saints, or have sacred images or relics, this book is for you – or in this case your giftee.  This book really explores why we Catholics do what we do.  It would be welcome in any faithful Catholic’s library.

Christmas Gift Idea #9

The Navarre Bible - New Testament Expanded Edition
How about getting your loved one a study bible for Christmas?  Here are some great choices:  First the Navarre Bible New Testament, Expanded Edition.  This is an extensive bible commentary using the fantastic, and highly accurate, Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (RSV-CE).  It is excellent.  I have many volumes of the Navarre bible and I find them invaluable.  They are highly readable and give excellent trustworthy commentary using quotes from the Church Fathers, John Paul II, great saints and many more.  This volume is the whole New Testament.  It is worth every penny.
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament RSV 2nd Edition
Here is another choice.  The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible – New Testament, also RSV-CE but the 2nd Catholic Edition which updates some language and has different fonts and typesettings.  This is from world renowned, and very popular, Catholic bible scholar Scott Hahn & Curtis Mitch.  This is just an excellent study bible and I would love to have one myself (hint, hint.)
Our next choice is hot off the presses.  The Catholic Scripture Study Bible.  If you know anything about the Catholic Scripture Study program, you know it is excellent and this Bible aims at helping you really study the faith.  It’s got “extensive study materials and reference guides, Holy Land maps, extensive biblical apologetics and topical indexes, all beautifully bound in our Classic Black Bonded Leather with multiple ribbon markers, gold edges and beautiful foil stamped cover.”  There you have it.  This bible is complete, with Old and New Testaments and also uses the RSV-CE translation.  You can even have someone’s name embossed on it to make it more personal and precious.
The New Catholic Answer Bible - Librosario
Finally, we have the Catholic Answer Bible – Librosario version.  This is a complete bible (Old and New Testaments) with great, easy to understand color inserts throughout that explain the Catholic faith.  It uses the ever popular New American Version translation and is really fantastic.  This is the Bible we gave our son for his Confirmation.  It is a quality Bible, bound in leather (which is the Librosario part.)  You can buy this Bible in paperback, but the leather is so luscious, and even has an embossed rosary on the back that you can use for prayer.  This is one you will want to use for years of come.  I really love it and sneak it off the shelf to use myself.

Christmas Gift Idea #4

This is definitely something on my wish list for this Christmas – just in case you were wondering what to get me.  The Truth & Life Audio Bible – New Testament is just amazing.  Using the wonderful Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition) of the Bible, it has 70 fantastic actors like Michael York and Blair Underwood performing the complete audio of the New Testament.  You can listen to excerpts and see behind the scenes here.

I really thought this would be much more expensive that it is.  Retail is around $50 for 18 CD’s (yes, you read that right) but I have seen it going for about $35.  Such a deal!  Wouldn’t it be great to listen to in the car with the kids?  It really brings the Bible to life.