Saturday, January 23, 2016

What Did Jesus Look Like?

In 1963, I was a monk in a Trappist Monastery and one day while reading the psalms I turned to a page where a prayer card fell out. As I picked it up and looked at the picture on it, I was very confused. It looked like the death mask of some ancient man. I turned the card over and read a description of what the picture showed. It was believed to be an actual photograph of Jesus. It was called the Holy Shroud of Turin. Thinking it to be a painting by some medieval artist, I later went to the Scriptorium and consulted the Catholic Encyclopedia. This began a lifelong pursuit of mine to try to understand how this "photo" came into existence.

Later, in my teaching years at a Catholic high school I bought a film strip produced by the Order of Salesians of Don Bosco which was entitled "The Holy Shroud of Turin". I previewed it and was shocked to find that I believed it to be authentic. I showed the film strip to my students and they were as amazed as I, and without any pressure by me, professed that they also believed the image was the true face of Jesus.   

Rather than tell you the history of the investigation concerning this relic, I simply refer you to the following link. I hope that it is possible for you to see this presentation and come to your own conclusions. I know mine. thank you,     Charlie Mc

What Did Jesus Say / Mean?

The thoughts,words, and deeds of Jesus were predominantly in Aramaic. 

 Thirty five years after Jesus' earthly life ended, printed copies of the "good news" began to be written in Greek, thus already a translation. 

In the following centuries, the good news was again translated into Latin. The very best of Catholic biblical scholarship today believes that when these last translations were made, there were some serious mistranslations. 

Two quite serious errors may have occurred in the translation of the earliest Gospel accounts of Jesus' first recorded words as found in the earliest written of the four Gospels, Mark. The first of these is the Greek word "Μετανοιετε"[Metanoiete] which was translated into the Latin as "poenimine" which means literally "Repent!". A study of Treadwell Walden entitled "The Great Meaning of Metanoia" (1896!) indicates that the first and most likely translation of that word should have been "Change the way you think". From the meaning of Metanoiete as "Repent", evolved centuries of debate as to why those who first encountered Jesus had to repent. From this debate, the early great Councils arrived at the doctrine of original sin. It seems a little strange that Jesus would call his 'good news' "good" when it proclaimed that all are sinners from the "get go"

The second possible mistranslation is in translating the Greek
"ηγγικεν" [heggiken] with the word "appropinquavit" [draws near]. I.e., "Repent, and believe for the Kingdom 'draws near'".

A better translation,according to the best Catholic biblical scholarship is that the word "ηγγικεν" has a first translation not unlike what a waiting commuter means when he says "the train is here" i.e., coming into the station or simultaneously coming and already here. Thus the more accurate translation of the verse in Mark should be " The present moment is the right time. Change the way you think for the Kingdom of God is WITHIN you. Believe this 'good news'[Mk1:14-16].

In other words, God, Whom mankind has sought outside himself, is in reality closer to him than the man is to himself. Thus to pray, Jesus advises us to "enter into our inner room and pray to our Father who is within"(Mt.6:6). Now that IS really good news!

So it is not heretical to strive to understand what Jesus meant, rather than putting so much emphasis on what the interpreter may have thought.
                                                                 Charlie Mc

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thomas Merton Prayer

When Pope Francis addressed the United States Congress in 2015,  he focused upon four Americans including Thomas Merton. Over the past forty years as a teacher in Catholic schools I had the practice of saying a prayer before each class.  Of all these prayers, Thomas Merton's prayer from his book Thoughts in Solitude meant the most to more of my former students than any other. It seems that we all find ourselves in need of such a prayer throughout our lives. I hope this is meaningful for you as well:

 "My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”