Thursday, March 22, 2018

More Discernment

My wife and I are attending the Jeff Cavins Great Adventure Bible study course at our parish. He made a remark in last week's session that made at least some of us sit up in our seats: referring to Genesis 9:20-27, he discusses what was meant by Ham seeing Noah's nakedness. Cavins says the Hebrew for "see one's father's nakedness" is the same expression for "incest", and the episode, as far as it concerns Ham's sin, carries strong connotations of incest.

Our sub-group knows we're recovering Episcopalians, so the leader asked me, "Whew -- do Protestants have that sort of Bible study?" I said no -- or at least, having spent most of my life as a Protestant and having attended Bible study for some of that time, I hadn't seen it. In fact, the discussions I've read of Genesis by Protestants and Reform Jews don't mention that view of Noah's nakedness, although this evangelical site has a very thorough discussion. (Out of delicacy, Cavins refrains from the detail the site goes into.)

So one question I have is whether small groups of former Protestants, led by former Protestants, often ordained Catholic priests with very minimal formation, can have Bible study that goes into anything like that depth. Does any OCSP community have the resources, focus, or interest to conduct a Jeff Cavins course? (A parish program seems to involve several hundred dollars for parish publications and DVDs, as well as purchases of class materials in the $30 range from individuals.) Whether Bp Lopes is allowing people to become "catholic" and kid themselves that's what they are without being given the opportunity for real Catholic formation is a question that's above my paygrade, but it definitely is at the bishop's.

I've been rereading a passage from St Augustine lately, for that matter:

If, then, the Lord in the greatness of His grace and mercy raises our souls to life, that we may not die for ever, we may well understand that those three dead persons whom He raised in the body, have some figurative significance of that resurrection of the soul which is effected by faith: He raised up the ruler of the synagogue's daughter, while still lying in the house; Mark 5:41-42 He raised up the widow's young son, while being carried outside the gates of the city; Luke 7:14-15 and He raised up Lazarus, when four days in the grave. Let each one give heed to his own soul: in sinning he dies: sin is the death of the soul. But sometimes sin is committed only in thought. You have felt delight in what is evil, you have assented to its commission, you have sinned; that assent has slain you: but the death is internal, because the evil thought had not yet ripened into action. The Lord intimated that He would raise such a soul to life, in raising that girl, who had not yet been carried forth to the burial, but was lying dead in the house, as if sin still lay concealed. But if you have not only harbored a feeling of delight in evil, but hast also done the evil thing, you have, so to speak, carried the dead outside the gate: you are already without, and being carried to the tomb. Yet such an one also the Lord raised to life. and restored to his widowed mother. If you have sinned, repent, and the Lord will raise you up, and restore you to your mother Church. The third example of death is Lazarus. A grievous kind of death it is, and is distinguished as a habit of wickedness. For it is one thing to fall into sin, another to form the habit of sinning. He who falls into sin, and straightway submits to correction, will be speedily restored to life; for he is not yet entangled in the habit, he is not yet laid in the tomb. But he who has become habituated to sin, is buried, and has it properly said of him, he stinks; for his character, like some horrible smell, begins to be of the worst repute.
I can pretty much guarantee that you will not find this sort of Bible commentary in any Protestant denomination, in large part because Protestantism rejects the Catholic path to salvation (via the sacraments in particular) that Augustine endorses. This involves a mindset that is simply not taught in Protestant seminaries -- and even if you find it at, say, Nashotah House, it will be in an indifferentist context. I'm not at all sure that the people behind Anglicanorum coetibus understood this.

I still need to determine how much time I should spend arguing with people about this, versus the time I should be -- and am -- spending on a Catholic journey without a lot of unnecessary distraction. Certainly I agree with Patrick Madrid that the operant document here is Apostolicae Curae, not Anglicanorum coetibus.