Monthly Archives: November 2022

Laying Crime Victims to Rest, for Free

The Archdiocese of Detroit has a program to lay cremated remains honorably to rest in their local Catholic cemetery, regardless of religion, and without cost to families that don’t have the means.

This is a response to the sad situation that leaves many cremated bodies in some odd place in a relative’s house, or at a funeral home without anyone to claim the body.

Well, apparently the FBI had a major case in the Detroit office, which took years and years. And somehow, they were left with the custody of over 800 labeled cremains. (So maybe it was from a funeral home crime.) Even after families were contacted, only about 200 remains were claimed by families that were able to take care of the funeral themselves. And then they found out about the Archdiocesan program.

And so, on All Souls’ Day, the remains of 579 people were laid to rest in Holy Sepulcher Catholic Cemetery, there to await the Day of Judgment and the resurrection of the dead.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

EWTN story.

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Euripides and St. Romanos the Melodist

In Euripides’ tragedy Hecuba, the Trojan princess Polyxena is sacrificed to the ghost of Achilles, by the Greeks. Hecuba and Polyxena talk about this in the light of Polyxena being married to the god Hades, and finally Hecuba speaks about her daughter as “a bride unwedded.” (In the accusative.)

Of course, the Akathist Hymn directly calls Mary “O bride unwedded.” (In the vocative case.) It was almost certainly a deliberate literary reference.

The Hecuba play seems to have been very popular with Christians, as providing a pagan example of a young virgin dying with bravery and dignity. And it seems that both writers describing the deaths of Christian martyrs (male and female), and the martyrs themselves, used Polyxena as a source of inspiration, and of a righteous pagan heroine.

The interesting thing is that St. Romanos, by turning Polyxena’s title into one of the Virgin Mary’s, points out the sacrificial and martyr-like dimensions of Mary’s life, even though Mary was not martyred and did not die a human sacrifice.

Mary willingly committed her entire life to God by saying (along with Jepththah’s virgin daughter) “Be it done to me according to your will,” Nor did Mary turn back when warned that swords would pierce her heart. She was a heroine, and her life was a testimony.

All that said… Euripides must have been very startled to have become regarded as one of the pagan pre-Christian prophet-poets, and part of the Holy Spirit’s Preparation for the Gospel. (Much like Virgil must have been.) He seems to have been very influential on Paul and some of the Evangelists, too – probably because studying his plays (in writing) was a standard part of Greek education.

There is a St. Polyxena who’s supposed to be from Spain, the sister of St. Xantippe and the sister-in-law of St. Probus. Her day is Sept. 23.

A full-cast reading of Euripides’ Hecuba in English translation, from Librivox. The play takes place at about the same time as The Trojan Women.

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St. Clement of Alexandria: Nerd!

I’ve been reading Book 2 of The Paedagogos/The Instructor/The Tutor. And I think I’ve figured out why St. Clement isn’t quoted much by the “dress modestly” crowd.

“I say, then, that man requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for defense against excess of cold and intensity of heat, lest the inclemency of the air injure us. And if this is the object of clothing, see that one kind be not assigned to men and another to women.

For it is common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. The necessity, then, being common, we judge that the provision ought to be similar. For as it is common to both to require things to cover them, so also their coverings ought to be similar….”

Hahahahahaha!*

St. Clement goes on to advocate that Christians should have simple clothes that are completely undyed, and that Christian women should not desire anything else, because it’s just weak. He does say that maybe women’s clothes can be softer to the touch.

He also says that he thinks that having clothes that are moderately soft to the touch is much more beautiful than any color could be (sensory issues?), and he even thinks that dyes destroy cloth faster. (Which might have been the case, if Alexandrians were using harsh dyes.)

“And if such must be woven for the women, let us weave apparel pleasant and soft to the touch, not flowered, like pictures, to delight the eye. For the picture fades in course of time, and the washing and steeping in the medicated juices of the dye wear away the wool, and render the fabrics of the garments weak; and this is not favourable to economy.”

And then he says that having different kinds of garments is just too expensive. And he expressly condemned hems that hung down over the feet as “impeding the activity of walking, the garment sweeping the dirt off the street like a broom….”

And he says that an outfit should make it clear that the thing covered is better than its covering… which is kind of an interesting fashion goal. (Philosophers make me laugh.) But it was leading up to another comment about not buying expensive fabrics and dyes.

Now, as was typical for a Hellene of his time, he saw female modesty as meaning that the body was covered from ankle to neck, and that the head was covered outdoors. But it still cracks me up that he was advocating for a much more unisex fashion spectrum.

The chapter on shoes (Book 2, Chapter 12) is equally hilarious. He allows as how women have tender feet and shouldn’t go barefoot (he’s a city man), but he does think that men should go barefoot most of the time, except when in the military! (In the stinky city of Alexandria!!!) I mean, yes, barefoot is a healthier way to go, but practicality forbids!

And there’s a chapter on jewelry, where he says that piercing ears for earrings is contrary to Nature, and that unpierced ears represent a readiness to listen to God’s Word.

Ha! He is so nerdy. I’m going to have to remember some of this, when I want to tease people.

Piety is easy to turn into tyranny, you see, which is why we are supposed to use prudence as well as freedom. The things that are fitting or unfitting do tend to shift back and forth, whereas what is morally lawful and unlawful doesn’t change.

I’m a natural frump, myself, so I sympathize with St. Clement, and with Tertullian’s longing to throw away all togas. But a prudent man or woman can be stylish without being a moneywaster or an advertisement for vice… which is why we have a French Doctor of the Church like St. Francis de Sales!

Moderation in all things but virtue. But also, don’t badmouth what is good and normal.

(* Mind you, he means this in the sense of the same styles of robe. He also saw adult women as having hems that covered the ankle at best, or at least the knee at worst….)

(** Breaking news! Apparently St. Clement didn’t talk about headcoverings in this part of the clothing section!! It was a reference quote, talking about how the dying Polyxena still concealed “what must be concealed from the eyes of men.” So the proper translation would be, “But also [concealing] what of females ought to be concealed from the eyes”, with the implication being, “from the eyes of men.”)

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Fake Fathers Quotes: St. Ignatius Edition

Somebody decided to make St. Ignatius of Antioch say something anti-Semitic, and those who are easily deceived are passing it around the Internet. The pro-Jewish people who are condemning Ignatius are being just as gullible as the anti-Jewish people who like the quote. Faugh.

St. Ignatius spends some time, in his letters written on his way to martyrdom, warning Christians against “Judaizing”. By this, he means exactly the same thing as St. Paul did. He’s telling Gentile Christians not to get circumcised or follow Jewish holidays and disciplines, and he’s telling Jewish Christians not to get concerned about the old Law and old interpretations.

(Why? Because they have been freed from these things by Christ dying and rising, and through His rabbinical teachings with the power of binding and loosing, which power He has also given to His Apostles and their successors, the bishops. As a bishop, St. Ignatius is one of those who has exercised this power.)

And St. Ignatius is largely doing this instruction through quotes from St. Paul, who was Jewish. Oh, how radical.

However, there’s another quote going around, which is not from St. Ignatius at all. It is scummy, besides being baldly unconvincing. Here it is:

“Christianity did not come from Judaism. Judaism is a perversion of Christianity.”

NO. HE DID NOT SAY THAT.

The closest thing to that which he said was:

It is out of place (ατοπον) to speak of (λαλειν) Jesus Christ and to Judaize. For Christianity did not believe in (επιστευσεν) Judaism; but Judaism believed in Christianity, so that “every” believing “tongue” was gathered into God. (Is. 45:23, Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:11)’

  • St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter X, 3.

Do you see how different this is? The fake quote treats Judaism like Islam, whereas St. Ignatius is pointing out that it was Jews who believed Christ and became Christians.

There are plenty of quotes where early Christians point out the disconnect between Jewish life while the Temple still existed, and Jewish life as basically remade by post-Temple rabbis. The Talmud spends a lot of time trying to justify those rabbinical choices. Obviously both sides have strong opinions about it, just as they had strong opinions about the legitimacy of Christianity.

But that’s not what St. Ignatius was talking about. At all. He died in AD 105, when the “new” Judaism barely even existed yet, and certainly didn’t yet have a system all worked out. The divinity of Jesus, circumcision, and kosher were the issues of his day. “Judaismos” did not meant to him what “Judaism” means today. And never mind “Christianismos” — it wasn’t that long ago when the term “Christian” had been coined. In Antioch.

(And yes, I also checked the spurious epistles attributed falsely to St. Ignatius, and even they didn’t say anything like this. Sheesh.)

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Debunking Old List of Supposedly Misogynist Church Fathers

Just what I wanted to do with my life — expend a lot of time debunking academic urban legendry that has been circulating since the 1950’s. Anti-Catholic urban legends, at that.

Once upon a time, there were two Dominicans who got paranoid and weird and misogynist, and wrote the Malleus Malificarum – the “Hammer for Witches.”

And once upon a time, there was an extremely weird ex-Anglican ex-seminarian who claimed to be an ordained Catholic priest but was hardly celibate or chaste — the famous and infamous Montague Summers, who translated the Malleus Malificarum into modern English.

That’s where this misogynistic meme list came from.

One chapter of Malleus Malificarum includes a list of quotes, ostensibly from the Fathers, about how bad women are. Montague Summers translated this without explanation or criticism, AFAIK, and he did not discuss the fact that it was cherrypicked from other medieval books with quotes on various topics. Nor did he discuss whether these quotes were about “women” or “wives,” since mulier, femina, and gyne can mean either one.

This is very messily formatted and incomplete, but I wanted to put it up before I forgot about it. (Previously, I strained my eyes and a bunch of other things happened, and I did forget about it.) So here it is.


St. Clement of Alexandria:

“Let us set women on the road to goodness by teaching them to display submissiveness.” (Handout, Theology 1000, Fordham. An allegedly Catholic institution.) CANNOT FIND QUOTE.

~~~

“A woman should cover her head with shame at the thought that she is a woman.” Also found as “Every woman should be filled with shame at the thought that she is a woman.”

St. Clement’s book The Paedogogue/The Tutor, Book II, Chapter 2, 2. MISTRANSLATION.

It talks about Christians and drinking. And after a lot of talk about men drinking being okay but not getting drunk, he mentions women getting drunk. And then he mentions that women drinking in a chug-a-lug way is not a good idea, either, even if they don’t actually get drunk. And he also chides Christian drunken women for stripping naked and throwing up, “just like men, or rather, like war-captured slaves”, and then falling down on the floor. Hiccups are mentioned.

He adds, “For to a man with reason, clatter is nothing properly homey; and how much more does clatter only carry disgrace for a woman, who is to know herself for who she is.”

After this, St. Clement just tells women not to strip down in public, not to seek out glamour chugging cups but to just use the normal winecups, and not to burp and hiccup loudly. (And later on, Clement tells men that it’s immodest to prop yourself up on your elbows or your hand.)

So… yet another startling modern twisting of an iffy Victorian translation of the Greek. I mean, maybe I’m misreading this, because I’m not a Greek or Classics major… but honestly, a lot of the original Greek seems to be much nicer than how the Victorians took it.

———————————-

Tertullian:

“The judgment of God upon the female sex endures to this day, and with it inevitably endures their position of criminal at the bar of justice. Women are the gateway of the devil.”‘

Chittister 1983 version: “Woman! you are the Devil’s doorway. You have led astray one whom the Devil would not dare attack directly. It is your fault that the Son of God had to die; you should always go in mourning and rags.”

Fordham 2019 version: “You [women] are the gateway of the devil; you softened up with your cajoling words Adam, whom the devil could not attack directly; because of you the Son of God had to die.”

Ruggiero 2019 version 2: ““God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you . . . You are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God . . . Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die . . . Woman, you are the gate to hell.”

Mary Magdalene First Apostle version: ““Woman is a temple built over a sewer, the gateway to the devil. Woman, you are the devil’s doorway. You should always go in mourning and in rags.” 

Tertullian quoting Marcion: “a sewer of the illustrious animal.”

Allegedly Tertullian, or maybe Boethius: “A beautiful woman is a temple built over a sewer.”

De Cultu Feminarum, book I, 1-2?

Against Marcion, book 3, 8.?

https://www.tertullian.org/articles/turcan_etre_femme_eng.htm

Roger Pearse quoting Vita Latina.

—————————————–

St John Chrysostom:

“Woman is a foe to friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil…” QUOTE BUSTED! http://www.tektonics.org/af/bogusq.php It comes from Sprenger and Kramer, Malleus Maleficarum, and it is their own work, not a quote.

Barbara Cartland version: “…. a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, a domestic peril, a deadly fascination, and a painted ill.” Still by Sprenger and Kramer.

Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew? Did not find citation. Closest I found was a letter to Theodoret, urging him to quit trying to marry a pretty girl named Hermione, and go back to monk life. Theodoret eventually became a bishop and famous Bible commentator. Comments on how women are a bag of blood is typical Stoic/Neo-Platonist line about all human beings not being something to lust after.

“Among all savage beasts none is found so harmful as woman.” – DEBUNKED! Part 1, Part 2. Not by Chrysostom, not in Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, not associated with the other quote.

“The female sex is weak and vain, and here this is said of the whole sex.” On the Epistle to the Ephesians, 42, 148?

———————————————

St Jerome:

“Women are the gate of hell.”

“Woman is the gate of the devil, the road to iniquity, the sting of the scorpion, in a word, a dangerous species.” – NO SOURCE FOUND at Tektonics. Earliest quote in 1992?

~~~~~

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex version: “Let us take ax in hand and cut off at its roots the fruitless tree of marriage.”

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St Augustine:

“Women are not made in the image of God.”

Fordham 2019 version: “Woman together with man is the image of God, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned as helpmate, which pertains to her alone, she is not the image of God. However, man taken alone is the image of God just as fully and completely as when he is joined with the woman.”

Ruggiero 2019 version: “Woman together with her own husband is the image of God . . . but when she is referred [to] separately . . . then she is not the image of God . . . [But the man] is the image of God as fully and completely as when the woman too is joined with him in one.”

De Trinitate, book 12, 7? Book 7, 8? Literal Commentary on Genesis?

—————————————

Gregory of Nazianzus:

Repeated attribution version: “[Woman is] a foe to friendship, an inescapable punishment, a necessary evil.”

———————————

Pope St Gregory the Great:

“Woman is slow in understanding, and her unstable and naive mind renders her by way of natural weakness to the necessity of a strong hand in her husband. Her use is twofold: animal sex and motherhood.”

—————————————-

St John Damascene:

“Woman is a sick she-ass . . . a hideous tape-worm . . .the advance post of hell.”

Also quoted as “sick-ass”. Yeah, that doesn’t sound modern at all. In fact, it sounds like a Reddit bot.

Muslim-used version: “Woman is the daughter of falsehood, a sentinel of hell, an enemy of peace.”


Cardinal Cahal Daly’s response to the meme list, as set out by Fr. Sean Fagan in the Irish Times in 1998 letters to the editor. Also includes a short list from a professor of all the times that St. Thomas Aquinas explained the humanity, full personhood, and dignity of women.

O Sister Where Art Thou? Tertullian’s Wife Part 2: Lots of good info on these slides.

Tektonics Bogus Quotes: More good info. Unfortunately the Tektonics website proprietor has “closed his canon” and will only be doing his YouTube channel from now on. His Tekton TV “Bogus Quotes” playlist is here.

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Manly Wade Wellman Reference!

A musician called Billy Strings has a Doc Watson tribute up on YouTube. About 31 minutes in, he plays a song that’s obviously the same, or close to, the Carolina song referenced in “The Desrick on Yandro” as well as all the other “The cuckoo is a pretty bird” quotes found in the John the Balladeer stories.

It’s one of the “My horses aren’t hungry” type of compilation of verses, but the tune also seems pretty likely to be close to whatever version Wellman heard, up around Asheville NC.

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“Life-making”

1 Cor. 15:45 has a great word in it, in Greek.

“And so it has been written: The first human [anthropos], Adam, was made [egeneto] into a living soul [psychen zosan]; the last Adam into a lifegiving spirit [pneuma zoopoioun].”

Zoopoioun literally means “life-making” or “life-doing.” You could also translate it as “animating” or “quickening,” but the point is that Jesus’ breath/spirit puts life into dead or unliving things, just like the breath of God in Genesis does. (Because Jesus is God the Son, and all three Persons can do this, and do, together as the One God.)

The same word comes up in John 6:63, and Paul may well have heard it from people recounting the Bread of Life discourse.

“To pneuma estin to zoopoioun.,,,

“ta rhemata ha ego lelaleka hymin, pneuma estin, kai zoe estin.”

“The life-making [one] is the spirit/breath…

“The words/sayings/things that I have said to y’all, they are spirit, and they are life.”

The Bread of Life discourse is interesting also because Jesus brings in his multi-level teaching style.

  1. I don’t want you to do this, which is bad.
  2. I want you to do that, which is good.
  3. But I want you to do it because of that other thing yonder, which is EVEN BETTER.

So what you see is Jesus saying, “People, you have to eat My flesh and drink My blood. Seriously. And no, it’s not because I advocate human cuisine. It’s because I said so, and My words are spirit and life, and My breath makes life happen! I’m the Creator! I say ‘Let there be’ and it happens! Come on!”

I mean, obviously the Body and Blood of God-made-Man are going to be full of life, but He’s the Word Incarnate, first and foremost. You could even say that, when eating His Body, one is eating and drinking God’s Word.

(And to those who discern Him, eating the Word is sweet on the tongue and sweet in the belly, both.)

But considered as a protein source from human flesh, only —

“….he sarx ophelei ouden….”

“The flesh/body benefits nothing”

Because we’re not talking magical effects of cannibalism; we’re talking about the will of God expressed through eating a miracle, which is also a covenant and mystery.

John uses a different form of the same “life-making” verb in John 5:2. Paul uses it in Rom. 4:17 and 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:22 and 36; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 3:21; and 1 Tim. 6:13. Peter uses it in 1 Peter 3:18.

But in the Septuagint, it shows up as a translation of “to make alive” or “revive”. It’s in 2 Kings 5:7, Job 36:6, Ps. 71:20, Eccl. 7:12, Ezra 9:8-9, and Neh. 9:6. The Ecclesiastes passage even says that Wisdom “makes alive” those who have her, and of course Early Christians and the Fathers regarded references to Wisdom as references to Christ.

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