Question: Glenn Beck said on his May 27th
radio show that the Council of Nicaea censored the Bible in order to back the
Emperor Constantine’s formation of an army, and that the Dead Sea Scrolls
were an effort to preserve the Scriptures not recognized by Constantine.
It this right? Does it perhaps express something that Beck got from
Answer: Neo-Conservative, Glenn Beck is an
interesting character, often expressing good political insight (although he
doesn’t seem to appreciate the nature of the Federal Reserve, nor the
dangers of what Washington and Jefferson described as “permanent
alliances” and “entangling alliances”).
One of Beck’s strong points is the exhortation that his listeners become
familiar with history, and his recognition that what we learned in school is
not always accurate. He frequently speaks about the history of the
Founding Fathers and the origins of the “progressive” movement (although
he fails to see its origin in Lincoln and “Reconstruction”).
Unfortunately, his understanding of Constantine, Nicaea, and the Dead Sea
Scrolls seems to be “learned” from Dan Brown’s fiction, The Da Vinci
Code. (See the April 2004
transcription was made from an audio clip of what Glenn Beck had to say.
... when Constantine decided that he was
going to cobble together an army, he did the council of Nicaea, right, Pat?
council of Nicaea, and what they did is brought all of the religious figures
together, all the Christians, and they said, “ok, let’s put together the
Apostles’ Creed, let’s, you know, you guys do it. and so they brought all
their religious scripture together, that’s when the bible was first bound
and everything else. and then they said, “anybody who disagrees with this is
a heretic and off with their head!”
... well that’s what the dead sea
scrolls are. dead sea scrolls are those scriptures that people had at the time
that, they said, “they are destroying all of this truth.” whether it’s
truth or not is up to the individual, but that, at that time those people
thought that this was something that needed to be preserved. and so they
rolled up the scrolls and put them in clay pots and they, they put them in the
back of caves. no one could find them. they were hidden scripture because
everything was being destroyed that disagreed with the council of Nicaea and
To begin with, Constantine already had a fine army.
As one of the two Caesars, he commanded the Roman troops in Britain, Gaul, and
Spain—one of the largest Roman armies, responsible for the Roman security
along the Rhine. In October of 312 Constantine defeated the upstart
Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge over the Tiber. In 313,
together with the other Emperor, Licinus, Constantine issued the Edict of
Milan, legalizing Catholicism in the Empire. The two quarreled, and
between 324 and 325, Constantine consolidated his single rule of the Empire
and control of all Roman armed forces. He did not need the Church to
form his army.
Constantine believed that there should be stability among
the Christians in the Empire, fearing that dogmatic disputes could lead to
civil unrest and economic disruption. To this end he required Church
officials to meet in council to settle religious disputes. With his
authority the Church condemned the Donatist heresy (the error that heretics
lost all Sacramental character, and would have to be re-Baptized,
re-Confirmed, and re-Ordained if they returned to the Catholic Church) in 316.
And again in 325 with his backing, the Church condemned the Arian heresy (the
error that Christ was a created being, not divine) at the Council of Nicaea..
That Council issued the Nicene (not the Apostles’) Creed, affirming that
“Christ, the Son of God” is “true God from true God; begotten, not
created, consubstantial with the Father.”
Nicaea also dealt with the various issues surrounding the
return to the Faith of those who lapsed under persecution, prescribed a
uniform rule for choosing the date of Easter, and issued a number of
What Nicaea did not do was make a
determination of the Books that make up the Bible. A list of books
traditionally accepted by the Church as canonical would wait until Easter of
367 to be issued in a letter from Saint Athanasius of Alexandria.
An authoritative list would be issued by a Council at Rome in 386 under Pope
Both of these lists came well after Constantine’s death in May of 337.
But clearly it is the prerogative of the Church, founded by Christ, to
determine which of Her leaders’ works would be included in Her Book, the
The Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden in the caves of Qumran
on the Sea’s northwest coast roughly two centuries before Constantine was
born in 272. They were hidden there by a Jewish monastic community that
feared their desecration or destruction by the Romans when Vespasian sacked
Jerusalem and its environs between 66 and 70, at which time the Roman Emperors
cared not a whit about the contents of the Bible. Modern scholarship
holds that the Scrolls had at least one copy of all of the books of the Old
Testament except Esther, some commentaries on these books, some apocryphal
books, and documents of the religious order that flourished at Qumran.
There is speculation that some of the scroll fragments
contain New Testament writings, but this is hotly debated. The largest
fragment (cave 7, fragment 5 or 7Q5) is held by some to be part of
Mark vi:52-53. The identification is possible, but the only full
word on the fragment is the Greek “KAI,” meaning “and.”—a
word not unique to the New Testament! The July 2004 Bulletin dealt with
7Q5 and the errors of the Da Vinci Code and the Scrolls.
Glenn Beck does his listeners a disservice dabbling in
history he doesn’t understand. Callers ought to insist that he stick
with the Founding Fathers and the “progressive” movement.
Question: In the Gospel on Pentecost Sunday,
our Lord referred to the Father as being greater than He. How could this
be? Aren’t all three of the Divine Persons equally God? (S.T.)
Answer: Unequivocally, Yes! All three
are equally God. The passage in question (John xiv: 28) is given in the Douay Rheims
translation as “You
have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved
me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is
greater than I..” The sense is the same in the Latin Vulgate, quia
Pater major me est, which translates the Greek
μου έστιν. The adjective in
question, μείζων (transliterated: meizōn)
can mean “larger,” “elder,” “greater,” “greatest,” or
might be tempted to interpret our Lord as saying that “the Father is older
than I” but that would suggest that in created time, the Father
came to be before the Son—but we know that God the Father created all things
(including time) through His Son, for the same Evangelist tells us that:
“the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All
things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made.”
Given this creation out of nothing, the Father and the Son must be the same
“age” as such things are measured in time. Elsewhere, the Evangelist
quotes our Lord saying, “I and the Father are one.”
might be possible to conclude that the adjective meizōn is a way
of referring to the Father as the “Source” of the divine procession which
finds its “Terminus” in the Son—the “begetting of the Son by the
Father in eternity. But Greek has the word—αρχή
arché—that would unambiguously designate the Father as the “Source”
or “Origin” of the Son. Presumably, Saint John would have used this
word if the sense of the passage warranted it.
Thomas Aquinas resolves the question, saying, “the Father is said to be
greater than Christ in His human nature.”
Humanity, even including the human nature of Christ, is a created thing, and
as such inferior to God. Saint Paul describes the relationship of Christ
in His human nature to the Father in his epistle to the Philippians:
Who [Christ] being in the
form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied
himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and
in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming
obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God
also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above
all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those
that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
I’ve quoted a little more than necessary here, for the
text also clarifies the sense in which Jesus called upon the Father to “now glorify
thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had, before the
world was, with thee.”
The Father “exalted” His Son to His former glory.
Christ, in His human nature, was subject to the
Father, doing “always the things that please Him.”
Subject to the Father “even unto death on a cross”—in His human nature,
Christ could speak of the Father as “greater” than He.
Benefits & Obligations of the Brown Scapular
Question: What are the benefits and
obligations associated with wearing the Brown Scapular?
Answer: Good question, as the feast of Our
Lady of Mount Carmel falls this month—Friday, July 16th. But no longer
an easy answer, as the Carmelite Order—presumably the appropriate legislator
about such things—seems to have made some modern modifications to both
benefits and obligations.
The Scapular is a miniature of the large
over-the-shoulder, knee-length garments worn by the Carmelite religious.
This garment was given by the Blessed Virgin to Saint Simon Stock in 1247
during the time in which the Order was having difficulties settling in Europe
after having been dispossessed by the Moslems from Mount Carmel (above the
modern port of Haifa in Israel). Tradition holds that the Blessed Virgin
promised Saint Simon that “...whosoever dies wearing this (the brown
scapular) shall not suffer eternal fire.” In 1322, Pope John XXII
claimed to have an additional revelation promising that those who died clothed
with the Scapular would be delivered from Purgatory on the first Saturday
following their death.
It should be noted that neither of these two privileges
imply that the Scapular is a magical talisman, merely to be worn to
bring about certain protection from Hell. To be clothed in the habit of
a religious order implies admission to that order by a competent authority,
with a tacit or explicit promise to follow the practices of the order.
Such practices, faithfully followed, will lead one to a degree of
holiness, at the very least sufficient to be delivered from the fires of Hell.
Pius XII wrote: “But not for this reason, however, may they who wear the
Scapular think that they can gain eternal salvation while remaining sinful and
negligent of spirit, for the Apostle warns us: ‘In fear and trembling shall
you work out your salvation.’”
The second promise, the “Sabbatine Privilege” of
being delivered from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death has been the
subject of much debate, and is not recognized by the post-conciliar
Carmelites. The original Bull in which Pope John XXII promulgated the
Privilege has been lost, and the existing copies vary in their wording.
Some copies imply deliverance from Purgatory on the first Saturday, while
others simply assure the assistance of the Blessed Virgin to those
deceased members of the Order in Purgatory.
Currently, any priest can bless the Brown Scapular and
invest the faithful. Although the Scapular represents association with
the Carmelite Order, it is no longer necessary to have one’s name placed on
a membership list maintained by a house of the Order. It is recommended
but not mandatory that replacement Scapulars be blessed—replacement medals
must be blessed. All worn out sacramentals should be disposed of
reverently—usually by burying or burning.
The most obvious obligation of the Brown Scapular is
wearing it! A Scapular Medal can be substituted, but this is frowned
upon by all purists. Being “clothed in the Scapular” means the same
thing as being clothed in the habit of the Order—there are times when it is
appropriate to remove the habit—for example when bathing or when the strings
of the Scapular might become dangerously entangled with external things.
To cease being “clothed in the Scapular” means to stop wearing it out of
contempt for the Order or its principles and practices. Remember, the
Scapular is not a magic amulet.
The second obligation of the Scapular is to observe
chastity according to one’s state in life. For the married this means
fidelity to one’s spouse; for the single it means perfect continence
before marriage, or celibacy for those in Holy Orders or under Vows of
One is also expected to pray daily. There are
various opinions as to what prayers are required, although most agree on the Little
Office of the Blessed Virgin or the Roman Breviary prayed by those
in Major Orders pr Vows. Some say that the Rosary is an adequate
substitute, particularly if so authorized by one’s confessor or by a priest
of the Order. Those unable to read may substitute the penance of
observing the fast and abstinence prescribed by the Church with the addition
of abstinence on Wednesday and Saturday. The operative idea is to
develop a regimen of regular daily prayer.
Short Form for
Blessing & Investiture
May Christ receive us
among the number of His faithful, and hold worthy what we ask for in our
prayers. May God grant us through His only begotten Son, mediator between God
and man: Time for holy living, a place for doing good, constancy to persevere
in good works, and the grace to come happily into the inheritance of eternal
life: that, just as today we share the yoke of fraternal spiritual charity on
earth; through divine holiness, O author and lover of all spiritual delight,
grant that we may be worthy to be joined with Thy faithful in heaven. Through
the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Eternal Father and
almighty God, whose only begotten Son willed to clothe Himself in the garment
of our mortality, we ask that in the greatness of Thy generosity Thou wouldst
pour Thy + blessing into these garments which our holy fathers wore as a sign
of innocence and humility and a seal of their renunciation of the frivolities
of the world. And bless + them we beseech Thee so that those who wear them may
merit to put on Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who lives and reigns with Thee in the
unity of the Holy Ghost forever and ever, world without end. Amen.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Savior of mankind, by Thy right hand sanctify + this (these) scapular(s) which
Thy servant(s) will devotedly wear for the love of Thee and Thy Mother, the
Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. By her intercession, may he [she] [they]
be protected from the wickedness of the enemy and persevere in Thy grace until
death. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
Receive this blessed
scapular and ask the most holy Virgin that, by her merits, it may be worn with
no stain of sin, may protect thee from all harm, and bring thee into
everlasting life. Amen.
By the power granted to
me, I admit thee to a share in the spiritual works performed with the merciful
help of Jesus Christ by the religious of Mount Carmel. In the name of the
Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
May almighty God, Creator
of heaven and earth, bless + thee [you] whom He has been pleased to receive
into the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. We beg her
to crush the head of the ancient serpent in the hour of thy death, and to
obtain for thee the palm and crown of thine everlasting inheritance. Through
Christ our Lord. Amen.
The person(s) is (are)
sprinkled with holy water.