Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

From the July AD 2010
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin


Council of Nicaea and the Bible?
Equality of the Divine Persons
Benefits & Obligations of the Brown Scapular


OLR Pelican
Council of Nicaea and the Bible?

    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 Mormonism?

    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”).[1]  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 Parish Bulletin)[2]

    The following transcription was made from an audio clip of what Glenn Beck had to say.[3]

... 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 Constantine.

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 disciplinary canons.

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.[4]  An authoritative list would be issued by a Council at Rome in 386 under Pope Damasus.[5]  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 Bible.

    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.[6]

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.

 OLR Pelican
Equality of Divine Persons

    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 πατήρ μείζων μου έστιν.  The adjective in question, μείζων (transliterated: meizōn) can mean “larger,” “elder,” “greater,” “greatest,” or “more.”

    One 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.”[7]  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.”[8]

    It 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 (transliterated: 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.

    Saint Thomas Aquinas resolves the question, saying, “the Father is said to be greater than Christ in His human nature.”[9]  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:[10]

    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.”[11]  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.”[12]  Subject to the Father “even unto death on a cross”—in His human nature, Christ could speak of the Father as “greater” than He.

OLR Pelican
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.’”[13]

    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 religion.

    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.




[1]   Washington’s, Farewell Address,
Jefferson’s, Inaugural Address

[9]   Summa Theologica III, Q.20, a.1

[10]   Philippians ii: 6-10

[13]   Pope Pius XII 1947 letter to the Carmelite superiors.




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