A Hebrew scroll of the book of Psalms

    A drawing of the Abbot Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202), holding a book entitled The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ, which means The Revelation of Jesus Christ or The Unveiling of Jesus Christ

    (The text which follows is taken from the Wikipedia entry on Joachim)

    Joachim believed that history, by analogy with the Trinity, was divided into three fundamental epochs:

  • The Age of the Father, corresponding to the Old Testament, characterized by obedience of mankind to the Rules of God;
  • The Age of the Son, between the advent of Christ and the year 1260 A.D., represented by the New Testament, when Man became the son of God;
  • The Age of the Holy Spirit, impending, a contemplative utopia. The Kingdom of the Holy Spirit, a new dispensation of universal love, would proceed from the Gospel of Christ, but transcend the letter of it. In this new Age the ecclesiastical organization would be replaced and the Order of the Just would rule the Church. This Order of the Just was later identified with the Franciscan order by Francis’ follower Gerardo of Borgo San Donnino. In this period, instead of the parousia (second Advent of Christ), a new epoch of peace and concord would begin; also, a new religious “order” of spiritual men would arise, thus making the present hierarchy of the Church almost unnecessary. Joachim distinguished between the “reign of justice” or “of law” in an imperfect society, and the “reign of freedom” in a perfect society.

    [End, text of Joachim and his thought]

    In a sense, the ideas of Joachim in the 1100s and 1200s, when St. Francis (1191-1226) — the first follower of Christ to receive the sign of the stigmata, which was regarded by St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) as “the seal of the living God,” referred to in the Book of Revelation — was alive, may perhaps be considered analogous to ideas today which speak of a “Great Reset” and a “Homo Sapiens 2.0,” that is, a new type of humanity, created by technology and science.

    (The text which follows is taken from a commentary on the Book of Revelation regarding “seal” of the Living God, which is the “opposite” of the “mark of the beast.”)

    Revelation 7:1-8 – God’s People Are Marked with a Seal

    Summary

    The book of Revelation describes the people of God as sealed by God. Therefore, this great multitude of people belongs to God.

    Analysis

    Revelation says that the redeemed bear a seal on their foreheads.

    The seal consists of the names of God and the Lamb and shows that the redeemed belong to God (Revelation 14:1).

    The seal is presumably not a visible one but a way of indicating that people find their identity in relationship to God and Christ.

    This seal or relationship does not mean that people are exempt from all earthly suffering, but it does show that God has claimed them and gives them the promise of life everlasting.

    John hears that those who are sealed number 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel (7:4), but when he turns to look at them he discovers that they are actually a countless multitude from every tribe and nation (7:9). [So, the number 144,000 does not mean 144,000, but means a multitude, a plenitude, of believers.]

    The 144,000 are not a special ethnic group. The imagery describes the whole people of God.

    The seal that they bear is the opposite of the mark of the beast, which is introduced in Revelation 13:11-18.

    [End of text on the “seal of the living God.”]

    Moses ben Maimon, commonly known as Maimonedes (1135-1204).

    Prof. Leo Strauss (1899-1973, link).

    In 1970, Leo Strauss, the great German-born philosopher, political scientist and interpreter of Socrates, arguably the father of all Western philosophy, along with his student, Plato, and Plato’s student, Aristotle,moved to Annapolis, Maryland, where he became the Scott Buchanan Distinguished Scholar in Residence at St. John’s College until his death from pneumonia in 1973 at the age of 74. 

    Strauss is buried in Annapolis Hebrew Cemetery, with his wife Miriam Bernsohn Strauss, who died in 1985. Psalm 114 was read in the funeral service at the request of family and friends.

    Psalm 114 is the 114th psalm of the Book of Psalms according to the Masoretic numbering of the Hebrew text.

    In the Greek Septuagint version of the Bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 113 in a slightly different numbering system.

    Psalm 116 in the Greek  Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate is the 116th psalm of the Book of Psalms, beginning in English in the King James Version: “I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.” (It is part of the Egyptian Hallel sequence in the Book of Psalms.

    Because of the difference in numbering, in the Greek Septuagint Psalm 116 begins with Psalm 114 of the Hebrew Masoretic text, where it is counted as verses 1–9 of Psalm 116, then Psalm 115 makes up the rest of the verses.

    In Latin, Psalm 114 is known as “Dilexi quoniam exaudiet Dominus,” “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.”

    Here is the text of Psalm 114 (according to the Masoretic numbering, which in the Greek numbering is Psalm 113):

    Praise the Lord.

    Praise the Lord, you his servants;

    praise the name of the Lord.

Let the name of the Lord be praised,

    both now and forevermore.

From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,

    the name of the Lord is to be praised.

The Lord is exalted over all the nations,

    his glory above the heavens.

Who is like the Lord our God,

    the One who sits enthroned on high,

who stoops down to look

    on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust

    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

he seats them with princes,

    with the princes of his people.

He settles the childless woman in her home

    as a happy mother of children.

    Praise the Lord.

   Here is the text of Psalm 114 in the Greek numbering (the text is the first part of Psalm 116 according to the Masoretic numbering):

    I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

    Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

    The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

    Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

    Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

    The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

    Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.

    For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

    I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

    I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:

    I said in my haste, All men are liars.

    [End, two psalms both numbered Psalm 114]  

    “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.” – Micah 7:7

    Behold, how good and how pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together in unity!” —Psalm 133:1

    Letter #66, 2021, Saturday, July 24: Endless Inquest

    Actually, I am trying to find a way to talk about certain questions —moral, religious, medical, liturgical — without calling down on my letters the sort of censure which might impede the distribution of the letters.

    It is interesting in this regard to recall a fascinating analysis written nearly 70 years ago, in 1952, by Prof. Leo Strauss, whose essential point was that writers — whether they be archbishops or rabbis, poet laureates or click-seeking journalists — often must hide their true views about things to avoid persecution (de-platforming, canceling).

    Here is a summary of this theory of Strauss concerning “hidden meanings” in writings in a time of persecution that may be interesting to readers (I have put in the italics for emphasis; they are not in the original):

    “In 1952, he [Strauss] published Persecution and the Art of Writing, arguing that serious writers write esoterically, that is, with multiple or layered meanings, often disguised within irony or paradox, obscure references, even deliberate self-contradiction.

    “Esoteric writing serves several purposes: protecting the philosopher from the retribution of the regime, and protecting the regime from the corrosion of philosophy; it attracts the right kind of reader and repels the wrong kind; and ferreting out the interior message is in itself an exercise of philosophic reasoning.

    “Taking his bearings from his study of Maimonides and Al Farabi, and pointing further back to Plato’s discussion of writing as contained in the Phaedrus, Strauss proposed that the classical and medieval art of esoteric writing is the proper medium for philosophic learning: rather than displaying philosophers’ thoughts superficially, classical and medieval philosophical texts guide their readers in thinking and learning independently of imparted knowledge.

    “Thus, Strauss agrees with the Socrates of the Phaedrus, where the Greek indicates that, insofar as writing does not respond when questioned, good writing provokes questions in the reader—questions that orient the reader towards an understanding of problems the author thought about with utmost seriousness.

    “Strauss thus, in Persecution and the Art of Writing, presents Maimonides ‘as a closet nonbeliever obfuscating his message for political reasons.’

    Strauss’s hermeneutical argument—rearticulated throughout his subsequent writings (most notably in The City and Man [1964])—is that, before the 19th century, Western scholars commonly understood that philosophical writing is not at home in any polity, no matter how liberal. [In other words, in states like many of the Western democracies today.]

    “Insofar as it questions conventional wisdom at its roots, philosophy must guard itself especially against those readers who believe themselves authoritative, wise, and liberal defenders of the status quo.

    “In questioning established opinions, or in investigating the principles of morality, philosophers of old found it necessary to convey their messages in an oblique manner.

    “Their ‘art of writing’ was the art of esoteric communication.

    “This was especially apparent in medieval times when heterodox political thinkers wrote under the threat of the Inquisition or comparably obtuse tribunals. [Of course, this does not apply to today; the Spanish Inquisition was dissolved centuries ago, and now we have complete freedom of thought.]

    “Strauss’s argument is not that the medieval writers he studies reserved one exoteric meaning for the many (hoi polloi) and an esoteric, hidden one for the few (hoi aristoi), but that, through rhetorical stratagems including self-contradiction and hyperboles, these writers succeeded in conveying their proper meaning at the tacit heart of their writings—a heart or message irreducible to ‘the letter’ or historical dimension of texts. [Like when some normally thoughtful writer writes, for example, “we have complete freedom of speech and thought in the liberal society of today.”]

    [End, discussion of Strauss’s theory of esoteric meanings in texts]

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    So, desiring with all their hearts to tell the truth — feeling morally bound as followers of Him who spoke the truth to power to tell the truth — writers in times of persecution must seek ways to get their truth across without making it too obvious.

    In other words, they must hide the truly dangerous truth under a lot of other quite innocuous truth — so that only a small number, a small group of thoughtful “insiders,” will be able to follow the clues, see the truth, and so come face to face with it, that they might consider it. (For truth must be proposed, not imposed, though history shows that all tyrants try to impose truth, not propose it.)

    Semper fi

    And so the writer is faithful to his calling, though sometimes fearful in the face of the powers of his day, as he must be, for he was born for this purpose (to be faithful even in fear).

    The truth must be told, and yet hidden, made visible only to those who have eyes to see. In this way, in many small steps, the inevitable victory of Truth itself is quietly prepared.

    Here is what Leo Strauss writes in his introduction of the Guide of the Perplexed, by Moses Maimonedes (1135-1204) — his dates almost coincide with those of the Abbot Joachim of Fiore (1135-1202), the great Calabrian abbot about whom I sometimes spoke with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger back in the day (Ratzinger knows well the work of Joachim).

    “The simple statement of the plan of the Guide suffices to show that the book is sealed with many seals,” Strauss writes.

    “At the end of its Introduction, Maimonides describes the preceding passage as follows: ‘It is a key permitting one to enter places the gates to which were locked. When those gates are opened and those placed are entered, the souls will find rest therein, the eyes will be delighted, and the bodies will be eased of their toil and of their labor.’

    “The Guide as a whole is not merely a key to a forest but is itself a forest, an enchanted forest, and hence also an enchanting forest: it is a delight to the eyes. For the tree of life is a delight to the eyes.

    “The enchanting character of the Guide does not appear immediately.

    “At first glance the book appears merely to be strange and in particular to lack order and consistency.

    “But progress in understanding it is a progress in becoming enchanted by it.

    “Enchanting understanding is perhaps the highest form of edification.

    “One begins to understand the Guide once one sees that it is not a philosophic book — a book written by a philosopher for philosophers — but a Jewish book: a book written by a Jew for Jews.

    “Its first premise is the old Jewish premise that being a Jew and being a philosopher are two incompatible things.

    “Philosophers are men who try to give an account of the whole by starting from what is always accessible to man as man; Maimonides starts from the acceptance of the Torah.

    “A Jew may make use of philosophy, and Maimonides makes the most ample use of it; but as a Jew he gives his assent, where as a philosopher he would suspend his assent.”

    The following paragraphs are taken from Wikipedia.

    Maimonedes was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. In his time, he was also a preeminent astronomer and physician, serving as the personal physician of Saladin.

    Buried in Tiberias, in Galilee

    Born in Córdoba, Almoravid Empire (present-day Spain) on Passover eve, 1138 (or 1135), he worked as a rabbi, physician and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt. He died in Egypt on 12 December 1204, whence his body was taken to the lower Galilee and buried in Tiberias.

    During his lifetime, most Jews greeted Maimonides’ writings on Jewish law and ethics with acclaim and gratitude, even as far away as Iraq and Yemen.

    Yet, while Maimonides rose to become the revered head of the Jewish community in Egypt, his writings also had vociferous critics, particularly in Spain.

    Nonetheless, he was posthumously acknowledged as among the foremost rabbinical decisors and philosophers in Jewish history, and his copious work comprises a cornerstone of Jewish scholarship.

    His fourteen-volume Mishneh Torah still carries significant canonical authority as a codification of Talmudic law.

    He is sometimes known as “ha’Nesher ha’Gadol” (the great eagle) in recognition of his outstanding status as a bona fide exponent of the Oral Torah.

    [End of paragraph about Maimonides]

    ***

    (Introductory note: Michael Brown is an old friend. He has a good heart, a profound soul. He has been touched in his life by the Holy Spirit. He has looked through the veil that covers death, and glimpsed the other side. He has a marvelous book on near-death experiences which is very hopeful and uplifting, which you can order here. And he runs a fascinating website that each day posts many amazing stories that often are hard to find elsewhere. So, take a look at Spirit Daily. Below, I post one of his recent stories on a matter of importance.—RM)

Inside the Vatican Pilgrimages

    The Endless Inquest

    Spirit Daily

    July 22, 2021

    By Michael Brown

    If it seems endless, that’s because it is — the inquiry and debate over covid vaccinations.

    We’re generally not big — at all — on vaccines.

    We fought the local school on vaccinations for our kids, and opted out of what we could opt out of on moral grounds, or if there were indications, however tenuous, of long-term side effects such as autism.

    We fought not to have our kids exposed to any direct link to stem-cell derivatives from aborted fetuses.

    Once, when required to take certain vaccinations to enter an African nation, we traveled an hour away to get an alternative that had no such fetal connection.

    All this only goes so far.

    Last week, our youngest daughter was not able to register at a state university in Florida — yes, Florida — because she was missing one of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations, which she was forced to get at the county health department, and did.

    Vaccines have long been a requirement in education, the military, and other endeavors.

    They long have been required to enter certain nations.

    There is no such requirement, at this point, for the covid one, though private enterprises, medical operations, and governmental agencies are free to mandate them among workers in most states, and the trend is decidedly in the direction of vaccination, with the surge in what they call the Delta variant.

    This is not a happy mutation of covid.

    It is striking much more virulently among the young — sending what previously, through other stages of the pandemic, seemed like inviolable teenagers — to ICU units, where they are sometimes intubated. In some cases, they beg for the vaccine with their dying breaths.

    Others ascertain — others believe — that the vaccine is more dangerous than covid itself is (or until now, at any rate).

    We respect both viewpoints but go back to what one must: the Holy Spirit. Pray for what you should do, in the quickly changing arena. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you (as opposed to the latest YouTube sensation).

    This we get all the time: a person, often with a “Dr.” before his or her name, making dramatic and definitive pronouncements, most of the time with no direct, hands-on experience in actual coronavirus laboratories. There are many amateur “experts.”

    Be careful of this. There are about 985,000 people in the U.S. alone with a “Dr.” before his or her name and “MD” after. That’s almost a million.

    Many others have that “Dr.” because they have an advanced academic degree (but are not medical professionals). Not all of them are covid experts.

    Also, it is very easy to make a professional-seeming and definitive video clip on the vaccine, even tying it into conspiracies. You really need to discern these.

    One notes that the C.D.C. — just one research arm of government — has 1,700 scientists.

    We long have warned about attempts at global control. We often gravitate toward the arcane. We have no doubt that there can be side effects, as there are side effects with virtually anything, especially medications (witness those ads on TV).

    We are not proponents of “pharmakeia” — the age-old practice of occult chemistry, practiced especially among medieval European witches, to control or harm people. We much prefer the natural approach.

    Unfortunately, covid may not be natural. It may have synthetic components.

    If so, argue vaccine proponents, it is best tackled by similar technology. The mRNA approach has been in the works for twenty years and was ready at the starting gate when the coronavirus erupted (probably from a laboratory in North Carolina or Wuhan, China).

    Here is one view, from a major university, on whether there have been side effects. It asserts that mRNA vaccines are a laser-like weapon that have caused — after injection into 170 million arms in the U.S. alone — amazingly few side effects thus far (we always look for long-term consequences, though RNA by definition does not enter the nucleus where DNA resides and rapidly vanishes). Any side effects are usually noted within weeks, it says, and are far less than what covid causes.

    Here is another viewpoint, from a strongly anti-vaccine alternative-health site that claims the opposite, warning of serious consequences. Weigh all sides.

    Yes, on a daily basis, we get the e-mails claiming “thousands” have died from it, often from Evangelical sites, and the latest “Dr.” issuing dire warnings, these on dozens of blogs. We continue to consider these, and welcome them, though most we have seen already (and a while ago at that). Perhaps there is merit. Perhaps there is none. The jury remains out.

    You need to clear your mind and ask the Holy Spirit. For most likely the truth is this: no human, at this point, has the entire picture, and anyone who presents a video or article or blog post or e-mail blast pretending to — claiming to know, definitively, the entire panorama, on either side — is exercising pride and risking public harm.

    [End, Spirit Daily article]

    Here is a link to an interview I gave on Tuesday to Jim Hale of LifeSiteNews.    

    Robert

    P.S. At the 36:49 mark we begin to talk about a pilgrimage to the Shenandoah Valley. You might take a look at those few seconds and consider whether you might like to join us toward the end of October when all the Valley is ablaze with the red, orange and gold of the changing leaves. (Click here for a link to the Information and Registration Packet)

    “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”  – Psalm 31:24

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

The Shenandoah Valley Experience Pilgrimage

October 24 – 29, 2021    

    From the rolling waters of the Shenandoah River to the rich, orange sunsets of Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains; from the bountiful farmland of this river valley to the many National Shrines in the area; we will encounter the beating heart of the Church and America today. Come to renew your soul, rest your mind, and ignite your heart.

    Click the button below to view the itinerary and to see available booking options. Space is limited so don’t miss out!

Shenandoah Valley Experience Pilgrimage 2021

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