Thursday, November 06, 2008

All Saints Day 2008

Had to post some pics:
Eli as
St. Gregory the Great

Last but not least:
Zeke as St. Padre Pio

Talk I gave in Boise this Summer

I forgot to post a link to the talks I gave in Boise this summer. The title was:

That They Might Have Life and Have It Abundantly:
Spirituality and Theology in the Gospel of John for Today

You can listen to them and download the slides over at The talks are a brief study of the Gospel of John that focuses on the principles of Christian living found therein.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

End of Summer and the New Semester

The end of the summer is here. I never cease to marvel at how fast time passes. It seems like yesterday we were arriving in Frankfurt anxious and excited. Now it is two years later, and I am entering the last year of the STM degree...

The summer concluded with a bang. I took a intensive Latin course the last three weeks of August. It was intense. Four hours-a-day, five days-a-week. I took the Latin proficiency test yesterday and passed. Whew....thanks be to God. Now on to the new semester tomorrow.

The last week of Latin we had a visitor from Boise. Mike Gaudette stopped by for a few days as he was vacationing over here. It was a real treat to see and visit with Mike again. We even got him to Vienna for a little sight seeing.

As I said, I start the new semester tomorrow. I have a nice full line-up of classes. The ITI surely doesn't want a person to be bored while they are here! :-) I am taking:

Greek (New Testament) - first semester of full year of Greek

Metaphysics II - reading Descartes, Hume, Hegel, Kant, and Heidegger

Christology - St. Thomas Aquinas on the Incarnation

Soteriology - St. Thomas Aquinas and others on salvation and redemption

Moral Theology: Law and Grace - St. Thomas Aquinas

Moral Theology: Virtue and Vice - St Thomas Aquinas

I hope you all had a fantastic summer of rest and renewal. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to do the Lord's will.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I intended, yesterday, to post a picture of Felicity and somehow didn't. So here it is:

Deb and Felicity at a castle in Salzburg.

The castle in Salzburg.

The picture of the castle was taken from here;
this is Maria Plain.

The altar at Maria Plain. In the center is
a miraculous image of Our Lady.

Miraculous image of Our Lady at
Maria Plain in Salzburg.

Just to give you an idea about distance. The Wolfgang am See is two hours away to the WSW. Salzburg it three hours due west. Český Krumlov, Czech Republic is 2 hours away to the NNW.

It is amazing that treasures such as these are just a few minutes drive away...

Monday, August 18, 2008


I just realized it has been over two months since my last post! My time goes by so quickly. We are doing great. I am in the middle of a intensive Latin class that is devouring my every moment. I will be around to post every once-in-awhile. Sorry, that I am unable to post more. Thank you so much for your prayers and support!! Since I am here, I decided to throw in a couple of pictures.

Double click on an image to enlarge it...

Cody cutting onions

Deb and Zeke at Wolfgang am See

Wolfgang am See in the distance. Deb was sitting
just outside the Church you can see.

The boys in front of a suit of armor
in Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

The castle in Český Krumlov.

We were given a tremendous gift this summer. One of the Byzantine priests and his family were traveling back to Colorado for a month of the summer so they loaned us their van! We were able to see so many local sights over that month. Deb or I will try to post more pictures as we are able. Thank you so very much for allowing us, and our children, to have these once-in-a-lifetime experiences!! We love you!

Friday, June 06, 2008


Here is the full "Mike Lee agenda".

If you are a glutton for punishment, you can go and listen to Brent, Mike, and I go through the whole spiel (download the mp3)!

Thanks for all your prayers and support!!

Teaching: That They May Have Life, and Have It Abundantly:
Spirituality and Theology in the Gospel of John for Today
June 10, 11, and 12
Our Lady of the Valley; 1122 W Linden St, Caldwell, ID
No cost - freewill donation.

We will dig deeply into the key themes and terms in the Gospel of John in order to deepen our relationship with the Blessed Trinity. Key themes and terms include: gift, glory, obedience, love, belief, "signs", kingship, and light to name a few. We will discover that the depth of the Gospel will draw us to know, live for, and love our Lord in a new and more profound manner. Please bring a Bible, pen, and paper. Hope to see you there!!

Make a Strike for Mike Bowl-a-thon!
Saturday, June14th at 1 pm
Meridian Bowling Lanes: 324 S Meridian Rd

Join Mike and crew as we catch up and take down some pins!
$15 minimum pledge to enter. Includes three games and shoe rental.
There will be prizes for highest scorer, most pledges collected, plus door prizes. Encourage your friends and family to join in for an afternoon of fun and friendly competition for Mike. Pledge sheets available for download here. See you there!

Teaching: That They May Have Life, and Have It Abundantly:
Spirituality and Theology in the Gospel of John for Today
June 17, 18, and 19
Morning Session 10am-12pm
Evening Session 7pm-9pm
Morning and evening sessions may be mixed
Nazareth Retreat Center; 4450 N. Five Mile Road, Boise
No cost - freewill donation.

We will dig deeply into the key themes and terms in the Gospel of John in order to deepen our relationship with the Blessed Trinity. Key themes and terms include: gift, glory, obedience, love, belief, "signs", kingship, and light to name a few. We will discover that the depth of the Gospel will draw us to know, live for, and love our Lord in a new and more profound manner. Please bring a Bible, pen, and paper. Hope to see you there!!

Farewell Fundraising Dinner with Silent Auction
Saturday, June 21st at 6:30 p.m.
Louie's Restaurant- 2500 E. Fairview Avenue, Meridian
$20 per person.

Say farewell to Mike as his trip concludes. Let's shower him with love and peace knowing another year of school is covered. Purchase dinner tickets at the teaching, bowl-a-thon, or by calling 658-4491.

To donate auction items call 658-4491 or email

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Amazing Experiences...

Two finals down, three to go. I needed a study break and just had to share this...

We have lived in Europe for nearly two years now. Although, much of it is very secularized there are still pockets of deep, Catholic beauty and culture to be found. This beauty breaks forth every now and again in the most amazing ways. These experiences are tremendous gifts of the Lord often easily overlooked but so rich and wonderful if seen for what they really are. I had one of those experiences today.

There is perpetual Adoration at the Kartause Maria Thron; the church where the International Theological Institute and the Franciscan University Austrian Program worship. The time is split between the students of both institutions. My family has an hour-and-a-half of Adoration on Saturday morning. I was there with the Lord when I heard quite a commotion behind me. This is not unusual in that there are many tours that come through the church - often through the Adoration chapel. I was trying to ignore them but caught a atypical sight in my peripheral vision, so I had to look. I was surprised to see about 20 Cistercian monks genuflecting and passing through to another chapel that is above the Adoration chapel. One of our instructors, Dr. Michael Waldstein, has a son who is a Cistercian at the Stift Heiligenkreuz. (Here are a few photos I took when we visited.) This monastery has been in continuous service to the Church since the 12th Century. It is amazing to think that they have been chanting the Divine Office in the same place continuously for about 900 years! They just got a record deal to sing plainchant for Universal (see article here). I hear that they have already recorded the album and now are in the midst of mixing it.

Anyway, as they filed past I realized what might be happening...YES!!! They went up to the chapel to sing the Office!! So imagine, I am alone with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament while listening to the Cistercian monks chant the Office in Latin! The acoustics of the chapel and the stairway where the chant proceeded down was magnificent. I sat there filled with the Presence of the Lord listening to the ancient praises being sung. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and wonder. Such a simple gift but so profound. It is amazing how the Lord is forever giving us little tokens of his love. It seems that we never have the time to pray. We must make it. When we do, God is never outdone in generosity. I will never forget those few minutes of chant and the gift of love that they were...

As a side-note, the cross with which the bishop blesses at the end of the video is the largest relic of the true Cross north of the Alps.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


I am so excited! I just bought my ticket to come home for a couple weeks this summer. With that said, I'd like to announce:temptation 2

“That They May Have Life, and Have It Abundantly: Spirituality and Theology in the Gospel of John for Today.”

What: A three-day mission.

Who: Me! :-)

Where: Nazareth Retreat Center; 4450 N. Five Mile Road, Boise

When: June 17, 18, 19

Time: Morning Session 10:00am-12:00pm

Evening Session 7:00pm-9:00pm

Cost: No cost - freewill donation.

Please bring a Bible, pen, and paper.

Description: We will dig deeply into the key themes and terms in the Gospel of John in order to deepen our relationship with the Blessed Trinity. Key themes and terms include: gift, glory, obedience, love, belief, "signs", kingship, and light to name a few. We will discover that the depth of the Gospel will draw us to know, live for, and love our Lord in a new and more profound manner. I hope to see you there!!

Clarification: The retreat/mission consists of 3-sessions. The same presentations will be made in the morning session and the evening session. You can mix and match at will! :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy Feast of St. Mark!!

Today is a day of great joy as we celebrate the Apostle Mark. Bishop Papais around 130 referred to St. Mark as the writer of the Gospel that bears his name. St. Ireneus writes in Adversus Haereses (~178-188): "after their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter."

One of my favorite verses in the Gospel is:

And in the morning, a great while before day, he [Jesus] rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

What a beautiful insight into the prayer life of the Lord. He was exhausted after a day of so many pressing about him for healing, and yet, he rises before dawn so as to spend time with his Father.
Jesus' priorities should inform our own. Will we rise with him to watch for one hour??

Holy Spirit, please give us the gift of prayer and properly ordered priorities!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Here are a couple pictures of Zeke the Freak :-)...

If you want to see Zach's wound and trophy, click here. I did it this way for the squeamish among us. The first time Cody saw it he had to sit down! LOL! Need to toughen that boy up! :-). I don't know - the pictures of the "diaper-head" above make me a bit squeamish...

Friday, April 18, 2008


To those very few and hearty souls that leave a comment here: I am sorry I had to turn on the comment verification feature. I tried to make it as easy as possible to leave a comment (please comment!! please, I mean anyone there??? is this thing on???). However, there are starting to be spam comments left. Thus, the reason for turning verification.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Zach II

YAY!!! Zach came home today!! He is doing great! The doctor saw him laying on his stomach today watching a video. She was shocked that he could do that without pain. She concluded that he was ready to go!

It is such a blessing to have all of them home. Hard to think that just a little different position of his body as that stick went in and we could have lost him to internal bleeding.

We are just so grateful to God! Thanks for all your prayers. They reall did make a huge difference in his recovery and attitude. It was a graced time.

P.S. I'll post a picture of the "trophy" as soon as I can find it... :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008


As most of you probably know, my son Zach fell onto a stalk of a plant on Thursday driving about 3" of it (it was about 3/4" in diameter) into his abdomen. It went in right beside his belly button. We rushed him to the hospital where he had to have the it surgically removed. He is now doing great! God is so good. If the stalk would have gone in at a different angle, it would have punctured many internal organs, and he could have easily bled to death internally. Thank God it didn't. He will be in the hospital clear until this Wednesday barring any complications. There seems to be no infection at the wound site. Zach is an amazing kid. He did not cry through this whole thing. He has never once complained about anything always allowing them to do whatever they need to do with pluck and a smile. He is my hero...

I did ask for prayers about the insurance. There were questions whether we actually had any and whether we might have to pay for all of this. Thanks be to God that we got it straightened out and our insurance will cover it! Whew...

Please continue to pray that there would be no complications for Zach. As I said, everything looks fantastic at the moment.

Please pray for Deb and I, also. She is staying at the hospital (I spell her as best I can, but she is sleeping there) with Zeke. You can imagine what a maniacal, walking 14 month-old brings to the whole hospital experience! :-) Zeke is sick with a ear infection and sore throat so Deb is getting little sleep and chasing him all over. I am trying to finish up the semester with looming finals and four major papers. Let's just say Zach's timing could have been better! :-)

Thanks for your prayers, love, and support!! We continue to pray for all of you.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Summer Session...

I have recently finalized my summer activities as far as the ITI is concerned. It is plenty! :-) First, I have to write a thesis in order to be awarded the degree. It must be at least 60 pages. At this point, I am intending to write it on the notion of obedience in the New Testament, especially focusing on St. John and St. Paul. It is a fascinating subject when connecting the relationship of obedience between the Father and the Son, the Son and his disciples, and between disciples. I am very excited to do this as I feel the Lord calling to focus on some kind of Scriptural specialization.

Second, because of the interest in Scriptural studies, I will begin an intensive (three hours a day/four or five days a week) Hebrew class starting later in the summer (so I can focus on the thesis in the beginning of the summer). Then in the middle of August, I will begin an intensive Latin course. It will cover an entire year of Latin in three weeks (four hours a day/five days a week). This will allow me to continue the Hebrew during the school year and to begin Greek.

Sunday, March 23, 2008



Alleluia!! May the Risen Christ bring healing, joy, love, and life to you and your family. We do not follow a philosophical idea or a fanciful myth. We follow and love a living, resurrected Lord who is the Almighty! The tomb is empty! Rejoice!!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lenten Talk...

I hope you have seen this in the newsletter but if not:

I will be giving a Lenten talk over Skype. It should be real interesting  :-)

Lent: The Season of Temptation and Conversion

Where: St. Paul's Student Center,

Boise State Campus,
1915 University Dr.

Date: Friday, March 7th

Time: 7:00 pm


I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 18, 2008

1st Steps

Bright 1 year olds 1st steps?

Or Terrible Two's Demon Baby?

We think it's a cute little fart who is charming the entire household with his 1st steps. What do you think??????

Z Squared - Happy Birthday!!!!!!!

Wow! Can you believe it, we now have an 8 year old in the house. Yes, the crazy guy Z-man, Zach-Attack Lee just turned 8 years old. I swear it was just yesterday when I was celebrating Zach's birth with all of you at Holy Apostles and now its 8 years later. Crazy!!!! If that blew my mind this did even more. Our little man Zeke 3 days later turned (Drum Roll Please!) a big 1 years old. Our little Austrian Baby is already a year old. I just can't believe it. We celebrated the big festivities with the 1st annual Z-Squared Birthday Bash, Zeke and Zack's Awesome Birthday Adventures.
As you can see we had a wild crew over for a foot slapping time, as we aired "Happy Feet" and then threw them all into a sugar commas with Felicity's Vanilla Chocolate Tower Cakes (Don't you love those parents that get your kids all sugared up and then send them home to you?) It was a fun time filled with lots of laughter and sugar. What more could you want. We even ended with the Macarana done by "Alvin and the Chipmunks". I bet you wish you could have come to this amazing event. Hee Hee Hee.


I can have my...
And eat it....

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

New Semester Starts Tomorrow...

Oh my gosh, I can't believe that the semester starts tomorrow. It is time to get back in the saddle and hit the books once again. I have a fantastic line of classes this semester:

Latin - second semester of the intensive Latin class. We should finish the grammar part of the language this semester and begin extensive reading.

Creator and Creation - Studying the acts and economy of God. This will rely primarily on St. Thomas Aquinas especially the Summa Theologiae First Part questions 14-26, 44-49, 103-104 along with other texts of St. Thomas.

Mystery of the Trinity - basically a combination of two classes. We will extensively cover the teaching of Scripture, the Church Fathers (from St. Ignatius of Antioch to Tertullian to St. Athanasius and others), and the Summa First Part questions 27-43. I am very excited about this one.

Human Acts and the Final End - focused on what the end of our life and and how is it that we come to that end. It is our acting that directs towards or away from our end. We are studying the Summa Second Part of the First Part questions 1-21.

The Gospel of John - Intensive look at the Gospel of John.

Spousal Meaning of the Body - This is a study of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. The instructor, Dr. Waldstein, recently translated and published the work in English.

As you can see, I have a full schedule - 26 credits nearly all directly from St. Thomas. Please pray for me as I try to drink from the fire hose that is the Truth of the Catholic faith!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Website for Biblia Clerus Resource...

I had a reader point out, on my other blog, that the url to the Biblia Clerus leads to a page that is unavailable (find the blog here). I checked the link. The link is the right one, but the page does seem to be down at the moment. Please keep trying. Hopefully, they will have it up soon.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Four Senses - the Literal Sense

In a previous blog (found here), I gave a brief overview of the four senses of Scripture. My intent is to encourage people to read and study the Scriptures by utilizing the four senses so that they may hear God speaking to them and, of course, to deepen our knowledge of Revelation.

Today, I want to examine the literal sense in more detail. The Catechism defines the literal sense thusly:

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."

St. Thomas defines the literal sense as

[the] first signification whereby words signifies things belongs to the first sense, the historical or literal. (STh I q1. a10 )

Let me explain. St. Thomas makes the division between the literal and spiritual senses by what exactly is signifying something else. The literal sense is that where the words signify things. This is common usage. When we speak or write, we use words to signify some thing. The spiritual sense, however, is that where things signify other things. St. Thomas states that God, since he is the author of Holy Scripture, can signify what he means not only with words (as we do) but also with the things themselves; indicating the literal and spiritual senses, respectively.

The Catechism makes this clear when it says that the "literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture". This is where exegesis and commentaries come in. It is clear that the sacred writers didn't write in English or with a 21st mind-set. In addition, this is God's word expressed in human words by authentic human authors. Therefore, we must discover the true intention of the sacred author in order to discover the intention of the Holy Spirit.

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts which are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture. For the correct understanding of what the sacred author wanted to assert, due attention must be paid to the customary and characteristic styles of feeling, speaking and narrating which prevailed at the time of the sacred writer, and to the patterns men normally employed at that period in their everyday dealings with one another. (Dei Verbum #12)

The best explanation I've heard is that of a "knock, knock joke". If you were sitting with a friend and they turned to you and said, "Knock, knock". You would naturally reply, "Who's there?" If on the other hand your friend says "Knock" waits for two minutes and says "Knock" again, you wouldn't know what they are trying to do. The reason is that you know the convention of starting a 'knock, knock-joke'. When someone uses those particular words in a particular manner you already know the "form" of the joke and can respond accordingly with the expectation that you will be hearing a joke once you have said "Who's there?" We must learn through historical research what these conventions were that the sacred writers used so we can understand what they are trying to communicate whether that be history, a parable, a proverb, etc. Pope Benedict XVI in the Foreword to his book Jesus of Nazareth states that the Historical-Critical method is "an indispensable dimensions of exegetical work. For it is the very essence of biblical faith to be about real historical events." However, this does not mean that only those with degrees in Scripture scholarship should read the Bible, or that biblical exegesis is exhausted by the Historical-Critical Method (as is plainly stated by Pope Benedict XVI in the same Foreword to Jesus of Nazareth). We must, however, rely on experts to help us. There is a lot of good work out there and a bunch of bad. One criteria I use is to "ask" the commentary I am using its opinion of miracles. If the author(s) rejects miracles or tries to explain them away, then I know to take it with a grain of salt. Another even better criteria is to ascertain the position of the author(s) towards the Magisterium. If the Church's authority is rejected, then the commentary must be used very carefully. Protestant or Jewish commentaries can be valuable if one realizes their limitations.

Now, we must become students of the Scripture not simply relying on others to tell us what the sacred text means. We must study so as to come to the meaning of the Scriptures ourselves. Now I am not suggesting that we do this unaided. We need the work of experts to supplement our own study, but their work should not substitute for our own! This book, The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study will be a huge help. It is not a commentary. It is a book that teaches one how to analyze a text and discover what the author is intending. We typically read things so fast that we over-read much of the details and keys that help us understand the Biblical text. This book gives the tools to do such an analysis. Next, one must immerse themselves in the Scriptures reading them and praying them everyday. A key to understanding the Scriptures is to have a intimate relationship with the Triune God (conversely, reading and praying the Scriptures helps bring about this intimacy). The then Cardinal Ratzinger gives us great insight into that fact in his book Behold the Pierced One:

Only by entering into Jesus' solitude, only by participating in what is most personal in him, his communication with the Father, can one see what this most personal reality is; only thus can one penetrate to his identity. This is the only way to understand him and to grasp what "following Jesus" means. The Christian confession is not a neutral proposition; it is prayer, only yielding its meaning within prayer. (pg. 19)

Jesus prayed in the words of Scripture an that Scripture became flesh in him, became the actual Passion of this Righteous One; and that he thus inserted his death into the word of God, in which he lived and which lived in him declaring itself in him. (p. 24)

Since the center of the person of Jesus is prayer, it is essential to participate in his prayer if we are to know and understand him. (p. 25)

To know him we must be in a certain way like him. To know the Scriptures requires knowing him since Christ the Word is the principle, subject, and author of Scripture.

OK, back to the literal sense. St. Thomas identifies four divisions of the literal sense: historical, etiological, the analogy of faith, and metaphorical (or parabolic). (STh I q1.a10.ad2) It is called historical when anything is simply related. This would be the case in much of the Gospels as they are simply relating what happened. That does not mean, however, that the Gospels are a simple reporting of a historical timeline. The Catechism tells us that the Gospel writers

126§3 writing the four Gospels, selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus.

The key here being that "they have told us the honest truth about Jesus". It is etiological when the cause is assigned, "as when Our Lord gave the reason why Moses allowed the putting away of wives - namely, because of the hardness of men's hearts (cf. Mt 19:8)" (STh I q1.a10.ad2). It is the analogy of faith when the truth of one text is shown not to contradict the truth of another (cf. CCC #114). Finally, the metaphorical (or parabolical sense)

is contained in the literal, for by the words things are signified properly and figuratively. Nor is the figure itself, but that which is figured, the literal sense. When Scripture speaks of God's arm, the literal sense is not that God has such a member, but only what is signified by this power, namely, operative power. Hence is is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Scripture. (St. Thomas STh I q1.a10.ad3)

Analyzing and determining the literal sense of a Scripture is arduous work. It takes time to wrestle with the text, read the commentaries, look at word meanings, and pray. It is the work of love, and it does bear abundant fruit. I would suggest beginning in the New Testament in one of the Gospels. Oh, one last resource. I have found the Synopsis of the Four Gospels edited by Kurt Aland a tremendous help. He lines up the four Gospels according to subject side by side so one can compare the Gospels easily to one another.

A commenter pointed out that Mark Shea wrote a book concerning the four senses (follow the link. You'll have to scroll down a bit to find it). It is called Making Senses Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible as the First Christians Did. I have not read it, but I am sure it is excellent.

Next time, we'll take a look at the Spiritual senses of Scripture.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


We just received a visit from the wise men! In Gaming, (and maybe the rest of Austria) there is a tradition where the wise man come to each house and write their initials and the year above the door. We were fortunate enough to be home today when they visited.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Four Senses of Scripture

There have been several different situations that have converged to make me think a blog on this may be helpful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church #133 states:

The Church "forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful. . . to learn the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ, by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

We all want the Lord to speak to us, to encourage us, to tell us that he loves us. He does. He speaks to us through the Scriptures:

Let them remember that prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for "we speak to Him when we pray; we hear Him when we read the divine saying." (The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum #25 - quoting St. Ambrose.)

The same theme is repeated earlier in Dei Verbum:

For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life. (#21, emphasis mine)

Thus, the place that we must turn when seeking the Lord's voice is the Sacred Scriptures approaching them in an attitude of prayer, docility, and careful listening. We must keep in mind what the Scriptures tells us about listening to the Lord's voice:

And he [God] said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before Jehovah. And, behold, Jehovah passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before Jehovah; but Jehovah was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but Jehovah was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave... 1 Kings 19:11-13a

This "still small voice" can only be heard through perseverance, silence, and listening. We don't hear God with our ears; we hear him with our heart. Listening to God requires faith and a sensitivity to the Spirit that must be cultivated through prayer. It also demands docility to what God wants to say not necessarily what we want to hear. I know in my own life that there were many times I claimed that the Lord wasn't speaking to me. The fact was he was telling me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear. I just didn't want to hear. There have been, however, a multitude of times where he has deeply consoled me with the exact words I needed to hear through the Scriptures, other spiritual books, homilies, or loved ones. The Lord has even spoken directly to my heart but never to my ears. We learn to discern to hear the lord's voice in other places through hearing his voice in the Scriptures.

It is clear, then, that we must steep ourselves in the Holy Writ, but how to start? There are many resources available to study the Scriptures. However, it can be difficult to find a good Catholic commentaries (the Ignatius Study Bibles and the Navarre Bible are excellent, although no commentary is complete). In these next blogs, I would like to discuss the Four Senses of Scripture as one means of penetrating the Biblical text. The Sacred Scriptures are not just for a few elite linguists to understand. The Lord intended it for all. St. Thomas indicates it thusly:

It is thus that the sacred text not only adapts itself to man's various intelligence, so that each one marvels to finds his thoughts expressed in the words of Holy Writ...(St. Thomas Aquinas On the Power of God question 4 article 1)

It is also befitting Holy Scripture which is proposed to all without distinction of persons - to the wise and to the unwise I am a debtor (Rom 1:14) - that spiritual truths be expounded by means of figures taken from corporeal things, in order that thereby even the simple who are unable by themselves to grasp intellectual things may be able to understand it. (St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae I question 1 article 9.

All of us can understand the Scriptures. We first need to pray for the assistance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit and then roll up our sleeves and dig in! The four senses help us in this regard.

The four senses can be divided into the literal and spiritual sense. The literal sense can be defined as 'what the words themselves signify', whereas the spiritual sense is the 'things themselves signifying other things'. (cf. St. Thomas Summa I q1. a10) The spiritual sense can then be divided into three: allegorical (or typical), moral (or tropological), and anagogical. For a simple definition of each nothing is better than the Catechism.

The senses of Scripture

115 According to an ancient tradition, one can distinguish between two senses of Scripture: the literal and the spiritual, the latter being subdivided into the allegorical, moral and anagogical senses. The profound concordance of the four senses guarantees all its richness to the living reading of Scripture in the Church.

116 The literal sense is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture and discovered by exegesis, following the rules of sound interpretation: "All other senses of Sacred Scripture are based on the literal."

117 The spiritual sense. Thanks to the unity of God's plan, not only the text of Scripture but also the realities and events about which it speaks can be signs.

1. The allegorical sense. We can acquire a more profound understanding of events by recognizing their significance in Christ; thus the crossing of the Red Sea is a sign or type of Christ's victory and also of Christian Baptism.

2. The moral sense. The events reported in Scripture ought to lead us to act justly. As St. Paul says, they were written "for our instruction".

3. The anagogical sense (Greek: anagoge, "leading"). We can view realities and events in terms of their eternal significance, leading us toward our true homeland: thus the Church on earth is a sign of the heavenly Jerusalem.

118 A medieval couplet summarizes the significance of the four senses:

The Letter speaks of deeds; Allegory to faith;
The Moral how to act; Anagogy our destiny.
119 "It is the task of exegetes to work, according to these rules, towards a better understanding and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture in order that their research may help the Church to form a firmer judgement. For, of course, all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgement of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commission and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God."
But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.

Next time, we'll define the literal sense in more detail, examine the four different literal senses, and see examples for them. One of the important things here is not to be afraid or intimidated. Seek the assistance of the Holy Spirit and dive in!


I can't believe that my little girl is as tall as her mom and now 14 as of 12/30!! Time surely flies by. She is a tremendous blessing in our lives. She is an excellent student and such a help with the baby. She is a fantastic cook, also! These are precious times...

The Lee "Bookends" (for the time being anyway ;-))

The Demonstration of the 14 year-old "Eye Roll". She has it perfected as you can see... :-)

Daddy's Little Princess...

We love you Felicity!! We are so proud of the young woman you have become!

The Kartause Kids' Production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol...

We had the pleasure of attending a production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol on New Year's Eve performed by the children of the Kartause community. Felicity, Cody, and Zach all participated. It was amazing how well everyone of the kids performed. It was superb!! Felicity was Bob Cratchit's wife; Cody was Fezziwig and the man seeking charity for the poor; and Zach was Tiny Tim. Please enjoy the photos and the video of Cody's dancing debut!!

The Cast of Lees

Tiny Tim and Ebenezer (James Thompson)

The Lovely Mrs. Cratchit.