Monday, May 25, 2009

A Catholic's Understanding Of Psalm 51

Psalm 51

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.

Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.

True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.

Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.

Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.

A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.

Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.

Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.

Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.

Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.

For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.

My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.

Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice, burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar.


CONCUPISCENCE – Dictionary definitions suggest the word means the following: “an ardent, usually sensuous, longing; a strong sexual desire; lust.”

But for Catholics, the word concupiscence has two powerful, conflicting and important meanings: a yearning of the soul for good; the desire of a lower appetite contrary to holiness and reason.

Concupiscence is the pull between good and evil, heaven and hell, God and the devil. This pull between life and death of the soul coupled with the human need to seek God‘s forgiveness when we sin are the central themes in Psalm 51, considered one of the great laments (individual) in the Psalter and the most famous of the seven Psalms deemed Penitential Psalms in the seventh century A.D. Penitential Psalms are “especially suitable to express repentance” according to The Collegeville Bible Commentary.

As humans, we all have the capacity to sin and do so often. Our forgiveness can only come from “he who knew no sin,” the “lamb as white as snow.” In our Catholic faith, we are blessed with the Sacrament of Reconciliation allowing us to fulfill the request in Psalm 51 to “blot out my offense.” Reconciliation allows Catholics to achieve the desired plea of the Psalmist, “O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.”

For King David, the believed author of Psalm 51, the Sacrament of Reconciliation would have eased the heavy burden of the sin that consumed him after his fall from grace. His sins were a lust of Bathsheba and the ruinous behavior that followed, namely the betrayal and death of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah.

David’s “fatal flaw” of lust compromised his relationship with Yahweh as His Anointed. The sacrifice of the child born of his illicit union is the model of submissive repentance.

In Stanley L. Jaki’s Praying the Psalms – A Commentary, “Actions triggered by lust almost invariably lead to worse sins.” Jaki further stated, “nothing deprives one so much of the use of one’s right mind as the mind’s yielding to the lure of lust.”

In Romans, Paul cautions followers of Christ of the pit of sinful behavior: let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. - (Rom 13:13-14)

Christ proved himself the Messiah, the successor of David, but possessing a soul purified by His Creator. In Matthew’s depiction of the healing of the paralytic, Christ publicly declared his power to forgive: …people brought him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, ”This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. – (Mat 9:2-9)

David’s lament is a desire to be nearer to God, a desire of all God fearing people. It is why Catholics practice the Sacrament of Reconciliation to seek God’s tender compassion, mercy, love and ultimately the forgiveness of Christ who, For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. – (2 Cor 5:21)

As a Catholic who struggled for years with a misunderstanding of the Church’s Sacrament of Reconciliation, I connect most closely to Psalm 51 as my eyes have opened to the sacrifice Christ made on my behalf and my need to confess my sins. None of us is perfect. But all of us have the ability to ask God for forgiveness when we stumble and fall. It’s the key that unlocks the door to eternal salvation.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


U2 released the newest video from their newest album "No Line On The Horizon." The song is "Magnificent." I've posted the lyrics below. To see the video, just click on the post title for a link.

Bono is known for infusing Christ and God in his lyrics. If you've ever wondered who he is singing to and about, just read the lyrics. It's pretty evident.

I've added a little biblical commentary to the lyrics as a guide.


- Dennis

MAGNIFICENT - Lyrics by Bono/Music by U2


I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven't had a clue
Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise

(The phrase "joyful noise" is found in many hymns, songs, prayers in the bible. It is a form of praise to God. The phrase is most present in Psalms: "Make a joyful noise unto God, all the earth" - Psalm 66:1 "Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob" - Psalm 81:1. "O come, let us sing unto God: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before God's presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto God with psalms" - Psalm 95:1-2)

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify


God has a special ministry for Bono (and the boys) and he's not ashamed to shout it from the rooftops!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Catholics attack Dan Brown film Angels and Demons

While I do have issue with those who bash the Catholic Church in real life, this is Hollywood. I think people are smart enought to realize this is fiction. Call me naive, but if this creates interest in the Catholic Church it's all good. Let's take advantage of it.

- Dennis


Catholic leaders have attacked the film sequel to The Da Vinci Code for its "gratuitously outlandish" portrayal of the Church.

By Philip Sherwell in New York and Jonathan Wynne-Jones -
Last Updated: 3:05PM BST 05 May 2009

The storyline for Angels & Demons, which stars Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, centres on a plot by the Illuminati, a secrety society of intellectuals, who are intent on gaining revenge for a brutal massacre of their predecessors by the Church centuries ago. Although the society once existed, there is no historical evidence that its members were butchered by Catholics.

The Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, the Bishop of Nottingham, warned that the film could stir up anti-Catholic sentiment."This is so outlandish, it's total rubbish," said Bishop McMahon, who is one of the Church's most senior bishops. "It's mischievous to stir up this kind of anti-Catholic sentiment. It's a gratuitous knocking of the Church and I can't see any reason for it."

Ron Howard, the director of Angels & Demons - expected to become the first blockbuster film of the summer when it is released this month - has fired back that Catholics will enjoy the movie, which is based on a previous novel by The Da Vinci Code's author, Dan Brown.

His comments will intensify a feud between some prominent Catholic leaders and the Da Vinci Code team over claims that the film smears the Church.

The bishop, who chairs the Church's Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis, said that Catholics were "getting tired" of the sensational stories and plotlines contained in Brown's novels and subsequent film adaptations. "I don't think that Catholics will be interested in seeing this as it's so far removed from the truth," he added.

Brown's book includes a number of other episodes guaranteed to upset the faithful - including a Pope conceiving a child via artificial insemination, thereby circumventing celibacy rules. Sony Pictures has declined to say whether those incidents make it to the movie.

Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the US, accused Howard and Brown of "smearing the Catholic church with fabulously bogus tales".

The frenetically outlandish plot of Angels & Demons centres on a race against time by Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Hanks) to thwart a plot by the Illuminati to blow up the cradle of Catholicism with an anti-matter bomb during the conclave to elect a new pope.

But Mr Donahue is exasperated by the way that he says Brown and Howard blend fact, fiction and conspiracy theory.

"I have never dealt with two more disengenous people," he told The Daily Telegraph. "They wouldn't dare treat any other religion like this."

Howard responded in forthright fashion, "Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic. And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is - an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome."

The Vatican, which was predictably offended by the Da Vinci Code plot that involved Jesus fathering a child with Mary Magdalene, did not allow Howard to film in its churches or property. "Normally we read the script," a Vatican spokesman said. "But this time it was not necessary - the name Dan Brown was enough."

There has also been high-level discussion within the Holy See about whether to urge a boycott of the film, according to Italian media reports. It took that step with The Da Vinci Code, but the film enjoyed staggering box office takings of $758 million and some Vatican insiders fear their high-profile opposition backfired.

"Let's be careful not to play their game... by giving them free publicity," said Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, the Vatican economics minister, who still made clear his derision for the book as a "manipulation in anti-Christian key of people, events and history".

But Sony Pictures is not backing away from the controversy and will stage the film's world premier on the Vatican's doorstep in Rome on May 4, 10 days before it opens in British cinemas.

"We do not believe the film is anti-Catholic, and we don't believe the nearly 40 million people worldwide who purchased the novel were confused by the fact that this is a fictional mystery thriller," said Steve Elzer, the studio's senior vice-president.

Jack Valero, a spokesman for Opus Dei UK, which is portrayed as a secretive, all-powerful sect in the Da Vinci Code, criticised the new film's central plot.

"It's bizarre and a total fabrication," he said. "I find it offensive, as will other Catholics, but I'm not going to bother spending too much time thinking about it."

But he found some agreement with Sony Pictures. "If anything, this will give us a chance to talk about the Catholic Church and the real things which happen within it," he said.

The furore can be doing no harm to the prospects for Brown's eagerly-awaited follow up The Da Vinci Code. His publishers announced this month that the first print run for the September launch of The Lost Symbol will be five million copies - arguably a modest initial total for a sequel to the bestselling hardcover adult novel of all time, with 81 million copies in print worldwide.