Category Archives: history

The Oak Tree

There’s a great temptation to think that the goal of any and all true renewal in the Church should be to return to the exact life and practice of the early Church.   Even movements within the Catholic Church have fallen into this particular trap, which goes by the names of “Restorationism” and “Christian Primitivism.”

I invite you to spend 2 minutes listening to Catholic evangelist Steve Ray share a startling insight he had about this as he began to look seriously at the Catholic Church while he was still a Baptist. This is an excerpt of a talk that Steve gave at the Agana Cathedral Basilica in Guam in 2006.

Transcript

“And for a scary moment I took my Baptist glasses off and stared into the horizon and guess what I saw?

This beautiful oak tree standing in the field. This beautiful oak tree, the Catholic Church, which was standing there and I had never seen it before. It had been covered with fog, the fog of lies, the fog of misrepresentation and caricatures.

And I looked out and I saw that beautiful tree, at one time it had only been an acorn. And that acorn had been planted in the ground by Jesus. He said that when the seed is planted it will die, but unless it dies, it cannot bear fruits. And Jesus was buried in the ground, he said like wheat. And when the seed died, then came forth fruit.

It’s like the oak tree growing, and two thousand years later this oak tree is beautiful. And it’s huge. And it covers the whole world and it’s big enough for all the birds of the world to build their nests in.

But I said that the oak tree doesn’t look like the acorn. It doesn’t look what the apostles started. That was just a little tree. But God never intended the acorn and the little tree to stay a little tree! You don’t plant a tree to only grow this tall!

When you plant an acorn you want it to grow into a beautiful tree, and that what the Church did and of course it’s going to look different today then it did in the first century. I would expect it would. When I look at my baby pictures, I look very different now than I did when I was a baby. I have about the same amount of hair! <<laughter>> But other things look different.

So I saw for the first time this beautiful oak tree, and my wife and I started to look at it and ask questions about it.”

Book Review: “An Introduction to the Prophets of Israel”

prophets of israel

An Introduction to the Prophets of Israel“, Richard Thomas Aquinas Murphy O.P., St. Paul Books & Media, Boston, 1996. 123 pages.

 

 

 

 

“In the Old Testament, the New lies concealed, in the New Testament, the Old lies revealed.” St. Augustine of Hippo

It’s with these words of St. Augustine that Fr. Richard Murphy O.P. starts this highly readable introduction to the prophets, and they guide his presentation throughout the book.

Fr. Murphy starts with an overview of the life and times of the prophets and their teaching.  After describing the major prophets and the minor prophets, he sorts them chronologically into a timeline, and launches into summaries of the works of all seventeen of them. We learn, in the process, how the prophets influenced each other and how their messages emphasized one or more of three basic themes:

  • Moral exhortations meant to restrain kings and admonish their fellow countrymen
  • Testimonies of the coming Messiah
  • Eschatological and apocalyptic descriptions of the Day of the Lord and the end times

These summaries are followed by a list of 30 of the most prominent Messianic prophesies, starting with the “protoevangelium” of Genesis  3:15.  Many of these prophesies, if not all, may be found in the Liturgy of the Catholic Church.

An Introduction to the Prophets of Israel” whetted my appetite for words of the biblical prophets and serves as an easy, Christ-centered introduction to them.  I was able to read it in a few short hours and now refer to it as I read each of the books of the major and minor prophets.

A Visit to Yap

I was recently blessed with the opportunity to visit Yap, one of the four states of the Federated States of Micronesia.  In my search for “the true, the good, and the beautiful”, Yap is solidly in the “beautiful” category.

Yap is due east of the Philippines, between Guam and the Republic of Palau, as you can see on the map below.

Micronesian_Cultural_Area

Yap_Islands

Here is a map of the major islands of Yap State.

I stayed in Colonia, the capitol, and had the opportunity to spend a day visiting some remote villages in the northern municipality of Maap.

A few days in this beautiful place hardly qualifies me as an expert, so I will go easy on the facts and opinions and just put up a few pictures with captions.

I was struck by two things during my visit.  First, I was amazed at how close these indigenous people were to the land and sea, and how they used the natural materials around them to their best use.  I was also struck at how traditional they have remained in the face of intense contact with the West.  I think we have much to learn from the perspective of these islanders.

Here’s a short clip showing what boys will do when they don’t have access to iPads or the internet: have a betel nut race.

 

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Sunrise in Yap
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A traditional men’s house in a Maap village.
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Traditional Yapese stone money.
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Traditional Yapese sailing canoe.
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the stone road in the Ngolog Agroforest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a very short clip of the island of Rumung (aka “Forbidden Island”) as seen from Maap in Yap:

Click here to see all of the photos I took during the trip.