Capitalizing “He” for Jesus

When I first read “Lord of the Rings” in high school, I skipped over all the elf and orc songs. I had no intention of ever learning elvish like a total weirdo, so I thought it wasn’t vital to the plotline. A few years later in University, I was doing my undergraduate at Boston College, and Dr. Peter Kreeft pointed out something I had never realized:  For Tolkien, the elvish language was a Tolkienesque way of speaking in tongues. It turns out the Elf and Orc songs are among the most important parts of the entire book, for the songs were to communicate the unspoken essence of the race.

This is because Tolkien saw language as a cultural (but not relativistic) reflection of the Divine Word.  For Tolkien, language was real, but alive. It communicated something to a foreigner, even when a transliteration was not available.  Tolkien perhaps understood language to be something that controlled us, not vice versa (as Mussolini and many liturgical “experts” today do.) Kreeft even told us a strange story of how one night, Tolkien had been in a library of Oxford and found an old Viking or Norse language in a dusty old book.  He was so caught up into the reality of that strange tongue, that Tolkien entered somewhat of a religious ecstasy! If this story is true, we can begin to understand language as a reflection of the Divine Word. Only in the Divine Word do we find all words “to live and move and have their being.”

Consider how there is debate on the term “pregnancy.” Any embryology book traditionally defined pregnancy as fertilization of the egg by sperm into a new 46-chromosomed individual. But in 1982, Planned Parenthood took on a global linguistic battle to re-define pregnancy as “implantation” of the zygote into the uterine lining. Science was trumped by man who thought he could redefine language for his own political ends (much like Saruman.)

But another thing that I heard from my professor Dr. Peter Kreeft was his strange aversion to people who never use capital letters. He compared the use of all-small-letters-users to communism! Before you write this off as too extreme, consider this argument:  To refrain from capitalizing, say, “He” for Jesus or God—this can easily become an attempt to make everything and everyone the exact same in a world of created hierarchy.

He instead of he might seem unattractive to a “down-up Christology” but Jesus as “he” actually fails to meet the desire of the human heart to worship God as totally transcendent. For Tolkien, hierarchy in creation does not lead to suppression but freedom and solemnity (which Kreeft is quick to point out has nothing to do with sadness.)  Hierarchy (even in minuscule letters versus capitalized ones—try to open randomly Lord of the Rings to see how many strange non-proper nouns are capitalized) serves as a diverse glorification of the creatures of both earth and Middle Earth.  This is why we have elves and humans and dwarves who are all necessary to the restoration of Middle-Earth.

Catholics had universally capitalized “He” for Jesus in almost every language. Now, it is almost extinct. For example, before I switched to the Latin Divine Office (the Psalms and Patristic readings that we priests must pray every day) I would try to keep up Romance Languages by praying my Divine Office in French, Spanish and Portuguese.  Of all of these, I believe that it is only the Portuguese translation that kept He (Ele) capitalized in the Divine Office established after Vatican II. The English Divine Office definitely refers to Christ as “he.”  Or, for another example:  The otherwise-excellent book, 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Fr. Michael Gaitley does not capitalize Jesus as “He” unless beginning a sentence with that pronoun. (Perhaps this was edited “down” this way, as Fr. Michael is a very holy and very wise priest.)

But as for Fr. Michael’s book referring to Jesus as “he,” some people might argue for this notion: “Saying he highlights the humanity of Jesus more than the divinity, and we must come to his humanity before [H]is divinity!”  This is true, but the hypostatic union of Christ’s divinity and humanity exists without blending, change, division or separation.  Jesus is God and man and this can’t be separated.  Perhaps this is why non-denominational Christians are now picking up the old Catholic tradition of always captilizing “He” in any reference to Jesus Christ.  For example, the non-denominational Christian named Sarah Young has written a book called Jesus Calling that has over 16 million in sales. Every reference she has to Jesus in the pronoun is always capitalized as “He,” or more likely a “Him” in reference to Jesus at the end of a sentence.

Where we Catholics are forgetting our tradition, other Christians are picking it up.

This might seem a silly blog post to write about capitalizing “He” for Jesus, but it comes down to the very question of Satan versus Mary: Am I a creature or am I the Creator? Do I want to be God or do I want to bow down and worship God? My answer is this:  Worship might only physically look like a small letter bowing before a capital letter, but this reflects a physical and spiritual universe that God created and then entered into as a zygote.  In a world focused solely on me (iPod, iPad, iPhone), I choose to bow before Him.

Women Saints’ Problems

woman jesus

I’m not sure who originally compiled this, but it is encouraging to know:  You’re not alone in your struggles.  These are the women of the school of Christ crucified.  (After writing this blog post last night, I woke up and realized I needed to add an important Nota Bene:  The below listing of saints is not a green-light for women to be doormats.  Most of these women tried to preserve their lives and even live normal lives.  The list below is simply a way to push against the Calvinist idea that suffering is a sign of divine disfavor.)

Abusive or Unfaithful Husbands
Physical Abuse
St. Rita of Cascia

Verbal Abuse
Bl. Anna Maria Taigi
St. Godelieve
St. Monica

Infidelity
St. Elizabeth of Portugal
Bl. Margaret d’Youville
Bl. Paola Gambera-Costa

Battered by Relatives or Others (Martyrs not listed here)
St. Adelaide
Bl. Agostina Pietrantoni
Eve Lavalliere
St. Germaine de Pibrac
St. Godelieve
St. Jeanne de Lestonnac
St. Jeanne Marie de Maille
St. Joaquina
Venerable Laura Vicuna
Bl. Maria Bagnesi
Bl. Mariam Baouardy

Demonic Temptations
St. Angela of Foligno
St. Catherine of Bologna
St. Catherine of Genoa
St. Catherine of Siena
St. Elizabeth of Schonau
St. Eustochiurn of Padua
St. Gemma Galgani
Bl. Helen dei Cavalcanti
St. Margaret of Cortona
Bl. Maria Fortunata Viti
St. Syncletia

Disabled
St. Angela Merici
St. Germaine de Pibrac
St. Lutgardis
Bl. Margaret of Castello

Disappointing Children
St. Clotilda
St. Louise de Marillac
St. Matilda
St. Monica

Divorced
Mother Alphonsa Hawthorne
St. Fabiola

Early Death of Children
Mother Alphonsa Hawthorne
Bl. Angela of Foligno
St. Clotilda
Concepcion Cabrera de Annida, (Conchita)
Bl. Dorothy of Mantua
St. Elizabeth Seton
St. Frances of Rome
St. Joaquina
Bl. Marguerite d’Youville
St. Matilda
St. Melania the Younger
Bl. Michelina

Extreme Poverty
Bl. Agostina Pietrantoni
St. Bernadette of Lourdes
St. Germaine de Pibrac
St. Margaret Bourgeoys
St. Margaret of Castello
Bl. Maria Gabriella
St. Maria Goretti
Bl. Maria Fortunata Viti
Bl. Marie of the Incarnation (Acarie)
Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot
St. Soledad

Forced into Exile
St. Adelaide
Bl. Angela Truszkowska
St. Arthelais
St. Clotilda
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Bl. Jeanne Marie de Maille
St. Joaquina
Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha
Sister Marina
St. Melania the Younger
St. Puicheria
St. Rose of Viterbo
St. Susanna

Gravely Ill
St. Alpais
Sister Alphonsa of India
Sister Amparo Carbonell
St. Angela Merici
Mother Angela Truszkowska
St. Arthelais
St. Bathildis
St. Bernadette of Lourdes
St. Catherine dei Ricci
St. Catherine of Siena
Edel Quinn
Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity
St. Elizabeth of Schonau
St. Gorgonia
Bl. Isabella of France
Ven. Jacinta Marto
St. Julia Falconieri
St. Julie Billiart
St. Louise de Marillac
St. Lydwine
Mother Margaret Hallahan
Margaret Sinclair
Bl. Maria Bagnesi
Bl. Maria Gabriella
St. Maria Mazzarello
Ven. Maria Teresa Quevedo
St. Mariana of Quito
Bl. Marie Rose Durocher
St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi
Bl. Paula Frassinetti
Bl. Rafka Al-Rayes
St. Raphaela
St. Romula
St. Syncletia
Bl. Teresa of the Andes
St. Teresa of Avila
Teresa Valse Pantellini
St. Therese of Lisieux

Imprisoned
Bl. Beatrice da Silva
Ven. Jacinta Marto
St. Joan of Arc
Bl. Mariam Baouardy

In-Law Problems
St. Adelaide
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Elizabeth Seton
St. Godelieve
St. Helen of Skovde
St. Jeanne de Chantal
Bl. Jeanne Marie de Maille
St. Ludmila
Bl. Marguerite d’YouvilIe
Bl. Michelina
St. Pulcheria

Loss of Father or Mother
Mother Alphonsa Hawthorne
Sister Alphonsa of India
St. Angela Merici
St. Colette
St. Dymphna
Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity
St. Elizabeth Seton
Bl. Frances Scherviers
St. Gemma Galgani
St. Germaine de Pibrac
St. Humbeline
St. Jeanne Marie de Maille
St. Jeanne de Chantal
Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha
Venerable Laura Vicuna
St. Louise de Marillac
St. Margaret of Cortona
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
Mother Margaret Hallahan
Venerable Marguerite Bourgeoys
Bl. Marguerite d’Youville
Bl. Maria Bagnesi
Bl. Maria Fortunata Viti
Bl. Maria Gabriella
St. Maria Goretti
Bl. Mariam Baouardy
St. Mariara of Quito
Bl. Marie Rose Durocher
Bl. Marie of the Incarnation (Acarie)
Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich
St. Pulcheria
St. Radegunde
Bl. Rafka Al-Rayes
St. Raphaela
Bl. Sibyllina Biscossi
St. Susanna
St. Syncletia
St. Teresa of Avila
Bl. Sister Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)
St. Therese of Lisieux

Married Unhappily
Mother Alphonsa Hawthorne
Bl. Castora Gabrieffi
St. Catherine of Genoa
St. Fabiola
St. Godelieve
Bl. Marguerite d’Youville
St. Monica
St. Radegunde
St. Rita of Cascia
Bl. Zedislava Berka

Mental Illness or Judged so by Enemies
Bl. Eustochium of Padua
St. Margaret of Cortona
Bl. Michelina
Bl. Maria Fortunata Viti
St. Raphaela

Murdered (as Confessors of the Faith or for Moral Integrity)
St. Afra
St. Agatha
Bl. Agatha Kim
Bl. Agostina Pietrantoni
Sister Amparo Carbonell
St. Anastasia
Bl. Antoria Messina
St. Barbara
Sister Carmen Moreno
St. Catherine of Alexandria
St. Cecilia
St. Dymphna
Sts. Flora and Mary
St. Helen of Skovde
St. Joan of Arc
Venerable Laura Vicuna
St. Lucy
Bl. Lucy de Freitas
St. Margaret Clitherow
Bl. Margaret of Louvain
Bl. Margaret Ward
St. Maria Goretti
Bl. Mariam Baouardy
Sister Marina
Bl. Mary Hermina Grivot
Sts. Maura and Brigid
St. Natalia
Sts. Nunilo and Alodia
Sts. Perpetua and Felicity
St. Susanna and Companions
Bl. Sister Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)
St. Theodota
St. Winifred of Wales

Opposition of Church Authorities to Their Hopes and Dreams
St. Elizabeth Seton
St. Joan of Arc
Mother Margaret Hallahan
Bl. Marguerite d’Youville
Sister Mary MacKiliop
St. Mary Magdalena Bentivoglio
St. Philippine Duchesne
St. Raphaela
St. Teresa of Avila

Parents not Married
St. Bridget of Theland
Bl. Eustochium of Padua
Bl. Sibyllina Biscossi

Rejected by Religious Orders
St. Clare
Bl. Eugenie Smet
St. Jeanne de Lestonnac
St. Louise de Marillac
Bl. Margaret of Castello
Venerable Marguerite Bourgeoys
St. Mariana of Quito
St. Rose of Viterbo
Bl. Teresa de Gesu, Jornet y Ibars
Mother Thecla Merlo

Ridiculed for Their Piety (Other than Martyrs)
Bl. Agostina Pietrantoni
Bl. Angela of Foligno
St. Bernadette of Lourdes
St. Catherine of Genoa
St. Catherine of Siena
St. Clelia Barbieri
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Elizabeth Seton
St. Frances of Rome
Venerable Jacinta Marto
Bl. Jeanne Marie de Maille
Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Margaret of Cortona
Bl. Marguerite d’Youville
St. Mary Magdalene
St. Matilda
Sts. Nurilo and Alodia
St. Rose of Lima
St. Susanna
St. Teresa of Avila
Bl. Teresa Maria of the Cross (Bettina)
Bl. Zedislava Berka
St. Zita

Separated from Children
St. Jeanne de Chantal
Bl. Marie of the Incarnation (Acarie)

Subject to Extreme Sexual Temptation
Bl. Angela of Foligno
St. Catherine of Siena
St. Margaret of Cortona
St. Mary of Edessa
St. Mary of Egypt
St. Mary Magdalene
St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi
St. Pelagia of Antioch

Threatened by Incest
St Dymphna
Venerable Laura Vicuna
Sister Susanna
St. Winifred of Wales

Threatened with or Victim of Rape
St. Agnes
Bl. Antonia Mesina
St Joan of Arc
St. Maria Goretti
Bl. Pierina Morosini
St. Zita

Widowed
St. Adelaide
St. Anastasia
Bl. Angela of Foligno
St. Bathildis
St. Birgitta of Sweden
Bl. Castora Gabrielli
St. Clotilda
Concepcion Cabrera de Armida (Conchita)
Bl. Dorothy of Montau
St. Elizabeth of Hungary
St. Elizabeth Seton
St. Etheidreda or Audrey
St. Eulalia
St. Frances of Rome
Bl. Helen dei Cavalcanti
Bl. Ida of Boulogne
St. Jeanne de Chantal
St. Jeanne de Lestonnac
Bl. Jeanne Marie de Maille
St. Joaquina
St. Jufta
St. Louise de Marillac
Bl. Lucy de Freitas
St. Ludmila
Bl. Marguerite d’Youville
Bl. Marie of the Incarnation (Acarie)
St. Matilda
Bl. Michelina
St. Monica
St. Olga
St. Paula
St. Rita of Cascia

St. Joseph versus Child-Sex-Trafficking

child

When it comes to triumph over unjust suffering, there are few saints more inspiring than the Apostle Paul:  “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” (Col 1:24)  But in the Old Testament, the gold medal of joy amidst suffering must go to Joseph of Egypt.  When we consider that Joseph was betrayed by his family and sold into slavery, we begin to meditate on the plight of the millions of children sold into slavery today.  When Potiphar’s wife unsuccessfully tries to seduce him, she falsely accuses him to be the aggressor and lands him in prison.  “And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Gen 39:20-21)  Who can miss the connection to how pimps often flip the tables to make innocent girls think themselves to be impure?  This brainwashing into guilt helps to keep many girls enslaved for years.

After rescue, restoration can be not only a long road, but a tired road.  The example of Joseph becomes primary at this point, because after enduring false-accusations, slavery and imprisonment, Joseph never stops waiting on the Lord.  “Waiting on the Lord” might sound an overly-pious phrase to avoid dealing with the deep wounds caused by sex-slavery, but a look closer reveals what Joseph was expecting from the Lord in prison:  “The Lord was with Joseph, and showed him steadfast love, and gave him favor.”  (ibid.)  God sends such saints who have endured enslavement and prison to show that “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness” (2 Peter 3:9a) so that others who have suffered unjustly never despair of “God’s steadfast love.”  “Steadfast love” must be reflected in the restoration homes for girls because we get no easy fixes, no pithy phrases, no shallow spirituality to close the day.  In fact, the road to becoming a new creation is as messy as a crucifixion.  Anyone getting into restoration with terse phrases will be highly disappointed at the complex brokenness encountered in the girls.  Restoration work takes patience, even slowness in human eyes, to one day be able to observe what Jesus meant when He said “Behold I make all things new.”  (Rev 21:5)

The New Testament Joseph, the celibate and chaste spouse of Mary, reveals another example for those of us in the anti-trafficking and restoration movement for children caught in slavery.  I am more convinced than ever that the supply of children is linked to the demand of sex, fueled primarily by pornography.  But St. Joseph remains “the just man” (Mt 1:19) who protects women and children from Herod, from Egypt.  Anti-trafficking will begin and end with male discipleship, and we have no better example than the fatherhood of Joseph to inspire young men and dads with true manhood and fatherhood.  A man will either be a father or a predator; there is no third option.  The innocence of [mostly] girls caught in sex-slavery becomes an image of the Church who must be protected and cleansed by Jesus the bridegroom who loved the Church to the point of  being able to present her “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:27)  With the Blessed Virgin Mary as the exemplar of the Church, St. Joseph stands as the protector of the Church, of women and of children.  St. Joseph is the mirror for men to compare themselves against, at least those those who wish to end trafficking and defend little children.