A Prophet for Today

Jeremiah weeps over Jerusalem (Horace Vernet, 1844)

Yesterday at Matins the reading was taken from chapter 23 of the book of the prophet Jeremiah. As we read it in 2017 it seems very apposite:

My heart is broken within me,
all my bones shake;
I am like a drunken man,
like a man overcome by wine,
because of the Lord
and because of his holy words.
For the land is full of adulterers;
because of the curse the land mourns,
and the pastures of the wilderness are dried up.
Their course is evil,
and their might is not right.
Both prophet and priest are ungodly;
even in my house I have found their wickedness,”
says the Lord.

Therefore their way shall be to them
like slippery paths in the darkness,
into which they shall be driven and fall;
for I will bring evil upon them
in the year of their punishment,
says the Lord.

In the prophets of Samaria
I saw an unsavoury thing:
they prophesied by Ba′al
and led my people Israel astray.
But in the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen a horrible thing:
they commit adultery and walk in lies;
they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that no one turns from his wickedness;
all of them have become like Sodom to me,
and its inhabitants like Gomor′rah.”

Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets:

“Behold, I will feed them with wormwood,
and give them poisoned water to drink;
for from the prophets of Jerusalem
ungodliness has gone forth into all the land.”

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes; they speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to every one who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No evil shall come upon you.’” …

I did not send the prophets,
yet they ran;
I did not speak to them,
yet they prophesied.
But if they had stood in my council,
then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
and from the evil of their doings. …

I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Ba′al? …

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets, says the Lord, who use their tongues and say, ‘Says the Lord.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them; so they do not profit this people at all, says the Lord.

You can supply your own commentary to this, no doubt. My only contribution, apart from some editorial use of emphatic bold in the quotation, is the prosaic but too-often implicitly denied truth that the Old Testament has not ceased to be the Word of God, and Truth is eternally true or it is not Truth. As Christ and Vatican II called us to do, let us read the signs of the times.

Jeremiah (Marc Chagall, 1968)



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      1. I needed your wisdom the other day Father—I had written a post about Christian division in light of the Reformation’s big to do and a regular reader and “friendly” fellow blogger actually emailed me when I had made mention that I considered myself more Catholic than protestant—well he jumped all over that and told me he took offense that I should dare say such.
        Well, I kept my response very nice and didn’t “get into it” but I felt as if I didn’t have a good come back except that I understand the Gospel and that I found myself defending John Paul as he jumped on the “popes”… So I emailed a dear Catholic friend in Canada who had read the post, comments and then the email which I shared—she told me that there are those who have their minds made up and it matters not what I would have said in return…
        It’s one thing Father when the Atheists come calling to my posts from time to time—I usually can handle or not handle them with stride—but when fellow Christians of various denominations get testy—well then that becomes sticky. And that is something Satan seems to relish in the most… sigh….
        Oh, and Father, if you could please offer a prayer for my son—he is still in search of employment as he and his wife will be expecting their first child in Feb—he’s starting to really panic and get depressed…
        thank you Father for good thought today via Jeremiah

        1. I confess I am not keeping up with blogs. Sometimes the only blog-reading I do is of links sent to me directly by someone. If I had seen the interaction in your combox I may well have thrown in my two pennies worth!

          When fellow Christians of other denominations get nasty it is often a sign of insecurity. It may be well-founded insecurity; it may betray an inherent weakness in the critic’s position and the only method at hand to delay any crumbling in it is to attack. So try not to let it get to you, but take it as a sign that perhaps all is not well with that person and his/her position.

          Consider your son prayed for; I shall offer Mass for him tomorrow. His trial is not for nothing.


          1. Thank you Father, that means more to me than you know—I have been at my wits end in prayer over this—for months now.
            We had encouraged him to part ways with the previous company and he agreed that it was not a company for those who were married, had families or wanted a lifer other than the company—but now finding something else has been a dead end after a dead end—and if you knew Brenton—it is like my husband frustratingly says, “God has “allowed” a fair share of bad to come Brenton’s way throughout his life”—as in if he didn’t have bad luck, he’d have no luck at all—and not that we of the faith believe in luck!
            But you understand—

            And it is something how many of the “faithful” will attack a Catholic or Catholic supporter—something I find that equally disheartening!

            But I plan to use part of Jeremiah in a post this week!
            Again, thank you Father—
            blessings and a hug

    1. Aha – someone who reads the tags! I deliberated about including them and thought it a little dishonest to be all suggestion with no clarity of what was being suggested. So I compromised with the tags. That said, the problem with tags is that they convey no nuance, and there is nuance to be had in some of those tags. Anyway, kudos Sherlock. 😉

  1. On another matter, Father, I have started to pray Matins to begin my day, after a week attending all the Offices at L’Abbaye Sainte Madeleine near Le Barroux. I am using a pre-V2 Breviary, for the liturgy seems more complete. It appears that the Revisors changed everything – I wasn’t reading Jeremiah yesterday, but Colossians, for instance. The choice of Reading from the Fathers has a logic, being related to the Gospel; in your Matins there seemed no particular reason to have St Clement’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians. Of course you weren’t observing the Feast of Christ the King, either. Why were so many unnecessary changes made to the Divine Office, as well as the Mass, and to the Calendar?

    And another question: there were 8 Offices, but in the new scheme there seems to be 7. Which one has been abandoned?

    1. To answer the easiest (ie the last) question first: the office of Prime was suppressed in the post-conciliar reforms. You will, however, not go to hell if you continue to pray it.

      We have a two-year cycle for readings at Matins, and indeed we did not have St Clement’s letter yesterday, but indeed a reading related to the gospel. On Sundays the scripture reading just continues in its cycle: the gospel is added and the commentary is related to it. On solemnities, of course, all the readings are of the day.

      Christ the King is now always Sunday 34 of the year, so it moves.

      As to the rationale for the changes to office and calendar, this is a minefield I do not want to enter at the moment. Some would say the rot for the divine office began with the change to the breviary under St Pius X (he who also gave us the phrase participatio actuosa!) All the reforms since then have been about, to a significant degree, reducing the burden of the office on parochial clergy. Since the clergy are expected now to be social workers, managers, chairmen of countless committees, and facilitators of various initiatives, perhaps this is just to some degree. But when clergy were mainly occupied with Mass, sacraments and visiting parishioners this burden was hardly excessive. Draw whatever conclusions you want.

      The calendar. You will find some very harsh criticisms of it if you search. On my blog you will find laments for the lost ‘gesima days. The loss of the octave of Pentecost is a tragedy, not least an ecclesiogical one. Octaves in general were culled. The general principles seemed to be preferring the temporal to the sanctoral, and purging the calendar of saints of supposedly dubious authenticity or marginal importance. Part of prioritising the temporal was the creation of that ugly child, Ordinary Time, which is inherently counter-calendrical and essentially secular. Counting from Pentecost related the “ordinary” life of the Church’s worship to its foundation in the Paschal Mystery. Hardly a win.

      I am no expert but if you search through such sites as the New Liturgical Movement you will find much to fill in the gaping gaps in what I have sketched above.


      1. Thank you for answering at length with lots of leads for further enquiry, Father

        I think a parish priest should mainly be occupied with Mass, sacraments and visiting parishioners, and ours sets that example and fits the old form of the Offices into his day.

        Can’t the social workers, managers, chairmen of countless committees, and facilitators of various initiatives be lay Catholics plus, in larger parishes, more specialised clergy?

        The Church’s liturgy is her beating heart and must be promoted above anything else to form us into Christ’s own, with the Mass offered every day without fail, as were the sacrifices in the Temple.

        From my first encounter with the Offices, I’m seeing how perfectly they shape our heart and mind for a close walk with the Lord every day. It would be so wrong to become too busy for them, surely?


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