Wednesday 16th October 2019

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

On Prophetic Vocations!

October 3, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


A reader of this column asks about the idea of prophetic name changes, namely instances where God — when He bestows a divine vocation — changes their names.
Of course, we all get a little slice of this prophetic name changing when we are baptized. The Romans and Greeks who had pagan names would acquire the names of Christian martyrs upon Baptism and among Christians that’s how they would be called — not Apollonius but Paul, not Mercury but John.
In fact, that’s how the Popes started changing their names in imitation of St. Peter, when a man named Mercury was elected to the papal throne in the year 533 and thought it highly inappropriate to keep the name of a pagan god.
Of course, we are all very familiar with St. Peter having his name changed from Simon to Cephas (Rock), and on this cephas Christ would build His Church (Matt. 16:18).
Yet what is more amazing is how often God the Father and God the Son did this throughout salvation history. We will start from the top:
Some random guy to Elijah: The truth is, we really don’t know what Elijah’s real name was…we only know him as the prophet who successfully fought the demon Baal on Mount Carmel, taunting the cultists as they first slaughtered an ox and then offered their own blood to have fire spring from their altar. Elijah in turn soaks his altar with a sacrifice and in water, and God responds not only by producing fire but ending a drought over the land of Israel (1 Kings 18).
Jacob to Israel: Jacob wrestles with God, or at the very least Jacob wrestles with an angel (Genesis 31). Or a man? The truth of the matter is that we don’t really know. It was night, and Jacob wrestled throughout the night. Jacob was the stronger of the two, but the “man” dislocated Jacob’s hip and still Jacob would not let the man go until he blessed Jacob. Thus in Jacob’s renaming, he affirms the victory of his opponent not to be something of his own strength, but of God’s — hence the meaning of the name Israel: “God is victorious.”
Abram to Abraham: Here’s another popular one. “Neither shall thy name be called any more Abram: but thou shalt be called Abraham: because I have made thee a father of many nations” (Genesis 17).
One of my favorite observations is that at the Sea of Galilee, the sand on this massive freshwater lake really isn’t sand at all, but millions of tiny seashells. When God tells Abraham that his descendants will be as countless as the sands of the sea in Genesis 22, one can’t help but think of all these tiny seashells — pink, blue, black, white, round, fat, thin, pointy, new, old…that’s us!
Sarai to Sarah: Presaging the Blessed Mother’s visit to Elizabeth and the “clump of cells” more commonly known as St. John the Baptist, Abraham’s wife also plays a role in salvation history, conceiving a child in advanced age in Genesis 21.
Solomon to Amiable to the Lord: Here’s a neat one. In 2 Samuel 12, David and Bethsabee have a child named Solomon, and God loves Solomon right from the start. The prophet Nathan takes a look at Solomon and he is promptly renamed Jedidiah, which means “beloved of the Lord.” Solomon had to be a very cute baby.
James and John to Sons of Thunder: My sons would consider this name change to be — in their words — so metal (the new word for cool, I guess). This is in Mark 3, too . . . which isn’t exactly known for its literary flourish. One expects them to be riding around Judea with Harley-Davidsons and the wind in their face with names like that!
Simon to Peter: This one also qualifies for a name change that is “pretty metal” at the end of the day. Jesus chooses the weakest of the apostles, points to him and says YOU ARE ROCK. Not made of rock, not the stuff of which rock are made. Not even rock and roll; just Rock. I mean, the Son of Thunder might not be envious of such a name, but for the first Pope? Not bad.
Saul to Paul: This one is a little bit more dubious. It is commonly believed that Saul’s name was changed the moment he was thrown from his mount — and Scripture doesn’t say whether this was a horse, camel, donkey, etc. In truth, most men of the time would have had two names: one Greco-Roman, the other Hebrew. What is significant is that Saul is not called Paul until he is visited by Ananias in Acts 9, where Paul’s ministry was to preach to the Gentiles — an item of serious theological debate during the First Council of Jerusalem. Despite the public rupture with St. Peter, both men would travel to Rome and establish the Christian community there — and both would endure martyrdom.
Mary to Full of Grace: This is my favorite one, and it is often missed by biblical commentators (and by many of our Protestant cousins). In Luke 1:28 the Archangel Gabriel visits a frightened 15-year-old girl in Nazareth and tells her: “Chaire, kecharitomene!” — Not exactly “Hail Mary!” like we are used to, but in a more literal sense: “Hail, you who have perfected the quality of grace before I came here.”
In fact, Mary was so troubled by this it scares her! Gabriel had to think quickly on his feet. “Mi fovou, Miriam!” he has to call her by name, “Fear not, Mary!” To the Mother of God, no less, the Archangel Gabriel has to tell the one who will stomp the head of the serpent not to fear, “for thou has found grace with God” and effectively repeating what he says in Luke 1:28, but in a slightly different way.
You see, here the Greek word “charin” is a really delicate and complicated word, alluding to the “grace” of kecharitomene but also with a few other meanings. Such grace here follows naturally, it is almost a “by the grace of God” or by God’s pleasure.
Translators of the word into English will often use it as correlative to “for this reason” or “because” or “for the sake of” — significant for the sole fact that Gabriel’s intention was not that Mary won some grand cosmic lottery or that God magicked something into Mary to make her who she was. Mary is Full of Grace, a compelling, even rational form of grace that is both by her natural will and her fiat to Gabriel the assent of her rational will.
That’s powerful, because Mary could have said “no” to Gabriel in Luke 1:29. Think about that! The entire salvation of humanity hung on the fears of a 15-year-old girl because the Archangel Gabriel — the best diplomat of the angelic host! — frightened Mary with what might only be described as his enthusiasm for the moment.
Truthfully, it is kind of funny. Here is Gabriel about to announce the most significant event in history where the salvation of a race hangs on a single word from this young girl, and the reveal is so marvelous and incredible, Gabriel manages instead to scare Mary to pieces — and Gabriel is compelled to add: “Hold on! Fear not!”
Of course, it is important to remember that all prophetic vocations are about the coming of the Messiah. In short, Jesus already came, so there is no need for the prophets. The modern Popes — imitating St. Peter and continuing the tradition of adopting Christian names — are not “prophets” in that or any other sense. Rather, they are signaling their new vocations as the Holy Father.
One will see religious do this all the time: priests, brothers, and nuns taking on new names in light of their vocational roles. The difference here, of course, is that one names themselves rather than being named by God — but the reflection of the biblical tradition of old remains present in some small way.

+ + +

First Teachers warmly encourages readers to submit their thoughts, views, opinions, and insights to the author directly either via e-mail or by mail. Please send any correspondence to Shaun Kenney c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 or by e-mail to

Share Button

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Within 5 year of gay "marriage" being legal, we have:

* Transgender kids
* Gay sex taught to pre school
* 150 genders
* Drag Q. story hour
* Decriminalization of knowingly transmitting AIDS
* Grown men in girl's bathroom.

This is NOT progress. Not born that way

Load More...

Pope Francis appoints new head of Vatican security

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2019 / 04:39 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Tuesday appointed the second-in-command of Vatican security to head the City State’s national police force, after the resignation of the former chief Oct. 14. The pope named Oct. 15,…Continue Reading

Ecological ritual performed in Vatican gardens for pope’s tree planting ceremony

Vatican City, Oct 4, 2019 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis witnessed an indigenous performance at a tree planting ceremony in the Vatican gardens Friday, during which people held hands and bowed before carved images of pregnant women, one of…Continue Reading

Young man stuns courtroom by forgiving brother’s murderer, urging her to seek Christ

DALLAS, Texas, October 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In an incredible display of human compassion, a young man whose brother was shot and killed forgave the cop who had been found guilty of his murder. Former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger shot and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Ouellet defends priestly celibacy ahead of Amazon synod

Rome, Italy, Oct 2, 2019 / 11:35 am (CNA).- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, presented a book Wednesday arguing that in the face of challenges, the Church should not grab at quick solutions, but seek to…Continue Reading

President Trump Defends Religious Freedom at UN, Announces Campaign to Protect Churches

President Donald Trump urged nations across the world to protect religious freedom Monday in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. Trump, the first U.S. president to highlight religious freedom at the UN, said America will set aside $25…Continue Reading

Archbishop Harry Flynn dies at 86

Minneapolis, Minn., Sep 23, 2019 / 03:40 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Harry Flynn, a former leader of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has died. Flynn died Sunday in the St. Paul rectory where he had spent his final days…Continue Reading

Missouri AG refers 12 former Catholic priests for potential prosecution after abuse probe

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced Friday that his office had referred 12 former Roman Catholic priests for possible criminal prosecution following a 13-month probe of how diocesan leaders handled allegations of child abuse. The investigation reviewed personnel records for every priest serving…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke, Bishop Schneider call for prayer crusade, cite dangers of Amazon Synod

Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider have issued an eight-page declaration warning against six “serious theological errors and heresies” they say are contained in the Amazonian Synod working document, and calling for prayer and fasting to prevent them being approved. Cardinal Burke, patron…Continue Reading

Leader of Jesuit order: Satan doesn’t exist as ‘personal’ reality, only ‘symbolic’

August 22, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The devil is a not a personal reality but a symbol for evil, the head of the Jesuit order said this week. Satan, the devil whom the Catholic Church says was behind the fall of…Continue Reading

American Catholics Must Stand with Hong Kong

The autonomous territory of Hong Kong is in a fight for its life. For over two months, the citizens of Hong Kong have persisted in protesting an attempt by the Hong Kong chief executive to impose an amendment to the…Continue Reading

German archbishop in Auschwitz: Stand up against hubris of the politically powerful

Krakow, Poland, Aug 14, 2019 / 02:31 pm (CNA).- On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the German invasion of Poland, a German archbishop has called for a stand against hubris and arrogance of those in political power. Speaking…Continue Reading

Vatican ‘struggling to put out fire’ of public scandal over JPII Institute purge

ROME, August 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The “firefighters for the new direction” being taken at the John Paul II Institute in Rome are “struggling” to put out a blaze of public scandal, as controversy sparked by a recent purge of professors threatens to reach the door of the Pope’s…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.

  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love


  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading


Today . . .

What are you willing to die for, Chaput asks students

Washington D.C., Oct 14, 2019 / 10:30 am (CNA).- It is important to consider what we are willing to die for, Archbishop Charles Chaput reminded students and faculty in a speech at the University of Notre Dame on Friday. “It’s a good thing, a vital thing, to consider what we’re willing to die for,” Chaput said in a lecture given to the Constitutional Studies Program at the university on Oct. 11. “To even ask that…Continue Reading


Does Pope Francis profess the Nicene Creed?

Did Pope Francis really really say that Jesus is not God? Eugenio Scalfari, who made this sensational claim, cannot be treated as a reliable witness. He is an atheist, a Marxist, not a Christian. Although he has interviewed Pope Francis several times, he has not recorded the sessions or taken notes. He boasts of the ability to reconstruct conversations from memory: a technique that would be inappropriate for any responsible journalist, let alone one of Scalfari’s…Continue Reading

Müller Accuses: From This Synod They Have Driven Out Jesus

The Synod on the Amazon has begun. “But it will have consequences for the universal Church,” warns Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in a lengthy interview with Matteo Matzuzzi for the newspaper “Il Foglio,” released on the very day of the opening of the work. “If one listens to the voices of some of the protagonists of this assembly, one understands easily that the agenda is entirely European.” European, and above all German. Also in Germany, in fact,…Continue Reading



Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… American Criminal Justice In Disarray

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bi-monthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Can Ruth Bader Ginsburg Make A Man Into A Woman?

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of Creators Syndicate,, distributes his column.) + + + Judging by the argument that one lawyer made to Justice Neil Gorsuch, Tuesday, October 8 must have been an interesting day in the restrooms at the U.S. Supreme Court. “There are transgender…Continue Reading

This Bud’s For You

By DONALD DeMARCO The purpose of commercial advertising is to persuade consumers to purchase something that they do not need. This is not to say that advertising products are not useful, but to point out that they are inspired by sales and are not grounded in natural desires. By contrast, nature has equipped human beings…Continue Reading

Is Trump At Last Ending Our “Endless Wars”?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN The backstage struggle between the Bush interventionists and the America-firsters who first backed Donald Trump for president just exploded into open warfare, which could sunder the Republican Party. At issue is Trump’s decision to let the Turkish army enter Northern Syria, to create a corridor between Syrian Kurds and the Turkish…Continue Reading

A New And Orthodox Papal Document On Sacred Scripture

  By Fr. BRIAN W. HARRISON, OS Increasingly, over the six years of the Francis pontificate, a lot of us have been asking, wearily, “Can anything good come out of Domus Sanctae Marthae”? Well, something just did. Everyone watching Rome lately has been focusing on the Ominous Amazon — the synod starting this Sunday, October 6 [Editor’s…Continue Reading


Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Our Motive Must Be Love

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Ninth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Exodus 17:8-13 2 Tim. 3:14-4:2 Luke 18:1-8 In the Gospel reading today, St. Luke describes a parable spoken by our Lord to teach us the importance of praying always without growing weary. In anything we do as human beings, we grow weary after a time. However, repeatedly doing…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . True Compassion Is Sharing Fullness Of Faith

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK True love will always be found in the world through those who share the truth. This is at whatever cost to themselves in terms of the comforts of human respect or material gain. Selflessness of love speaks the word the other needs to hear in a disinterested way, regardless of the effect upon the one…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. The Catholic bishops of Massachusetts recently issued a statement on climate change that repeats all of the propaganda from the global warming extremists. Could you look at this statement and tell me if you agree with me? — T.L.H., Massachusetts. A. Yes, we do agree and have written to the bishops stating our concerns about their statement. Here are…Continue Reading

The Phantom Of A German National Church Shows Itself

By WALTER CARDINAL BRANDMUELLER (Editor’s Note: Walter Cardinal Brandmueller’s October 1 statement appears below. Please see page 1A of this week’s issue for a news story about the statement. LifeSiteNews published both the story and the text. Maike Hickson translated Brandmueller’s text from the original German.) + + + “Without Judah, without Rome, we shall build Germany’s Dome [Cathedral]” —…Continue Reading

Faith Is The Foundation For Charity

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17 2 Tim. 2:8-13 Luke 17:11-19 Today, as we commemorate the anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima in 1917, we are reminded of the great love God has for us by bearing with us in our frailty and calling us back to Himself…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Francis Borgia

By CAROLE BRESLIN The mere sight of the name Borgia brings to mind the family that was influential in both the Church and society — notorious for their political maneuvering and murder. But God can bring good out of evil and even from this family: Francis Borgia had great influence in the development of the Society of Jesus and served…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… The Martyrs Of Turon

  By CAROLE BRESLIN The complex roots of the Spanish Civil War (February 1936 to April 1939) sprouted many years before hostilities broke out. Little by little the Catholic Church had lost its influence and then it became a prime target for both the revolutionaries and the government. Of Church personnel, those executed during the Spanish Civil War included 12…Continue Reading