The Bright Morning Star

morningstar

A few days ago, I saw a post on Facebook that was entitled “Full Blown Lucifer Worship At The Catholic Vatican.” It linked to a YouTube video with the same title. The video has more than 110,000 views, so while it is not as popular as a lot of cat videos, it does have at least some level of influence. The problem, of course, is that it is dead wrong. The central piece of evidence it shows for the “full blown devil worship” is a deacon singing the Easter Proclamation during the Easter Vigil in the Roman Rite of Mass. The song, of course, is in Latin, and the video “helpfully” translates the Latin for you. Here is what the video claims the deacon is singing:

Flaming Lucifer finds Mankind,
I say: Oh Lucifer who will never be defeated,
CHRIST IS YOUR SON (!!!!)
who came back from hell,
shed his peaceful light and is alive
and reigns in the world without end.

Now I don’t know Latin, but I figured anything which is sung during the Easter Vigil is probably well known and rather old. So I looked for it, and not surprisingly, I found it on Wikipedia. It is called “The Exsultet,” and Wikipedia helpfully has both the Latin and its English Translation. Here is how Wikipedia translates the same passage:

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death’s domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Obviously, the video and Wikipedia disagree. Notice that “Lucifer” is not mentioned by Wikipedia at all. Instead, it is “Morning Star.” Of course, you might not trust Wikipedia. That’s fine. Do a Google translate, and you will find it translates those same Latin words into “star morning.” Either way, then, the deacon isn’t singing about Satan. He is singing about the Morning Star.

Who is this Morning Star? This is probably where the author of the video is a bit confused (or hoping that you will be confused). We get the name “Lucifer” from the King James Version’s translation of Isaiah 14:12-15:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Most modern translations don’t use the term “Lucifer.” They use the more correct translation, which is “morning star” or “star of the morning.” But doesn’t that mean “morning star” refers to Satan? Not necessarily. Look at the passage quoted in the picture at the top of the post (Revelation 22:16). In that passage Jesus uses the term “bright morning star” to refer to Himself! So while the passage in Isaiah refers to Satan as the “morning star,” Jesus refers to Himself as the “bright morning star.”

So to which “morning star” does The Exsultet refer? It is clearly referring to Jesus. If you look at the first part of the passage (left out of the video), it starts off saying:

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honour of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.
Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

So The Exsultet is singing to God, asking that the candle which is being lit will continue to burn until His Son comes to reign for eternity. It uses the same term for Christ that He uses for Himself in Revelation 22:16.

Please note that I am a Protestant. There are a lot of things in the Roman Catholic church with which I strongly disagree. However, I also disagree with using falsehoods to defame any organization. That’s why I posted this article.

7 Comments

  1. S.M. says:

    Thank you for posting this, Dr. Wile. The Exsultet is an ancient prayer–according to this website, it’s been in use since the fifth and sixth centuries: http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/42/Exultet____The_Easter_Proclamation.html

    More good information about it can be found here as well: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=6341

    1. jlwile says:

      Thanks, S.M. I loved reading the excerpt from St. Maximus’s Easter homily, which is linked at the bottom of that article.

  2. Caleb R. says:

    Well said, Dr. Wile.

    Going a step further, I am leaning towards agreeing with reputable commentators such as Adam Clarke and John Gill, who confidently argue that “Lucifer,” in Isaiah 14 (a term doubtless derived from the Latin Vulgate), does not even refer to Satan, but the king of Babylon, from the context, v. 4, “take up this proverb against the king of Babylon…” This further removes from the shock the video intends.

    Doing a quick search, I found that though the Vulgate does not use lucifer in Rev. 22.16 (instead, it uses stella), it does use lucifer oriatur in II Pet. 1.19, translated “day star” in the KJV. It seems to me possible this may be more likely the passage to which the Exsultet alludes. It reads, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts,” referring to Christ, as many commentators believe. This fits well with the theme of the Exsultet, which speaks of a candle shining in the darkness of sin. In fact, Young’s Literal Translation and the ESV both tranlate “day star” as “morning star.”

    I have a feeling controversial or misleading titles and content on YouTube are intended to gather clicks for advertisement revenue. I am losing patience with such ethically questionable practices.

  3. Tim Young says:

    I agree with Caleb. Isaiah 14 in context is about the king of Babylon being compared in a parable with the his “gods”. Nothing to do with a fallen angel.

  4. Felice says:

    Thank, Jay for posting this and correcting falsehoods. I am Catholic and love when I can be upheld by Protestant brothers who seek truth! If only we used our time wisely, on our knees praying against evil the world would be a better place. Enjoyed reading this.

  5. Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. says:

    I am also a Protestant and a scientist at a Protestant ministry, and seriously disagree with the Roman Catholic Church on many things. But this indeed doesn’t justify telling lies against them, including the slanderous accusation that they are deliberately worshipping the Devil.

    The Latin text does use the term Lūcifer, but the literal meaning of this is ‘light-bearer’, from lūx/lucis light + ferre to bear. The term has been used for the planet Venus, or the ‘morning star’, which, as Pythagoras and Frege famously pointed out, is also the ‘evening star’. This seems to be the primary meaning of the Hebrew heylel in Isaiah 14:12. The Vulgate also uses the term Lucifer to refer to Christ, as pointed out above. It was only in later times that the term narrowed in semantic range to refer only to Satan, especially before his fall.

    But that video is such garbage, clearly written by someone ignorant of Latin. It even has the wrong part translated. The first subtitles about Lucifer appear when the hymn has nothing to do with it. About 2:30, when the subtitles start “Flaming Lucifer …”, the actual Latin being sung is:

    Qui, licet sit divisus in partes, mutuati tamen luminis detrimenta non novit. Alitur enim liquantibus ceris, quas in substantiam pretiosae huius lampadis apis mater eduxit.

    This means:

    Which fire, though now divided, suffers no loss from the communication of its light. Because it is fed by the melted wax, which the mother bee wrought for the substance of this precious lamp.

    Then the Latin subtitles “Flammas Lucifer …” are on the next block that has nothing to do with this:

    O vere beata nox, quae exspoliavit Aegyptos, ditavit Hebraeos nox, in qua terrenis caelestia, humanis divina iunguntur! Oramus ergo te, Domine, ut cereus iste in honorem tui nominis consecratus, ad noctis huius caliginem destruendam, indeficiens perseveret. Et in odorem suavitatis acceptus, supernis luminaribus misceatur. (O truly blessed night, which plundered the Egyptians, and enriched the Hebrews. A night, in which heaven is united to earth, and God to man. We beseech thee therefore, O Lord, that this candle, consecrated to the honor of thy name, may continue burning to dissipate the darkness this night. And being accepted as a sweet savor, may be united with the celestial lights.)

    So they can’t even get the right part of the hymn!

    When it comes to the part that gets to ‘Lucifer’, the video doesn’t tell us that that part begins with Oramus ergo te, Domine or “We beseech thee therefore, [O] Lord”, so as the article says, it is all a request to God, not addressing Lucifer. Then Flammas eius has the subtitle ‘flaming Lucifer’, when it clearly means ‘his flames’, and in the accusative (object) case. Then lucifer matutinus inveniat is subtitled ‘Lucifer finds mankind’, although there is no word for ‘mankind’, and inveniat is obviously the subjunctive mood, i.e. let … find. And the object of the finding must be the flames—in Latin, sentence word order doesn’t matter, because the sense is determined by the inflections on the nouns. So the most literal translation would be ‘Let Lucifer/the morning star find his flames.’ Then the next part says, Ille, inquam, lucifer, qui nescit occasum: Christus Filius tuus, is imbecilically subtitled, ‘Oh Lucifer, who never will be defeated, Christ is your son.’ They are just making things up. Nescio means ‘to not know’, and occidere when referring to heavenly bodies means ‘to set’, so this really says, ‘He, I say, O Lucifer, who knows no setting (i.e. never sets)’. However, this part is still addressing God not the morning star, so saying to God that the Morning Star is the same person as ‘your Son’.

    It is a matter of doing to others what we would like done to us, that we should interpret the hymn in a good way if possible. As shown in the main article, there is a perfectly innocent explanation.

    A similar paranoia comes from some KJV-onlyists, which fault modern versions for not using the Vulgate-influenced Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12, and instead using the primary meaning ‘morning star’. But here, the ludicrous argument is that since Christ calls Himself the ‘[bright] morning star’, the modern versions are equating Christ and Satan. The KJVOs are unaware that the even the real KJV-1611 had in a footnote, “O daystarre.” The solution is simple though, even if we treat Isaiah as referring to Satan. If so, it was entirely mocking of Satan—he wanted to be like the Most High, and part of his counterfeit of God was also to
    counterfeit the true Morning Star. Elsewhere, Satan is called “the god of this world (or “age”)” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but this doesn’t deny that
    YHWH-Elohim is the true God who is sovereign over the entire creation.

  6. S.M. says:

    Thank you, Dr. Sarfati, for that illuminating analysis.

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