Friday, November 30, 2007

True Liberation Comes From Hope In Christ

I haven't finished reading Pope Benedict's new encyclical, Spe Salvi, yet but I wanted to highlight his condemnation of Liberation Theology found in the encyclical. He says:

Christianity did not bring a message of social revolution like that of the
ill-fated Spartacus, whose struggle led to so much bloodshed. Jesus was not
Spartacus, he was not engaged in a fight for political liberation like Barabbas
or Bar- Kochba. Jesus, who himself died on the Cross, brought something totally
different: an encounter with the Lord of all lords, an encounter with the living
God and thus an encounter with a hope stronger than the sufferings of slavery, a
hope which therefore transformed life and the world from within.

I have to go to work now, but I will blog more on the encyclical later!

The Pope's New Encyclical....

...can be found here!

I haven't read it yet, but I will after class today and most likely put forth my two cents on it. Until then....happy reading!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Church Is The Kingdom

“There is a great difference of belief between us and [Protestants]: they do not believe that Christ set up a visible society, or rather kingdom, for the propagation and maintenance of His religion, for a necessary home and refuge of His people, but we do. We know the kingdom is still on earth: where is it? If all that can be found of it is what can be discerned at Constantinople or Canterbury, I say, it has disappeared; and either there was a radical corruption of Christianity from the first, or Christianity came to an end, in proportion as the type of the Nicene Church faded out of the world: for all that we know of Christianity, in ancient history, as a concrete fact, is the Church of Athanasius and his fellows: it is nothing else historically but that bundle of phenomena, that combination of claims, prerogatives, and corresponding acts, some of which I have recounted above. There is no help for it; we cannot take as much as we please, and no more, of an institution which has a monadic existence. We must either give up the belief in the Church as a divine institution altogether, or we must recognize it in that communion of which the Pope is the head. With him alone and round about him are found the claims, the prerogatives, and duties which we identify with the kingdom set up by Christ. We must take things as they are; to believe in a Church, is to believe in the Pope. And thus this belief in the Pope and his attributes, which seems so monstrous to Protestants, is bound up with our being Catholics at all; as our Catholicism is with our Christianity. There is nothing then of wanton opposition to the powers that be, no dinning of novelties in their startled ears in what is often unjustly called Ultramontane doctrine; there is no pernicious servility to the Pope in our admission of his pretensions. I say, we cannot help ourselves—Parliament may deal as harshly with us as it will; we should not believe in the Church at all, unless we believed in its visible head.”

-John Henry Newman in A Letter Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk.

Neither Angels, Nor Devils

"Popes, then, though they are infallible in their office, as Prophets and Vicars of the Most High, and though they have generally been men of holy life, and many of them actually saints, have the trials, and incur the risks of other men. Our doctrine of infallibility means something very different from what Protestants think it means. And so again, all the inconsistencies which they think they find in what we teach of the sanctity of the Priesthood compared with the actual conduct of a portion of the members of it, would vanish, if they understood that a priest, in a Catholic sense, as in St. Paul's sense, is one "who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that err, for that he himself also is encompassed with infirmity." Yet, strange to say, so little are they aware of our real doctrine on the subject, that even since these Lectures began, it has been said to me in reference to them in print, "A vulgar error in your Church is, that the Priests are so divinely protected that one of them can hardly err, can hardly sin. This notion is now at an end, as far as you are concerned." Most marvellous! This writer's idea, and the idea of most Protestants is, that we profess that all Priests are angels, but that really they are all devils. No, neither the one nor the other; if these Protestants came to us and asked, they would find that we taught a far different doctrine—viz., that Priests were mortal men, who were intrusted with high gifts for the good of the people, that they might err as other men, that they would fall if they were not watchful, that in various times and places large numbers had fallen, so much so, that the Priesthood of whole countries had before now apostatized, as happened in great measure in England three centuries ago, and that at all times there was a certain remnant scattered about of priests who did not live up to their faith and their profession; still that, on the whole, they had been, as a body, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, through the power of divine grace, and that thus, in spite of the frailty of human nature, they had fulfilled the blessed purposes of their institution. But not in one or two points merely, but in everything we think and say and do, as Catholics, were we but known, what a reformation would there not at once follow in the national mind in respect to us! British fair dealing and good sense would then recover their supremacy; and Maria Monks and Teodores would find their occupation gone. We should hear no more of the laity being led blindfold, of their being forced to digest impossibilities under menace of perdition, of their struggles to get loose continually overmastered by their superstition, and of their heart having no part in their profession. The spectres of tyranny, hypocrisy, and fraud would flit away with the morning light. There would be no more dread of being burned alive by Papists, or of the gutters overflowing with Protestant blood. Dungeons, racks, pulleys, and quick-lime would be like the leavings of a yesterday's revel. Nor would the political aims and plots and intrigues, so readily imputed to us, seem more substantial; and though I suppose, there is lying, and littleness, and overreaching, and rivalry, to be found among us as among other sons of Adam, yet the notion that we monopolized these vile qualities, or had more than our share of them, would be an exploded superstition. This indeed would be a short and easy way, not of making Protestants Catholics, but of reversing their ridiculous dreams about us,—I mean, if they actually saw what they so interminably argue about. But it is not to be:—first comes in the way that very love of arguing and of having an opinion, to which my last words have alluded. Men would be sorry indeed that the controversy should be taken from the region of argument and transferred to that of fact. They like to think as they please; and as they would by no means welcome St. Paul, did he come from heaven to instruct them in the actual meaning of his "texts" in Romans iii. or Galatians ii., so they would think it a hardship to be told that they must not go on maintaining and proving, that we were really what their eyes then would testify we were not. And then, too, dear scandal and romancing put in their claim; how would the world go on, and whence would come its staple food and its cheap luxuries, if Catholicism were taken from the market? Why it would be like the cotton crop failing, or a new tax put upon tea. And then, too, comes prejudice, "like the horseleech, crying, Give, give:" how is prejudice to exist without Catholic iniquities and enormities? prejudice, which could not fast for a day, which would be in torment inexpressible, and call it Popish persecution, to be kept on this sort of meagre for a Lent, and would shake down Queen and Parliament with the violence of its convulsions, rather than it should never suck a Catholic's sweet bones and drink his blood any more."

-John Henry Newman in Present Position of Catholics in England.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Loss Of The High Moral Ground

The United States has lost the high moral ground since 9/ says the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams.

Yup, the very same Rowan Williams who supports gay marriage, gay bishops, and whatever other buggery the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. has advocated.

Right O, Rowan! No moral ground whatsoever. You tell 'em!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Encyclical #2

Pope Benedict's second encyclical will be released on November 30. It is called Spe Salvi, which means "Saved by Hope" referring to the phrase used by St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans. What a great way to start off the Year dedicated to the Blessed Apostle! Stay tuned....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Episcopal Bishop Of Southwest Florida Becomes Catholic

Two days ago, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, John Lipscomb, announced his resignation from the Episcopal Church and declared his desire to come home to the Catholic Church.

I have met Lipscomb a while back (he was my wife's former bishop) and he was a very nice man. However, as a bishop in the Episcopal Church he seemed to be on the fence over a lot of issues that divided the Episcopal Church, if not supportive of the reappraising side. One would guess that now that he is becoming Catholic, he has figured out where he stands on particular issues of controversy and firmly believes all that the Catholic Church teaches. It would be rather rash for him to go from being a bishop in the Episcopal Church to a member of the Catholic Church is this were not the case.

May God Bless you John Lipscomb and welcome to the Catholic Church!

Hat tip to Kendall Harmon at Titusonenine where Lipscomb's letter to his diocese is posted.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Brotherhood Of All Does Not Exclude The Authority Of One

“Even among the blessed apostles, there was side by side with an equality of honor a distinction of authority; and though all were equally chosen, preeminence was nevertheless given to one over the others. On the same principle, distinction is made between bishops, and the mighty design of Providence has ordered it that all may not claim every prerogative, but that in each province there should be someone possessing primacy of jurisdiction over his brethren; and again, that those presiding in the larger cities should receive a wider responsibility, that through them the care of the universal Church might ultimately rest upon the one See of Peter and that no part should anywhere be separated from the head.”

-Pope St. Leo the Great

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Right To Life....As Long As The State Says So.

According to this news article, the National Right to Life Committee says it will endorse Fred Thompson. Yet the article states that Thompson is in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but favors letting individual states decide whether to permit abortions. So, it seems that Thompson is not pro-life, but rather pro-choice seeing that he is willing to let the State decide.

Does anyone else see the absurdity of the National Right to Life Committee's endorsement of Thompson based on this? Why did they not endorse someone who is 100% pro-life? Does any candidate fit that description? It seems that Huckabee does. Although, I am not so quick to endorse him. Is there anyone else out there willing to stand up for life? Surely, someone is willing to resist compromise and support the dignity of human life!

I do know for a fact that I will not be voting for Giuliani!

The Death Of A Heretic: Epilogue

“It is said that for a long period subsequently no one would make use of the seat on which he died. Those who were compelled by necessities of nature, as is wont to be the case in a crowd, to visit the public place, when they entered, spoke to one another to avoid the seat, and the place was shunned afterwards, because Arius had there received the punishment of his impiety. At a later time a certain rich and powerful man, who had embraced the Arian tenets, bought the place of the public, and built a house on the spot, in order that the occurrence might fall into oblivion, and that there might be no perpetual memorial of the death of Arius.”

-Sozomen in Ecclesiastical History.

The Death Of A Heretic: Part 3

“When Arius himself, the author of the heresy, and the associate of Eusebius, was summoned through the interest of Eusebius and his fellows to appear before Constantine Augustus of blessed memory, and was required to present a written declaration of his faith, the wily man wrote one, but kept out of sight the peculiar expressions of his impiety, and pretended, as the Devil did, to quote the simple words of Scripture, just as they are written. And when the blessed Constantine said to him, ‘If thou holdest no other opinions in thy mind besides these, take the Truth to witness for thee; the Lord is thy avenger if thou swearest falsely’: the unfortunate man swore that he held no other, and that he had never either spoken or thought otherwise than as he had now written. But as paying the penalty of his crime, and ‘falling headlong burst asunder in the midst.’ Death, it is true, is the common end of all men, and we ought not to insult the dead, though he be an enemy, for it is uncertain whether the same event may not happen to ourselves before evening. But the end of Arius was not after an ordinary manner, and therefore it deserves to be related. Eusebius and his fellows threatening to bring him into the Church, Alexander, the Bishop of Constantinople, resisted them; but Arius trusted to the violence and menace of Eusebius. It was the Sabbath, and he expected to join communion on the following day. There was therefore a great struggle between them; the others threatening, Alexander praying. But the Lord being judge of t he case, decided against the unjust party: for the sun had not set, when the necessities of nature compelled him to that place, where he fell down, and was forthwith deprived of communion with t he Church and of his life together. The blessed Constantine hearing of this at once, was struck with wonder to find him thus convicted of perjury. And indeed it was then evident to all that the threats of Eusebius and his fellows had proved of no avail, and the hope of Arius had become vain. It was shewn too that the Arian madness was rejected from communion by our Savior both here and in the Church of the first-born in heaven. Now who will wonder to see the unrighteous ambition of these men, whom the Lord has condemned—to see them vindicating the heresy which the Lord has pronounced excommunicate (since He did not suffer its author to enter into the Church), and not fearing that which is written, but attempting impossible things?”

-Athanasius in his letter to the Bishops of Egypt.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Saint That Keeps On Giving

It takes two miracles to become a saint. After that, many saints sit back and enjoy the heavenly beatitude. Not so with St. John Chrysostom! Old Golden Mouth has recently performed two more miracles. Check it out!

The Death Of A Heretic: Part 2

“After the Synod of Jerusalem, Arius went to Egypt, but as he could not obtain permission to hold communion with the Church of Alexandria, he returned to Constantinople. As all those who had embraced his sentiments, and those who were attached to Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, had assembled cunningly in that city for the purpose of holding a council, Alexander, who was then ordering the see of Constantinople, used every effort to dissolve the council. But as his endeavors were frustrated, he openly refused all covenant with Arius, affirming that it was neither just nor according to ecclesiastical canons, to make powerless their own vote, and that of those bishops who had been assembled at Nicaea, from nearly every region under the sun. When the partisans of Eusebius perceived that their arguments produced no effect on Alexander, they had recourse to contumely, and threatened that unless he would receive Arius into communion on a stated day, he should be expelled from the church, and that another should be elected in his place who would be willing to hold communion with Arius. They then separated, the partisans of Eusebius, to await the time they had fixed for carrying their menaces into execution, and Alexander to pray that the words of Eusebius might be prevented from being carried into deed. His chief source of fear arose from the fact that the emperor had been persuaded to give way. On the day before the appointed day he prostrated himself before the altar, and continued all the night in prayer to God, that his enemies might be prevented from carrying their schemes into execution against him. Late in the afternoon, Arius, being seized suddenly with pain in the stomach, was compelled to repair to the public place set apart for emergencies of this nature. As some time passed away without his coming out, some persons, who were waiting for him outside, entered, and found him dead and still sitting upon the seat. When his death became known, all people did not view the occurrence under the same aspect. Some believed that he died at that very hour, seized by a sudden disease of the heart, or suffering weakness from his joy over the fact that his matters were falling out according to his mind; other imagined that his mode of death was inflicted on him in judgment, on account of his impiety. Those who held his sentiments were of opinion that his death was brought about by magical arts.”

-Salaminus Hermias Sozomenus in Ecclesiastical History.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Death Of A Heretic

“Meanwhile the emperor, being desirous of personally examining Arius, sent for him to the palace, and asked him whether he would assent to the determinations of the Synod at Nicaea. He without hesitation replied in the affirmative, and subscribed the declaration of the faith in the emperor’s presence, acting with duplicity. The emperor, surprised at his ready compliance, obliged him to confirm his signature by an oath. This also he did with equal dissimulation. The way he evaded, as I have heard, was this: he wrote his own opinion on paper, and carried it under his arm, so that he then swore truly that he really held the sentiments he had written. That this is so, however, I have written from hearsay, but that he added an oath to his subscription, I have myself ascertained, from an examination of the emperor’s own letters. The emperor being thus convinced, ordered that he should be received into communion by Alexander, bishop of Constantinople. It was then Saturday, and Arius was expecting to assemble with the church on the day following: but divine retribution overtook his daring criminalities. For going out of the imperial palace, attended by a crowd of Eusebian partisans like guards, he paraded proudly through the midst of the city, attracting the notice of all the people. As he approached the place called Constantine’s Forum, where the column of porphyry is erected, a terror arising from the remorse of conscience seized Arius, and with the terror a violent relaxation of the bowels: he therefore enquired whether there was a convenient place near, and being directed to the back of Constantine’s Forum, he hastened thither. Soon after a faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died. The scene of this catastrophe still is shown at Constantinople, as I have said, behind the shambles in the colonnade: and by persons going by pointing the finger at the place, there is a perpetual remembrance preserved of this extraordinary death. So disastrous an occurrence filled with dread and alarm the party of Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia; and the report of it quickly spread itself over the city and throughout the world.”

-Socrates Scholasticus in Ecclesiastical History.


"The religion which seeks to bind man’s individual being to Christ is not content with an invisible and purely spiritual communion; it desires that man should communicate with his God throughout his entire being, even by the physical act of feeding. In this mystical but real Communion the matter of the sacrament is not simply destroyed and annihilated, it is transubstantiated, that is to say, the interior and invisible substance of the bread and wine is lifted into the sphere of Christ’s ascended bodily nature and absorbed by it, while the phenomenal reality or outward appearance of these objects remains without sensible change, that they may act in the given conditions of our physical existence and so establish a link between that existence and the body of God."

-Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The State Of Protestantism In 1845

“Lutheranism has by this time become in most places almost simple heresy of infidelity; it has terminated, if it has even yet reached its limit, in a denial both of the Canon and the Creed, nay, of many principles of morals. Accordingly the question arises, whether these conclusions are in fairness to be connected with its original teaching or are a corruption. And it is no little aid towards its resolution to find that Luther himself at one time rejected the Apocalypse, called the Epistle of St. James ‘straminea,’ condemned the word ‘Trinity,’ fell into a kind of Euctychianism in his view of the Holy Eucharist, and in a particular case sanctioned bigamy. Calvinism, again, in various distinct countries, has become Socinianism, andCalvin himself seems to have denied our Lord’s Eternal Sonship and ridiculed the Nicene Creed.”

-John Henry Newman in An Essay On the Development of Doctrine.

The Logical Development Of Lutheranism

“A specimen of logical development is afforded us in the history of Lutheranism as it has of late years been drawn out by various English writers. Luther started on a double basis, his dogmatic principle being contradicted by his right of private judgment, and his sacramental by his theory of justification. The sacramental element never showed signs of life; but on his death, that which he represented in his own person as a teacher, the dogmatic, gained the ascendancy; and ‘every expression of his upon controverted points became a norm for the party, which, at all times the largest, was at last coextensive with the Church itself. This almost idolatrous veneration was perhaps increased by the selection of declarations of faith, of which the substance on the whole was his, for the symbolic book of his Church’ (Pusey on German Rationalism). Next a reaction took place; private judgment was restored to the supremacy. Calixtus put reason, and Spener the so-called religion of the heart, in the place of dogmatic correctness. Pietism for the time died away; but rationalism developed in Wolf, who professed to prove all the orthodox doctrines, by a process of reasoning, from premises level with the reason. It was soon found that the instrument which Wolf had used for orthodoxy, could plausibly be used against it;—in his hands it had proved the Creed; in the hands of Semler, Ernesti, and others, it disproved the authority of Scripture. What was religion to be made to consist in now? A sort of philosophical Pietism followed; or rather Spener’s pietism and the original theory of justification were analyzed more thoroughly, and issued in various theories of Pantheism, which from the first was at the bottom of Luther’s doctrine and personal character. And this appears to be the state of Lutheranism at present, whether we view it in the philosophy of Kant, in the open infidelity of Strauss, or in the religious professions of the new Evangelical Church of Prussia. Applying this instance to the subject which it has been here brought to illustrate, I should say that the equable and orderly march and natural succession of views, by which the creed of Luther has been changed into the infidel or heretical philosophy of his present representatives, is a proof that that change is no perversion or corruption, but a faithful development of the original idea.”

-John Henry Newman in An Essay On the Development of Doctrine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Greatness Of Saint Josemaria Escriva

"The ministry of the Word demands a profound self-denial on the part of the priest: he is measured by the standard of Paul's saying: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me' (Gal 2:20). A little incident from the early history of the Opus Dei comes to mind. A young woman had the chance for the first time to attend lectures by the founder, Don Escriva. She was tremendously eager to hear such a very famous speaker. Yet when she had taken part in the Mass with him -so she said later- she wanted no longer to listen to a human speaker but only to discern what was God's Word and his will."

-told by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Divine Pedagogue

Why did God give the Old Law if it was imperfect? And how can the Old Law be from God if it is imperfect, when Deuteronomy 32:4 says that “The works of God are perfect”?

In the Prima Secunda of his Summa Theologica, Q. 98, articles 1 and 2, Thomas Aquinas answers these questions. In the first article, Aquinas affirms that the Law was indeed good even though Ezekiel says that God “gave them statutes that were not good, and judgments in which they shall not live” (20:25). It seems as though Revelation is against Thomas here, but he makes a distinction. Namely, the Laws “that were not good” refers to the ceremonial precepts. They were not good because they did not confer the Grace necessary for the remission of sins. Another “not good” aspect of this Law is that, as Aquinas mentions, it caused concupiscence to increase “since we desire a thing the more from its being forbidden.” And when a desire wants what is forbidden, this disordered desire leads to sin. So how then is the Law good? Here Aquinas makes a distinction between degrees of good:

-A perfect good: a good which is sufficient in itself to bring about the desired
-An imperfect good: a good that is of some assistance in attaining the
end, but not sufficient in itself for its acquirement.

The end of the Divine Law (of which the Old Law is part) is “to bring man to that end which is everlasting happiness.”

Hence, the Old Law is an imperfect good that points to the end of everlasting happiness, and provides assistance, but is in itself insufficient to reach such end.

If you are keeping score, we now have an Old Law which not only is imperfect, but leads to sin. How can such a Law possibly be from God?

First, Aquinas tells us that the Old Law was ordained to Christ in two ways:

1) It bears witness to Christ.
2) It withdrew men from idolatrous
worship and taught them to worship the One God.

Thus, the Old Law has to be from God. “For the devil would not make a law whereby men would be led to Christ, Who was to cast him out….Therefore the Old Law was given by the same God, from Whom came salvation to man, through the grace of Christ.”

Building upon the previous conclusion, Thomas affirms the words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Galatians (3:24), “The law was our pedagogue in Christ.” The Old Law prepared us for the Grace of Christ. It was a Law that was humanly impossible to keep, but Christ would come and write a New Law on our hearts and give us the Grace to make it possible to keep the Divine Law. Apart from the Grace of Christ, we are unable to obtain Salvation. This is the heresy of Pelagius, who thought that some men did not need Christ’s Grace, but were able to reach Salvation on their own. God gave the Old Law precisely so men would not fall into this Pelagian way of thinking.

God wished “to give such a law as men by their own forces could not fulfill, so
that, while presuming on their own powers, they might find themselves to be
sinners, and being humbled might have recourse to the help of grace.”

The Divine Pedagogue that was the Old Law was designed to show men how weak and sinful they really were in order for them to recognize that they needed God and the Grace that only comes from Christ. In Romans 1, Paul tells us that the pagans did not pick up on the necessity of humbling themselves, but rather gave in to the sin of pride and “although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator..” (Rom 1: 21-23, 25).

In article 2, Aquinas also seems to suggest that the fathers of old had some kind of faith in Christ. For he says:

“Although the Old Law did not suffice to save man, yet another help from God
besides the Law was available for man, viz. faith in the Mediator, by which the
fathers of old were justified even as we are.”

This is an odd suggestion that is found elsewhere in the Summa where Aquinas suggests that Adam and Eve had a pre-lapsarian awareness of the Grace of Christ.

The ways of God are truly wonderful! By showing us our weakness we come to recognize our sinfulness and our absolute need of His love and Grace given by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Church Of The Fathers

“No one doubts…that the Roman Catholic communion of this day is the successor and representative of the Medieval Church, or that the Medieval Church is the legitimate heir of the Nicene; even allowing that it is a question whether a line cannot be drawn between the Nicene Church and the Church which preceded it. On the whole, all parties will agree that, of all existing systems, the present communion of Rome is the nearest approximation in fact to the Church of the Fathers, possible though some may think it, to be nearer still to that Church on paper. Did St. Athanasius or St. Ambrose come suddenly to life, it cannot be doubted what communion he would take to be his own. All surely will agree that these Fathers, with whatever opinions of their own, whatever protests, if we will, would find themselves more at home with such men as St. Bernard or St. Ignatius of Loyola, or with the lonely priest in his lodging, or the holy sisterhood of mercy, or the unlettered crowd before the altar, than with the teachers or with the members of any other creed. And may we not add, that were those same Saints, who once sojourned, one in exile, one on embassy, at Treves, to come more northward still, and to travel until they reached another fair city, seated among groves, green meadows, and calm streams, the holy brothers would turn from many a high aisle and solemn cloister which they found there, and ask the way to some small chapel where mass was said in the populous alley or forlorn suburb? And, on the other hand, can any one who has but heard his name, and cursorily read his history, doubt for one instant how, in turn, the people of England, ‘we, our princes, our priests, and our prophets,’ Lords and Commons, Universities, Ecclesiastical Courts, marts of commerce, great towns, country parishes, would deal with Athanasius,—Athanasius, who spent his long years in fighting against sovereigns for a theological term?”

-John Henry Newman in An Essay On the Development of Doctrine.

Feminine-Maternal Images of the Spirit In Early Syriac Tradition goes the title of Emmanuel Kaniyamparampil's article, not only appearing in the third volume of the St. Paul Center's Letter & Spirit Journal, but it is online as well.

I just finished reading the article and I highly recommend it. This is one where you definitely want to read the footnotes! As well, it is important to make the distinction between the heretical gnostic sects who saw the Holy Spirit as a feminine being as opposed to the orthodox Christian groups who refer to the maternal working or function of the Holy Spirit.

Check out the article and while you are at it, you may want to read the other two articles online by Cardinal Schonborn and Dr. David Fagerberg. After that, you can purchase the journal and read the rest!

Q Who?

Mark Goodacre gives ten reasons to question "Q".

I think the best answer when someone asks if you believe in Q is to answer "yes." Then when they astonishingly question if you are putting them on, simply reply:

"Of course I believe in 'Q'. 'Q' is Matthew."

I apologize to those who are not into Biblical Criticism and may not know who or what "Q" refers to. It's probably best to stay that way! But for those who are interested:

"According to the Two Source Hypothesis accepted by a majority of contemporary scholars, the authors of Matthew and Luke each made use of two different sources: the Gospel of Mark and a non-extant second source termed Q. The siglum Q derives from the German word "Quelle," which means "Source." Q primarily consists of the "double tradition" material, that which is present in both Matthew and Luke but not Mark. However, Q may also contain material that is preserved only by Matthew or only by Luke (called "Sondergut") as well as material that is paralleled in Mark (called Mark/Q overlaps). Although the temptation story and the healing of the centurion's son are usually ascribed to Q, the majority of the material consists of sayings. For this reason, Q is sometimes called the Synoptic Sayings Source or the Sayings Gospel. Some scholars have observed that the Gospel of Thomas and the Q material, as contrasted with the four canonical gospels, are similar in their emphasis on the sayings of Jesus instead of the passion of Jesus." [Source]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where Peter Is, There Is The Church

“Wherever Peter does not speak, only the opinions of men find utterance—and the apostles are silent. But Jesus Christ did not commend the vague and contradictory opinions of the mob or the silence of his chosen disciples; it was the unwavering, decisive, and authoritative utterance of Simon Bar-Jona upon which he set the seal of his approval. This utterance which satisfied our Lord clearly needed no human ratification; it possessed absolute validity etiam sine consensu Ecclesiae. It was not by means of a general consultation but (as Jesus Christ himself bore witness) with the direct assistance of the heavenly Father that Peter formulated the fundamental dogma of our religion; and his word defined the faith of Christians by its own inherent power, not by the consent of others—ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclasiae.

In contrast to the uncertain opinions of men, the word of Peter represents the stability and unity of the true faith; in contrast to the narrow national ideas of the Messiah to which the apostles gave utterance, his word expresses the messianic idea in its absolute and universal form. The idea of the Messiah which had sprung from the soil of Jewish national consciousness is already in the visions of the post-exilic prophets growing too large for these limits. But the true meaning of these mysterious and enigmatic visions was hardly divined by the inspired writers themselves, while Jewish public opinion remained exclusively nationalistic and could see no more in Christ than a great national prophet such as Elijah, Jeremiah, or John the Baptist, or at the most an all-powerful dictator, liberator, and leader of the chosen people such as Moses or David. This was the highest idea that the mob which followed Jesus held of him; and we know that even his chosen disciples shared these popular notions up to the end of his earthly life (cf. Luke 24:19-21).

Only in Peter’s confession does the messianic idea emerge, freed from all its nationalistic trappings and invested for the first time in its final and universal form. ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matt. 16:16). Here is no question of a national king or prophet; the Messiah is not a second Moses or David. From this time on, he bears the unique name of him who, though he is the God of Israel, is nonetheless the God of all nations. Peter’s confession transcended Jewish nationalism and inaugurated the universal Church of the New Covenant.

This is yet one more reason why Peter should be the foundation of Christendom and why the supreme hierarchical authority, which of itself has ever maintained the universal or international character of the Church, should be the true heir of Peter and the actual possessor of all those privileges conferred by Christ upon the prince of the apostles.”

-Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Newman On Scripture

“Scripture, I say, begins a series of developments which it does not finish; that is to say, in other words, it is a mistake to look for every separate proposition of the Catholic doctrine in Scripture….The question, then, is not whether this or that proposition of the Catholic doctrine is in terminis in Scripture, unless we would be slaves to the letter, but whether that one view of the Mystery, of which all such are the exponents, be not there; a view which would be some other view, and not itself, if any one of such propositions, if any one of a number of similar propositions, were not true. Those propositions imply each other, as being parts of one whole; so that to deny one is to deny all, and to invalidate one is to deface and destroy the view itself. One thing alone has to be impressed on us by Scripture, the Catholic idea, and in it they all are included.”

-John Henry Newman in The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine: Sermon XV preached before the University of Oxford on the Purification, 1843.

Only One Church Is Universal

“William Palmer, a distinguished member of the Anglican Church and of the University of Oxford, wanted to join the Orthodox church. He went to Russia and Turkey to study the contemporary situation in the Christian East and to find out on what conditions he would be admitted to the communion of the Eastern Orthodox. At St. Petersburg and at Moscow he was told that he had only to abjure the errors of Protestantism before a priest, who would thereupon administer to him the sacrament of holy chrism or confirmation. But at Constantinople he found that he must be baptized afresh. As he knew himself to be a Christian and saw no reason to suspect the validity of his baptism (which incidentally, the Orthodox Russian church admitted without question), he considered that a second baptism would be a sacrilege. On the other hand, he could not bring himself to accept Orthodoxy according to the local rules of the Russian church, since he would then become Orthodox only in Russia while remaining a heathen in the eyes of the Greeks; and he had no wish to join a national church but to join the universal Orthodox church. No one could solve his dilemma, and so he became a Roman Catholic.”

Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

The Sacred Impression And Reason

“…I observe, that though the Christian mind reasons out a series of dogmatic statements, one from another, this it has ever done, and always must do, not from those statements taken in themselves, as logical propositions, but as being itself enlightened as (as if) inhabited by that sacred impression which is prior to them, which acts as a regulating principle, ever present, upon the reasoning, and without which no one has any warrant to reason at all. Such sentences as ‘the Word was God,’ or ‘the Only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father,’ or ‘the Word was made flesh,’ or ‘the Holy Ghost which proceedeth from the Father,’ are not a mere letter which we may handle by the rules of art at our own will, but august tokens of most simple, ineffable, adorable facts, embraced, enshrined according to its measure in the believing mind. For though the development of an idea is a deduction of proposition from proposition, these propositions are ever formed in and round the idea itself (so to speak), and are in fact one and all only aspects of it.”

-John Henry Newman in The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine: Sermon XV preached before the University of Oxford on the Purification, 1843.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Supreme Judge In Matters Of Religion Recognized By All The Fathers Of The Church: Peter

"As a member of the true and venerable Eastern or Greco-Russian Orthodox church, which speaks neither through an anti-canonical synod nor through the employees of the secular power, but through the utterance of her great Fathers and Doctors, I recognize as supremem judge in matters of religion him who has been recognized as such by St. Irenaeus, St. Dionysius the Great, St. Athanasius the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril, St. Flavian, the Blessed Theodoret, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Theodore of the Studium, St. Ignatius, and on and on- namely, the apostle Peter, who lives in his successors and who has not hear our Lord's words in vain: 'You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church' (Matt. 16:18); 'Strengthen your brethren' (Luke 22:32); 'Feed my sheep, feed my lambs' (cf. John 21:15, 16, 17)."

-Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.