Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cyril Of Jerusalem On The Our Father

"Then, after these things, we say that Prayer which the Saviour delivered to His own disciples, with a pure conscience entitling God our Father, and saying, Our Father, which art in heaven. O most surpassing loving-kindness of God! On them who revolted from Him and were in the very extreme at misery has He bestowed such a complete forgiveness of evil deeds, and so great participation of grace, as that they should even call Him Father. Our Father, which art in heaven; and they also are a heaven who bear the image of the heavenly, in whom is God, dwelling and walking in them.

Hallowed be Thy Name. The Name of God is in its nature holy, whether we say so or not; but since it is sometimes profaned among sinners, according to the words, Through you My Name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles, we pray that in us God's Name may be hollowed; not that it comes to be holy from not being holy, but because it becomes holy in us, when we are made holy, and do things worthy of holiness.

Thy kingdom come. A pure soul can say with boldness, Thy kingdom come; for he who has heard Paul saying, Let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body, and has cleansed himself in deed, and thought, and word, will say to God, Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth. God's divine and blessed Angels do the will of God, as David said in the Psalm, Bless the Lord, all ye Angels of His, mighty in strength, that do His pleasure. So then in effect thou meanest this by thy prayer, "as in the Angels Thy will is done, so likewise be it done on earth in me, O Lord."

Give us this day our substantial bread. This common bread is not substantial bread, but this Holy Bread is substantial, that is, appointed for the substance of the soul. For this Bread goeth not into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but is distributed into thy whole system for the benefit of body and soul. But by this day, he means, "each day," as also Paul said, While it is called today.

And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors. For we have many sins. For we offend both in word and in thought, and very many things we do worthy of condemnation; and if we say that we have no sin, we lie, as John says. And we make a covenant with God, entreating Him to forgive us our sins, as we also forgive our neighbours their debts. Considering then what we receive and in return for what, let us not put off nor delay to forgive one another. The offences committed against us are slight and trivial, and easily settled; but those which we have committed against God are great, and need such mercy as His only is. Take heed therefore, lest for the slight and trivial sins against thee thou shut out for thyself forgiveness from God for thy very grievous sins.

And lead us not into temptation, O Lord. Is this then what the Lord teaches us to pray, that we may not be tempted at all? How then is it said elsewhere, "a man untempted, is a man unproved;" and again, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fail into divers temptations? But does perchance the entering into temptation mean the being overwhelmed by the temptation? For temptation is, as it were, like a winter torrent difficult to cross. Those therefore who are not overwhelmed in temptations, pass through, shewing themselves excellent swimmers, and not being swept away by them at all; while those who are not such, enter into them and are overwhelmed. As for example, Judas having entered into the temptation of the love of money, swam not through it, but was overwhelmed and was strangled both in body and spirit. Peter entered into the temptation of the denial; but having entered, he was not overwhelmed by it, but manfully swam through it, and was delivered from the temptation. Listen again, in another place, to a company of unscathed saints, giving thanks for deliverance from temptation, Thou, O God hast prayed us; Thou hast tried us by, fire like as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; Thou layedst afflictions upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and water; and thou broughtest us out into a place of rest. Thou seest them speaking boldly in regard to their having passed through and not been pierced. But Thou broughtest us out into a place of rest; now their coming into a place of rest is their being delivered from temptation.

But deliver us from the evil. If Lead us not into temptation implied the not being tempted at all, He would not have said, But deliver us from the evil. Now evil is our adversary the devil, from whom we pray to be delivered. Then after completing the prayer thou sayest, Amen; by this Amen, which means "So be it," setting thy seal to the petitions of the divinely-taught prayer."

-Cyril of Jerusalem, Lecture XXIII (On the Mysteries V).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Augustine On Marriage

“Indeed, Augustine’s attitude to sexuality, in view of his doctrine of the part played by concupiscence in the transmission of Original Sin, was a remarkably sane one, and very far from the extreme views which have been held by certain other Christian teachers. Like the Apostle, he preferred that all men should be even as he, and rated the life of dedicated virginity above that of marriage; but he regarded Christian marriage as a noble thing, and deprecated any attempt to disparage it. A good example of Augustine’s view will be found in his letter to Ecdicia, a Christian woman with a Christian husband, and the mother of a son. One day, without consulting her husband, she decided to take a vow of continence and to live with him thereafter as a sister and not as a wife. Such a decision was not uncommon in the early Church, and Augustine specifically approves of it, but it had to be by joint consent—pari consensu—so that neither spouse defrauded the other of the marriage debt. This requirement Ecdicia failed to observe; but her husband, a sincere Christian, agreed with her, and for some time the couple lived together in edifying continence. Ecdicia, however, was not satisfied. She assumed the black garb of a widow or a religious, in defiance of her husband’s wishes, and proceeded to squander his good alms, without any regard for the well-being of her small son. Two foreign monks, of doubtful antecedents, enjoyed her hospitality and, in her husband’s absence, she transferred most of his property to them. Exasperated by her behavior, her husband abandoned her, broke his vow of continence, and committed adultery.

It was in these circumstances that Ecdicia wrote to Augustine, no doubt believing that he would approve of her conduct. If so, she was to be disillusioned. Augustine informed her that she was wrong in the first instance to live with her husband as a sister and not as a wife if he were reluctant to do so, and referred her to St. Paul’s first Epistle to the Corinthians for information about the duties of the married, which she had apparently either not heard or not understood. She was further told that she was wrong to offend her husband in matters of dress. She had been wrong again to give away his possessions in alms to the two monks without his knowledge or consent. By so doing she had deprived him of an opportunity of sharing in charitable deeds to which, if she had acted differently, she might have persuaded him. With greater consideration, she would have postponed giving her alms to the poor lest she should anger her husband and cause him to recoil from his religion, to the detriment of his immortal soul. Which is better: to give bread to the hungry, or save a soul from the devil?

She was further told that, as a married woman, she had no right to say: I will do what I will with my own, and reminded about St. Peter’s teaching on the subjection of the wife to the husband. Finally, she was informed that she should have considered her son’s welfare. Augustine set a high value on the prerogatives of a mother, but he did not consider that these included the right to give away in charity what would become the property of her son. Ecdicia was reminded of the words of the Apostle: If any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever, and Augustine ended his letter by exhorting her to ask her husband’s forgiveness and to promise that, if he would adhere to his profession of continence, she would obey him in all matters. In the meantime, it was necessary to remind her that her son was under his father’s control rather than hers. The lack of sympathy which she received from the ascetic bishop must have been a great disappointment to the enthusiastic votary.”

-Gerald Bonner in St. Augustine of Hippo.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Law Is The Servant Of Grace

“The Law serves the promises of God in two ways. First, because it exposes sin: ‘For by the law is the knowledge of sin’ (Rom. 3:20). Secondly, because it reveals human infirmity, in the sense that man cannot avoid sin without grace which was not given by the Law. And just as these two things, namely, the knowledge of a disease and the infirmity of the patient is a great inducement to seek medical treatment, so the knowledge of sin and of one’s impotency lead us to seek Christ. Thus, therefore, is the Law the servant of grace, inasmuch as it affords a knowledge of sin and actual experience of one’s impotency.”

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Well, You Asked For It

During the time of the Judges in Israel, the Israelites decided that they no longer wanted to be a holy nation separate from all the others. Instead, they wished to have a king just like the other nations. This was the gravest act of rejection that the people of Israel committed toward God, for they were to be a holy nation, a kingdom of priests, with God Himself as their King. But they wanted an earthly king...and God gave them what they wanted.

Today in America, the day after the Presidential election, it should be a glorious day, for we have elected a black president for the first time in the history of our nation. Yet instead of being a day of rejoicing for black Americans (and all Americans), it really is a day of sadness. We wanted Obama as our president and God gave us what we wanted. So why is today such a horrible day? Why should we not rejoice at having a black president? Well, we should rejoice at having a black president, but not this black president. This black president-elect is a notorious supporter of abortion and infanticide (not to mention that his vice-president elect has sold his soul to Satan and has given much scandal to Catholics everywhere). This black president is in the pocket of Planned Parenthood, the biggest abortion provider in the world and it is a fact that not only was Planned Parenthood founded by the horribly racist eugenicist, Margaret Sanger, but abortions are the greatest killer of black people in this country. “The oppressed has become the oppressor.”

Our country has become so morally depraved that we have elected as our leader a man who advocates infanticide. Shades of King Herod and Pharaoh. Mark Twain was correct in saying that “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

I’ve also heard that Obama won the Catholic vote. I pray for all the Catholics who blatantly flaunted the teaching of the Catholic Church and put their immortal souls at risk by cooperating in this grave evil.

Well, you asked for it America. And you got it. I believe it was Billy Graham’s daughter who said concerning our country’s immorality, “If God does not judge America, then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Christ The True Temple

A lot of scholarly work has been done recently on Christ as the true Temple, especially in John's Gospel. I was meditating on Christ as the Temple on my way to work this morning and I remembered that the Jewish feast of Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, which would be December 25 in the Gregorian calendar and also the birth of Christ. Hanukkah, you might remember, commemorates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple by the Maccabeans after the defeat of the armies of Antiochus Epiphanes. There seems to be a connection here with Christ, who is the true Temple, being born on the date of the commemoration of the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple.

Has anyone else noticed this connection....or am I way out in left field on this one?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

It's Official...

...I have know mastered am a master of theology.....or rather...I have my Masters of Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville!

Of course, this in no way means that I have nothing left to learn. I will only have "mastered" theology when I reach, assuming I do, the Beatific vision.

In the meantime, I am now teaching theology to High School students.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Thomistic Misinterpretations

“However it may be with Cajetan, and Gilson has not turned up anything he regards as incriminating, it is Gilson’s understanding of Thomas’s teaching on the soul that surprises. Speaking of death and the ‘passing away’ of the body, Gilson writes,

‘Yes, indeed, the ‘body’ passes away, but the very matter of that
body does not pass away, because, as a first principle, matter is both simple
and incorruptible. And for the very same reason, the soul of the body does not
pass away, because inasmuch as it is a spiritual substance, it also is both
simple and incorruptible. This is the very reason why, in Thomas Aquinas’
philosophy, the immortality of the human soul is an immediate evidence. It
stands in no need of being proven.’

A more completely false statement about what Thomas Aquinas teaches can scarcely be imagined, but it is most revealing as an indication of what Gilsonian existentialism leads him into. What would have to be proven, he proclaims, is that the human soul is not immortal. Why does he say this? Because the human soul is a subsisting form and is in its own right. But that of course is the conclusion of the proof for the soul’s immortality. It is cause for wonderment that someone who attributes such extraordinary and manifestly false doctrines to Thomas Aquinas should have sat in such severe judgment on Cardinal Cajetan. All Cajetan is guilty of is saying and explaining what Thomas Aquinas actually thought, whereas it is Gilson who fails to get the meaning of the text and ends by fabricating a Thomism that cannot be found in Thomas Aquinas.”

-Ralph McInerny in Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosphers.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why Did The Christians In Jerusalem Sell All Their Possessions?

"Now the reason why the custom prevailed in the early Church for those in the Church of the circumcision to sell their goods and not those in the Church of the Gentiles was that the believing Jews were congregated in Jerusalem and in Judea, which was soon to be destroyed by the Romans, as later events proved. Hence the Lord willed that no possessions were to be kept in a place not destined to endure. But the Church of the Gentiles was destined to grow strong and increase, and therefore, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it came about that the possessions in it were not to be sold."

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why Is James Called "The Brother Of The Lord"?

“Regarding James, it should be known that he was the Bishop of Jerusalem and named James the Less, because he had been called after another James. Many things are recorded of him in Acts (15:13). He also wrote a canonical epistle. Now there are various explanations why he is called the brother of the Lord. Elvidius says that it was because he was the son of the Blessed Virgin. For according to him, the Blessed Virgin conceived and gave birth to Christ, and after the birth of Christ she conceived of Joseph and brought forth other sons. But this error is condemned and refuted. Furthermore, it is false for the simple reason that James was not the son of Joseph but of Alpheus.

Others say that before the Blessed Virgin, Joseph had another wife of whom he had James and other children, and that after she died, he took unto wife the Blessed Virgin, from whom Christ was born, although she was not known by Joseph, but, as it is said in the Gospel, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. But because progeny are named after their father, and Joseph was considered the father of Christ, for that reason, James, too, although he was not the son of the Virgin, was nevertheless called the brother of the Lord. But this is false, because if the Lord did not want as mother anyone but a virgin entrusted to the care of a virgin, how would He have allowed her husband not to be a virgin and still endure it?
Therefore others say (and this is mentioned in a Gloss) that James was the son of Mary of Cleophas, who was a sister of the Virgin. For they say that Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin, first married Joachim, of whom was born Mary, the mother of the Lord; but when Joachim died, she married Joachim’s brother, Cleophas, from whom she bore Mary of Cleophas, and from her were born James the Less, Jude and Simon. Then after Cleophas died, she married a third man who was called Salome, of whom she conceived and bore another Mary, called Salome, from whom were born James the Great and his brother John.

But this opinion is denied on two counts by Jerome: first of all, because Salome is not a man’s name, as is plain in Greek, but the name of the woman who was the sister of the Blessed Virgin and who begot James the Great and John, of Zebedee, just as Mary Cleophas begot James the Less, Jude and Simon, of Alpheus. Now this James is singled out from his other brothers and called the brother of the Lord for two reasons: first, because of a likeness in appearance, for he had a facial resemblance to Christ; and because of a likeness in their lives, for he imitated the manners of Christ. Or he is called the brother of Christ, because Alpheus, his father, was related to Joseph. Accordingly, because the Jews were accustomed to draw up the lines of ancestry on the father’s side, and Christ was considered the son of Joseph, as is said in Luke (3:23), he, rather than the others, was called the brother of the Lord, because they were related to Him only on His mother’s side.

Furthermore, ‘brother’ is taken here in the sense of kinsman. For in the Scriptures some are called brothers, who are so by nature: ‘Jacob begot Judas and his brethren’ (Mt. 1:2). Others, who are kinsmen, such as blood relations, are brothers: ‘Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee…for we are brethren’ (Gen. 13:8). Others who are so by race; hence all who speak the same tongue are called brothers: ‘Thou mayest not make a man of another nation king, that is not thy brother’ (Deut. 17:15). Others who are so by affection; hence all who are friends and who have the same love are called brothers: ‘Because I found not Titus my brother’ (2 Cor. 2:13). Others who are so by religion; hence all Christians who have one rule of life are called brothers: ‘For one is your master; and all you are brethren’ (Mt. 23:8); ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity’ (Ps. 132:1). And in general, all men are called brothers, because they are ruled and protected by one God: ‘Have we not all one father?’ (Mal. 2:10).”

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ulterior Motives

"Possibly too thou art come on another pretext. It is possible that a man is wishing to pay court to a woman, and came hither on that account. The remark applies in like manner to women also in their turn. A slave also perhaps wishes to please his master, and a friend his friend. I accept this bait for the hook, and welcome thee, though thou camest with an evil purpose, yet as one to be saved by a good hope. Perhaps thou knewest not whither thou wert coming, nor in what kind of net thou art taken. Thou art come within the Church's nets: be taken alive, flee not: for Jesus is angling thee, not in order to kill, but by killing to make alive: for thou must die and rise again. For thou hast heard the Apostle say, Dead indeed unto sin, but living unto righteousness. Die to thy sins, and live to righteousness, live from this very day."

-St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Meaning of Anathema

“…It should be noted that anathema is a Greek word composed of ana, which means above, and thesis, i.e, a placing; hence, a placing above. The word arose from an old custom. For the ancients, when they waged war, sometimes took from their enemies certain booty which they were unwilling to turn to their own use, but hung it in the temple or other public place of the city, as though to separate it from the common use of men. Everything so hung up, the Greeks called anathema. And from this arose the custom of declaring anathematized anything excluded from common use. Hence in Josue (6:17) it is said of Jericho and of everything in it, that Josue once anathematized it. Consequently, even in the Church the practice arose of declaring anathema those who are excluded from the common society of the Church and from partaking of the sacraments of the Church.”

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Galatians.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Last Supper And Messianism

At the Last Supper, Christ reveals Himself as the Messiah, both Kingly and Priestly. This is important due to the notion among some sects within Judaism and the Essenes of a dual messianic expectation: a messiah of Aaron (Levitical priestly messiah) and a messiah of Israel (Davidic kingly messiah). The Davidic Messiah is the most common messianic expectation as it is the oldest, prophesied by Jacob in Gen. 49:8-12. The Aaronic Messiah comes from the passage in Jer. 33:18 which states, “and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn cereal offerings, and to make sacrifices for ever.” This prophecy, however, is not fulfilled in the Messiah, but rather in the conversion of Levitical priest to Christianity (as seen in the Acts of the Apostles) who in being baptized continue in the universal priesthood of believers, which is distinct from the ministerial priesthood of Christianity.

Although there are clear priestly and Davidic allusions in the Last Supper accounts, they are missed by many scholars, both Catholic and Protestant.

The implications of Christ as the Davidic (kingly) Messiah are the most obvious. Davidic imagery is prevalent throughout the institution narrative:

-He will not eat the Passover before it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. (Lk 22:16)
-Nor shall He drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes. (Lk 22:18)
-The Father has appointed a kingdom to the Son. (Lk 22:29)
-Christ’s sharing in a meal with the Apostles corresponds to David’s tradition of sharing in a meal at the royal table as a reward for obedience. (2 Sam. 9:9-13)

The Priestly images are the ones that often get overlooked. Yet, they are of the utmost importance. For if Christ is not in fact a priest, then He has no authority to offer up the sacrifice which He begins at the Last Supper and ends on the Cross. The priestly images are as follows:

-The washing of the Apostles feet before the celebration of the Passover meal (Jn. 13:1-12) corresponds to Aaron and his sons washing of their feet before service in the tabernacle (Ex. 30:19-21).
-With Christ’s blessing of both the bread and wine (Mt. 26:26-28), He is performing a cultic action. Besides the obvious Melchizedekian allusion with the bread and wine, we see a parallel in the Qumran document called the Manual of Discipline, VI, 3-6:

“When they prepare the table to eat and wine to drink, the priest must be the first to extend his hand to bless the first portions of the bread. And if wine is being drunk, the priest must be the first to extend his hand to bless the first portion of the bread and the wine.”

This has even more significance when it is remembered that Christ celebrates the Passover in the Synoptic Gospels according to the Essene calendar!

So we can see here that Christ, at the Last Supper, fulfills both Messianic expectations presenting Himself as a priest-king after the order of Melchizedek, which St. Paul describes in more explicit terms in his Epistle to the Hebrews.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Christ, The New David

"David was persecuted, as Jesus was persecuted. David was anointed by Samuel to be king instead of Saul who had sinned; and Jesus was anointed by John to be High Priest instead of the priests, the ministers of the Law. David was persecuted after his anointing; and Jesus was persecuted after His anointing. David reigned first over one tribe only, and afterwards over all Israel; and Jesus reigned from the beginning over the few who believed on Him, and in the end He will reign over all the world. Samuel anointed David when he was thirty years old; and Jesus when about thirty years old received the imposition of the hand from John. David wedded two daughters of the king; and Jesus wedded two daughters of kings, the congregation of the People and the congregation of the Gentiles. David repaid good to Saul his enemy; and Jesus taught, Pray for your enemies. David was the heart of God; and Jesus was the Son of God. David received the kingdom of Saul his persecutor; and Jesus received the kingdom of Israel His persecutor. David wept with dirges over Saul his enemy when he died; and Jesus wept over Jerusalem, His persecutor, which was to be laid waste. David handed over the kingdom to Solomon, and was gathered to his people; and Jesus handed over the keys to Simon, and ascended and returned to Him who sent Him. For David’s sake, sins were forgiven to his posterity; and for Jesus’ sake sins are forgiven to the nations."

-Saint Aphrahat.

Friday, August 01, 2008

To Be Religious Is Natural And Leads To True Freedom

“At first sight, the fact that the word ‘academy’ was originally the name of a suburban temple precinct, which thus predates Plato’s erection of his school there, may seem rather accidental to the history of the new institution. Closer examination reveals a deeper connection, which was not lost on the founder. For Plato’s Academy was, from the legal point of view, a cultic association. Accordingly, the cultic veneration of the Muses was a stable component of its rhythm of life; there was a special office for preparing sacrifices. This is much more than an adventitious circumstance, a concession, say, to the sociological structures of the times. The freedom for the truth and the freedom of the truth cannot exist without the acknowledgment and worship of the divine. Freedom from the obligation to yield a profit can be justified and can survive only if there is something truly withdrawn from man’s utility and property, hence, if the higher property right and the inviolable prerogative of the divinity perdure. ‘The freedom of theoria’, says Pieper in the spirit of Plato, ‘is defenseless and exposed—unless it appeals in a special way to the protection of the gods.’ Freedom from profit and emancipation from the aims of power find their deepest guarantee only in the absolute rights of the One who is not subordinate to any human power: in the freedom vis-à-vis the world which God both has and gives. For Plato, who was the first to express it philosophically, the freedom of the truth belongs not merely accidentally but essentially in the context of worship, of cult. Where the latter no longer exists, the former ceases as well. It goes without saying that worship is also nonexistent where cultic forms are indeed perpetuated but are reinterpreted as symbolic actions possessing a merely social significance. All of this means, however, that anarchic pseudofreedom is at work behind every denial of the foundations of adoration, behind every refusal of the bond to the truth and of the demands which it makes. These counterfeit freedoms, which predominate today, are the real menace to true freedom. To clarify the concept of freedom numbers among the crucial tasks of the present day—if we care about the preservation of man and of the world.”

-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in The Nature and Mission of Theology

Only Four Hundred Years Late

The Anglican Archbishop of Uganda, Henry Orombi, has questioned "why the leader of the Anglican communion is chosen by the British government."

He's only a couple of centuries late on this one. And it is not due to "a remnant of British colonialism" as he suggests.

You see, before British colonialism, there was this king named Henry, who broke from the Catholic Church and declared himself the head of the Church in England......

Perhaps later, we can inform him that the Archbishop of Canterbury isn't really the head of the Anglican Church, but rather it's the reigning monarch, who in this case happens to be Queen Elizabeth II.

Comprehensive Exams

Tomorrow I take my comprehensive exams for the completion of my Masters degree in Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. This explains the paucity of posting in the last month or so. It's difficult to come up with blog posts when you are studying for nine different exam questions, of which only four of them will have to be answered on exam day.

So if you are reading this right now, say a pray for a successful completion of comps for me. I've heard that St. Joseph of Cupertino is a good saint to ask intercession for at a time like this!

The Vincentian Canon

The Vincentian Canon was St. Vincent’s way of providing a basis between true and false doctrines. He proposed Scripture and Tradition as a twofold method. Yet he realized the consequences of such a method. For even though Scripture was seen as a sufficient means amongst the Fathers, it could still be misinterpreted. Even the Devil knows Scripture and heretics always argue from it! Thus, St. Vincent came up with the two canons. The first is Tradition as a preservation. He said that a true doctrine is that which is believed everywhere, at all times, and by all the faithful (ubique, semper, ab omnibus). He also conceived it in terms of universaility, antiquity, and consent. For Universality, he meant all the faithful, the teaching and believing Church. For antiquity, he meant at all times. For consent, however, Vincent had the bishops in mind, especially when in a council. Yet Vincent was not naïve about universality. He did not equate it with strict unanimity.

Vincent’s second canon was Tradition as growth. For him, though, there was a restriction on growth. It had to be in the same sense and in the same meaning. There was a conservative action in his idea of development. He said there was a difference between a profectus- a progression, and a permutatis- a change. A profectus, which preserves what came before (while allowing room for polishment and clarity) was accepted. A permutatitis, which was a change from one thing to another, was not accepted. Vincent also thought that a development wasn’t simply tolerated, but rather it had to happen. This implies that what was earlier was less perfect and what came later (was older) was more perfect.

St. Vincent also gave us examples which are more informative than his two canons. One was Timothy guarding the deposit. For him, this was the duty of the whole Church. Another example he gives is the image of a body. An embryo, while being of the same substance, looks different than an adult body. A fully grown body has arms and legs and, in a sense, those arms and legs are in the embryo, although they look different. There is a sense of continuity in the image. Vincent also gives the image of a seed which needs to develop and mature.

The problem with Vincent’s canon is that he doesn’t give enough credit to the potency of a doctrine. He seems not to allow for a true development of doctrine as, according to him, the entire deposit is already given in an explicit manner from the beginning. There is a very real lack of a movement from implicit knowledge of a doctrine to an explicit knowledge. According to the canon, many intelligent minds ought not to have missed the connection between what is implicit and what is explicit. Newman brings up the case of the Trinity. He says that it was not held by all the faithful, at all times, and everywhere in the early Church and so, according to Vincent, is not a true doctrine. As well, the very fact that we have seen Father against Father and bishop against bishop, belies Vincent’s canon! Yet Vincent does have some similarities with Newman’s idea of development. For instance, Vincent’s restriction on growth is similar to Newman’s note of conservative action upon its past. Also, Vincent and Newman both hold that in some sense, a development is to be expected.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Liturgy Is For God

“There were practical reasons for the fact that [the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy] was the first [of Vatican II]. Yet looking back, we have to say that this made good sense in terms of the structure of the Council as a whole: worship, adoration, comes first. And thus God does….The Constitution on the Church, which then followed as the Council’s second text, should be seen as being inwardly bracketed together with it. The Church derives from adoration, from the task of glorifying God. Ecclesiology, of its nature, has to do with liturgy. And so it is logical, too, that the third Constitution talks about the Word of God, which calls the Church together and is at all times renewing her. The Fourth Constitution shows how the glory of God presents itself in an ethos, how the light we have received from God is carried out into the world, how only thus can God be fully glorified. In the period following the Council, of course, the Constitution on the Liturgy was understood, no longer on the basis of this fundamental primacy of adoration, but quite simply as a recipe book concerned with what we can do with the liturgy. In the meantime many liturgical experts, rushing into consideration about how we can shape the liturgy in a more attractive way, to communicate better, so as to get more and more people actively involved, have apparently quite lost sight of the fact that the liturgy is actually ‘done’ for God and not for ourselves. The more we do it for ourselves, however, the less it attracts people, because everyone can clearly sense that what is essential is increasingly eluding us.”

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Summary Of The First Eight Ecumenical Councils

Nicaea: (325)
The Council of Nicaea sought to address Arius’ distortion of the Gospel, whereby he said that not only was Christ subordinate to the Father, but that the Son was created from nothing. For Arius, there was no distinction between being “begotten” and being “made.” However, if the Son is “made”, then He is made ex nihilo and is but a mere creature and not God. Nicaea clarified that there is in fact a distinction and that the Son is “begotten, not made.” The revolutionary teaching of the Nicaea declared that there is a radical distinction between God and creatures. The Son is either God or not. There are no grades of divinity. The Son is homoousios (one in substance) with the Father.

Yet, even though Nicaea countered Subordinationism and Arianism, some rejected it because it was the first time that non-Scriptural language was inserted into a Creed of the Church. The Council also was able to be affirmed by Modalists. In an effort to clarify the teaching of the Gospel, the Cappadocian Fathers made the distinction between ousia (nature) and hypostasis (person). In the Trinity there are 3 hypostases in 1 ousia. The hypostases are what is particular and the ousia is what each has in common.

This new terminology carried into Constantinople I (381), which added the clause on the Holy Spirit in order to counter the Spirit Fighters. This council also condemned Apollinarus by affirming that Christ did indeed have a human mind. It also affirmed that Christ’s Kingdom will have no end, thus effectively denying the Modalist error which said that the Trinity was a temporary manifestation and that God the Father is merely acting as the Son and then as the Holy Spirit, but would later go back to being the Father again. Constantinople solidified the teaching of the Trinitarian unity of One God in Three Persons.

Once the Trinitarian Controversy was cleared up by the first two Ecumenical Councils, it gave way to hash out the Christological controversies.

These began with the debate between Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople and Cyril, the Patriarch of Alexandria. Nestorius was teaching that Mary was not to be called Theotokos, the God bearer, because this leads to Arianism due to the implication that the Son came to be at a point in time and was not eternal. Nestorius said Mary is rather the Christotokos, the Christ bearer. Nestorius believed that Christ was two persons united in one prosopon.

When Cyril of Alexandria heard this teaching, he wrote to Nestorius to clarify what he had said. Nestorius did not respond, so Cyril wrote to the Egyptian bishops and monks in defense of Theotokos. Cyril said that Mary must be Theotokos because of the hypostatic union. The divine nature is distinct from the human, thus God did not change when He was born and died. Therefore, Theotokos does not lead to Arianism. Mary is the mother of a person, not a nature!
At the Council of Ephesus (431), led by Cyril, Nestorius was anathematized and Eutyches the monophysite was condemned because the dual nature of Christ was taught at Constantinople.

After Ephesus, the Robber Synod of 449 was called by Monophysites in order to exonerate Eutyches and condemn all those who supported Ephesus.

In 451, the Council of Chalcedon was called by the Emperor Marcion. Chalcedon reversed the Robber Synod’s decrees and put forth the clear teaching of the hypostatic union that Christ is One Person with two natures, both Fully human and Fully Divine. The two natures of Christ are united in One Person without confusion, change, division, or separation.

Unfortunately, after Chalcedon, Monophysitism still persisted. At the Council of Constantinople II (553), the Emperor Justinian had three Nestorians condemned in order to placate the Monophysites.

In an effort to appease both Monophysites and Chalcedonians, Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople suggested Monothelitism, meaning that Christ only had one will or energy. However, saying that Christ only has one energy means that He only had one nature. Maximus the Confessor argued that a single energy reduces to a single nature and denies the Incarnation. For nature, if it is there, is operative. If Christ only has one energy, then the divine nature will win out, thus Christ would not have a human nature. But as Chalcedon defined, Christ is one person with two natures, both human and divine. This means that since Christ has two natures, He also must have two wills or energies.

All this led up to Constantinople III (680-681) which was called by Constantine IV. This council clarified how we ought to understand the duality and union of Christ at the level of energies. What Chalcedon applied to the natures, Constantinople III applies to the energies. We insist on the unity of Christ without mixing at any level of the natures.

After this council, Iconoclasm began in 726. Iconoclasm is a Christological controversy because it relates to the Incarnational principle that the created world, even the material world, can manifest God Himself and yet remain what it is. Iconoclasm began when the Byzantine Emperor, Leo III, saw iconophiles as idolaters based on Exodus 20:4. He began a campaign against Icons and destroyed the Icon of Christ that was above the doors of the Imperial Palace. This controversy divided the Imperial Court.
The backers of Iconoclasm from the Fathers of the Church were Eusebius and Origin.

Constantine V made the argument that:
1. Christ’s two natures cannot be separated.
2. You can’t circumscribe the Divine Nature.
3. Therefore, you cannot depict Christ.

Constantine continued to inflict heavy persecution on iconodules.
He was combated by the Pope who fought back politically.
Germanus of Constantinople also clarified that it was not the wood that we worship, but the image.

In 787, Nicaea II was called by the Empress Irene. This council condemned iconoclasm as a movement that strikes at the heart of the Christian Faith. If you cannot have a picture of the Son of God, you deny the Incarnation. You deny Him bodily existence and therefore deny the capacity of the body to manifest the identity of God. Nicaea II also distinguished between the kinds of veneration: latria and dulia.

The last remnants of iconoclasm were stamped out in 869 at the council of Constantinople IV.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Marian Consecration

"It is because she is Mother of the Church that the Virgin is also the Mother of each one of us, members of the Mystical Body of Christ. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted his Mother to all his disciples and at the same time entrusted all his disciples to the love of his Mother. The Evangelist John concludes the brief and evocative account with these words: "Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!'. And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home" (Jn 19: 27). This is the [English] translation of the Greek text "εiς tά íδια", he welcomed her into his own reality, his own existence. Thus, she is part of his life and the two lives penetrate each other. And this acceptance of her (εiς tά íδια) in his own life is the Lord's testament. Therefore, at the supreme moment of the fulfilment of his messianic mission, Jesus bequeathes as a precious inheritance to each one of his disciples his own Mother, the Virgin Mary. "

-Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Balthasar And Barth

While Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Barth were diametrically opposed on the doctrine of the Analogy of Being, they did agree on the necessity of the Analogy of Faith.

Both men insist that there has got to be a Christo-centric revolution and the aim of theology must be making Christ the center towards which all things tend!

This Christo-centric revolution consisted of three parts:

1) Centrality of the person of Christ in the life of faith.
-Christ is the figure of figures. The one in whom the entire plentitude of the God-head is made bodily present. Christ is the historical self emptying of the eternal self interpretation of the Father in the Son.

2) The whole movement of this divine person is towards Calvary.
-This is the place where God most profoundly reveals Himself. This is the place of the majesty, glory, and power of the Triune God. Here the Father hands over to sinful men, His purely innocent Son. It is important that we insist that the Son even in the teeth of this treachery, agrees to this willingly and lovingly. The Son is moved by an incomprehensible death of Love both for the Father who hands him over and for the world, on whose behalf He dies. The whole event of Christ turns on the radical obedience of the Son to the Father.

3) Theology of History (rooted in the personhood of Christ).
-For Barth, there was a false dualism that had to be overcome. This was the doctrine of Calvinist Pre-destination, which said that by God’s own eternal decree, some men have been destined to salvation and most others are damned to Hell. God Himself is the scale between these two demands of justice and mercy. Mercy however cannot be demanded, only asked for.
----For Barth, this is divinely insupportable. This is because Christ, Who is the saving Word of God, speaks this Word to every human being. Nobody is predestined for damnation. Everyone has been thought of by God from all eternity for Beatitude. Christ is the Saving Word!
For Barth, the purity of salvation that is Christ is already active in His Father’s eternal plan of salvation. He is the agent of creation and source of light and this creation fashioned by this word from its very beginning is orchestrated to return back to the Father. This is the finality that the entire human race is to move. The whole of created reality has already been effectively determined by God for salvation. The grace of Christ has already disarmed the world. He has already disseminated every encounter of sin.

Balthasar comes very close to this idea, but without leaving the grounds of orthodox Catholic theology. Barth, however, crosses the line.

The Church teaches that in and only in Christ, the Father has mercy on all the others. He has called all of us in and thru Christ into communion with Him.

Balthasar takes up this universalistic starting point and joins it in a very original way with the Logos Christology of the ancient Church, particularly with that of Origen, but stops short of the heresy of Apokatastisis, which was condemned by the Church in the middle of the 6th century. This heretical notion was taken up by Origen and pushed as far as can possibly go by his disciples. They took the view that the ‘punishment of devils and wicked men was only temporary” and those punishments will cease because the devils and wicked men coming to their senses will finally repent of their sins and be restored to their original state of blessedness. Origen ventured this idea as a hypothesis, always subject to the correction of Holy Mother Church. The Church condemned it, after Origen had died, in the form it took by his disciples. They advanced it not as a hypothesis, but as something that enjoyed mathematical precision.

Balthasar was falsely accused of this heresy. Yet he never proposed apokatastisis as something we can affirm or propose. He stated that Christ is viewed as THE concrete Incarnate expression of that universality of meaning and being which belongs to God Himself by virtue of His divine absolute nature. What this means is that in His concrete person, in this historical self emptying, the whole meaning of universal history and the meaning of the nature of the Logos that underlies this history, all finds its fulfillment in Christ. They have no meaning apart from the Logos. This applied not only to people and created beings, but also to anything else in the world that evinces some intelligibility. All of that, says Balthasar, is to be integrated and brought into completion in the one perfect Word, the Logos.

In Christ, there takes place a synthesis of the universal with the particular; universal significance and every concrete expression. The two are somehow wedded together in Christ. In the person of Christ, every conceivable concrete historical existence is brought together and unified. Thus, Christ becomes absolutely significant to all being and all reality; all creation, from angels to amoebas, and all things in between.

A two-fold claim emerges on the basis of this analysis:

a) Christ is the absolutely unique one. He is irreducible. He cannot suffer any reduction to something other and lesser than Himself. This is why we speak of Christ as the mystery of God. Mystery has entered history and become a material thing. Christ is this ground, the bedrock upon which everything else is to be predicated. In no way can Christ be subsumed and swallowed up by some other category of idea. What Balthasar and the Church insist on is that everything else has to measure up to Christ. He is the standard against Whom everything else is judged!

b) On the other hand, nothing is to be divided from or separated out from Christ. His way is not an exclusionary way. He does not occupy center stage in a way that every other thing is swept off the stage. He makes room for everything else in Himself except, of course, sin. But everything else, Christ is infinitely eager to integrate and include, not just people, but insights, longings, etc. They all find their comprehensive life in Christ.

These two concepts put together reveal that perfect exclusivity and perfect inclusivity together find their respective center of gravity only in Christ. All of this has come to be because the Word became flesh.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Church Fathers On The Real Presence of Christ In The Eucharist

“Of all the fathers, as many as you can name, not one has ever spoken about the sacrament as these fanatics do. None of them uses such an expression as, ‘It is simply bread and wine,’ or ‘Christ’s body and blood are not present.’ Yet this subject is so frequently discussed by them, it is impossible that they should not at some time have let slip such an expression as, ‘It is simply bread,’ or ‘Not that the body of Christ is physically present,’ or the like, since they are greatly concerned not to mislead the people; actually, they simply proceed to speak as if no one doubted that Christ’s body and blood are present. Certainly among so many fathers and so many writings a negative argument should have turned up at least once, as happens in other articles; but actually they all stand uniformly and consistently on the affirmative side.”

-Martin Luther

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Why Qumran?

Around 160 BC, a group of Israelites called the Essenes settled down on the Northwest corner of the Dead Sea in a place called Qumran. The Dead Sea is called so because of the high salt density which makes it impossible for life to inhabit it. The Sea also gives off a putrid stench which makes the smell of the mills in Steubenville, Ohio seem like roses. So why would anyone want to live there? Why, of all the places in the Judean desert, did the Essenes settle at Qumran? There are a couple of reasons. One of these is that the Qumranites saw themselves as an Eschatological community waiting for the coming Messiah. Another reason which the Qumran document, The Manual of Discipline, explains is:

“When these become members of the Community in Israel according to all these rules, they shall separate from the habitation of ungodly men and shall go into the wilderness to prepare the way of Him; as it is written, Prepare in the wilderness the way of…., make straight in the desert a path for our God (Is. 40:3).”

Yet, the passage from Isaiah only tells them to go out into the wilderness, it does not tell them precisely where. While I haven’t found anywhere in the Qumran documents to support this, I believe this passage from Ezekiel 47:1-12 may have provided the Essenes with a more specific destination:

“Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side. Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins. Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. And he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea; from En-gedi to En-eglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."

The water flows out from the Temple and falls into the Dead Sea. It seems that the Essenes would have seen this passage and resolved to follow the path where the water poured out from the Temple in hopes of meeting the Messiah there at Qumran when he comes. Unfortunately for the Essenes, they were a bit off on their interpretation as Danielou tells us in his book, Christ and Us:

“[The] flowing into human nature of the grace first contained in the Manhood of Christ, as at its source, is expressed in Scripture through a series of images, each of which throws one aspect into relief. The first is that of a spring from which the Spirit flows as a fountain of living water bearing all before it, as a river giving rise to life wherever it spreads forth its waves, the cosmic Jordan whose source is in heaven, and which carries up to heaven the souls baptized in its water. This is the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy. Ezekiel had claimed that in the days of the Messiah a stream of water would flow eastwards from beneath the temple and fall into the eastern sea, the Dead Sea, so as to make all things live. This living water flowed indeed from the pierced side of Christ, the Temple of the New Covenant, to give life not to the fishes of the sea, but to those living souls which should be caught by the fishers of men, and of which the fishes were a type. Thus from the Manhood of Christ, transfigured by the divine energy, the divine life, the Spirit begins to be poured out upon the whole of mankind, so as to give life to all flesh by virtue of the continuity that unites His humanity with the rest of humanity.”