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.