Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ask A Father

Q: St Hilary, what advice would you give to someone who wishes to study theology?

A: “Enter these truths by believing, press forward, persevere. And though I may know that you will not arrive at an end, yet I will congratulate you in your progress. For, though he who pursues the infinite with reverence will never finally reach the end, yet he will always progress by pressing onward. But do not intrude yourself into the divine secret, do not, presuming to comprehend the sum total of intelligence, plunge yourself into the mystery of the unending nativity; rather, understand that these things are incomprehensible.”

-De Trinitate, II, 10, ii (PL, 10, coll. 58-59)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Support Pope Benedict!

Fr. Dwight Longenecker has some great insights on the current sex abuse scandals here and here.

Also be sure to check out John Allen's article (from the National Catholic Reporter, of all places) discrediting the New York Times' attack on the Holy Father.

Here is also an article by Sean Murphy, a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, responding to Christopher Hitchen's vitriol.

Lastly, pray for the Pope! Pray that the anti-Catholic pharaoh's will unharden their hearts and start doing some real journalism.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Rahner On The Canon

“Now the Synagogue, unlike the Church, does not have the authority to testify infallibly to the inspiration of the Scriptures. Even prior to the death of Christ, there existed no authoritative teaching office in the Old Testament, in the sense of a permanent institution formally endowed with inerrancy. There were individual prophets, but no infallible Church, for the eschatological event, the final and irreversible salvation act of God, had not yet occurred. It was possible for the Synagogue to apostatize from God, to turn a ‘No’ to him and to his ‘Anointed’ into its own official ‘truth’, thus bringing about its own end as a divine institution. Not that the Old Testament period was altogether without knowledge of inspired and canonical sacred books. There were writings which were recognized as inspired, and, more decisively, these ideas about the meaning and extension of canonicity were recognized and ratified for themselves by Jesus, the apostles, and the Church. If, in the pre-Christian era, there appeared prophets commissioned by God to deliver his message and call men to faith, then there is no reason why there should not have existed a knowledge—ultimately grounded in the prophetic charism itself—of the inspiration of Holy Scripture and of its essential relation to the Jewish religious community (its canonicity). Such knowledge was in fact present. But it must be remembered that neither the extent nor the certainty of the Canon was, or even could be, definitively established in pre-Christian times. Sacred books were written after the time when prophets existed no longer: the sacred writer need not have been a prophet himself; certainly the writers of much of the late wisdom literature would hardly have claimed to a prophetic commission which bears witness to itself without needing any support or certification from the Synagogue or other external authority. Yet the Synagogue, as distinct from the prophets who appeared in it from time to time, was not, as a religious institution, empowered to give definitive testimony to the inspiration and canonicity of sacred books. If this is so, a final definition of the Canon was impossible before the time of the Church. An inchoative knowledge of inspiration and a start on the formation of a Canon was there possible, because (and to the extent that) prophetic charism was there to support it. But no more than that. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Church, even in the case of the Old Testament, herself completed the formation of the Canon and did not simply take over the Jewish canon as final and definitive…The rejection by Protestants of the inspiration and canonicity of the deutero-canonical books, on the grounds that they were not recognized by the Synagogue, contradicts the fact that all the writings of the Old Testament (even apart from the reasons we have just mentioned) are directed towards Christ and the New Testament, and are a part of salvation history only because of this direction, and can be recognized as such only by virtue of it. This is not to say that no Old Testament book could be recognized as canonical until after Christ; even earlier, to the extent that they were grasped as essentially prophetic, incomplete, and open to some future revelation, the Old Testament books were already recognized as ‘pre-Christian’—indeed this is the only sense in which they could have been understood as the work of God. If this reference to the future belongs to the essence of the Old Testament, we may ask whether this essence is preserved and respected if an historical gap is introduced between the canonical Old Testament history and Christ of such dimensions as to constitute a real hiatus between that history and its fulfillment in Christ. If such a break is inadmissible, then we must ask: after the ‘cessation’ of prophecy, where are we to locate the influence of God by which post-exilic history continued to be true salvation history ordered toward Christ? Against Marcionism and similar tendencies in the early Church, the Church has declared the Old Testament to be truly her own prehistory, and hence a part of her own as yet hidden life (the ‘Church since Adam and Abel,’ etc.); this prehistory cannot have come to a close long before the appearance of the Church, or have been reduced for a long interval to a merely human religious evolution.”

-Karl Rahner, Inspiration in the Bible

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Genesis 3:15 And The Annunciation In The Fathers Of The Church

The following is from my article, The Church Fathers' Marian Interpretation of the Old Testament:

In his Quaestiones in Genesim, that great Spanish composer of Marian literature, St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636) gives a marvelous exegesis of Genesis 3:15:

The seed of the devil is a perverse suggestion; the seed of the woman is the fruit of a good work, by which the perverse suggestion of the devil is resisted. She will tread upon his head, because from the beginning she expels his perverse suggestions from her mind. He will strike at her heel, because until the end he will try to deceive her mind, which he was unable to deceive with his first suggestion. Some have understood the following expression in reference to the Virgin, from whom the Lord was born: "I will put enmity between you and the woman," since it was promised that the Savior was going to be born from her, in order to defeat the enemy and to destroy death, of which the enemy was the author. For they also understand the following as a reference to the fruit of Mary’s womb; namely, Christ: "She will tread upon your head, and you will strike at her heel." This means: You will attack him to kill him, but he (Christ), after you have been defeated, will rise again and tread upon your head which is death (19).

We see here in this exegesis the intimate union between the woman and her seed. Mary’s fiat at the Annunciation leads to the birth of the Savior, the one who "will rise again and tread upon … death." Mary’s fiat wasn’t just a "yes" to the Annunciation, but rather also a "yes" to the death of her Son on the Cross, where Mary would also be crucified spiritually and a sword would pierce her heart as well. The Church Fathers, in seeing Mary as the "woman" of Genesis 3:15, unearth the seed for the doctrine of Mary as Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. Co-redemptrix because she actively participates in the crushing of Satan’s head, and Mediatrix of All Graces because she mediated Christ into the world, who is the source of all grace. Nobody sums this doctrine up in relation to Genesis 3:15 better than that great master of Scripture, St. Jerome when he states: "Death came through Eve; life through Mary" (20).


(19) Quaestiones in Genesim 5, 5-7, quoted in Luigi Gambero. Mary and the Fathers of the Church, 378.

(20) Epistle 22, 21, trans. Charles Christopher Mierow, in Ancient Christian Writers, No. 33 (New York, NY: Newman Press, 1963), 154.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Melchizedek In The Targums

“In the Targums (Neofiti I, Ps-Jonathan, Fragmententargum) Melchizedek is further identified with Shem, and thereby given a genealogy. It is noteworthy that though the scroll, the Fragmententargum, and Neofiti I call Melchizedek khn [cohen=priest], the Targums Onqelos and Ps-Jonathan avoid this title. The following paraphrases of Gn 14.18 are found: ‘and the upright king, the king of Jerusalem, that is the Great Shem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was a priest serving in the great priesthood before God Most High’ (Neofiti I, fol. 23 verso 18-24, recto 2). Ps-Jonathan (ed. Ginsburger): ‘and the upright king, that is Shem the son of Noah, the king of Jerusalem, went out before Abram, and brought out bread and wine. And at that time he was serving before God Most High.’ Fragmententargum (ed. Ginsburger, p. 9): ‘And Melchizedek, the king of Jerusalem, who was the Great Shem, was a priest of the Most High; he brought out food and wine, and was standing and serving in the great priesthood before God Most High.’”

-Joseph Fitzmyer, The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave I

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: Saint Patrick

Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN-13: 9781595553058
Format: Trade Paper with French Flaps
Trim Size: 5 x 6.80 x 0.60
Page Count: 192

Saint Patrick: The man, the myth, the legend…..the original “Irish, Catholic and Dangerous”!

Everyone is familiar with the legends concerning St. Patrick, such as driving the snakes from the Green Isle (which Ireland apparently never had to begin with) and so forth. But who is the real Patrick? Jonathan Rogers’ Saint Patrick (Christian Encounters Series) does a good job of not only answering that question, but he also provides detail of the historical background of the time in which Patrick lived both in England and Ireland. Rogers does a fine job of synthesizing the scholarship of Patrick’s life and comments on some of the legendary Patrick for good measure. One of my favorite stories described in the book is when the infant Patrick provided the water for his own baptism. In the process, he heals the blind priest who is performing the sacrament!

Rogers’ biography gives a balanced view of the historical and the legendary which makes for a satisfying introduction to the Apostle of Ireland who is larger than life. One of the key aspects of the book is that Rogers constantly highlights the parallels between the lives of both Patrick and St. Paul. They both brought the Gospel to foreigners, facing extreme hardship and persecution along the way. Yet they were both unwavering in their missions. St. Patrick may not have been the first person to bring Christianity to Ireland, but he was certainly the one responsible for converting the nation. Although not a native himself, he considered Ireland and its people his own. His love for the people won him not only the respect of the tribal kings, but also countless souls for Christ. The greatness of Patrick is the reason that “Ireland was the first country ever to submit to the teachings of Christ without first submitting to the sword of Rome.”

If you are Irish (or wish you were!), you would do yourself a service by reading Jonathan Rogers biography of Saint Patrick. The book has an added bonus of containing the Confession of Patrick as well as his Letter to Coroticus.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

As a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger, I received this book free in exchange for reviewing the book.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Stand With Stupak

Now it is more important than ever to stand up for life against the health care bill obamanation! Visit Stand With Stupak to get the numbers of the pro-life democrats listed on the page and tell them to resist the tactics of Pelosi and to support life.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spiritual Warfare

St. Bonaventure depicts the Sacraments as weapons for spiritual warfare:

"Hence, because Baptism is for those entering the battle, Confirmation for those fighting, Holy Eucharist for those recuperating, Penance for those rising anew, Extreme Unction for those about to leave, Orders for those bringing in new recruits, and Matrimony for those providing these recruits-it is clear that the sacramental remedies and means of defense are sufficient and orderly."
(Breviloquium, VI.3.4)

True Ecumenism

Cardinal William Levada gave a brilliant speech a week ago on Anglicanorum Coetibus, the document of Pope Benedict XVI establishing personal ordinariates for Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.

In the speech, Cardinal Levada affirmed that "Union with the Catholic Church is the goal of ecumenism."

He went on to explain that entrance into the Catholic Church does not mean throwing away traditional expressions of the One Faith (something the Eastern-rite Catholics already know):

"Visible union with the Catholic Church does not mean absorption into a monolith, with the absorbed body being lost to the greater whole, the way a teaspoon of sugar would be lost if dissolved in a gallon of coffee. Rather, visible union with the Catholic Church can be compared to an orchestral ensemble. Some instruments can play all the notes, like a piano. There is no note that a piano has that a violin or a harp or a flute or a tuba does not have. But when all these instruments play the notes that the piano has, the notes are enriched and enhanced. The result is symphonic, full communion. One can perhaps say that the ecumenical movement wishes to move from cacophony to symphony, with all playing the same notes of doctrinal clarity, the same euphonic chords of sanctifying activity, observing the rhythm of Christian conduct in charity, and filling the world with the beautiful and inviting sound of the Word of God. While the other instruments may tune themselves according to the piano, when playing in concert there is no mistaking them for the piano. It is God’s will that those to whom the Word of God is addressed, the world, that is, should hear one pleasing melody made splendid by the contributions of many different instruments."

For the full text of the speech, click here.

Zenit also has a summary of the speech here.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Mary, Co-Redemptrix

I normally don't do this, but I've been having a discussion with someone named Irenaeus over at Taylor Marshall's blog, who denies that the title of Mary as "Co-Redemptrix" is a doctrine of the Faith, and I typed up a long response on a word document and I was unable to cut and paste it into the comment box. So, not knowing what else to do (besides re-typing it all from scratch in the comment box), I have decided to post it here on my blog and put the link in the comments. I figure that this will allow me to answer him and at the same time it will serve to teach others about this title of Mary as well as refute others who would deny it. So without further ado, here is my response:


First off, I don’t appreciate your implying that I am some amateur hack who, as a convert, does not know the faith. I am aware that not all doctrines are dogmas and that all dogmas are doctrines. The CDF commentary was talking about both dogmas and doctrines. Go back and read it again.

Second, I am very familiar with Ott’s “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.” Not only is it in “practically every Roman Catholic seminary,” but it is also in my own personal library. Thank you for reminding me of it!

On pg. 9-10, in discussion of the Theological Grades of Certainty, it expressly proves you wrong. Nowhere does it say that not all doctrines require the assent of faith, rather it says:

“With regard to the doctrinal teaching of the Church it must be well noted that not all the assertions of the Teaching Authority of the Church on questions of Faith and morals are infallible and consequently irrevocable…Nevertheless normally they are to be accepted with an inner assent which is based on the high supernatural authority of the Holy See.”

Now, owning Ott’s book (which is subtitled: “A One-Volume Encyclopedia of the Doctrines of the Catholic Church, showing their sources in Scripture and Tradition and their definitions by Popes and Councils), I decided to look in it for “Co-redemptrix.” And since it is indeed a doctrine of the Church, on page 211 (which is Chapter 3 of the section entitled, “The Mother of the Redeemer”) I find the heading “Mary’s Co-operation in the Work of Redemption.” On the next pages (212-213) I find what is quoted below:

“Mary’s co-operation in the Redemption:

The title Corredemptrix=Coredemptress, which has been current since the fifteenth century, and which also appears in some official Church documents under Pius X (cf. D 1978a), must not be conceived in the sense of an equation of the efficacy of Mary with the redemptive activity of Christ, the Sole Redeemer of humanity (1 Tim 2.5). As she herself required redemption and in fact was redeemed by Christ, she could not of herself merit the grace of the redemption of humanity in accordance with the principle: Principium meriti non cadit sub eodem merito. (The author of an act of merit cannot be a recipient of the same act of merit.) Her co-operation in the objective redemption is an indirect, remote co-operation, and derives from this that she voluntarily devoted her whole life to the service of the Redeemer, and under the Cross, suffered and sacrificed with Him. As Pope Pius XII says in the Encyclical ‘Mystici Corporis’ (1943), she ‘offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and her motherly love like a new Eve for all children of Adam’ (D 2291). As ‘The New Eve’ she is, as the same Pope declares, in the Apostolic Constitution ‘Munificentissimus Deus’ (1950) ‘the sublime associate of our Redeemer’ (alma Redemptoris nostri social (cf. Gen 3.12). Cf. D. 3031: generoso Divini Redemptoris social.

Christ alone truly offered the sacrifice of atonement on the Cross; Mary merely gave Him moral support in this action. Thus Mary is not entitled to the title ‘Priest’ (sacerdos). Indeed this is expressly laid down by the Holy Office (1916, 1927). Christ, as the Church teaches, ‘conquered the enemy of the human race alone (solus)’ (D 711); in the same way, He alone acquired the grace of Redemption for the whole human race, including Mary. The words of Luke I, 38: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord,’ imply Mary’s mediate, remote co-operation in the Redemption. St. Ambrose expressly teaches: ‘Christ’s Passion did not require any support’ (De inst. Virg. 7). In the power of the grace of Redemption merited by Christ, Mary, by her spiritual entering into the sacrifice of her Divine Son for men, made atonement for the sins of men, and (de congruo) merited the application of the redemptive grace of Christ. In this manner she co-operates in the subjective redemption of mankind.

The statement of Pope Pius X in the Encyclical ‘Ad diem illum’ (1904): (Beata Virgo) de congruo, ut aiunt, promeret nobis, quae Christus de condign promeruit (D 1978a) (The Blessed Virgin merits for us de congruo what Christ merited de condign) is, as the present tense ‘promeret’ shows, not intended to be taken as referring to the historical objective Redemption, which occurred once and for all, but to her ever-present, intercessory co-operation in the subjective redemption.”

Now, I took the liberty of looking up the Denzinger quote (D 1978a) from his “The Sources of Catholic Dogma” which Ott references in the beginning of the above quote. There you will find this:

“In the decree of the S.C. of the Holy Office (section on Indulgences), “Sunt quos amor,” June 26, 1913 (AAS 5 [1913] 364), he [Pius XI] praises the custom of adding to the name of Jesus the name of “His Mother, our coredemptor, the blessed Mary”; cf. also the prayer enriched by the Holy Office with an indulgence, in which the Blessed Virgin Mary is called “coredemptress of the human race” (Jan. 22, 1914; AAS 6 [1914] 108).”

Also, you said that “Co-redemptrix” is not taught in Scripture, the Fathers, or the Magisterium. Just because the title is not explicitly named, does not mean it is not taught. The doctrine of Mary’s coredemption is actually quite Biblical, and can definitely be found in the Fathers and the Magisterium (as evidenced by Taylor’s quote from Irenaeus in this post).

So you see, the title of “Co-redemptrix” applied to Mary is not only fitting, it is a doctrine of the Church. Do you still wish to deny this doctrine in the face of all this evidence?

Ad Jesum per Mariam,