Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Bible studies

I'm involved in two Bible studies right now.  One for college students at Rider University on Monday nights, where we look at the readings for the coming Sunday; and another (associated with St. David the King parish in West Windsor) for young adults, reading the book of Proverbs.

I'll share some notes from Proverbs later today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Defenders of the new translation prefer an oblivious congregation?

"The US Bishops’ website has cultivated this disjunction between the priest’s part and the people’s part and most defenders of the new translation seem happy with the idea that the people don’t even notice what the priest says anyway." ~ Fr. Joseph O'Leary, September 3, 2010

"Who are those defenders?" ~ me, September 3, 2010

"Fr. Joseph, could you please back up your claim that 'most defenders of the new translation seem happy with the idea that the people don’t even notice what the priest says anyway'?" ~ me, September 5, 2010

I don't know if he'll back up or retract his claim.  It's a rather serious charge.

Dominican book on prayer

One of the clerical bloggers I follow, Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP, has a new booklet out, Beatitudes and Beads, published by Liguori.

The booklet contains an original rosary with prayers and meditations based on the Sermon on the Mount.  It is available in English and Spanish.  Each booklet is $2.50.  All the royalties from this booklet go to my province.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Praying the Mass on the Radio!

Praying the Mass is hitting to the radio waves!  This Wednesday, September 15th — which happens to be the two-year anniversary of WFJS 1260-AM Trenton (Domestic Church Radio) going on-the-air — I will be recording two episodes for a 13-part radio series on the Mass, based on my books.

Today (Tuesday, September 14th) around 5:45 PM, I will be doing a test-run of these two shows at home, making sure I can fit the content into the allotted time.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) around 5:15 PM, I will be recording them at the radio station.

Both today and tomorrow I will be simulcasting and recording those two shows on my ustream channel.  I encourage and welcome you to visit to watch and listen as I record and speak about the Mass.  If you watch and listen today, please send me feedback!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Response to Fr. William Grimm

Is the new English translation of "for you and for many" (pro multis) heretical?  Yes, says Fr. William Grimm, because it should be "for the many."

Here is my response:

1. The English translation is not based on "probable Aramaic words" but on known Latin words. The issue here is not exclusion or inclusion, but an accurate rendering of the Latin words of the Missal, which are based on the Greek words of the New Testament. (Greek, by the way, does have articles, and there is no article associated with 'pollon' [many] in Matthew 26:28 or Mark 14:24.)

2. The Latin 'pro multis' could be "for many" or "for the many", it is true. But if "for the many" leads to the erroneous interpretation that all are forgiven because Jesus shed His blood "for the many," then those words should be avoided. While God wills all men to come to knowledge of the truth and be saved, that is sadly not going to happen, and it belongs to God's "desirous" will rather than His ordaining will. Jesus makes it clear that not all will be saved. (e.g. Matt. 7:13-14)

3. Jesus did shed His blood for the many, indeed, for all, but the words continue: "for the forgiveness of sins."  The current translation "for you and for all SO THAT sins may be forgiven" is not a heretical statement (although it's not an accurate translation), because Jesus shed His blood for all of us for the possibility of the forgiveness of sins.  But the new translation "for you and for many FOR THE forgiveness of sins" is also not heretical (and it is more accurate), because Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of the sins of many, but not of all. The Roman Catechism (after the Council of Trent) makes this clear:
"They serve to declare the fruit and advantage of His Passion. For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race. ... With reason, therefore, were the words for all not used, as in this place the fruits of the Passion are alone spoken of..."

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Book Review: Why God Matters

A deacon and daughter duo — Dcn. Steve Lumbert (a convert) and Karina Lumbert Fabian (a cradle Catholic) — have written a pleasant and spiritually uplifting book on recognizing God in everyday life, Why God Matters.  It's a quick read, and because of that, I think it's likely to catch you off-guard.

Through fourteen chapters, the authors bring you through "the long religious slog of the everyday" (Walt Staples (President of the Catholic Writers Guild), dust jacket) and relate how they found God operating in the seemingly unremarkable events of their lives.  Instead of taking the approach of systematic theology, they share steps of their journey of faith that brought them closer to God — or rather, that reminded them of just how close God is to them.

From Deacon Steve, I was reminded that the faith is not something to merely be "observed" (like President's Day); instead, "God must be an active part of our lives." (Chapter 1)  During his teenage years he and his brothers were known as trouble-makers, a reputation which landed them in a jail cell for a day... for a crime they didn't commit.  The experience inspired him later in life to teach his children "about honesty, integrity, truth, and resisting temptation" (Chapter 3), something I think we can all relate to.

His sensible words about balancing his life as a deacon (between marriage, work, and the diaconate) is especially timely for me:  "It's not easy to keep balance. ... The temptation to overextend myself by saying yes to everything is strong."  When we find ourselves biting off more than we can chew, we should ask ourselves, "What has God given [me] as [my] first vocation?" (Chapter 11)  Finally, the patience of a friend in an airport reminded him of God's unmatchable patience with us:  "Like a good friend, God waits patiently for us at journey's end." (Chapter 13)

His daughter challenges us to stop being martyrs over trivialities and lay our cares and worries upon the Lord.  When she senses herself making mountains out of molehills, she says this simple prayer:  "Lord, let this end in me now." (Chapter 4)  By learning how to pace herself throughout the day, she finds peace throughout her week, and Sundays become a day of rejoicing rather than refueling.  Her advice to pacing yourself spiritually includes committing yourself to Confession at least once a quarter, and then once a month; and in order to help your family follow your example, "Gently lead them from the front rather than push them from behind." (Chapter 10)  When it comes to dealing with a family member who does not believe in God (another situation I can relate to), she candidly admits, "it scares me as nothing has ever scared me before."  What's her response?  "I pray for him ... and I make small sacrifices on his behalf."  Instead of despairing, she loves and gives an example of hope. (Chapter 14)

But her most stunning advice comes in Chapter 12.  For her, a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ doesn't quite cut it.  "It smacks to me of name-dropping," she says.  She identifies the ways that a "personal relationship" for humans falls short of the sort of relationship we're called to have with God.  Even the closest friends keep things private from one another in their relationships:  "Do I want limits on my relationship with God?"  Personal relationships include trivial banter, but "I am not a peer with God."  And then there's the inevitable give-and-take of our human relationships — "once in a while, the other person will be weak" — but that's not the case with God.

Karina challenges us to have a relationship with God that is "more than personal," a relationship that lets God be God and reminds us that we're not!  The "life lesson" of the chapter asks, "Does [your relationship] encompass all of God, or is it the 'personal' relationship of 'my buddy Jesus,' or the aloof spiritual relationship of an untouchable deity?"

I'll be honest:  I usually read books with "closely reasoned theology" and "appeal[s] to ancient writers of the Church" (Walt Staples), which sometimes leave other readers feeling cold.  This book came out of left field and reminds me to breathe with both lungs, to think with head and heart.  It has reminded me to look for God in the everyday.  It has pointed out to me that God is not just a matter to discuss:  God matters.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the Creed

But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to you by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures.  For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines.  This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart, taking care while you rehearse it that no Catechumen chance to overhear the things which have been delivered to you.

I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) should wish to lead you astray.  For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that you have received, let him be to you anathema. (Galatians 1:8-9)

So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed, and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith.  And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments.  Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which you now receive, and write them on the table of your heart.

Catechetical Lecture #5, 12