Friday, September 28, 2007

Tradition: Georgian teen finds spiritual fulfillment in the TLM

A letter to the editor in the September 20, 2007 issue of the newspaper of Atlanta's Archdiocese, "The Bulletin", records a 16-year-old's joy at finding the Traditional Latin Mass. Here's an excerpt:
Mr. Sterne in his letter gives voice to the opinion of many of today’s liturgists when he says that no one from a younger generation would be drawn to the Latin Mass (many take this even further and assume that we would not like a reverent Novus Ordo Mass either). This opinion causes many of those who plan modern liturgies to do veritable back flips in an attempt to draw teenagers and young adults in. Sometimes this works, but it has a side effect: by doing these things, liturgists show that they have absolutely no faith in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to change the lives of those in my generation. My generation knows about this lack of faith, we are able to see it every time we go to a “teen Mass” and experience priests ad-libbing prayers in an attempt to make them more relevant to us.


After experiencing this for months, I attended a Traditional Latin Mass and experienced something that I’d never seen before: Here was a priest who expected my life to be changed without adding anything to the Mass in an attempt to bring this change about. This priest had perfect faith in the power of the liturgy, and it showed. It was beautiful. The traditional Mass did more to change my life then any “relevant” teen Mass ever did.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Life: Responses to Certain Questions Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

Fr. Z has it (and I don't see it anywhere else online yet): a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), dated August 1, 2007 entitled Responsa ad quaestiones ab episcopali conferentia foederatorum americae statuum propositas circa cibum et potum artificialiter praebenda. That is, "Responses to Certain Questions of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration".

The two questions and their answers, simply put, are:
  1. Is administration of food and water (naturally or artificially) to a patient in a "vegetative state" morally required, so long as the patient's body can process them and they cause no harm to the patient? Yes.
  2. Can the artificial administration of food and water to a patient in a "persistent vegetative state" be stopped when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never regain consciousness? No.
Thank you, CDF. Requiescat in pace, Terri Schaivo.

Tradition: Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Today is September 14th, the Feast of the Exaltation (or "Triumph", in the new calendar) of the Cross. It is also the day -- thanks to Pope Benedict XVI and his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum -- that many, many celebrations of the Mass of Blessed Pope John XXIII (called henceforth on my blog the Extraordinary Form of the one Roman Rite).

I'm going to 12:15 Mass at St. Paul's in Princeton. I don't expect it to be the Extraordinary Form, but I still want to be there to pray, to thank God for this re-opened treasury, to worship Him and Him alone, and to receive Him in Holy Eucharist.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Evangelization: Support the Catholic Answers Forum

I'm a member of Catholic Answers Forums, which is one of the many apologetics and evangelization resources that Catholic Answers offers free of charge. The forum has been visited over one million times in August, and over 7 million pages of useful information about the Catholic faith were delivered to these visitors. Catholic Answers Forums is the largest Catholic Community on the Internet!

But this phenomenal growth requires substantial network bandwidth, more computer equipment, more software, and more support personnel -- all of which cost money. Please help them raise $20,000 this month to keep this valuable Catholic resource alive. If you can make a (tax-deductible) donation, please do.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Eucharist: The Propositions referred to in Sacramentum Caritatis

The post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis by Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning of this year was a response to the Eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, held between October 2 and 23 in 2005. Their topic was the Eucharist, as Pope John Paul II had pronounced October 2004 through October 2005 as the "Year of the Eucharist".

The Synod produced several documents, including a lineamenta and an instrumentum laboris, just as it has produced the former (which I've been calling Historia Salutis) for the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, and will eventually produce the latter. As the preface to the present lineamenta explains, "The Ordinary Council, assisted by specialists, will then study this material and present it in an orderly fashion in a second document, traditionally called the Instrumentum Laboris, which will become the agenda of the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place -- God willing -- from 5 to 26 October 2008". The fruits of this assembly will be, among other things, a list of Propositions for the Pope to consider putting into practice in the Church at large.

Returning to the previous Synod: if you read the Pope's exhortation, you'll notice it made several references to Propositiones in its footnotes. These Propositions have been released in Italian on the Vatican's web site; but alas, I cannot speak or read Italian. Therefore, I am putting my trust in Zenit's English translation of the Propositions, found on its website, linked for your convenience here:
  1. Propositions 1-4
  2. Propositions 5-10
  3. Propositions 11-5
  4. Propositions 16-20
  5. Propositions 21-25
  6. Propositions 26-30
  7. Propositions 31-36
  8. Propositions 37-40
  9. Propositions 41-45
  10. Propositions 46-50
You can also view them as a single MS Word document (117 K, 16pp).

I will eventually get back to these, but I figured it would be helpful to any interested readers to know where to find the Propositions behind the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation.

Scripture: Historia Salutis, Conclusion (Listening to the Word of God in the Life of the Believer)

Part 5 of the Historia Salutis series.

  1. "A fervent listening to the Word is fundamental to a personal encounter with God. Living according to the Spirit results from making room for the Word and allowing it to be born in one's heart." Only in this way "can the Word take hold of and convert a person". St. Maximus the Confessor wrote: "The Word of God, if pronounced by rote and not heard, have no resonance in the actions of whose who merely speak them. But rather, if they are pronounced and put into action, they have the power to dispel demons and help people build God's dwelling in the hearts and make progress in works justice." (Capitum theologicorum et aeonomicorum duae enturiae IV, 39) This dwelling "comes about through an act of praise arising from the heart", following the example of Mary "who listened so well that every Word of God was taken up and lived in love (cf. Deut 6:5; John 13:34-35)".
Thus ends my summary of Historia Salutis. I will be giving my answers to the questions in the near future (and hopefully passing them on to the Bishop representing my region), as well as treating this lineamenta to a commentary (rather than just a summary which contains, for the most part, paraphrasing and quoting).

Scripture: Historia Salutis, Chapter 3 (The Word of God in the Mission of the Church)

Part 4 of the Historia Salutis series.

  1. Proclaiming the Word of God in the Contemporary World
    • From pastoral experience, describe the factors which foster a listening to the Word of God and those which hinder it?
    • Can a certain interior unrest or the stimulus of other Christians, etc., lead to a renewal of faith?
    • Can secularism, the continual bombardment of various messages from the world, life-styles opposed to Christian teaching, etc., hinder it?
    • How must the Word of God be proclaimed in light of these challenges?
  2. Easy Access to Scripture
    • How does the directive in Dei Verbum 22, "Easy access to Sacred Scripture should be provided for all the Christian faithful," correspond to fact? Provide some data, even if it be approximate, on this.
    • Can an increase in listening to God’s Word in the Bible be detected among individuals and whole communities?
  3. Spreading the Word of God
    • Describe the biblical apostolate in the diocesan community? Is there a diocesan programme? Are those working in the programme properly prepared?
    • Are people aware of the Catholic Biblical Association?
    • What are the means of encounter with the Word of God (Bible study, listening groups, courses on the Bible, a Day of Celebrating the Bible and lectio divina) and which are most frequented by Christians?
    • What translations of the Bible -- complete or partial -- are available?
    • What is the practise of the Bible in families?
    • What programmes are offered to people at various age levels (children, adolescents, young people, adults)?
    • How are the means of social communication employed?
    • What elements are seen to have value?
  4. The Word of God in Ecumenical Dialogue
    • Proclaiming the Word in today’s world requires a coherency with one’s witness of life. Is this noticeable in the lives of today’s Christians? How can it be fostered?
    • In ecumenical dialogue, how have the particular Churches taken up the principles contained in Dei Verbum?
    • Does Sacred Scripture enter into ecumenical discussion with Sister Churches? What role do they attribute to the Word of God? What are their points of encounter with the Word of God?
    • Is collaboration possible with the United Bible Societies (UBS)?
    • Are there conflicting situations in the use of the Bible?
  5. The Word of God in Dialogue with the Jewish People
    • Is priority given to dialogue with the Jewish people?
    • What points of encounter on the Bible might prove beneficial?
    • Are biblical texts used to ferment attitudes of anti-Semitism?
  6. The Word of God in Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue
    • Describe any existing experiences of dialogue based on the Christian Scriptures with those who possess their own sacred books.
    • How can those who do not believe in the divine inspiration of Sacred Scripture come in contact with the Word of God?
    • Does a Word of God exist even for those who do not believe in God?
    • Is the Bible also approached in its character as a "Great Code," which contains a richness for all?
    • Describe any experiences of intercultural dialogue which uses the Bible as a reference point.
    • What procedures can be followed to support Christian communities in dealing with the sects?
  1. The Church's Mission is to Proclaim Christ, the Word of God Made Man
    The Word of God proclaims the Kingdom of God, "a kingdom of truth, justice, love and peace, which is offered to everyone". The Gospel of this Kingdom is "to be proclaimed to the ends of the earth (cf. Matthew 28:19)". St. Paul's words in 1 Cor 9:16 are particularly relevant today: "Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel". It is our vocation "to serve the Gospel for the world's sake". There are people throughout the world who have not heard (or have heard and forgotten) the Gospel, and many are yearning to hear it. There are many difficulties that make it difficult to listen to the Lord; one in particular is the multitude of sects of Christianity that question the "proper interpretation of the Bible". This calls to mind our need to "bring the Word to others [...] cum Ecclesia" ("with the Church"); it requires "boldness, courage, a spirit of poverty, humility, coherence of life and amiability". The Word cannot be proclaimed without also being lived, "putting love into practice through acts of justice and charity". St. Augustine put it succinctly: "Whoever, then, thinks that he understand the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but interprets them in a way not leading to building up this twofold love of God and neighbor, does not yet understand them as he should" (De doctrina Christiana I, XXXV, 39).
  2. The Word of God is to be Accessible to All, in Every Age
    The Church "proclaim[s] the Word of God with the boldness of the Apostles" and seeks to provide easy access to Sacred Scripture to all Christians. However, "most Christians [...] do not have personal contact with the Scriptures; and those who do, have many theological and methodological uncertainties in communicating their content". Care must be taken so that the Bible does not become "open to subjectivism and arbitrariness" or reduced to "an object of private devotion". The Church seeks to promote the practice of lectio divina to both youth and adults, so that "the communion of priests and laity, and thus entire parishes, communities of the consecrated life and ecclesial movements, will be grounded in and make manifest the Word of God". This and other Apostolic activities focused on the Bible and faith formation will help realize that goal. Those in the consecrated life "must have a specific role in bringing the word of God to others". As the Church Fathers did, they must "make the Bible text the object of daily 'rumination'". Clearly, lectio divina is held in great esteem as clear way in which "the Word of God is brought to bear on life, on which it projects the light of that wisdom which is a gift of the Spirit" (Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata 94).
  3. The Word of God: the Grace of Communion Among Christians
    Catholics share the Word of God and Baptism in common with Christians of all confessions, uniting us in some (incomplete) sense. But our differences make it clear that "only a return to the Word of God interpreted in light of Church Tradition can guarantee a full encounter with Christ and his followers" (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio 21). The words of Pope Benedict XVI remind us of the Church's origin and commitment: "Listening to the Word of God is a priority for our ecumenical commitment. Indeed, it is not we who act or who organize the unity of the Church. The Church does not make herself or live of herself, but from the creative Word that comes from the mouth of God." (Homily: Our World Awaits the Common Witness of Christians in L'Osservatore Romano, 31 Jan 2007)
  4. The Word of God: A Light for Interreligious Dialogue
    "Interreligious dialogue today poses new demands and unprecedented tasks." There are two general categories of ecumenical dialogue: that with the Jewish people and that with people of other religions.
  5. a) With the Jewish people
    "Special attention is give to the Jewish people" because of their heritage (cf. Romans 9-11). They have a special connection to God because of the Mosaic Covenant. As Pope John Paul II put it, the existence of the Jewish people despite hardships today "is a supernatural fact. This people perseveres in spite of everything, because they are the people of the Covenant, and despite human infidelities, the Lord is faithful to his Covenant" (To Participants at the Symposium, The Roots of Anti-Judaism in the Christian Milieu, in L'Osservatore Romano, 5 Nov 1997). It is important in our dialogue to recognize "the original character of the Jewish understanding of the Bible" and the need to avoid "every form of anti-Semitism".
  6. b) With other religions
    The Church's mission is "to bring the Gospel to all creation" (cf. Mark 16:15). This includes those "followers of other religions who have their own sacred books and way of understanding the Word of God" (but that does not imply that their sacred books are the Word of God). There are people "who are actively searching or simply waiting unawares" for the Gospel. To these too "the Church feels duty-bound to the Word which saves" (cf. Romans 1:14). Christianity is not a "religion of the book", but a "religion of the Word of God, Incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ". When dealing with the sacred texts of other religions, care must be taken "so as not to fall prey to syncretism, superficial approaches or a distortion of the truth". Attention should be paid to "the purity of the Word of God, authentically interpreted by the Magisterium". It is important to understand these "non-Christian religions and their respective cultures so as to discern the seeds of the Word present in them".
  7. The Word of God: The Leaven in Modern Culture
    Given the secular state of the world, it is clear that "engaging in a dialogue of culture is more urgent than ever". The Word of God must be "as leaven in a pluralistic and secularized world". Given the multitude of so-called paths to salvation and enlightenment in other religions, "a catechesis on Jesus Christ as 'the Way, the Truth and the Life' (John 14:6), not a casual treatment, but one which adequately prepares a person to confront opposing positions" is necessary. "It should be done in a way which clearly sets forth the Christian mystery and its beneficial effects in people's personal lives."
  8. The Word of God and Human History
    "The Word of God, planted by Christ as the seed of God's Kingdom, makes its way through human history" (cf. 2 Thess 3:1). The Word of God "can be read in the events and signs of the times with which God manifests himself in history". The Second Vatican Council recognizes this: "The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to the perennial questions which people ask about this present life and the life to come, and about the relationship of the one to the other." (Gaudium et Spes 4) The Church needs to know how to "decipher authentic signs of God's presence and purpose in the happenings, needs and desires in which this People has a part along with other people of this age" (Gaudium et Spes 11), and thereby "assist humanity to encounter the Lord of Life and History".

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Ecumenism: Rabbi praises Pope Benedict for his clear teaching

This is from Fr. Z's blog, WDTPRS. Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is not at all miffed at the Pope for saying that the Catholic Church is the one, true Church established by Jesus Christ. In his words, "I, for one, am not at all put off by the fact that the leader of another religion sees that religion as primary. If he thinks his religion is right, he obviously thinks mine is wrong ... What the pope is saying – and I agree 100 percent – is that there are irreconcilable differences, and we can’t pretend those differences don’t exist."

That's refreshingly honest.

Charity: Catholic Relief Services needs your help

Catholic Relief Services was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Their mission is to use the teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to assist the poor and disadvantaged: alleviating human suffering, promoting development, and fostering charity and justice throughout the world.

CRS is the official international relief and development agency of the U.S. Catholic community, and as such is committed to educating the people of the United States to fulfill their moral responsibilities toward our global brothers and sisters by helping the poor, working to remove the causes of poverty, and promoting social justice.

Please consider making a (tax-deductible) donation to CRS today. "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Scripture: Historia Salutis, Chapter 2 (The Word of God in the Life of the Church)

Part 3 of the Historia Salutis series.

  1. The Word of God in the Life of the Church
    • What importance is shown to the Word of God in the life of your community and among the faithful-at-large?
    • In what way is the Word of God a source of nourishment for Christians?
    • Does the danger exist of reducing Christianity to a "religion of the book"?
    • Describe how individuals show reverence and familiarity towards the Word of God in their personal life and in the life of the community on Sundays? Weekdays? In the special seasons of the liturgical year?
  2. The Word of God in the Formation of the People of God
    • What is being done to transmit the entire and complete teaching of the Word of God to your community and to each member of the faithful?
    • Are future priests, consecrated persons and those responsible for various services in the community (catechists, etc.) properly formed and periodically up-dated in the biblical aspects of their pastoral ministry?
    • Are there ongoing programs of formation for the laity?
  3. The Word of God, Liturgy and Prayer
    • What is the faithful’s approach to Sacred Scripture in liturgical and personal prayer?
    • What is their understanding of the relationship between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist?
    • Between the Word celebrated in the Eucharist and the everyday life of the Christian?
    • Does the Word of God have a genuine resonance in homilies? What needs to be done?
    • Is a listening to the Word of God incorporated in the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?
    • Does the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours include a listening to and dialog with the Word of God? Does this practice extend to lay people?
    • Do the People of God have sufficient access to the Bible?
  4. The Word of God, Evangelization and Catechesis
    • Bearing in mind the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and those of the Church’s Magisterium, describe the positive and negative aspects of the Word of God and catechesis.
    • How is the Word of God treated in the various forms of catechesis (Christian initiation and ongoing formation)?
    • Does the community give sufficient attention and study to the written Word of God? If yes, please explain.
    • How are various groups of people (children, adolescents, young people and adults) introduced to the Bible?
    • What introductory courses on Sacred Scripture are offered?
  5. The Word of God, Exegesis and Theology
    • Is the Word of God the soul of exegesis and theology?
    • Is its character as the Word-Revealed sufficiently understood and reverenced?
    • Is scientific research of the Bible animated and sustained by a proper grounding in the faith?
    • What is the customary method of approaching the scriptural text?
    • What role does the Bible play in theological study?
    • Is the Bible sufficiently taken into consideration in the pastoral life of the community?
  6. The Word of God and the Life of the Believer
    • What is the impact of Sacred Scripture in the spiritual lives of the People of God? The clergy? Those in the consecrated life? The lay faithful?
    • Is Mary’s attitude of poverty and trust in the Magnificat evident?
    • Why does seeking to pile up material goods impede a fervent listening to the Word of God?
    • In the celebration of the Eucharist and other liturgical celebrations, is the Word of God a strong or weak instrument of communicating the faith?
    • Why do various Christians seem to be cold or indifferent to the Bible?
    • Is lectio divina practised? Under what forms? Which factors favour it and which do not?
  1. The Church is Born and Lives by the Word of God
    The Church is "constantly called and renewed by the Word of God". She follows the model of Mary, "who listened to the Word and put it into practice (cf. Luke 1:38)"; for this, "the Lord made her a model of the Church". The Scriptures, "together with Sacred Tradition [are] the supreme rule of faith" (DV 21). The Bible is received by Christians "from the Church; they read it with the Church and share its spirit and purpose".
  2. The Word of God Sustains the Church Throughout Her History
    The members of the Church constantly draw "on the power of the Word" in their lives. Excellent examples of this can be found in the writings of the Church Fathers, who "are the masters, without equal, of what is called the 'spiritual' reading of the Scriptures". By the Middle Ages, four distinct sense of Scripture were identified: "literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical". The monastic practice of lectio divina is a form of prayer derived from reading and meditating upon Scripture. "At present, the Church is experiencing a renewal based on the centrality of the Word of God".
  3. Through the Power of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God Permeates and Animates Every Aspect of the Church's Life
    As Jesus promised in John 16:13, the "Holy Spirit guides the Church to all truth" and brings her to the true understanding of the Word of God. The Holy Spirit is then the "soul and interpreter of Sacred Scripture" as it was written under His inspiration. Therefore, Sacred Scripture "must be read and interpreted in the sacred Spirit in which it was written" (DV 12). The Introduction of the Lectionary of the Roman Missal explains that the "working of the Holy Spirit is needed if the Word of God is to make what we hear outwardly have its effect inwardly". It is for this reason that the Church's "primary task is to assist the faithful in understanding how to encounter the Word of God under the guidance of the Spirit", and particularly to teach them how this takes place "in the spiritual reading of the Bible". She also shows them how "the Bible, Tradition and the Magisterium are intrinsically joined by the spirit".
  4. The Church is Nourished on the Word in Various Ways
    "All preaching in the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture." (DV 21) There are four ways in which "the Word of God becomes the basis for the Church's life through her experience of communion, charity and mission": (Directorium generale pro catechesi 47)
  5. a) In the Liturgy and Prayer
    There is an intimate connection between the words and the rites in the Liturgy (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 35) as evidenced by the increased reading of Scripture and the homily, among other things. Because "Christ is present in his Word [...] it is he himself who speaks when the Holy Scriptures are read in the Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 7). Thus, the texts should be proclaimed "in a clear, audible manner", and the homilies must resound with the Word "in a clear and encouraging manner".
  6. b) In evangelization and catechesis
    In receiving the gift of the Word of God, the Church is "taking the Word is her greatest task, namely, giving the Word to others" (cf. CIC can. 762). The various forms of communicating the Word in the Church today include the lectionary, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, catechisms, and celebrations of the Word (that is, apart from Mass). Catechesis should be "an authentic introduction to lectio divina, that is, to a reading of the Sacred Scriptures, done according to the Spirit who dwells in the Church" (Directorium generale pro catechesi 127). The teaching of the Bible in school "has particular value in culture".
  7. c) In exegesis and theology
    It is the "duty of exegetes and theologians to study and explain the Scriptures according to the mind of the Church". There is a great need to ensure the proper "interpreting and teaching the Word of the Bible in conjunction with the Church's living Tradition". In this process, "the heritage of Church Fathers" must be kept "uppermost in mind", and "the Church's magisterial teachings" should be relied on for guidance. (cf. DV 12; Ad Gentes 22)
  8. d) In the life of the believer
    St. Jerome wrote that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ himself (cf. Comm. in Is.; Prologue), and the Second Vatican Council declare the need for all to "hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study" (DV 25). Because of advances in biblical catechesis, "the spiritual sense of Scripture is one of the most appealing and promising aspects of the Word of God in the life of his People". To read the Word with genuine spirituality, "prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that God and man may talk together; for we speak to him when we pray; we hear him when we read the divine words" (DV 25). The Church strongly recommends the "biblical practice traditionally called lectio divina with its four stages (lectio, meditatio, oratio and contemplatio)". Lectio divina has been with the Church since its early days; it was "originally reserved to monasteries, but today the Spirit, through the Church's Magisterium, is inspiring the practice among the clergy, parish communities, ecclesial movements, families and the young". St. Cyprian appealed thus: "Diligently practice prayer and lectio divina. When you pray, you speak with God; when you read, God speaks with you." (Ad Donatum 15) As the Psalmist wrote, "Your word is a lamp for my step, a light on my path" (Psalm 119:105).

News: Post-natal abortion in toilet fails

No, it's not a story from The Onion, it's a sad but true story from Kansas, via the Kansas City Star. A 2o-year-old McDonald's employee gave birth to a boy in the bathroom and tried three times to flush him down the toilet. The boy was found by paramedics face-down in the toilet water, without a pulse and not breathing. He was revived later and is in critical but stable condition. But this is, in my opinion, the worst part:
Police said the 20-year-old woman told the ambulance crew that she didn’t know she was pregnant or that she had given birth. She told them she had her last menstrual cycle in January or February. But police said they have information that she previously told friends that she was pregnant.
That's disgusting and appalling. Pray for the infant, pray for his mother and father, that they might get some sense knocked into them.

Prayer: First Friday Fast (September 2007)

I'm following Cathy of Alex's lead... I'm going to start fasting with prayer intentions on the First Friday of each month. I'm not entirely sure what the... "instructions" are. Mass was in the morning (and I didn't go -- I've only been attending Tuesday morning's weekday Mass).

Today, I plan on spending my lunch break in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and meditating on the following intentions throughout my day:
  • Solidarity with the Dallas bloggers for an end to abortion
  • My parish's pastoral council (of which I am a member)
  • An increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life
  • The Pope's two intentions for this month
  • Thanksgiving for my marriage, our apartment, my wife's PhD studies, and my "new" job
  • A private intention
Time for some water.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Diablog: On Authority (Papal and otherwise)

This is my sixth post in a diablog with Weekend Fisher. She wrote (emphasis mine):
Allegorical Arguments
Japhy posts more of the pope's decree here. The decree contains Scriptural interpretations such as arguing from the spouse in Song of Songs, or from the flood and the ark to the necessity of subjection to Peter and his successor as if to Noah. From the outside looking in, the reasoning on those points is a chain of loose and fanciful interpretation and presumption of key points. I know that Song of Songs is often interpreted allegorically as love betweeen God and his people. Still, that is a long way from identifying God's one and only beloved with Rome to the exclusion of all others. There is a certain presumption on Rome's part that God does not see us as one on the basis of "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" but only on the basis of submission to Peter's successor. Or again, where does Scripture compare the Ark to the church? Where does Scripture make a point of Noah being the captain? Where does Scripture compare Peter to Noah? Allegorical interpretations are not in the mind of the original author but in the mind of the interpreter. Fanciful and allegorical interpretations of Scripture could easily have been interpreted otherwise; all it would take is for someone else's fancy to envision the allegory that suited them.
It is not that the Catholic Church thinks "God does not see us as one" vis-a-vis one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:5) -- as the Pope himself quoted in the Bull -- but that it believes this "one faith" includes the establishment of actual authority found in the episcopate and par excellence in the papacy. This is why the churches being established had visible leadership (in the form of bishops and presbyters). As for comparing Noah and Peter, I don't see it as a great leap of interpretation (but perhaps because I'm on the "inside"). There was one ark which survived the flood, built by Noah at God's command; likewise, there is one Church, built on Peter at the word of Christ.

Feeding the Sheep
Again the papal bull reviews Jesus' conversation with Peter, "feed my sheep", and interprets that as if an appointment to office, as if Peter alone was given charge to feed the sheep, as if the care of the whole church were given to Peter alone by that. It is difficult to imagine that Jesus did not intend for all the disciples to feed his sheep, as the Great Commission entrusted all of them with that; the question is whether special status was intended for Peter. During Peter's life, there is no sign that Peter or any of the rest of the church took it that way. In the first church council as recorded in Acts 15, Peter is not in charge and submits his case to James, with Peter answering to James as if to his superior. Neither is there any record that the others who had studied under Christ felt the need to run their teachings past Peter, having themselves been taught by Christ. When Paul submitted to review of his teachings, he spoke with Peter, James, and John -- and makes no mention of any special status adhering to Peter alone. If Christ had meant to confer unique headship on Peter on behalf of the church, there is no sign that Peter or the rest of the church while he was alive had understood that. That alone makes a powerful case against Peter's unique status: Peter didn't seem to know he had it, and neither did those who knew him.
The Greek of John 21:15 reveals that Jesus is asking Peter if Peter loves Jesus more than the other disciples love Jesus; in other words, yes, Jesus is setting Peter apart from them. Not even "the disciple whom Jesus loved" is given such a distinction in the Gospels.

As for Paul, he first visited Peter three years after his conversion and stayed with him for two weeks; the only other Apostle he saw at that time was James (cf. Gal 1:18-19). As for what he says of James and Peter and John, regarding his second visit (cf. Gal 2:1-10), he says they were "those who were of repute", "those who were reputed to be something", and those "who were reputed to be pillars". Now, he also says it made no difference to him "because God shows no partiality" and that they "added nothing to [him]". This should not be generalized to apply to all of us, for who among us has been privileged as Paul was? The Apostles did not seek to correct Paul because he had received his mission (and the same Gospel) directly from Jesus Christ. Yet, even though Paul preached the same Gospel, he had to check up on certain churches to make sure they were not deviating. Paul oversaw several churches, then, though we don't know if he was any of their bishops -- perhaps Paul was the founding member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? ;)

Back to the matter of Peter, though. It was for his strength that Jesus prayed (cf. Luke 22:31-32). Peter initiated the replacement of Judas (cf. Acts 1:15ff), he preached on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:14ff)... indeed, the first half of Acts focuses on his ministry. At the Council of Jerusalem (where James was most likely the "bishop"), there is a period of debating after which he stands up and reminds them that God chose him to begin the conversion of the Gentiles (Cornelius, cf. Acts 10). Then he asks them why the Pharisaic Christians would wish to place a yoke upon the Gentile Christians. It is to this that James ends up responding; his judgment isn't out of the blue, but based upon what Peter has put forth.

Whatsoever you bind on earth ...
This next part of the decree is the most difficult for me to read without becoming outright angry because of the way Scripture is handled:
This authority, however, (though it has been given to man and is exercised by man), is not human but rather divine, granted to Peter by a divine word and reaffirmed to him (Peter) and his successors by the One Whom Peter confessed, the Lord saying to Peter himself, "Whatsoever you shall bind on earth, shall be bound also in Heaven" etc., [Mt 16:19]. Therefore whoever resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordinance of God [cf. Rom 13:2], unless he invent like Manicheus two beginnings, which is false and judged by us heretical, since according to the testimony of Moses, it is not in the beginnings but in the beginning that God created heaven and earth [cf. Gen 1:1]. Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
Take careful note of what is quoted here from Matthew as the Scriptural support for Peter's uniqueness. Jesus was speaking directly to Peter on the occasion of his confession that Jesus was in fact the Christ: "Whatsoever you (singular, i.e. Peter) shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven" (Matthew 16:19). The biggest problem I have with that argument is that it completely ignores that Jesus quickly thereafter grants the same thing to the other apostles. Jesus soon after says to all the apostles together, "Whatsoever you (plural, i.e. all of them) bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matthew 18:18). What the pope quoted here as having been said to Peter -- and the pope cites it as proof of Peter's uniqueness -- is exactly what Jesus also said soon after to all of the apostles. In context, the second passage granting the same authority to all the apostles is immediately followed by the need for agreement and fellowship among them: "if two of you shall agree on earth ... if two or three are gathered in my name". Peter cannot stand alone; no disciple is placed above the other, and the greatest is to be servant of all. The pope's decree has a pointedly partial reading of Scripture, quoting the one passage as proving Peter is unique without even acknowledging the existence the other passage where the same authority is given to all the apostles. Here is why it makes me so angry: when someone makes such a one-sided case, ignores contrary evidence, and does this to his own advantage and about his own authority, it can hardly help coming across badly.
That Jesus granted unto the rest of the Apostles the same privilege given to Peter does not diminish Peter, but all the more establishes Peter's primacy among the Apostles. Jesus gives the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" to Peter alone (Matt 16:19); the binding and loosing is given first to Peter and then to the other Apostles at a later date. As to Peter not acting alone, the Council of Jerusalem is a testament to that, as are the various councils held throughout the history of the Church. Even motu proprio documents are preceded by collaboration! Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius XII did not act alone in their solemn definitions of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary; on the contrary, they asked the clergy to do research on the matter (Ubi Primum in 1849 preceded Ineffabilis Deus in 1854, and Deiparae Virginis Mariae in 1946 preceded Munificentissimus Deus in 1950).
Apostolic Authority: the Roman model and the Protestant model
Japhy talking now:
If you reject the ones Jesus sent, you reject Jesus. This is why the Church is so darn stubborn about Apostolic succession. If some random preacher shows up tomorrow, how can I be sure following his teachings about Jesus will lead to my salvation?
What church rejects those who Jesus sent? He sent the apostles, and I am not aware of any church today rejecting any of them. So on to the next question: how can you be sure that someone's teachings are true? You can be sure by comparing those teachings with what Christ and the apostles taught. There was a time in church history when the main guarantee of hearing what the apostles taught was belonging to a church where the bishop was taught by the apostles. But the time came when the churches that traced back to the apostles started teaching things that the apostles had never taught. At that time there became two varieties of "apostolic authority": the Roman variety, where tracing your leadership back to the apostles was seen as a guarantee of true teaching, and the Protestant variety, where tracing the contents of your teachings back to the apostles was seen as a guarantee of true teaching. That's why Protestants are so darn stubborn about what Scripture says: those are the teachings that we are sure trace to the apostles. If I had to choose between a church that can trace its leadership to successors of the apostles but cannot trace its teachings to the apostles on the one hand, and a church that can trace its teachings to the apostles but not its leadership to successors of the apostles, I am glad to stick with the teachings I know trace back to the apostles. Of course, more than that I wish it were not an either/or kind of decision.
I should have been more specific; the matter of Apostolic succession comes into play here because our bishops trace their commission back to the Apostles. That is, we recognize the choosing of Paul by Jesus Christ as something extraordinary, not as the norm. We do not reject the Apostles, nor those whom the Apostles sent. The problem with reducing Christianity to simply what is recorded in Scripture is that you are only recognizing that which the Holy Spirit moved men to write, for various audiences and for various reasons. If there is something of the faith which they believed that was not written down, it is essentially lost and gone forever. The New Testament describes a persecuted and fledgling Church, which is why there are no God-to-Solomonesque instructions regarding the building of cathedrals and decorations of tabernacles; does this mean that the celebration of a liturgy in a grandiose church is contrary to the Tradition of the Apostles?

The Catholic Church firmly believes that it has not and will not ever "produce" or "invent" doctrines or beliefs that are not Apostolic in origin. As such, we hold that the privileges given to Mary by God are true, and our belief in them (which has matured through the ages) is certainly the same faith held by the Apostles. Just because Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle does not necessarily mean that only what was recorded as Scripture through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the totality of Revelation. St. John admits Jesus did many other signs and wonders. Days, weeks, months of the ministry of Jesus are missing from our Bible. Those elements of the faith not consigned to Scripture were retained through the oral tradition of the Church, which the Catholic Church claims witness to. We don't claim it to be "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" as the Mormons consider their book to be; rather, the written tradition and the oral tradition come from the one deposit of faith.

Diablog: On Doctrine and Salvation

This is my fifth post in a diablog with Weekend Fisher. She wrote:
Q. Which Lutheran denomination retains the proper doctrine?
A. The one(s) still holding to the original Tradition of the church, that handed down by Christ through the apostles.

Q. What is necessary for salvation?
A. Christ is necessary for salvation. Doctrine, in its best sense, is a full life-giving knowledge of God and his kingdom. Unfortunately, "doctrine" often becomes a set of propositions to be memorized whose content (in theory) could convey some knowledge of God and his kingdom if only people weren't so busy mistaking doctrine for salvation. It would be like mistaking the nutrition label on the can for a nourishing meal. (See, it says right there, "100% iron, 100% calcium ... and I already read the label so I'm set! I read it twice, so I'm more nourished than you!") What Christ said about Scriptures could easily be said about doctrine: You eagerly search them because you think that by them you have eternal life. These are they that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me and have life.

There are all kinds of things that are true (Lutheran doctrines, Roman Catholic doctrines, doctrines of all kinds of other groups too numerous to name) that are not "necessary for salvation". There are things that are true about God, but knowing them is not "necessary for salvation". If doctrine isn't necessary for salvation, then what is the purpose of doctrine? To bless us through knowledge of the Holy One. I have often asked myself, "Is there really any other blessing besides God?" To know God is to have peace and patience and perseverance. To know God is to have the fullness of love. To know God is to have complete freedom from fear. To know God is to have all wisdom. To know God is to be joyful. What good thing is outside of him? That is what doctrine is about: there is no higher blessing than God.
I'm going to ask (yes, in the face of the Catholic-Orthodox split) why there would be multiple Lutheran churches with the same "original Tradition of the church". What is it which divides them into multiple churches then? Issues not pertaining to salvation, if I read you correctly. But if that is the case, why must they divide? Why cannot they remain united as one church abiding by that famed motto of the Reformation coined by German Lutheran theologian Peter Meiderlin (or Rupertus Meldenius), "in necesariis Unitatem, in non-necessariis Libertatem, in utrisque Charitatem"? AND are there any non-Lutheran churches which possess this same "original Tradition of the church"? If there are, why are they separate from the Lutheran church(es)? If there are not, then are there churches that contain enough of the "original Tradition" to still have hope for salvation?

I certainly agree that "Christ is necessary for salvation" and that through doctrines we are "bless[ed] through knowledge of the Holy One", who is God in Three Persons, one of Whom is Jesus Christ. But the Word is a living Word, and as such I also agree that mere knowledge of these doctrines will not suffice, any more than living among ten thousand Bibles will bring you salvation. These doctrines are to be known and lived by. As a Catholic, I don't hope to be saved because I believe Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, but I have hope of my own salvation (and resurrection) because of what has been revealed about Mary. Likewise, I don't hope to be saved because I believe the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, but I have hope for the continuing strength and perseverance in my life of faith because I am nourished by that same Eucharist I believe in.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Scripture: Historia Salutis, Chapter 1 (Revelation, the Word of God and the Church)

Part 2 of the Historia Salutis series.

  1. Knowledge of the Word of God in the History of Salvation
    • What is the prevalent idea among the faithful in Revelation, the Word of God, the Bible, Divine Tradition and the Magisterium?
    • Do the faithful understand the various levels of meaning of the Word of God?
    • Is Jesus Christ understood to be central to the Word of God?
    • What is the relation between the Word of God and the Bible? What aspects are less understood? What are the reasons?
  2. The Word of God and the Church
    • To what extent does approaching the Word of God develop a dynamic knowledge of belonging to the Church, the Body of Christ, and prompt a genuine participation in the Church's mission?
    • What is the faithful's understanding of the relation between the Word of God and the Church?
    • Does a proper relation between the Bible and Divine Tradition exist in exegetical and theological studies and in the faithful's encounter with the Holy Book?
    • Is catechesis based on the Word of God?
    • Are the Sacred Scriptures well-valued?
    • What is the perception of the Magisterium's importance and responsibility in the proclamation of the Word of God?
    • Is there a genuine listening to the Word of God in faith? What aspects need to be clarified and reinforced?
  3. Signs of the Church's Faith in the Word of God
    • How has Dei Verbum been received? The Catechism of the Catholic Church?
    • What is the specific magisterial role of Bishops in the apostolate of the Word of God?
    • What is the task of ordained ministers, priests and deacons in proclaiming the Word (cf. Lumen Gentium 25, 28)?
    • What is the faithful’s understanding of the relation between the Word of God and the consecrated life?
    • How can the Word of God be employed in the formation of future priests?
    • What formation in the Word of God is needed in the People of God -- priests, deacons, consecrated persons and the laity?
  4. The Bible as the Word of God
    • Why are Christians eagerly seeking the Bible today? What effect does the Bible have on the life of faith?
    • How is the Bible received in the non-Christian world? And among people of culture?
    • Does a proper approach to the Scriptures always exist? What are some of the more common failings?
    • Describe the faithful’s understanding of the charism of inspiration and truth of the Scriptures.
    • Do the faithful realize that the spiritual sense of Scripture is the final sense willed by God?
    • How is the Old Testament received?
    • If the Gospels are read more often, is the knowledge and reading of them satisfactory?
    • What are overwhelmingly considered the “difficult pages” of the Bible today, and what approach should be taken in their regard?
  5. Faith in the Word of God
    • How do believers look at the Word of God?
    • Do the faithful listen to the Word of God with a deep faith and do they aim at re-generating their faith by it?
    • Why do the faithful read the Bible?
    • What criteria for discernment are used by believers in reading the Bible?
  6. Mary and the Word of God
    • Why is Mary the Model and Mother of listening to the Word of God?
    • Is the Word of God received and lived as she did?
    • How can Mary become the Model for every believer of listening, meditating upon and living the Word of God?
  1. God Takes the Initiative: Divine Revelation by the Word of God
    "At the risk of subjecting the mystery of God to the human word and the formality of an arbitrary report, the Second Vatican Council masterfully and accurately set forth in Dei Verbum a summary of the faith profession by the Church throughout the ages." God seeks to create an "interpersonal relationship of truth and love with humankind". He reveals "a plan which seeks the salvation of humankind" and all of creation thereby. Divine Revelation gloriously culminates in Jesus Christ, "who is both the mediator and the fullness of all Revelation" (HS 6, DV 2). Looking at the Bible as a whole, it is clear this communication between God and Man has "continually taken place from Genesis to Revelation".
  2. The Human Person Needs Revelation
    Man is "capable of knowing God by relying simply on God-given human resources", specifically the created world (cf. Rom 1:20). Because of sin, this knowledge "has become clouded and uncertain and even denied by many". Despite this, "God does not abandon humanity", and places a "deep longing in individuals for light, salvation and peace, even if this is not always recognized".
  3. The Word of God is Intimately a Part of Human History and Guides it
    Some cultures fashion people to think they are self-sufficient and "masters of their own destiny", which "makes it difficult for them to accept that someone might come into the world to enter into dialogue and provide the meaning of existence". But this is what God does through His Word; as St. Gregory the Great explains, "Scripture comes down to our level in using our poor words, so as to allow us gradually to climb, step-by-step, from what is seen near-at-hand to things sublime" (Moralia, 20, 63). From His first encounter with Man, God wanted "to make known the way leading to eternal salvation" (DV 3), and to His chosen people Israel, "the supreme Revelation took place in Jesus Christ, His Eternal Word-Made-Flesh" (cf. John 1:14). Because God has never removed Himself from His creation, "traces of the Word of God can be seen in nature and culture" -- our history is not "composed simply of human thoughts, words and initiatives". Rather, God has revealed that He is Emmanuel, God-with-us (Isaiah 8:10).
  4. Jesus Christ is the Word of God Made Man, the Fullness of Revelation
    As the letter to the Hebrews says at its beginning, God spoke through prophets up until the time when He had determined to speak to us by His Son. By his life, and particularly at his death and resurrection, "Jesus took upon himself and fulfilled the entire purpose, meaning, history and plan of the Word of God". It is clear in the Scriptures that Jesus is "the Eternal Word of God, which shines forth in creation, is given a historical character in the message of the prophets, is fully manifested in the Person of Jesus, is echoed in the voice of the apostles and is proclaimed in the Church today". All the books that comprise the Sacred Scriptures testify to him, thus displaying "continuity [...] in diversity". He is present in the history of Israel in the Old Testament "which bears witness to him as Messiah" just as he is present today. St. Bernard wrote: "In the plan of the Incarnation of the Word, Christ is the center of all scripture. The Word of God, already capable of being heard in the Old Testament, became visible in Christ." (Super Missus est, Homilia IV, 11)
  5. The Word of God as a Symphony
    The Word of God "can be compared to a symphony played with many instruments, since God communicates his Word in many and various ways". It is Revelation, which can be found in:
    1. The "Eternal Word of God, the Second Person the Most Blessed Trinity, the Son of the Father".
    2. The "created world" which "tells of the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1) and is his voice (cf. Sirach 46:17; Psalm 68:34). God has made "all creation [...] to render 'perennial witness to Him'" (DV 3).
    3. The Word-made-flesh, "the Gospel of God to humankind": Jesus Christ.
    4. Through the "proclamation of the prophets and the apostles", God spoke to the ancient fathers of the people of Israel. These messengers of God were inspired through the Holy Spirit, so "the words of man are taken as the words of God".
    5. The "Books of Sacred Scripture" unite "Jesus-the-Word to the words of the prophets and apostles". "Every page looks to the Word, Jesus" (cf. John 5:39; Luke 24:27,44-49).
    6. Although "Revelation ended with the death of the last apostle" (cf. DV 4), the Word is continually revealed through "spirited preaching and many other forms in service to the Gospel".
    It is one of the responsibilities of ordained ministers to "instruct the faithful in a proper conception of the Word of God by avoiding erroneous or over-simplistic approaches and any ambiguity".
  6. Personal Faith Responds to the Word of God, a Faith Manifested in Listening
    "The obedience of faith is owed to the God who reveals." (DV 5) In doing so, each person accepts "the invitation of full communion with God" and is committed to "doing His will for the sake of the community and every believer" (DV 2, 5). In his life of communion, "the Word is the basic force at work in conversion; a light in response to the many questions in the believer's life; a guide to a proper and wise discernment of reality; an invitation not simply read or speak the Word but to 'do it' (Luke 8:21); and finally, an everlasting source of consolation and hope".
  7. Mary, Every Believer's Model of How to Welcome the Word
    Mary, in her life of faith, is "the exemplar of every encounter with the Word". "She welcomes the Word in faith, meditates upon it, interiorizes it and lives it." (cf. Luke 1:38; 2:19,51) As she said upon meeting Elizabeth, her soul "magnifies the Lord" (Luke 1:46), "discovering in her life the mercy of God, who makes her 'blessed' because 'she believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her from the Lord'" (Luke 1:45). Christ has one mother according to the flesh, but each Christian gives birth to the Word through faith (cf. St. Ambrose, Evang. secundum Lucam 2, 19).
  8. The Word of God, Entrusted to the Church, is Transmitted to Every Generation
    "Even though Revelation has ended, it continues, in a certain way, in a communication where the Word of God becomes actually present to us" so that we may "increase our understanding". Thus, "the Word is not an inert deposit in the Church", but advances "through the power of the Holy Spirit" and grows with the "reflection and study of believers" and the "preaching of Bishops" (cf. DV 8, 21). It is clear that the mission of the Church is the proclamation of "the Divine Word to all humankind in every time and place" (cf. Matt. 28:18-20).
  9. Divine Tradition and Sacred Scripture in the Church: A Single Sacred Deposit of the Word of God
    "The Word of God became the Gospel" in Jesus Christ. Thus, the preaching that began in apostolic times and "continues through the ages" has, as a part of itself, the Word of God. This is found in two ways. One is "the dynamic flow of Tradition, manifested [...] through worship, doctrine and the Church's life". The other is Scripture, which "by virtue of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, preserves in written form the unchanging character of the original and constitutive elements of this living Tradition". The teaching authority of the Church, the Magisterium, "which is not above the Word of God", must "authentically interpret the Word of God, whether written or handed on" (DV 10). Scripture and Tradition are a fundamental unit and close connected, and the Church treats both "with the same sense of loyalty and reverence" (Council of Trent, Session IV). Both come from the same single deposit of the faith, since, "in the early Church, Tradition preceded Scripture and was always a kind of fertile humus"; in this way, "both can be called, and indeed are, the 'Word of God'". For this reason, Sola Scriptura "cannot exist in and of itself, because the Scriptures are related to the Church, namely, to the one who receives and understands both Tradition and Scripture".
  10. Sacred Scripture, the Inspired Word of God
    "Sacred Scripture is the Word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." (DV 9, cf. 24) The written Word of God is known by such names as "Scripture", "the Bible", "Holy Writ", and "the Good Book". Both "Scripture and Tradition communicate the Word of God without change and echo the 'voice of the Holy Spirit'" (DV 21). "Biblical truth" is understood, above as, as "that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings" (DV 11). The Bible is "the Word of God written in human language". Proper, authentic interpretation of the Bible (which is the service rendered irreplaceably by the Magisterium) is "united to philosophical and theological criteria, bearing in mind the document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church".
  11. A Necessary, Demanding Task: Interpreting the Word of God in the Church
    Because there is an increase in interest in studying the Word of God found in the Church's members, there is an "opportunity to instruct the faithful in understanding it properly and apply it to everyday life". Studying Scripture "can help people come to a knowledge of the truth and values concerning God, man and things", but at the same time, it can "pose a danger that the Scriptures will be interpreted arbitrarily or literally, as in fundamentalism". While "this approach shows a desire to remain faithful to the text", it also "displays a lack of knowledge of the texts themselves". It also opens the door to numerous "contrary opinions or different versions of the Bible". These are "serious errors" and can create "useless controversy". The Bible, as "the Book of God and man, has to be read with a correct blending if its historical-literal sense and its theological-spiritual sense" (cf. CCC 117). Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI, in an address to the Bishops of Switzerland, stated his desire that "theologians learn to interpret and love Scripture as the Council intended, in accordance with Dei Verbum". While "the faithful have the responsibility to listen to and meditate on" the Word of God, "to explain it is the responsibility only of those who by right of sacred ordination have the task of teaching or those who have been entrusted with the exercise of this ministry".
  12. Old and New Testaments: A Single Economy of Salvation
    Many people's knowledge of the Scriptures "is not totally satisfactory". In particular, "there is a reluctance to take up passages from the Old Testament which appear difficult"; these may get "set aside, considered arbitrarily or never read at all". The Church recognizes the Old Testament as part of its Scriptures and "acknowledges its permanent value"; therefore, the solution "requires a formation centered on a Christian reading of the Old Testament", for "the reading of the Old Testament [is] essential for a full understanding of the New Testament". The sentiment of St. Augustine, "Novum in Vetere latet et in Novo Vetus patet" (Quaestiones in Heptateucum. 2, 73), is echoed by St. Gregory the Great: "What the Old Testament promised is brought to light in the New Testament; what was proclaimed in a hidden manner in the past, is proclaimed openly as present. Thus, the Old Testament announces the New Testament, and the New Testament is the best commentary on the Old Testament" (In Ezechielem I, 6, 15).

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Scripture: God speaks to us very clearly

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

"Can you hear Me now?"

It's clear that God speaks to us on the network with the fewest dropped calls. (H/T to Cathy of Alex, the Recovering Dissident Catholic.)

Evangelization: Donate to give flesh to the Word of God

Theater of the Word, Incorporated is a Catholic theater troupe whose mission is to give flesh to the Word of God through drama, to touch hearts as well as minds, and to reach the visually-oriented culture of today, especially the youth. Their performances focus on the lives of the saints, the gifts of the sacraments, and morality issues (such as abortion and modesty).

They will be featured in a ten-part series on EWTN in 2008, and will be performing at the John Paul II Theater in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, thanks to the generous patronage of Archbishop Raymond Burke. Some of their one-man shows are about G. K. Chesterton, St. Paul, and St. Augustine.

Please consider donating -- it's tax deductible -- so that TWI can perform at parishes and schools (which don't have the resources of dinner theaters and country clubs). Your support will help TWI fulfill their mission, building up the faith of others through the Word brought to life before their very eyes.

Family: Donate to save a mother and her child

Several Sources Shelters, through God's grace, saves babies' lives and shelters their young mothers while providing education and ongoing compassionate support services. They also help educate young people to make healthier life choices.

At their main shelter in Ramsey, NJ (only a few towns away from where I grew up) they have what they've named The Garden of Life, featuring six shrines dedicated to Mary, the Blessed Virgin Mother of Jesus, explaining her apparitions to St. Catherine Laboure.

Please consider making a (tax-deductible) donation. Over the past 25 years, more than 15,000 babies have been saved from abortion or similar fates through their efforts.