Thursday, September 26, 2002

The Cat
By the way, the kitten's name is Pippin, as in Peregrin Took. Our kids named him.
Ta ta!
I'm going to Philadelphia for the weekend for the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars conference, so no blogging for three days, rather than the customary two days. I'll try to write some of the promised posts on liturgical reform while gone.
Gospel of St. Thomas the Real Jesus?
I just read a review of a new book by John Dart and Ray Reigert called The Gospel of St. Thomas: Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus (Berkeley: Seastone, 2000). The Introduction of the book is by the Jesus Seminar guy, John Dominic Crossan. One thing the reviewer points out dispassionately is that the editors believe that the Gospel of St. Thomas gives better access to the Real Jesus (a Gnostic) than the canonical Gospels. There are many people out there who agree, some of whom I know to be in very influential positions in the Church. For instance, I know a youth minister in a Catholic parish who prefers the gnostic Gospels to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

My main comment is that to believe that another gospel gives us a better Jesus is not Christian The Christian belief is that the New Testament gives us the most complete, accurate picture of who Jesus was and what he did than any other possible source, whether it be another gospel, the findings of historica-critical research, or some visionaries writings. Whatever the Bible says of Jesus squares with the historical reality of Jesus. Nor am I claiming a photojournalistic realism for the NT. No, many of the events and words of Jesus are elaborated upon, rearranged, interpreted, etc. The point is, though, that the reworking of the raw material itself by the evangelists enhances the fundamental accuracy of the Gospels.

Luigi Giussani makes this point in At the Origin of the Christian Claim. Some people, for instance, claim that the Gospels are distorted because they were written by people who knew Jesus and therefore were biased. Giussani says just the opposite is true. What they say of Jesus, especially of his character, is more likely to be true because they knew Him. That is why, for instance, Plato's portrayal of Socrates, esp. in the Apology, the Crito and Phido, is more accurate than Aristophanes' Socrates in The Clouds.
The wilds of suburbia
As I was walking through the woods on the way to work this morning I heard an owl hooting off in the distance. Interestingly, I was awoken in the middle of the night to the sound of a pack of coyotes baying. It seems that wild nature is still lurking on the margins of American suburbia.

The other thing one hears constantly at our house is the roar of Highway 100 (about a half mile away) and the rumble of the big trucks on Forest Home (about 1/4 mile away). Then, at about seven, the planes on their way to Mitchell International begin to fly overhead at about 30 second intervals.

This is quite exciting for someone who has a brand new kitten and doesn't want it eaten by coyotes, snatched by an owl or run over by a truck.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I have been waitinig for this moment for a long time....
Fresh from the comments boxes at Mark Shea's and other blogs, my very good friend, Kevin Miller, has his own blog called De Virtutibus. Kevin is a professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He says,
I'm creating this blog in the hope that it will be a modestly useful resource for those interested in hot (or even not-so-hot) topics in moral theology - both practical issues, and, sometimes, theoretical ones - and perhaps especially (though not only) ones that have been treated in contemporary Catholic teaching.

Then he lists a bunch of issues he intends to tackle. Blog on, friend!
Gratitude corner
I am receiving enough notice in the blogosphere that I have, at the suggestion of a friend, added one of those "noticed by" lists at the left. If you link to me or mention me on your blog or site, let me know and I'll add you. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Canon law! Yippee!
I'm a canon law junkie. Today in class we got into a discussion about a situation where a priest is invalidly ordained because of some impediment, then goes on to minister for 20 years. What about all the sacraments he's celebrated? I gave my opinion in class, which turned out to be close to the truth. I then asked one of our wonderful Milwaukee canonists, Zabrina Decker, about the situation. She affirmed that the sacraments would be invalid and that it would cause a great deal of havoc. She then turned to the principle that the Church supplies (ecclesia supplet) from Canon 144. It MIGHT apply in this case, depending on the details. Then she pointed out that the usual answer to questions of canon law is "It depends" because one must know every single detail before rendering a judgment.

The canon reads:
Can. 144 §1 In common error, whether of fact or of law, and in positive and probable doubt, whether of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and the internal forum.

§2 The same norm applies to the faculties mentioned in cann. 883, 966, and 1111 §1.

By the way, on Miss Decker,
CLSA Selects 1999 Scholarship Awardee

The CLSA extends warm congratulations to Ms. Zabrina Decker, recipient of the 1999 Canon Law Society of America scholarship. This year's recipient is a 1988 graduate of Mundelein College, Chicago, with a B.A. in Religious Studies and a 1990 graduate of Loyola University, Chicago, with a master’s degree in Religious Education. Since the fall of 1997, Zabrina has worked full-time as a procurator-advocate in the metropolitan tribunal of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. She entered the JCL program at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, in the summer 1999 semester.

I'm always willing to publicize the good work of our canonists.
Repeat after me, "V. Deus † in adjutórium meum inténde. R. Dómine ad adjuvándum me festína. Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spíritui Sancto. Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen. Alleluja...."

This is awesome!
Why Catholics Can't Think (with apologies to Thomas Day)
I've so often wondered why there seems to have been a percipitious decline in Catholic intellectual life since the Second Vatican Council. Now I think I have an explaination. It comes from none other than Archbishop Fulton Sheen in this article on the decline of controversy. He says, for instance,

The Catholic Church perhaps more than the other forms of Christianity notices the decline in the art of controversy. Never before, perhaps, in the whole history of Christianity has she been so intellectually impoverished for want of good sound intellectual opposition as she is at the present time. Today there are no foe-men worthy of her steel. And if the Church today is not producing great chunks of thought, or what might be called "thinkage" it is because she has not been challenged to do so. The best in everything comes from the throwing down of a gauntlet--even the best in thought.

Here, here!

Monday, September 23, 2002

Essential Readings 2
A friend points out:

Three out of four of the liturgical essentials may be had with a subscription to Magnificat. Admittedly, the Hours found in it are abbreviated, but the material within is first-rate.
Kneeling Again?
Only long enough to recommend this insightful post by Fr. Jim Tucker pointed out by Emily Stimpson HMS Blog.

Jacques Maritain comments on this point in a chapter of his book Liturgy and Contemplation called "The Liberty of souls."

Against the pseudo-liturgical exaggerations it behooves one to defend the liberty of souls. This is what the Pope, Father and pastor of all, did, when he said in moving terms: "Many of the faithful are unable to use the 'Roman Missal' even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns, and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who then would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people, for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them."[17]

". . . It is perfectly clear to all," Pius XII writes again,[18] "that in the Church on earth, no less than in the Church in heaven, there are many mansions (John, XIV, 2).... It is the same Spirit Who breatheth where He will (John III, 8); and Who with differing gifts and in different ways enlightens and guides souls to sanctity. Let their freedom and the supernatural action of the Holy Spirit be so sacrosanct that no one presume to disturb or stifle them for any reason whatsoever."

Rome has always been vigilant in opposing any attempt to regiment souls. She knows that the spirit of the liturgy requires respect for the Gospel liberty proper to the New Law. On the contrary, in holding as valid one single form of piety, that in which each one acts in common with the others, and in demanding of all that by word and gesture they obey the liturgical forms with a military precision; in challenging or putting in question private devotions, nay even the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass, those who confuse liturgy and pseudo-liturgy impose on souls rigid frameworks and burden them with external obligations which are of the same type as the observances of the Old Law.

Another Week of Rollicking Blogging Begins
I'm back after the usual weekend hiatus. Unfortunately, I just don't have good enough internet connection at home to permit the luxury of blogging there.

Friday the Marquette Communio circle met at the Jes Res. We discussed Brian Daley's article about Patristic exegisis of the Scriptures taken from the Spring 2002 issue. The upshot for us was that whatever method one uses to read the Sacred Scripture, the goal is to allow the reader to more deeply enter into the mysteries revealed there. The idea is for the world of the Sacred Scripture to become more and more our world, the words to become our words. Inasmuch as the historical-critical method can help us do that, it is good.

On another note, I plan soon to start a series of entries on what I think would be a good idea in a effort to reform the reform of the liturgy. Stay tuned! I'm opinionated on this one! Think of this as a series like Emily Stimpson's Why the Church Rocks Even When Her Children Bite? series or Michael Dubruiel's series on the 73 Steps to Communion with God. I'm beginning to compose the entries now, but won't start until I get a few good entries under my belt.