Monday, May 5, 2014

Required Reading Today: The CDF's Statement on the LCWR's Recent Activities

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, "speaking rather bluntly," has some strong remarks for the LCWR leadership on the doctrinal assessment, on the honoring of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, and on the LCWR's infatuation with the neo-gnostic "Conscious Evolution." He is right; he does speak rather bluntly, but this is necessary from the Church at this time. The National catholic Reporter's coming reaction--meltdown?--should be rather interesting. As for me, I'll be reading Fr. Z.

In the meanwhile, please read the statement, available here.

Interesting excerpt from the CDF document on "Conscious Evolution":

"The fundamental theses of Conscious Evolution are opposed to Christian Revelation and, when taken unreflectively, lead almost necessarily to fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.
"My concern is whether such an intense focus on new ideas such as Conscious Evolution has robbed religious of the ability truly to sentire cum Ecclesia. To phrase it as a question, do the many religious listening to addresses on this topic or reading expositions of it even hear the divergences from the Christian faith present?"

This is the woman the CDF mentions explicitly in the letter. See if you can find anything in this about "the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery"; that is, if you can make it through the video!

Update: The meltdown has begun. Commonweal takes an early shot. Still waiting on the NCR op-ed reaction, but they have their news story up, which includes a brief statement from the LCWR.

A few early reactions from Twitter ...




The Women's Ordination Conference is, of course, all over this story...

and the RCWP too...

Note well that the vitriol among the dissenters does not reflect the tone of the statement released by the LCWR itself:
Archbishop Muller's opening remarks released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accurately reflect the content of the mandate communicated to LCWR in April 2012. As articulated in the Cardinal's statement, these remarks were meant to set a context for the discussion that followed. The actual interaction with Cardinal Muller and his staff was an experience of dialogue that was respectful and engaging.
Those who divide believers by new and strange teachings should take note that they are not always able to quickly corral the dispersed sheep.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Highlights from the Canonization Mass - (a VERY distant view)

If you were in similar shoes as mine, which, alas, were not in Rome yesterday, I hope you enjoyed watching EWTN's production of the Mass of canonization as much as I did. (I think there's still an opportunity today to watch it on EWTN if you missed it.) The Vatican seriously needs to update the Congregation for the Causes of Saints page, and I hope they undertake to do it soon; I had hoped to find something to share on Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II there, but I could not. I did, however, find online separately the "libretto" for the Mass itself (the English biography of John XXIII is on p. 13 and that of John Paul II is on p. 31).
Naturally, some of the highlights for me were the Gospel chanting in Greek (since I teach Biblical Greek) and of course the formula of canonization and the homily below. Note well, social media users, that when invoking the prayers of these two new pope saints, the correct way to say it in Latin is not ora pro nobis, rather, orate pro nobis, otherwise, your Latin teacher friend may start trolling you, saying things like 'ora is "pray! [you one person]" while orate is "pray! [y'all]".'

Sancti Ioannes XXIII et Ioannes Paule II, orate pro nobis!

Formula of Canonization

For the honour of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II be Saints and we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Ad honorem Sanctæ et Individuæ Trinitatis, ad exaltationem fidei catholicæ et vitæ christianæ incrementum, auctoritate domini nostri Iesu christi, beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra, matura deliberatione præhabita et divina ope sæpius implorata, ac de plurimorum fratrum Nostrorum consilio, Beatos Ioannem XXIII et Ioannem Paulum II Sanctos esse decernimus et definimus, ac Sanctorum catalogo adscribimus, statuentes eos in universa Ecclesia inter Sanctos pia devotione recoli debere. In nomine Patris et filii et Spiritus Sancti.

and now the homily of Pope Francis ...

Holy Mass and Rite of Canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II

Homily of Pope Francis

St. Peter's Square - Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), April 27, 2014

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we have heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. Thomas was also present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we have heard in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47). It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, Saint John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, guided by the Holy Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; for this reason I like to think of him as the the pope of openness to the Holy Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, Saint John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thomas Aquinas: Did Christ Endure All Suffering?

Bosch's Christ Carrying the Cross
The Christological treatises in the Summa Theologica make excellent Lenten reading. If you are looking for something for the short time remaining in Holy Week, I recommend question 46 in the tertia pars for today and question 50 for Holy Saturday.

St. Thomas Aquinas asks whether Christ endured all suffering (STh., III q.46 a.5), and, to my surprise, he says no, reasoning that since the soldiers did not break the legs of Jesus, he did not endure every human suffering. That makes sense, of course; he is the lamb of sacrifice; to have broken his legs would have done violence to the typological significance of his paschal offering.

But the key to reading St. Thomas is to wait for the nuances of his response: Christ did not endure the species all sufferings (ad specim), some of which are mutually exclusive. Generically, however, he did endure all sufferings (secundum genus passus est omnem passionem humanam). This, Thomas says, is threefold. First of all, he suffers from every type of person: from Gentiles and Jews, men and women, rulers, their servants, and the mob, friends and acquaintances.

Secondly, from the sufferings possible for a man to endure. St. Thomas explains that "Christ suffered from friends abandoning Him; in His reputation, from the blasphemies hurled at Him; in His honour and glory, from the mockeries and the insults heaped upon Him; in things, for He was despoiled of His garments; in His soul, from sadness, weariness, and fear; in His body, from wounds and scourgings."

Finally, regarding Christ's totality of suffering in the members of his body, I will again let St. Thomas speak for himself:

In His head He suffered from the crown of piercing thorns; in His hands and feet, from the fastening of the nails; on His face from the blows and spittle; and from the lashes over His entire body. Moreover, He suffered in all His bodily senses: in touch, by being scourged and nailed; in taste, by being given vinegar and gall to drink; in smell, by being fastened to the gibbet in a place reeking with the stench of corpses, which is called Calvary; in hearing, by being tormented with the cries of blasphemers and scorners; in sight, by beholding the tears of His mother and of the disciple whom He loved.

Did Jesus suffer every suffering? No, and yes. Oh, yes! Read St. Thomas during this sacred Triduum; he'll help you prepare for the joy of the resurrection.

Pie pelicane, Jesu Domine,
Me immundum munda tuo Sanguine,
Cujus una stilla salvum facere
Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Meditation on St. Joseph and a Special Prayer Request

Prayer: The Litany of St. Joseph

A lot of people like to point out that St. Joseph had original sin, because in how we think about the Holy Family he stands in somewhat sharp contrast to the sinless Ever-Virgin Mother of God and the Christ Child, Who Himself is true God, co-eternal with the Father. I have been guilty of this, too, but the more I think about it, to speak in such a way about St. Joseph is irreverence before the mystery of the man. How many more words much more worthy could we multiply about him, chosen by the Father to be protector of the only-begotten Son and spouse of the Immaculate?

Rather than declaring St. Joseph's sinfulness, Scripture affirms that he was a "perfect man." St. James says, "if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also" (3:2). When I read this, I think of St. Joseph. After all, not a word of his is recorded in Scripture, yet the Son of God obeyed his every word. The Son of God commands his angels as the work of his hands, and the Theotokos, too, is queen over them, yet the angels bring God's messages to Joseph by dream.

When Jesus said to the Twelve, who were wondering who was greatest, "If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all" (Mk 9:35), I wonder if he perhaps learned this lesson observing his marvelous protector. What can I say for this silent son of David, who raised the silent Lamb that was led to the slaughter?

I only wish I could be more like St. Joseph, and so on this day I prefer to bow in stillness before his mystery and let my demons be terrorized.

Special Prayer Request:
Please pray for Fr. Ray Ryland, a priest in Steubenville whom I love dearly. He fell at St. Peter's Catholic Church there and may be dying. According to a Catholic Answers update, "Barring a miracle, he is not expected to recover." He is a former University of San Diego faculty member and a former Episcopal minister, whose ordination to the Catholic priesthood was approved by Cardinal Ratzinger. Read more about his story here. I will always remember two things about Fr. Ryland: his powerful homilies and the joy with which he celebrated the Mass. He is a holy man, and he and his family need your prayers.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

TCF Quoteboard: On Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

"Almsgiving heals the irascible part of the soul, fasting extinguishes the concupiscible part, and prayer purifies the mind and prepares it for the contemplation of reality. ..."
St. Maximus the Confessor, Centuries on Love, 1.79

This seems to be more or less the monastic thought on the matter: If we struggle with anger, fear, envy, and similar passions or sins, we ought to give alms. If we struggle with intemperance, gluttony, lust, drunkenness, and similar passions or sins, we ought to fast. If we struggle with pride, vainglory, distraction, error, curiosity, and similar passions or sins of the mind, we ought to pray.

An image depicting the passions, like an unbridled horse.
It says, "And so, desire carries me along."
This has long been an image of the one ruled by the passions.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Akathist Hymn at TAC

So this makes me doubly pleased. First of all, I'm glad to hear Thomas Aquinas College students, who are just up the road, learning the Akathist Hymn (hmmm ... ideas for the Greek class I teach ...). Secondly, the student singing in the introduction is a former student of mine, whom I taught when she was a senior. There are few things more satisfying to a teacher than seeing a student doing excellent things in life. Kudos to her!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gaudete! Some Voices Bid You Rejoice! Happy Gaudete Sunday

For more on Gaudete Sunday, read what I wrote here. But first watch and listen, et gaudete!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Becoming Marian--The Beloved Disciple Takes Her "Into His Reality" (εἰς τὰ ἴδια)

Michelangelo's Pietá
Today is the 24th Sunday in ordinary time, but it also is September 15, the day liturgically reserved for the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. While miss the reading cycle for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows since today is a Sunday, the month of September is nonetheless dedicated to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady, uniquely meritorious because of her divine motherhood and immaculate conception in and through the merits of Christ himself. The "Seven Sorrows" are:

  1. the prophecy of Simeon
  2. the flight into Egypt
  3. the loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
  4. the meeting of Mother and Son on the way to Calvary
  5. the death of Christ
  6. the removal of Christ from the Cross (see Pietá)
  7. the entombment of Christ

In honor of Our Lady’s sufferings, I share the following excerpt from my article on Pope Benedict's Mariology in De Maria Numquam Satis (pp. 168-169). (Most of my article is capable of being previewed via the "look inside" on Amazon, so if you want to read more, you can there.)

Excerpted from “Divinely Given 'Into Our Reality': Mary’s Maternal Mediation according to Pope Benedict XVI” in De Maria Numquam Satis (UPA, 2009)

“Into Our Reality” – Mary and Her Spiritual Maternity over All Humanity

Not only does Our Lady cooperate in redemption, but that cooperation has a direct result for her – spiritual maternity.

At the Cross, through the all-powerful words of her Son, this title “woman” undergoes a transformation. As the divine Logos of God accomplishes what is said, so when he says, “behold your mother,” she takes on a new role, because God the Son declared it: “My word … shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose…” (Is 55:11). Had this been the scene of the crucifixion of “any-man,” it would appear that this dying criminal is setting his affairs in order before he passes. However, this man is also true God, the divine Logos, who “rules from the Cross” (1) – and this is a decree for the kingdom. His beloved disciple is now “everyman.”
From that moment, you became, in a new way,
the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith
and choose to follow in his footsteps by taking up his Cross. … (2)

It is because she is on Calvary pierced by the sword of sorrow that she is the Mother of all who follow her Son. The catechesis contained in the prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan beautifully expresses the Pope’s teachings of the spiritual maternity of Mary over all humanity, which has its power in the Word of God.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (Jn 19:25-27).
Those italicized words are what I want to focus on, as they are the words the Pope points us toward. This passage appears as if Jesus is setting his affairs in order before his death, making sure that someone will look after his mother. But the original Greek conveys something more.
From the Cross, Jesus entrusted his Mother to all his disciples and at the same time entrusted all his disciples to the love of his Mother. The Evangelist John concludes the brief and evocative account with these words: “Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn19:27). This is the [English] translation of the Greek text “εἰς τὰ ἴδια,” he welcomed her into his own reality, his own existence. Thus, she is part of his life and the two lives penetrate each other. And this acceptance of her (εἰς τὰ ἴδια) in his own life is the Lord’s testament. Therefore, at the supreme moment of the fulfillment of his messianic mission, Jesus bequeaths as a precious inheritance to each one of his disciples his own Mother, the Virgin Mary (3).
Finally, in this glimpse, it is worth highlighting one more significant word: “hour.” In the Gospel of John, as was mentioned above, the hour is frequently used in reference to the hour of the Passion. In the other episode in John’s Gospel in which Mary appears, the Wedding at Cana. “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). In Cana, we see Mary inquiring about something specific to Jesus’ hour of his Passion. And in the hour, we see him giving her as Mother to the disciple as an “action” of the hour. “From that hour, the disciple received her into his own” (Jn 19:27). Giving his mother is the Savior’s will during his saving Passion. Mary is a gift from her Son to every believer, a gift from the Cross.

Pope Benedict stated in a homily on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven: “We have a mother in heaven. And the Mother of God, the Mother of the Son of God, is our Mother. He himself has said so. He made her our own Mother when he said to the disciple and to all of us: ‘Behold, your mother!’” Because Christ proclaims this from the Cross, and because his words are “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (cf. Heb 4:12), this maternity of Mary over all believers is part of the “Good News” of Calvary, a truly personal gift from the Cross that abides in heaven to this day. “We have a Mother in Heaven. Heaven is open. Heaven has a heart” (4).


(1) Jesus of Nazareth, p. 338. Jesus “rules from the Cross, and does so in an entirely new way. Universality is achieved through the humility of communion in faith; this king rules by faith and love, and in no other way.” This is the King of the Jews—written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (Jn 19:20). And this is the place where Jesus has drawn all men to himself (Jn 12:32). By implication, this is significant for Mariology: Jesus’ gift of his Mother from the Cross to an Apostle, a prince of the Church to whom a kingdom has been assigned (cf. Lk 22:29), is a regal gift for all men whom he has drawn to himself and constitutes the place of Mary in the Church and vice versa.
(2) Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan.
(3) General Audience, January 2, 2008. Cf. Homily on the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, April 3, 2006. De la Potterie follows Charles Journet’s translation of this Greek phrase to “into his intimacy.” De la Potterie also points to the parallel of εἰς τὰ ἴδια between John’s prologue (1:11) and the scene on Calvary to argue that in neither case is the Scripture to be read in a merely materialistic way.
It is true that eis ta idia can mean at one’s house, at one’s home, in one’s country, etc.; but in this case, the expression is always used with a verb describing transfer or movement in a physical sense. One goes on a trip. Then, after a long absence, one returns to one’s home, or one’s house. Or someone sends someone else back home. There are many examples of this in the New Testament; for instance, in Acts 21:6: “… we boarded the ship. These people returned then to their homes.” But in the scene at the cross, elaben does not describe a physical transfer or movement. As we have said, this verb signals the beginning of an attitude of faith; it is a question of a “movement,” if you will, but then it is a purely spiritual movement, a first stage on the journey of faith. Of course, a physical transfer could readily go along with a journey of faith; but such a movement is totally out of perspective as to the verse and to the whole pericope, both of which find themselves on a strictly theological plane. Yet, if it is a question of spiritual attitude, there is still the eis ta idia. What, then, is the meaning of these three words? It most certainly is not a question of a house, but what belongs, “en propre” (peculiarly/to one’s own), to the disciple. This is what St. John’s repeated use of the term idios seems to suggest (e.g., Jn 10:4) … (Mary in the Mystery of the Covenant, pp. 227-228).(4) Homily, Aug. 15, 2005.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oremus: For Egypt and Our Brothers and Sisters Suffering in the Body

Upon seeing this image of a decapitated statue of Our Lady in Egypt ...

... I remembered the story of the apparition above the Coptic church near Cairo. It is time again to invoke Our Lady of Zeitoun for peace in Egypt. She appeared there first on April 2, 1968--45 years ago. No doubt it is still in the national memory there. When she appeared, she said nothing, but she came with signs and miracles for Christians and non-Christians alike. I would encourage anyone who wishes there be an end to the violence to turn to Our Lady's supplication.

Her appearance in 1968 seems to be an invitation to enter deeply into prayer for this land torn by violence, a land in which the Holy Family sought refuge from the murderous Herod. Our Lady is the Help of Christians, as we invoke her in the Litany of Loreto. No evil is greater than she who conceived the Author of Life and Prince of Peace in the stillness of her virginal womb. By her "yes," she made the Co-Equal, Co-Eternal Son of God our brother, conquering the pride of the serpent by her perfect humility and immortal meekness.

For the Christians in Egypt, let us pray! She who gave flesh to the Savior of the world will not refuse us.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Our Lady and Divine Child with Rosary. Image from St. Peter's List.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

JP Catholic Students' Production of Redline Featured in LA Times

On the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, known in the Catholic world for being a master at the use of the media of his day to spread the Gospel, the LA Times published a piece about JP Catholic University's film Redline, much of which was filmed on campus. Here is the intro to the story...

Class project yields a feature film with commercial distributors
by Richard Verrier | LA Times
The prospects of finding a distributor for a $220,000 movie, produced mainly by college students at an obscure San Diego Catholic university, could hardly be worse.

But about 60 students at John Paul the Great Catholic University who embarked on a quixotic class project two summers ago to make and release their own movie beat the odds.

With the help of faculty members who had ties in Hollywood, the students recruited professional actors and crew members to help make their film. Students wrote the script — about a terrorist attack that takes place on a Red Line subway in Los Angeles — raised funds and worked behind the camera, finding props and costumes and building sets.

And they accomplished something many independent filmmakers would envy: They managed to secure deals to distribute the movie through iTunes, and Redbox last month. Starting in October, DVDs will be sold through Wal-Mart and Target.

Student film shoots are a common sight in Los Angeles — which has a plethora of local film schools — and occasionally generate more production days than feature films. But most are for film shorts, not full-length feature films, and rarely do those movies find commercial distributors.

"Most industry professionals said it couldn't be done and that we had no hope of making it look like a professionally produced feature or attracting a stellar cast," said Dominic Iocco, former dean of the film and media department and a producer on the film. "But we did it and we couldn't be more proud."

Read the rest here...

Just so we're clear, I'm not one of the faculty member with the Hollywood connections! I'm excited to be purchasing a copy of the film. Show your support for the students and purchase a copy, too!