Saturday, September 30, 2006
On religious freedom:
We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?
Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.
On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.
The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.
These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.
In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.
The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.
It was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.and
It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.
The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.
Whom do you consider to be your most important teacher in your thomistic education?and
During my first years of Dominican religious life, I was fortunate to meet two masters in Thomism: Father M.-M. Labourdette, who is the author of a monumental commentary on the whole of the Secunda Pars and Father M.-V. Leroy, who taught dogmatic theology, but who, unfortunately, wrote very little. Both of them were profoundly marked by the friendship and the intellectual influence of ´Jacques´, that is, of Jacques Maritain. They have passed on to me and to my Dominican fellow brothers from Toulouse, the doctrinal and institutional heritage of the venerable Thomistic school of Saint-Maximin. It is, in my view, a great privilege to be able to join in this way a living doctrinal tradition. It is true that the masters of Saint-Maximin - without being hostile to it - were hardly sensitive to the historical approach to the works of Saint Thomas. While working in Fribourg (Switzerland) with Father Jean-Pierre Torrell and Professor Rudi Imbach, whose assistant I had the chance to be for one year, I become more and more convinced of the importance of the application of the historical method to saint Thomas.
What is the importance of Aquinas-research for our times (especially in your discipline)?
It seems to me that Saint Thomas offers today an adequate model concerning the way of doing theology. Five points seem to me of special importance:
(1) the privileged instrument of the intellectus fidei is a philosophy of being
(2) Theology is the work of intelligence. It does not fear to have recourse to the concept
(3) The theologian elaborates his own doctrine in an ongoing confrontation with the preceding theological tradition. Contrary to the artificial opposition between the quid homines senserunt and the veritas rerum which a certain kind of Thomism wanted to establish, the theological practice of saint Thomas attests that the quid homines senserunt is the privileged way to the veritas rerum.
(4) Theology has a sapiential vocation. The intellectus fidei aims at a contemplative synthesis that is not content with the fragmentation of theological disciplines.
(5) Doing theology presupposes a permanent contact with the living sources of faith (Scripture, Tradition, the life of the Church…) and shows itself to be a source of spiritual life.
Friday, September 29, 2006
# 178. William Tighe Says:
September 29th, 2006 at 9:53 am
From Mark Bonocore — A Response to #s 160, 161 and 163:
In answer to Owen’s question, … To my knowledge, Cyprian makes no direct mention of the “Chair of Moses” to support his theology of the “Chair of Peter”; but given the way that Cyprian speaks of the “Chair of Peter” (in a collective sense, referring to the teaching authority of the Church itself), it is fairly obvious that he is drawing from the Jewish tradition of the “Chair of Moses.” In ordinary Christian usage, a “chair” or “throne” referred to a specific episcopal see, not to the larger mystery of ecclesial authority. For example, the Poem Against Marcion, which was written by a contemporary of Cyprian, declares:
“Peter bade Linus to take his place and sit on the Chair whereon he himself had sat.” (III, 80).
But, Cyprian uses the “Chair of Peter” in a much broader, very Jewish sense –the sense of the “Chair of Moses,” in which “chair” applies, not merely to one diocese or one clerical office, but to the authority of the community itself, manifested by many clerics acting together in solidarity. And, even today, the authority of the synagogue is, among Orthodox Jews, referred to metaphotically as the “Chair of Moses” –not as applying to any one particular rabbi, but to the mystery of rabbinical authority viz. the succession of the Jewish fathers. This is clearly that dynamic that Cyprian has in mind, and he is almost certainly not the author of it, but is drawing from the Traditional understanding of the Church on this point.
Yet, it must again be clarified that Cyprian’s theology was not one-sided or pseudo-Protestant. While he believes that all bishops share in the Chair of Peter, both his teachings and actions SCREAM the fact that Cyprian does not believe that all bishops share in the Chair of Peter equally. As metropolitan of Africa, Cyprian obviously felt that it was his duty to quell erroneous bishops and set them straight. He also believed that Rome possessed an authority that was universal in nature and so greater than his own. For example, during his conflict with Pope Stephen (ergo Cyprian’s terse tone, which is dramatically different from his affectionate remarks to Cornelius), Cyprian writes to Rome to inform the Apostolic See that Bishop Marcianus of Arles (in Gaul) had joined the party of antipope Novatian. Stephen would have already been informed of this by Bishop Faustinus of Lyon and by the other bishops of Gaul. Yet, Cyprian urges Pope Stephen to do as follows:
“You ought to send very full letters to our fellow-bishops in Gaul, not to allow the obstinate and proud Marcianus any more to insult our fellowship… Therefore send letters to the province and to the people of Arles, by which, Marcianus having been excommunicated, another SHALL BE SUBSTITUTED IN HIS PLACE …for the whole copious body of bishops is joined together by the glue of mutual concord and the bond of unity, in order that if any of our fellowship should attempt to make a heresy and to lacerate and devastate the flock of Christ, the rest may give their aid…For though we are many shepherds, yet we feed one flock.” (Cyprian, Ep. lxviii)
Here, while Cyprian clearly feels that Marcianus’ defection is the concern of all bishops, he attributes to Pope Stephen the authority of deposing Marcianus and ordering a fresh election. In other words, Cyprian does not take it upon himself (or his African synod) to do it, but urges Rome to act. And, to appreciate this, we should compare it to what the anti-Pope Novatian had previously succeeded in doing in claiming the authority of Rome to promote his heresy against forgiving apostates. As Cyprian himself tells us:
“[Novatian] ….sent out his ‘new apostles’ to very many cities; and where in all provinces and cities there were long established, orthodox bishops, tried in persecution, he dared to create new ones to supplant them, as though he could rage through the whole world” (Ep. lv, 24).
And, giving the confusion over whether Novatian or Cornelius was the true Bishop of Rome, Novatian almost succeeded in doing this! For, even the EASTERN bishops who Novatian deposed were recognized as deposed by the locals, until it became clear that Novatian lacked the authority to do this. Writing from the East, Patriarch St. Dionysius of Alexandria (in the first recorded act of Alexandrian primacy in the East) took the side of Pope Cornrlius, and, once Cornelius was recognized to be the true Pope, Dionysius wrote to Rome to report how:
“Antioch, Caesarea, and Jerusalem, Tyre and Laodicea, all Cilicia and Cappadocia, Syria and Arabia, Mesopotamia, Pontus, and Bithynia, have returned to union and their bishops are all in concord.” (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., VII, v).
From this, we can see the wide-range of Novatian’s claimed authority; and so what the authority of Rome actually was. Here, in the mid-3rd Century (before the legalization of Christianity and while the Church was still an underground society), the Bishop of Rome had the authority to depose bishops in far-off provinces. This is not the ecclesiology of the modern Eastern Orthodox Church, which makes no room for Magisterial intervention when extraordinary (or emergency) conditions apply. But, Rome and the churches in communion with Rome have always held fast to this Tradition.
As Pope St. Gregory the Great, 350 years later, succinctly put it his exchange with Bishop John of Syracuse (in Byzantine-ruled Sicily), when discussing the new episcopal candidate for the church of Constantinople, …
“As to what he says, that he is subject to the Apostolic See (Rome), I know of no bishop who is not subject to it, IF there be any fault found in bishops.” (Pope Gregory I Ep. Ad. Joan.)
This is the real issue, which Fr. Bouyer does not account for in his article, and which modern Eastern Orthodoxy fails to consider or address. YES, all orthodox bishops act as one and participate together perfectly in the one Chair of Peter. This is the normal and natural condition of the Church, as Christ desires it to be. Eastern Orthodoxy and Vatican II have that part correct. BUT … “If there be any fault found in bishops,” this is not the natural or normal condition of the Church, for the erroneous bishop has separated himself from the Chair of Peter. And, the one who must ultimately judge whether or not this bishop has departed from the Chair of Peter is the primary custodian of Peter’s own episcopal Chair—the Pope of Rome. THIS is the part of the mystery that Vatican I focused on and was concerned about. And anyone (e.g. an Eastern Orthodox) who finds Vatican I to be alienating or uncomfortable has failed to appreciate THE CONTEXT in which Vatican I is speaking. For, as Cyprian urged Pope Stephen to do, and as antipope Novatian claimed the right to do (and would have succeeded in doing if his illegitmacy were not exposed), and as Gregory the Great claimed the right to do, and as NUMEROUS Popes have done throughout antiquity, the See of Peter DOES possess the right and duty to intervene in the affairs of other churches WHEN there is a pressing need to do so, and when this pressing need threatens the universal communion of the Church. It is not, as one person on these boards has said, that ‘an Orthodox cannot accept Vatican I and still remain Orthodox.” That is simply a silly thing to say. No dogmatic canon of Eastern Orthodoxy denies the teachings of Vatican I, and the historical heritage of the Eastern Church testifies to the truth of Vatican I’s teachings! The issue here is not, and never has been, how the Church should operate under normal and natural conditions—the conditions intended by Christ and the Apostles. The issue is, and always had beem, how the Church (and the Roman Papacy in particular) should operate according to unnatural conditions, stemming from the unnatural compromise between the Church and the secular world. This unnatural compromise began with Constantine, and continues to be an issue for us today—that is, bishops are not always faithful to the Apostolic deposit because concerns for this world (e.g. their own power and success) frequently lead them astray, and this can, and often does, result in formal heresy and similar abuses. However, Christ Himself established a remedy for this, which is the infallible charism of the Petrine ministry; and this is why other bishops are subject to the Pope of Rome. … NOT when they are faithful and shepherding the Church as they should (for, in doing that, they are indeed “Peter” as well, and so just as infallible as the Bishop of Rome). But, when they slip into error, they do need a “bishop of bishops” who can shepherd them on the universal level, and lead them back (if possible) to the sure pastures of orthodoxy. Can their other brother bishops do this as a collective group? Of course! But, among these brother bishops (and especially when the bishops disagree among themselves), there must be one father who holds the final authority for the Family, and who can speak officially for all, settling disputes. This is the voice of Peter, the voice of the Pope of Rome. And this Apostolic Tradition has been neglected among the Eastern Orthodox, primarily because their ecclesiology and their overall view of the Church is not that of the old, illegal, underground society of the martyrs, but of the imperial Church established by Constantine, which has accepted as “normal” the unnatural condition in which the Church is partners with the secular world. This is why the anicent East was so prone to heresy after heresy, and why the imperial Church of Constantinople had to abandon its original fidelity to the (non-imperial) See of Peter at Rome. The theology surrounding our Schism, when viewed realistically, is merely a smokescreen for a secular cultural / quasi-nationalistic agenda—the “one Church, one Empire” agenda of ancient Byzantium, which is unnatural to the Church of Jesus Christ.
So, when Rob Grano cites the well-intentioned book by Oliver Clement, who advocates a “mid position” for the Papacy, which was supposedly its role for “the first eight- or nine-hundred years of Church history,” this is yet another occassion in which Greek East and Roman West are talking past each other and missing each other’s intended context. Oliver Clement is focusing on the natural and normal conditions of the Church, in which individual bishops are faithful Christian men with no secular agendas, but who desire the good of the Church and the promotion of the Apostolic Faith that they all hold in common via their equally-orthodox “sensus fidelium.”. We can all agree that, under those circumstances, the Pope of Rome should not intervene in the affairs of other dioceses, but should merely act as a pastoral example and a final court of appeal. HOWEVER, … What Oliver Clement and modern Eastern Orthodox fail to consider is that the modern Church is not living under the natural or normal conditions of the early Church, but … since the days of Constantine … we have one foot in the secular world, and this PROFOUNDLY effects how bishops relate to one another, and forces the Church to count on the infallible charism promised to Peter’s ultimate and personal successor at Rome. That’s why Vatican I dogmatized Papal Infallibility.
Someone also said that the infallible charism of the Holy See was established by the bloody martyrdoms of Peter and Paul. This is not so. It was established because Peter ended his earthly ministry in Rome (as Bishop of Rome) and passed his Christ-given responsibilities on to his episcopal successor there. This infallible ministry was created by Christ Himself in Matt 16:18-19. And, even if Peter had died a natural death in Rome, this ministry would still have been passed on to his successor. The martys of Rome bear witness to the faith of that church, it is true. But this is something distinct from the infallible office of authority.
Aristotle on the Voluntary
Voluntary Everywhere if Anywhere
Distinctively Human Agency
Freedom to Do Otherwise
I think the last one in particular is enough to show that even for Aristotle, only freedom of contrariety is needed in order for one to be reckoned free, freedom of specification is not necessary. (This comes up in such questions as whether the Blessed Mother was free to say "Non" instead of "Fiat," with the implication that she was not free if she could not say "Non.")
Thursday, September 28, 2006
159. William Tighe Says:
September 28th, 2006 at 10:07 am
A contribution from my friend Mark Bonocore, which he asked me to post here:
I see nothing in Bouyer’s article that is essentially incorrect or unCatholic. Rather, he advocates the ecclesiology of St. Cyprian, which (in large part) is the ecclesiology of the Second Vatican Council, and the ecclesiology that is natural to the Catholic Church. Cyprian, of course, invoked the principal of the “Chair of Peter,” which is not merely the authority of Rome, but the teaching authority of the Church itself –the covenantal successor to the “Chair of Moses” (Matt 23:1-3), which was the teaching authority of Israel. And, in Jesus’ day –that is, in the Mosaic Jewish tradition –the “Chair of Moses” expressed itself in different ways and on different levels. For while the entire presbyterate of Israel (the “scribes and Pharisees”) justly held the Chair of Moses collectively, …
On the local level, the Chair of Moses was held by the rabbi of a village synagogue, but …
On the regional level, the Chair of Moses was held by the leading rabbi of a particular sect or school (e.g. Akiba at Jamnia). But, …
On the universal level, the Chair of Moses was ultimately held by the High Priest in Jerusalem, who was able to render an authoritative judgment binding all of world Jewry (see Acts 9:1-2, Acts 28:21, etc.).
Cyprian regarded the “Chair of Peter” in exactly the same way. For, in Cyprian’s view, …
On the local level, the Chair of Peter was held by the bishop of a given city-church, who was the final authority within that city-church. But, …
On the regional level, the Chair of Peter was held by the metropolitan bishop of a given region, which was Cyprian’s own position as Bishop of Carthage –metropolitan of all Africa and Numinia. But, …
On the UNIVERSAL level, the Chair of Peter was held by Peter’s own direct successor at Rome, which Cyprian called “the womb and root of the Catholic Church” and “the principal church in which sacerdotal unity has its source.”
We Catholics (especially in relation to the Eastern Catholic Churches) still hold to this ecclesiology today –that is, the natural and proscriptive ecclesiology of the Catholic Church. This is what John XXIII meant when, at the initiation of Vatican II, he said how the bishops must be convinced that they are “no longer altar boys” —a reference to the long-held misconception of how Papal authority should naturally manifest itself, which was set in place by Trent in response to the crisis of the Reformation.
This is essentially, I believe, what Bouyer is advocating in his article (although he does not clearly spell out the “stratification” of the ecclesiology of Cyprian, as outlined above).
HOWEVER, …. With all that said, Bouyer (like Vatican II before him) fails to account for a scenario in which the majority of the bishops have “gone bad” or bowed to the “god of this world.” This has of course happened at numerous times in our history (e.g. the Arian controversy of the 340’s-360’s, when over 80% of all the bishops were Arians). Under such conditions, the most important aspect of the Christ-created Papacy comes into play –that is, its character of a “sure Rock” of the Apostolic Faith –a focal point for the sheep, when every other Church authority has failed them. Bouyer makes no room for this in his optimistic viewpoint; and this of course is the fatal flaw of our post-Vatican II Church, in which (for the sake of the Council), Rome permits all manner of liturgical and doctrinal abuses to fester in the other dioceses because it has committed itself to the assumption that the bishops of these dioceses are “Peter” in their dioceses, and should solve these matters on the local or regional level, and that Rome itself should not interfere. The problem with this approach, of course, is that it assumes that these bishops are engaged in the “stuff of Catholicism,” when they are, in reality, introducing (or permitting the introduction of) secular and profane elements that are harmful to the Faith. In this capacity, Vatican II was well-intention by naive –sorely underestimating the influence of the modern secular world, and unattentive to the fact that a particular diocese must possess a strong Catholic culture in order to maintain the Faith on its own –that is, in its own right. Rome, because of its history and cultural traditions, maintains this Faith without much difficulty. The same is true of many of the Eastern episcopates, which can be almost zenophoebic in their fidelity to their native, Catholic/Orthodox ethnic cultures. But, the modern, secular West has suffered greatly because of the absence of Rome’s direct, ancient and Apostolic influence in the decisions and practices of our dioceses. In this sense, we are very much like the 80% of Eastern bishops who embrace Arianism for the sake of the (at the time) pro-Arian imperial court at Constantinople and “new relationship” between Church and ancient secular society, which made it easier to be Arian than orthodox. In this, one must keep in mind that Cyprian’s ecclesiology, while certainly natural to the Church as it SHOULD operate, was articulated in c. A.D. 250 while the Church was still an illegal, underground society, persecuted by the imperial Roman government, and so DISTINCT from the secular world and the temptations to live according to a worldly agenda (I refer to the compromises made by secular-minded bishops). When secular influence is factored into the equation, I would say that Cyprian’s (that is, Vatican II’s) ecclesiogy (largely) flies out the window, requiring Rome and its Petrine charism to exert a more direct and hands-on influence among the other dioceses. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, the devil has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail, and once you have turned back, you must strenthen your brethren.” This can easily be applied to our modern condition, or any condition when the faith and the responsibility of bishops is compromised by worldly temptations. (This of course speaks to your own point about the French bishops of the ‘petite eglise’ under Napoleon.) And we make a serious mistake if we take a pollyanna approach to the Church and assume, as does Bouyer and Vatican II, that what is natural to the Church is necessarily beneficial in the modern (secular) context in which we currently live and operate. This is precisely why Christ gave the Church (and Peter in particular) the authority to “bind AND loosen.” There are times when what is natural is not appropriate. We are living in one of those times.
Bill, if it’s at all possible, I would greatly appreciate it if what I’ve written above can be posted on the boards below Bouyer’s article. …because many of those who have responded (aside from yourself, of course) appear to be largely oblivious of this very pressing aspect of the issue.
More and this
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
They all felt that Opus Dei is unfairly maligned. Part of the reason, they said, has to do with their “unique” charism—the spirituality of everyday life. Though lay spirituality has long been a Catholic tradition (St. Francis de Sales wrote his Introduction to the Devout Life  with laypersons in mind), members say there are still many who do not understand their charism. “Opus Dei represents a new concept in the church,” said Bill Schmitt, “and this has given rise to misunderstanding, even, in some instances…slanders.” But he added, “A lot of it comes from bad will.”Similarly, Dennis Helming says this about Josemaría Escrivá in his Opus Dei founder Monsignor Josemaria Escriva's contribution to modern lay spirituality:
This self-dubbed "anticlerical" monsignor believed so much in us weaklings - quite ordinary, mediocre men and women - that he was able to pull off what no one had ever attempted on such a large scale throughout the sweep of Christianity.Alas, we find that the claim about a new lay spirituality is repeated even by Albino Cardinal Luciani (before he became Pope John Paul I). In his "Seeking God through Ordinary Work," the cardinal writes:
In less eloquent words, the "everyday realities" constitute the work which one does every day; and the "flashes of divine splendor" are those things which lead to a holy life. Msgr. Escrivá, with Gospel in hand, constantly taught: God does not want us simply to be good, he wants us to be saints, through and through. However, he wants us to attain that sanctity, not by doing extraordinary things, but rather through ordinary common activities. It is the way they are done which must be uncommon. There, in the middle of the street, in the office, in the factory, we can be holy, provided we do our job competently, for love of God and cheerfully, so that everyday work becomes, not "a daily tragedy," but rather "a daily smile."One is disappointed that the cardinal would write this, as if he were ignorant of the history and development of Christian spirituality.
More than three hundred years earlier St. Francis de Sales taught something along the same lines. A preacher had publicly consigned to the flames from his pulpit a book in which St. Francis had said that in certain circumstances dancing can be permissible; the book also contained a whole chapter on the “worthiness of the marriage bed." However, Msgr. Escrivá went further than St. Francis de Sales in many respects. St. Francis proclaimed sanctity for everyone but seems to have only a " spirituality for lay people” whereas Msgr. Escrivá wants a lay spirituality." Francis, in other words, nearly always suggests for the laity the same practical means used by religious, but with suitable modifications. Escrivá is more radical; he goes as far as talking about "materializing" --in a good sense-- the quest for holiness. For him, it is the material work itself which must be turned into prayer sanctity.
Were not the early Christian martyrs examples of authentic lay spirituality, even before their martyrdom? We are to enliven all our actions with the infused virtue of charity. Let us take into account the different kind of works that people do, the different functions that they have in society--it is clear that the work that bishops and priests are involved in are, by their very nature, of a different order, involving in themselves Holy Things. But what of the temporal work of the Christian faithful. Did they think that it could not be sanctified? Let us take for example the work of monks -- their original opus dei was certainly prayer, sanctifying the hours of the day with the divine office? (See the Rule of Saint Benedict.) Still, the monks also had to do more mundane tasks, in order to sustain themselves, and these were done in the spirit of prayer and charity, so as to make prayer unceasing, even if their minds and hearts were not consciously praying.
Fr. Louis Bouyer states my point better in An Introduction to Spirituality (NY: Desclee, 1961):
WorkGranted, the state of the Church has been lamentable for a while, though undoubtedly some dioceses have been better than others. But how many of our faithful have been exposed to the spiritual teachings of Christianity? Whether it be the separation of spiritual theology from moral theology in the university, or the perception by many that moral theology and (the Church's moral teachings) was legalistic, one sees the gradual loss of understanding of the spiritual things in many parts of the Church. Those who claim that St. Josemaría Escrivá anticipated the universal call to holiness in Lumen Gentium are merely ignorant of Catholic tradition and history, and why exactly the Church is always in need of continual reform. This teaching had been obscured in the minds of many over the centuries, but it was never completely forgotten, as various bishops, spiritual masters and theologians (like Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.) took pains to point out.
Whether his vocation is intellectual or manual, whether he is inclined toward tasks of directing or of executing, or toward the most disinterested kinds of cultural work, he must, therefore, see his work as being ultimately the special form that "faith working through love" is to take in him. This means that he should make of the work for which he feels himself more and more particularly destined his own special way of living charity, that he should make it his self-gift to the creative, the generous design off God Himself which at the same time is being opened out to him by this faith. This shoudl take on a twofold meaning for him, subjective and objective, which cannot be divided in the concrete without thereby making charity unreal.
Under one aspect, each person's work should be for him his special opportunity to live in all his activities that charity which results from faith, arousing in us an act of thankksgiving in which the whole being gives itself to God recognized in Christ. Under the other asepct, which cannot in practice be separated fromt he first, his task is to introduce this charity, from the point of his own insertion in the world, into the life of other men.
Under this aspect, everything that he does, in the most seemingly "profane" orders of activity, must be done in such a way as to break up the present organization of the world in view of the satisfaction of egotistic lusts which cannot help secretly warring against one another even when they provisionally aid one another. For the Christian, on the contrary, even through the very conflicts in which his fidelity to his faith will necessarily involve him with those who refuse it, his whole activity has no final purpose other than that of gathering all men, insofar as this depends on him, into the communion of God's charity. It is by giving this meaning, this ultimate purpose, to all his activities, it is in carrying them out concretely always in the light of this finality, that the Christian will make all his works an achievement of the charity which should be reigning first of all in his own heart.
If this is to be possible, it presupposes that the activity to which he devotes himself willb e one that can be "supernaturalized." Any activity, that is, which in itself involves sin or which leads to it as if inevitably, the Christian must ruthlessly avoid. But those which he may make his own can be consecrated in two different ways. They can be consecrated positively, in their positive human value: teh enrichment that they can give, along [with] their own proper lines, to his capacity and to the capacity of tohers to conceive and to carry out their vocation as children of God, called to live in the presence of the Father in a continual and total "act of thanksgiving." And they can also be consecrated negatively, simply by the abnegation they require, and so by the witness given to the cross, to its fruitfulness "in Christ": a witness which they provide the Christian the opportunity to render by providing him with a cross which is peculiarly his own.
But when we leave the abstract order and come to consider particular cases, we see that in every Christian's activity these two possibilities are always as it were very closely overlaid. Experience shows that the activities whihc are the most positive from the first viewpoint, such as the loftiest cultural pursuits, are endowed with a fearsome tendency to turn themselves into some kind of idol-making. Thus, for the faithful Christian, they cause an internal tension perhaps more painful than any bitterness that might be connected with humbler kinds of work. And, consequently, they involve him in conflicts, in particularly tragic ruptures with those who are pursuing the same tasks without the same faith....
On the other hand, there are servile forms of work which seem at first sight to have nothing but a trial of faith to offer the man who devotes himself to them, so barren are they of positive human satisfaction. And yet frequently they may afford him opportunities for generous contact with others, so clear that faith and its witness can as it were already gain in them some foretaste of the eternal reward. The poor man who gives a cup of water to another poor man may find therein an immediate recompense, of a fullness (because of a purity) certainly surpassing those that the Christian artist, and still more the Christian politician, can find in any of his achievements.
More simply still, the more the horizons of any truly creative work are extended and braodened, the more it requires us continually to go beyond what we have already seen and achieved--a requirement which is without doubt one of the most crucifying forms that the cross can take on in our human life. The most ambitious, the grandest human works are those the achievement of which, even when relatively successful, and in proportion to their success, is the most unsatisfying, if not delusive. For the Christian who measures the always painful hiatus that separates every partial incarnation fo creative charity from its absolute realization, and who knows further that his loftiest achievements, which are at best only provisional, can be changed into even more redoubtable obstracles in the path fo the final realization of charity--this experience of the cross within human creativity knows no limits....
Conversely, for the same Christian who knows the transcendent value of the "love of God poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit," the work most unrewarding from the human viewpoint, when it is th eoccasion for an act of pure charity, may perahsp become more luminous than the most glorious human achievements.
Whatever the task at which he labors, the Christian "in the world" must, therefore, believe that he is collaborating in the coming of the Kingdom of God. But he must believe at the same time that the achievements which at first seem the most brilliant may reveal themselves as the most fragile and even the most deceptive, just as he must be convinced that the failures whihc seem the most irremediable eneter in to the plan of God and its infallible realization. It is here that he finds his cross, the cross which is his own: not aside from his work, but deeply within it. (168-171)
In their mind, he had a great influence--not a surprising judgment on the part of Opus Dei members, who look at the growth and global presence of what is now a personal prelature. And so how was St. Josemaría Escrivá able to reach out to so many? Through a movement that was able to cross the boundaries of dioceses--a band-aid solution, because bishops were unable to produce the results entailed by the duties of their office. If bishops taught the faithful what they really needed to know about Christian morality and spirituality, would something like Opus Dei really be necessary? I don't think so. In fact, the danger with any movement is that it can lead to a cultish mentality, severing the connection between the faithful and the bishop, between the faithful and the life of the local Church, especially as it is concretized in their parish. Hence, the repeated statements by both the Church (and affirmed by the leadership and priests of Opus Dei) that movements and the dioceses are to have a healthy relationship to one another, and so on.
But if the core teachings and message are nothing other than the Christian message, is there really anything new under the sun? When we look at Opus Dei's evenings of recollections and retreats, we see the use of modern spiritual exercises and devotions, especially paraliturgical devotions. (Whether the practice of meditation in modern Catholic spirituality really differs from that practiced by monks and so on, I will leave unexamined for now.) While they emphasize frequent reception of communion and attendance of Mass, it is not clear to me that fostering an authentic liturgical spirituality is part of the charism of Opus Dei priests. I do not doubt that individual priests may encourage those under their spiritual direction to pray the liturgy of the hours, but I do not believe that it is a prominent or "official" part of their formation. Should the liturgy of the hours completely replace other forms of prayer and practices? No--the latter can certainly supplement the liturgy of the hours. But, the question is whether one has an integrated liturgical spirituality or if it is merely one part of a fragmented prayer life.
I will be surprised if someone in the future were to write about Opus Dei spirituality being a new, separate school. In many ways, there is only one spirituality, in so far as there is one source, the Holy Spirit. Everyone is called to be an athlete of God. But this one spirituality can take many forms, as our roles differ; nonetheless there should be certain core elements--not only reception of the sacraments, but I believe a liturgical spirituality.
See also Jordan Aumann's work on spirituality, Louis Bouyer's book on liturgical piety.
Finally, there is the question or whether all forms of work are morally defensible. There are some acts which are intrinsically incompatible with the love of God--fornication, for example. Similarly, there are forms of work which cannot be sanctified, such as prostitution or robbery. Now if an organization or practice is in some way disordered (as it often is the case in our contemporary capitalistic society), can my involvement in that organization or work be completely free from disorder? Even if I am not responsible from the evil to which my work contributes, should my conscience not be nagging me instead of reassuring me that everything is all right, since I am in the state of grace? If we are unaware of the evils that are present due to a lack of social justice, should we not, as active participants in our community, learn more, and abstain from materially cooperating with those who are responsible for those evils when possible? If there is any group which should be catechizing the faithful on the social teachings of the Church, it should be Opus Dei. But I don't see this being done. We should be questioning our assumptions about the economy and our practices and arrangements. The difficulty of finding answers should lead us to put our trust in God, and not in those deemed to be authorities by the world, and to begin to seek answers in the teachings of the Church, instead of worldly wisdoms (like liberalism).
The message of Opus Dei
More documents about Opus Dei
Opus Dei files.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
I have not met any of the first-year doctoral students, but brief profiles are available at the department website:
- William Britt received a BA from Yale University. He is interested in 19th/20th century continental and its relationship to Christian belief/practice especially Nietzsche, Heidegger, Levinas, and Derrida.
- Fr. Roy Pereira, S.J. was in the Master's program and has been accepted into the Ph.D. program. Fr. Pereira's area is Philosophy of Science with special reference to the Mind-Body issue.
- Mark Thomas received a BA from Notre Dame. Mark is interested in the continental philosophy of religion, specifically Hegel's philosophy of religion and the relationship of religion with phenomenology and post modern thought.
- Jessica Williams received a BA from New College of Florida. She intends to focus her studies in contemporary continental philosophy. Her areas of interest include phenomenology, existentialism, German Idealism, post structuralism and postmodern/postcolonial studies.
- Jeffrey Witt received a BA from Wheaton College. He is interested in the development of late medieval philosophy, i.e. the transmutation of Thomism through the 14th century, its revival in the 16th century, and its arrival into the modern period.
- Christopher Yates received a BA from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received an M.A. degree from the University of Memphis. He is specifically interested in 19th and 20th century French and German thought. This would include phenomenology, deconstruction, archival approaches, and the parallel developments in philosophies of religion.
Well... one person interested in medieval is better than none. But he's from Wheaton College. Perhaps he was influenced by Joshua Hochschild.
Not enough controversy to keep me awake...
James O'Donnell (U. Penn) came up in conversation afterwards--apparently he's a good philologist, but not so sharp with respect to the philosophy of the texts. (Charlotte Allen's review of his biography of St. Augustine.)
Which reminds me, I still need to get a copy of Peter Brown's biography of St. Augustine. Interview. A lecture by him at Stanford.
"A Life of Learning"
"Augustine the Bishop in the Light of New Documents"
John von Heyking
Monday, September 25, 2006
Otto Vervaart: Medieval law
Law-related Internet Project: Roman law
Scots legal dictionary
ius: right recognised by law (also jus)
ius ad rem: right to a thing (personal right) (jus ad rem)
ius in personam: personal right (also jus in personam)
ius in rem: right in a thing (real right) (also jus in rem)
ius naturale: natural justice (alsojus naturale)
SEP on rights
Kenneth Pennington (website)
Tryanny of a Concept; check also syllabus for Roman Law and the Ius Commune
The History of Rights in Western Thought
Check Gratian. What instances of ius are there in actual legal codes? Is it defined by an authority other than the commentators?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Amitai Etzioni and the Communitarian Network were first brought to my attention by Dr. Jason West at the Garrigou-Lagrange group at Yahoo. Apparently Dr. Etzioni has a blog (which is no longer regularly updated). His biography and publications.
In an interview Dr. West also recommends the work of Louis Groarke at St. Francis Xavier University, especially The Good Rebel: Understanding Morality and Freedom.
I have not read any of these books--but I am interested in reading them, if only to see if I share anything in common with these writers, and if they have any practical recommendations. (How do they compare with the paleoconservatism/communitarianism of Dr. Thomas Fleming?) The problem with political philosophers is that they can be a bit too idealistic (in the popular sense of the word), and fail to appreciate the necessity of coercion because of man's fallen state. [Shades of the debate between the Confucians and the Legalists!] Dr. Etzioni also appears to be an internationalist, like many others (John Finnis, Robert George, Pope John Paul 2). What I mean by "internationalism" is this: the endorsement of international/transnational structures of authority, if not specifically some sort of world government.
Implications of new technologies for individual rights and public safety
Webcast for talk on privacy and surveillance
Critique by Roger Scruton; response by Etzioni, followed by Scruton's rejoinder
In the end, I'll take Catholic social teaching and political theology over any alternative...