Thursday, May 31, 2012

Vatican Insider: Jesus died in the 33 A.D., the 3rd of April
On Scientism by Thomas Bertonneau

Ivan Illich, "The Sad Loss of Gender"

the essay (alt)

NYT review of Gender (negative because the book doesn't go the way of feminism and radical egalitarianism?)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Catholic Seminaries and Evangelization: A Commentary by Fr. Barron
MOJ: Teaching Feminist Legal Theory with a Faith Perspective -- and a free book offer!

Elizabeth Schiltz:

As a scholar interested in feminist legal theory, the most interesting thing I thing I learned from this semester was how often the religious feminists made arguments that sounded an awful lot like the arguments of the Dominance Feminists. I expected to see a lot of convergence with Relational and Care Feminists, and I did see those, but the convergence with Dominance Feminists like Catherine MacKinnon really surprised me.

Do I need to look these types of feminism up?

wiki: feminist legal theory

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Edward Feser, Natural theology, natural science, and the philosophy of nature

James Chastek, Marriage and mortal sin

Brandon digs out a fantastic text from STA’s commentary on Corinthians:

…that the conjugal act is sometimes meritorious and without any mortal or venial sin, as when it is directed to the good of procreation and education of a child for the worship of God; for then it is an act of religion; or when it is performed for the sake of rendering the debt, it is an act of justice. But every virtuous act is meritorious, if it is performed with charity. But sometimes it is accompanied with venial sin, namely, when one is excited to the matrimonial act by concupiscence, which nevertheless stays within the limits of the marriage, namely, that he is content with his wife only. But sometimes it is performed with mortal sin, as when…

So guess: what is he going to say? Is sexual activity a mortal sin when “it is not open to procreation” (an answer that is at hand from what he says at the head of the quotation) or when “it is performed in an unnatural way”? Don’t we expect St. Thomas to mention some obvious perversion? Yet, in the casual way that he says all his revolutionary things, he says that sexual activity is a mortal sin when…
…the husband approaches the wife with the idea that he would just as gladly or more gladly approach another woman.

Aquinas has a "full" account of marriage, but some may criticze him for focusing only on the sexual act. One can start with the analysis of the external act and whether it is good or not, but one than moves "upward" and looks at the intention which may modify the act. In this case, one looks at the presence (or absence) of marital friendship/love or charity. The mistake of those who look solely at the intention is that they deny the sexual act is intrinsically moral. Elsewhere he touches upon the roles of husband and wife (citation?) - while the personalists are right to focus on the "context" of the sexual act in marriage and to talk about the married life, were they so bold as to claim that this aspect had been ignored by previous generations of Catholic theologians? Or were they blind to the limitations of their own historical situation? How many of them were reacting to atomism of mass society (or liberal society) and yet espousing some of the principles of such a social de[form]ity? While some personalists assumed a "traditional" understanding about the complementarity of the sexes and the differences in roles did others fall into the error of radical egalitarianism? Did others have a msitaken or exaggerated notion of marital friendship (borrowed from those who advocate "companionate marriage", one that failed to take into account sex differences (especially the role of the husband as leader)?

thenyssan said, raises a question about concupiscence. If one is motivated purely by carnal desire then the sexual act is a venial sin?

Mr. Chastek writes:

"[S]ense goods as sensed are peculiar to a subject as opposed to being common. But the very intensity of sexual desire is from the contact it has with the common good – we really do touch something of the divine (De Anima, 2:4). To enjoy this purely out of concupiscence is to cheat the good we touch and to act against its nature, since we want to enjoy common goods as mere particular goods. If this is right, then there is a certain mercy in saying it is only a venial sin! Shouldn’t we have a harsher judgment on someone who want to appropriate common goods to his own peculiar good?"

I don't know if I'd take this line of reasoning. I think I'd focus more on the psychological aspect behind concupiscence - how it diminishes the moral agency that should be present? Human beings are animals, but they should not be "too" carnal? Reason (and will) should operate in tandem with sense appetite? If appetite does not raise above the sense level, if it is not sublimated by reason...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Choeur des Moines de Chevetogn - Pentecôte

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Byzantine, Texas: French documentary on Valaam to be subtitled in English

Valaam "Step to the Skies" part 1 of 7 (English Subtitles)

Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Grand canon pascal, choeur des moines de Valaam


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rome Reports: President of the Vatican's Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, ousted by board

Is the bank in need of reform? Is it involved in usury in any way?

FSSP ordinations vid

(via Rorate Caeli)

What is Natural Law Like? by Jeremy Waldron (via MoJ)

“The State of Nature,” said John Locke, “has a Law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one.” But what is “a law of nature”? How would we tell, in a state of nature, that there was a natural law as opposed to something else — like positive law, a set of customs, natural morality, natural ethics, a set of natural inclinations, the truth of certain prudential calculations, a widespread but perhaps false belief in some transcendent law, the voice of God, or just a natural disposition on the part of some pompous people to make sonorous objective-sounding pronouncements? What form should we expect natural law to take in our apprehension of it? This paper argues three things. (a) John Finnis’s work on natural law provides no answer to these questions; his “theory of natural law” is really just a theory of the necessary basis in ethics for evaluating positive law. (b) We need an answer to the question “What is natural law like” not just to evaluate the work of state-of-nature theorists like Locke, but also to explore the possibility that natural law might once have played the role now played by positive international law in regulating relations between sovereigns. And (c), an affirmative account of what natural law is like must pay attention to (1) its deontic character; (2) its enforceability; (3) the ancillary principles that have to be associated with its main normative requirements if it is to be operate as a system of law; (4) its separability form objective from ethics and morality, even from objective ethics and morality; and (5) the shared recognition on earth of its presence in the world. Some of these points — especially 3, 4, and 5 — sound like characteristics of positive law. But the paper argues that they are necessary nevertheless if it is going to be plausible to say that natural law has ever operated (or does still operate) as law in the world.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fr. Michael Sherwin informs us that Fr. Bedouelle has passed away. May he rest in peace.

L'Inquisition, Dominique et les dominicains
fr. Guy Bedouelle, o.p.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Orthodox theologian to visit Stamford church
James Chastek, Lecture on Thomism and Molinism
The Province of St. Joseph: Preparing for Ordination

Augustine Di Noia, The Vision of Dominican Theological Education (I've posted this link to his page at the DHS Priory before, no?)

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Traditional Mass Is Not a Spectator Sport by Steve Skojec

What this does is create a sense of community – something that I have found to be lacking in many traditional parishes I’ve attended or visited. Often times, the Traditional Latin Mass is attended by people from every far corner of the geographic area, creating a loose federation of individuals that know each other by face or even by name, but have little in the way of a sense of real common bond. It’s a lovely thing to have coffee and donuts in a Church basement as a means of socializing with your fellow parishioners, but it’s a different thing entirely when a priest and his confrères make you feel as though you’re a part of something more cohesive and organic.

This communal aspect is almost familial, and is rooted first and foremost in the liturgical experience. The CRNJs believe in a participatio actuosa that is neither the frenetic, hand-holding around the altar experience of many post-Vatican II parishes, nor the austere, entirely interior participation of those more inclined to chapels of the Society of St. Pius X. It is a human, natural, anthropological form of worship, where one is engaged but not coddled, involved but never given the sense that it’s all about them.

I think the difference in impression is due more to the difference in the size of the congregation than anything objective (other than the members of the congregation living in closer proximity to one another than those attending the EF elsewhere). It is true that many traditionalists have a low Mass mentality, but one will not [usually] find it among the priests of the Institute of Christ the King or the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. I think the biggest weakness in the parish life for traditionalist Catholics is the geographical spread of the personal parishes. The faithful live so far apart that one cannot really say that they are living with one another.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Beef with ‘Religion in General’ by Andrew Haines
CNS: The Appeal of Eastern Christianity

"Here are some of the photos I took yesterday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica when I attended Mass presided over by Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental churches, with U.S. bishop of 8 different oriental rites as they start their “ad limina” visit." Grabmann Online

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dominicana: Beyond Endearment

"Searching for Jonah"

Some contemporary [Catholic] scripture scholars question the historical existence of Jonah - some argue simplisitically that the story of him being swallowed by a fish is too fantastic and therefore the book of Jonah is a fictional parable used to illustrate the Divine Mercy. Apparently this is not new -- this questioning has been taking place since the beginning of the 20th century. Does it coincide with the rise of modern scripture studies? The last linked essay has arguments for Jonah being historical, especially the fact that Christ Himself refers to Jonah being in the belly of the whale (and also to the repentant Ninevites). While one can refer to fiction to draw a comparison to what can happen to the real world, would this lose its effectiveness? If one is false, why not the other?

Is Jonah invoked as the patron saint of anything? Is he included among the OT prophets?

Discussion at a CA thread.
Dave Armstrong

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NCR: Another Legionary priest caught in scandal (Life After RC)

How does this revelation not damage his credibility as an author and teacher of moral theology? His website is down.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some videos on the Jesus Prayer

Elder Ephraim. Jesus Prayer.

Sr. Tereza Vodjana - Jesus prayer.wmv (Ukrainian)

Bjork - Jesus Prayer (John Tavener)

The goal of Christianity - Fr. Seraphim Cardoza

Friday, May 11, 2012

DPST: Fr. Michael Sweeney, OP, on Catholic Answers Live
"The Perennial Impact of Thomas Aquinas"

(CA - mp3)
DPST: "Francis of Assisi: A New Biography"
Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP

Fr. Augustine will be giving a presentation on the book at DSPT on Wednesday, September 26, at 7.30 pm.
Sandro Magister, For the Cardinal Under Ban, the Quarantine Has Ended
A conference has broken the silence on Jean Daniélou, one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century. The mystery of his death. The hostility of his Jesuit confreres. The interview they couldn't forgive him for doing

James Chatsek, The analogous names of God developed by philosophies of dialogue
Ancient Faith Radio: The “Neo-Patristic Synthesis”
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware discusses whether Florovsky’s program of a "Neo-patristic synthesis" is still viable in contemporary theology (mp3)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

St. Bonaventure, Benedict XVI, and the New Evangelization by William L. Patenaude
For Benedict XVI, evangelization is what takes place when revelation slips through history.
The Key to the Christian Life BY LORENZO ALBACETE

According to Cardinal Ratzinger, today’s Man is someone for whom Christianity is a past that does not concern him. It is not that the Christian faith’s contribution to history is not acknowledged (approvingly or disapprovingly). Many still see the Christian faith as an important source of values, ethical behavior, and religious or artistic inspiration.

What is seen as irrelevant or as unnecessary is the point of departure that defines and specifies the Christian reality, namely, the historical events of the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ. These are considered “ways” of expressing Christian spirituality and ethics that have essentially been surpassed by other, more credible ways of saying the same thing. The key word here is concern. The historical events at the origin of the Christian claim are no longer of concern.

When something happens that shows how true it is that we live in such a post-Christian world (in spite of surviving and even impressive manifestations of Christian “folklorism”), we are tempted by two possibilities. Some insist on the need to promote or recapture Christian doctrinal orthodoxy, that is, the need to emphasize and teach the intellectual convictions that properly proclaim the Christian faith. For others, what matters is promoting and defending Christian morality as an ethical orientation (“liberal” or “conservative”), a system of “moral values” to guide our behavior. From this perspective, the relationship between the Christian faith and contemporary culture is seen as a culture war to be won, or a cultural contribution to be made by looking for a common point of departure for dialogue. Both “tactics” are in fact useless.

As Father Giussani has written, Christian evangelization is destroyed when we embrace the illusion that a non-Christian culture (where Christianity’s originating events are of no concern) should be confronted and overcome by a Christian culture (cf Dal temperamento un metodo, p 53). This, he says, is a deadly “fundamental error” that can tempt us, but which must be firmly rejected.
We cannot place our hopes on the creation of a “Christian culture,” and even less on going back to an idyllic past where Christianity maintained cultural hegemony. Such historical developments are not for us to design or plan. We do not know and will never know the “time plan” which the Father has for human history.

Instead, we must place our hope not on cultural proposals but on the event of Christ, on something that has already happened. Evangelization is to give witness to the fact–to the verifiable fact–that this event can and does still happen today because it has happened to us as something unforeseen, something amazing that surprises us, something that is not the result of our efforts or our particular ethical and spiritual predispositions. It is this that gives rise to concern, because an event is something that touches the heart, that changes us, that gives us a new vision of life’s possibilities.

Evangelization within a non-Christian culture is a matter of what St Augustine, writing about his own conversion, calls confession. Augustine wonders why God “made him” read the books of Plato (cf Confessions, VII, 20, 26). He concludes that the reason was so that after his conversion he could tell the difference inter praesumptionem et confessionem, between presumption and confession. To believe that one becomes a Christian through the proper philosophy, theology, spirituality, morality, or cultural project, is a presumption; it is to see our efforts as the cause of our belonging to Christ. Instead, we become Christians because the Incarnation happened in history, because the Paschal Mystery happened, because Pentecost happened, and because those events continue to happen in the world today. They happen now because they happened then and because the Church exists in the world as the life of a communion of persons created by these events, and making them present today through the sacraments. They happen because Christ has risen from the dead and can be encountered today with exactly the same results experienced by Andrew, James, John, Peter, Mary Magdalen, the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, Zaccheus, and the criminal at the cross next to His. Something happened to them. It was an event. The key to the Christian life, the point of departure, is not an intellectual or cultural proposal. It is this event. This is what creates the concern which post-Christian man has so tragically lost. Evangelization is to give witness of our amazement at this unimaginable event. Evangelization is confession.
Liturgy, Anthropology, Economics and Work by David Clayton (via Insight Scoop)

The part of the essay dealing with the liturgy is good. The anthropological (or political) part seems to be more liberal than Catholic, even though it attempts to appropriate classical political theory or Catholic political theology. The influence of the Acton Institute?

In the excellent introductory lectures the speakers described how economics is a reflection of network of social interractions. And the nature of these interractions derives from our understanding of the human person, which in turn comes from Catholic social teaching.

In our use of the terms here, a human person is distinct from an ‘individual’ (although in common language the two are often used interchangebly). A human person is always in relation with others, starting from birth. No one by choice disengages from society altogether (not even a hermit) and is happy. Indeed, we know who we are by the way we relate to others. If for example you ask people to talk about themselves they will talk about the relationships they have in order to describe who they are: where they work, the community where they grew up, the nature of their immediate family and so on.

This understanding of the human person has a profound effect on how we view what society is. A relationship of the sort we are now envisioning, when properly ordered (and of course it can be disordered) is always between two subjects ie two people freely cooperating as moral agents (freedom is as important a component here as morality). This is termed covenantal and is based upon mutual self-sacrifice (love) on behalf of the other. This freedom to respond as a person is one of the essential elements of society. Society therefore is the vector sum of the relationships within it. It is not a collective of self-contained individuals and their actions.

Covenantal relationships are founded on properly ordered love. When they occur God is present because God is Love. This Love always bears fruit and is creative: in a family for example the fruit of marriage is children. In his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict used the term ‘superabundant’ to describe this creativity because it means something created out of nothing. Even in what we might view as less important relationships the same principles apply. In business, for example, a transacation properly ordered for the good of the other is creative too. It creates wealth. Although we don’t normally associated love with business transactions, the Pope describes how this mutual interest in the other, which is what love is, is the source of the creative component in business.

Contractual relationships, in contrast to covenantal relationships, are founded on the alignment of self-interest. this is not to say they are worthless. In this fallen world, only a fool would attempt to run a business without contracts: but in practice the actual transactions will usually involve a mixture of the contractual and the covenantal activity. Even if bolstered by signed contracts, very few have absolutely no interest in the good of the other when doing business with them, even if it is only to try to consider how to make a product more valuable to a customer by suiting his needs better. Also, there must be a basic trust and mutual respect otherwise, for all the legal protection in the world, no business would be done. What the Pope tells us is that it is the covenantal aspect that is the wealth creating superabundant part. Presumably, therefore, if one wishes to maximise the creation of wealth this is the aspect upon which we should focus. I have written about this more here.

Freedom of exercise or freedom of specification? This makes a big difference to the implications of what is written above. A slave or someone who is under someone else's authority may not have the freedom of specification but they still possess freedom of exercise. The fact that they do not have freedom of specification does not mean that they cannot act in love of him who holds authority, and vice versa. (Those who hold to an exaggerated notion of autonomy would hold that no one can be in the state of subjection without his human dignity being harmed.)

More of the liberal streak at the end of the essay:

What would an economy based upon a liturgical view of the anthropology look like? I have no idea. I am not an economist. My guess is that we don’t have to specify it. To the degree that the liturgical transformation of man occurs it will happen organically as each personal relationship becomes more ordered and shines with the glory of God. If there is a role for the government here it is not so much and active one where it tries to direct human economic activity, but rather passive – to protect personal freedom so that each unique person can relate to others in the way that is natural to them. Through God’s grace the creativity of man is boundless. The government, an institution, is less likely to be inspired in its actions, its seems to me, than some, at least, individuals; given that there are so many individuals and just one government. Therefore, the more the government takes an active role, rather than passive, the effect is likely to be that in promoting the one course of action that it favours, it will stifle the almost limitless variety of individual actions that do not correspond to it. This reduces the chance of a solution being found in any situation from high to virtually negligible.
(1) Pointing to some form of "central planning" as one sort of government action in the economic sphere.
(2) Protecting personal freedom. ("Non-interference" tied to the "no harm" principle.)

And yet, aren't these two extremes? Can there not be laws that fall in the "middle"?
Rorate Caeli: Mons. Gherardini's new book: Vatican II: at the roots of a misunsderstanding
Aquinas and the Big Bang by WILLIAM E. CARROLL

Adhering to the traditional reading of Genesis and the doctrinal proclamation of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Aquinas believed that the universe had a temporal beginning. Aristotle, he thought, was wrong to think otherwise. But Aquinas argued that, on the basis of reason alone, one could not know whether the universe is eternal. Furthermore, if there were an eternal universe it still would be a created universe. To affirm, on the basis of faith, that the universe has a temporal beginning involves no contradiction with what the natural sciences can proclaim, since on their own they leave this question unresolved. Hawking's denial of an absolute beginning to time, while also affirming a finite past, involves complicated speculation about quantum gravity, which itself remains not fully worked out. Regardless of the intelligibility of Hawking's scientific claims, the conclusions about creation he and others draw from them are false.

The Big Bang described by modern cosmologists is a change, not a creation; the natural sciences do not themselves provide an account for the ultimate origin of all things. Apologists for the Christian doctrine of creation ought not to think that the initial "singularity" of traditional Big Bang cosmology offers scientific confirmation of their view. Nor ought those who reject the doctrine of creation think that recent variations in Big Bang cosmology support their view. Even if the universe were the result of the fluctuation of a primal vacuum, it would not be a self-creating universe. The need to explain the existence of things does not disappear. Contrary to the claim that the universe described by contemporary cosmology leaves nothing for a creator to do, were a creator not causing all that is, there would be nothing done.
Rome Reports: Benedict XVI officially declares Hildegard of Bingen a Saint

Rome Reports: A tribute to Jean Daniélou: A French Cardinal, Theologian from Vatican II

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Zenit: Pope's Address at Sacred Heart Catholic University
"Love alone guarantees the humanity of research"

Rorate Caeli: Live event: Watch FSSP Traditional Ordinations, May 19
Fr. Finigan links to this over at the Creative Minority Report: Youth Ministry Has Failed (which builds on that report done by American Protestants - more discussion at Rod Dreher's blog).
IAT News: Introducing Fisher More College (Ft. Worth, TX)

"Fisher More's mission and curriculum have also been redone so as to reflect traditional Catholic views on education (cf. Pope Pius XI's Divini Illius Magisti)."

So will it be single-sex?

Website for the school. I know both of the priests at the FSSP Dallas apostolate.
James Kalb, Liberalism, Catholicism, and the Good

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

MoJ: What is the Purpose of the Natural Law?

Perhaps the natural law has a proper use, and we have missed it. If the natural law does not exist to create agreement among reasonable minds on the requirements of morality for human action, then we should not be surprised when it does not.

But what is the purpose of the natural law? I believe the natural law exists to convict the sinful human heart. We can see this purpose in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Catholic Social Thought often quotes Romans chapter 2 for the proposition that “the law is written on the heart,” but Paul says much more about this law: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20).

“Through the law comes knowledge of sin.” The Apostle Paul certainly “uses” natural law, but not to reach agreement on social policy. The Apostle Paul uses the natural law to demonstrate that we know right, yet do wrong. The standard is high and we fall short. He uses the natural law for eternal purposes, to crush any faith we may have built up in ourselves, so our faith may find rest in Christ. Is this the purpose of natural law? Can the natural law be used as a common foundation for moral reasoning, when no one lives up to the full extent of the law?

Can we expect people to consent to the rule of natural law, as a basis for State enforced social policy, when serious contemplation of the natural law illuminates our shortcomings? Or should we focus on pushing the sharp conviction of the law upon the human heart, so hard hearts are plowed, and the ground is made fertile for seeds of grace?

Is rejection of the natural law always tied to one's personal disposition towards God? Or is just an indication either of indoctrination or disordered appetite? Should we perhaps be wary of turning discussion of the natural law into a liberal search for a public reason accessible to all? Is personal dignity offended when people are "coerced" into accepting valid laws with which they disagree?
MoJ: supplement to Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought published

Byzantine, Texas: Dr. Lewis J. Patsavos delivers SS. Cyril & Methodius lecture

Monday, May 07, 2012

A new series featuring Edward Feser as one of its editors: Contemporary Scholasticism

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Two on university education

Robert John Araujo, SJ, The University as the Classroom of Life

While public service is often heralded and promoted in “service learning” that has become another feature of contemporary education, the nature and extent of what constitutes public service is often determined by the autonomous individual (usually director who has some kind of “expertise”) who has been empowered, through leading and living “an extraordinary life,” to decide what the public needs regardless of whether this is beneficial or detrimental to the common good.

What is missing from all of these shaping factors of the “good education” are crucial elements of Catholic social thought whose benefits are not restricted to Catholic thinking and institutions: (1) the inviolability of the human dignity that belongs to everyone; (2) the common good as defined by the inextricable connection of the righteous life well-lived by everyone (and I do mean everyone) in cooperation with the destiny of everyone to do the same; (3) the idea of solidarity which underscores the common good; and (4) the cultivation of the cardinal virtues of justice, fortitude or courage, prudence, and temperance or forbearance. Unfortunately, too many members of the mainstream contemporary academy respond to these elements as I have proposed them as old fashioned. The fact that these elements also undergird much of the development of western law and legal theory is oft forgotten in most law school—to say nothing of undergraduate—education of the present day.

In an oversized society, a university cannot teach about the common good and legal justice because it does not exist in a community, and Behemoth U. itself is often too large to be a community as well.

Bradley J. Birzer, A Modest Proposal: A Freshman Year of Studies

While I have immense appreciation of a Great Books approach, such as that found at St. John’s, I’ve been far more influenced by a cultural approach to the liberal arts as understood by my heroes, Christopher Dawson, Russell Kirk, and Jacques Barzun.

The cultural approach (or the poetic education of John Senior) may be a necessary part of a liberal education, but is freshman year too late? No, if the freshman are 14 year-olds. If I were in charge, I'd do more to reverse the infantilization of young adults. (Would such a cultural component of a liberal education be necessary if our young grew up in real communities with real story-telling? I don't think so.)

Shakespeare's Spirituality: A Perspective, An Interview with Dr. Martin Lings
World Wisdom profile of Dr. Lings
Romeiko Ensemble, Axion esti

Sandro Magister, The Lost Papers of Vatican II (via Chant Cafe)

"God is not a liberal"

As he has given man a social nature and willed that they perfect one another, and so He does not will that they become perfected alone. Hence it was appropriate that He set apart a people, not just an individual or even a family, from whom the Mother of the Messiah and the Messiah Himself would be born.

New from Cistercian Publications

Christian de Chergé
A Theology of Hope

Christian de Chergé was the prior of the Cistercian community at Tibhirine, Algeria, whose members were killed apparently by Muslim "extremists." Their last days were fictionalized in the movie Of Gods and Men:

From the publisher's description:
"De Chergé saw his monastic vocation as a call to be a person of prayer among persons who pray, that is, among the Muslim friends and neighbours with whom he and his brothers shared daily life. De Chergé’s writings bear witness to an original thinker who insists on the value of interreligious dialogue for a more intelligent grasp of one’s own faith."

Will we discover a problematic sort of ecumenism being described in the book? Or is this summary just insufficient? I think he may provide one model for evangelizing to Muslims, but not a model to be adopted by all. There is the question of whether the monks should ahve been there in the first place, and if their witness was in anyway obscured or hindered by their association with the French state. If so, would it have been better if they had left and just prayed for the conversion of that land's inhabitants?

The Monks of Thibhirine by John W. Kiser

Also from Cisterican Publications -

The Great Beginning of Cîteaux
A Narrative of the Beginning of the Cistercian Order
The Exordium Magnum of Conrad of Eberbach

Gregory the Great On the Song of Songs
(see also the collection of Forty Gospel Homilies)

Lovers of the Place
Monasticism Loose in the Church
Francis Kline, OCSO

"Abbot Kline invites all the baptized to a participation in the monastic charism now loose in the Church at large."
I don't see that the charism is now loose in the Church at large. It may be a helpful model for helping the laity understanding community and stability. What is Abbot Kline's diagnosis of what ails contemporary monasticism?

Hildegard of Bingen, Homilies on the Gospels

What of the 2009 German movie about her? It's probably lousy. The NYT review, NPR, and NCR.

Margarethe von Trotta On Her New Film “Vision” – The Life Of Hildegard von Bingen

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Some thoughts on CL

One of my former professors was a follower of CL and introduced me to the writings of Msgr. Giussani, its founder. The group and its founder have received praise from the current and previous popes. I think GodSpy, which has not been updated in more than three years, was also associated with CL in some way? (Or maybe it just published essays by Msgr. Alcabete.)

I have some of Msgr. Giussani's books, but I must admit that I have not really read through most of them. I tried to read through one but stopped, as it was too dense for me at the time. Having grown a little, maybe I would comprehend it better now and thus profit from it. Or maybe I'm too simple-minded to appreciate it. My first impression was that its literary style of presenting the Faith was not for me. (Or the style of the English translation, at least.)

I also know that study groups are very popular with CL; they read the writings of Msgr. Giusanni plus other texts. This reminds me of the study groups of Jacques Maritain. (How many conversions did Maritain facilitate?) I've been invited to a CL study group, but never attended. It may have a better reputation than some of the other ecclesial movements. I think its apostolate is more directed towards university faculty and students and professionals? The key to understanding it better for me would be to see how they define culture and education (and how this relates to community, both the local Church and the political community). How is it different from John Senior's IHP at the U. Kansas? Its sort of ecumenical outreach reminds me of Sant'Egidio, but their apostolates are different? For the big cities I tend to favor something more radically simple like the Catholic Worker movement, which was not anti-intellectual, far from it. (iirc, Dorothy Day had her own study groups.)

What are the philosophical/literary sources upon which CL texts rely? Maybe I'm not steeped enough in recent European intellectual culture to fully appreciate the texts, but is there a danger of over-intellectualizing the Gospel?

There is actually a CL group at the local parish. If things ever settle down, maybe I'll check it out.

The Risk of Education
The "Right Way" of Fr. Luigi Giussani
International Institute of Culture
Crossroads Cultural Center

New York Encounter
A Festival of Faith and Reason

More with Msgr. Alcabete:
Frontline interview
Younger than Sin
Some appearances on Charlie Rose.

Msgr. Alcabete on the salvation of non-Christians - he is correct that salvation is not works-righteousness; it is your stand to the Other. But it seems rather muddled. Maybe it's my preference for "scholastic distinctions." Truth and Love can be names for God, yes. And we must know and love Him to be happy.
Adam DeVille interviews Tim Kelleher: Tim Kelleher on the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed

First Things

The World Over

Friday, May 04, 2012

Domenic D’Ettore Earns Doctorate in Philosophy
Domenic D’Ettore, a doctoral candidate in the University of St. Thomas Center for Thomistic Studies program, publicly defended his dissertation on April 23 before the University community and his dissertation board.

D’Ettore’s dissertation was accepted by the Center for Thomistic Studies and in May he will be the 21st recipient of a doctorate in philosophy from the University of St. Thomas.

The purpose of D’Ettore’s dissertation, titled “Early Thomists on Demonstration with Analogous Terms,” is to defend the demonstration through analogical terms given by early Thomists, such as Thomas of Sutton (1250-1315/20) and John Capreolus (1380-1444), in the face of objections that such demonstration is fallacious from John Duns Scotus (c.1265-1308) and those influenced by Scotus, such as Henry of Harclay (ca. 1270-1317) and Peter of Auriol (ca. 1280-1322).

The virtue of the Scotist position is its preservation of the apparent integrity of arguments from perfections in creatures to those same perfections in God. The weakness of this position is that it blurs the distinction between God and creatures. The strength of the Thomist position is the preservation of the distinction of God from creatures.

D’Ettore’s dissertation considers whether or not the early Thomist tradition provides the contemporary Thomist with an adequate answer as to how Thomas’s doctrine of analogy avoids the problems Scotus and his early successors find in it and what aspects these Thomists left for future Thomists to develop.

D’Ettore’s dissertation committee included Dr. Jeremy Wilkins, associate professor in the School of Theology; Dr. Thomas Osborne, Jr., associate professor of philosophy; Dr. John F.X. Knasas, professor and Bishop Nold Chair in graduate philosophy; Dr. Mirela Oliva, assistant professor of philosophy; Dr. Mary Catherine Sommers, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Thomistic Studies; and external reader Dr. Joshua Hochschild, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Hochschild stated in the summary of his examination of the dissertation that he felt “confident that Mr. D’Ettore’s dissertation represents a genuine contribution to the field.”

Father Julián Carrón to receive honorary doctorate from CUA
Dominicana: De Veritate

There has been much attention given to the recently published doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious (LCWR). The document, produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), identifies several problems, including dissent from Church teaching (e.g., concerning the reservation of priestly orders to men), the inviting of speakers who ignore or contradict the teaching of the Church, and the justification, by some speakers, of dissent against the Magisterium as a “prophetic office.”

There are two common responses to this document, both of which focus on authority. Some who oppose the assessment see it as an oppressive action by a male hierarchy, a reactionary effort to deal with the perceived threat of progressive women religious. Some who support it, on the other hand, cheer it on, thinking that the Vatican has finally dropped the hammer on these wayward sisters. Both of these responses are unsatisfactory.

Que dire du mal

Que dire du mal ? by college-des-bernardins
Conférence du jeudi 22 mars 2012
Par le père Antoine Guggenheim

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Tradition-Constituted Theological Rationality and the Possibility of the Non-Theocratic Regime by Thaddeus Kozinski

Now, the liberal state never explicitly affirms “we are God,” for in its official agnosticism, it does not even explicitly deny or affirm the possible or actual existence of a transcendent being. Moreover, it insists that it leaves open the possibility of some such being’s revealing or having revealed himself and his will to man. Secular liberalism, that is, the purportedly non-theocratic state, simply does not deem it necessary to recognize any such being and revelation for the purposes of either political philosophy or political practice. It claims public ignorance about, but does not deny outright the possibility of, an authoritative revelation demanding personal recognition.

Yet, the believer in a being who has clearly and publicly revealed to man his will for the political order could argue that a studied ignorance regarding the existence of such a publicly accessible divine revelation is intellectually unjustified and politically unjust. For a Roman Catholic, for example, the Church exists as a public institution claiming to be the embodiment and spokesman of a publicly authoritative divine revelation bearing directly on morality and politics. Therefore, the Church is at least a possible candidate for a publicly authoritative social institution. Even if one prescinds from the question of the truth of this revelation, the Church’s claim about itself to be the authoritative spokesman for this truth is still an objective, intelligible fact within societies, and while a political philosopher can deny the truth of this claim, it cannot plead ignorance to the fact of the claim itself. Thus, in articulating any ideal political order, the political philosopher must deal in some way with the Church’s claim to have the authority to define the ultimate meaning of goodness and politics, by either recognizing or denying the Church’s public authority to do so. Practical agnosticism to the very possibility of such an authority is, in effect, an implicit moral judgment of the injustice of its ever becoming an actual, living authority, and therefore an implicit theological denial of the authority it indeed has (from the Catholic perspective).
Blackboard Rumble: Why Are Physicists Hating On Philosophy (and Philosophers)? ny Adam Frank
Varieties of atheism by Jacques Maritain
Benedict XVI's Reform: The Liturgy Between Innovation and Tradition

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Presuming God's approval

If God doesn't will it, then wouldn't he stop it from happening? "I asked for His aid, and it was successful; why shouldn't I give Him the creidt." Could this line of reasoning be twisted in those who seek to uphold the status quo, rather than questioning their basic assumptions about the political economy (e.g. perpetual growth)? How counter-cultural do we have to be as Christians? Will the Holy Spirit aid us in being critical of our assumptions about what the good life requires? Or is this only for a few, while the rest He leaves in ignorance? If we do not struggle for community, is its absence not a fitting punishment?

Only He can judge who is guilty of pride and blindness and who was only muddling by in a fallen world.

Matthew 7: 21-23
Non omnis, qui dicit mihi: “Domine, Domine”, intrabit in regnum caelorum, sed qui facit voluntatem Patris mei, qui in caelis est.
Multi dicent mihi in illa die: “Domine, Domine, nonne in tuo nomine prophetavimus, et in tuo nomine daemonia eiecimus, et in tuo nomine virtutes multas fecimus?”. Et tunc confitebor illis: Numquam novi vos; discedite a me, qui operamini iniquitatem.
Over at Mount St. Mary College: Midsummer Conference on Aquinas and the Mind/Body Problem

Tuesday, May 01, 2012