Saturday, October 06, 2012

How much of this is still true? From 1975: Some differences between Greek and Russian divine services and their significance
by Basil Krivoshein
Archbishop of Brussels and Belgium

How old is the inclusion of the Beatitudes in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom?

St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church

Jimmy Akin, Newest Doctor of the Church: Her Visions, Her Writings, and Her Secret Language
St. Hildegard of Bingen: A Visionary for All Time by Brennan Pursell
St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church by Leroy Huizenga

From the Wednesday audience talks by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010-
St. Hildegard: Cloistered Nun and Mystic
A Continuing Reflection on St. Hildegard

Back when I was in the seminary, a "cranky" (but lovable) Jesuit remarked that if St. Thérèse_of_Lisieux could be declared a Doctor of the Church, why not St. Ignatius of Loyola? We should honor St. Thérèse for her holiness and her "little way" has been influential as a model for our understanding Christian spirituality and by extension the lay vocation, but as a teacher (not necessarily as a writer) does she rank with the other Doctors of the Church? (Someone might claim that in terms of influence on contemporary Catholics, St. Thérèse surpasses them.)

Sts. Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila to be Honored by Pontiff

The corpus of St. Hildegard of Bingen is apparently larger, and she was also an authorized preacher. She did have an impact on the local church(es) of her time period. But is she so influential now? St. John of the Cross continues to be influential as a teacher of Christian spirituality. (The same is true of St. Teresa of Avila.)

I can't help but shake the suspicion that besides being influenced by his German heritage, the pope may be acceding to political pressures and considerations, the demand for women to be "better represented." While some women may have been especially gifted as teachers, one should distinguish between extraordinary and ordinary gifts, and how the office of theologian (or bishop) is tied more to the latter than to the former. Those who have a special mission from God (and the accompanying talents) should not be prevented by the bishops from following it, but this does not mean that women in general should be encouraged to be theologians.

Some may say that the rejection of scholasticism has been beneficial to the Church and allowed for the renewal of older methods of doing theology, but I would argue that the application of reason to understanding revealed truth has never been absent from theology, though it has been complemented by general life in Christ, prayer, and even mystical experiences.

Was St. Paul a sexist, limited by his culture? How should his stricture be understood? Some have limited to the confines of the temple. Anyone who teaches Christian doctrine, female or male, must do so with the permission of the bishop (via his priests) and under his supervision. One can argue for the strict separation of male and female spheres (and roles) in political society, but can this also be done for ecclesiastical society? There is also a somewhat relevant distinction between teaching of morals (and leadership) and teaching of other subjects. The teaching of morality for men should be left to men, because the roles of men and women are different within the family and society as a whole. But what of the teaching of things not pertaining to morality? The best argument for the this to be left to men as well is that while it does not touch upon morality itself, it is ideally an exercise for male communing, once boys come of age. (There is also the question of giving males their proper roles within the community as a whole, and protecting these assignments from encroachments by women. Women in general do not want as a husband a male who is perceived to be a loser, but this is what happens when women displace men.)

Are Saints Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen the exceptions that then prove the rule? I do not think that it will be possible to find an equal representation of men and women among the Doctors of the Church, though some may want this. Margaret Schatkin or Sister Vassa Larin could be examples from today - but it must be noted that both are single, one a religious. It would seem that those who have consecrated their lives to God as virgins and religious have a greater claim to be teachers of theology than lay women, because their function is no longer one of the political economy but of the ecclesiastical economy. Some may claim that this is unfair, that women should not have to choose between one or the other, that they can have it all, but it is a question of serving God as He sees fit.

Women do not teach their children on their own authority, but do so as willed by their husband. It is true that some men care nothing for how prospective wives will behave and raise their children; but those who do care look for someone who agrees with them and will follow them. Similarly, traditionally women do not manage or represent the household unless they are delegated that authority by their husband (or father). Arguably a catechists task is one that is proper to the laity or to the parents, and they do participate in the sensus fidei.

So how much of a catechist's task is proper to the laity or to parents, and how much is a delegation by the bishop? This is in contrast to the one who preaches in a parish, for to do so he must have permission (and authority) from the bishop? Is the task of the theologian is different, but
is the nature of the theologian's authority different from that of the catechist? Some have explained St. Paul's dictum by distinguishing the teaching authority of the apostles and their successors from that of authority of the lay teacher.

Apparently the title "Doctor of the Church" should be understood as referring to the Church Universal, but can this be problematic with respect to fostering a more ecumenical ecclesiology?

Cistercian Publishers has a translation of St. Hildegard's homilies.

Still More on Prayer Ropes

Using a Prayer Rope (via Byzantine, Texas)


The Writing of Church History

A study group was considering starting Epic; is much of Church History written from a Latin perspective triumphalistic or ultramontane, or a version of Whiggism, resulting in more of a history of the Western Patriarchate, with the non-western churches an afterthought?

A Catholic version of Whiggism, in so far as Catholicism is equated with European civilization and its material advances are attributed in some way to the Catholic faith. Intellectual advances in science and knowledge may originally have been due to the mingling of the Christian focus on the Logos and Greek rationalism. But I am thinking more of the rise of the nation-states and empires - do we want to impute this "success" to the supposed Christian faith of those nation- and empire-builders?

We may not want to go so far as to embrace the ideology of those who declaim the appearance of the Constantinian Church, but what Church history would not incorporate an analysis of Church-state relations (not just in the former Western Roman Empire, but in the Eastern as well), making some sort of normative judgment on what existed? (I think the Church can be an effective means of localism, but has it ever been able to bring that about in the political sphere, apart from some sort of collapse?)

As for the non-Western churches, is it too early to reconsider their histories as part of that of the Church as a whole, as if their apparent separation from the Bishop of Rome was that, only apparent? Do we need a formal restoration of communion going beyond acts of doctrinal agreement first? In the past those non-Western churches not currently in full communion were viewed as heretical and schismatic and treated as such in works of Church history. But is it not only charitable but historically accurate to see the tragic separation as a result of [linguistic] misunderstanding and hardening due to a lack of proper fraternity charity and ill feeling because of other events?

Church history potentially can be more unified than generic world history, as it is centered on Christ and His Church. But can we rightly look forward to histories being written reflecting the diversity of the local Churches, a proper multiculturalism because it is grounded in Christ and the live that He gives to us?