Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I was listening to an Extraenvironmentalist interview with John Michael Greer, and it struck me that his epistemology is subjective, not quite Kantian but related. Still, that doesn't necessarily vitiate what he has to say about economics and our failure to consider the primary economy.

Monday, December 26, 2011

From the Spring 2011, volume 10, number 1 issue of Tidings:

Second Liturgical institute Student Successfully Defends Doctoral Dissertation

On May 4th, 2011, Institute Student Fr. Anthony Putti successfully defended his doctoral dissertation, becoming the second graduate of the Liturgical Institute to complete the degree of Doctor of Sacred Theology. The culmination of five years of research and writing, his doctoral dissertation, entitled "Theosis Through Liturgy in the Theologies of Alexander Schmemann and Dumitru Staniloae," was written under the direction of faculty member Fr. Emery De Gaal.

Fr. Putti explained that the Eastern notion of theosis, often called divinization in the West, has strong biblical and patristic support, as in St. Athanasius' famous statement that God became man so that man might become God. In particular, the dissertation focused on comparing the understanding of theosis in two of the twentieth century's great Orthodox theologians.

Schmemann, who served for over 40 years at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York, is known for his writings on the sacred liturgy, many of which have been available in English for decades. Fr. Putti argued that Schmemann's model saw the Church as the enablign agent of theosis through the sacred liturgy, making theosis the goal of the Christian life in God by the Holy Spirit.

The doctoral defense board spoke highly of Fr. Putti's introduction of the important work of Staniloae to the English-speaking world. A Romanian priest, Staniloae (1903-1993) proposed a mystical-dogmatic approach to theosis centered on the vision of God as three divine persons, envisioning the mystery of the Incarnation as the basis for the transfiguration of the entire cosmos.

The Liturgical Institute congratulates Fr. Putti for his careful academic work and intellectual rigor, and look forward to his scholarly contribution to the Church's liturgical life.

Father Dumitru Staniloae:Orthodox Spirituality

Dumitru Staniloae: An Ecumenical Ecclesiology by Radu Bordeianu

His obituary in The Independent.
Was about to finish some comments on a piece at The Public Discourse, but the website is down (or the account has been suspended)...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sandro Magister, Inside the Crisis. With the Society of Jesus
The analysis of the European financial disaster written by "La Civiltà Cattolica" with the approval of the Vatican secretariat of state. Special focus: Italy and Germany
Zenit: Traditional Proclamation of Christ's Birth
"Today Is the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ"

Saturday, December 24, 2011

James Chastek, Accounting for what a substance is
Byzantine, Texas: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy, an abbreviated review

What does doctrine matter, as long as you're a theist. Or you believe in God? (Or worse, as long as you believe something and are a good person?) But some forms of ignorance can be excused; the rejection of charity cannot. Non-Christians (apart from the Jews) know nothing about loving God more than one's self.

But back to dogma - what if God has revealed Himself to us? Shouldn't we then be concerned with what He has actually revealed, instead of relying upon our own possibly mistaken ideas?

(Isn't everyone's faith the same? Isn't all just tradition? But what is the ultimate source of the tradition? And what do we know through the tradition? How is Christianity set apart from Judaism and Islam on this point? I do not think Islam would claim that the object of faith for a Muslim is God Himself.)
Nativity Compline--"God is With Us"

St. Elias Church

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thaddeus Kozinski has some posts over at ISI reviewing Sertillanges and his recommendations for cultivating the intellectual life.
Thomistica.net: The Catholic Theological Society of America--and St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chief tells Pope: we must revive soul of Europe

And how, exactly, is this going to be accomplished? Another empty ecumenical gesture? Are Jews going to pray for Christians to be better Christians?
He called on Christians and Jews to open a "new chapter" in their relationship: "If Europe loses the Judeo-Christian heritage that gave it its historic identity and its greatest achievements in literature, art, music, education, politics, and economics, it will lose its identity and its greatness.

One might have thought that the claim of a "Judeo-Christian" identity or culture was limited to Americans. Christianity is rooted in Judaism but that is not the same as the Judaism that came into being through the rejection of Christ.

Affirmative Action in the Church?

Given how feminized the Church and hierarchy are already, is this such a wise move?

Rome Reports: Pope to canonize and name Hildegard of Bingen as Doctor of the Church

How influential has she been on theology?

Rorate Caeli

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rorate Caeli: Msgr. Gherardini: Vatican II is not a super-dogma
The importance and the limits of the authentic Magisterium
The Smithy: Scotus' Razor

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Zenit: Papal Address to International Theological Commission
"A Truly Catholic Theology ... Is Necessary Today More Than Ever"

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

James Chastek, On what can be meant by “there is no morality without God”

The clearest way to show this is to give the various arguments that have actually been used to prove the claim there can be no morality or moral action without God.

1.) Morality is rational, but the existence of God is a necessary practical postulate for rational morality. (Kant)

2.) Human nature is wounded, by which we mean incapable of acting morally without some exterior supernatural aid. (St. Paul, interpretation 1)

3.) Human nature is called to live with a being whose existence exceeds what it can discovered by its own rational power, therefore human nature cannot achieve what it is called to unless this being reveals itself to him. But moral action consists in achieving that which one is called to do, in the sense of perfecting ones nature. (St. Paul, interpretation 2)

4.) Morality requires keeping the weak-minded in line. But one cannot keep the weak minded in line without scaring them with the idea of divine things. (A common opinion of the Roman consuls who killed the Christians)

5.) Justice, the form of the virtues, is nothing but gazing upon the good itself, that is, the philosophical gazing on the divine absolute. (Plato)

6.) The action of anything is its way of trying to become as much like God as possible, and morality is human action (Aristotle)

7.) Of itself, nature is meaningless. But morality of itself is not meaningless. Therefore morality is from a supernatural source, and whatever is from a supernatural source is from God (William Lane Craig)

8.) Of itself, nature is meaningful. But the meaningfulness of artifacts must be reduced to some intelligent being, therefore the meaningfulness of nature must be reduced to an intelligent being. But morality is meaningful action.

9.) Morality is partaking in justice itself, good itself, etc. But God is subsistent justice itself, goodness itself, etc. (Neo-Platonism, sympathetic with Thomism)

10.) Here are the most celebrated atheist regimes. Almost all of them are moral monsters.

11.) Moral action is doing what the herd does. But the herd of Western civilization is founded on belief in God and has not yet given itself a new foundation (suggested by Nietzsche, but not him exactly)

12.) Moral action must satisfy natural desires. But man has a natural desire for God.

13.) Moral action requires knowing what you were made for and what your purpose is. But only your maker and creator knows what your purpose is, and you were specially made and created by God.

So that’s a baker’s dozen, in no particular order. All of them have enjoyed widespread popularity for one reason or another, either by being preacher’s enthymemes or by being the thoughts of a major school or popular thinker. Yet only one of them is a divine command theory (7) and it is not even the paradigm case of the divine command theory (which we find, as Brandon has been saying for years and deserves to be listened to, in William Warburton) There is, in fact, a “default setting” in the Western mind to tie morality to the divine, but divine command theory is only one attempt to articulate this default setting. And so the desire of the Western man’s psyche (and, as Wilkins suggests, this might be a more universal desire) to tie his morality to the divine seems less like a theory and more like a universal sense that articulates itself imperfectly in many different theories.


Morality consists in doing ones conscience, conscience is the voice of God (Newman and Frankl)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

"The Orthodox Rejection of Doctrinal Development"by Daniel Lattier
Wish I could get my hands on a cheap copy of Criticising the Critics by Fr. Nichols. There was one at Amazon UK but I forgot to complete the order so someone else bought it.

New Blackfriars
"True solitude is the contemplation of the true, the good, and the beautiful, and such solitude is essential to maintaining communities of friendship oriented towards non-quantifiable goods."

Saturday, December 03, 2011

SALVE REGINA - Hernando Franco (1532 - 1585)

Westminster Cathedral Choir
I saw at Hearts of Love that St. Benedict Press has published a translation of Fr. Phillipe's The Mysteries of Mary. I hate to say it, but the allegation of scandal has decreased my enthusiasm for his books.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Can the Church Ban Capital Punishment? by Christopher A. Ferrara

Let’s End the Death Penalty, Now
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput
First Things: Natural Rights Trump Obamacare, or Should by Hadley Arkes
Only the natural law can explain the deep wrongs of the recent health-care bill.
Russell Kirk:
Justice means that every man and every woman have the right to what is their own—to the things best suited to their own nature, to the rewards of their ability and integrity, to their property and their personality. Civilized society requires that all men and women have equal rights before the law, but that equality should not extend to equality of condition: that is, society is a great partnership, in which all have equal rights—but not to equal things. The just society requires sound leadership, different rewards for different abilities, and a sense of respect and duty.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Problems with Fr. Robert Barron?
Carl Olson, Advent with Jean Cardinal Daniélou
Medievalists.net: Customary law before the conquest
Rorate Caeli: The nature of the intellectual assent that is owed to the teachings of the Council

"The following article, written by Monsignor Fernando Ocariz Braña, Vicar General of Holy Cross and Opus Dei (also one of the Vatican representatives in the doctrinal talks with the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X), was published in this afternoon's (dated tomorrow) edition of the official daily of the Holy See, L'Osservatore Romano."
Zenit: Pope's Message to Ecumenical Patriarch for Feast of St. Andrew
"The Present Circumstances ... Present to Catholics and Orthodox the Same Challenge"
Zenit: Pontiff Lauds Efforts to End Death Penalty
Notes Human Dignity of Prisoners

European intellectuals and humanists... or those who are naturally sensitive. Too soft? After all of the deaths and destruction of the 20th century an aversion to killing is understandable.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mark Brumley, "Should We Seek Economic Equality?" (via Insight Scoop)
Is it easier for us to accept the pushes for changes in mores because the consequences are physically remote from us or hidden due to our ignorance? Or because they are taken care of by someone else (e.g. the government)? Who cares if she's a single mom? It's not our problem -- she can get aid from the government and the schools will give child care. We can see how the no harm principle of liberalism would harmonize with this -- if the harm is not obvious and all consent, then why shouldn't it be allowed? Who cares about what they do in the privacy of the bedroom? But we don't know what the impact of their actions on their own psychology or their relationship with others is like. Those who push for the normalization of homosexual relationships are bound to say that there is nothing subjectively wrong.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Zenit; Dropping Out: Why Young People Leave the Church
20-Somethings Cite Many Reasons for Disconnect

An important factor influencing young people today is the cultural context in which they live. No other generation of Christians, he affirmed, has lived through so many profound and rapid cultural changes, Kinnaman argued.

During the last few decades there have been massive changes in the media, technology, sexuality and the economy. This has led to a much greater degree of complexity, fluidity and uncertainty in society.

Summing up these changes, Kinnaman used three concepts to describe them: access, alienation and authority.

Regarding access he pointed out that the emergence of the digital world has revolutionized the way in which young adults communicate with each other and obtain information. This has led to significant changes in the way in which the current generation relates, works and thinks.

This has a positive side, in that the Internet and digital tools have opened up immense opportunities to spread the Christian message. However, it also means there is more access to other cultural views and values and it invites people to question more their beliefs. There is also less emphasis on linear and logical thought.

Alienation, Kinnaman observed, means that many teens and young adults feel isolated from their families, communities and institutions. High levels of divorce and childbirth outside marriage mean many have grown up in non-traditional family structures.

Moreover, the transition to adulthood has stretched out, with marriage and parenthood being put off to a later age. Many churches do not have the pastoral solutions in place to effectively help those who are not following the traditional path to adulthood, according to Kinnaman.

In addition, many young adults today are skeptical about the institutions that in the past have shaped society. Grassroots networks and collaborative efforts are prized over hierarchical institutions.

This skepticism becomes then a distrust of authority, the third concept used by Kinnaman. A tendency to pluralism, and even holding conflicting ideas, takes precedence over acceptance of Scripture and moral norms.

A culture of questions can lead people to the truth, and tension between faith and culture can also have a positive outcome, but, Kinnaman noted, it requires new approaches by churches.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

James Chastek, Defining torture

There seems to be some sort of silent agreement on both sides that this is an impossible thing to do. I’m missing something here since the action doesn’t seem that hard to define: the use of physical pain to break the will of another, where “breaking the will” (which can mean more than one thing) means “breaking ones self possession”. The definition manifests why such an action would be intrinsically evil, since to be in possession of ones own power to choose or of ones own will is necessary for human dignity. A man is a lord of his action, so much so that to attempt to break this lordship is, in a very real sense, worse than murder. It is the attempt to kill what is most of all human in a human being.

Puzzling, as this is a definition that those adhering to a "liberal" version of Natural Law might accept, but it's a poor one, as far as I can tell -- how does one distinguish torture from the deterrent effect of law or legitimate coercion, for example police officers using pain compliance on those actively resisting arrest? (See my previous posts on this topic.)

Torture (or fear) does not destroy voluntariness (see the treatment of voluntary, involuntary, and non-voluntary) , though in some instances fear can diminish responsibility.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Zenit: Theological Commission to Continue Social Doctrine Study
Also Considering Monotheism and Theological Method

English Catholics to Pray for Queen
Bishops Approve Text for Her 60th Anniversary

Obligation of the Liturgy of the Hours
And More on "For Many"

Feast of Blessed Miguel Pro, November 24

A page for Blessed Miguel Pro.

Eastern Christian Books: Ecclesial Hierarchy

Eastern Christian Books: Ecclesial Hierarchy

Eastern Christian Books: Oxford Handbook of the Trinity

Eastern Christian Books: Oxford Handbook of the Trinity

Eastern Christian Books: Books for Christmas: Some Recommendations

Eastern Christian Books: Books for Christmas: Some Recommendations
Revenge of the Neo-Cats by Hilary White

If they have heard of the Oath Against Modernism they hate it and will frequently tell you that Pope (St) Pius X, while he might have had his heart in the right place, was too heavy-handed about the Modernists and accomplished nothing but to drive them underground. (That is if they will concede that Modernists ever existed at all and were not merely the product of the paranoid fantasies of popes given to overreaction, cf: Freemasons, leprechauns and Soviet infiltrators.)

They did a lot of good work in the 70s, 80s and 90s, particularly with founding universities and colleges that more or less teach Catholicism as if it were true. Christendom and TAC are the best examples, with Franciscan U at Steubie bringing up the academic rear. They are often very articulate about the evils of contraception and abortion, but frequently fall into the various intellectual traps designed for them because of their determination that Catholicism and democracy are inherently compatible.

In brief then, neo-Catholics, or neo-conservative Catholics are people who like to think of themselves as conservatives both politically and religiously, who are terrified by the idea of looking like a fanatic, who like to talk a great deal about how the Church has "a place in the public debate". Though they object to being called "moderate", they secretly love the term to be applied to them, and feel like they are at last being taken seriously by The Big Kids at the New York Times, the BBC and CNN when they are invited to comment on debate programmes. In general they are mostly an American phenomenon, with a bit of spillage over the Canadian border. Interestingly, they are almost unknown in Britain, where the divisions are much less ambiguously between Trads and the insane heretics running the show.

Writing a taxonomy for something non-substantial (rather an aggregation of accidents) is difficult, and I don't think faculty members of the small Catholic colleges, who might be "neo-Cats" in other ways, balk at taking the Oath against Modernism. Not all "Neo-Cats" are "theocons (Catholic neo-cons, the biggest examples being Neuhaus and Weigl). They do tend to be ardent Republican part members, though perhaps some are slowly becoming disgusted with the party and are supporting Ron Paul. (I think he gets more support from traddies than mainstream conservative Catholics.) I do think that the rest of the characterization applies, but only because Catholics are culturally Americans, and so they have imbibed certain ideas about feminism, "free market" capitalism, and so on. A failure of catechesis to produce counter-cultural Catholics...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The tyranny of possession

I'm not a grammarian or logician, so this is probably in need of correction.

In English, and in other languages, one can predicate one thing of another through "to be" but also "to have." "My hair is black" vs. "I have black hair" -- how different is the meaning of these two sentences. But is thinking in terms of possession potentially dangerous because it may be coupled with an erroneous understanding of dominion or ownership?

I have a body. --> I own my body. --> I can do with it as I please.

One can make the first statement about physical reality without having a wrong attitude of self-ownership. But isn't it the case that our moral attitudes can distort our understanding of physical reality, and not just of the ethical life?

What is it to have something? To be able to use or control it, but also to have the first claim (not necessarily an exclusive claim) to its use? To be able to use or dispose of it at will? It is mine, and not yours. To define it in terms of "ownership" does not clarify, since our understanding ownership follows having and is not prior to it?

"To have" may be in different ways, but the problem is to understand it only with reference to absolute sovereignty?

This is related to an ethics grounded upon the good. It can make a significant difference between conceiving of the good as something to be done as opposed to something that is possessed. Striving to possess something as opposed to acting well (or virtuously) -- having God vs. living or being in union with God. Thinking in terms of habitus may foster too much of a subjective conception of happiness that exacerbates self-love?
Daniel McInerny, Moral Absolutes and Foyle's War
The Word on EWTN

Documentary on the new translation of the Roman Missal.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A new book from Zaccheus Press: Christianus: The Christian Life by Abbot Vonier. Special sale prices until December 31.
Zenit: Address to Pope From Chief Rabbi of Israel
"There Is No Reason Why the Sons of Abraham Should Not Be Able to Live in Peace" [2011-11-14]
The Smithy: Richard Rufus of Cornwall (copy at medievalists.net)

The Richard Rufus of Cornwall Project

I think he was one of Dr. Brown's favorites...
Some recommendations from "JA":

Sovereignty: God, State, and Self by Jean Bethke Elshtain

This may be the most relevant to your interests. Elshtain, a political theorist, considers modern understandings of sovereignty in regard to the state and individual as derivative of certain late scholastic that abandoned Neoplatonic and Aristotelian metaphysics for nominalism/voluntarism.

The Theological Origins of Modernity by Michael Allen Gillespie

Gillespie, a political theorist and philosopher, covers the same general trends as Elshtain, but his focus is not on sovereignty in particular, but broader.

Some rights theorists make a big deal about medieval theological discussions of sovereignty, but does the modern concept of sovereignty really have roots in nominalism/voluntarism?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Patrick Brennan, The rather-larger-than-asserted competence of "the state"

Many leading American Catholic neo-cons are embarrassed by the doctrine of the social Kingship of Christ.  If you have any doubt about that, listen to the silly things George Weigel, Jodi Bottum, and Raymond Arroyo say (and observe the awkward body language and snark on their faces) in this discussion on EWTN .  Weigel concludes by asserting that "The state does not have the capacity to make the judgment that Christ is King."  But this is patently absurd, at least taken as a statement about states as such.  As I've argued before, surely a group of Catholics founding a state would be competent to install leaders who would be competent to recognize what their installers recognize, viz., the Kingship of Christ.  To be sure, many states, including our own, are contingently incompetent to recognize the Kingship of Christ and its social consequences, but the fulfillment of such an unfortunate contingency does not lay a finger on the traditional Catholic teaching that Christ is King over political society.  
Medievalists.net: Theocratic Centralism: The Politics of Boniface VIII during the Thirteenth Century
The Medieval Friaries of London

The Feast of St. Albert the Great

St. Albert the Great - The Church and Science Are Not at War
by Dan Burke

St. Albert the Great Icon
The History of DSPT

Monday, November 14, 2011

Medievalists.net: Man and nature in the Middle Ages

Dr. Hibbs once posed a question about the history of the word "nature" and how its use changed over time. I haven't come across an answer yet.
Medievalists.net: Deplatonising the Celestial Hierarchy. Peter John Olivi’s interpretation of the Pseudo-Dionysius


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Michael Pakaluk is now at Ave Maria.

Center for the Renewal of Catholic Theology
Pertinacious Papist: Marini’s Conciliarist Manifesto by Peter A. Kwasniewski

There's a new edition of Yves Congar's True and False Reform in the Church.

True and false reforms to the Catholic Church
True and False Reform by Avery Cardinal Dulles
The Tablet review


At the Heart of Christian Worship
Liturgical Essays of Yves Congar
CNS Blog: Did Cardinal Bertone really ‘disown’ the document on economic reform?

Fr. Barron comments on the new translation of the Roman Missal

Em. I think his account of the Pauline "reform" reveals a lot about his perspective. He ignores the fact that the push for the whole liturgy to be in the vernacular came from certain quarters and not from the Council Fathers. It may not be germane to the video, but I get the impression that this was a hastily prepared presentation.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I had to look at how "corporatism" was commonly used - it underlies the organization of men into guilds and the like. What would be a good authoritative source on this topic?

Edward Sri on the new translation

A Guide to the New Mass Translation - Information Session

Will people start paying attention to the words more, instead of going autopilot through rote memory? And will the changes matter if the music accompanying the text is itself a distraction from attentiveness?
Insight Scoop: New: Expanded 2nd edition of "Dogma And Preaching" by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Now available: "Newman: An Intellectual and Spiritual Biography of John Henry Newman"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Domine Deus Noster

A video for the Feast of St. Leo the Great (new calendar). Fr. Z.

Insight Scoop: Praise for and Prose from St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Who's minding the Curia?

Sandro Magister, Too Much Confusion. Bertone Puts the Curia Under Lock and Key (via Rod Dreher)

Any long-term reforms in the Curia because of "Towards reforming the international financial and monetary system in the context of global public authority"?

Fr. Shanley going home

In a way... Providence College President to Give Aquinas Lecture at CUA - January 27, 2012

CUA's 125th Anniversary Events

Video of Fr. Giertych at the DPST

Begun on September 21 at 2:34 PM.


"Virtuous human action-- an icon of God. Aquinas's vision of Christian morality." Fr. Wojciech Giertych, OP from DSPT on Vimeo.

Alas, I don't think it includes the Q&A session after the presentation, but I haven't watched it yet since I was in the audience and heard the talk. That's too bad, I wanted a friend to see a couple of the people (students?) asking questions.

Fr. Giertych talks about the moral agent as being an icon of God through cooperation with grace. He
accepts the thesis of Fr. Pinckaers that the roots of modern moral theology are to be found of William of Ockham's nominalism. But does voluntarism, a certain account of the will as a spiritual faculty or the of the relationship of law to the will, really originate in nominalism?

One does notice a shift in the organization of moral theology texts of the Counter-Reformation period and afterwards. But what is the theological source of this shift? I don't think this has really been established yet. Beginners and sinners may understand morality in terms of law and obedience, and a moral theology focused on law (and freedom) may have some explanatory force for them. What was happening in Christianity (or the universities) to cause the shift? What are the social and political changes that contributed to it?

Fr. Giertych touched upon the relationship between the infused virtues and the acquired virtues, but it is not something that he has studied in detail. He did claim that St. Paul had the acquired virtues, which could be properly applied after he had been converted. But the exact relation between the two sorts of virtues needs to explored more. He did recommend a recent article... (in The Thomist?). I'll have to add the information when I find my notes.

Eamon Duffy's review of Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint

A Hero of the Church

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Jim Keenan is associated with it, so...

is it a questionable endeavor?

Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church
Thomas Tallis - If ye love me
James Chastek, Aspects of the free act

The three aspects of our experience of our own freedom: dominus, determinatus, derilictus.
1.) On the one hand, the experience is of determining oneself, of being responsible, of experiencing the choice in ones own power. The whole universe seems to fall silent in the face of such a decision. Man is fundamentally, as St. Thomas would put it, dominus sui actus. I am the Lord!
2.) All this positive power expresses itself across a lattice of various determinations. I find myself in a certain situation, thinking in a certain language, with various sets proclivities, iron habits, needs to be satisfied, interests, aversions and talents, and all this points to a  thousand more determinations than I’d ever be able to see. Twins separated at birth found that they shared a long list of common pursuits and interests that they probably never suspected were simply the silent proddings of their genetic code, and one doesn’t need to see himself in a twin to see that there is a fair amount that seems spontaneous to him that is in large part due to somatic factors.
3.) A third element is the lack or imperfect possession of the perfection or good that I choose and/ or am driven to. The path of dereliction left open to me. Failure, mistakes, loss and wickedness are always an option.
The second trait is usually distinguished from freedom, although it is also a principle of freedom.  If freedom is the action of some nature, it has some determination from another. All nature is some mode of being open to the divine activity.
The first and third are differing aspects of the free act for us; the first expresses its perfection and completion, the other expressing its imperfection and incompletion. It is no easy task to untangle the aspect of lordship in the free action from the freedom or indetermination of it, though they are contrary elements. Freedom as possessed by the one that is most perfectly Lord is not open to mistake, failure or wickedness as an object of choice, and yet is not determined for being so.
The two great dangers in understanding freedom are (a.) to confound the first and third, the dominus and derilictus, and (b.) to overstate the significance of the second factor as a conditioning factor; though this factor is not entirely contrary to freedom and is even necessary for its exercise. No philosophy that reduces its concepts to being as actuality will fall into the first one, since perfection is precisely what divides the dominus and derilictus, and which shows us the path of perfection on which we find the perfect Dominus who is in no way a derilictus.

The Medievalverse - November 2011

From the people who run Medievalists.net. Canadians! What sort of "neutral" viewpoint would they bring to their "American Civil War" website?
Province of St. Joseph: The Souls of Dominicans
Blessed Jordan of Saxony, Patron of Dominican Vocations

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Insight Scoop: Blessed Duns Scotus, faithful disciple of Saint Francis
Zenit: Papal Reflection on Priesthood to Open Academic Year
"As Priests, the One Legitimate Ascent ... Is Not That of Success But That of the Cross"

Monday, November 07, 2011

Had to look up corporatism

Which is not the same as corporatocracy.

Wiki entry on corporatism (which does not have the same meaning as communitarianism, especially in the restricted sense)
Byzantine, Texas: Armenian Seminary to host talk on Jerusalem tonight

Tonight at 7:30 PM. (Not sure of the time zone.) You can view the lecture online at St. Nersess.

More recent items from The Catholic Thing

A New Center for Natural Law by Hadley Arkes

The Fading Sense of Citizenship by Hadley Arkes
But to ask what a “good citizen” or a good member of the political community would be is to bring us back to the original question of what the polis or the polity is.

Is it more like a hotel, where people take up residence? In that case, the connection generates no moral demands apart from the requirement of paying the rent and obeying the house rules. Or is the polis more truly, as Aristotle taught us, a moral association: a place where the members share certain understandings of the things that are just or unjust; where they agree to be ruled by procedures they regard, by and large, as just; and where they take it as their chief mission to cultivate that sense of justice among one another through the lessons they teach through the laws?

But for what end? So that they can live on their own? Or so they can live together? A liberal would probably not disagree with what is written here.

The Cruelty of Hedonism by Anthony Esolen

In defense of the status quo

Conservatives and Social Justice
by Ryan T. Anderson

What else should one expect from AEI?
Sandro Magister, There's a New Star in the Russian Sky. His Name Is Aleksandr

Martin Hanczyc: The line between life and not-life


He seems to accept that there is a distinction between life and not-life. How many others wish to do away with it in a play for reductionism?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Insight Scoop: The Introduction to "A Bitter Trial: Evelyn Waugh and John Carmel Cardinal Heenan on the Liturgical Changes"

Robert George interview in America magazine

Full Interview with Robert P. George (via Mere Comments)
Authority in the Education of a Human Being by Anthony Esolen (MoJ and Mere Comments)

Professor Esolen is correct to criticize radical egalitarianism. But do teachers have an authority, and does authority have the same meaning as auctoritas? They are superior to students in virtue of the knowledge that they have (or should have). But the do not have the authority of a law-giver, the author of the laws. They may have the authority proper to someone who is reckoned wise or knowledgeable or proficient, someone who has the trust of the students or others. But is not authority then being used in a different sense?

More on the nomination of Charles Morerod

Le dominicain Charles Morerod sera le nouvel évêque de Lausanne, Genève et Fribourg
Rome Reports

Fr. Z

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Do we lay the blame on Dignitatis Humanae?

Insight Scoop: "Religious liberty is also prior to the state itself. ..."

Testimony of Most Reverend William E. Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport, On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Before the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives (pdf - alt)

Another bishop affirming the "absolute" religious liberty. Are certain traditionalists right to point to a rupture in Vatican II? Or is this just a statement approved by a group of bishops that nonetheless does not have support within Sacred Tradition? At least DH concedes that religious liberty may be curbed for the sake of public order; have Catholic bishops going further in their adoption of rights language?

Bishops’ Religious Liberty Chair Urges Congress to Defend Religious Liberty at House Judiciary Committee Hearing

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Friar Comments on the New Document From the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Fr. Christian explained that there is a “a hierarchy of documents,” and also a hierarchy of bodies within the Roman Curia. Inside of the Curia, “congregations” are more significant than “pontifical councils,” which means that “in terms of pastoral authority the Secretariat of State is top and in terms of doctrinal authority the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is top.”

Another factor, he said, to take into consideration when assessing the significance of a “Vatican document” is whether it has been “reviewed by the Holy Father himself,” and also the number of Vatican departments involved in its creation.

He lamented that “unfortunately, the Church herself hasn’t actually explained that hierarchy very well.” Thus, he believes, it can be confusing for Catholics to understand what significance to give to different publications emanating from bodies within the Vatican.

As for this week’s document from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Fr. Christian has only read some of it but his initial analysis is that while it is appropriate for Vatican departments to speak out as part of the Church’s “social mission” they also have to be wary of straying beyond the limits of their competence.

“Is it the Church’s place to decry systems that seem to infringe on the dignity of peoples or to applaud those areas which seem to promote human dignity? Yes,” he said firmly.

“But is it the Church’s role to hypothesis concrete solutions to these things? Normally we would say ‘no.’ That’s what makes me a little nervous about a document which it seems may be promoting something rather more concrete than usual.”

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Insight Scoop: Who was Rev. Louis Bouyer?

No repeat?

But will it yield any fruit? That those who are invited attend does that mean the Holy Spirit is at work? (Especially if they know that Pope Benedict intends to leave no ambiguity to the event this time?)

The Commandment of Assisi: "Purify your own faith" (via Insight Scoop)

Zenit: Pope's Homily at Vigil in Preparation for Assisi

Also from Sandro Magister: The Truth about Assisi. Never-Before-Seen Words from Benedict XVI

Assisi Gives an Encore. But Revised and Corrected

Tomás Luis de Victoria - Laetatus sum

O quam gloriosum est regnum - Tomas Luis de Victoria

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Brian Davies

Over at Thomistica.net, a post on a new book by Brian Davies: Is God a Moral Agent?
One argument given by Davies that God is not a moral agent is that moral agents are under obligation to a moral law; he attributes this understanding to Aquinas. Is this a proper representation of Aquinas's definition of a moral agent? Could Davies's argument be restated, with Kantian terms thus: is God not a moral agent because he is autonomous while angels and humans are heteronomous, and only heteronomous beings are moral agents? Is this a case of equivocation causing misunderstandings? (It wouldn't be the first time with analytic philosophers.)

How does St. Thomas (or a traditional Thomist) define moral agency? We would look at the different sorts of agency present in creatures, starting with the distinction between voluntary and involuntary/natural. The question is whether by moral agency Aquinas adds anything to his notion of "perfect voluntary" agency. What texts does Davies cite to develop a definition of moral agency?

It is clear that human beings and angels are not God. Is good used analogically of God and creatures? Or equivocally? But if God is not a moral agent, can we say that He is morally good at all? It would seem from the short blurb given at Thomistica.net that Davies does take his reasoning in this direction in order to establish a different Christian theodicy. It seems erroneous to me. If God cannot be said to be good, or is not essentially good, then what reason would He have to save us, rather than desiring our destruction or misery? Why should we not imitate His example, rather than submitting to a moral law?

I get the impression that Davies has missed the order of learning and is relying too much on premises taken from his reading of the text (foundationalism?), and then formulating arguments without being confirmed that his understanding of reality is correct.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thoughts on religious and the common good

How are they no longer in the world? By no longer participating in the temporal common good, but wholly serving the supernatural common good in itself. Religious are no longer are bound by duties to family or their native political communities, etc. Their ties to family and community are severed. This does not mean that they do not have relations with a political community -- they may maintain economic relations. For example, even a self-sustaining monastery may exchange goods with members of the local community. The mendicants and members of younger religious orders created during and after the Catholic Reformation are primarily dependent upon the surplus wealth of the lay faithful. In that respect, only a few have been privileged to depend on God alone for their survival.

Would the apostolic works of the mendicants and active religious be considered a part of the temporal common good, or only a part of the supernatural common good? It seems that it would be the latter, if we understand the temporal common good to be obtainable by our power alone. If the temporal common good were identified with the complete perfection of the community, then one would have to take grace and supernatural perfection into account, but this is not something which man holding temporal authority (and nothing more) can provide, only God through His Church.

Is a temporal authority, then, concerned with natural perfection alone? Is there anything here that would preclude the hierarchy of the Church from wielding temporal authority in a Christian polity? Temporal authority is subject to the supernatural authority of the Church, but can the latter not hold both, just as charity is a general virtue which commands the other virtues? (Would it be the case then that temporal authority can be permitted to be separate, or that it can be delegated by the Church to others?)

Before Christ, temporal authority was limited in what it could bring about. With the Incarnation, has it been superceded by the authority of the Church with respect to Christian polities (or absolutely, with respect to all polities)?

A bottom-to-top approach in understanding the political community might lead one to think that a temporal authority must be separate from the supernatural authority of the Church, which, as the superior power, is placed over the temporal authority or recognized by the temporal authority as such.

To answer these questions we might have to reconsider what the end of living in common is: to provide for the perfection of all members through work and mutual exchange but also to live with others for its own sake... De Regno discusses why political authority is necessary -- because the common good is not identical to the private good of its members.

The supernatural common good is God; the hierarchy of the Church does legislate as to how charity is to be exercised. (To a limited extent? The bishops are more guides, pastors, than rulers of the Church?)

Is the political common good subsumed or incorporated into the supernatural common good, or is it kept separate but subordinate? Is it necessary to keep the political common good separate because in a polity there are sinners living with the just, and the laws of a polity must be proportioned to its members accordingly? (Humans are competent to judge only sensible actions. Hence this is one reason why the Church's authority with regard to the supernatural common good is limited?)

Social life does not require as much as living in union with God, and so laws which maintain external peace between the members of a community and command acts of justice can be imposed on both sinners and the just. The laws for a political community are therefore distinct from those for the supernatural community, the Church. But this does not necessitate that a bishop may not hold temporal authority. (Although it may be prudent for him not to, since his function is to take care of the Church and concern for temporal affairs may take away too much time, etc. from his pastoral work.) One could also argue that there should be a division of power in order to prevent an abuse of power.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Public Discourse: The Scientific Revolution and Contemporary Ethics
William Carroll, October 18, 2011
Modern science does not require us to abandon notions of nature and human nature upon which so much of traditional ethics depends.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid


How much energy inputs would be required to relocalize energy capture/production in this way?

Feser replies to Tollefsen

At his blog.

I do have things to say on the last post from each of the gentlemen, but I do not know if I will have the time to actually post them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lee Faber, Harmonization of Thomas and Scotus on Univocity
Sandro Magister: Council Under Construction. But Some Are Folding Their Arms
Cardinal Cottier, the jurist Ceccanti, the theologian Cantoni are defending the innovations of Vatican II. But the Lefebvrists are not giving in, and the traditionalists are stepping up their criticisms. The latest developments in a fiery dispute

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ignatius Press - Fall 2011 releases

The complete list here.

Some titles of interest to me - Ronald Knox, A Retreat for Lay People
Waugh & Heenan, A Bitter Trial
Another reprint: The Song at the Scaffold by Gertrud von le Fort
Sigrid Undset, Ida Elisabeth
Ratzinger, Dogma And Preaching (2nd Ed)
Louis Bouyer, Newman: His Life and Spirituality (I had already mentioned The Church of God.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Met. John Zizioulas on primacy

OrthodoxChristianity.net: Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church edited by James Puglisi

30 Days, from 2003: “When we speak of the primacy...

... we are referring to the primacy of the Church of Rome, that is exercised by the pope in that he is bishop of that See". An interview with Joannis Zizioulas, Orthodox Metropolitan of Pergamum

by Gianni Valente

An interview from 2005.

Papal Primacy and Conciliarity; John Zizioulas - Ecclesiological presuppositions of the holy Eucharist

Something from GOARCH: Papal Primacy by Rev. Emmanuel Clapsis
Dominicana: Evelyn Waugh and Despair
Insight Scoop: Now available: "Methodical Realism" by Étienne Gilson

I think the book was published by Christendom Press for a while, but I suppose it has gone out of print?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Travelling to New York for a friend's wedding. Maybe some original posts when I get back.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

One Day in a Monastery

I had copied the url for this trailer somewhere, but came across the trailer again today through Byzantine, Texas.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Two from Mirror of Justice

1. Celebrating John Finnis at Villanova

What's new in the second edition of Natural Law and Natural Rights?

"Adds a substantial postscript by the author developing and refining the theory in response to thirty years of discussion, criticism, and further work in the field"

2. Robert George, The Question of Judicial Supremacy

Reflections of a Questioner: The Palmetto Freedom Forum Revisited
by Robert P. George
Dominicana: Church, Family and Civil Society

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Andrew Cusack: New Cathedral in Russia
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Magadan, Siberia
Op-StJoseph: Whether Faith Needs Philosophy
An Article in First Things by Fr. Thomas Joseph White, OP

Alas, you need to subscribe to read the full article.
Thomas Bushlack, Is There a Christian Response to the Debt Ceiling Debates? (via MoJ)

See this comment at MoJ:
However, I find this quote a little too cute:

"This principle...would remind us that the time to cut programs and spending is not during an economic downturn, but rather once the economy has rebounded enough to pick up the slack currently left by the high unemployment rate."

Maybe, but is this just a foregone conclusion concerning the common good? Fiscal responsibility, the courage to make difficult choices concerning entitlement programs etc... also ought to be factors in working for the common good.

I question whether this is just another example of someone, instead of being informed by what "common good" means, merely superimposing his own preconceived notions of reality upon the term.

Yes, what of the role of civic prudence, which must take into account whether such spending is sustainable? What are the potential negative consequences for continued deficit spending if such deficits can never be made up? There are many other questions as well -- what is being purchased with this money? Should it be the Federal Government's responsibility to do this? (Is it Constitutional?)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A response by Edward Feser to Christopher Tollefsen at Public Discourse: In Defense of Capital Punishment. Related posts at his blog: In defense of capital punishment and On rehabilitation and execution.