Friday, July 10, 2015

Let Us Not Confuse the Goal of the Modern Nation-State with the Common Good, Either

A problem that has yet to be addressed by the bishop of Rome, who remains unaware of it. To make the goal of the modern nation-state the common good, as it is understood in the best of classical and medieval thought, is to justify statism and trespass the limits of political authority. (Because the limits of scale are thereby ignored and justice, which depends upon scale, violated.)

Pope: Let us not “confuse the ‘common good’ with ‘prosperity’”

And the Assyrian Church?

Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako: The unity of the Church of the East
The Church of the East: There can be only one (Pro Unione)
Chaldean Patriarch gambles on re-establishing “Church of the East”

And a response by Bishop Mar Awa Royel of the Assyrian Church of California: Authenticity in Unity: A Personal Reflection on Present-Day Questions Concerning the Unity of the Church of the East

Cardinal Herranz on Bishop Alvaro del Portillo

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo and the Second Vatican Council by His Eminence Cardinal Julián Herranz

Interview with Fr. Andrew Louth

John Senior on the Thomistic Revival

A good counterpoint to Dr. Dennis McInerny's essay. From The Restoration of Christian Culture:

A few uncommon and relatively unknown, and old, theologians still study and teach St. Thomas, but he is no longer received as the Common Doctor of the Church. The Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas himself says in the Prologue, is a book "for beginners"; but we have few real beginners anymore. Our schools and colleges turn out advanced technicians in what are called the arts and sciences, but none has the ordinary prerequisites to traditional philosophical and theological study, none with the famous mens sana in corpore sano of the ancients, that is, disciplined in the perception, memory and imagination of reality. To compensate for our failures, seminaries in the decades preceding Vatican II tabulated maxims based upon the Summa as texts for easily testable courses run on principles remotely traceable to Descartes, full of method, and having little to do with reality, less of memory and nothing of imagination or the spirit of St. Thomas. In the great Catholic universities at Rome and elsewhere, the grand old Dominican and Jesuit masters went on lecturing in Latin to students, many from America, who had to get laugh-signals from the graduate assistants when the master cracked a joke because none knew Latin well enough to tell a joke from a scholastic formula. It is hardly surprising that in such universities scholastic formulas became jokes. The only unusual skill you had to master at the Roman colleges, they say, was to read the easy Latin upside down because on oral examinations the professor would read aloud a question from the manual--holding it right there in front of him. If you had the trick of reading upside down you could give the answer word for word to pass with high distinction. Through a gross misunderstanding of docility, students sat on their disengaged intelligences through hours of what to them was gibberish, at the end of which they received gilded Italianate certificates in Canon Law and Theology certifying in reality an education in outlines, "ponies," and tests whose questions had been leaked in advance with answers right in front of them. And with these doctorates, as professors, rectors, and bishops, their graduates occupied positions of authority in Catholic universities and seminaries. Of course there were exceptions, but I think, brutal as it seems, this is a fair description of the general situation.

The results are still visible among the thinning ranks of priests formed before the Council. How else could the postconciliar failure have occurred? I heard a beloved example some weeks ago, whom I shouldn't disparage in any other way -- a good man of the type of whom in terms of piety it is said in the Common for Confessors, Euge serve bone, in modico fidelis! But, explaining the Eucharist to a parishioner who had been scandalized by uninstructed children secreting instead of consuming consecrated Hosts, he said, "Oh, St. Thomas teaches that only the accidents can be touched anyway, not the Body of Christ, which is the substance."

It is better, as Socrates repeatedly said, not to know and know you don't than not to know and think you do.... Theology and philosophy are difficult, exacting sciences; there are few vocations to such studies in any given generation; and even for those with special gifts of intelligence and will, there are still twelve years of prerequisites in elementary and high school.

John Senior, The Restoration of Christian Culture (Norfolk, VA: IHS Press, 2008) 73-5.

I think Dr. Senior is probably correct in his presentation of the historical and cultural factors that made Leo XIII's project mostly a non-starter. That period of the the history of the Latin churches deserves a more extensive, scholarly treatment.