Saturday, March 31, 2007

Benedict on Iranaeus

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

Benedict can quote from memory from the Church fathers and the scriptures. He is now using he is Wednesday addresses to teach about the early fathers:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"Continuing our catechesis on the Church Fathers, we turn now to Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, a great theologian and bishop at the end of the second century. In his writings, Irenaeus clearly sets forth the contents of the apostolic faith and appeals to the Church’s living tradition in order to defend that faith from false teachings. He thus emphasizes the regula fidei: the “rule of faith” contained in the Apostles’ Creed and in the Gospel proclaimed by the Church’s Bishops. The Gospel Irenaeus preached was the Gospel preached by his teacher Polycarp, who in turn received it from the Apostle John in an unbroken line of succession going back to Christ himself. Irenaeus also writes of the unique authority of the Church of Rome as founded on the Apostles. This zealous pastor illustrates for us three important characteristics of the Apostolic Tradition: it is “public”, because it is available to all through the teaching of the Bishops; it is “one”, because its content remains the same despite the variety of languages and cultures; and it is “pneumatic”, because, through it, the Holy Spirit continues to enliven and renew the Church even today."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Motu Proprio Watch II

Die Welt, one of Germany's major dailies, reports that "The pope from the land of Luther will restore the old Latin mass."

Paul Badde's story in Die Welt was reported by Catholic World News via The New Liturgical Movement. Catholic World News says this confirms stories that have appeared in French and Italian papers and adds the additional detail that a letter to accompany the motu proprio has already been drafted.

Die Welt reports major opposition in the curia and in the European hierarchy to Benedict's liberation of the ancient mass.

A motu proprio is a special pronouncement made by the pope on his own initiative. It is widely expected that the document will universally permit the old "Latin mass." Thus any priest, anywhere in the world, who wishes to say the mass according to the Mass of John XXIII may then do so without asking permission of his local bishop.

The Mass of John XXIII follows the rubrics as they were in 1962 before the changes made after the Second Vatican Council. This ritual was little changed over the previous four centuries and closely resembles the mass of fourteen centuries ago. While the current liturgy may be said in Latin, it is almost always celebrated in the vernacular. The Mass of John XXIII may only be said in Latin.

The Mass of John XXIII is sometimes referred to as the Tridentine mass, alluding to the Council of Trent which reformed it in the sixteenth century.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A new liturgical blog

A new liturgical blog:

Try it!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Our dialogue with [others], inspired by Saint Justin, must remain firmly rooted in Truth, while always avoiding that which is merely fashionable."

Benedict on Justin from his Wednesday Lenten address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis on the Fathers of the Early Church, we consider today Saint Justin, Philosopher and Martyr. Saint Justin was born in Samaria, Palestine, around the year 100 (one hundred). During his youth he ardently sought the truth. After a meeting with an old man, who directed him to prayer and the study of the prophets, the Saint converted to Christianity. He eventually established a school in Rome where he taught the new religion; he was denounced as a Christian and decapitated in the year 165 (one sixty five). Of his written works only his two Apologies and his Dialogue with Trypho remain. These emphasize God’s project of Creation and Salvation which find fulfilment in Jesus Christ, who is the Logos or Word of God. Before the birth of Christ the Logos allowed men and women to come to know part of the truth about God and man. The full truth, however, has been given to Christians with the Incarnation of the Word of God. Our dialogue with philosophy and other religions, inspired by Saint Justin, must remain firmly rooted in Truth, while always avoiding that which is merely fashionable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Be seeds of holiness scattered by the handful in the furrows of history. "

When we give thought to Providence today, which we seldom do, we are baffled rather than comforted. Although specifically speaking to representatives of religious orders, Benedict gives us all a wholly and holy different perspective. Enjoy and pray his metaphors:

"The Church also needs you to give completeness to her mission. Be seeds of holiness scattered by the handful in the furrows of history. Rooted in the freely given and effective action with which the Lord's Spirit guides human events, may you bear fruits of genuine faith, writing with your life and your witness trajectories of hope, writing them with the actions suggested by 'creativity in charity' (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 50).

I thank John P. Lockwood writing in the current issue of Our Sunday Visitor for the tittle quote.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Coming to Order: How the Court Really Works

John O. McGinnis (Northwestern's School of Law) reviews two books about the Supreme Court in today's Wall Street Journal.

Jan Crawford Greenburg gives a balanced and insightful account of the court's working, reasoning, and dynamics. According to Professor McGinnis, Greenberg's "Supreme Conflict is by far the most fair-minded portrait of the Supreme Court in a long time." Justice Thomas emerges as much more independent than his legion of critics can imagine.

From Greenberg's narrative, a justice's political skills, the art of persuading colleagues and building intellectual coalitions, emerges as crucially important. Justice Brennan was far more dangerous than Earl Warren for his legendary skill in crafting majorities for his agenda. In picking John Roberts and Samuel Alito, "George W. Bush may have reason, in future years, to say something famously about his two court triumphs."

Benjamin Wittes's Confirmation Wars examines the way judges are nominated and how the confirmation process has become an arena sport.

I was shocked to discover that the elder Bush wanted to nominate Kenneth Starr, but Richard Thornburg killed the proposal.

Two books for spring break!

Motu proprio watch & Sacramentum Charitatis

Rumors have been rife since last summer that this pope will issue a document that frees priests to offer the holy sacrament of the mass according to the mass of John XXXII, variously known as the Tridentine mass, the mass according to the missal of 1962, or the Latin mass. This last name is unfortunate (see my previous clarification) since the current mass may be offered in Latin and the documents of the Council and from Rome indicate that Latin should be the normal language of the mass.

This rumored document is typically characterized as a motu proprio (Latin for "on my initiative.")

Benedict issued his Apostolic Exhortion, Sacramentum Charitatis on Tuesday. The Latin tittle translates as "Sacrament of Love." Scott Hahn's students might make a case for "Covenant of Love."

Some were disappointed the motu proprio was not issued. None of us should be disappointed in the new Exhortation.

Benedict on Ignatius

Benedict continued with his second general address on the Apostolic Fathers. headlines "Pope: Ignatius of Antioch, the irrepressible desire of Christians for Unity." You can read the full text in english on the Vatican website.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Case Against Global Warming

Has global warming become more polemical politics than science? That is the case made by filmaker, Michael Durkin. I am not a good judge of how accurate his argument is, but his review of recent paleoclimatic ages is great.

The video is supplied by Google.

The Great Global Warming Swindle

1 hr 15 min 56 sec - Mar 9, 2007
Average rating: (3171 ratings)
Description: Are you green? How many flights have you taken in the last year? Feeling guilty about all those unnecessary car journeys? Well, maybe there's no need to feel bad. According to a group of scientists brought together by documentary-maker Martin Durkin, if the planet is heating up, it isn't your fault and there's nothing you can do about it. We've almost begun to take it for granted that climate change is a man-made phenomenon. But just as the environmental lobby think they've got our attention, a group of naysayers have emerged to slay the whole premise of global warming.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Grandma and Censorship

Peggy Noonan gets to the heart of the issue when she argues that "Our political discourse needs less censorship and more self-discipline. " Today's column addresses the week's two flaps: Ann Coulter's suggesting John Edwards is a "faggot" and Bill Maher's saying we would have been better off with Dick Cheney dead.

Wielding her usual scalpels, words of pith and clarity, she cuts through the hypocrisy of political polemics. Specifically, she uses grandma's "That's not nice" to cut to the heart of the issue.

"We should forbid less and demand more." Read on.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Benedict on Clement

On St. Clement of Rome

Benedict XVI used his Wednesday address to talk about Clement, fourth bishop of Rome and martyr to Christ. Having finished discussing the apostles, he is now using his weekly addresses to discuss the apostolic fathers.

The Pope speaks to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square each Wednesday. John Paul the Great used these Wednesday addresses over a two year period to expound his theology of the body. The new Waldstein edition and translation is out.

Why the Apostolic Fathers

Benedict told the pilgrims,
"Now, we will turn our attention to the Apostolic Fathers, that is, to the first and second generation of the Church after the apostles. This way we can see how the Church's path started in history. St. Clement, Bishop of Rome during the last years of the first century, is the third successor of Peter, after Linus and Anacletus. The most important testimonial of his life is that written by St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon until 202. He asserts that Clement 'had seen the apostles … had met with them,' and 'still had their preaching in his ears, and their tradition before his eyes' (Adv. Haer. 3,3,3)."

"The Church Has a Sacramental, Not a Political Structure"

What is the church? Benedict tells us that "St. Clement['s letter to the Corinthians] underlines that the Church has a sacramental structure, not a political structure. God's actions that come to us in the liturgy precede our decisions and our ideas. The Church is above all a gift of God and not a creature of ours and therefore this sacramental structure not only guarantees the common order but also the precedence of the gift of God that we all need. "

As Cardinal Ratzinger, Benedict warned the church that it was incrreasingly perceived more like a multinational corporation that the body of Christ.

You can read the whole address and his comments to the English speaking pilgrims on zenit ( )

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Justin Martyr

April 14th is the traditional feast date of Justin Martyr. It is currently celebrated June 1st in the Roman rite.

He was the first great Christian apologist: a rhetorician for Christ.

Rhetoric is the art of speaking persuasively using logic and appealing to the emotions to persuade your audience. Its end should be the truth. It contrasts with polemic, the use of emotional speech to rally one's supporters and excoriate one's opponents. A polemicist does not care to persuade his opponents.

Rhetoric is the art of free men: it is a necessary ingredient of a free republic. Polemic is the art of demagoguery; its prevalence is the symptom of empire, where men are no longer free.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Getting "a lot of Christians with their knickers in a knot"

We finally discovered the true purpose of biblical scholars and journalists!

The Discovery Channel is airing Sunday (a/k/a the Lord's day) a sensational story claiming to have found ossuaries that once held the bones of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, His "wife" Mary Magdalene, and two other members of the family. The highly paid strategists at the Discovery Channel have apparently decided that they are in the same business as the tabloids at the supermarket checkout counter.

The Wall Street Journal's
David Hall found last Tuesday’s quote of the day in Laurie Goldstein's coverage of this momentous event:

’A lot of conservative, orthodox and moderate Christians are going to be upset by the recklessness of this,’ said Ben Witherington, a Bible scholar at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. ‘Of course, we want to know more about Jesus, but please don’t insult our intelligence by giving us this sort of stuff. It’s going to get a lot of Christians with their knickers in a knot unnecessarily.’

Tying our knickers in knots! So that what biblical scholars and journalists are for! That’s a mystery that has baffled me for decades!

(If you are too embarrassed to ask: "knickers" are what you wear under your pants or skirt. An Aussie friend of mine, who was rather a rake, one confided in me that "Sheilas that don't wear knickers are more fun." I have no personal knowledge with which to judge whether his generalization be true or false. He was a sort who rather enjoyed testing such hypotheses: a line of research I neither recommend nor condone.)