Monday, 14 December

23:31

Babylon [Korrektiv]

rivers of babylon

The rivers of Babylon rush and fall and sweep away.
O holy Sion, where all is firm and nothing falls!
We must sit upon the waters, not under them or in them but on them; and not standing but seated; being seated to be humble, and being above them to be secure. But we shall stand in the porches of Jerusalem.
Let us see if this pleasure is stable or transitory; if it pass away, it is a river of Babylon.
                         – Pascal,
Pensees, 459.

It wasn’t much at first. A sagging step,
Exaggerated bend of knee, the way
She’d reach with fluid motion and then stop –

I even caught her once before the well,
The water’s calm the perfect reach and scope
For vanity to hold her gaze… When ill

She’d sit a lot and take her rest instead
Of work – my own affliction could not tell
Of Sara’s lesson: Abraham was dead

And God no longer talks to us in signs.
Tradition filled my mouth but weighed like lead
To trip my tongue. So she would sing the lines

Of David then: God, our king before time,
Hath wrought salvation…
Now my mind inclines
To all kinds of hints: so the steady flame

Within the temple’s precincts trembles at
The shadows. Brother priests do not esteem
My company. Still, incense rises, mute

As priests and fathers suffered Babylon:
Now I too wish to sing with strings and flute,
To dance with timbrel like the halcyon

Who swoops and dives above the river’s flow…
So God’s own messenger, who stood upon
The altar, was pleased to let this father know

He’d be waiting on the porch of Sion.

18:15

Die Vorhalle zum großen Völkeropfer [Denzinger-Katholik]

Als kleine Überleitung zum nächsten Teil meiner ebenfalls kleinen Serie zu Johannes Brinktrine soll ein Zitat aus seiner Monographie "Die Heilige Messe" dienen. Ich bin versucht, gleich noch etwas Längeres dazu zu schreiben (und hier stand auch schon was im Editor), aber ich lasse es erst einmal für sich selbst stehen, gleichsam als Eingang und Vorhalle zum nächsten Artikel. Das wichtige Wort, nur so viel sei gesagt, ist das Ganze. Und was Brinktrine hier über die Katechumenmesse sagt, kann im weiteren Sinne natürlich auch für die gesamte Messe gelten:

Werfen wir von dem Standpunkte, den wir gewonnen haben, einen Blick auf die Vormesse als Ganzes, so sehen wir ein Kunstwerk vor uns, wie es einzig der religiösen Literatur dasteht. Die Steine dieses monumentalen Baues wurden den verschiedenartigsten Kulturen entlehnt: der jüdisch-orientalischen, der griechisch-hellenistischen, der römisch-lateinischen, der germanisch-mittelalterlichen Kultur, und doch sind alle Stücke so zusammengefügt, daß ein Gebäude von Harmonie und Schönheit vor unserm Geiste steht. Die Liturgien der großen Kirchen des Orients wie des Okzidents haben dazu beigetragen, die Meßordnung Roms zu bereichern und zu verschönern: in der Liturgie der Mutter aller Kirchen finden sie sich einträchtig beisammen. Man dürfte kaum irgendwo in der religiösen Literatur eine solche Mannigfaltigkeit und Fülle in den einzelnen Teilen und eine solche Geschlossenheit und Einheit in dem Ganzen finden. Andere Geistesprodukte, auch die religiösen, sind national ausgeprägt, spiegeln eine bestimmte nationale Kultur wider, die römische Meßliturgie, die bereits in ihrem ersten Teile Elemente aus verschiedensten Kulturen, alten und neuen, harmonisch geeint hat, ist übernational, sie ist ein Symbol der Universalität der Kirche Christi, welche die nach Rasse und Sitte, Sprache und Kultur getrennten Völker und Nationen aller Zeiten umspannt und sie "in der Einheit des Glaubens versammelt". Der Glaubensartikel von der una ecclesia catholica hat in dem monumentalen Bau der römischen Katechumenmesse seine kongeniale Liturgische Ausprägung und eine Form von hoher Vollendung gefunden. Dieses herrliche Kunstwerk ist würdig, als Vorhalle zu dienen für das Heiligtum, in welchem das große Völkeropfer dargebracht wird, die heilige Eucharistie, das bewirkende Symbol der kirchlichen Einheit und Katholizität. In dieses Heiligtum wollen wir jetzt eintreten.
Johannes Brinktrine: Die Heilige Messe. Paderborn: Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh 1950, S. 128f. 

17:13

VIDEO: How to Share Catholic Faith with Jewish Friends [Taylor Marshall]

Hanukah ends this week: So how do you convincingly and charitably share the Jewish Faith with your Catholic friend or family member?

Despite what you may have heard elsewhere, we Christians really do want our Jewish family and friends to experience the healing of baptism and the joys and consolation of the Holy Eucharist!

Thomas looking at NSTIChrist is the King of the Jews, and (as St Paul and St Thomas Aquinas teach) their personal reception of Christ brings glory to God and is an eschatological sign!

I’m really excited to share with you this HD Catholic Class from the New Saint Thomas Institute with detailed practical advice on sharing the Catholic Faith with Jewish family, friends, and co-workers. Hanukah ends this week so it’s a great opportunity to brush up on your Catholic theology and Old Testament skills.

[If you already are a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, you received this video lesson last week, plus so much more. Your premium version access of this video is available here.]

If you’re not a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute, here is a free sample of our high quality Catholic theological videos:

HD Video: How to Share Catholic Faith with a Jewish Friend:

If you don’t see this theological video in your email, click here to begin watching it.

If you are not yet a Member of the New Saint Thomas Institute and want to study Catholic theology with us online and earn your Certificate, our Advent Enrollment is currently open!

You can receive our Advent Apologetics package and over 100 videos on Catholic Theology and Apologetics by signing up today:

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The post VIDEO: How to Share Catholic Faith with Jewish Friends appeared first on Taylor Marshall.

16:47

Elevenses [Edinburgh Housewife]

Today I was late in writing up my Christmas column for the CR for I was entertaining two little Edinburgh girls and their mother. Now I feel very Christmassy indeed, even though by family standards I cheated by having a tin of Cadbury's chocolate cookies to hand instead of proper home-baked cookies. Family pride was saved by the presence of Chocolate Piernik (gingerbread), which I thought the girls might not like, as it is stuffed with chopped prunes and candied ginger. The youngest loved it, however.

This may sound fatuous, but I do like children, especially tiny ones. The youngest are rarely self-conscious and just wriggle about doing their own version of Pilates or suddenly decide to take naps in the middle of the carpet, which I often want to do at parties. They are not at all shocked or disapproving if you join them on the floor, as I did, for I wanted to see if I too could tuck my feet behind my head. You can't really get away with this sort of thing when all your guests are adults.

I was a bit worried that the children would be bored, for we have no proper toys. However, we have a large collection of toy owls--owl cushions, owl doorstops, woolly owls, brass owls, wooden owls--plus my old, immensely long-suffering teddy bear and a hedgehog cushion. I assembled them all together in the sitting-room, and I think my small guests were a bit awed that one grown-up could own so many owls. They consumed milk, chocolate biscuits and cake, played with the owls and made them a nest, and I felt our "elevenses" was as successful as a dinner party.

"Elevenses" is a meal you will know if you read the Paddington Bear books as a child. Although Paddington is himself Peruvian,the Paddington Bear books are as English as English can be. Paddington has a mid-morning snack with his friend Mr Gruber, a very English Hungarian who keeps an antique shop in London's Portobello Road. Mr Gruber calls this snack "Elevenses," and it generally involves a cup of cocoa.

Afterwards I walked my guests through the woods to the bus stop, but despite the rain, the children were in no hurry. The youngest was fascinated by the stream and stood about staring at it, looking like an illustration in a classic English (or Scotttish) children's book. When I was three and four, I lived in England, and I have very fond memories of being three and four and playing in woods. In fact, I like everything and everyone that reminds me of that time which is yet another reason why I fell for B.A.

13:05

Aus Alt mach Neu! [totaliter aliter]

Heute um ca. 11:00 Uhr wurde in einem außerordentlichen Plenarkapitel unser Propst Bernhard von den Kapitularen des Stiftes Klosterneuburg auf Lebenszeit in seinem Amt bestätigt.

Ich wünsche ihm Gottes Segen, alles Gute und weiterhin gutes Geschick und eine väterliche Gesinnung bei der Leitung unserer Gemeinschaft.

11:30

The Politics of Iconoclasm [Eastern Christian Books]

I discussed the hardback version on here in some detail when it appeared a few years ago now, but a very affordable paperback version of James Noyes, The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam (I.B. Tauris, 2016), 256pp. will appear at the end of January. So now there is no excuse not to own this book, an important and well-argued contribution to the expanding field of iconoclasm studies.

About this book the publisher tells us:
From false idols and graven images to the tombs of kings and the shrines of capitalism, the targeted destruction of cities, sacred sites and artefacts for religious, political or nationalistic reasons is central to our cultural legacy. This book examines the different traditions of image-breaking in Christianity and Islam as well as their development into nominally secular movements and paints a vivid, scholarly picture of a culture of destruction encompassing Protestantism, Wahhabism, and Nationalism. Beginning with a comparative account of Calvinist Geneva and Wahhabi Mecca, The Politics of Iconoclasm explores the religious and political agendas behind acts of image-breaking and their relation to nationhood and state-building. From sixteenth-century Geneva to urban developments in Mecca today, The Politics of Iconoclasm explores the history of image-breaking, the culture of violence and its paradoxical roots in the desire for renewal. Examining these dynamics of nationhood, technology, destruction and memory, a historical journey is described in which the temple is razed and replaced by the machine.

09:50

2016 kann kommen [Denzinger-Katholik]


... denn der zweite Kalender ist da! Falls man mal vom einen in den anderen Raum vergisst, welcher Tag und welches Fest heute ist, dann ist es nicht verkehrt, mehr als bloß einen davon zu haben.
Auf dem Kalender des Instituts Christus König und Hohepriester finden sich dieses Jahr zu jedem Monat ein anderes Motiv aus der Fassade der Kirche Notre Dame de Lourdes in Libreville/Gabun, entworfen und realisiert von Abbé Alexander Willweber. Konzipiert wurde die Fassade, so erzählen es die letzten Kalenderseiten, nach den architektonischen Regeln aus Vetruvs De architectura und Abbé Albertis Bearbeitung derselben Schrift. Wer sich also für Architektur interessiert ... gab es da nicht mal irgendjemanden in der Blogozese, ich weiß beim besten Willen nicht mehr wer ... der findet da auch etwas im institutseigenen Kalender.

Kostenfrei bestellt werden kann er hier. Dazu gibt es sogar noch ein praktisches Kalendarium mitsamt den Adressen und Apostolaten des Instituts in aller Welt.

05:34

Rubber Baby Bloggy Bumpies [New Song]

You may have noticed that the New Song blog fell suddenly silent a week or more ago.  I had just begun the Jesse Tree project, and I was tossing up additional posts, getting into the Advent season–and then nothing.  The Holmes house hit a major bump when all the kids came down with this nasty cold/flu thing going around and flopped around on chairs and couches like they had just rolled off the rubber chicken factory line.

Actually, the major bump was when Matthew the seven-month-old filled his head with mucus, started coughing, and stopped sleeping.  My wife and I took turns pacing with him through the night for the better part of a week; we did only the essentials during the day, and by the end we didn’t do those, either.  We hit that point where you have to rearrange things on the kitchen counter creatively so you can put down your cup.  Only you can’t find a cup, because all the sniffling, hacking rubber chickens take one sip from each cup in the cupboard, decide they need a new cup, and even drink from your cup when you’re not looking.

So the Jesse Tree project is dead for this year.  But in all that night-time pacing I thought a lot about new ideas and directions for the blog.  I actually compiled a spreadsheet one afternoon of all my top blog posts from the past couple of years and I ranked them by the number of “hits”.  And I learned something extremely valuable from that exercise:

Which posts get lots of “hits” and which do not is pretty much random.  It has nothing to do with how well written or thoughtful the blog post is.  Seeing that fact in cold numbers really takes the ego out of blogging.

So I figure I should just keep writing about whatever I enjoy writing about, although I do have some crazy ideas about new directions that may or may not work out, depending on which way the wind blows.  To this point in my life, when I have kept on doing things I enjoy then God has always opened neat doors in front of me.

04:22

The Holocaust and Its Shaping of Catholic Ecclesiology [Unam Sanctam Catholicam]


You may have never heard of Enzo Bianchi. He is the lay "prior" of the so-called "interconfessional monastery" of Bose in Biella, Italy. The Bose community contains over eighty "brothers" and "sisters" from various Christian denominations. In 2012 Mr. Bianchi was named as a peritus to the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization; in 2014 the pontificate of Pope Francis elevated Mr. Bianchi to be Consultor of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Bianchi has gone of record in the past with his belief that the 1917 Fatima apparitions are a "swindle." The reason? Because Fatima does not specifically predict the Holocaust. "A God who thinks in 1917 that there will be a persecution of Christians, but does not speak of the Holocaust and the six million Jews annihilated, is not a credible God", said Bianchi, the quote coming from La Repubblica.

The French leftist dissident Dominican Jean Cardonnel, a friend and supporter of Bianchi, expanded on this theme, stating that, "A credible God, I repeat Bianchi, the God of Catholic racism who cares only for his family, for his Catholic race, while the kin of Jesus may fall prey to oblivion." 

Vittorio Messori, author of the famous Ratzinger Report, summed up the positions of Cardonnel and Bianchi: "Even God must - if he wants to speak to us through Mary - recognize the Shoah and especially curse it, otherwise he is not a credible God."

The blog Eponymous Flower has an excellent refutation of this absurd line of thinking - as if God cannot speak on whatever subject matter He wants at any time! I highly recommend the article, where you can also find all the sources for the above citations.

The phenomenon I want to comment on is this fixation on the Holocaust in contemporary Catholic discourse. The Holocaust was undoubtedly one of the most horrendous events in human history - not the first genocide, and not even the biggest, but certainly horrendous nonetheless. Still, the Holocaust - like the Norman Conquest, Reformation, or Civil War - is ultimately only a historical event. While the will of God unfolds throughout history, and while grace can be found in any event, the Holocaust possessed no special eschatological or salvific significance. The Holocaust is not an article of faith that must be continually referenced and paid special tribute to.

It is fascinating to see how the Holocaust has slipped from the realm of history into a theological context. In fact, as we shall see, the obligation of memorializing the Holocaust has become a theological linchpin in the contemporary Church's approach to Judaism.

* * * * *

Let us begin with the document "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah", the 1998 letter issued by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews under John Paul II. This letter establishes the principle that the Holocaust cannot be considered as a mere historical event, but deserves a kind of "religious memory":

"The very magnitude of the crime raises many questions. Historians, sociologists, political philosophers, psychologists and theologians are all trying to learn more about the reality of the Shoah and its causes. Much scholarly study still remains to be done. But such an event cannot be fully measured by the ordinary criteria of historical research alone. It calls for a "moral and religious memory" and, particularly among Christians, a very serious reflection on what gave rise to it."

Certainly moral lessons can be drawn from any historical episode; but not every historical episode calls for a special "moral and religious memory." In taking this approach, the Magisterium of John Paul II seemed to be saying that the Holocaust must be elevated beyond other historical events, not in terms of its importance, but in terms of what sort of phenomenon it was. It makes sense to say that Civil War was a more important historic event than the War of Jenkins' Ear in terms of its magnitude and consequences; but here we are just moving along a spectrum of magnitude on the axis of historical events. What We Remember is saying is something different; it says not that the Holocaust is a more important historical event than other historical events, but rather that it should not be understood as merely a historical event at all - rather, it merits "moral and religious memory." It is a difference of quality, not just magnitude.

* * * * *

By allowing the Holocaust to bleed over from the historical into the religious, this historic event can now be considered as a kind of theological criterion for understanding Church teaching. The introductory letter by Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy in the above mentioned document demonstrates the attempt to move the Holocaust from the historical into the theological. He wrote:

"In the Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate,n. 4, published on 1 December 1974, the Holy See's Commission recalled that "the step taken by the Council finds its historical setting in circumstances deeply affected by the memory of the persecution and massacre of Jews which took place in Europe just before and during the Second World War". Yet, as the Guidelines pointed out, "the problem of Jewish-Christian relations concerns the Church as such, since it is when "pondering her own mystery" (Nostra Aetate, n. 4) that she encounters the mystery of Israel." 

This needs a bit of parsing. The memory of the Holocaust provides the "historical setting" for the Council's discussion of the Church's relation with non-Christian religions, specifically the Jews. The relationship is bound up with the Church's own self-understanding, since in "pondering her own mystery" the Church inevitably confronts the "mystery of Israel." In other words, the question of Jewish-Christian relations is central to the mystery of the Church, and the "historical setting" by which this question must be framed is the Holocaust. The Holocaust thus becomes a point of departure for theological considerations relating to the Church's own identity.

The modern context for Catholic ecclesiology is the memory of the Holocaust, at least in considering relations with Jews. This one historic event is thus elevated to the level of a meta-historical act whose import is religious, similar to the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. It is the theologizing of the Holocaust.

* * * * *

It is well-known that the enemies of the Church are fond of blaming Christian civilization for creating the atmosphere of European anti-Semitism that made the Holocaust possible. Pop-Catholic apologists have spent a great deal of effort refuting this position. What these pop-apologists might not be aware of is the modern Magisterium itself is in agreement with these claims. In We Remember, the Magisterium of John Paul II unambiguously endorses the view that centuries of negative Christian attitudes towards Jews bear some responsibility for the Holocaust. The relevant points are worth citing at length:

"The fact that the Shoah took place in Europe, that is, in countries of long-standing Christian civilization, raises the question of the relation between the Nazi persecution and the attitudes down the centuries of Christians towards the Jews.  The history of relations between Jews and Christians is a tormented one. His Holiness Pope John Paul II has recognized this fact in his repeated appeals to Catholics to see where we stand with regard to our relations with the Jewish people. In effect, the balance of these relations over two thousand years has been quite negative.
Despite the Christian preaching of love for all, even for one's enemies, the prevailing mentality down the centuries penalized minorities and those who were in any way "different". Sentiments of anti-Judaism in some Christian quarters, and the gap which existed between the Church and the Jewish people, led to a generalized discrimination, which ended at times in expulsions or attempts at forced conversions. In a large part of the "Christian" world, until the end of the 18th century, those who were not Christian did not always enjoy a fully guaranteed juridical status." 

The letter goes on to make a distinction between "anti-Judaism" and nationalist "anti-Semitism", convicting Christians of the former but not the latter. It points to Naziism as a neo-pagan ideology that was also anti-Christian as well as anti-Jewish, in attempting to draw a historical separation between the two types of anti-Jewish hostility. But the document goes on to ask:

"But it may be asked whether the Nazi persecution of the Jews was not made easier by the anti-Jewish prejudices imbedded in some Christian minds and hearts. Did anti-Jewish sentiment among Christians make them less sensitive, or even indifferent, to the persecutions launched against the Jews by National Socialism when it reached power?"

While making mention of Christians who helped persecuted Jews, the document goes on to condemn the attitudes of the majority of Christians who "were not strong enough" in their opposition to National Socialism:

"Nevertheless, as Pope John Paul II has recognized, alongside such courageous men and women, the spiritual resistance and concrete action of other Christians was not that which might have been expected from Christ's followers. We cannot know how many Christians in countries occupied or ruled by the Nazi powers or their allies were horrified at the disappearance of their Jewish neighbours and yet were not strong enough to raise their voices in protest. For Christians, this heavy burden of conscience of their brothers and sisters during the Second World War must be a call to penitence. We deeply regret the errors and failures of these sons and daughters of the Church."

Thus, while anti-Judaism is logically and historically distinct from "pagan anti-Semitism", the earlier Christian anti-Judaism aided anti-Semitism in a fashion by deadening the responses of Christians to the horrors of the Holocaust.
* * * * *

We Remember references John Paul II. The reference in questions is from John Paul II's 1997 Address to the Symposium on the Roots of Anti-Judaism, in which the pope specifically says that alleged Christian indifference to the Holocaust proceeded directly from the pre-modern Christian hostility towards the Jews:

"In fact, in the Christian world — I do not say on the part of the Church as such — erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this people. They contributed to the lulling of consciences, so that when the wave of persecutions inspired by a pagan anti-Semitism, which in essence is equivalent to an anti-Christianity, swept across Europe, alongside Christians who did everything to save the persecuted even at the risk of their lives, the spiritual resistance of many was not what humanity rightfully expected from the disciples of Christ."

Among the "erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament" that John Paul II references is presumably the belief that the Church has replaced the Jews as the true Israel, as well as the perennially held Christian assertion that the Old Covenant, on its own, is no longer salvific. He does not suggest this explicitly, but it is easily inferred by the fact that the pope cites Romans 11:29 ("the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable") in the conclusion of his address, a verse consistently but erroneously invoked by those who argue that the Jews have "their own covenant" with God outside of Jesus Christ. 

It is baffling how John Paul II could say these teachings were never taught "on the part of the Church as such", since the Council of Florence Cantate Domino specifically and unambiguously taught the very thing John Paul II seems to consider "erroneous and unjust":

“[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the Old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our Lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the Passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation.”

Thus, John Paul II seemed to think that the traditional ecclesiology of the Church vis-a-vis the Jews was in fact responsible for a deadening of feeling and an indifference among Christians that helped facilitate the Holocaust.

* * * * *

We Remember states that the religious import of the Holocaust is understood in terms of a binding commitment of future generations to let the Holocaust serve as the starting point for a new beginning with the Jewish people. In the following extraordinary statement, notice the admission of Catholic guilt and repentance for Christian failings in facilitating the Holocaust, coupled by the assertion that this repentance calls for a "binding commitment" to develop a "new relationship" with the Jewish people for the purpose of eliminating "anti-Judaism":

"At the end of this Millennium the Catholic Church desires to express her deep sorrow for the failures of her sons and daughters in every age. This is an act of repentance (teshuva), since, as members of the Church, we are linked to the sins as well as the merits of all her children. The Church approaches with deep respect and great compassion the experience of extermination, the Shoah, suffered by the Jewish people during World War II. It is not a matter of mere words, but indeed of binding commitment....
We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people has suffered in our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish people. We wish to turn awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and have a common father in faith, Abraham."

Notice the use of the term "anti-Judaism." Given that the document went to lengths earlier to distinguish between "anti-Judaism" and "anti-Semitism", we must presume an internal consistency in the term's usage. This would infer that the elimination of "anti-Judaism" is referring to, not nationalist anti-Semitism, but rather "the erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament" that John Paul II referred to - in other words, the teaching that the Jewish covenant taken on its own is not salvific and that Jews need Christ. The traditional position suddenly becomes problematic because it infers that the Jews are not alright just where they are - that their condition is not enviable, that they need Jesus Christ. This position is untenable to the modern Magisterium.

* * * * *

It all begins to come together. Because of the horror of the Holocaust - and guilt for perceived Christian numbness to Jewish suffering - the modern Magisterium has lost the fortitude to tell the Jews that they are in need of salvation through Christ. Any suggestion that the Jewish religion is not a complete and integral salvific system are taken as a type of "anti-Judaism", for such a position necessarily finds fault with the current status of the Jews. Never mind that the Nazi remedy to the Jewish question was extermination whilst the Christian remedy is conversion; if the Church is sufficiently to distance itself from the Holocaust, it must no longer insist that there is anything lacking or objectionable in Judaism. The Holocaust is the event - at once historical, religious, and moral - that has become the historical context for this change in direction. And the obligation to continue in this trajectory is a "binding commitment" on Christians. This is why we will only ever see more waffling from the Magisterium when it comes to the question of Jews and salvation.

A case in point is the horrible new document "The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable" (2015). This document will go further than any other Magisterial statement in teaching the Jews do not need conversion to Christ and the Church for salvation. Note the title is taken from Romans 11:29, the same verse John Paul II cited against the "erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament", as found in the Council of Florence. It is eminently schizophrenic, suggesting that "From the Christian confession that there can be only one path to salvation, however, it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God." Apparently the principle of non-contradiction has been replaced with Folgers Crystals, as Steve Skojec so tartly put it.

But yes, the document repudiates the centuries old teaching that the Church is the true Israel, even though admitting that this teaching was "the standard theological foundation of the relationship with Judaism" from the patristic era and for the entirety of the Church's tradition, "only to be defused at the Second Vatican Council...with its Declaration Nostra aetate", which has replaced the 2,000 year tradition with a new "constructive dialogue relationship." What crass arrogance to so blatantly "defuse" what the document admits is the universal tradition!

But look at how evangelization to the Jews is said to be a no-no and the Shoah is invoked:

"In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah."


It goes on about "the dark and terrible shadow of the Shoah", and encourages Christians to "reflect anew" upon this tragedy as a point of departure for Christian-Jewish relations. Following John Paul II, it speaks of a moral "duty of Christians" to remember the Shoah. This language is truly amazing; strictly speaking, the only historical events we have a moral duty to recall are those that are part of salvation history: the great stories of the Old Testament, the events surrounding the life, death and Resurrection of our Lord, the miraculous founding of the Church, Of course we commemorate many saints and other historical events, but nobody ever speaks of a grave "duty" to remember Lepanto or tells us we have a "binding commitment" to never forget the Investiture Controversy. The only historical events we have any binding commitment to remember and honor are those which are integral parts of salvation history.

And this is precisely the role many would like to assign to the Holocaust. The Church's "new relationship", her new "constructive dialogue" with Judaism exists as a kind of theological response to the Shoah, which is put forward as an event of such meta-historical importance that it justifies abandoning 2,000 years of Catholic Tradition.

* * * * *

I recall once when I was in college I was taking a philosophy course by a professor who was a fairly decent Catholic but who was unfortunately an ardent disciple of Von Balthasar. He was discussing changes in Catholic theology, art, architecture, and literature in the wake of World War I, and how all these changes were prompted by a desire of Catholic intellectuals to "respond" to the horrors of the war. I raised my hand and asked why Catholicism had to "respond" at all? Why could not the Church simply address the horrors of the modern world by continuing unperturbed on its ageless mission, without turning to the left nor to the right? Instead of "responding" to the modern world, why not call the modern world to respond to the timeless Gospel? The professor kind of hemmed and hawed; the thought had apparently never occurred to him.

I have often mentioned Alyssa Lyra Pitstick's book Light in the Darkness, which is mandatory reading for those interested in learning what an outrageously heterodox theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar was. In the introduction to her book, Pitstick notes that modern theologians who put forward novel theories often are driven by the desire of these thinkers to "respond" to the horrors of the modern age; to allow their thinking to be "conditioned" by the times. She makes this point with reference to theories about Christ's death, but it is just as applicable to our discussion:

"In particular, the face of death in the twentieth century - conditioned by philosophical and social alienation, the great wars, and atheism - often figures noticeably in the new interpretations of Christ's death...However, as Vatican II suggests, such pastoral exigencies can only be adequately met with God's revealed truth, proclaimed anew to a changed audience, not by the molding of doctrinal content to the image of human horror in any age" (Pitstick, Light in the Darkness, pg. 3)

Is not the contemporary Church's refusal to say anything remotely challenging to the Jews an example of doctrinal content being molded in response to the Holocaust? Indeed, it is the elephant in the room; because of some kind of collective guilt over the Holocaust, the Catholic Church has lost the ability - or rather the will - to tell them they need to convert to Christ. Instead of proclaiming the timeless truth of Christ to a modern audience, we are allowing our "response" to the horrors of the 20th century to alter the truth.


01:00

„Ich weiß“ [BRUNONIS]

IL208-Z.23.4b


Ich weiß, dass in dieser Welt die Gnade einem jeden gegeben wird  
nach dem Maß, wie Christus sie gegeben hat (Eph4,7);
ich weiß, dass im andern Leben die Glorie 
dem Maß der Gnade entsprechen wird, 
das ich auf Erden zur Frucht habe reifen lassen;
ich weiß, dass ich in der Ewigkeit die Entwicklung besitzen werde, 
die ich in der Zeit erworben habe;
ich weiß, dass ich in dem Maß zunehme, 
in dem ich mich von den Flecken des Bösen wasche.

Und das ist alles, was ich weiß.

Ich täusche mich, denn ich weiß noch mehr.
Ich weiß, dass hier ein jeder sein Maß 
und dass am Himmel der Auserwählten jeder Stern 
seine unterschiedliche Helligkeit hat (1 Kor 15,41);
ich weiß, dass die Arbeit des Wachstums und der Verherrlichung 
unwiderruflich mit dem Tode abschließt,
dass jeder in dem Maß der Verdienste ewig verbleibt, 
in dem er sich in der Stunde des Hinübergangs befunden hat (Sir 11,3).

Ich muss, solange es Tag ist, die Werke dessen tun, der mich gesandt hat; 
die Nacht kommt, in der niemand mehr wirken kann (Sir 11,3).

(Dom François de Sales Polien, IL, 20151214)

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