Tuesday, 29 December

21:34

St Paul's Letter to the Romans [Lectio Divina Notes]


Codex Alexandrinus

From January 1 the readings in the Office to turn to the letter of St Paul to the Romans, so I thought I'd provide a few short notes here to aid reading on it.

The Office, of course, only provides a few extracts from selected chapters; in a monastery the rest is traditionally read either over a meal and/or individually as lectio divina.

The basics

Romans is the sixth book of the New Testament, coming immediately after Acts, and is widely regarded as the most important of St Paul's letters.   It consists of sixteen chapters in total.

The epistle was probably written between 55 and 57 AD, and internal references suggest that it was written while St Paul resided in Corinth.  St Paul was planning to visit Rome, and the letter is in effect a self-recommendation in preparation for that visit by way of doctrine.

Theologically the letter is very dense, and dealing with justification as it does, has spawned many heresies.  Accordingly, it is a good idea to read it with the help of a sound commentary.  Some useful online resources include:


Structure

The following outline is a shortened version of that provided in Fr Kenneth Baker's Inside the Bible:

I Introduction 1:1-18

II There is no salvation apart from Christ 1:18-3:20

III Salvation found only in Christ 3:21-4:25

IV Salvation described and defined 5:1-8:39
Doctrine - Judaism

V Jew and Gentile in God’s plan 9:1-11:36
Practice

VI Moral demands of God’s justice 12:1-15:13

VII Final words and greetings 14:13-16:27

20:08

The Christ Child in the Temple [LMS Chairman]

IMG_0277We know what Jesus did on that occasion. Instead of returning home with his family, he stayed in Jerusalem, in the Temple, causing great distress to Mary and Joseph who were unable to find him. For this little “escapade”, Jesus probably had to beg forgiveness of his parents. The Gospel doesn’t say this, but I believe that we can presume it. Mary’s question, moreover, contains a certain reproach, revealing the concern and anguish which she and Joseph felt.

These words, from Pope Francis' sermon last Sunday on the Holy Family, are puzzling. Because we know exactly how the Christ Child responded to the question put to Him by Our Lady - a question which does indeed 'contain a certain reproach'. St Luke's narrative continues with the perplexing but pregnant words of the Man God:

Quid est quod me quaerebatis? nesciebatis quia in his quae Patris mei sunt, oportet me esse?

And he said to them: How is it that you sought me? did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?


St Luke adds three further pieces of information. First, that they did not understand this reply. Second, that Our Lady kept these words of His in her heart. And third, that, returning to Nazareth, He was subject to them.


It is not unusual for Our Lord to say things which His hearers did not understand: it happens a great deal in the Gospels, and the uncomprehending hearers include not only hostile Pharisees, but open-minded crowds and sympathetic disciples. In this case the sinless Virgin herself did not understand. What is the point of saying something no one understands? It is no mystery: St Luke tells us. She kept the words in her heart. She came to understand them later, as the disciples did with many of Our Lord's words and actions. The outstanding examples of course were Our Lord's prophecies of His coming Passion and Resurrection; another was His Transfiguration.

The Christ Child's sojourn in the Temple was not some childish prank. It was a prophetic action, with layer upon layer of symbolic meaning. It speaks of Christ's taking up of His authority, and of His divine Wisdom. It speaks of His future disappearance for three days in the Tomb, and of His triumphant return. It gave Our Lady a reminder of the prophecy of Simeon, delivered in the same Temple, of the sword which would pierce her heart. It reminded St Joseph that the authority he had over Our Lord was one which Jesus had voluntarily taken upon Himself, just as He submitted voluntarily to the authority of the Mosaic Law.

The words of the Holy Father don't seem very carefully chosen; the best I can suggest as a pious reading of them is that the 'escapade' would have required a kind of reconciliation among the Holy Family, at the emotional, though not at the moral, level. Even this is awkward, however, in light of Our Lady's perfect alignment with the Divine Will. 'Begging forgiveness' is hardly the phrase required. It is Our Lord's confidence in His sinlessness which is truly shocking to a modern ear. (John 8:46)


Quis ex vobis arguet me de peccato? 

Which of you shall convince me of sin? 
The Holy Family is indeed a model of all human families, but this homely fact should not lead us into reading Scripture in an unspiritual way. In reading the charming infancy narratives, and this single story of Our Lord's boyhood, we have to keep the whole of the Gospel message in mind. These stories are overshadowed by the Cross. What Our Lord did to Our Lady and St Joseph at twelve, causing them pain and anxiety, he would do again, in a more extreme way, to Our Lady and the disciples, when he was 33. All motives of human affection, of being nice to people in a superficial and mundane way, would in that decisive moment give way to the one truly important consideration: of being about His Father's business.

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19:10

Mary, Mother of God [The Sacred Page]

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16:46

7 Catholic Lifestyle Tips to Make 2016 the Best Year of Your Life [Taylor Marshall]

2015 is over. Do you need help choosing the right goals and resolutions for 2016?

We often “make goals” about losing weight, working out, and making better decisions for ourselves.

As Catholics, we know that the good of our soul is the most important investment that we can make in this life. So how can 2016 become your breakthrough year in your relationship with God? Could 2016 really be the best year of your life so far?

The secret to transforming your life and your year is to cultivate a rich interior life with Christ our Lord and King, but also to avoid the #1 mistake people make in setting goals improperly (in any area of their lives). I’m hosting a live Catholic Webinar (seminar on the web) in which I will share “7 tips” with you on topics such as:

  • #1 mistake people make in setting goals
  • how to read the Bible in one year
  • how to find time for daily Mass
  • how to structure regular confession on a rotating basis
  • how the year of Mercy can help you
  • how to schedule your day so that you have time for daily prayer and spiritual reading
  • how to lead others to Christ and His Church through you presence and work

If you’ve never been to one of our Catholic Webinars, you’ll be amazed at how encouraged you’ll feel afterward. In our previous webinar, we were joined by over 800 Catholics from all over the world with lots of energy and excitement. Consider it as attending a Catholic conference through the internet – for free.

Please register and join us as we prepare with 7 tips for 2016 to be our breakthrough year by clicking here.

Register here button

The post 7 Catholic Lifestyle Tips to Make 2016 the Best Year of Your Life appeared first on Taylor Marshall.

16:17

From Femen activist to pro-life Christian [Catholic Sacristan]

Ultra-feminist founder of Femen Brazil declares herself pro-life, apologizes to Christians 
Sara Winter once bared her chest for Femen. Now she’s fighting for the unborn 
December 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Sara Fernanda Giromin first made herself known to Brazil and to the world under the alias “Sara Winter” in 2012, when she became the founding member of Femen Brazil, and led a trio of girls in a number of topless protests that garnered much media attention. However, only three years later, the young activist has done an about-face and has declared war on feminism and abortion, and is apologizing to Christians for her offensive behavior. She has also published a short book detailing the abuse and disappointment she suffered at the hands of fellow feminists.
Deo gratias for the conversion of a young woman—the founder of FemenBrazil—who has since her involvement with said group made a 180º turn toward the Light.

Pray for Sara. Pray that she may be strengthened and blessed with an abiding knowledge of God's love. May she be granted every grace to help her continue to embrace with zeal her new life of authentic love and true joy. May her apology and conversion be accepted without reservation and serve to remind all that God changes hearts and that we who celebrate this Jubilee Year of Mercy may listen to her story with humility and loving acceptance. May each of us be reminded of the need for constant conversion.

Pray especially for Sara's former associates that they, too, may turn away from cruel and indecent activism and instead defend our unborn sisters and brothers who desperately need the protection every society can and should muster.
Sarah Winter (Sara Fernanda Giromin): website [Portuguese]
Men and women, former abortion practitioners, often become the most eloquent witnesses to life and hope.

We must never stop praying for those in most need of the mercy of God. God can rescue even the most diehard pro-abortion supporter from the trap that so many people in the abortion industry find themselves. We must pray with confidence but without condescension. We are all sinners in need of God's grace in Jesus Christ.

13:19

von Hildebrand versus (?) Aquinas on love of self as the foundation for love of another [Laodicea]

St Thomas, asking “whether likeness is a cause of love”, says this:

From the fact that two are similar, as it were having one form, they are in a certain sense one in that form, as for example two men are in the species of humanity or two white men are one in whiteness. And thus the love of one tends towards the other, insofar as he is one with himself, and he wills good to him, as he does to himself . . . . But everyone loves himself more than another, for everyone is one in substance with himself, but only one in the likeness of some form with the other. (Summa Theologiae 1a 2ae 27, 3)

Speaking about the order that exists in charity, he says something similar:

God is loved as the principle of that good {sc. beatitude} upon which charity’s love is founded; a man loves himself by charity insofar as he is a partaker of that Good; while the neighbour is loved by him insofar as he has fellowship with this neighbour in that good. Now fellowship {consociatio} is the reason for love insofar as it involves a union ordered to God. Therefore, since unity is more than union, therefore the fact that a man himself shares in the divine good is a greater reason for loving than the fact that another is associated with him in this sharing. Thus a man is bound by charity to love himself more than his neighbour (Summa Theologiae 2a 2ae 25, 5).

Dietrich von Hildebrand, speaking generally about love, says this:

What characterizes love’s special transcendence, that is its responsiveness to value, is its capacity for interest in another person because of what is most beautiful and precious in him. But this is overlooked and it is thought that to attain any real understanding of love’s nature one should turn to a source of unmistaken at-oneness –  the inevitable ‘interest’ a person has in himself. . .

The impossibility of deriving love for another from ‘self-love’ or at-oneness with self becomes even clearer when love is compared to the solidarity with a person which is little more than an extension of the at-oneness one has with himself. Such at-oneness in relation to another does, of course, exist. A typical example is found in the behaviour of a man who is extremely sensitive when someone takes advantage of or humiliates his wife, despite the fact that he has no real love for her and perhaps abuses her himself. Because he looks on her as part of himself, the fact that she is his wife puts her in the realm of his own at-oneness with himself. He experiences an attack on her as if it were directed at him – not because he loves her but because he considers her an extension of his own ego. The same thing is involved where an employer abuses or takes advantage of his servant but, having no affection for him whatever, still takes it as an offence against his own person if someone else should behave insultingly toward the servant.

Every attempt to make an analysis of love by beginning with self-love, every thought that something as univocal {perhaps a better English translation would be ‘distinctive’} as one person’s love for another can be explained in the ambiguous terms of self-love, closes the door to any real understanding of love (‘Man and Woman’, 34-35).

There is an interesting prima facie contradiction here between these two deep minds. St Thomas tells us that self-love, not only has a priority over love for others (a sign of which, as he says, is that it is never lawful to commit a sin in order to free one’s neighbour from sin), but is also the model on which love for the neighbour is taken; that which makes love for neighbour intelligible. I spontaneously will good for myself; natural good, by virtue of nature, and supernatural good, if I am in a state of grace. But insofar as my neighbour is another “I” – that is, insofar as I perceive him to be naturally or supernaturally similar to me – I therefore to that extent also will good for him too. Thus, love of self is taken as something more fundamental and obvious, and it is used to explain love of neighbour, though without reducing the neighbour to a means by which I acquire good for myself.

Von Hildebrand, though he doesn’t mention St Thomas or anyone else, is unhappy with this approach. This is not only because he fears that it makes love of another into veiled egoism, but also because he thinks that it fails to capture what is distinctive about love for another, which he characterises as “interest in another person because of what is most beautiful and precious in him” (elsewhere he writes that love is distinct from affective attitudes such as esteem, admiration and veneration in that it is a response to the other person taken as a whole, rather than to certain values or qualities within him.) Presumably he would argue that what we call self-love is, by contrast, not an interest I have in myself because of what I perceive to be beautiful or precious within myself, but a simple instinct which men have in common with beasts. In any case, he would deny that self-love makes love of others intelligible, for I do not perceive myself to be more beautiful or valuable than all other people. For the same reason, he would deny that I love myself more than others; or perhaps it would be truer to say that he would think the expression wrongly formulated, since he appears to regard love for others and love for oneself as not being love in the same sense of the word (this is what he means by calling love for others “univocal”.)

Is there any way to reconcile these two approaches? St Thomas’s reasoning seems obviously correct: since appetite just is the inclination to what is perceived as good, every being with rational appetite wills good to himself, that is, loves himself, and this is more fundamental and ineradicable than love for the other, since our conjunction with any given other (apart from God) is contingent not necessary. Likewise, he gives an intelligible account of how love for the other arises, and of how it is truly willing the good for the other and not just for oneself in disguise. Yet von Hildebrand seems correct in saying that love for another has features that differentiate it from self-love, even well-ordered self love, in such a way that it is wrong to consider love for another as simply a more or less diluted form of love for oneself. Self-love is not based on a perception of one’s own beauty, whether of spirit or countenance (fortunately, perhaps.) Even the love that one has for oneself by means of charity is not based primarily on a perception of the value of one’s own soul, for then there would be no reason why this love would take priority over the charity that one must have toward others. Self-love is actualized not mainly in contemplating oneself, but in contemplating the desired object (of course it can be actualized in contemplating one’s own real or imagined beauty of body or spirit, but this is not what is most typical of it, and moreover it is not safe for a rational creature so to act extra patriam.)

Here we have an important difference: love of another person is actual in contemplating that person, whereas love of oneself is normally not actual in contemplating oneself, but in contemplating some other person or other thing. Von Hildebrand therefore seems right to say that ‘love of oneself’ is not the best starting point from which to understand ‘love of another’, in the sense that the experience of loving oneself is not sufficient to understand the experience of loving another, as by contrast the experience of tying one’s shoelaces is sufficient to understand the experience of tying someone else’s. But St Thomas is right to say that ‘love of oneself’ is the best starting point from which to understand ‘love of another’, in the sense that the possibility of the latter can be apprehended by means of an understanding of the former. I suppose it is the difference between phenomenology and philosophy.


13:11

A uninterrupted sleep and then "all systems go" [The hermeneutic of continuity]



Last evening I was moved to a side room in another ward. I was able to shut the door and sleep without interruption for seven and a half hours, waking up without having to struggle with grumpiness half the morning. Which was nice.

Now it is "all systems go." I am about to be transported to another hospital where a bed will be waiting for me, and presumably without much delay, will be prepared for surgery. Nowadays, heart bypass surgery is quite common, and generally successful, but it is a major business, so your prayers would be much appreciated - for the success of my operation and recovery if that is God's will, or for my eternal salvation if the Lord decides it is time for me to render an account of my stewardship.

Remember - heart attack or no heart attack - we will all face eternity within a few short years. We forget that so easily and concern ourselves with stupid trivia or even sinful things that last a moment but can lose us salvation. May I join my voice to that of Fr Z; Go to confession!

The helicopter landed outside my window earlier on. It would have been fun to go off in that, but I will be going in an ambulance. I've said the day hours, so I'll read some more of Disinformation which Fr Z kindly sent me to load up on my Kindle.

12:56

Sincerity [ignatius his conclave]

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Dear Justin,

Knowing that you yourself suffer from intermittent bouts of agnosticism, I am taking the liberty of sending you a copy of my recent letter to Dr Scalfari. I don’t suppose you are a regular reader of La Repubblica, so you have probably not seen it – though you will have got the gist of it from The Guardian.

We Popes have to write in that rather stilted way in case someone mistakes us for the Magisterium; but the gist of the thing (as your Guardian rightly pointed out) is that I am on a charm offensive to show that I am far more user-friendly than poor old Benedict.

I can’t tell you how restricting it is having predecessors like mine. John Paul is now a saint and Ratty is still going strong. (I even use him as a ghost-writer from time to time!) So I can hardly contradict them directly, however much I might want to. Things being what they are, I go carefully (apart from the occasional outburst). But I know I can be Frank with you.

Don’t worry; not believing in God is no big deal! ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.’ That’s what they used to say – and I agree with them.

Happy Hogmanay, as I think you say in your country,
Your friend,

Frank.


12:30

Disconnected Thoughts on “Holy Rus,” Revival, and Current Conditions [Opus Publicum]

19th C. Russian Orthodoxy—Holy Rus!—is often romanticized by contemporary American Orthodox Christians suffering from an inferiority complex, triumphalism, or both. Even so, it would be unfair to dismiss the genuine religious revival which took place in Russia leading up to the Soviet Revolution, a revival which was as spiritual as it was intellectual. Although it would take some decades before their presence was truly appreciated by the institutional Russian church, the 1800s housed the Optina Elders, St. Theophan the Recluse, St. Philaret of Moscow, and Bishop Ignatius Bryanchaninov. Ss. Seraphim of Sarov and John of Kronstadt serve as spiritual bookends for the century while the ecclesial careers of Metropolitans Evlogy (Georgiyevsky) and Anthony (Kraphavitsky)—two of the most important figures in the history of diaspora Russian Orthodoxy—began. Theologically, most know the 19th C. as a time when “Russian Scholasticism” (for lack of a better term) began to yield some turf to such different currents as a nascent Patristic revival and, much more controversially, German Idealism-inspired mysticism such as Sophiology. Much of this good work would be either destroyed or dispersed during the first half of the 20th C. and arguably it failed to fully refresh the present-day Russian church despite the heroic attempts of some churchmen to reconnect 21st C. Russian Orthodoxy with the possibilities present in the 19th.

This is not the place to dwell on the Russian Orthodox Church’s problems nor to spend too much time on why its 19th C. renaissance failed to hold back the revolutionary forces which gutted Russia of her spiritual, moral, and intellectual character after the turn of the century. For all of the good fruit being borne throughout the Russian church in the 1800s, the state of Orthodoxy in Russia at the time has to be judged as poor. While reforms began to be instituted during the latter half of the century, for the most part the clerical state was little more than a caste system with the so-called “lower clergy” (secular priests and deacons) possessing low-level educations and limited social standing. Large swathes of Russia’s monastic culture was made up of men more concerned with the trappings of monasticism and the benefits that came with the cassock rather than preaching the Gospel—a point hammered home in the writings of Bishop Bryanchaninov. The institutional church itself, stripped of its Patriarch in 1700, remained a handmaid of the state, a sad reality which undermined both the Russian church’s divine mission and cultural importance. Instead of being perceived as an independent voice willing to witness to the truth even in the face of rampant political and social corruption, a widespread perception took hold in Russia that the Orthodox Church was simply another instrument of that corruption, which it too often was (though perhaps unwittingly).

One enduring lesson to take away from 19th C. Russian church’s experience is that no true religious revival, if it is to bear any lasting fruit (which, despite its mixed legacy, 19th C. Russian Orthodoxy certainly was able to produce under suboptimal conditions), can wholly spiritual or intellectual. Were it not for the ground prepared in the late 1700s by authentic monastic luminaries such as Ss. Tikhon of Zadonsk and Paisius Velichkovsky, it is doubtful that either the restoration of Russian spirituality or the reinvigoration of theology it helped inspire would have been possible. Although some Orthodox are guilty of over-stressing the “mystical” or “spiritual” nature of its theological heritage, there is a great deal to be said for the importance of reminding the church as a whole of what theology is for. This is no doubt hard to conceive at a time when theology is mainly confined to the academy and advancement depends more on how “challenging” and “innovative” one is over-and-against sticking to the “dry” and “stale” theological ways of the past. One major problem with the “theological revival” which is said to have taken place in the Christian West during this past century is that it had thin spiritual roots. Is it a coincidence that the rise of the “new theology” in Catholicism correlates with the rapid decline of Latin religious orders?

Today Christians of all stripes, including Catholics and Orthodox, are looking for a new renaissance, and with few exceptions, almost everyone is coming up short. The Russian Orthodox Church, for all of the good it has done since the collapse of Communism, is still the handmaid of the secular state despite the absence of any legal compulsion to be such. In Western Europe, the Roman Catholic Church has almost completely mortgaged its credibility and cultural standing, preferring to be a fading artifact of Europe’s “dark past” rather than a beacon of hope and renewal amidst a people preoccupied with civilizational suicide. In America, neither Orthodoxy nor Catholicism have done much to inspire the last few generations. American Orthodoxy, despite its occasional protestations to the contrary, is as compromised and secularized as the Roman Catholicism it often claims to stand above and against. Catholicism, for the most part, is a running gay joke with hierarchical buffoonery elevated to the level of performance art. Some earnest Catholics still drop in words like “witness,” “encounter,” and “renewal” into their rhetoric in an effort to strike a positive note for those content to ignore the crisis which has savaged Catholicism for more than half-a-century, but what good does it do? Catholicism’s internal rot continues to spread just as quickly as the possibility for the Church to restrain the growth of pernicious ideologies fades.


Filed under: Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church, Spirituality, Theology

12:21

Christmas on Papa Stronsay [Transalpine Redemptorists at home]

My just one is near at hand, my saviour is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the people: the islands shall look for me, and shall patiently wait for my arm. Isaiah 51:5

Awaiting the coming of our Saviour on the Holy Island of Papa Stronsay, Br Felix prepares the refectory in memory of the stable of Bethlehem.  Every year on Christmas Eve we spread straw on the floor to remind us of Christ's humble birth-place.
 



************************

At 11pm we sing carols by candle-light for an hour before Mass.
 
Sing ye to the Lord a new song, his praise is from the ends of the earth: you that go down to the sea, and all that are therein: ye islands, and ye inhabitants of them. Isaiah 42:10


Before Mass begins, Fr Magdala Maria places the figure of the Divine Infant into the crib.

At the Holy Mass of Christmas night, Our Lord Jesus Christ descends once more to the earth at the call of the priest.


 


We wish a happy and blessed Christmas to you all!

08:44

Venerable Bede on the Mystery of Christmas - From the Monastic Breviary [A Foretaste of Wisdom]


Matins for the fifth day in the Octave of Christmas in the Monastic Breviary has the following lesson, from Saint Bede the Venerable. It is a commentary on the Gospel reading for Christmas itself, which is repeated today. St. Bede reflects on the response of the shepherds to the exhortation of the angel to seek out the newborn Infant Christ. The liturgy for today here reminds us that, by it, we participate in the sacred mystery of Christmas by going, like the shepherds, to seek Christ Himself, to strain for the vision of what we have believed through hearing. The liturgy is a contemplative endeavor; it approaches beatitude itself, through the medium of the mysteries of Christ's humanity. 
With happy joy, indeed, did these shepherds hasten to see that which they had heard, and because they instantly sought the Savior with an ardent and faithful love, they merited to find Him whom they sought. But they also have shown by their words as well as by their deeds with what effort of mind the shepherds of intelligent flocks, yea, all the faithful must seek Christ. "Let us go over to Bethlehem," they say, "and let us see the word that is come to pass." Therefore, dearest brethren, let us also go over in thought to Bethlehem, the city of David, and in love recall to our minds that there the Word was made flesh, and let us celebrate His Incarnation with honors worthy of Him. Having thrown off carnal desires, let us with all the desire of our mind go over to the heavenly Bethlehem, that is, the house of living bread, not made by hands, but eternal in heaven, and in love let us recall that the Word was made flesh. Thither He has ascended in the flesh; there He sits on the right hand of God the Father. Let us follow Him with the whole force of our strength and by careful mortification of heart and body let us merit to see Him reigning on the throne of His Father, Him whom they saw crying in the manger. 
"And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the Infant lying in the manger." The shepherds came in haste and found God born as man, together with the ministers of His nativity. Let us hasten too, my brethren, not with footsteps, but by the advances of good words, to see the same glorified humanity together with the same ministers remunerated with a reward worthy of their services; let us hasten to see Him refulgent with the divine Majesty of His Father and of Himself. Let us hasten, I say, for such happiness is not to be sought with sloth and torpor, but the footsteps of Christ must be eagerly followed. For, offering His hand, He desires to help our course and delights to hear from us: "Draw us, we will run after thee in the odor of thy ointments." Therefore, let us follow swiftly with strides of virtue that we may merit to possess. Let no one be tardy in converting to the Lord; let no one put it off from day to day; let us beseech Him through all things and before all things that He direct our steps according to His word and let not injustice dominate over us.  
"And seeing, they understood the word that had been spoken to them concerning this Child." Let us also, most dearly beloved brethren, hasten in the meantime to perceive by a loving faith and to embrace with complete love those things that are said to us concerning our Savior, true God and Man, so that by this we may be able to comprehend Him perfectly in the future vision of knowledge. For this is the only and the true life of the blessed, not only of men, but even of the angels, to look continually upon the face of their Creator, which was so ardently desired by the Psalmist who said: "My soul hath thirsted after the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?" The Psalmist has shown that the vision of Him alone, and no abundance of the things of earth, could satisfy his desire when he said: "I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear." But since neither the idle nor the slothful, but those who perspire in works of virtue, are worthy of divine contemplation, he carefully premised these words: "But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice."

08:00

The Best of What I Read in 2015 [The Jesuit Post]

It all started with a man crush.

I devour everything written by New York Times columnist David Brooks and look forward to his annual Sidney Awards, dedicated to the best long-form essays of the year.

Following the lead of my man crush, I also started offering a list of my favorite articles from the past year, first for my friends and family and then years later for The Jesuit Post.1

We live in a seems-too-good-to-be-true world where fantastic writing is available at our fingertips for free. I do not know any of the authors of these articles. They have simply expanded my heart or made me think. I hope they may do the same for you and would love to hear about the best things you’ve read this year.2

1) I Followed My Stolen iPhone Across the World, Became a Celebrity in China, and Found a Friend for Life, Matt Stopera, BuzzFeed3

Hilarious, heart-warming, crazy. This story has it all. Your life will be better for reading it.

2) What Would Cool Jesus Do? Taffy Brodesser-Akner, GQ4

This article about Hillsong, a church that is exploding in popularity, involves a description of Justin Bieber getting a late-night baptism in a bathtub built to spec for a 7-foot NBA center. What? Yes. Read it.

3) How To Get Your Green Card in America, Sarah Mathews, BuzzFeed

Sometimes those not born in the U.S. can be our best teachers for what it really means to be an American.

4) Gate A-4, Naomi Shihab Nye, DavidKanigan.com

Let’s face it: 2015 was a rough year in our world. This short piece was one of the most hopeful things I read this year. Dorothy Day wrote that we have all known the long loneliness and that the only solution is love that comes with community. This article shows it perfectly.

5) Midwestern Nice: A Tribute to a Sincere and Suffocating Way of Life, Paul Kix, Thrillist

Admittedly, this is my nostalgia piece. It’s painfully accurate.5 I felt like I understood the world I come from so much better after reading it.

ta-nehisi coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates, from the University of Michigan’s photostream on Flickr

6) Letter to My Son, Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

This article is an adaptation of Coates’s Between the World and Me, perhaps the most talked about book of the year. If you have not read the book, at least read this.

7) The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogotá, Susan Dominus, New York Times

I felt like I was reading a soap opera. That was actually real. This is an amazing, haunting story.

8) Elon Musk: The World’s Raddest Man, Tim Urban, Wait But Why

Wait But Why has been one of my favorite discoveries of 2015. I now read anything by Tim Urban and devoured all his articles about Musk and his various companies. This one about the man himself was perhaps the most interesting.

9) The Long Haul: One Year of Solitude on America’s Highways, Robert Langellier, Esquire

I love articles like this that give me insight into the lives of people I never really knew about. It takes a great writer to take a topic that I had no interest in but to tell such a great story that I’m entirely hooked.

10) This Is a Story About Loss: On losing things, losing people, and finding God at Unclaimed Baggage Center, Stephie Grob Plante, Racked

Who knew that a profile on a store that sells stuff from unclaimed luggage could be such a beautiful reflection on what it means to lose both loved stuff and loved people?

What have you read this year that has expanded your mind or heart? Let us know in the comments below.

— // —

The cover image by Kate Ter Haar can be found here.

07:05

Morality and Falling Skies [The Paraphasic]

(This is a continuation of last night's post on "moral realism", which was a continuation of Sunday's post on philosophical fiction and TV.)

Think about the 1950s morality play A Man for All Seasons, by Robert Bolt.  Anyone who has read or seen this play, or seen the film version of it, should have a good sense of the story's moral: Be yourself, or you will find yourself incapable of being anyone at all. The principle could be framed in other ways, or identified along parallel lines, but it is roughly that.  The play is wonderfully written, with great characters and excellent lines.  But it is not an example of moral realism as I described it in my previous post.  Not because it isn't in many regards realistic (although I doubt that Bolt's existentialist ethic has much to do with St. Thomas More's way of thinking), but because it is contrived to hammer home a very specific moral message.  Now, this fact — the fact that A Man for All Seasons is a morality play — does not detract from its excellence, but it separates it from the genre I would like to discuss.

___________

I began writing this series with the intention of talking about certain odd traits of TNT's post-apocalyptic alien invasion family drama Falling Skies.  The show aired from 2011 to 2015, the fifth and final season airing this past summer.  It tells the story of the "2nd Massachusetts", an improvised militia formed after the decimation of humanity by six-legged aliens and their military drones.  Specifically, the story centers on Tom Mason, a former BU American History professor, and his three sons: Matt, Ben, and Hal, who are respectively 7, 12, and 16 at the beginning of the series.

Before I say more, I should offer this disclaimer: Falling Skies is an enjoyable sci-fi family drama, with decent acting and decent writing.  It's not without its share of clichés, plot holes, and weak moments.  The last two seasons go down a strange path that makes the show much less interesting than it was at first.  But I personally found the show emotionally engaging and compelling enough to keep watching all the way through.  It's not brilliant TV, but it's better than average, and I think the concept of the show and the principles on which it seems to have been executed were solid.

One of the nice things about the show (from a sci-fi alien invasion perspective) is that it begins several months after the alien invasion, when the rubble has largely settled, so we aren't put through the tedium of watching people figure out what's going on or any of that.  By the time Falling Skies begins, the 2nd Mass. has an established chain of command, a doctor, methods of staying supplied, etc.  Furthermore, the fact that the aliens have such a strong upper hand reduces the military-tactical element of the show, and makes it less a command/strategy war room drama than it would be otherwise.  Tactics come up, and frequently, but they're mostly in the background, and focus on hiding, escaping, and winning small victories.

All of this allows Falling Skies to be a family/community drama.  It's primarily about the people, and most of all about the Masons, and (for the first three seasons at least) the writers do a good job of it.  I could run through a lot of the successes of the show, but what's most impressive to me is the way the Mason sons are written and performed.  Conservatives often complain about the absence of good fathers in mainstream media.  Tom Mason is an unusually good father (loving, honest, self-sacrificing, supportive, disciplined).  His sons are peculiar as well.  Each is assigned his stereotype at some point in the first season as the backstory emerges (lacrosse bro, super-nerd, youngest), but the types don't really pan out in terms of expected behavior.  Hal does not act like everyone's idea of a lacrosse bro.  He's obedient, loyal to his father, and reasonably soft-spoken.  He doesn't start strutting until later on in the show, and this seems to be more a function of overconfidence on account of military achievement than anything.

The youngest, Matt, has some fairly weak lines in the first season (he's too much the cute little kid wandering around among the adults), but the show's creators emphasize his maturation as the series progresses, and the actor playing Matt (Maxim Knight) develops impressively.  Matt's storyline is probably the best thing about the show's fourth season.  (Suddenly he has his own personality, interests, and commitments.)

Ben Mason (played by Connor Jessup), the middle son, also seems to me to have been a really well-drawn character.  I'm not sure whether it's because the character is somehow a reflection of Jessup's real-life personality, or whether he simply does a good job of it, but I've rarely seen teenage nerdiness portrayed so well in a TV show. Jessup masters the self-conscious deadpan and awkward (almost stilted) delivery typical of kids who have spent too much time in their own heads.  Better still, the writers don't chain Ben to the nerd stereotype, and stock characteristics are kept to a minimum (one reference to manga in the entire series, a couple of references to Ben being "smart", and one scene with him trading riddles with a friend).

Aside from the Masons as characters (and I should mention that Noah Wyle does a good job as Tom Mason, as does Moon Bloodgood, who plays the regimental doctor), the other odd thing about this show is the extent to which the writers simply portray the behavior and developing necessities of the group without moral comment.  There's something weird about all these pre-teens walking around with assault rifles, and something weirder about the fact that the writers barely even touch the question in dialogue, and when they do so they do it only very mildly.  The ethics of killing captured aliens is not questioned.  In one scene an alien is interrogated while being tortured, and the writers don't give the slightest clue that we should question this behavior.  In any other show I would expect characters to ruminate over the sentience and personhood of the aliens, and think about their rights, or to fret at length about the implications of allowing children to bear arms.  Not here.  What a relief!  In a show like this any attempt to handle such questions would risk coming across as both trite and aggressively moralistic, and transforming itself into a series of disconnected morality plays.

_____________


What makes Falling Skies enjoyable?
—The emotional connection to the characters.

Are the characters performed well?
—What does that mean?  What would it mean for a character to be well or poorly performed?

A character is performed well when the facts given in script and setting are synthesized well by the actor into a plausible whole with reasonable affect, delivery, and body language.  Does the actor make it easy to think of the character as a real person?

(Side note: sometimes if the character is foreign to the sensibilities of the viewer, the character will be hard to believe.  Characters are familiar when they're real or similar to real people, or when they embody familiar character types from fictions.)

So, back to the original question: Why is Falling Skies so enjoyable?  
—Because the character drama appeals to me.

What about it?  
—The story is about familial love and shows people in adverse conditions struggling together for what they need.  Additionally, the personalities are not, on the whole, overladen with moral defects.

There's also Ben Mason, who (despite, or perhaps because of, the stiff acting and weird delivery) represents something I see in myself.  The nerdy stereotype is great and well-executed, and I like the dispassionate loner-ness.  There's a lot of potential for sadness, self-loathing and despair in the character, but Ben appears not to experience it.  The combination of unique personal strengths, lack of shame, and nerdiness.

What else do I like about Falling Skies?  
—The show stands for good things — loyalty, courage, obedience, honesty, discipline, filial and civic piety, justice, etc.  And it is structured in such a way that these virtues are never corrupted or called into question.  (Compare to the average WB drama during the age of 7th Heaven, where everyone begins wholesome and innocent, and ends up mired in vice and basically terrible.)  The Masons never "break bad".  They never become wicked.  To the end, the main cast is motivated by piety and love.

So, is the appeal of the show really about love and virtue?  
Yeah, it seems like it — love, virtue, and personal identification with the characters.  Kind of interesting, no?  But then, what else could you really ask for in a family/community drama of that variety?

Good point.

06:00

The Ultramontanist Debt to Luther [The Rad Trad]

Martin Luther Publicly Burning the Papal Bull
“So one is the Abraham who believes, one is the Abraham who works; one is the Christ who redeems, one is the Christ who works… distinguish between these two things as between heaven and earth.” —Fr. Martin Luther
It’s not a well publicized fact that Martin Luther hated St. Augustine and his theology. Those who study Fr. Luther’s personal copies of Augustine’s works against the Manichees have discovered that the mad Augustinian monk wrote glosses in the margins defending that ancient heretical sect against their defector’s attacks. Luther the dualist believed there were deep divisions within the life of the Trinity itself—especially during the suffering of the Crucifixion—but he also ascribed similar divisions to the human person.

How did these manifest? Mostly in the distinction between Man the Sinner and Man the Justified. Every fallen man was, to use his own word image, a pile of feces. Justification fell from Heaven upon said pile of feces like a thick layer of snow, lying over but never transforming the filth beneath. The “saved” man thus has two identities: Sinner and Justified, and never the two will merge. This is in contrast to the metaphorical Old Man and New Man of St. Paul’s theology, who represent one’s worldly and spiritual natures, and who both wish to make the Christian into the image of himself.

It is an identity crisis not unlike that posited by the ancient Greek myth of Heracles, for the son of Zeus was also the son of the mortal woman Alcmene, and he possessed two natures. When he died, burned alive on his own funeral pyre, his divine part flew upwards to Olympus, while his human part sunk down into Hades. His human soul, or shade, yearned forever for its divine counterpart; his divine self, one assumes, happily could not have cared less about the human.

Odysseus Meeting the Shade of Heracles
In like manner, Luther saw the human person as a sort of vessel for hellish and heavenly parts, neither of which could truly transform the other. Since justification sits upon the sinner like a blanket of snow, is it only the snow that is saved? One wonders what happens to Man the Sinner at the moment of death while Man the Justified is swept up into Heaven. Is the former annihilated? Used as compost? Damned, and forever yearning for the cool snow?

Dualist that he was, Fr. Luther was comfortable accepting this contradiction. Quasi-Lutherans that they are, ultramontanists are comfortable accepting a sharp, irrational dualism in the papacy.

This expresses itself especially in their attitudes towards the Bishop of Rome. Believing him (quite rightly) to be the Vicar of Christ and head of the visible Church, the Catholic ultramontanist habitually holds a sharp division between, say, John Paul the Pope and John Paul the Man. John Paul the Pope can do no wrong, and every word and action must be piously praised as coming from the Holy Ghost himself. John Paul the Man is either non-existent (having been destroyed by his elevation to the papacy) or a kind of doppelgänger that emerges when John Paul the Pope slumbers. When a papal Mass is adorned with topless natives or the man in white kisses a Koran in full view of a camera, those faults are either maniacally ignored, or they actually insist that these evil actions are praiseworthy, and that we are simply too sinful to see their merits.

Similar breaks with reality occur concerning other members of the clerical class: laymen defending pederastic priests, priests defending heretical bishops, bishops defending mad cardinals, and so forth. Clericalism is a form of dualism in which Fr. Sinner is covered in the snowy mantle of Fr. Justified—and who are you to judge when he falls?

The Sacrament of Holy Orders imprints an indelible spiritual mark on the soul, bestowing the powers to consecrate, offer sacrifice, and forgive sins. This sacrament is not, however, a magical fluffy layer of snow that makes a priest’s feces stop stinking.


Luther himself was a clericalist, returning from Rome scandalized by the excesses of the Roman clergy and full of zeal to denounce them. He was scrupulous about his own sins after he was ordained a priest, since he did not think himself worthy of the priesthood. He was so obsessed by his own unworthiness that he was nearly unable to finish saying his first Mass, much to the embarrassment of his father.

The general attitude of pre-Reformation Catholics can best be described as one of holy resignation to clerical vice. Whether they had to suffer the keeping of concubines, the buying and selling of offices, the thieving of tithes to live in exorbitance, or even outright perversities, the laity’s reaction to wicked priests was to express their disgust and move on with life. They understood and readily admitted that bishops who murdered others for their own gain were on a steep slope to Hell, and this understanding granted them a measure of peace.

Surely it can do the same for us.

05:59

Poems for the Feast of the Holy Innocents [New Song]

When I pointed out this morning that our baby Matthew would have been killed had he been in those villages near Bethlehem, my fifteen-year-old daughter Bernadette was thoughtful.  This evening, she gave me a set of poems she had written, and I want to share them here:

The Mother

Have you ever seen a baby’s smile light up the room?
Seen sheer happiness for no more reason than a laugh?
Have you ever heard a baby’s song without a tune?
Or, playful, fought him for your bread, at least a half?

Then you understand my baby, little boy, only one
Then you know his awkward crawl and breathless giggle
Then you can see his wide blue eyes, blinking in the sun.
Then you have seen his waving arms and happy wriggle.

He was walking for the first time when they came,
Tiny steps to me, then – the pounding, too soon.
He stumbled, the door flew open. Soldiers without shame
Strode in. Only two, yet they filled the room.

There is blood, blood on my hands and on my face.
There is blood upon our floor and spattered on the wall.
There is blood all around me and I have no space
There is blood on my hands, for I watched him fall.

I watched him fall, and it was seared into my mind
I watched the blade withdraw as I moved, too late.
I watched as they left, to my devastation blind.
I watched over him as he grew cold. Still I wait.

Have you heard the weeping of the women fill the street?
Have you heard the wailing of the wasted, sorrow pure?
Have you heard the emptiness for which I cannot eat?
Have you heard the sound of silence for which there is no cure?

Cat’s Cry

Strange men knocked
Now, Now, Now!
At the door.

Heat and hate
they smell of,
And blood blade.

No, not him
not my boy
said woman.

Fear, flame, fast!
they struck him.
Baby fell.

Waste and woe
weeping now
Woman is.

Licked the
blood they left
lying, red.

I purr in
the woman’s
languid lap.

Strokes me
slowly, all
comfort left.

Sad, sorry,
for once the
cat will cry.

The Captain

Door after door flung open.
House after house left barren.
Babe after babe was broken.

Banished blur of shriek and shout.
Women wailing as we left.
I had orders, could not flout.

So I said, and my men heard.
Same for them, satisfied.
Since I always keep my word.

In bunk, lie with head in hands
I led my men through hell
Not worth it. For any lands.

I tore myself today, and
I cannot tell if I will
taste again trust in my hand.

05:30

An Interview with George Demacopoulos on Gregory the Great [Eastern Christian Books]

As I noted last June, when notice of this book's publication was posted, we have been living in a time of increasing scholarship focusing on the diverse figures occupying, diverse theological understandings of, and diverse practices emanating from, the bishopric of Rome in the first millennium, a focus which was called for in part by the modern Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and the recent popes of Rome themselves, including John Paul II, on whose request I have had a few things to say. The more we learn of this period the more we find that it fits easily and neatly into nobody's imagined reconstructions of the past, especially hardcore triumphalistic apologists in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy.

One of those prominent figures contributing to this scholarship is the Orthodox George Demacopoulos of Fordham University, author of several recent studies, including The Invention of Peter: Apostolic Discourse and Papal Authority in Late Antiquity, which I favorably reviewed elsewhere.

Along with Aristotle Papanikalaou, also of Fordham's theology department and its Orthodox Christian Studies Centre, Demacopoulos is editor of the invaluable scholarly collection Orthodox Constructions of the West (Orthodox Christianity and Contemporary Thought, which I discussed on here in three parts.

His new book returns to some earlier work he did on St. Gregory the Great, including a translation, The Book of Pastoral Rule: St. Gregory the Great, part of the Popular Patristics Series of St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Demacopoulos's first book, Five Models of Spiritual Direction in the Early Church, also featured a chapter on Gregory the Great, to whom he returns in his newest book, published this year: Gregory the Great: Ascetic, Pastor, and First Man of Rome (UND Press, 2015), 240pp. I sent him some questions to interview him about this newest book, and here are his thoughts:

AD: Tell us about your background, and what led you to this book:

George E. Demacopoulos: 15 years ago, I wrote my dissertation at UNC-CH on Gregory the Great's approach to spiritual direction, arguing that he attempted to bring to the broader Christian world the technologies of pastoral care then operative in ascetic communities.  At the time, Robert Markus has recently published his excellent biography of Gregory and my dissertation advisor wisely recommended that I look in a different direction when turning the dissertation into a book. So, for my first monograph, I put the questions about spiritual direction that I had for Gregory to a broader set of early Christian authors.

My second book continued to work in Gregory's world (the late-ancient papacy) but, again, examined one facet of his thought (the link between St. Peter and the papacy) that also captivated other late ancient authors.

So, in some sense, I have been thinking about this current book for nearly fifteen years, but it was only recently that I felt ready to attempt what I believe is a new approach to the so-called "two Gregorys"--the ascetic contemplative and the shrewd administrator.

AD: As you may know, the popes of Rome for 20 years now have been calling for more scholarship on the papacy in the first millennium--and the official international Orthodox-Catholic dialogue hsa done likewise. Do you see both your recent book, The Invention of Peter, and now this one on Gregory the Great as part of this trajectory of 'ecumenical scholarship' as it were?

GED: With regard to ecumenical engagement via historical study--Yes, I do see this as part of that broader project.  Not so much because I expect to strike the perfect cord between Orthodox and Roman Catholics but because I believe that the Orthodox have great deal to learn from figures like St. Gregory and because the Orthodox desperately need a little more nuance and sophistication in their understanding of the development of the papacy and the ways in which the papacy was understood by early Christians east of the Adriatic.

AD: Your introduction (p.5) speaks of a topic I've recently become preoccupied with: the role of 'editorial erasure...in the shaping of ecclesiastical memory.' Is that a significant factor in assessing Gregory's pontificate?

GED: In some sense, it is hard to know how much editorial erasure took place--we don't have much evidence of things that once existed and no longer do.  But it is really important for historians to be ever conscious of the fact that we have limited access to the figures of pre-modernity and that we are very much beholden to the editors and copyists, whatever theological or ideological biases, who preserved our records.

AD: A key theme throughout your work is the influence of Gregory's ascetic theology on the rest of his life and work. Tell us a bit more about that theology and its importance.

GED: What I find so intriguing about Gregory's ascetic theology was that it was somewhat unique of major late-ancient thinkers.  Whereas most ascetic theologians understood the summit of the Christian experience to be a kind of mystical encounter or union with the divine (one that typically required renunciation), Gregory speaks of the summit of the Christian life being achieved only when the ascetic forsakes the spiritual joys of contemplation for the benefit of others.  In Gregory, we find someone who genuinely sees perfection in service, rather than in ascetic isolation. But this perfection is always an asceticism of a particular kind.

AD: As you know, sometimes polemical treatments (whether Protestant or Orthodox) of the papacy view it as one long campaign of self-aggrandizement motivated by what Augustine famously called "libido dominandi." Yet you note (p.43) that in Gregory there is little evidence of one seeking gratuitously to expand Roman claims. Moreover, in the famous dispute with John the Faster over the title "ecumenical" and elsewhere, Gregory, as you note, is at pains to stress Peter's faults and flaws, which strikes me as a singular and rather odd strategy, at least in the eyes of modern papal apologetics. Why would Gregory have done that--rather than, say, play up Peter as "prince of the apostles"?

Yes, Gregory is the only late-ancient pope who even addresses with any significance Peter's flaws. And, for Gregory, these are the keys to Peter (pardon the pun).  Unlike Leo or Gelasius, Gregory has very little interest in asserting papal privilege on the basis of Peter (though he will of course defend Roman claims, but he doesn't attempt to extend those in any way). Gregory is deeply committed to a theology of spiritual direction, of spiritual reform, and of emphasizing the importance of humility in the Christian leader.  For all of these reasons, Peter, in Gregory's hands, is a model of repentance, of humility, and of spiritual growth after failure. That's why he emphasizes the flaws.

AD: Looking at him in the eyes of contemporary scholarship and churchmanship, as well as ecumenically, what do you see as Gregory's legacy today?

GED: Gregory is clear bridge between east and west and between late-antiquity and the middle ages. He was a man who longed for retreat and contemplation but felt moved to action for the benefit of others.

AD: Having finished Gregory the Great: Ascetic, Pastor, and First Man of Rome, what are you at work on now? What's the next project?

GED: I recently received a Carpenter Foundation Grant, which allows for a year-long sabbatical beginning next month.  The first book project will apply the resources of post-colonial critique to the study of Orthodox identity narratives in the wake of the Crusades.  I don't think I will get to a second project in that time frame, but the next one (which I've started to write a few articles about) explores the theology of violence in early Byzantine hymnography.

03:20

Müller Explanation Fails [Unam Sanctam Catholicam]


As we wrap up 2015 and move into the fourth full year of the Franciscan pontificate, we are offered a perfect example of why attempts to put an orthodox spin on some of Pope Francis' troubling statements are so disappointing.

Case in point: In November, 2015, the pope was approached by a Lutheran woman who was married to a Catholic man. She stated that she and her husband "greatly regret being divided in faith and not being able to participate in the Lord’s Supper together" and asked "What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?" 

In his characteristic long winded, extempore manner, the pope said:

"It’s a problem each must answer, but a pastor-friend once told me: “We believe that the Lord is present there, he is present. You all believe that the Lord is present. And so what’s the difference?” — “Eh, there are explanations, interpretations.” Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always refer back to your baptism. “One faith, one baptism, one Lord.” This is what Paul tells us, and then take the consequences from there. I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more."

There was much more to this statement, including some very troubling ecclesiology, but here was the crux of the matter - Francis essentially states that Lutherans' and Catholics' similar baptism provides a sufficient level of communion for the two to receive the Eucharist together, provided that one has "talked to the Lord" in good conscience and is comfortable to "go forward" - i.e., to receive Holy Communion. One Peter Five has a decent write up of the whole encounter, along with a complete text of Francis' comments and even video to get the situational context.

So, Francis characteristically says something that sounds confusing at best and heterodox at worst - and I want to remind everyone, this is not a "spin" that some media outlet put on his words. This is the actual text of the pope's statement, before any media outlet or huckster got to it.

In fact, the only real spin has come from those trying to explain Francis' comments in continuity with tradition. I am referring primarily to Cardinal Gerhard Müller's well-intentioned by unsatisfying attempt to square the papal circle here. In a statement "clarifying" what Pope Francis "really meant", Cardinal Müller resorted to the tired old defense that the pope was simply "misunderstood."

In an article published in the National Catholic Register in December, 2015, Edward Pentin reports on Cardinal Müller's explanation of the pope's comments. According to Pentin, Müller says that the pope did not suggest intercommunion between Lutherans and Catholics was possible. Why didn't the pope suggest this? Here is Gerhard Müller's full comment on why the pope was misunderstood:

“That [the Pope’s visit to the Lutheran church] was a sign of hope, that the day would come when full unity of the visible Church in the profession of faith, of the sacramental signs of salvation and the episcopal constitution with the Pope as her head would be reached. Misunderstandings come up again and again because of a failure to take account of the fact that, unfortunately, there is actually a different understanding of the Church between Catholics and Protestants, and these differences are not only theological-conceptual, but of a confessional nature. But the most important object of ecumenical dialogue, which does not want to stick with the status quo (and use "colorful and nice" talk), is rather to lead the ecumenical movement towards its goal, namely the visible and institutional unity of the Church.”

If you missed the part where Müller actually addressed the pope's comments, you're not alone. Müller did not address Francis' troubling comments at all. He merely said there had been a "misunderstanding" due to a "failure to take into account" that Lutherans and Catholics believe differently. Pope Franics' theology of baptism as a ground for intercommunion was not addressed. His ambiguously problematic statement "Talk to the Lord and then go forward" was not addressed. His dismissal of the differences in Protestant and Catholic sacramental theology as "explanations" and "interpretations" was not addressed. His very radical statement that the shared Eucharist is not the goal of ecumenism but the means of getting there was not addressed. Essentially, Müller did not address or explain any of the pope's comments. He merely stated they were misunderstood without explaining how, and then reminded us that there are differences between Protestants and Catholics, without addressing why the pope is apparently dismissive of these differences.

In other words, 
Müller's explanation is no explanation at all. And that's fine; it's really not his job to go around cleaning up the pope's messes. Let Fr. Lombardi do that. But the problem is that certain Catholics will take this as if it were an explanation. When this issue of Luther-Catholic intercommunion is brought up again, neo-Catholics will retort that "the Vatican" had "clarified" the pope's statements and that it was all a "misunderstanding", and that therefore there is nothing to question.

A misunderstanding? How? Based on what? There mere fact Fr. Lombardi or Cardinal Müller or the Vatican or anyone else says there is a misunderstanding does not mean there is one. Any apologist for these sorts of comments - anyone who says the pope was "misunderstood" - is obliged to explain why and how he was misunderstood. Simply stating there was a misunderstanding does not in itself clarify anything unless you are going to explain what the pope's words actually meant. What did the pope actually mean when he said "Talk to the Lord and then go forward"?

And this neo-Catholics are unwilling to do - at least honestly - because the clear context of his words imply that he was telling Lutherans they could receive communion in a Catholic Church so long as they were alright with it in their conscience. There's no way an honest reading of his statements in context could yield any other interpretation.

Next time you question something the pope said, and you are told that it was simply a "misunderstanding" or that someone had "cleared it up", you really need to dig into it, because in many cases I'd be willing to bet nothing at all was cleared up. Sometimes I think the response to a papal gaffe is to simply say "You didn't hear that", and the papalatrous Catholic media take that alone as a sufficient explanation.

01:00

Authentische Zusammenfassung der Spiritualität und geistigen Physiognomie des Kartäuserordens. (2/14) [BRUNONIS]

Normal 0 21 false false false DE X-NONE X-NONE Worin besteht die Hauptquelle und das Ziel des geistlichen Lebens, ganz besonders des Kartäuserlebens?


Zuvor einige Worte über seine äußeren Bedingungen und unmittelbaren Wirkungen, welche die Welt noch einigermaßen kennt und anerkennt.

Abtötung der Sinne durch die Strengheiten einer ernsten Regel, Abtötung des Verstandes und Willens durch den Gehorsam, Abtötung des ganzen Menschen durch die Einsamkeit: das sind die asketischen Mittel und Bedingungen, welche die eigentliche Buße des Kartäusers bilden und die Kontemplation zur Entfaltung bringen.

In einen Orden eintreten, heißt sich bekehren, d. h. sich abwenden von der Welt und zu Gott zurückkehren: das ist der Anfang eines jeden Ordenslebens, wie auch unseres Lebens. Jene, welche vom göttlichen Rufe geführt, sich in die Einsamkeit geflüchtet, haben das Wort des Evangeliums verstanden: „Tut Buße... gehe und verkaufe, was du hast...". Sie haben das Opfer gebracht, sie haben sich von den Geschöpfen losgesagt und die Ketten der Knechtschaft zerbrochen. Diese Akte der Losschälung, der Unterwerfung des Geistes sind und bleiben stets notwendig: denn immer haben wir zu kämpfen gegen unsere gefallene Natur: „Ein Kampf ist des Menschen Leben auf Erden". (Job 7,1).

Diese Handlungen sind sozusagen fast alles, was man von der Welt der kontemplativen Orden weiß; auch die Biographen der Heiligen haben meistens und fast nur diese Übungen aufgezeichnet.

(vgl.: Das weiße Paradies. Ein Kartäuser spricht.)


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Andrew Cusack XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Arimathea Atom Feed XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Athanasius Contra Mundum XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Australia Incognita XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Barnhardt XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Beiboot Petri XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
BRUNONIS XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Called to Communion XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Cardinal Newman Society All Posts XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Catholic Answers XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Catholic Faith and Reason - Our Blog XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Catholic Sacristan XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CatholicCulture.org - Commentary on Catholic News and World Affairs XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CatholicCulture.org - In Depth Analysis of Catholic Issues XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CatholicHerald.co.uk » CatholicHerald.co.uk XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Charlotte was Both XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Chiesa - XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNA - Daily Readings XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNA - Saint of the Day XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNA Daily News XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNA Daily News - Vatican XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNS Movie Reviews XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNS Top Stories XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CNS Vatican News XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Commentary - thomistica XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Community in Mission XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Comunión Tradicionalista XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Corpus Christi Watershed news XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Creative Minority Report XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
CRISTIANDAD XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Cum Lazaro XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
David Scott Writings XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Denzinger-Katholik XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Diligite iustitiam XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Dom Donald's Blog XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Dominicana XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Dominus mihi adjutor XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Dyspeptic Mutterings XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Eastern Christian Books XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Edinburgh Housewife XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Edward Feser XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
et nunc XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Ethika Politika XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
EUCist News XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Faithful Answers XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
For the Queen XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Fr Hunwicke's Mutual Enrichment XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Fr Ray Blake's Blog XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Fr. Z's Blog XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Galileo Was Wrong XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Gratia Super Naturam XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
History of Interpretation XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
https://creamcitycatholic.com/feed/ XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
I Have to Sit Down XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
iBenedictines XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
IDLE SPECULATIONS XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
ignatius his conclave XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Il Blog di Raffaella. Riflessioni e commenti fra gli Amici di Benedetto XVI XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
In Campo Aperto XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
In the Light of the Law XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Incarnation and Modernity XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Infallible Catholic XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Instaurare Omnia in Christo - The Blog XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Jimmy Akin XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
John G. Brungardt, Ph.L. XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
John V. Gerardi XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Just Thomism XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
katholon XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Korrektiv XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Laodicea XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Laudator Temporis Acti XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Le blog d'Yves Daoudal XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Lectio Divina Notes XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
LES FEMMES - THE TRUTH XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Lex Christianorum XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Ley Natural XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Little Flower Farm XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
LMS Chairman XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Loved As If XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
marcpuck XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Mary Victrix XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Mathias von Gersdorff XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Musings of a Pertinacious Papist XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
New Liturgical Movement XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
New Sherwood XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
New Song XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
News - thomistica XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
NICK'S CATHOLIC BLOG XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
One Mad Mom XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
OnePeterFive XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Opus Publicum XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Over the Rhine and Into the Tiber XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Oz Conservative XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Paths of Love XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Psallam Domino XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
RORATE CÆLI XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
RSS XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Sancrucensis XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Scholastiker XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Semiduplex XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Siris XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Spirit of Teuchtar II XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
St. Peter's List XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Steeple and State XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Symposium XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Tęsknota XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Taylor Marshall XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Tea at Trianon XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
That The Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The American Catholic XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Badger Catholic XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Catholic Dormitory XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Catholic Thing XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The City and the World XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Daily Register XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Deacon's Bench XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Divine Lamp XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Eponymous Flower XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The hermeneutic of continuity XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Jesuit Post XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Josias XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Lepanto Institute XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Low Churchman's Guide to the Solemn High Mass XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Paraphasic XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Prosblogion XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Rad Trad XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Remnant Newspaper - The Remnant Newspaper - Remnant Articles XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Sacred Page XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The Sensible Bond XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
The TOF Spot XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Theological Flint XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
totaliter aliter XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Traditional Catholic Priest XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Transalpine Redemptorists at home XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Unam Sanctam Catholicam XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Unequally Yoked XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Voice of the Family XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Vox Cantoris XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Vultus Christi XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Whispers in the Loggia XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
ZENIT - The World Seen From Rome XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
Zippy Catholic XML 22:00, Thursday, 21 January 23:00, Thursday, 21 January
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