Tuesday, November 2, 2010

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Stuck in the Middle with You"

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right...

We are out of the Patristic Era now and right smack in the middle of the "Middle Ages". They are called the "middle" because they are between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Modern Era. (no one in the middle ages would have said, "Hey, we live in the Middle Ages.")

More posts coming soon, but it's time for a new day to begin (no matter what the timestamp may say.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

"I make all things new"

So said our Lord in the Apocalypse of St. John, and indeed, often that which is old becomes fashionable once again. (Seen in numerous aspects of society, even athletics where "throwback" uniforms are all the rage.)

The Washington Times (no, not the Post) has an article on the new appeal of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) among young people. Pictured below is the celebration of the Traditional mass at the University of Notre Dame. Now if they could just get back to playing some traditional Notre Dame Football! (and the post comes full-circle.)

Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Too many potential titles for this one

Someone mentioned today that the routine of the Catholic liturgy makes worship monotonous and "boring". The diversity of worship styles among various Christian denominations can make the Catholic Liturgy seem repetitive, however the Catholic liturgy is as old as the Church itself, and traces its roots all the way back to the Upper Room on the eve of our Lord's Passion.

Think of it this way: every sport has its own guidelines, its own parameters, and its own routines; And yet no two games are exactly alike. Likewise, just because the mass follows a set pattern does not doom us to monotony. Instead, if you learn the rhythm of the mass and keep an eye out on the details then it becomes a living process in which we each have a role to fulfill.
To best understand how the diversity of worship styles evolved we took a quick look at the Christian family tree. The farther one moves away from the Apostolic Church (which "subsists" in the Catholic Church) the more divergent one finds the worship styles to be.
Once you move beyond the Protestant Reformation the denominations are governed by a principle of Sola Scriptura, that is, "Scripture Alone" is the source of authority. Therefore the worship services are going to be much more centered on preaching and even take on a "Bible Study" format in some cases.
Sola Scriptura is, in fact, an impossibility, because scripture does not stand on its own. To "study" or preach on scripture requires that one employ both hermeneutics and exegesis - which when separated from Apostolic Tradition is really nothing more than the whim of the preacher.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Ecclesiastes chapter 7:29

A question was asked in Red 4 today about this passage of the Old Testament book.

The New American Bible reads: "Behold, only this have I found out: God made mankind straight, but men have had recourse to many calculations." with the added footnote that the word "calculations" means " the many vain attempts and schemes of men to attain happiness by their own efforts."

The question centered around the word "straight" and wether or not this was in reference to sexuality (hetero- vs. homo-). I apologize that it took me awhile to do some digging, but here's what I found:

1. the Latin word used in this passage is "rectum" which is translated as "virtuous or right".
2. the original Hebrew word whcih was "yashar" which is translated as "just, righteous, upright, or straight."

While sexuality is related to morality there is nothing inherently sexual about the term yashar.

We discussed that homosexuality was widely practiced in the ancient Greek world, but only as a sort of recreational practice, particularly among the elite - most of whom were married and had families. It was not as a monogomous lifestyle. What, then are we to make of Christ's silence on this widespread practice? We cannot assume that his silence is an approval because Christ's audience was centered on the Jewish population of Israel, and while ancient Greeks practiced homosexuality, for the Hebrews it was "an abomination to the Lord" and punishable by death. There would have been no need for Christ to address the issue as it was really a "non-issue" for his audience.

A similar hypothetical situation might play out as follows: Assume that a Catholic bishop publishes a book of homilies, and in them are no homilies dedicated to the topic of not commiting abortion. Does this silence then imply that the bishop is pro-choice? Certainly not, for his audience is composed of Catholic churchgoers who are presumably pro-life, and therefore do not need any exhortation not to procure abortion.

At last we come to two key terms that lie at the heart of today's discussion: exegesis and hermeneutics. For these I direct your attention to the online Catholic Dictionary:

These two are the foundation of scriptural interpretation. If one fails to use a proper hermeneutic, then he arrives at a flawed exegesis. It's like trying to navigate with an inaccurate map and a broken compass. If you want to see where you end up check out either www.wouldjesusdiscriminate.com or www.godhatesfags.com - both of these are tragically off the mark. If they weren't so fatally flawed they would be humerous.

Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Mr. B

St. Augustine Questions pt. I

These questions take us through part 1, Chapter 6.

1. What do you think Augustine means by his desire being “not to be more sure of [God] but to be more steadfast in [Him]?

2. What is the single thing that Augustine identifies as preventing him from giving himself over wholly to the Christian faith?

3. He points out that neither Christ nor St. Paul forbid marriage, so why does he not pursue that path and choose to live his life as a married Christian man.

4. Augustine says that God and His word are “everywhere implied” in the writings of the Platonists. Do a little digging on the Platonists and identify some Christian values that are implied in Platonic thought.

5. Victorinus asked “Then is it walls that make Christians?” His same argument is made today by those who assert that they are Christian but do not “go to Church”. Is the argument any more valid coming from Victorinus than it is today?

6. St. Augustine observes that human nature is to love “regained” things more than those that we have had all along. Do you agree that this is in fact part of human nature? Provide an example from scripture that reflects this as part of God’s nature as well?

7. Again, Augustine observes that “the greater joy is heralded by greater pain.” Does this mean that it is impossible for us to know great joy without great pain? Explain – provide an example from your life and a theologically based example. How does Augustine’s life reflect this maxim?

8. Compare Augustine’s metaphor of the Chain with that of St. Gregory of Nyssa. How could you combine these metaphors.

9. St. Augustine writes at length about how he postpones his conversion and keeps saying later, and later still. He then says the “law of sin is the fierce force of habit”. Does this mean that by repeating a sin we forfeit our will and give the sin control? Explain.

10. Why do you think the influence of the story of St. Anthony is not as strong today as it was on Augustine and Alypius?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is our (shhh...) new supplemental book

The supplemental text, This is Our Church, is now available in .pdf file in the "Assignments" folder on the School Webl Locker. It would be most beneficial if you could read pgs. 65 - 73 in preparation for our discussion of St. Augustine and of the Council of Nicea.