Wednesday, November 14, 2007
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
Monday, October 15, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
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,
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
Monday, October 8, 2007
2. In discussing the Bread of Life Discourse, what reason does Chrysostom give for Christ “shrouding his explanation in mystery”? What is his criticism of Christ’s audience upon hearing this “hard saying”?
3. At the bottom of pg. 104 Chrysostom describes the role of a disciple in regard to asking questions. What do you think of his description? Do you agree or disagree, and why?
4. Explain why Chrysostom thinks asking the question “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” is the wrong question to ask. What should have been asked instead – and what do you think the results would have been of asking the “right” question?
5. Chrysostom writes a particularly beautiful passage on page 105: “Therefore, in order that…as the body is joined with his head.” What is the purpose, in his opinion, of this “commingling” with Christ and humanity? What role does the Eucharist play in this “commingling”?
6. What type of action would be expected of us if we were like “Lions breathing out fire”?
7. Chrysostom references the Eucharist as a “fountain”. How is the Eucharist like a fountain in the life of a Christian?
8. On pg. 107 Chrysostom talks about the danger of taking the Eucharist “unworthily” or with the wrong disposition. What do you think makes for an appropriate (or inappropriate) disposition?
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Saturday, October 6, 2007
1. St. Basil's Moral essay takes the form of a series of "Rules". As I read it the first time I remember thinking, "How very like the Pharisees of Christ's day to have so many dang rules." Do you think that St. Basil is just slipping back into the same religious legalism that existed among the Jews of Jesus' day?Explain your answer.
2. Identify a handful of St. Basil's rules that seem particularly strict or harsh to you. What seems so strict about them?
3. All of St. Basil's rules are based on Scripture passages. If, then, there is nothing contained in the Rules that is not found in the New Testament, why do you think Basil bothered creating this list of rules?
4. Knowing that Basil was a leader of asceticism and monastic life, do you think a list of rules like this is beyond the ability of the "average" Christian? If you think it is, how would you change it to make it more attainable for the folks in the pews?
Chew on these and we will discuss on Monday / Tuesday. Please don't stress over them if you don't get them all. Quality not Quantity.
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Monday, October 1, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Most of the early heresies were Christological in nature and were resolved largely at the Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon (325, 381, 451 respectively).
Homework: identify, through independent research, the following heresies. Know who the proponents (leaders) and opponents were, the era (decades) in which it was most popular, and the regions in which it was strongest.
Modalism / Monarchianism / Sabelianism
That will do for now. Who knew there were so many wrong ways to understand Jesus?!
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
From the "Modern Catholic Dictionary" edited by Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J. (also the editor of our book.)
A gynecological illness caused by the abnormal presence of
tissue that more or less perfectly resembles the lining of the uterus
(endometrium) but growing outside of the uterus itself and distributed in other
pelvic areas. Since this aberrant endometrial tissue responds to the
hormone-induced changes of the woman's menstrual cycle but, unlike the true
endometrial lining of the uterus, is entrapped in other tissue such as bone and
muscle, its cyclic changes of menstruation, causes the problem to repress, and
even after the pregnancy improvement is sometimes sustained for a period up to
three or four years.
Since a surgical approach to the problem is not always practical or
successful, the so called "contraceptive pill" has been recommended for use over
prolonged periods to eliminate the cyclic changes of the menstrual cycle and
thus eliminate the periodic pain of endometriosis. It should be noted, from a
moral viewpoint, that although this progestational-estrogen type therapy is, in
itself, essentially the same as that used in the "contraceptive pill," it is not
used in theses cases as a contraceptive. the purpose of the therapy is to
ameliorate a seriously abnormal and indeed pathological condition insofar as it
is aggravated by hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle. Although temporary sterility is a side effect of the treatment, contraception is not the purpose, and thus the treatment in no way conflicts with Catholic teaching.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
2. Consider that this document was a lecture delivered to people on the verge of converting to Christianity and being baptized. Imagine that you are an adult who knows nothing of the Christian Faith. How would you respond to Cyril's catechetical instruction?
3. Compare the passage "On Christ" to the section of the Nicene Creed, "I believe in Jesus Christ...and his Kingdom will have no end." What are the differences / similarities. Why do you think these assertions about Christ were necessary?
4. People often ask, "If belief in Christ is necessary for salvation, then what happened to all of the people who lived before the coming of Jesus?" How does Cyril adress this question in the passage "On His Burial."?
5. In the passage "On His Ascension" Cyril exhorts his audience to make the sign of the cross often. Even two or three generations ago the sign of the cross was used much more frequently than it is today. Do you think the current and recent generations are, in Cyril's words, "ashamed of the Cross of Christ"?
6. Pope John Paul II is credited with developing a radical new "Theology of the Body". What can you extract from this brief writing about Cyril's Theology of the Body, particularly as it pertains to goodness, sexuality, and food.
Finally, I'm just gonna throw this out there and let you prepare your arguments against me: I believe that the passage "On Apparel" should be posted above every entrance to every mall in America. "Show me where I'm wrong."
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
2. Analyze St. Cyprian's use of Scripture to support his arguments. Does he use scripture effectively and with sound interpretation? Provide and analyze three examples of his use of Scripture
3. St. Cyprian takes a rather harsh stance against those who "break away" from the Church founded by Christ. Compare and Contrast his position with that of the Church as published in the most recent document "Responses to Some Questions on Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church", particularly in questions two and three.
4. In our modern society we shy away from making "absolute" statements, or any statements that appear to "judge" or exclude others. Bearing that in mind, what are some elements of St. Cyprian's treatise that could be put to good use today in the effort to reconcile and unify the diverse Christian Denominations.
5. Support the Argument that St. Cyprian is not Judging those who break away form the Church, but rather trying to correct their misguided actions.
This should do.
Please remember to pray for the soul of Mrs. Elda Garcia, mother of Mrs. Hoy, and for her family.
Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. Requiescant in pace. Amen.
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Monday, September 10, 2007
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
1. Why do you think he was so eager for martyrdom? Cite examples form the text where he justifies his desire to die.
2. Do you think in desiring death St. Ignatius was being a true follower of Christ's example or do you think he was a bit overzealous - even suicidal in his thinking? Explain.
3. How do you think it would have impacted the Church if all of the early bishops shared this zeal for martrydom? Would it be possible for bishops today to demonstrate this same zeal for suffering, even if not for martyrdom?
Ignatius to the Philadelphians
1. St. Ignatius' primary concern seems to be for the unity of the Church under the leadership of the bishop. Why do you think this is of such importance to him?
2. St. Ignatius is very critical of divisions within the Church and with those who hold "different gospels". How do you think he would react to the pluralism and diversity within Christianity today, which has hundreds of different denominations?
Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
1. Ignatius addresses a specific heresy within this community. From his writing, describe what you think the details of this heretical belief are, particularly the doctrine pertaining to Jesus.
2. Again, Ignatius exhorts them to adhere closely to the bishop. Why do you think this was of such great importance?
Ignatius to Polycarp
1. In chapter 2 Ignatius compares the bishop to a pilot (of a ship). Why do you think he would make such a comparison?
2. Explain why Ignatius uses the metaphors of an athlete, an anvil, (ch. 3) and a clad warrior (ch. 6) to describe a faithful Christian.
3. What is Ignatius' view of the role of marriage in society?
Chew on these. Until next time,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
True, we often need to be reminded of Christ's love and mercy, but if we fail to keep in mind that it is the love and mercy of God Incarnate, a God who by right could easily judge us all as sinners and condemn us to hell, then it ceases to be anything remarkable at all.
To be sure, the possibility of overemphasizing the role of eternal Judge exists, but this extreme is not one toward which popular devotion tends, at least not in the west. And so we must be on our guard. Do not let yourselves be deceived or led away from the Truth of Christ. See St. Paul's exhortation on not allowing the gospel to be "watered down" in his letter to the Galatians, particularly 1: 6 - 8.
Until next time,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Ad Jesum per Mariam,
Monday, August 27, 2007
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Thursday, August 23, 2007
For centuries mankind has taken account of events in its history. These events and their impact have been passed down by word of mouth, have been recorded and studied, and have shaped the way we view ourselves and our culture. History is not just a combination of dates and facts, but rather it is the story of humanity where dates serve as benchmarks or milestones.
Is it possible to have both an unbiased and an accurate history?
Writers of History are limited by the perspective from which they view history. We discussed the events during and following October of 1492 as an example. From the perspective of a European, 1492 marked the “discovery” of America, which was soon viewed as an exotic land full of promise, adventure, and wealth. However, from the perspective of the native civilizations, 1492 began a long and destructive relationship with Europeans which included war, enslavement, disease, and oppression.
Historians must then try their best to incorporate various perspectives into a history that provides a “big picture”.
What is a Saint? Are the saints a biased lens through which to view the history of the Church?
Saints are simply individuals of heroic virtue that have led Christ-like lives. The Church holds them up of examples of how to follow Christ in every age and every place. For years the Church has used a formal canonization process to proclaim saints, but in he early Church sainthood was largely a matter of popular devotion rather than official declaration.
It should be noted that the Church does not “make” saints of people. Rather, she publicly recognizes that someone has become a saint. (Just like me recognizing that your uniform is red does not make it red, but rather points out what is already true.) Technically all those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision of God are saints – we may never know most of their names.
One might assume that saints will present only the “rosy” side of the Church and overlook any dark chapters in the Church’s history. They are, after all, the “heroes” of the Church. However, we must keep in mind that we are examining the writings of individuals who were simply members of the Church at the time of writing. No one is declared a saint until well after his or her death. Many saints (St. Joan of Arc, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, and even St. Paul) were openly critical of the Church and often suffered ridicule for it. Yet their conviction was in loyalty to the Gospel and faithfully adhering to the example set by Jesus Christ.
Next time we will examine the notion of Salvation History vs. Secular History. Until then,
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,