Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heresy Parade

We are nearing the end of a study of a crucial era in our Church's history - the formation of Christology (that is, our belief about the identity and nature of Jesus).

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?!

Mr. B

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

St. Gregory of Nyssa

Please read Pope Benedict's catechetical essay on St. Gregory, as well as the writing in your text.
1. Very early on, Gregory compares being a Christian to being a doctor, a politician, mathematician, etc. and says that just as these professions require an education, so to does being a Christian. Do you think that we really must have some level of education before we can call ourselves Christian? Explain.
2. What do you make of the "dancing monkey" illustration? We live in a society that largely calls itself "Christian" and yet we persist in crime, violence, injustice, and vice. Are we any more than dancing monkeys?
3. Gregory writes that to unite ourselves to Christ means to share in the "lofty ideals" that are used to describe him. Does this mean that if we do not assume the noble virtues in our character that we are not truly united to Christ? Compare the meaning of this segment to the discussion we had about the Ascension a few weeks ago. (Why did Jesus have to ascend?)
4. How does Gregory assert that Christianity "returns" man to his former or original state?
5. What reason does Gregory give (on the top half of pg. 64) for us being accurate imitators of the Divine?
I'll be posting some more later, but right now I'm caught up in part three of the Ken Burns' World War II documentary on PBS.
Mr. B

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa!

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and boy was I wrong. I thank you all for the opportunity to learn something new.

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

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Questions

1. In the first section the venerable bishop states that "True Religion consists of two elements: pious doctrines and virtuous actions." Contrast this with the idea of salvation by "faith alone". (the notion that faith alone saves us and that our actions / deeds have no bearing on our salvation.)

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,
Mr. B

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Papal Vestments

For the Black 1 class, as promised, pics of Papa Benny wearing pSychAdELiC vEstMENts during his recent trip to Austria. (warning: you might need to wear sunglasses to view these pics.)

This last one takes the cake: a deacon (in the eye-burning yellow) hands the Holy Father a Poke-Mon Bowling Ball?!?!? What is that thing? wow....i mean
Mr. B

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ritter Christian Service Website

As you know, all CRHS students are required to complete 15 hours of service to their community. We will have "service lessons" in class every two weeks. In order to help you keep track of the service lessons and to provide opportunities to complete your service, I have created a CRHS Christians Service Website. Click the link to enjoy a preview of our first lesson.

Mr. B.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Read the Holy Father's Catechetical Essay on St. Cyril in preparation for our study of this Father of the Church.

Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Mr. B

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cyprian Questions at Last!

1. The general impression in class of ol' St. Cyprian is that he was "boring and repetative". So, the first question is - What is it that he repeats and why do you think he repeats it so much? What external factors may have been influencing him (don't be afraid to do a little independent research on this one.)

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,
Mr. B

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cyprian Questions on Delay

Hello Scholars -
"Mea Culpa" for not posting the Cyprian questions. As you know, I was feeling under the weather last week, so I took advantage of the weekend to get some much-needed rest.

Fear not - they'll be posted soon.

Mr. B.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

St. Cyprian of Carthage

In preparation for our reading of St. Cyprian's Treatise on Church Unity, please read Holy Father's essay on this Church Father.

Then proceed to read the Treatise itself, again entitled, On the Unity of the Church.
Discussion questions to follow.
Ad Jesum per Mariam
Mr. B

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Questions on St. Ignatius

Ignatius to the Romans
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,
Mr. B