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 or - 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.

Monday, October 8, 2007

St. John Chrysostom Questions

1. Christ says that we do not come to God unless we are “drawn” to him. Explain how Chrysostom says that this does not interfere with our Free Will. Would this imply that God only chooses to draw “some” people to Himself and not all?

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,
Mr. B

Saturday, October 6, 2007

St. Basil Mental Munchies

Here is some food for thought regarding this Doctor of the Eastern Church:

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,
Mr. B.

Monday, October 1, 2007

St. Jerome (September 30)

Though his feast fell on a Sunday, and so it was not celebrated externally, yesterday was still the feast of St. Jerome, one of the great Fathers of the Church, credited with translating scripture into Latin so as to make it available to the western world where Greek had fallen out of use.

"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - St. Jerome

"Those who do not read have no advantage over those who cannot read." - S. L. Clemens (Mark Twain)
Tolle, legge,
Mr. B.