Friday, March 31, 2006

Formation director disentangles...

Today we give thanks to God that John has started his new job as a Deputy Attorney General! Way to go!

On March 28, John Keenan, myself, with the assistance of Matt Keenan, Will Gross, and Kaleb Boyer took down about a quarter mile of old barbwire fence, which we cut up and put in a trailer to haul to recycler.

Somehow this work event seems a parable for John's disentanglement efforts; God be with you!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Humbert of Romans

finally finished the transcription of Treatise on Preaching (see link at right). It ends with:






Saturday, March 18, 2006

The parable of the prodigal son

Something of St. Augustine that I read quite some time ago finally sunk in today! Perhaps it was because the Church in her wisdom links Luke 15:1-2 with the prodigal son parable Luke 15:11ff (the 'bookends' thing).

Luke 15:1-3; 11-32
Parables of God's Mercy
[1] Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus). [2] And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The Prodigal Son
[3] So He told them this parable:
[and you know the rest of the story!]

St. Augustine, commenting on verse 1 and 2, made an interesting observation. Since under the old law, to touch a leper was to be unclean, but for Jesus to touch a leper was to heal him, to touch a dead body was to become unclean, and also when Jesus touched the dead they came to life. Likewise, the sinner, in the company of the Lord, repented and became a new creation in the Lord. Thus, the Pharisees, seeing the old and not aware of the new persons they had become, are actually in error in their accusation, as we err if we agree with them.

Here is the connection: Jesus chooses not to say “you err in what you say,” but instead instructs by parables. At one level, the prodigal son parable can be seen as an instruction for the Pharisees who have falsely accused Jesus of receiving sinners, for their judgement is of the old man, the prodigal still serving the swine; they are unaware of the repentance of the son who returns to the father; in this they are figured by the older brother in the parable.

In the fuller sense, there are three parables; the shepherd searching for the lost sheep, the prodigal returning, and the unjust steward. Thus, Jesus explains in the first what He does (searching for the lost sheep and bringing them back), in the second, the effects of grace on the soul of the lost (the prodigal), and in the third, what he expects of His stewards (once the pharisees, now the pastors). Rather wonderful!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

“Credo Apostolicam Ecclesiam”: Wednesdays in Saint Peter’s Square

The pope has closed the Wed catechesis started by JPII... description and text from Sandro Magister (click for entire text):

But for the new cycle of catechesis, which began on Wednesday, March 15, pope Ratzinger has chosen as his theme “the relationship between Christ and the Church, considering it from the experience of the apostles.”


”Between Christ and the Church there is no opposition”
by Benedict XVI

In a certain sense, we could say that the last supper is precisely the act of founding his Church, because he gives himself and in this way creates a new community, a community united in the communion with himself. From this perspective, it is understood that the risen one grants them, with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the power to forgive sins (John 20:23). The twelve apostles are in this way the most evident sign of Jesus' will over the existence and mission of his Church, the guarantee that between Christ and the Church there is no opposition: (Italics added) They are inseparable, despite the sins of the people who make up the Church.

Therefore, there is no way to reconcile Christ's intentions with the slogan that was fashionable a few years ago, "Christ yes, the Church no." The individualist Jesus is a fantasy. We cannot find Jesus without the reality that he created and through which he communicates himself. (italics added)

Between the Son of God, made man and his Church, there is a profound, inseparable continuity, in virtue of which Christ is present today in his people.

He is always our contemporary – our contemporary in the Church built upon the foundation of the apostles. He is alive in the succession of the apostles. And his presence in the community, in which he himself always gives himself, is the reason for our joy. Yes, Christ is with us, the Kingdom of God is coming.

Construction notes

Chapter member Kathleen Schuck has donated her garage to be moved to the Chapter property. This week we have had a pad leveled and graveled, as well as long overdue road maintenance. This picture shows Clint in the big cat!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Venial Sin

From Divine Intimacy, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene O.C.D.
St. Teresa of Avila says, “For the love of God, take care not to commit any deliberate venial sin, even the smallest. … And can anything be small if it offends God? (Con 2 – Way 41).

2. Quite different are the venial sins which we commit through frailty or inadvertence. Very often the soul is determined not to give in at any price; due to its weakness, however, it falls when temptation comes, especially if the attack is unexpected. Nevertheless, once aware of it, the soul feels sincere sorrow, repents at once, asks God’s pardon, rises, and sets out again. Such sins cause no great harm to the soul; they are signs of its frailty and show that it has not yet reached spiritual maturity. Moreover, if the soul sincerely humbles itself after these falls, it will draw profit from them and a more profound knowledge of its own misery, which will make it mistrust its own strength entirely and place all its confidence in God alone. It will experience in a practical way the profound truth of the words of Jesus, “Without Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). It is not unusual for God to permit these falls, and He does so precisely to give the soul this practical knowledge of its nothingness, and to anchor it firmly in humility, the foundation of all our spiritual life.

In regard to faults of this kind, St. Therese of the Child Jesus felt that we can be sure “they do not grieve the good God,” because they are not caused by a will intent on sin, by indifference or by coldness; they spring from the weakness of human nature.

If because of our weakness it is impossible for us to avoid these little daily venial faults of inadvertence or frailty, it is important to know how to detest them and to make generous reparation. As to deliberate venial sins, we should be firmly resolved not to commit them for anything in the world.

Friday, March 03, 2006

How are Christians to resolve disputed issues?

One of the protestant traditions, first articulated by Martin Luther, holds to this day that the final authority is the Bible for resolving issues of doctrine. From the bible they usually support this position with “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice” (2 Tim 3:16). It usually fails to convert those who hold to this error by pointing out that the scriptures spoken of here are what we know as the Old Testament only, or that Holy Scripture itself says “...the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), and even though Jesus said that the way to resolve an issue is to take it to the Church: “But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican” (Mt-18:15-17).

Here is an additional argument I haven't heard before; an argument from reason, that “whore” according to Martin Luther who should be trusted with nothing (even though, oddly, it is the only thing Sola Scriptura protestants depend on). The point being that before St. Paul wrote their favorite passage in Second Timothy, he had already demonstrated convincingly that Scripture alone was incapable of resolving a conflict. If you recall in chapter 15 of the Book of Acts, there was a conflict about the necessity of circumcision. Some, relying on the scriptures, claimed it was necessary for gentile converts to be circumcised and obey the Mosaic law. Paul and Barnabas had disputed this. How did they resolve it? They went to Jerusalem, where what happened? Was the issue resolved by turning to Holy Scripture? No, it was resolved by authority of the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church. “And when there had been much disputing, Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knoweth the hearts, gave testimony, giving unto them the Holy Ghost, as well as to us: And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why tempt you God to put a yoke upon the necks of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we believe to be saved, in like manner as they also. And all the multitude held their peace” (Acts 15:7ff).

The protestant argument falls apart, not just because it is contradicted directly by scripture, but also because St. Paul has demonstrated that it is insufficient alone to be used in the context of resolving doctrinal disputes.