Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Contours of John Kincaid's conversion to Catholicism

He has posted it here on Called to Communion, one of my favorite web sites. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can find John Kincaid's bio here. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Kincaid's post:
During my time at both Geneva [College] and Covenant [Seminary], it was quite apparent that the proclamation of the Cross of Christ as the basis of the world’s salvation was absolutely essential to both schools’ life and mission. Yet for all of the wonderful emphasis on this evangelical proclamation, I always felt like something was missing, something quite significant, that would bridge the gap between proclamation and reality. While it is true that the entire sacramental order serves to bridge this gap, the greatest and most formative discovery in my intellectual journey was how the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass makes present and sacramentally applies to the Church the redemption won by Jesus Christ. While in no way meaning to diminish the importance of verbal proclamation of the gospel, the Eucharist is far more than words, it is the reality of Christ Crucified in our midst, drawing His people to union with Him. For in the Eucharist, which is the Cup of the New Covenant and the Meal of the Kingdom (Luke 22:14-30), Jesus makes the eschatological covenant people of God into His Mystical Body (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). In receiving the body and blood of the Jesus, we participate in the Crucified One, and as Augustine teaches, we become what we eat and receive the grace to become crucified members of the crucified Lord, which is an essential condition for our final justification (Matthew 10:38-39, 16:24-27, Romans 8:17, Philippians 3:9-15, and 2 Timothy 2:8-13). For all of these interlocking reasons, I came to see through both Sacred Scripture and the patristic and scholastic consensus on the faith of the Church that forms the core of the Sacred Tradition, that it is in and through the life of the Church that the Kingdom of God is both present and advances throughout the world as the promised eschatological and international New Israel of the Davidic Messiah (Isaiah 11:10, Romans 15:12). Furthermore, as the visible instantiation of eschatological Davidic Kingdom, from the very beginning the Church has been led by the Bishop of Rome, who as the successor of Saint Peter, holds the Keys of the Kingdom which belong to the Prime Minister of the Davidic Kingdom (Matthew 16:13-25, Isaiah 22:15-22), and as Saint Irenaeus notes, due to the superior origin of this Church, all particular Churches must agree with her (Against Heresies, 3:3:2). Therefore it is the one divinely established apostolic institution of the Catholic Church that proclaims Christ through her faith, in her sacramental order, and in the various apostolates of her members, inviting all nations and peoples to salvation. In short, through the presence and life of the Roman Catholic Church, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ advances and in the process brings redemption to all of creation through spreading the peace and justice of Christ in word and deed.

You can read the whole thing here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Solemnity of the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

The following is from a sermon of St. Augustine in which the Bishop of Hippo honors the martyred Saints Peter and Paul on a day "consecrated for us" for precisely that reason. This indicates that a single feast day that commemorates the martyrdom of both Apostles goes deep into Church History (St. Augustine died AD 430). He states:
This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. It is not some obscure martyrs we are talking about. “Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world” (Ps. 19). These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.

The blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, “And I say to you, that you are Peter” (Mat 16:13-20). He himself, you see, had just said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ said to him, “And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.” Upon this rock I will build the faith you have just confessed. Upon your words, ”You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter comes from petra, meaning a rock. Peter, “Rocky”, from “rock”; not “rock” from “Rocky”. Peter comes from the word for a rock in exactly the same way as the name Christian comes from Christ.

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, “To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, “To you I am entrusting,” what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: “Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained” (Jn 20:22-23).

Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed (Jn. 21: 15-19). It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.

There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labors, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching.

(HT: Marian Solidarity)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Called to Communion: Christ Founded a Visible Church

Bryan Cross and Thomas Brown at Called to Communion have authored a compelling for the Catholic view that Catholic founded a visible church. You can find it here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fr. Thomas King, S. J. (1929-2009)

Legendary Georgetown University theology professor, Fr. Thomas King, S. J., died last night. He was the founding president of University Faculty for Life, an academic society on whose board I sit. We will miss our beloved Fr. King.

The following appeared last night on the website of The Hoya, Georgetown's student newspaper:
Fr. Thomas King, S.J., a respected member of the Georgetown community for 41 years, passed away today at age 80, confirmed Fr. Eugene Nolan, S.J.

King was a professor of theology; he taught The Problem of God and classes covering the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, Jean Paul Sartre and C. G. Jung.

King also was a strong presence outside of the classroom. During his second year of teaching at Georgetown, he began offering 11:15 p.m. Mass six days a week at Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart. These masses have become increasingly popular with Georgetown’s student body over the past 40 years.

He had also served as a chaplain in residence and was an active participant in student retreats.

During his time at Georgetown, King wrote nine novels, including “Teilhard’s Mass: Approaches to ‘The Mass on the World’” (published in 2005) and “Jung’s Four and Some Philosophers: A Paradigm for Philosophy” (published in 1999).

In 1999, The Hoya named King “Georgetown’s Man of the Century,” claiming that “no one has had a more significant presence on campus and effect on students than Father King.”

Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Update: I just received this from my friend Fr. Joseph Koterski, S. J., a fellow UFL board member: "The funeral Mass for Father King is scheduled for 9am on Saturday June 27, 2009 in Dahlgren Chapel on the Georgetown University Campus. The wake will take place all day and evening on Friday June 26th. Burial will be in the Jesuit Cemetary on the Georgetown campus."

(Originally posted on First Thoughts)

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22 - Feast Day of St. Thomas More (1478-1535)

From the website of St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Austin, Texas:
He was, of course, a man for all seasons...

...a classical scholar, a humanist, a statesman, a politician, a man of prayer, the author of the famed Utopia, a theologian, and a lawyer by profession.

And yet, St. Thomas More is also a man for our times and a model for us today as we strive to serve God in our social, religious, and familial relationships.

His contemporaries knew him to possess a keen wit, a merry sense of humor, and a great common sense. He was a warm and friendly man who always seemed more concerned about the needs of his friends than his own needs. His friendship extended to looking after the poor in his village and to singing in his church choir.

Inclined in his early years to the priesthood—he spent four years living the austere life of the Carthusian Order—Thomas eventually opted for married life. After the death of his first wife, who bore him four children, he married again—a widow, whose daughter he adopted. The family prayed together daily, and St. Thomas More himself set aside all Fridays for his own spiritual exercises.

Another example of his being a man for all seasons and for our time, St. Thomas More believed in the education of women - a truly radical notion for his time. His daughters were better educated than most men of this era.

Thomas More was a brilliant lawyer and, later, a very fine judge. Because of this distinguished service, he was appointed Lord Chancellor of England. Henry VIII, his court, and most of the English clergymen tried to persuade Thomas More to approve the king's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and to take the Oath of Supremacy—which acknowledged that Henry VIII was the head of the Church of England instead of the Pope.

More held firm to the teachings of the Catholic Church, despite knowing well that to remain steadfast meant certain execution. He was imprisoned and beheaded in London in 1535.

Four hundred years later (in 1935) he was canonized as a saint and martyr. His feast day is celebrated on June 22nd.

(Cross-posted on What's Wrong With the World)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today, June 19, is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The website, Catholic Culture, offers this explanation of the solemnity:

"I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment" (Jesus to St. Margaret Mary).

Sixteenth century Calvinism and seventeenth century Jansenism preached a distorted Christianity that substituted for God's love and sacrifice of His Son for all men the fearful idea that a whole section of humanity was inexorably damned.

The Church always countered this view with the infinite love of our Savior who died on the cross for all men. The institution of the feast of the Sacred Heart was soon to contribute to the creation among the faithful of a powerful current of devotion which since then has grown steadily stronger. The first Office and Mass of the Sacred Heart were composed by St. John Eudes, but the institution of the feast was a result of the appearances of our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1675. The celebration of the feast was extended to the general calendar of the Church by Pius IX in 1856.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Anniversary of G. K. Chesterton's death

Today, June 14, is the 73rd anniversary of the death of the great Catholic writer, G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936). My colleague, Ralph C. Wood, has a wonderful online collection of articles and links about and by Chesterton. You can find it here. The following are some Chesterton quotes. You can find a larger collection here.

"Love means loving the unlovable - or it is no virtue at all." - Heretics, 1905
"A man imagines a happy marriage as a marriage of love; even if he makes fun of marriages that are without love, or feels sorry for lovers who are without marriage." - Chaucer
"Women are the only realists; their whole object in life is to pit their realism against the extravagant, excessive, and occasionally drunken idealism of men." - A Handful of Authors
"The whole pleasure of marriage is that it is a perpetual crisis." - "David Copperfield," Chesterton on Dickens, 1911
"A good man's work is effected by doing what he does, a woman's by being what she is." - Robert Browning
"Women have a thirst for order and beauty as for something physical; there is a strange female power of hating ugliness and waste as good men can only hate sin and bad men virtue." - Chesterton on Dickens
"Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline." - Manalive
"The first two facts which a healthy boy or girl feels about sex are these: first that it is beautiful and then that it is dangerous." - ILN 1/9/09
"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people." - ILN, 7/16/10
"There are those who hate Christianity and call their hatred an all-embracing love for all religions." - ILN, 1/13/06
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - Chapter 5, What's Wrong With The World, 1910
"The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden." - ILN 1-3-20
"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." - ILN 8-11-28
"Puritanism was an honourable mood; it was a noble fad. In other words, it was a highly creditable mistake." - Blake
"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice." - ILN 9/11/09
"I say that a man must be certain of his morality for the simple reason that he has to suffer for it." - ILN 8/4/06
"To the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sun is really a sun; to the humble man, and to the humble man alone, the sea is really a sea." - Heretics, CW I, p128
"Big Business and State Socialism are very much alike, especially Big Business." - G.K.'s Weekly, 4/10/26
"[No society can survive the socialist] fallacy that there is an absolutely unlimited number of inspired officials and an absolutely unlimited amount of money to pay them." - The Debate with Bertrand Russell, BBC Magazine, 11/27/35
"A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter." - ILN, 5/25/31
"Big Business and State Socialism are very much alike, especially Big Business." - G.K.'s Weekly, 4/10/26
"[No society can survive the socialist] fallacy that there is an absolutely unlimited number of inspired officials and an absolutely unlimited amount of money to pay them." - The Debate with Bertrand Russell, BBC Magazine, 11/27/35
"A citizen can hardly distinguish between a tax and a fine, except that the fine is generally much lighter." - ILN, 5/25/31
"Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it." - Autobiography, 1937

(Cross-posted on What's Wrong With the World)

June 14: Feast Day of St. Anastasius XVII

From Catholic.org:

Deacon and martyr. A monk in the Benedictine monastery in Tabanos, near Cordoba, Spain, Anastasius was caught up in the persecutions conducted by the Muslim Moors. With St. Felix and St. Digna, Anastasius was beheaded for the faith.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

June 13: Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua

Sometimes called the patron saint of lost things, the New Advent website provides a helpful biography of St. Anthony. Here is an excerpt:

Franciscan Thaumaturgist, born at Lisbon, 1195; died at Vercelli [actually Arcella --Ed.], 13 June, 1231. He received in baptism the name of Ferdinand.

Later writers of the fifteenth century asserted that his father was Martin Bouillon, descendant of the renowned Godfrey de Bouillon, commander of the First Crusade, and his mother, Theresa Tavejra, descendant of Froila I, fourth king of Asturia. Unfortunately, however, his genealogy is uncertain; all that we know of his parents is that they were noble, powerful, and God-fearing people, and at the time of Ferdinand's birth were both still young, and living near the Cathedral of Lisbon.

Having been educated in the Cathedral school, Ferdinand, at the age of fifteen, joined the Canons Regular of St. Augustine, in the convent of St. Vincent, just outside the city walls (1210). Two years later to avoid being distracted by relatives and friends, who frequently came to visit him, he betook himself with permission of his superior to the Convent of Santa Croce in Cóimbra (1212), where he remained for eight years, occupying his time mainly with study and prayer. Gifted with an excellent understanding and a prodigious memory, he soon gathered from the Sacred Scriptures and the writings of the Holy Fathers a treasure of theological knowledge.

You can read the whole thing here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Catholics Come Home

This is an outstanding website. You can find it here. Here is a video from the site. It brought tears to my eyes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fr. Jeffrey Steel: "Journey Home to the Catholic Church: I Have Jumped into the Tiber to Swim Across"

Former Anglican priest Fr. Jeffrey Steel has made the journey home. Here is how he begins his story in a June 7, 2009 blog entry:
I am writing to make the announcement that I am becoming a Roman Catholic along with my wife Rhea and our six children. I realise that this decision is going to make some really happy, some very sad and others possibily angry. But, I have made the decision with the deepest sense of integrity and by conscience. I would like to share a bit of my faith journey though there are many gaps here, it is descriptive of my heart over the past few months. This is not particularly an academic account of what I have done in my studies but rather the spiritual wrestling that went on within me. The announcement was made this morning in all three parishes where I serve and is now a matter of public knowledge. My duties and licence in the parish end on 14 June 2009 (Corpus Christi Sunday) and my reception into Holy Mother Church is forthcoming.

My PhD studies really set me on my Catholic journey in a deep theological way though I did not realise it at the time. I have been looking at Bishop Lancelot Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism with the Catholic Church in the area of Eucharistic sacrifice. Andrewes was in regular dialogue with S. Robert Bellarmine SJ and it is in this dialogue and Andrewes’ other writings that I saw how Catholic he was with regards to the Eucharist being the Christian offering which consisted of more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It was and is propitiatory as well as other things.

Through my time of study in Catholic sacramental theology and viewing my own priestly ministry within this theological framework the question of communio began to frequently come to mind. I had fully embraced Catholic sacramental theology and believed that I could be a Catholic in the Church of England and planned on retirement from the C of E later in life. With all that is going on around the Anglican Communion presently, and particularly within the C of E and how she makes decisions on matters of doctrine, I began to ask questions about authority. As a theologian praying for reunion with the Holy See the question I was now asking was, ‘on whose terms does this reunion take place?’

You can read the entire entry here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"The Church of Cirque De Soliel": My Review of Kerry Kennedy's Being Catholic Now

Just published in the June 2009 issue of the Catholic World Report, here are some excerpts from my review of Ms. Kennedy's book:
What does it mean to be Catholic in early 21st century America? In order to answer this question, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, has compiled in this volume thirty-seven essays authored by a variety of public figures and ordinary people who are or were practicing Catholics.

Included among the contributors are Anna Quindlen, Andrew Sullivan, E. J. Dionne, Jr. , Nancy Pelosi, James Carroll, Bill Maher, Bill O' Reilly, Tom Monaghan, Peggy Noonan, Robert Drinan, Douglas Brinkley, Dan Aykroyd, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, and Martin Sheen. As one would suspect, the range of opinion, not to mention the style and depth of writing, differ widely. Nevertheless, all the writers, even if you find yourself disagreeing with some of them (as I did on more than one occasion), have undoubtedly made a sincere effort to present how they believe the Catholic Church has shaped their lives and how they would like to shape the Catholic Church....

Kennedy, like so many of us, is from that generation of early post-conciliar American Catholics that were offered, among other "innovations," liturgical dance and the clown mass so as to make the faith "relevant" to young people. But, as should have been expected, just as a river cannot rise above its source, the Church of Cirque Du Soleil could not ascend higher than Bozo theol-ogy....

Kennedy rightfully singles out for condemnation Bernard Cardinal Law, the former Archbishop of Boston, for his reassignment of predator priests to unsuspecting parishes and the cardinal's lack of transparency in cooperating with the victims and their families as well as law enforcement. But, ironically, she diminishes the power of her righteous anger by sharing with the reader personal affronts she claims to have suffered at the hands of the cardinal. Here is one of them: "When my sister and her fiance' attempted to have their wedding by the sea of Cape Cod, the characteristically authoritarian Law put a halt to the plans, calling outdoor weddings forbidden and instead choosing his man-made building over God's creation as the appro-priate place to celebrate the union" (xxix). Oh, the humanity.

Yet there is no word of harsh judgment for the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Cardinal Mahony, whose settling of the numerous predator priest lawsuits is legendary in the amount of money the cardinal's archdiocese was willing to dole out (nearly $700 million) in order to keep its and the cardinal's secrets hidden from public scrutiny. Kennedy does mention Cardinal Mahony, but only as an object of high praise for how the cardinal has advanced the cause of "social justice" by welcoming illegal immigrants into his archdiocese and petitioning the government to grant them amnesty or something close to it.

She credits the cardinal with "reviving the Church's reputation for a commitment to outcasts with meaning, and bravely taking on rage at foreigners at a highly volatile and politically sensitive moment in the political life of the country" (xxxi). Thus, for Kennedy, embracing the politics of La Raza, like charity, covers up a multitude of sins, even if those sins seem to require a type of justice that was once suggested by none other than the Prince of Peace: "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin." (Luke 17:2 - RSV)

You can read the whole thing here. The Catholic World Report's website may be found here.

(Cross-posted on Southern Appeal)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Today is Trinity Sunday

Here is a brief summary of it on the New Advent website:

The first Sunday after Pentecost, instituted to honour the Most Holy Trinity. In the early Church no special Office or day was assigned for the Holy Trinity. When the Arian heresy was spreading the Fathers prepared an Office with canticles, responses, a Preface, and hymns, to be recited on Sundays. In the Sacramentary of St. Gregory the Great (P.L., LXXVIII, 116) there are prayers and the Preface of the Trinity. The Micrologies (P.L., CLI, 1020), written during the pontificate of Gregory VII (Nilles, II, 460), call the Sunday after Pentecost a Dominica vacans, with no special Office, but add that in some places they recited the Office of the Holy Trinity composed by Bishop Stephen of Liège (903-20) By other the Office was said on the Sunday before Advent. Alexander II (1061-1073), not III (Nilles, 1. c.), refused a petition for a special feast on the plea, that such a feast was not customary in the Roman Church which daily honoured the Holy Trinity by the Gloria, Patri, etc., but he did not forbid the celebration where it already existed. John XXII (1316-1334) ordered the feast for the entire Church on the first Sunday after Pentecost. A new Office had been made by the Franciscan John Peckham, Canon of Lyons, later Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1292). The feast ranked as a double of the second class but was raised to the dignity of a primary of the first class, 24 July 1911, by Pius X (Acta Ap. Sedis, III, 351). The Greeks have no special feast. Since it was after the first great Pentecost that the doctrine of the Trinity was proclaimed to the world, the feast becomingly follows that of Pentecost.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 6: Feast of St. Norbert

You read about St. Norbert here on the New Advent website. An excerpt:

Born at Kanten on the left bank of the Rhine, near Wesel, c. 1080; died at Magdeburg, 6 June, 1134. His father, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was related to the imperial house of Germany, and his house of Lorraine. A stately bearing, a penetrating intellect, a tender, earnest heart, marked the future apostle. Ordained subdeacon, Norbert was appointed to a canonry at Kanten. Soon after he was summoned to the Court of Frederick, Prince-Bishop of Cologne, and later to that of Henry V, Emperor of Germany, whose almoner he became. The Bishopric of Cambray was offered to him, but refused. Norbert allowed himself to be so carried away by pleasure that nothing short of a miracle of grace could make him lead the life of an earnest cleric. One day, while riding to Vreden, a village near Kanten, he was overtaken by a storm. A thunderbolt fell at his horse's feet; the frightened animal threw its rider, and for nearly an hour he lay like one dead. Thus humbled, Norbert became a sincere penitent. Renouncing his appointment at Court, he retired to Kanten to lead a life of penance.

You can read the rest here.