Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Back from Scotland with a bit of Newman on the Brain

We have returned from a very nice time in Ayr Scotland and it was wonderful to get away. The drive was so beautiful and some pictures at the family blog will be forthcoming.

While I was away, I was reading Geoffrey Rowell's book A Vision Glorious. He has a chapter in the book devoted to John Henry Newman on doctrine and development. He quotes from Newman with what I felt was greatly needed for many 'Word-centred' Christian churches that see the centrality of the sermon as the 'main event' of the morning's worship service. One will find much of this in Reformed churches which will often treat the scriptures as a system of doctrine for intellectual contemplation. One of the negative points with this approach is that it makes the heart of Christianity beneficial only to the learned. Therefore it is why I believe that many so-called 'Reformed' bodies are filled with white, middle class folk, mostly well educated who intellectualise the Faith to the point of abstract irrelevance. Newman disagrees with that approach and so does the Catholic Faith; at least as I understand it. The Catholic Faith that has been once delivered is a Faith that includes symbols and rituals which help to connect the truth of God's word that forms the Christian character of the most simple and not-so-learned. Newman said,
The object of the Written Word is not to unfold a system for our intellectual contemplation, but to secure the formation of a certain character. So likewise the sacramental worship of the Church, its imagery and symbolism, were 'keys and spells' to enable men and women to enter into an awareness of the mystery of God as the source and goal of their lives.
I think Newman is exactly right. There is presently plenty of controversy that is taking place in the States over the principles that lie behind this very issue that Newman emphasises here. Simply google 'Federal Vision' or 'NPP' and you will see what I mean. Ritual is given to the Church to bring us into the mystery of God in order to form within us a love for the depth and breadth of the God who visits us in the flesh. Nothing communicates this sacred mystery like the liturgical and spiritual ritual of the Church.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Family Holiday to Ayr Scotland

Image and video hosting by TinyPicWell, I will be away until late Tuesday since I will be going to Ayr Scotland with the family for a short holiday before school begins again the week after next. The kids are really looking forward to the break and we need the time together. It is a place with lots to do for the kids and the place where we are staying has an indoor heated pool, which will be good since the highs now are only in the very low 60's F (15 C)during the day. Hopefully we will all return refreshed and eager to get back to work.

This year will be quite busy: finishing my PhD studies, attached to the theological colloge, a tutor at St. John's College, and teaching in the theology department with my supervisor and his course on Christology. I hope to survive it all!

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Translation of Henri de Lubac's Corpus Mysticum

I just pre-ordered my copy of Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages by Henri de Lubac. I can't wait to read this. I've been waiting over a year for this to get published and it has been pushed back. Hopefully this September I'll have my copy.

Newman: Justification and Works

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2. Now let us proceed to the second part of the subject, the relation between Faith and Works, which, though quite distinct from the former, may be conveniently considered in connection with it.

St. Paul says that we are "justified by faith without the deeds of the Law;" and St. James, "not by faith only but by works;" are these statements inconsistent? Now, as I said before, to condemn works without faith is surely quite consistent with condemning faith without works. St. James says, we are justified by works, not by faith only; St. Paul implies, by faith, not by works only. St. Paul says, that works are not available before faith; St. James, that they are available after faith. And now I will make this clearer.

(1.) St. Paul says, we are justified without works; what works? "works of," or done under, "the Law," the Law of Moses, through which the Law of Nature spoke {289} in the ears of the Jews. But St. James speaks of works done under what he calls "the royal Law," "the Law of liberty," which we learn from St. Paul is "the Law of the Spirit of Life," for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;" in other words, the Law of God, as written on the heart by the Holy Ghost. St. Paul speaks of works done under the letter, St. James of works done under the Spirit. This is surely an important difference in the works respectively mentioned.

Or, to state the same thing differently: St. James speaks, not of mere works, but of works of faith, of good and acceptable works. I do not suppose that any one will dispute this, and therefore shall take it for granted. St. James then says, we are justified, not by faith only, but by good works. Now St. Paul is not speaking at all of good works, but of works done in the flesh and of themselves "deserving God's wrath and damnation." He says, "without works;" he does not say without good works; whereas St. James is speaking of good works solely. St. Paul speaks of "works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of His Spirit;" St. James of "good works which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification." Faith surely may justify without such works as, according to our Article, "have the nature of sin," and yet not justify without such as "are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ."

Now in proof of this distinction it is enough to observe, that St. Paul never calls those works which he says do not justify "good works," but simply "works,"—"works of the Law,"—"deeds of the Law,"—"works not in righteousness,"—"dead works;" what have these to {290} do with works or fruits of the Spirit? Of these latter also St. Paul elsewhere speaks, and by a remarkable contrast he calls them again and again "good works." For instance, "By grace are ye saved through faith, … not of works, lest any man should boast; for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." This surely is a most pointed intimation that the works which do not justify are not good, or, in other words, are works before justification. As to works after, which are good, whether they justify or not, he does not decide so expressly as St. James, the error which he had to resist leading him another way. He only says, against the Judaizing teachers, that our works must begin, continue, and end in faith. But to proceed; he speaks elsewhere of "abounding in every good work," of being "fruitful in every good work," of being "adorned with good works," of being "well reported of for good works," "diligently following every good work," of "the good works of some being open beforehand," of being "rich in good works," of being "prepared unto every good work," of being "throughly furnished unto all good works," of being "unto every good work reprobate," of being "a pattern of good works," of being "zealous of good works," of being "ready to every good work," of being "careful to maintain good works," of "provoking unto love and to good works," and of being "made perfect in every good work." [2 Cor. ix. 8. Eph. ii. 10. Col. i. 10. 2 Thess. ii. 17. 1 Tim. ii. 10; v. 10, 25; vi. 18. 2 Tim. ii. 21; iii. 17. Tit. i. 16; ii. 7, 14; iii. 8, 14. Heb. x. 24; xiii. 21.] Now surely this is very remarkable. St. James, though he means good works, drops the epithet, and only says {291} works. Why does not St. Paul the same? why is he always careful to add the word good, except that he had also to do with a sort of works with which St. James had not to do,—that the word works was already appropriated by him to those of the Law, and therefore that the epithet good was necessary, lest deeds done in the Spirit should be confused with them [Note 1]?

St. Paul, then, by speaking of faith as justifying without works, means without corrupt and counterfeit works, not without good works. And he does not deny what St. James affirms, that we are justified in good works.


Such has ever been the Catholic mode of reconciling the two Apostles together, and certainly without doing violence to the text of St Paul. But now, before proceeding, let us for a moment inquire, on the other hand, what attempts have been made on the side of Protestant writers to reduce the language used by St. James to a Lutheran sense.

"By works," says St. James, "a man is justified, and not by faith only." Now, let me ask, what texts do their opponents shrink from as they from this? do they even attempt to explain it? or if so, is it not by some harsh and unnatural interpretation? Next, do they not proceed, as if distrusting their own interpretation, to pronounce the text difficult, and so to dispose of it? yet who can honestly say that it is in itself difficult? rather, can words be plainer, were it not that they are forced into connection with a theory of the sixteenth century; and {292} then certainly they become as thick darkness, "as a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed." [Isaiah xxix. 11.] If St. James is difficult, is St. Paul plain? will any one say that St. Paul is plainer than St. James? Is it St. James in whose Epistles are "some things hard to be understood?" What then is this resolute shutting of the eyes to an inspired Apostle, but the very spirit which leads the Socinian to blot out from certain texts, as far as his faith is concerned, the divinity of Christ? If we may pass over "By works a man is justified, and not by faith only," why may we not also, "I and My Father are One"? Can we fairly call it self-will to refuse the witness of the latter text, while we arbitrarily take on ourselves to assign or deny a sense to the former? What is meant by maintaining the duty of a man's drawing his Creed from Scripture for himself, and yet telling him it is a deadly heresy to say, just what St. James says, and what St. Paul (to say the least) does not deny? But in truth, after all, men do not make up their mind from Scripture, though they profess to do so; they go by what they consider their inward experience. They fancy they have reasons in their own spiritual history for concluding that God has taught them the doctrine of justification without good works; and by these they go. They cannot get themselves to throw their minds upon Scripture; they argue from Scripture only to convince others, but you may defeat them again and again, without moving or distressing them; they are above you, for they do not depend on {293} Scripture for their faith at all, but on what has taken place within them [Note 2]. But to return:—


(2.) A clearer view of faith and works will be gained by considering that faith is a habit of the soul: now a habit is a something permanent, which affects the character; it is a something in the mind which develops itself through acts of the mind, and disposes the mind to move in this way, not in that. We do not know what it is in itself, we only know it in its results; relatively to us, it exists only in its results. We witness certain deeds, a certain conduct, we hear certain principles professed, all consistent with each other, and we refer them to something in the mind as the one cause of what is outwardly so uniform. When we speak of a bountiful man, we mean a man who thinks and does bountifully; and if we were to say that God will reward bountifulness, we should mean bountiful acts. In like manner then, when we speak of a believer, we mean a man who thinks and does,—that is, of a mind that acts,—believingly; and when we say that God justifies by faith on our part, we mean by acts of whatever kind, deeds, works, done in faith.

Read it all here

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Divided Church?

The Division of the Church, brought about by sin, is rendered all the easier because of the distribution within her of various charisms and offices. At the very outset the community must be warned against envy and jealousy: someone else has been given something I do not possess; but, in the dispensation of love, it is for the greatest advantage of the whole in which I share. The eye sees on behalf of the whole body, and so on (1 Cor 12).

The administration of charisms presupposes selfless love on the part of all (1Cor 13). It takes only the slightest change of perspective to highlight the special nature of a charism--perhaps its striking and attractive side-making it seem more important than the Church's organic unity. Thus parties arise, often through no fault of the bearers of charisms. So Paul exhorts his hearers: ‘I appeal to you, brethren.... that there be no dissensions [schismata] among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me ... that there is quarrelling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, 'I belong to Paul', or 'I belong to Apollos', or 'I belong to Cephas. . . .' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?’ (1 Cor 1: 10-13).

Of course, there is a difference between schisms within the Church and the ultimate schism that separates people from the unity of the institutional Church. But there can be no doubt that the former were the cause of the latter. Sin in the Church is the origin of the (equally sinful) separation from the Church. The process can last for hundreds of years within the Church--think of the long prelude to the schism with the East and to the Reformation--but it can always be traced back.

Not that this justifies the ultimate rupture. A slackening of the love that preserves and builds up the Church's catholicity is the beginning, however hidden, of all division in the Church: ‘ubi peccata, ibi multitudo.’ ‘Where there are sins. there is multiplicity, divisions, erroneous teachings and discord. But where there is virtue, there is oneness, union; thus all believers were 'of one heart and one soul'. (Origen, In Ez. hom. 9)

This raises the grave question whether, and when, the Church, divided internally and often externally as well, ceases to be a single person in the theo-drama. Two principlesecclesiaxross.jpg (76764 bytes) are crucial here. The first is that the Church, both as a community of saints and as an institution, is designed and equipped to sustain and save the sinners who dwell within her; she is *corpus permixtum* and must not separate herself from them as a Church of the "pure", elect", "predestined", and so forth.

To that extent, she has to continue to endure the inner tension between her ideal and her fallen reality, endeavoring to draw what is at her periphery toward the center. Thus the unity that encompasses her (the "net") is a principle of this kind: it can hold on to those who are estranged from her provided they have not deliberately renounced her.

At this borderline, however, the other principle takes over: theologically speaking, there absolutely cannot be a plurality of Churches of Christ; if such a plurality empirically exists, these several Christian churches cannot represent theological "persons". It follows that it is impossible, by a process of abstraction, to deduce some common denominator from the historical plurality and so posit an overall concept of the one Church; for the latter's unity is not that of a species: it is a concrete and individual, unique unity, corresponding to the unique Christ who founded her.

We would do well to listen to Karl Barth at this point:

‘The plurality of churches ... should not be interpreted as something willed by God, as a normal unfolding of the wealth of grace given to mankind in Jesus Christ [nor as] a necessary trait of the visible, empirical Church, in contrast to the invisible, ideal, essential Church. Such a distinction is entirely foreign to the New Testament because, in this regard also, the Church of Jesus Christ is one. She is invisible in terms of the grace of the Word of God and of the Holy Spirit, . . . but visible in signs in the multitude of those who profess their adherence to her; she is visible as a community and in her community ministry, visible in her service of the word and sacrament.... It is impossible to escape from the visible Church to the invisible.

If ecumenical endeavor is pursued along the lines of such a distinction, however fine the words may sound, it is philosophy of history and philosophy of society. it is not theology. People who do this are producing their own ideas in order to get rid of the question of the Church's unity, instead of facing the question posed by Christ.... If we listen to Christ, . we do not exist above the differences that divide the Church: we exist in them.... In fact, we should not attempt to explain the plurality of churches at all. We should treat it as we treat our sins and those of others.... We should understand the plurality as a mark of our guilt’ (K. Barth, Die Kirche und die Kirchen. Theol., 9- 10).

We search the New Testament in vain, therefore, if we are looking for guidelines as to how separated churches should get on together; all we shall find there are instructions for avoiding such divisions.

While it is possible to say, with the Second Vatican Council, that "some, even very many, of the most significant elements and endowments that together go to build up and give life to the Church herself can exist" in those Christian communities that have deliberately distanced themselves from the institution of the Catholica; and while we may recognize that "men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church", this does not mean that such communities constitute separate theological persons over against the Catholica.

With regard to the relationship between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the question is whether mutual estrangement has proceeded so far that we are obliged to speak of two "Churches", or whether, in point of historical fact, unity "has never ceased to exist at a deep level" (L. Bouyer, The Church of God: "Theology of the Church").

There have also been attempts to suggest that there is a theological ‘necessity’ behind the phenomenon of schisms, ‘whether on the basis of the Old Testament schism between the North and South Kingdoms’ or arising out of the ‘primal split’ between Judaism and the Gentile world at the founding of the Church. With regard to the former split, however, the tribes of Israel had never been a unity comparable to that of the Body of Christ but a ‘confederation of diverse tribal groups’ that had only lately been united ‘in the person’ of the monarch. With regard to the latter split, it would be difficult to maintain that the Israel that refused Christ was responsible for disputes within the Christian Church; according to Paul, the unity of Christians is based on an entirely different principle (Eph 4:3 ff.) from that of the Jewish ‘sects’ (and Paul had been a member of one of them).

Precisely this principle of unity, however--the Eucharist of the pneumatic Lord--is a wholly new and incomparable principle, and this makes the initial split, which becomes aggravated into full-blown schism, to be practically irreversible. Urged by the most elementary sense of Christian duty, the ‘ecumenical movement’ must indeed tirelessly exert itself for the reunion of the separated ‘churches’. By doing this many partial successes can doubtless be achieved: for instance, the reduction of mutual misunderstandings, suspicions and denigrations.

But the fact remains that the group of churches separated from the Catholic Church has, by this very separation, necessarily gotten rid of the visible symbol of unity, the papacy, and this results in a situation in which our partners in dialogue (including the Orthodox) do not possess any authority which is recognized by all the believers and as such can officially represent these. In each case we are dealing with individual groups or bishops who regularly divide themselves into a party of agreement and a party of objection whenever reunion with the Catholic Church is contemplated. And, seemingly, the best that such groups can produce is an offer of abstract catholicity arrived at by overlooking real differences. We have already described such ‘catholicity’ as being plainly unacceptable.

However fruitful and instructive the ecumenical dialogue between Churches is, exemplary holiness will show not only that obedience to the Church (as understood by Catholics) can be integrated into Christian *agape* but that it is actually an indispensable part of the latter and of the discipleship of Christ.

Finally, while the Church's missionary task is to give witness to the world, the chimera of the divided Church shows just how shaky her self-transcendence into the world is. Indeed, it becomes increasingly precarious, the more Christian sects proliferate. Even if the worst stumbling blocks were overcome by making pacts between missions professing different beliefs, the fundamental stumbling block would remain as far as the recipient of missionary activity is concerned.

Nor can it be removed by portraying the diversity of Christian expressions as something harmless, something arising necessarily as a result of historical development, or even as something that brings blessing. To do this would simply be to obscure Jesus' original wish even more. To repeat the words of Karl Barth on the phenomenon of division in the Church: ‘We should treat it as we treat our sins and those of others.’"

by Hans Urs von Balthasar
from the Third Volume of the Theo-Dramatic

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

'Sacrifice Unveiled or Sacrifice Revisited'

Here are some of my thoughts and notes from an article I read this morning by Robert Daly, S.J.

‘Sacrifice Unveiled or Sacrifice Revisited: Trinitarian and Liturgical Perspectives’ Robert J. Daly, S.J. Theological Studies (64) 2003 24-42

Since the Christ event has done away with Sacrifice, says Daly, this article seeks to understand sacrifice from a Trinitarian and liturgical perspective which focuses primarily on the self-offering of the Father in the gift of his Son and the Son’s self-offering in his humanity, and the Spirit’s offering in unity with us as we are taken up into that relationship. One thing that is noted within this article as well as flowing from the Trinitarian framework of this theological issue is that the definition of sacrifice is no longer universally agreed to as the destruction of a victim that necessarily defines the element of sacrifice. What happened in the C16 Eucharistic controversy, according to Daly, is that we have started from the wrong end when discussing sacrifice or possibly have even been asking the wrong question. One of the difficulties of looking for a definition of sacrifice is that even in such important councils such as Trent; they refrained from giving a careful definition of sacrifice. Daly writes,
See canon 1 (DS 1751) of the 22nd session of the Council of Trent, promulgated in 1562. With ‘sacrifice’ (offerre), as Kilmartin pointed out (ibid. 198), Trent referred both to the transcendent Christ-event, the self offering of Christ, and ‘the liturgical-ritual sacrificial act of the eucharistic celebration’ which it tended to see in history-of-religions types of categories. This confusion, as already noted, was resolved for the worse in the post-Tridentine Protestant and Catholic polemics.
Where did it go wrong in the post-Trentian polemics? It was, according to Daly, with both sides starting from the wrong end and with the wrong question. Daly writes,
Instead of trying to learn from the Christ event what it was that Christians were trying to express when, at first quite hesitantly in earliest Christianity, they began to speak of the Christ event in its special presence in the celebration of the Eucharist as sacrificial, they instead looked to the practice of sacrifice in the different religions of the world, drew up a general definition of sacrifice, and then looked to see how it was present, or not present in the Catholic Sacrifice of the Mass. The definition, which unfortunately they both took for granted as the one to be applied, ran something like this: [emphasis mine] Sacrifice is a gift presented to God in a ceremony in which the gift is destroyed or consumed. It symbolizes the internal offering of commitment and surrender to God. The purpose is primarily for the offerers to acknowledge the dominion of God, but also to bring about the reconciliation of themselves (and possibly others) with God, to render thanks for blessings received, and to petition for further blessings for oneself and others.

Daly sees this definition of sacrifice, what he terms ‘the religions of the rest of the world’ to be reasonable enough for them but for Christianity, he sees the definition as disastrous.

Is it possible to call the Eucharist a sacrifice? That is the question Daly answers throughout the rest of the article. Following Kilmartin’s work in his book The Eucharist of the West, Daly answers three questions via the theological framework and hermeneutic of the Trinity and the worship of the Church using the concept lex orandi lex credendi. The liturgical celebration has an impact on the whole Christian life. This is not a new thought as this concept runs throughout the theology of Andrewes who was known for his sacrificial way of life that was a result of his sacrificial worship. Daly looks at the dialogue of the Eucharistic prayer of the assembly and answers these three questions: Who is doing what? Who is saying what? What is taking place?

Taking the first question, Daly points out that the speaker (in the Prayers of the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgy) never speaks in his own voice alone, save for some private prayers that have crept in. The speaker speaks in the first person plural as one of the assembly. Now, what does this have to say about the Medieval notion of “priestly power” that is so central in the Church during that time? Daly brings up the case where the renegade priest ran through the baker’s shop and consecrated all his bread which left the baker in a moral dilemma. This issue was an issue of justice as well as sacrilege.

Secondly, the prayer is addressed to God. But, according to Daly, the Eucharistic transformation does not come about by the power of the priest but rather the epicletic or what he terms petitionary cast. These words in Daly’s view are not performative. Again the question remains where the epiclesis is to be placed. Presently it is different in the East and the West—the East after the words of institution and in the Roman Rite before the words of institution. In the present Roman rite from Pope Paul VI we find a more explicit epiclesis that has a long tradition in the patristic era and is still used in the Eastern rites today. So, according to Daly, it’s not the presider who consecrates but the Holy Spirit through the presider of the entire assembly.

Thirdly, concerning the question of what is taking place, Daly answers this on three levels: 1) the here-and-now level of human ritual action; 2) the transcendent level of divine action; 3) the eschatological level that combines the two levels in the already/not yet of the eucharistically celebrated Christ event. So, to look at the first level we find Daly saying that the entire assembly, acting under the “presidency” of one chosen by the Church (ordained) to lead in the prayer. What this is addressing is the Church’s axiom in persona Christi that Daly says has neglected the full axiom that goes on to include the words capitis ecclesiae. ‘In the person of Christ the head of the Church.’ So, this points to the important ecclesial dimension of the Eucharistic celebration. Therefore Daly writes that ‘the role of the priest is not that of a mediator between Christ and the Church, the role of the priest is embedded in the Christ/Church relationship that brings about the Eucharist.’

Now looking at the second item concerning the transcendent level of divine action. The Church receives sacramentally what by virtue of their baptisms they already are, the Body of Christ. Why does this happen? Daly writes,
This happens for us, that we may become more fully and more truly the Body of Christ. Eucharistic real presence exists not for its own sake—it is not happening just so that the body of Christ can be found on this or that altar—but for the purpose of the eschatological transformation of the participants. Take that away the Eucharist becomes (even blasphemy) meaningless.
This level brings us to the issue of the relationship of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice of the Mass. There is a real presence of this sacrifice but the question is how. According to Daly there are two approaches to this: 1) is to see the sacrifice of Christ as made present to the faithful. 2) to see the faithful as made present to the sacrifice of Christ. The first approach is the traditional approach that most present theologians hold to. But for Daly, the second approach is much more reasonable since he does not find in the first approach an agreed upon solution to the philosophical question of how a historical event is made present nor does he see it as something required by scripture, and he further says, that it is not found in classic Scholastic teaching or Aquinas himself. I do not think a choice between the two necessarily needs to be made about the ‘reasonablness’ of either position. I find the first position supported by the Passover-event and a making present that historical reality and the second position is represented liturgically as we come to the altar to receive the Body and Blood. So, I would not think the Church needs to decide between the two but rather both take place in the liturgical celebration of the Church. The transformation takes effect in the participating faithful because of what it is that we partake of and in. Yet the one very positive aspect about the second position is the reiteration that we are the ones changed, not God the Father or Christ. This ought to do away with the post-Tridentine emphasis of looking for some form of ‘destruction’ of the victim due to the very narrow way of defining sacrifice. Therefore, I appreciate Daly’s definition of the sacrifice as the person-constituting event par excellence—interpersonal event.

Thirdly, is the level attending to the eschatological level of this eucharistically celebrated Christ event. Now, Daly raises a very important question here: is there a transformation of the elements if there is not a transformation of the participants? In postmodern terms, where there is no real change there is no reality. Daly asks the question this way, ‘If Christian sacrifice means the conjoined self-offerings of the Father, the Son, and human beings, can the sacrifice of Christ be present if there is no self-offering ‘response’ from the human side?’ Here is where his third level comes into the equation. Particularly is the reality that the transformation of the human being can never be complete in this life and therefore the issue of the already/not yet and the eschatological aspect of the celebration comes into view. This process of the human involvement is only completed on the Last Day.

In conclusion, Daly expresses the serious pastoral problem of sacrifice only being couched with negative connotations of suffering. Yet, he is correct that this does not get at the heart of what sacrifice is all about as understood within the Trinitarian framework of God’s self-giving love that Christians should experience and do experience with one another. Sacrifice often does involve a giving up of something or someone very dear but the negative aspect is not the heart of sacrifice. The heart of sacrifice is the self-giving love that is often veiled by the negative connotations often expressed by sacrifice. Daly’s point is for us to recognise the problem that using the word sacrifice to talk about the Sacrifice of the Mass causes many (which is mainly due to a narrow definition and the misunderstood concept of what sacrifice is all about) to have a wrong understanding of sacrifice—a definition that does not define sacrifice within the Trinitarian economy of God, i.e. the self-giving love of God. I agree that the Church can speak of the Eucharistic celebration as the Sacrifice of Christians, though it should be understood within the framework of the self-giving love of God seen within the Godhead itself as Daly's article so wonderfully reiterates. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is not what we do to something or someone, but rather is the process of our being transformed by what has been done on account of the self-giving love of God made present to us and our being made present to the Sacrifice of the Cross.

Benedict XVI and Ecumenism

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Interview With Professor Manuel González

CORDOBA, Spain, AUG. 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's pontificate has been "intensely ecumenical," says a professor who specializes in ecumenism.

Manuel González Muñana, professor of ecumenism at the San Pelagio Seminary in Cordoba, is author of "Ecumenismo y Nuevos Movimientos Eclesiales" (Ecumenism and New Ecclesial Movements), recently published by Monte Carmelo.

In this interview, the author points out how the new ecclesial movements are committed, at various levels, to the promotion of Christian unity.

Q: Ecumenism is one of the "best symphonies that must be played in the Church today." A very poetic phrase, but can it be realized?

González: If the division of Christians, says Vatican II, openly contradicts the will of Christ, it is a scandal for the world and harms the most holy cause of the preaching of the Gospel.

Full visible unity of the Churches would do away with that contradiction, avoid the scandal of humanity and favor evangelization. A difficult but feasible enterprise, because Christ's appeal to the Father: "That they may all be one," must be realized and because, moreover, all the Churches and ecclesial communities have undertaken with determination the path toward the common home, where one day they will celebrate, seated at the same and only table, the Easter of unity.

Q: According to you, there are three dimensions of ecumenism. Could you explain them?

González: The ecumenical movement is one, but it has three dimensions: spiritual, doctrinal and pastoral.

The spiritual is the most important, because full visible unity, being a gift that God must grant to the Church, must be asked of him. Prayer, with conversion of heart and holiness of life, are considered by Vatican II "as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement."

Doctrinal ecumenism covers knowledge of brothers through study, dialogue and the ecumenical formation of the whole people of God.

The pastoral includes the areas of the common witness of Christians, to the degree possible, and cooperation in the social field.

Q: The new ecclesial movements are, for example, the Focolarini, Regnum Christi, L'Arche Communities and Taizé, to mention only a few of those you study in your book in regard to ecumenism. Do all have a propensity to ecumenism?

González: All, because they are in some way offspring of Vatican II. Having been born in the theological-ecclesiological context of the Council, they bear the ecumenical imperative within themselves, though in a differentiated way.

In their statutes and rules quite a few of them specify concern for Christian unity; some are open and committed, though not directly, to the cause of unity.

Others were born by and for ecumenism, their reason for being and acting being the full visible unity of Christians.

Q: Do you think it is evident that Benedict XVI is an ecumenical Pontiff? What do you expect from him, ecumenically speaking?

González: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's election as Pope is an enormous gift of God to the Church at this time.

His close to two years of pontificate, one can say without the fear of being mistaken, have been two intensely ecumenical years with Orthodox, Lutherans, Protestants and Anglicans; they have been so habitual, that they are a strong appeal for Christian unity to many consciences which are somewhat inactive ecumenically.

Along with many other ecumenists, I hope that, in the course of his pontificate, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, will make an important ecumenical decision, given that ecumenism, which progresses at a good pace at theological levels, needs, as I see it, at the more popular levels, a salutary shock that will have a positive impact.

Note the italics in this last paragraph; what could be the "salutary shock" that could bring this positive impact that Gonzalez hints at here?

Monday, August 21, 2006

'Christianity is a Way of Life, Not a System'

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has given an excellent interview recently where he actually defined how the Church is inclusive and why the Western Church has not been able to meet the hunger in spirituality of many in the West. This particular answer struck at the heart of my own experiences of the past. Note the connection made here of lex orandi lex credendi. Liturgy shapes life! This deep mystery in worship is in great need of being explored and explained to the western individualistic mind. Liturgy shapes life and this is what Eucharistic worship is all about.

There is a hunger for spirituality in today's world and yet the Church doesn't seem able to connect. Do you have any idea why?
,,Maybe because in the West we have perceived Christianity as a system rather than a life. That is one of the things I have learned from my contacts with the Eastern Orthodox Church: belief is first of all a life and then a system. It begins with a renewed relationship with God as Father through Jesus Christ; we express that in liturgy and out of that comes theology. People find that in Taizé for example: faith is being lived there in a pattern of prayer and discipline. A second cause is, I think, that as a society why are so scared of commitment. We have such short term horizons, in almost everything. The notion that you commit yourself to Jesus Christ and to a community, for life and beyond, is very strange. People say: what do I get out of that? The gospel rather uncomfortably says: no, I'm sorry, the question is: what will you give? That is a big threshold. It is the same problem we face when it comes to marriage. People don't join political parties. So there is an enormous gap with culture. And the only way to bridge that gap - apart from the integrity of our own discipleship - is to convey that faith is an immense mystery, so mysterious and so rich that it will take your lifetime and longer to live into it.
Read it all here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Eucharist: Earthly and Heavenly Realities

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Presently I am labouring in translating the chapter on the Eucharist between S.Robert Bellarmine S.J., and Lancelot Andrewes. Due to Andrewes' Latin and his odd way of not thinking or writing in complete sentences, believing that the reader will remember the verb 3 sentences prior, makes this an arduous project. Yet as I slowly advance, I have a number of questions that have come up in my mind:

Are the Fathers, prior to the C6 understanding the word 'nature' and what came to be the controversial word'substantia' (in an Aristotelian metaphysic from the C13 and later), in fact speaking of the same thing with these two words? Thus, when Ambrose speaks of a change in the nature of the elements is he actually talking about the 'substance' as Bellarmine argued? Andrewes argues that Bellarmine is reading 'substantia' back into nature and there are a number of ocassions where Andrewes' argument seems to fall due to a lack of much force. (Possibly this is due to his own struggles with his understanding of the Fathers who consistently speak about a change in the nature of the elements after the benediction.)

Now, I ask this question because of the nature of the Sacrament of the Eucharist consisting of two realities per S. Irenaeus. In Contra. Haer. Book iv. cap. xviii.6 Ante Nicene Fathers Vol. I., 486 he writes,
‘For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity.’
Now I have heard it argued from one Roman Catholic who said that the earthly element was the humanity of Christ. But I am not so sure that is Irenaeus' point when he is speaking of the Sacrament itself containing an earthly and heavenly reality. The example that he gives concerning our own bodies of corruptibility and incorruptibility would seem to suggest that we possess the resurrection but we still live within a body that will die. So, is S. Irenaeus saying that the Sacrament, which consists of two realities, maintains its earthly reality by substantially remaining bread but its nature changes in that it is no longer common bread after the consecration?

Unlike Pope Gelasius and Theodoret, Irenaeus is not here speaking so much about Christological issues as the two prior were but about the nature of the Eucharist itself. Pope Gelasius says,
‘Certainly the sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive are a divine reality, because of which and trough which we “are made sharers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1.4). Nevertheless the substance or nature of bread and wine does not cease to exist. And certainly the image and likeness of the Body and Blood of Christ are celebrated in the carrying out of the Mysteries. Therefore it is shown to us with sufficient clarity that we ought to think about Christ himself as we think about that which we profess, celebrate, and receive in his image, namely, that by the work of the Holy Spirit they pass over into the divine substance while nevertheless remaining in their own nature [Lat. In hanc, scilicet divinam, transeant sacto Spiritu perficiente substantiam, permanents tamen in suae proprietate naturae]. Thus, they show us that this principal Mystery, Christ himself, whose efficacy and power they truly represent, remains one, because he is entire and true, in the druly remaining [natures] in which he exists.’ O'Conner, Hidden Manna.
Theodoret writes,
You are caught in the net you have woven yourself. For even after the consecration the mystic symbols are not deprived of their own nature; they remain in their former substance figure and form; they are visible and tangible as they were before. But they are regarded as what they are become, and believed so to be, and are worshipped as being what they are believed to be. Compare then the image with the archetype, and you will see the likeness, for the type must be like the reality. For that body preserves its former form, figure, and limitation and in a word the substance of the body; but after the resurrection it has become immortal and superior to corruption; it has become worthy of a seat on the righthand; it is adored by every creature as being called the natural body of the Lord.
My point in the question being addressed here concerns the possibility of S. Bellarmine reading Aristotelian views of substantia back into the early Fathers who defined the 'nature' of the Sacrament itself as possessing two realities i.e. heavenly and earthly--the heavenly 'the Body and Blood' of the whole Christ (divine and human) and the earthly part from the fruit of our hands, (bread and wine)? Andrewes follows S. Irenaeus, Gelasius, and Theodoret on this when he illustrates this within his Christological hermeneutic that seems to shape his Eucharistic theology in some sense.

These are Saturday morning thoughts and I wonder what you may think of the above questions and issues!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

S. Gregory of Nyssa and Andrewes on Presence

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Catech. Orat. Cap. xxxvii

‘Rightly, then, do we believe that now also the bread which is consecrated by the Word of God is changed into the Body of God the Word. For that Body was once, by implication, bread, but has been consecrated by the inhabitation of the Word that tabernacled in the flesh. Therefore, from the same cause as that by which the bread that was transformed in that Body was changed to a Divine potency, a similar result takes place now. For as in that case, too, the grace of the Word used to make holy the Body, the substance of which came of the bread, and in a manner was itself bread, so also in this case the bread, as says the Apostle , “is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer”; not that it advances by the process of eating to the stage of passing into the body of the Word, but it is at once changed into the body by means of the Word, as the Word itself said, “This is My Body.” Seeing, too, that all flesh is nourished by what is moist (for without this combination our earthly part would not continue to live), just as we support by food which is firm and solid the solid part of our body, in like manner we supplement the moist part from the kindred element; and this, when within us, by its faculty of being transmitted, is changed to blood, and especially if through the wine it receives the faculty of being transmuted into heat. Since, then, that God-containing flesh partook for its substance and support of this particular nourishment also, and since the God who was manifested infused Himself into perishable humanity for this purpose, viz. that by this communion with Deity mankind might at the same time be deified, for this end it is that, by dispensation of His grace, He disseminates Himself in every believer through that flesh, whose substance comes from bread and wine, blending Himself with the bodies of believers, to secure that, by this union with the immortal, man, too, may be a sharer in incorruption. He gives these gifts by virtue of the benediction through which He transelements the natural quality of these visible things to that immortal thing.

It is the last sentence that I have found very interesting in my recent translation of Andrewes' Responsio ad Bellarmine. Here is a translation of some of Andrewes' thoughts:
But he says, the thing itself still, though nameless, is used by the Fathers against which our Jesuits deny that the Fathers ever dealt with the matter of Transubstantiation. The matter of Transubstantiation is for him a change of the substance. And he summons several witnesses to this matter. And this still, (whether there is a conversion of the substance) not long before the Lateran Council the Master of the Sentences himself says, I am not able to define. Indeed all witnesses speak about an alteration [mutatione], a replacement [immutatione], a change about [transmutatione]. But in the Substance or of the substance there is nothing mentioned. But also the preposition there Trans we do not deny: we also allow for the elements to be changed. We truly look for Substantial, we discover it nowhere.
Continuing on in a discussion of Ambrose Andrewes says,
Now Ambrose says nature is changed: and indeed it is changed. For there is one nature of the element and another of the Sacrament (which the Cardinal is not ignorant); we ourselves do not deny that by the blessing the element is changed: that now bread having been consecrated may not be bread, which nature fashioned; but, that benediction consecrated it and even changed it by the act of consecration.
There will be a lot for me to discuss here in due course.

Note: This is my translation of the work and if used elsewhere, please note this. This work has not been translated before. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Fundamentalism breeds Fundamentalism

One of the well-known Catholic converts along with Scott Hahn and others was Gerry Matatics. He has taken some pretty severe positions recently where again his Fundamentalism shows through. Here is a copy of his recent letter. Particularly I am thinking about his position that the past four popes are illigitimate popes (including Benedict XVI). Matatics is being disavowed all over the place because of this. Catholic Apologists International has called upon all Catholics not to follow him or any of his teachings of the Catholic Church. Concerning his position of Sedevacantism where he wrote the Dimond Brothers to let them know that he affirms their position on this has been shown to be outside the realm of even Trent concerning the issue of baptism of desire. Robert Sungenis writes,
God did not put Gerry Matatics in charge of the Catholic Church. Mr. Matatics claims no vision, no revelation, no miraculous intrusion from God in his life to substantiate this new evaluation concerning our recent popes. The entire conclusion of the matter is strictly from the mind of Mr. Matatics, and like many who fell into error before him, Mr. Matatics dares to condemn to hell the popes of the Catholic Church by the sheer prowess of his own thinking abilities.

Unfortunately for Mr. Matatics, it is precisely because of the danger inherent in the thinking of imperfect and fallible individuals that the papacy was created and given the keys to the kingdom of heaven – to set aside those who arrogate authority to themselves and depend solely on their own cognitive abilities to usurp another’s authority. Never mind Mr. Matatics’ self-professed theological and spiritual convictions that he claims leads him to this extreme position. I can hardly think of any renegade the Church has confronted in the past who did not condemn the papacy based on what he understood as his “deep personal theological and spiritual convictions.” The road to hell is paved with deep religious convictions.
Quoting the Council of Trent Dr. Sungenis writes,
Session 6, Chapter 4, of the Council of Trent states:

In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the ‘adoption of the sons’ of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior; and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be erected except through the laver of regeneration, or a desire for it, as it is written: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’
Fundamentalism breeding Fundamentalism. He's still a Protestant!

Another example of this has been posted by, Third Mill Catholic who has posted a video of Texas Evangelicals converting to Islam. These people exchange one form of Fundamentalism for another and often the only thing different is their dress and liturgical actions. This goes for Fundamentalists converting to Roman Catholicism as well. Some young converts will ONLY attend the Tridentine Mass as if 'they are the more spiritual Catholics.' What is it with Fundamentalism that does this to people? Some of the most obnoxious converts to Rome are former Fundamentalist Evangelicals who have grown up with 'strict' principles and guides where there is no law. This topic would make a very interesting study and dissertation if any of you are looking for a postgraduate topic! What do you all think?

I think it should be taken as seriously as this self-proclaimed 'Pope Michael' pictured below. The best picture is the one where he is standing next to the large rock. (I can hardly stop laughing.) Here's a link to his site and how he was elected.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ambrose: Concerning the Mysteries IX.

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Chapter IX.
In order that no one through observing the outward part should waver in faith, many instances are brought forward wherein the outward nature has been changed, and so it is proved that bread is made the true body of Christ. The treatise then is brought to a termination with certain remarks as to the effects of the sacrament, the disposition of the recipients, and such like.

50. Perhaps you will say, “I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the Body of Christ?” And this is the point which remains for us to prove. And what evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.
51. Moses was holding a rod, he cast it down and it became a serpent.63 Again, he took hold of the tail of the serpent and it returned to the nature of a rod. You see that by virtue of the prophetic office there were two changes, of the nature both of the serpent and of the rod. The streams of Egypt were running with. a pure flow of water; of a sudden from the veins of the sources blood began to burst forth, and none could drink of the river. Again, at the prophet’s prayer the blood ceased, and the nature of water returned.64 The people of the Hebrews were shut in on every side, hemmed in on the one hand by the Egyptians, on the other by the sea; Moses lifted up his rod, the water divided and hardened like walls, and a way for the feet appeared between the waves.65 Jordan being turned back, returned, contrary to nature, to the source of its stream.66 Is it not clear that the nature of the waves of the sea and of the river stream was changed? The people of the fathers thirsted, Moses touched the rock, and water flowed out of the rock.67 Did not grace work a result contrary to nature, so that the rock poured forth water, which by nature it did not contain? Marah was a most bitter stream, so that the thirsting people could not drink. Moses cast wood into the water, and the water lost its bitterness, which grace of a sudden tempered.68 In the time of Elisha the prophet one of the sons of the prophets lost the head from his axe, which sank. He who had lost the iron asked Elisha, who cast in a piece of wood and the iron swam. This, too, we clearly recognize as having happened contrary to nature, for iron is of heavier nature than water.
52. We observe, then, that grace has more power than nature, and yet so far we have only spoken of the grace of a prophet’s blessing. But if the blessing of man had such power as to change nature, what are we to say of that divine consecration where the very words of the Lord and Saviour operate? For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ. But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements? You read concerning the making of the whole world: “He spake and they were made, He commanded and they were created.”69 Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.
53. But why make use of arguments? Let us use the examples He gives, and by the example of the Incarnation prove the truth of the mystery. Did the course of nature proceed as usual when the Lord Jesus was born of Mary? If we look to the usual course, a woman ordinarily conceives after connection with a man. And this body which we make is that which was born of the Virgin. Why do you seek the order of nature in the Body of Christ, seeing that the Lord Jesus Himself was born of a Virgin, not according to nature? It is the true Flesh of Christ which crucified and buried, this is then truly the Sacrament of His Body.
54. The Lord Jesus Himself proclaims: “This is My Body.”70 Before the blessing of the heavenly words another nature is spoken of, after the consecration the Body is signified. He Himself speaks of His Blood. Before the consecration it has another name, after it is called Blood. And you say, Amen, that is, It is true. Let the heart within confess what the mouth utters, let the soul feel what the voice speaks.
55. Christ, then, feeds His Church with these sacraments, by means of which the substance of the soul is strengthened, and seeing the continual progress of her grace, He rightly says to her: “How comely are thy breasts, my sister, my spouse, how comely they are made by wine, and the smell of thy garments is above all spices. A dropping honeycomb are thy lips, my spouse, honey and milk are under thy tongue, and the smell of thy garments is as the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed.”71 By which He signifies that the mystery ought to remain sealed up with you, that it be not violated by the deeds of an evil life, and pollution of chastity, that it be not made known to thou, for whom it is not fitting, nor by garrulous talkativeness it be spread abroad amongst unbelievers. Your guardianship of the faith ought therefore to be good, that integrity of life and silence may endure unblemished.
56. For which reason, too, the Church, guarding the depth of the heavenly mysteries, repels the furious storms of wind, and calls to her the sweetness of the grace of spring, and knowing that her garden cannot displease Christ, invites the Bridegroom, saying: “Arise, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, and let my ointments flow down. Let my Brother come down to His garden, and eat the fruit of His trees.”72 For it has good trees and fruitful, which have dipped their roots in the water of the sacred spring, and with fresh growth have shot forth into good fruits, so as now not to be cut with the axe of the prophet, but to abound with the fruitfulness of the Gospel.
57. Lastly, the Lord also, delighted with their fertility, answers: “I have entered into My garden, My sister, My spouse; I have gathered My myrrh with My spices, I have eaten My meat with My honey, I have drunk My drink with My milk.”73 Understand, you faithful, why He spoke of meat and drink. And there is no doubt that He Himself eats and drinks in us, as you have read that He says that in our persons He is in prison.74
58. Wherefore, too, the Church, beholding so great grace, exhorts her sons and her friends to come together to the sacraments, saying: “Eat, my friends, and drink and be inebriated, my brother.”75 What we eat and what we drink the Holy Spirit has elsewhere made plain by the prophet, saying, “Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that hopeth in Him.”76 In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ, it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Whence the Apostle says of its type: “Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink,”77 for the Body of God is a spiritual body; the Body of Christ is the Body of the Divine Spirit, for the Spirit is Christ, as we read: “The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord.”78 And in the Epistle of Peter we read: “Christ died for us.”79 Lastly, that food strengthens our heart, and that drink “maketh glad the heart of man,”80 as the prophet has recorded.
59. So, then, having obtained everything, let us know that we are born again, but let us not say, How are we born again? Have we entered a second time into our mother’s womb and been born again? I do not recognize here the course of nature. But here there is no order of nature, where is the excellence of grace. And again, it is not always the course of nature which brings about conception, for we confess that Christ the Lord was conceived of a Virgin, and reject the order of nature. For Mary conceived not of man, but was with child of the Holy Spirit, as Matthew says: “She was found with child of the Holy Spirit.”81 If, then, the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Virgin wrought the conception, and effected the work of generation, surely we must not doubt but that, coming down upon the Font, or upon those who receive Baptism, He effects the reality of the new birth.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Dietrich von Hildebrand on Conjugal Love: Happy Anniversary Rhea!

Image and video hosting by TinyPicToday Rhea and I celebrate our 14 years of marriage together having been blessed with six children (3 boys and 3 girls) as a result of the bond of affection and love that God established between us. Marriage is a great mystery and it is on this day that I am reminded to look back and see how I have not been as faithful a husband as I should have been. 'An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.' I have graciously been given this gift from God in a woman that I didn't deserve. Love is work and the mystery of this bond requires great attention given to the mystery of Christ's love for the Church. von Hildebrand offers the following remarks on Conjugal love. For more, read it all here.

Conjugal love reveals the whole being of the beloved
The fact also that this love can arise quite suddenly, and even develop to maturity at the first encounter of two persons, emphasizes the typical contrast between this and any other kind of love. In this love, the personality of the beloved is instantaneously revealed as a complete unity. Our eyes are able to penetrate the other much more deeply than in the ordinary way when our glance is distracted by innumerable trifling objects and dulled by a grey everyday atmosphere. This never goes beyond the outer aspect. Just as in supernatural love of our neighbor we penetrate at one glance to that innermost, mysterious essence of the other person in which, through all his imperfections, pettiness, arrogance, and triviality he reflects God, so in natural conjugal love the real individuality of the partner is mysteriously revealed. The deep, secret meaning which permeates all his gifts and talents, the whole rhythm of his being, is disclosed at one glance through all his imperfections. One understands, so to speak, the divine plan underlying the creation of this particular individuality, just as in love of neighbor one understands the general meaning, of a free, spiritual person, created by God after His own image in a particular individual.

It is true, of course, that all love implies a deeper understanding of the other person, a deeper grasp of his real being which shines but imperfectly through many veils and weaknesses. Nothing is more mistaken than the adage, "Love is blind." Love is that which gives us sight, revealing to us even the faults of the other in their full import and causing us to suffer because of them. But conjugal love reveals to us intuitively the whole being of the other in a mysteriously lucid unity. It not only shows us individual praiseworthy traits but also the particular charm of his individuality as a whole, which permeates everything and characterizes the essence of his being - a charm which can only be completely understood by the complementary person and can have its full significance for him alone.
Almighty Father, who has hallowed the ordinance of marriage to the blessing of mankind: Give thy grace to us who are joined together as husband and wife, that we may be faithful in love to one another, and live in obedience to thy will; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicWe will be celebrating our anniversary at Lumley Castle pictured here. We will attend the Elizabethan Banquet and I know the food will be just wonderful and the company even better! Make sure you click on the guided tour at the bottom; this will be great fun!
I love you, Rhea!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Is a Sacramental Gospel another gospel?

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My answer to the question would be, 'NOT if we are in need of the Incarnation now just as much as was needed 2,000 years ago.' One will often find Protestants denying that the Roman Catholic Church has a true gospel because they embrace a Sacramental Gospel. As the RCC, Catholics claims, 'Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith.' (1922 RCC) If one sees that the Gospel requires death and resurrection via a life of penitence, then Protestants should not deny that the Christian Faith is a Sacramental Faith--especially in light of our present need of Incarnation.(Rom. 6.3-4) That need of the Incarnation is as equally necessary now as it was when Jesus took on flesh in history. The Sacraments are God's means of making that Incarnation real to us in the present. The Church itself is the Sacrament par excellance. We are the Body of Christ extended into and for the world.

Protestants make the claim that the Church stands or falls on the doctrine of Justification by faith alone and yet a theologian such as Luther who trumpeted Justification by Faith Alone was also the very one who did so within the framework of a Sacramental Gospel. As the means of grace that the Sacraments are, Luther never denied a Sacramental Gospel. The Sacraments were the visible realities of God's promises to us in Luther's theology. I think this quotation says it nicely,
The powers of the Kingdom already experienced in the Church are manifested through the divine mysteries or sacraments offered in faith. It is through these, as through windows, that the risen Christ enters this dark world to put sin and corruption to death and introduce abiding and immortal life.

God's life is infused into the present age and mingled with it, without change or confusion, through the mysteries. God touches, purifies, illumines, sanctifies and deifies human life in his uncreated divine energies through the mysteries. Christ becomes everyone's contemporary in the mysteries. All that He did one and for all for the salvation of the world has now passed over into the mysteries. Thus, the mysteries become the various manifestations of our Lord's saving power, and the means by which Christ is present and works in his Church. "As the Church is the perpetual extension of Christ, so the mysteries are the power by which the Church sanctifies people" (Ch. Androutsos)Here..
Here is where the necessity of the present need for the Incarnation should be considered. Baptism begins for us that life in Christ where we are set upon a path of faith and obedience our entire lives being prepared for glory (deification 2 Pet. 1.4).
The mysteries prepare the faithful for the future life, but they also make that life real, here and now. We are given the vision and have the foretaste of the things to come through them. They introduce us continuously and in various ways to the transforming power of God, which communicates salvation, i.e., the cure of our fallen humanity and "the elimination of the germ of mortality." In them we encounter Christ, in order to be Christ. We enter upon a decisively new reality: in Christ we learn to become fully conscious of what it really means to be human. Encountering God, we also see the power of evil, whose force invades, pervades and distorts the image of God in us. Allied with Christ, we share in his victory over sin and death; the power of divine love overcomes evil in us and makes us a new into children of God and heirs of his Kingdom. here

Friday, August 11, 2006

Watch This Amazing Video

Biretta Tip Mark Horne

I know that this doesn't normally fit with the content of the blog but it is a clever video. The music isn't bad either. Enjoy.

Getting Close To God: Pusey on the Eucharist

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The following quotation from E. Pusey is taken from a sermon he preached in Oxford before the university in 1853. It is taken from Bishop Geoffrey Rowell's book That Glorious Vision. Pusey said,
The Holy Eucharist is plainly the closest union of man with God. Through the Incarnation God took our nature, took the Manhood into God. But although we had that unspeakable nearness to Himself...this was a gift to our whole race. It was a gift which, by its very nature, must overflow to us individually; yet still it required a further act of God's condescension fully to apply it to each one of us...

We could not be united to Him, save by His communicating Himself to us. This He willed to do by indwelling in us through His Spirit; by making us, through the Sacrament of Baptism, members of His Son; by giving us, through the Holy Eucharist, not in any carnal way, but really and spiritually, the Flesh and Blood of the Incarnate Son, whereby 'He dwelleth in us, and we in Him; He is one with us, and we with him.' Through these, He imparteth to us the life which He Himself gives us. He, the Life of the world, maketh those alive, in whom He is. This is the comfort of the penitent, the joy of the faithful, the Paradise of the holy, the Heaven of those whose conversation is in Heaven, the purity of those who long to be partakers of His holiness, the strengthening of man's heart, the renewal of the inward man, the fervour of Divine love, spiritual peace, kindled hope, assured faith, burning thankfulness,--that our Lord Jesus Christ, not in figure, but in reality, although in spiritual reality, does give Himself to us, does come to be in us.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Protect Yourself and Wear Your Tinfoil Hat

Sometimes, you just need to put on protection in this world of craziness. Here is a song that will give you the hope and level of protection that you have been needing. The next time you are attacked by the mind control of those who are troubled about silly ecclesial issues get out your tinfoil hat and sing along.

Wear Your tinfoil hat.

A Federation: Is it Real Unity?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI just learned that there is a new site that talks of a 'Federation of Anglican Churches'. Such an ecclesial structure begs more questions than it gives answers to. It seems to me that a federation does nothing more than say 'we want to give the appearance of unity but we like our autonomy too. Just in case you ask us to do something we don't want to do, we reserve the right to claim an autonomous jurisdiction.' I'm not sure a Federation gets to the heart of Jesus' High Priestly Prayer. Is this another instance where we simply come full circle again to the question of authority?

Don't get me wrong, I find it encouraging to work towards unity. The only way unity happens is equal submission one to another (Eph. 5). It's easy to claim submission when everybody agrees with the way something is going--it's altogether something else to submit when you might like it another way. That is when submission is really tested.

The site mentions a number of Articles that one must submit to in order to be an active member of the Federation. With reference to one's adherence to the 39 Articles of Religion in the constitutional framework what happens if there is a disagreement with the language or theology within the Articles of Religion or what if something within the Articles makes superfluous what the Church has learned since their acceptance? How does the Church continue to grow in its understanding of the Scriptures and Tradition? A Federation like this seems to me to be something very similar to a Presbyterian model of confessional subscription. For example, what if one can make a strong scriptural argument that Christ is objectively present in the Eucharist where the righteous and wicked alike receive Christ when they receive the elements; though one is for blessing and the other for judgment? How else can one be guilty of 'profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord' unless they are partaking of the Body and the Blood of the Lord objectively? Many Anglicans do not hold to a 'dynamic receptionism' that teaches that there is only a 'Presence' by reception in the one who receives with faith. According to many examples in the history of Anglicanism and the Church Catholic, this would not be acceptable as the teaching of the Church. The 39 Articles (at least the titles) would contradict what many understand the teaching of the Fathers and the Scriptures to say on this issue. A very strong case can be made for an objective presence in the elements as one example. Matter of fact, many Anglican fathers held to such a position throughout the history of Eucharistic theology in the Church of England.

A lot of the political difficulties surrounding the Church in England since the C16 have gone away. I do not find it very helpful to continue to try and fight these same battles today when we live under such vastly different circumstances and changes all around the Church in its theology and practices; not to mention the changes in the political environment.

This is only a few examples. I have many more concerns with the language of a theology of the Church that is being used for establishing a Federation that before it even gets going we are using words like autonomy within constitutional formulations. What sort of theology of the Church is set forth with language like 'autonomy?' Is that not the problem facing the Anglican Church in the West? Does it not continue to just leave the Church open to the charge of Puritanism that exchanges one Pope thousands of miles away for thousands of Popes one mile away?

What do you all think about it?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Absent Blogger/Andrewes's and Bellarmine's Latin

I have felt so out of the blogging world lately. I am completely swamped with work as my in-laws left after a two week visit yesterday and before that I was preparing for my Bishops' conference and then in Ely during the Advisory Panel. I have been buried in my Latin translation of Andrewes and Bellarmine and I am learning a lot of Latin and finding out how sarcastic Andrewes can be. One thing is for sure, translating his Latin is some of the hardest work that I have ever done in my life. That is especially true in trying to figure out his jabs that he makes to S. Bellarmine. It is really working me right now so I would be grateful for any prayers.

I have begun writing my chapter on Eucharistic Sacrifice and I hope to have something worth while by the end of September that can become a workable chapter. I have some more reading to do before I do much more writing plus I have some Latin to translate as well. I have spent the last week or so translating the discussion between Bellarmine and Andrewes on the Eucharistic Sacrifice and what implications communion under only one species means for that Eucharistic offering. I may post something on it in a short while. Back to work and soon to bed.

Friday, August 04, 2006

This is an Interesting Development

The Bishop of Texas, the Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly, is interested in assembling all members of the House of Bishops who are willing to stand firmly with the recommendations of the Windsor Report. In a letter dated July 28, Bishop Wimberly announced a consultation to be held Sept. 19-22 at Camp Allen near Navasota, Texas.

“It is my hope that you will be able to accept this invitation and enter with fellow bishops into a consultation that can produce a way forward that both prevents some in our Church from ‘walking apart’, and others from seeking irregular means of preserving their Anglican identity,” Bishop Wimberly wrote. “I want to emphasize that this invitation is to a consultation rather than a conference.”

In May, Bishop Wimberly and eight colleagues met with the Most Rev. Rowan Williams and others from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff at Lambeth Palace for what was described at the time as “a bid to continue the dialogue within the Anglican Communion over the divisions within the Episcopal Church.”

In the letter, Bishop Wimberly revealed that two members from the Church of England’s House of Bishops will be present: the Rt. Rev. N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, and the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester. Bishop Wimberly said the Archbishop of Canterbury “has been aware of these plans from the beginning. Both bishops, having had thorough discussions with him, are coming with his blessing to discuss with us the nature of our future relation to the See of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion.”

From the Living Church.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Should we dsicard Dix? Why? Why not?

Dr. Dan Dunlap over at 3rd Mil Catholic writes three reasons why we should discard Dix' Shape of the Liturgy. Here they are:

Three Reasons to Discard Your Copy of Dix's Shape of the Liturgy
This entry comes from the comment section of my last entry. I thought I'd open this up for more discussion, if anyone is game.

Three reasons why you should discard your copy of Dom Gregory Dix's The Shape of the Liturgy, if you haven't already:

1. Dix's whole 4-fold shape of the liturgy thesis is contrived on his own speculation, with absolutely no historical verification or support (read none). As a result, those contemporary rites that are based on Dix's thesis are built around an artificial construct.

2. Anything of actual historical significance in the book can be obtained from better and more up to date works. So STL is utterly obsolete as an authority in liturgical studies, despite the opinions of a number of antiquarians and liturgical wannabes who still treat the book as if it were the most important liturgical resource ever written.

3. Dix never understood Cranmer's theology, but presented himself authoritatively as if he did. The resulting damage done to Cranmer studies and studies on the Anglican liturgy will take generations to undo (if ever).

Those are three reasons off the top of my head.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blog Neglect and Wind on the North Sea

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Sorry I have not posted much lately, but my wife's parents are with us until Monday 7 August. I should have something up before then but that is the reason for the limited amount of stuff put out. We just returned from Bamburgh Castle and Lindisfarne Holy Island but the weather kept us from visiting Holy Island. The wind was blowing about 30 mph with gusts up to and probably over 50 mph coming off the North Sea. They were expecting worse weather as the day progressed. We had to hold onto our 3-year-old and 5-year-old at a couple of points when walking up to the castle which sits up about 200 ft(at its peak). above the sea where the wind was simply amazing. Bamburgh Castle was beautiful. If you ever come this way to England and stay with us, we would be happy to take you for a visit.
    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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