Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Lord, that I may suffer, and be disesteemed for thy sake" - St. John of the Cross


Share/Bookmark From Matins of the Feast of St. John of the Cross, Confessor and Doctor
Source: www.breviary.net


Absolutio: Ipsíus píetas et misericórdia nos ádjuvet, qui cum Patre et Spíritu Sancto vivit et regnat in sæcula sæculórum.R.  Amen.
Absolution:  May his loving-kindness and mercy assist us.  Who, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, for ever and ever.
R.  Amen.
V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere.
V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing.
Benedíctio 4: Deus Pater omnípotens sit nobis propítius et clemens.
R.  Amen.
Benediction 4:  May God the Father Almighty shew us his mercy and pity.
R.  Amen.
Lesson iv

Medina del Campo, Spain
Joánnes a Cruce, Fontíberi in Hispánia piis paréntibus natus, a primis annis certo innótuit quam Deíparæ Vírgini futúrus esset accéptus ; nam quinquénnis, in púteum lapsus, ejúsdem Deíparæ manu sublátus, incólumis evásit.  Tanto autem patiéndi desidério flagrávit, ut novénnis, spreto mollióri lecto, super sarméntis cubáre consuéverit.  Adoléscens hospítio páuperum ægrotántium Metymnæ Campi fámulum sese addíxit, quibus magno caritátis ardóre, vilíssima quæque compléctens offícia, præsto áderat.  Cujus exémplo excitáti céteri, éadem caritátis múnera ardéntius obíbant.  Verum, ad altióra vocátus, beátæ Maríæ Vírginis de Monte Carmélo institútum ampléxus est ; ubi, sacérdos ex obediéntia factus, severióris disciplínæ et arctióris vitæ cupidíssimus, primitívam órdinis régulam ex superióris licéntia ita proféssus est, ut, ob jugem Domínicæ passiónis memóriam, bello in se, tamquam in infensíssimum hostem indícto, vigíliis, jejúniis, férreis flagéllis omníque pœnárum génere, brevi carnem cum vítiis et concupiscéntiis suis crucifíxerit ; dignus plane, qui a sancta Terésia inter purióres sanctiorésque ánimas, Ecclésiam Dei id témporis illustrántes, recenserétur.
John of the Cross was born of godly parents at Fontiveros, in Spain.  It began soon to appear that he was foreordained to be an acceptable servant unto the Virgin Mother of God.  At five years of age he fell into a well, but the hand of the Mother of God took him up, and saved him from all hurt.  So burning was his desire to suffer that when he was nine years old he gave up any softer bed, and used to lie on potsherds.  In his youth he devoted himself as a servant in the hospital for the sick poor at Medina del Campo, and embraced with eager charity, the meanest offices there, his readiness likewise exciting others to imitate him.  He obeyed the call to higher things, and entered the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, wherein, by command of his Superiors, he received Priest's Orders.  By their leave and his own strong desire for the sternest discipline and the strictest life, he adopted the primitive Rule.  Full of the memory of what our Lord suffered, he declared war against himself as his own worst enemy, and carried it on by depriving himself of sleep and food, by iron chains, by whips, and by every kind of self-torture.  And in a little while he had crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts thereof.  he was indeed worthy that holy Teresa should say of him that he was one of the purest and holiest souls by whom God was then enlightening his Church.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.
R.  Honéstum fecit illum Dóminus, et custodívit eum ab inimícis, et a seductóribus tutávit illum : * Et dedit illi claritátem ætérnam.V.  Justum dedúxit Dóminus per vias rectas, et osténdit illi regnum Dei.
R.  Et dedit illi claritátem ætérnam.
R.  The Lord multiplied the fruit of his labours and defended him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those that lay in wait. * And gave him perpetual glory.
V.  The Lord guided the righteous in right paths, and shewed him the kingdom of God.
R.  And gave him perpetual glory.

V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere.
V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing.
Benedíctio 5: Christus perpétuæ det nobis gáudia vitæ.R.  Amen.
Benediction 5: May Christ bestow upon us the joys of life eternal.
R.  Amen.
Lesson v
Singulári vitæ austeritáte et ómnium virtútum præsídio munítus, præ assídua rerum divinárum contemplatióne, diutúrnas et mirábiles éxtases frequénter patiebátur ; tantóque in Deum æstuábat amóre, ut, cum divínus ignis sese intro diútius continére non posset, foras erúmpere ejúsque vultum irradiáre visus sit.  Proximórum salúti summópere inténtus, tum in verbi Dei prædicatióne, tum in sacramentórum administratióne fuit assíduus.  Hinc tot méritis auctus, strictiorísque disciplínæ promovéndæ ardóre veheménter accénsus, sanctæ Terésiæ comes divínitus datus est, ut, quam ipsa inter soróres primævam Carméli órdinis observántiam instauráverat, eámdem et inter fratres, Joánne adjutóre, restitúeret.  Innúmeros ítaque una cum Dei fámula in divíno ópere promovéndo perpéssus labóres, cœnóbia, quæ ejúsdem sanctæ Vírginis cura per totam Hispániam erécta fúerant, nullis vitæ incómmodis et perículis térritus, síngula perlustrávit.  In quibus aliísque quam plúrimis, ejus ópera eréctis, restaurátam observántiam propagándo, verbo et exémplo firmávit ; ut mérito primus, post sanctam Terésiam, Carmelitárum excalceatórum órdinis proféssor et parens habeátur.
The strange hardness of his life, and the might of his graces, joined to the unceasing concentration of his mind on God, had the effect of oftentimes subjecting him to daily and extraordinary trances.  So burning was his love of God that the fire sometimes could not not be kept bound within, and brake forth, so that his face shone.  The salvation of his neighbours was one of his dearest longings, and he was unwearied in preaching the Word of God, and in administering the Sacraments.  As strong in so many good works, and glowing with zeal to make discipline harder, he was given by God to be an helpmeet to holy Teresa, and he aided her to set up again the primitive observance among the brethren of the Order of Mount Carmel, as she had already done among the sisters.  In doing God's work, he and God's handmaid together went through toils that cannot be numbered.  No discomforts of dangers held him back from going throughout all Spain to visit all and each of the convents which the care of that holy Virgin had founded, and in them, and in very many others erected by her means for spreading the renewed observance, he strengthened it by his word and ensample.  He is indeed worthy to be reckoned second only to the holy Teresa as a professor and founder of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.
R.  Amávit eum Dóminus, et ornávit eum : stolam glóriæ índuit eum, * Et ad portas paradísi coronávit eum.V.  Induit eum Dóminus lorícam fídei, et ornávit eum.
R.  Et ad portas paradísi coronávit eum.
R.  The Lord loved him and adorned him; he clothed him with a robe of glory : * And crowned him at the gates of Paradise.V.  The Lord hath put on him the breast-plate of faith, and hath adorned him.
R.  And crowned him at the gates of Paradise.

V.  Jube domne, (Dómine) benedícere.
V.  Vouchsafe, Reverend Father (O Lord), thy blessing.
Benedíctio 6: Ignem sui amóris accéndat Deus in córdibus nostris.
R.  Amen.
Benediction 6: May God enkindle in our hearts the fire of his holy love.
R.  Amen.
Lesson vi
Virginitátem perpétuo cóluit, impudentésque mulíeres ejus pudicítiæ insidiári conántes, non modo répulit, sed étiam Christo lucrifécit.  In divínis explicándis arcánis æque ac sancta Terésia, apostólicæ Sedis judício, divínitus instrúctus, libros de mystica theología, cælésti sapiéntia refértos, conscrípsit.  Semel interrogátus a Christo quid præmii pro tot labóribus pósceret, respóndit : Dómine, pati et contémni pro te.  Império in dæmones, quos e corpóribus sæpe fugábat, discretióne spirítuum, prophetíæ dono, miraculórum glória celebratíssimus, ea semper fuit humilitáte, ut sæpius a Dómino flagitáverit eo loco mori, ubi ómnibus esset ignótus.  Voti compos factus.  Ubédæ, diro morbo et in crure quinque plagis sánie manántibus, ad impléndum patiéndi desidérium constantíssime tolerátis, Ecclésiæ sacraméntis pie sanctéque suscéptis, in Christi crucifíxi ampléxu, quem semper in corde atque ore habúerat, post illa verba : In manus tuas comméndo spíritum meum, obdormívit in Dómino, die et hora a se prædíctis, anno salútis millésimo quingentésimo nonagésimo primo, ætátis quadragésimo nono.  Migrántem ejus ánimam splendidíssimus ignis globus excépit ; corpus vero suavíssimum odórem spirávit, quod, etiámnum incorrúptum, Segóviæ honorífice cólitur.  Eum, plúrimis ante et post óbitum fúlgentem signis, Benedíctus décimus tértius Póntifex máximus in Sanctórum númerum rétulit, et Pius undécimus ex Sacrórum Rítuum Congregatiónis consúlto, universális Ecclésiæ Doctórem declarávit.
He remained throughout all his life a clean maid, and when some shameless woman tried to beguile his modesty, he not only foiled them, but gained them for Christ.  In the judgment of the Apostolic See he was as much taught of God as was holy Teresa, for explaining God's hidden mysteries, and he wrote books of mystical theology filled with heavenly wisdom.  Christ once asked him what reward he would have for so much work ; whereto he answered : Lord, that I may suffer, and be disesteemed for thy sake.  He was very famous for his power over devils, whom he oftentimes scared out of men's bodies, for discerning of spirits, for the gift of prophecy, and for eminent miracles.  He was extraordinarily lowly, and oftentimes entreated of the Lord that he might die in some place where he was unknown.  In accordance with his prayer, he was sent to Ubeda.  To crown his love of suffering, he bore uncomplainingly five open sores in his leg, running with water.  In the year 1591, in the forty-ninth year of his age, being the day, and at the hour foretold by himself, after having in godly and holy wise received the Sacraments of the Church, hugging the image of that crucified Saviour of whom his heart and his mouth had been used to be full, he uttered the words : Into thy hands I commend my spirit, and fell asleep in the Lord.  As his soul passed away it was received into a glorious cloud of fire.  His body yielded a right sweet savour, and is still uncorrupt where it lieth, held in great honour, at Segovia.  He was famous for very many miracles, both before and since his death, and Pope Benedict XIII numbered his name among those of the Saints.  Pius XI, after consultation with the Congregation of Sacred Rites, declared him a doctor of the universal Church.
V.  Tu autem, Dómine, miserére nobis.
R.  Deo grátias.
V.  But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R.  Thanks be to God.

Segovia Cathedral, Spain
R.  Iste homo perfécit ómnia quæ locútus est ei Deus, et dixit ad eum : Ingrédere in réquiem meam : * Quia te vidi justum coram me ex ómnibus géntibus.
V.  Iste est, qui contémpsit vitam mundi, et pervénit ad cæléstia regna.
R.  Quia te vidi justum coram me ex ómnibus géntibus.
V.  Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
R.  Quia te vidi justum coram me ex ómnibus géntibus.
R.  This is he which did according to all that God commanded him ; and God said unto him : Enter thou into my rest : * For thee have I seen righteous before me among all people.V.  This is he which despised his life in this world, and is come unto an everlasting kingdom.
R.  For thee have I seen righteous before me among all people.V.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
R.  For thee have I seen righteous before me among all people.

 


    

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pope Benedict's Equivocal Position on Judaism (Revised)


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Quaeritur: Would you care to possibly comment on this other excerpt about the Jews from the book The Light of the World.

Respondeo: This is a better example than the condom comment of a point in which "[i]t goes without saying that the Pope can have private opinions that are wrong," as the Holy Father himself admits in his book.  The theologically objectionable point is the claim that the traditional Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews was erroneous because he realized the profound unity of the Old and New Testaments:

"... in such a way that one did not pray directly for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense."

The rest seems to amount to an unclear and rather circumlocutious pair of premises that are somehow being offered as support for the above conclusion.  The argument contains little discernible propositional content by way of premises; it rather expresses a theologically misguided desire for ecumenism. (A desire cannot be false in the strict sense, just misguided or disordered.)  But one can perhaps boil all that down to the proposition that there is a natural unity between Judaism and Christianity.  This seems to be the hidden premise of the argument that he uses to get to the conclusion, i.e., the quote above.   Thus, what the Pope offers us is an enthymeme (an implied syllogism), which we can reformulate into an explicit syllogism:

Major Premise: If there is a natural continuity between Judaism and Christianity, then we must not pray for the Jews' conversion in a 'missionary sense' --i.e., that they change from a false religion to the one, true religion.
Minor Premise: There is a natural continuity between Judaism and Christianity.
Conclusion: Therefore, we must not pray for the Jews' conversion in a 'missionary sense' (as the Old Missal does), but for the perfection of their religion (as the New Missal and Pope Benedict's 'proclamation of the Christian faith' does).

For the sake of precision, allow me to express my refutation of his reasoning as a scholastic distinction:


I concede the major.  It is a statement of the self-evident proposition that one cannot convert from religion to religion b if, in the ultimate analysis, a = b.  Conversion (in the 'missionary sense') involves changing religions that are essentially distinct.

I distinguish the minor (i.e., this premise is true in one sense, but false in another).  That there is a natural continuity between pre-Christian Judaism and Christianity, I concede; but that there is a natural continuity between modern Judaism and Christianity, I deny. The Holy Father's reasoning is faulty insofar as it does not take into account this important distinction. Pre-Christian Judaism, i.e., the religion of the Old Testament, is essentially the same religion as Christianity, the religion of the New Testament: Christianity is the perfection of pre-Christian Judaism. Pre-Christian Judaism prefigures Christianity; Christianity perfects Pre-Christian Judaism--every bit as much as the Old Testament prefigures the New, and the New perfects the Old.

But post-Christian Judaism, and I specifically mean the religion of the Jewish race after the destruction of the Temple, is a new religion distinct from the religion of the Old Testament. Judaism, in other words, underwent a sort of substantial change at that point. Not only was it redefined due to the impossibility of observing the Old Law (no Temple, no sacrifice, no Judaism); but also a new, anti-Christian element came into the definition of this new religion. The core of Jewish belief is no longer merely the awaiting of a Messias, but also the belief that Jesus of Nazareth is NOT that Messias. As a consequence, a modern Jew who thinks that Jesus IS the Messias is not considered a Jew by the Jews themselves. This shows that modern, i.e., post-Christian Judaism and Christianity are not continuous.

In short, pre-Christian Judaism is pro-Christianity, whereas modern Judaism is anti-Christian.

I distinguish the conclusion: That therefore, we must not pray for the pre-Christians Jews' conversion, I concede; but that we must not pray for the modern Jews' conversion, I deny.  Given the distinction of the minor that I made above, the conclusion can only be true in the sense that we don't pray for the conversion of pre-Christian Jews.  But they're all dead, so that's obviously not what the Pope means.  In the other sense, the sense in which the Holy Father means it--that modern Jews cannot convert from their religion to Christianity, and the Old Missal is incorrect in praying for that intention--in this sense the conclusion is false.  


The fact that the argument's conclusion is false can be stated positively: modern Judaism is a false religion and modern Jews, therefore, have the obligation to abandon their errors and accept the true religion revealed by God through Jesus Christ and the Church; consequently, the traditional liturgy does right in praying for their conversion: 

Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. 
Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish perfidy: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.


Caritas non nisi in veritate.



Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Pope's Condom Comment


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The media is quickly spreading word that the Pope supposedly changed the Church's teaching on contraception.  I would like to note three things:

1) The Pope has done no such thing.  What he actually said is much, much different:

Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una prostituta* utilizza un profilattico, e questo può essere il primo passo verso una moralizzazione, un primo atto di responsabilità per sviluppare di nuovo la consapevolezza del fatto che non tutto è permesso e che non si può far tutto ciò che si vuole. Tuttavia, questo non è il modo vero e proprio per vincere l'infezione dell'Hiv. È veramente necessaria una umanizzazione della sessualità.

In English: 

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a prostitute* uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

In other words, the Pope is simply saying that a prostitute who uses a condom to avoid spreading HIV is trying to be morally responsible, and that this failed attempt to be morally responsible is at least step in the right direction.  He does not mean to say that it is morally good to use a condom. 

The official English translation says male prostitute, but the Italian being 'una prostituta' (both feminine words), there is no grammatical basis for adding the word 'male'.  The translator probably adds 'male' because he assumes that only a male prostitute is capable of using a condom, but there are female condoms, so that would be bad reasoning.  Based on the use of femenine words, I agree with the idea that the Pope means a prostitute in general (the female word is in this case used generically for both sexes, prostituto being relatively rare) and is just not thinking about the details entailed. 

2) The Pope has NOT used his Papal authority in making such a statement.   Popes rarely do when they speak in these informal contexts.  Needless to say, the statement is not the infallible (or even authentic) teaching of the Catholic Church.  It is merely the opinion of a part-time theologian who happens to be Pope as well.  As the Holy Father himself admits (in the book that contains the comment in question), "[i]t goes without saying that the Pope can have private opinions that are wrong."  To take Pope Benedict's comment on condoms for prostitutes as authoritative Papal teaching is to confuse and identify the person of Josef Ratzinger with the office of Supreme Pontiff.

3) Now that, not only the media, but also theologians and even bishops, are proclaiming to the world the purported good news that the Church has finally opened her mind and reversed her teaching on contraception, and that condoms are now 'OK' in certain cases, we should take time to reflect on the fact that not everything that comes out of the mouth of the Holy Father is said with prudence.  It was clearly imprudent of him to make such a statement.  The Supreme Pontiff is infallible (and then again, only in certain, limited contexts), but not omni-prudent.  This may sound like heresy to a neo-conservative, but the dogma of papal infallibility has nothing to do with prudence.  Without detriment to his infallibility, the Holy Father is certainly capable of making errors in practical judgment, as has happened many times in history (e.g., Pope Honorius's case, the Avignon popes, the calling of Vatican II, Pope Paul VI's liturgical reforms, etc.).  And this comment on condoms is another clear example of papal imprudence.  As has happened with Pope John Paul II's Assisi meetings, papal apologies, kissing of the Qur'an, etc., now Catholic apologists, catechists, ethics professors, and moral theologians will have to work hard for years to undo the enormous damage that this new comment from the Pope is already causing in public opinion.



Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ven. Pius XII on the Old and New Liturgical Movements


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From Ven. Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Mediator Dei
In the 63rd Anniversary of the Encyclical 

4. You are of course familiar with the fact, Venerable Brethren, that a remarkably widespread revival of scholarly interest in the sacred liturgy took place towards the end of the last century and has continued through the early years of this one. The movement owed its rise to commendable private initiative and more particularly to the zealous and persistent labor of several monasteries within the distinguished Order of Saint Benedict. Thus there developed in this field among many European nations, and in lands beyond the seas as well, a rivalry as welcome as it was productive of results. Indeed, the salutary fruits of this rivalry among the scholars were plain for all to see, both in the sphere of the sacred sciences, where the liturgical rites of the Western and Eastern Church were made the object of extensive research and profound study, and in the spiritual life of considerable numbers of individual Christians.

5. The majestic ceremonies of the sacrifice of the altar became better known, understood and appreciated. With more widespread and more frequent reception of the sacraments, with the beauty of the liturgical prayers more fully savored, the worship of the Eucharist came to be regarded for what it really is: the fountain-head of genuine Christian devotion. Bolder relief was given likewise to the fact that all the faithful make up a single and very compact body with Christ for its Head, and that the Christian community is in duty bound to participate in the liturgical rites according to their station.

6. You are surely well aware that this Apostolic See has always made careful provision for the schooling of the people committed to its charge in the correct spirit and practice of the liturgy; and that it has been no less careful to insist that the sacred rites should be performed with due external dignity. In this connection We ourselves, in the course of our traditional address to the Lenten preachers of this gracious city of Rome in 1943, urged them warmly to exhort their respective hearers to more faithful participation in the eucharistic sacrifice. Only a short while previously, with the design of rendering the prayers of the liturgy more correctly understood and their truth and unction more easy to perceive, We arranged to have the Book of Psalms, which forms such an important part of these prayers in the Catholic Church, translated again into Latin from their original text.[8]

7. But while We derive no little satisfaction from the wholesome results of the movement just described, duty obliges Us to give serious attention to this "revival" as it is advocated in some quarters, and to take proper steps to preserve it at the outset from excess or outright perversion.