Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Semester, New Year


It has been a while since I have posted about life at the ITI.

A new semester has begun, and I am now in the meat of the program. However, before the term began, we bottled a batch of "Dumb Ox Stout" that I brewed back before Christmas. Weighing in at 6%, it is quite tasty!

The courses that I am taking this semester:

One God II: Creator and Creation
Trinity II
Sacramental Theology II: Priesthood, Marriage, and Virginity
Ecclesiology II: Mystical Body of Christ
Pastoral Theology: The Church in the Modern World
Canon Law

And, with the beginning of this semester, I think that I have the credits and specific courses completed to be finishing my studies for the STM program in December of this year. We are actively making plans for my continuing on with the STL program.

Yesterday, I MC'd Mass for Cardinal Schönborn for the opening of the new semester, which was quite nice - Novus Ordo, Latin, chanted readings and propers, polyphonic hymns - gorgeous.

Also, yesterday was particularly poignant in the History of the ITI, since it was the beginning of the term of the new President of the Institute. The intention of the Board, as it was made clear by His Eminence at his lecture to the students, was to respond to the call of His Holiness, Pope Francis, in doing more to evangelize people. To that end, the Institute will be expanding to offer a bachelor's program in liberal arts.

While all of this is early days yet, it does leave a lot of questions open - the first of which that has already been asked about is the name of the Institute! While they aren't planning on changing any of the theological programs, it would seem that the name is no longer appropriate since the Institute is not going to be focussed solely on Theology. Stay tuned for more updates on that front.

Finally, I hope you will notice the sidebar banner that has appeared. We are returning to Norcia this summer for the Summer Program hosted by the St. Albert the Great Center for Scholastic Studies. I am the Co-Director this year, and we are going to be reading the Epistle to the Romans, and following the Commentary of St. Thomas on the Epistle. If you are interested, be sure to check out the website for more information.

Well, that's about it for now. I will try and keep things updated more often this term.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Updates to the blog, reminders


Well, I have done some overdue "essential maintenance" to the blog... Our mystic monk banner mysteriously disappeared awhile back, and now is back and better than ever!

Also, please do remember to click through to order some most excellent coffee! We receive a small commission every time you order, and every little bit helps.

While on the subject-- remember to use our Amazon links, as well!

I have updated the Amazon widget to reveal a sort of book needs/wants list. These are from my own wishlist, which can be found here, and if you are feeling so generous, I can always use the books that are on this list for my studies!

One of the areas I have found myself intensely interested in is the theology before-during-and after the Council, or, to phrase it in a question, "how did we get here?" A lot of the debate in this period is centered around some of the implications of using modern philosophy to speak about theological realities. Since the ITI does not spend a lot of time on the "new theology," rather, on the perennial tradition of the Church, I am doing a lot of independent study on the subject.

We are in Minnesota right now, and I am preparing to give a talk in a few weeks on Parents as the Primary Educators; really, a talk on the relation between the civil powers, the powers of the Church, and the role of the family in both. It should be a fun evening!

Now, back to Latin...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The End of Another Year in Austria!

Well, we have survived another year!

I am now writing from North Carolina, where we have (rather stealthily) flown in to surprise my youngest brother for his high school graduation!

Year two was better than year one-- and so I wanted to briefly update you on some things that were particularly good about the year.

First, the addition of our youngest son at the beginning of the year has been such a blessing! However, having a baby at the very beginning of the school year, and four days after we arrived back from the States, is very hectic. This seemed to color a lot of the whole school year-- the joy of a new child, with the insanity of trying to balance a work and home life.

We moved in to a larger apartment, which helped! I had a place to study, and the boys had their own room to play with toys in. No improvement on the kitchen size, unfortunately.

My studies keep getting more intense. This year, I was straddling the years 3-4 of the curriculum, and so I was taking a good number of modern philosophy classes and also the first systematic classes, including Fundamental Theology and Christology I. These were by far my favorite classes, since that is what I want to be doing!

However, I also found a great love for patrology in spending the whole year reading the Church Fathers. I easily read more than a 1000 pages of the Fathers this year in depth, and had some real discussion with a good group of fellow students. The amazing thing that I found in reading the Fathers is that there is a profound unity of thought among them all. They express Catholic doctrine-- in various degrees of development-- with a constant concern for safeguarding the truth for which they received from the Apostles.

Too often, one hears a call for a return to the way things were done in the "early church"-- but I found in reading the Fathers this year that the "early church" is not substantially different than the Catholic Church today! In fact, if one were really going to return to the "early church", then what we would in fact be calling for is a greater clarity of doctrine, a more commanding use of authority by our bishops, and a more full sacramental life in the Church. To read the Fathers was a truly great treat this past year.

Another great treat this year was that I was able to get the "ad fontes" brauerei off the ground. We drank a lot of beer this year-- the Institute, that is. For graduation, we had two kegs of home brewed beer-- the Little Flower Lager, and the Dumb Ox Stout (named after our patrons, St. Therese and St. Thomas), both my own recipes. We have been brewing 80L batches, and the 150 bottles produced don't typically last very long after each batch. For more info on the brewing, be sure and check out the website dedicated to that: http://www.thecatholicbrewer.com

We will be in America all summer-- North Carolina for the month of June, and Minnesota for the months of July/ August. During that time, I will be traveling quite a bit to do some photography at a few weddings, and also giving a talk on Parents as the Primary Educators in the Diocese of Fargo in July. We will head back to Austria at the end of August, in time for registration. It looks like I have about 1-1.5 years left in my program of studies, and then it is on to the STL.

Please know that we are constantly praying in thanks for our benefactors, without which we would not be able to continue in this epic journey. Please don't hesitate to write us with your prayer requests, and thank you again, so much, for your support of our family!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thomas Sunday, a missing "comma", and the Impact of Biblical Criticism on the Liturgy

I was struck today at Mass (EF) that the epistle was taken from 1 John-- and in particular the fifth chapter, verses 4-10.

Why is this so interesting, you may ask?

The key lies in verses 6-8, the only explicit reference to the unity of the Trinity in the whole of Scripture. In the Douay-Rheims, this verse is translated as

This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ: not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit which testifieth, that Christ is the truth.  And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one. And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one.
Never heard of it? Not surprising. This line of Scripture is known as the Johannine Comma, and has been omitted from most modern Bibles.

For instance, here is the usually very reliable RSV, same verses:

This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree.
Where is our reference to the Trinity?! It's gone!

Now, it is not my intention to enter into a whole exegesis of the tradition and modern Scripture scholarship on this particular verse-- it is enough to presume that there are variants in the manuscripts. The question is at what point did these variants enter the manuscripts, and what is the constant tradition of the Church regarding this text? Rather than giving a full exegesis, I'll simply be a good faithful Catholic, and defer to the judgment of Holy Mother Church on this particular matter.

The decree of the Holy Office, dated 13 January 1897 deals with the question of whether or not one can call into question the authenticity of the so-called "comma". Here is the text:
To the question: 'Whether it can safely be denied, or at least called into doubt that the text of St. john in the first epistle, chapter 5, verse 7, is authentic, which read as follows: 'And there are three that give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And these three are one?" -- the response was given on January 13, 1897: In the negative. (Denzinger 2198) 
Now, with the state of the question of the Comma resolved (that Catholics should indeed uphold the integrity of the passage), how does this impact the liturgy?

As I said in the beginning of this post, this was the reading of the Epistle at Mass today. It is retained in the Novus Ordo Missae for this feast in the year B cycle only. However, it seems that the folks who put together the new Lectionary did not want to make reference to the Triune God-- The verses for the reading stop at verse 6, and so avoid any possible controversy that may ensue over the greater issue, which is in fact the question of the official Latin text of the Lectionary, the Nova Vulgata, promulgated in 1979 and the product of a good bit of modern Scripture scholarship.

How is the use of the Nova Vulgata problematic, you may ask? Perhaps we should look to it to see the whole of the passage in question from 1 John:
Hic est, qui venit per aquam et sanguinem, Iesus Christus; non in aqua solum sed in aqua et in sanguine. Et Spiritus est, qui testificatur, quoniam Spiritus est veritas. Quia tres sunt, qui testificantur: Spiritus et aqua et sanguis; et hi tres in unum sunt.
Where is our key passage?! Even in the Nova Vulgata, the official liturgical Latin text of the Church, the reference to the Trinity (which was upheld by the Holy Office as a faithful transmission of the text) is missing from the text!

In contrast, the 1962 Missal, which is based upon the Clementine Vulgate of St. Jerome, has the text in its entirety:
Hic est, qui venit per aquam et sanguinem, Jesus Christus : non in aqua solum, sed in aqua et sanguine. Et Spiritus est, qui testificatur quoniam Christus est veritas. Quoniam tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo : Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum suntEt tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in terra : spiritus, et aqua, et sanguis : et hi tres unum sunt.
Here, we finally see the full passage with the two sets of three who give testimony-- one in heaven, and one on earth, and which the Douay-Rheims sets out an accurate translation into English for us.

The title of this post makes the inference that the modern Biblical criticism has had an impact on the liturgy. In my studies, I can't help but observe a certain parallelism in the Historical-Critical movement and the Liturgical Movement in the 20th c., but here is the rub: if we believe in Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, then surely the texts of the Mass which we pray and the Scriptures which are proclaimed have an impact on what it is we profess and believe as Catholics.

And yet, where is our "Comma"? What a text! It was such an inspiration to hear and read the profession of the Trinity found in Scripture during the Mass today.

This verse used in the liturgy, or not, as it were, seems to highlight a number of difficulties which we need to reconcile in the faith and life of the Church today. In continuing to implement the Council, in particular the texts on the Word of God and on the Liturgy, we are utterly dependent upon those great traditions that were handed down to us, "whether by word of mouth or by letter", in order to ensure that what we are professing is in fact the Faith of the Church as constantly believed by the great Saints and Martyrs of our history. If we are to become Saints, then it is most beneficial for us to know and pray the same things which were believed and prayed by all of the other Saints, that by following their example, we too will be guided rightly in our lives of faith toward the heavenly liturgy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why an American has no chance of becoming Pope

Or, practically no chance, at least.

Much of the world's punditry is focussed on "where" in the world the next Pope is to come from. I am a big fan of the idea that the Pope should be elected based upon holiness and suitability to the needs of the time; but I also think that where someone is from and suitability are not entirely unrelated.

While Conclaves can be somewhat of a surprise, and a dark horse candidate can emerge after much indecision, I think that an American-- or anyone from a particular church that is newly evangelized, for that matter-- simply has no real chance of being Pope.

The reason for this follows upon my last post, on the "scandal" of abdication: It is simply that new world countries, although where Catholicism may be on the rise, do not really have a concept of Catholicism, and the monarchy that comes with it, that goes to their bones.

That is not to say that the Cardinals from new world countries aren't good, holy, devout men who would not make good popes. On the contrary, it is simply because the culture from which they come has Catholicism added on to it; either as an afterthought, or alongside of any number of other good options for filling the religious vacuum in a culture. And to have Catholicism in your bones is an important thing for a Pope.

In Europe, Catholicism built the culture. It is so engrained into the DNA of a European that they can't escape it-- and incidentally, why there is such a violent reaction against it in the secular movement.

Europe, although trying to tear away the last vestiges of it, is also a society that is built upon the aristocratic system that comes with monarchy; a system that is even mirrored in the Church with the College of Cardinals. In this light, it should not be surprising that there are European Cardinals that come from aristocratic families.

An evangelized culture will always have that tension between the culture it lives within, and the culture of the Church. It becomes a sub-culture, as it were. While this is also capable of being true in an historically Catholic culture, more importantly, the remains of old Catholic culture are still present, be it in the organization of cities around parishes, or Corpus Christi still being a holiday with a procession and feast, etc. Catholic cultures live Catholicism; whereas evangelized cultures can only strive for this as an ideal.

This contrast between old and new, a Catholic Culture and an Evangelized Culture, is why at least it is more suitable for there to be a European Pope-- one who can be seen to be relatable to all cultures, not simply a particular culture.

The Conclave will no doubt be an exciting one-- there is no apparent future leader of the Church that sticks out-- ironically, perhaps because Ratzinger is still in relatively good health and not in need of that sort of assistance that enabled himself to become a papal contender in 2005.

I personally think that it depends upon how long the Conclave lasts. If it concludes relatively quickly, say, in the first 3 days, I think that it will go to an Italian. Scola is a front-runner, but I think Bagnasco has a good chance, as well.

If it goes longer, look for the Pope to come from the Curia or greater Europe. Only if the Conclave moves beyond a week, to, say 1 to 2 weeks, will the Pope have any chance of coming from outside of Europe.

I could be very wrong, but if this sort of prediction is correct, then perhaps Canizares Llovera is papabile.

If there were any North American contenders, I would guess that Levada, Oullet, or Burke are the only ones who have a chance at all-- and that is because they would have come from the Curia, and have come to know and live the Roman custom of things. They would have their best chances in the 3 days- 1 week timeframe.

Some people would say Dolan has a good chance-- perhaps the best of any American. He has a good record as rector of the NAC, he gave the address to the College of Cardinals last year at the Holy Father's choosing, etc. However, I am not inclined to think that Dolan will be the guy. As president of the USCCB, he represents the American Church, with all of its plusses and minuses. At the end of the day, as admired as many things are about American Catholicism, it is still looked down upon with disdain by many in Europe as that new kid on the block still struggling to belong-- this would be an impediment to the universality needed by a pope.

While we're at it, I'll go on record to say Bertone doesn't have a chance.

Outside of the one week time frame, it is anyone's guess and all I have said to this point would no longer be applicable; but perhaps Pell, or, if we are really playing fantasy league here, Ranjith wouldn't be a bad pick at all-- but I do think that this would be not unlike the pick of JPii; the Cardinals would, after a week or two, be looking to find someone they all can agree on and get it over with, and so would then be willing to entertain some ideas that are outside of the box.

All of that analysis given, I say that the head of the Church of Rome should be from Rome, or at least an Italian. Bagnasco for the win. (Pius XIII or Leo XIV, anyone?)

Friday, February 15, 2013

The "Scandal" of Abdication

I have seen so many commenters in the past days who have praised the Pope for his decision to step down as reigning Pontiff, viewing it as sign of his humility, his realization that he cannot lead because of his age, even (on the more extreme end) that he is setting a precedent for future Popes to feel free to resign after a term of years.

I must say that I strongly object to these sentiments, as, contrary to the prevailing headlines, the Holy Father did not in fact "resign". What he said was:
"I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005..."

The Supreme Pontiff is not merely an employee, free to retire as he will. He is a monarch. He is the Supreme Head of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, endowed by God with the powers to bind and to loose those things pertaining to faith and morals, both on Earth and in Heaven.

What the Holy Father did was to abdicate, to renounce his claim to the throne. And this, perhaps rightly, can be perceived as scandalous.

Although Christ is the Eternal King, reigning gloriously in Heaven, the person seated on the Chair of Peter exercises the temporal rule over Christians universally in Christ's name. One does not abdicate lightly or for trivial reasons such as health or age, or any of the other reasons that have been touted as noble and good and right-- after all, he was chosen by God for the position that he holds.

For this reason, I can understand why many people have reacted to the news that the Holy Father is stepping down, not with praise, but rather with a sense of confusion, anger, and even betrayal-- I know for me personally, I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea that Benedict, a Pope so loved and who has done so much for the building up of the unity of the Church, is stepping down while leaving many projects largely unfinished.

There is a very poignant scene in the film, The King's Speech, which portrays Bertie (the future King George VI) just after his elder brother, Edward, renounces the throne. The scene shows Bertie's reaction to this turn of events, and you can tell that he has a sense of utter desolation, fear, abandonment, anger, an incapacity to handle what is to come-- all because of an act that was seen by many as selfish.

I think that this image, one full of uncertainty about the future, is perhaps an apt comparison to the feeling that many may have about the news of our Holy Father's abdication from the throne of Peter.

Edward VIII's reasons for abdicating the throne of the British Empire were most certainly not noble ones, and had an impact across the globe, especially in light of the rising Nazi powers at the time. However, the decision also paved the way for precisely the right leader at the right time to conquer the evil plight facing Europe.

Whether our beloved Holy Father truly made the right decision or not is something that we will never know-- that will remain between him and God. I do think, however, that if we have placed our trust in Pope Benedict during his pontificate up to this point, then we can at least give him the benefit of the doubt in this particular decision, which I am sure he did not make lightly.

For those who would praise his decision to abdicate, I would encourage you to celebrate the past and current leadership he has given, but not to celebrate his abdication as such-- I have no doubt that, though the Holy Father has deliberated long and has now made a firm decision, it is not one that has come without great personal suffering to him.

For those who are still at a loss at the nearly unprecedented action that Benedict has taken, I would encourage you to remember Christ, and use this as an opportunity to renew your faith in his promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church.

With that faith intact, we can remain in hope that Benedict's abdication was indeed the right decision; but regardless, to trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit to bring forth the next Pope, who will be the right man for the right time, and through the grace of the Office of Peter, be able to navigate the barque of the Church through the turbulent waters which undoubtedly lie ahead.

In this sense, we are not unlike the disciples, who hoped in the Messiah's kingship to free them from their bondage, only to be utterly disappointed by the scandal of the crucifixion and death of their Lord and Savior.

Perhaps different from the Disciples, we have the benefit in hindsight of knowing of the Resurrection. And so, though perhaps scandalous to some, hopefully this event in the life of the Church may be an opportunity for further growth, vitality, and renewal for the faithful members of the Church Militant, that we too will be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.

Oremus pro Pontifice!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Might Be Married to a Liturgiophile If...

I love attending a beautiful, prayerful, spiritually uplifting liturgy as much as the average Catholic.  (And, just for your information, I deliberately refuse - in this post at least - to further explicate what I mean by "beautiful, prayerful, and spiritually uplifting".) I would consider myself a reasonably theologically and liturgically informed Catholic laywoman. When dating my future husband, I would have said he possessed a similar attitude.

Recently, I forced myself to confront reality, the reality that since our marriage, my husband has exhibited the gradual onset of liturgiophila...indeed I would have to admit he now is a qualified, bona fide liturgiophile*. I can't say I have much hope of ever reversing this condition. The most I can do is to share a list of symptoms, documented from experience, so that other unsuspecting Catholic wives can accurately diagnose and cope with the condition in their spouses.

Your liturgiophile may exhibit some, all, or additional symptoms. Rest assured, the exhibition of one or two does not necessarily warrant a diagnosis of liturgiophila - it is the confluence of many (or additional) symptoms, sustained over a significant period of time that decisively indicates the condition.

Thus, and with no further ado, 

You might be married to a liturgiophile if...

..."Holy" is his standard response to "How was Mass, dear?"

...the New Liturgical Movement and Fr. John Zuhlsdorf are daily reads AND bookmarked.

...two of the family bookshelves are reserved for his "liturgical collection".

...the big purchases he negotiates with you for are tailored cassocks and embroidered surplices.

...the Ceremonial of Bishops is the most frequently consulted reference work in the house.

...you receive a mantilla for Valentine's Day (thank you, Fr. Z)...and the offer of a chapel veil in a color of your choice for Mother's Day so as to coordinate with various outfits.

...over supper, he reveals that he knows "ambones" is the plural of "ambo".

...he can advise an instituted acolyte on serving as subdeacon.

...he knows and discusses the use of obscure pontifical vesture, and repeatedly calls for the return of the use of the cappa magna by the Bishops, (and the triregnum by the Pope).

...(in that vein), you knew that the first thing to mention was the return of the papal fanon when he asked you about the broadcast of the recent canonizations...and you weren't surprised when he made the former the subject of a facebook post.

...(and still proceeding on this theme) his opinion on which particular style of Roman Chasuble is the best (it's a toss up apparently: the Philip Neri or the Italian style) qualifies as romantic conversation. 

...his friends guffaw knowingly when new acquaintances ask his opinion on Children's Liturgy.

...your spouse frequently debates the merits of Fortescue vs. O'Connell with random clergy.

...and while he owns both texts, his modus operandi is WWFS (What Would Fortescue Say?).

...he is determined to have a son named "Gregory", and your adamant refusal to even consider "Pius" is near occasion for argument.

...he spends hours researching to find you free PDFs of out-of-print books on ecclesiastical embroidery.

...your friends come for a casual cup of tea, and leave wide-eyed, asking, "How does he KNOW all this stuff about the Mass??"

...he knows which clerics can only wear wool, and which can wear silk. 

...Gammarelli's is top of the "tourist" list when your family travels to Rome.

...and he insists on taking a photograph to document the visit:

*As a qualification, though I am not overly naive on this point, I would generally expect the clergy to possess a working knowledge of and love for the liturgy and all things liturgical.  I am therefore identifying symptoms of this condition as manifested in the laity.