31 October 2007
30 October 2007
29 October 2007
In this picture (below) we are standing on the top of the square tower that you see on the left in the picture above, the one with the flag. I promise, the mountains are not a fake backdrop.
This is the courtyard inside the fortress. It is very reminiscent of Tolkien's Gondor. In fact, we ran into one thing after another that seemed to come right out of the Lord of the Rings, including a ringwraith...
28 October 2007
After holy Mass this morning we headed for the Mirabell Palace Gardens. This was the summer residence of the prince archbishops of Salzburg. Maria's favorite part of the gardens was the dwarf park (see below).
27 October 2007
After seeing churches of such beauty (the Franciscan Church and the Church of St. Peter's Abbey were also very impressive), we were frankly shocked and scandalized to see what has been done with the University church, the English speaking parish in Salzburg. Below is a picture of the "people's altar".
"The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is locked into itself. The common turning toward the East was not a "celebration toward the wall"; it did not mean that the priest "had his back to the people": the priest himself was not regarded as so important ... As one of the fathers of Vatican II's Constitution on the Liturgy, J.A. Jungmann, put it, it was much more a question of priest and people facing in the same direction, knowing that together they were in a procession toward the Lord. They did not lock themselves into a circle, they did not gaze at one another, but as the pilgrim People of God they set off for the Oriens, for the Christ who comes to meet us...." (Joseph Ratzinger, The Spirit of the Liturgy, 80).
26 October 2007
We caught the train this morning at about 9:30 and made it to Salzburg around 1:00. We had to change trains twice, each time with only 5 minutes to get off of one train and on to another. It was hectic but we made it! Here is Maria on the first leg of the journey.
25 October 2007
Tomorrow morning we are headed for Salzburg! We are, needless to say, very excited, especially about being able to hear Mass every day at the FSSP chapel. This coming Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King on the traditional calendar (it doesn't occur until the end of Nov on the Novus Ordo calendar). We were planning on returning to Gaming on 31 Oct, but after only brief consideration we couldn't resist staying for another day in order to hear a solemn high Mass according to the traditional roman rite on the Feast of All Saints. In fact, it's quite tempting to stay on another day in order to hear Mass there on the Feast of Souls - black vestments, the Dies irae ...
Well, we shall see. We aren't taking the computer with us so this will be our last post until we return. Most likely thursday, perhaps friday, will be the next time we get a chance to give you all an update.
24 October 2007
23 October 2007
Many apologies for not posting yesterday. I hope nobody was too worried about us (no one has appendicitis this time). For some reason the SIM card of our ISP went kaputt! functioniert nicht! But not to worry, this morning I spoke enough horribly mangled German at the Post Office to get a new one from them.
We're very excited about our trip to Salzburg this coming weekend, but the weather forecast is for rain every day. How sad. It's been raining here for the past two days and all the snow has turned into slush (hence, no pictures today). Pray for sunshine for us!
21 October 2007
20 October 2007
19 October 2007
Today I finished reading Plato's Republic. The goal of this particular Platonic dialogue is to uncover the nature of justice, particularly for the sake of finding out whether it is good for a man to be just without consideration of the external rewards given to the just man by other men or by gods.
The hypothetical founding of the perfect Regime, which is actually a monarchy not a republic, is undertaken on the premise that the city is the soul writ large. That is to say, whatever justice is in the city it will be the same in the soul. This is in fact a false comparison, because the relationship of part to whole is decidedly different in a man and in a city. The city is composed of parts which are also wholes in their own right.
The regime which Socrates goes on to describe as the best regime is one in which the philosophers rule as kings, the class of men characterized by spiritedness tempered with philosophy serve as warrior auxiliaries, and the class of tradesmen, or wage-earners, characterized by desire are simply ruled.
The great Socratic irony of this work is that the most just city ends up involving eugenics, infanticide, incest, abolition of private property and of the family, in short, all manner of injustice! If there is a political point to be made in this work, i.e. if Plato has something to say about politics, it could well be that the attempt on the part of men to construct a utopian society in which injustice is completely eliminated, ends up bringing about even more injustice. Marxism comes to mind among other 20th century movements...
The main point of the work, though, is not about how a city should be ruled but about how one's own soul should be ruled. The account of the soul here is paralleled to the city, which was itself constructed with this end in view. The best soul should be ruled by the rational part, by philosophy - the search for wisdom, while the spirited part of the soul should be used as an ally of philosophy in mastering the soul's unnecessary and excessive desires.
The highlights of the work occur mostly in books V-VII, which is actually a digression from the main argument. These of course are the famous Platonic line of knowledge and the image of the cave from which the philosopher emerges into the light of the sun, the idea of the Good, only in whose light can anything be truly known.
18 October 2007
17 October 2007
A partial indulgence is granted to those who recite this Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Enchridion of Indulgences #26).
Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject...
Each of the last two sessions of my ecclesiology class have centered on St. Augustine's account of evil in his great work, The City of God. The question is, does evil exist? The simple answer is no, although it is nonetheless real. What is evil? It is a privation of a due good. It is a lack of real being, not a being in itself. Debate raged over this definition of evil all throughout my years at Ave Maria College. The philosophers at AMC were mostly disciples of Dietrich von Hildebrand (whom I deeply admire and with whom I agree on many, many points) who disputed this definition of evil because he didn't think it did full justice to the experienced power of evil in the world, something which is not felt as a lack, but as a positive force. It is no coincidence that this school of thought arose in the twentieth century, marred as it was by some much evil and suffering. Without going into great detail here and now suffice it to say that this objection to the traditional definition of evil can only be based on a serious misunderstanding of its meaning. Moral evil, which we experience so profoundly, is precisely a privation of goodness in the will of a rational being. The will deprived of its proper goodness (which is to be ordered to God) is very real and very powerful. Perhaps a paper topic...
16 October 2007
After much debate, and surfing the internet for the best hotel and flight deals, we have set a time and place for our Christmas Vacation travels. We will fly to Rome on 4 January 2008, and fly back to Vienna on 11 January 2008. If this looks similar to a trip we took back in 2006, that's because it is. However, this time I will be able to drink the wine! We have plans to visit many different cities and countries in Europe, but we couldn't wait to go back to the Eternal City!
15 October 2007
14 October 2007
Some excerpts from Nicaea II:
"We declare that we defend free from any innovations all the written and unwritten ecclesiastical traditions that have been entrusted to us. One of these is the production of representational art..."
"We decree with full precision and care that, like the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, the revered and holy images, whether painted or made of mosaic or of other suitable material, are to be exposed in the holy churches of God, on sacred instruments and vestments, on walls and panels, in houses and by public ways; these are the images of our Lord, God and saviour, Jesus Christ, and of our Lady without blemish, the holy God-bearer, and of the revered angels and of any of the saintly holy men. The more frequently they are seen in representational art, the more are those who see them drawn to remember and to long for those who serve as models, and to pay to these images the tribute of salutation and respectful veneration. Certainly this is not the full adoration in accordance with our faith, which is properly paid only to the divine nature, but it resembles that given to the figure of the honoured and life-giving cross, and also to the holy books of the gospels and to other sacred cult objects. Further, people are drawn to honour these images with the offering of incense and lights, as was piously established by ancient custom. Indeed, the honour paid to an image traverses it, reaching the model; and he who venerates the image, venerates the person represented in that image."
"If anyone does not confess that Christ our God can be represented in his humanity, let him be anathema."
"If anyone does not accept representation in art of evangelical scenes, let him be anathema."
"If anyone does not salute such representations as standing for the Lord and his saints, let him be anathema."
"If anyone rejects any written or unwritten tradition of the church, let him be anathema."
13 October 2007
11 October 2007
On the Novus Ordo calendar this feast has been moved inexplicably to Jan 1 displacing the remembrance of our Lord's circumcision. Jan 1 is of course the 8th day of Christ's life on earth, and thus on the traditional calendar Jan 1 is quite appropriately the remembrance of the circumcision of our Lord in which he shed His Precious Blood for the first time.
All three of the following pictures are prominent on the baroque ceiling of the main chapel of the Kartause. The first one is, I think, St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order. This would only make sense since this was a Carthusian monastery. I don't know exactly what the other two depict. Perhaps some of our friends who have been here before, or who are familiar with western iconography, could enlighten us all.
10 October 2007
Not much to report today. If you are interested in reading the paper that I turned in today on the theme of Philosopher Kings in Plato's Republic, there is a link on the sidebar.
09 October 2007
We have gotten to know a really wonderful couple here from India and they have a little boy who is just one month older than Maria. Lisa and Vidya have been taking the kids on walks together the past few days as the weather has been beautiful. Below is some of the scenery from their walk today.
Here are Maria and Eli (Elijah) looking at some ducks swimming on a pond. Eli is 100% boy!
And here are the culprits caught holding hands on their walk.
08 October 2007
I'm in the library right now trying to write a paper having to do with Plato's Republic and my poor little brain needs a break. So, I decided that I'll give you an update on all my classes since we are just about one third of the way through the semester.
German: I learned the word "langsam" (slowly), which describes the movement of the class perfectly. So far I've learned how to introduce myself (Ich bin John, Mein Name ist John) and how to count to 100. I desperately need a non-conversational text book that explains grammar rules, has vocab lists and exercises, etc. Any ideas Christina?
Political Philosophy: This is the one that is taxing my brain right now. The course consists of reading in their entirety Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics. We have read so far 7 of 10 books in Plato and the question at hand right now is why on earth does Socrates claim that cities will never have any rest from ills unless philosophers rule as kings?
Natural Philosophy: This course has definitely taken a turn for the better. We began by reading Jean Henri Fabre's writings on his observations of insects (moderately interesting) and then turned to Goethe's botanical writings (bored to tears took on new meaning for me). At last, though, we turned to familiar ground - the presocratic philosophers, then selections from the Phaedo and the Timaeus by Plato, and now Deo gratias Aristotle's Physics, which we will read in its entirety.
Ecclesiology: This course is appropriately subtitled The City of God as the only reading required for the whole semester is St. Augustine's masterpiece by that name. Today we completed the first main part of the book in which he first refutes those who claim that their pagan gods are to be worshipped for the sake of happiness in this life and then also refutes those who hold that the gods are to be worshipped for the sake of happiness in the next life. Having read this we are now about to embark on his discussion of the origins, progress in history, and destined ends of the two cities: the city of man and the city of God.
Synoptic Gospels: This class has turned out to focus mostly on the Pope's new book, Jesus of Nazareth. Early on we also read some of Romano Guardini's The Lord, but even then classroom discussion centered primarily on Ratzinger's book (which is better than I anticipated). I have been particularly delighted by this class because it has been shedding fresh light for me on the doctrine of the Atonement, which I have been trying to understand more fully for quite some time now.
Prophets: So far we've read Amos, Micah, and Isaiah. Jeremiah is next. I'm not sure at all what the rationale is for the order, but I particularly enjoyed reading Isaiah because the figure of the suffering servant in Is. 52-53 is obviously quite important to a proper understanding of Christ's vicarious atonement. In studying Isaiah I took the opportunity to translate some of Aquinas' commentary on Isaiah, which has never been translated into English. Even though we are moving on to Jeremiah I'm going to continue to work on it in my spare time for the sake of keeping up on my Latin and because I can't image St. Thomas' commentary on the suffering servant is uninteresting.
07 October 2007
Today was a busy day! There was a baptism at Mass this morning, and thus an agape following (bread and cheeses, cakes and coffee). Then we had lunch with about a dozen people in the Kartause (Maria made a new friend, video will be forthcoming). At 7:00 there was a Rosary procession around the courtyard in honor of today's feast day, and then a poetry reading in the common room in honor of the same. I had the honor of reading the poem Lepanto by G.K. Chesterton (below).
06 October 2007
It just so happens that the Kartause was a Carthusian monastery, home of many of St. Bruno's spiritual children. This morning the Divine Liturgy was offered for Fr. Gerald's health and well being and afterwards the ITI community was consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as part of the First Saturday devotion to the Immaculate Heart. Here is Maria on our way home after the Divine Liturgy:
This evening we took a walk a little ways up from the center of the town. Here is the view looking back toward where we live:
05 October 2007
Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law.
We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holydays, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded.
Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee.
O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.
04 October 2007
Please pray for Fr. Gerald. It seems quite serious.
03 October 2007
Today is the feast of St. Therese both on the traditional roman calendar which we follow at home and on the Byzantine calendar, which is the rite that we attend here. So at the Divine Liturgy today Maria (and Lisa and I) had the privilege of being blest with oil, kissing a first class relic of St. Therese and venerating St. Therese's icon on her middle-name day. It was extraordinary.
Today I turned in my first written work of the semester. It's rather embarrassing, but for the sake of giving you all a window into my life as a student here, I'll be making my essays available online. The assigned topic for this paper was, "Which is greater in the Book of Isaiah: God's love or the people's sins? Did God divorce His people?" My answer: "The Triumph of the Love of God over the Sin of His People in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah." I would be very interested if you have any criticisms or other comments.
02 October 2007
We arrived at Stephansplatz around 11:00 AM. The Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral) dates back to the 12th century (Wikipedia link). The dominant feature of the Stephansdom, the 445 foot south tower, was unfortunately under construction and covered with scaffolding.
After looking inside the Tolkienesque Cathedral we headed for the Hofburg Imperial Palace (Wikipedia link), seat of various governments since 1279. Below is a a shot of the so-called New Palace with the balcony from which both Adolf Hitler and Pope John Paul II have addressed Austria.
After walking through the Hofburg we headed for the Vienna State Opera House (Wikipedia link). It's an impressive sight even from the outside.
After hearing Mass at 6:00 we were received personally by the Cardinal, who gave Maria a special blessing. Then we headed for dinner - it defies description. The food was unmemorable, but the experience was unforgettable. There must have been about 100 of us packed around long wooden tables being entertained by local musicians (one with an accordian!), eating ham and chicken and saurkraut, drinking beer and wine and toasting everything under the sun in fine Ukrainian fashion, BUDMO, HEY! It was fun, and very, very loud. Undergraduates and grad students, professors and priests, parents and kids all raised their glasses, and quite a ruckus. When all was said and done we didn't arrive home until about 12:30 tired, but happy.
To see more of our pictures of the day visit our Vienna album.