30 November 2007

St. Andrew, Apostle

St. Andrew was the first of the disciples to know Jesus. With his brother Peter, he was called by our Lord to follow Him and to become a fisher of men. According to Tradition, he was a missionary in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Russia, with his martyrdom in Greece, where he was hoisted upon a cross to die like his divine Master. He is patron of Russia and Scotland.

The big news in the Church today is Pope Benedict XVI's second Encyclical Letter, Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope). His first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est, was signed on Christmas Day 2005. I haven't yet read today's letter, but I intend to do so tonight and I hope that many of you will also find the time to read the letter sent to us by our Holy Father.

As for life in Gaming, we were delighted to receive an unexpected package in the mail this afternoon from a dear former piano teacher. The German Grammar book looks to be exactly of the sort that I was missing. Thank you, Nancy!

28 November 2007

Maria in the Morning

This morning Maria woke John up around 7:00 (only slightly earlier than usual). It took her awhile to really wake up though. She just sat on the couch like a little angel for quite awhile with a blanket wrapped around her and Rupert in one hand, her bottle of milk in the other.

We bought plane tickets home today. We found a flight from Vienna to New York City on May 18th for a grand total of 599,- euro. What with commencement on May 17 and Maria's second birthday on May 19 (when she goes from infant to child status, a difference of 200,- euro) we were determined to fly on the 18th. Our flight leaves Vienna at 9:50 Sunday May 18 and arrives in New York at 16:00 the same day. From there Vincent (hopefully!) will meet us in our car and we'll all drive home in time to celebrate Maria's birthday the next day.

26 November 2007

St. Sylvester, Abbot

St. Sylvester, an Italian nobleman, founded the Congregation of the Sylvestrines, affiliated to the Benedictine Order. He died at the age of ninety in 1267.

I turned in another paper today (only two left to write!). You can read it here: Aristotle on Politics: The Inclusive Rule of the Virtuous. This one is not particularly interesting. It's really just a regurgitation for the sake of showing some internalization of the Philosopher's teaching. The most interesting part is a footnote in the paper that I already posted a couple of days ago about liberal democracy.

We are very excited to have found an Advent wreath (a real one!) in the Spar downstairs, but it has all purple candles!?! Ah, well...

25 November 2007

Cute Pictures of Maria

Maria posing for the camera.

I take no responsibility for this outfit. Maria came out wearing this after her father had changed her diaper. He thought she looked like a little page. I was the one who taught her to march though. She thinks it's a great game, and it's a wonderful way to get all her energy out before bedtime.

Last Sunday after Pentecost

Although we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King in the Traditional form of the Roman Rite almost a month ago (Last Sunday of Oct), I offer some reflections upon it today (the feast of Christ the King in the Novus Ordo calendar) because I was unable to do so then (we were in Salzburg at the time).

The Feast of Christ the King was promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 for the Last Sunday of October in order that it immediately precede the Feast of All Saints. He also desired that it occur near the end of the liturgical year in order to "crown" the year, as it were, with this feast. The Novus Ordo calendar has strengthend this last association only by abandoning the former completely.

The Encyclical Letter Quas Primas (11 Dec. 1925), in which Pius XI promulgated this great feast, is not very long - I highly recommend reading it. But in case you don't have the time or the will to do so, here are two excerpts, the first on Church State relations, the second on the importance of the liturgy as formative of the faith:

18. Thus the empire of our Redeemer embraces all men. To use the words of Our immortal predecessor, Pope Leo XIII: "His empire includes not only Catholic nations, not only baptized persons who, though of right belonging to the Church, have been led astray by error, or have been cut off from her by schism, but also all those who are outside the Christian faith; so that truly the whole of mankind is subject to the power of Jesus Christ." Nor is there any difference in this matter between the individual and the family or the State; for all men, whether collectively or individually, are under the dominion of Christ. In him is the salvation of the individual, in him is the salvation of society. "Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved." He is the author of happiness and true prosperity for every man and for every nation. "For a nation is happy when its citizens are happy. What else is a nation but a number of men living in concord?" If, therefore, the rulers of nations wish to preserve their authority, to promote and increase the prosperity of their countries, they will not neglect the public duty of reverence and obedience to the rule of Christ. What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. "With God and Jesus Christ," we said, "excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation."

21. That these blessings may be abundant and lasting in Christian society, it is necessary that the kingship of our Savior should be as widely as possible recognized and understood, and to the end nothing would serve better than the institution of a special feast in honor of the Kingship of Christ. For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year - in fact, forever. The church's teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man's nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God's teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life.

For the Catholic Church's position on the relationship of Church and State I refer you to the numerous encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII on the subject, especially Immortale Dei (On the Christian Constitution of States), from which the following is an important excerpt:

34. Doctrines such as these, which cannot be approved by human reason, and most seriously affect the whole civil order, Our predecessors the Roman Pontiffs (well aware of what their apostolic office required of them) have never allowed to pass uncondemned. Thus, Gregory XVI in his encyclical letter "Mirari Vos," dated August 15, 1832, inveighed with weighty words against the sophisms which even at his time were being publicly inculcated-namely, that no preference should be shown for any particular form of worship; that it is right for individuals to form their own personal judgments about religion; that each man's conscience is his sole and allsufficing guide; and that it is lawful for every man to publish his own views, whatever they may be, and even to conspire against the State. On the question of the separation of Church and State the same Pontiff writes as follows: "Nor can We hope for happier results either for religion or for the civil government from the wishes of those who desire that the Church be separated from the State, and the concord between the secular and ecclesiastical authority be dissolved. It is clear that these men, who yearn for a shameless liberty, live in dread of an agreement which has always been fraught with good, and advantageous alike to sacred and civil interests." To the like effect, also, as occasion presented itself, did Pius IX brand publicly many false opinions which were gaining ground, and afterwards ordered them to be condensed in summary form in order that in this sea of error Catholics might have a light which they might safely follow.

35. From these pronouncements of the Popes it is evident that the origin of public power is to be sought for in God Himself. and not in the multitude, and that it is repugnant to reason to allow free scope for sedition. Again, that it is not lawful for the State, any more than for the individual, either to disregard all religious duties or to hold in equal favor different kinds of religion; that the unrestrained freedom of thinking and of openly making known one's thoughts is not inherent in the rights of citizens, and is by no means to be reckoned worthy of favor and support. In like manner it is to be understood that the Church no less than the State itself is a society perfect in its own nature and its own right, and that those who exercise sovereignty ought not so to act as to compel the Church to become subservient or subject to them, or to hamper her liberty in the management of her own affairs, or to despoil her in any way of the other privileges conferred upon her by Jesus Christ. In matters, however, of mixed jurisdiction, it is in the highest degree consonant to nature, as also to the designs of God, that so far from one of the powers separating itself from the other, or still less coming into conflict with it, complete harmony, such as is suited to the end for which each power exists, should be preserved between them.

24 November 2007

St. John of the Cross, Confessor, Doctor of the Church

St. John of the Cross was the fellow worker of St. Teresa in the reform of the Order of Mount Carmel, and wrote invaluable treatises on mystical theology. He died in 1591.

It's paper writing season here at the ITI and I just finished writing a 7 pager on a particular point in Aristotle's Politics. Whilst doing some research I came across an interesting passage in Peter L. Phillips Simpson's A Philosophical Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle. He makes a rather provactive (but, I think, spot on) application of Aristotle's assertion that democracy is an intrinsically deviant and corrupt form of government:

"A modern liberal democracy does not rule for noble living (it does not use rule to make people virtuous), but rather for allowing everyone the freedom to pursue, as far as possible, their own idea of advantage (or of happiness). Thus such a modern liberal democracy is not ruling for the common advantage. It is really ruling for the advantage, or for the continuance in rule, of those who believe that the regime should not use rule to make people virtuous. It is accordingly a deviant regime and is ruling for the advantage of the rulers only. By contrast, a modern regime that did rule to make people virtuous, and used the laws to prohibit vicious and promote virtuous behavior, would, according to Aristotle, be ruling for the common advantage. Hence it would be a correct regime. The fact that it was preventing people from living as they liked, and was forcing them instead to live in ways the rulers liked, would not, contrary to prevailing modern opinions, make it deviant or unjust" (p. 153).

23 November 2007

Cute Pictures of Maria

In the latest installment of our "Cute Pictures of Maria" series...

Meanwhile, having turned in a term paper on St. Augustine two days ago I am buried in Aristotle's Politics trying to meet a monday morning deadline for another paper. This one is on who has the best claim to rule in a city. Kings, Aristocrats, Warriors, Tyrants, Oligarchs, Democrats? Deus miserere me!

St. Clement I, Pope, Martyr

St. Clement I was a companion and a disciple of Ss. Peter and Paul, and the third successor of St. Peter. He was exiled by the emperor Trajan and cast into the sea in 100.

Now for some pictures of our Thanksgiving celebrations last night.

Happy Thanksgiving! Here we are at a table with a couple from India, another from England, and another from Russia and Germany. Our first international Thanksgiving!

What shall I say here? Fried turkey (everything is fried here); pink mashed potatoes (can't say why they were pink); cooked carrots; pumkin soup (which was pretty good).

Hello, from Maria!

The desserts were made by the ITI womenfolk and were therefore much better than the rest of the food. Above is Lisa's contribution - quite good!

After dinner we stopped by for a peak at the Thanksgiving Ball hosted by Franciscan U of S. The dress and the dancing were traditional Austrian (lots of lederhosen and dirndls).

22 November 2007

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS! (Happy Thanksgiving!)

O God, we praise you, and acknowledge you to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships you.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to you:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of your glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise you.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges you:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Your adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, you are the King of glory!
You are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When you took it upon yourself to deliver man,
You did not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death,
You opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that you will come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg you to help your servants
Whom you have redeemed with your Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with your Saints in everlasting glory.
Save your people, O Lord, and bless your inheritance!
Govern them, and raise them up forever.
Every day we thank you.
And we praise your Name forever; yes, forever and ever.
O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in you.
O Lord, in you I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Let us pray,
O God of Whose mercies there is no number and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite: we render thanks to Thy most gracious Majesty for the gifts Thou hast bestowed upon us, always beseeching Thy clemency; that as Thou grantest the petitions of them that ask Thee, Thou wilt never forsake them, but wilt prepare them for the greater rewards that still await them.

21 November 2007

Maria and Eli

Maria's friend Eli was visiting today, and I thought I'd just share a cute picture with you.

Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

As soon as she could walk, Mary was brought to the Temple by her holy parents, Joachim and Anne. With what an ecstasy of delight she must have entered into the Temple, crying out: “How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts; my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.” (Psalm 83:1,2) Have I any of the same desire to consecrate my life to the Lord?

After the Divine Liturgy today there was a special candle light procession and blessing of children in celebration of Mary's Presentation in the Temple. Maria was really cute walking with the other children in procession behind the statue of Mary; we didn't let her have a candle.

I turned in my term paper for my ecclesiology class. At first I thought to write on the subject of evil (as a deprivation of good), which is found well laid out in St. Augustine's City of God. Having already written a couple of papers on evil at AMC, though, I decided at the last to tackle a new question: What is sacrifice? St. Augustine's answer in the City of God has made a lasting impact on the Christian understandind of sacrifice, which is obviously central to our holy Faith. So, here it is: Love and Self-Gift: Sacrifice in St. Augustine's City of God. Enjoy!

Your comments and critiques are, of course, very welcome. I fear in the end that I have only said something rather obvious in this paper. I hope at least that you'll find Cardinal Ratzinger's reflections on sacrifice and the Mass (found mostly in the early footnotes of my paper) interesting enough to read his short lecture Theology of the Liturgy.

20 November 2007

St. Felix of Valois, Confessor

St. Felix, of the royal family of France, with St. John of Matha founded the Order of Trinitarians for the ransom of captives. He died in 1212.

John's birthday present finally arrived! We were a little worried that maybe amazon.de was not as reputable as amazon.com, or that it had been intercepted by the Austrian Post Office. John is very excited to now have the Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin.

19 November 2007

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow

St. Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew, king of Hungary, was given in marriage to the holy landgrave of Thuringia, Louis IV. After the death of her husband, she entered the Third Order of St. Francis and died in poverty and humiliation, exiled by her brother-in-law, in 1231.

This morning we all said good-bye to Tom. It was really wonderful having him here even for so short a time. Maria, after an only momentary shyness, loved having her uncle here to play with her. She generally preferred to have him carry her as we walked around Gaming. He left at about 8:00 this morning, and if all has gone according to plan he should be in Amsterdam right now waiting for his flight home, after spending a few hours in Salzburg and then flying out of Munich.

Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Our mother the Catholic and Roman Church is permeated with the word of Christ, and is admirably represented by the three measures of meal, which the energy of fermentation wholly leavened; and by the mustard tree, the greatest of its species, where the birds of heaven are glad to find shelter. May the "leaven" of the doctrine of Jesus penetrate and transform our souls!

17 November 2007

St. Gregory the Wonderworker, Bishop, Confessor

St. Gregory Wonderworker (St. Gregory Thaumaturgus) was Bishop of Neo-Caesarea, his native city, in Pontus. He died famous for his missionary labors in 276.

Today was a wonderfully lazy Saturday. Tom arrived last night without mishap around 10:00 and this morning Maria woke us all up at 7:00. We gave Tom the full tour of Gaming (15 minutes) in the morning and then pretty much just talked, played with Maria, napped, read, etc. We went to the Steinmuhler for dinner and are back home relaxing again. It's fantastic having him here; Maria loves it, too - she has been giving him lots of kisses!

16 November 2007

St. Gertrude, Virgin

St. Gertrude, born in 1256 in Germany, was a Benedictine abbess celebrated for her revelations concerning the Sacred Heart. Her writings are very important for mystical theology. She died in 1334.

The bad news is the German train drivers are on strike; the good news is that Tom still managed somehow to get to Salzburg and it now on his way here, although due to the difficulties he'll only make it as far as Amstetten (45 minutes from here). I'm leaving with a friend to pick him up in about half an hour. We are all very excited, and we might even let Maria stay up to see him! Speaking of Maria, here she is reading her favorite book. N is for St. Norbert...

15 November 2007

Happy Birthday John!

Feast of St. Albert the Great, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
St. Albert was a famous member of the Order of Preachers, noted for his universal learning and his apostolic zeal and devotion. He had for his pupil the celebrated St. Thomas Aquinas of the same Order, and left numerous writings. He became Bishop of Ratisbon, and died in 1280, being canonized and declared Doctor of the Church in 1931.

Today John turned 24. One of his presents was a fresh snowfall. We woke up to about 6 inches, and by the time John returned from classes it was up to 8 inches. For the past two weeks the weather has been a mix of snow and rain, and I never thought I would say that I am glad that it has gotten colder, but, I am glad that it has gotten colder. I'll take snow over rain/snow mix anyday, especially when it goes on for two weeks, and I can't get out of the house!

After screaming bloody murder and clinging to her dad for fear of her life, Maria determined it was worth the fright of hearing the electric mixer if I allowed her to lick the whipped cream off the beater.

John refused to cooperate, so unfortunately I don't have any pictures of him blowing out his candles. Well, I do have pictures, but I'm saving them in case I ever need to blackmail him. Maria was more compliant. She was in an especially good mood because we gave her her first ever brownie sundae!

Some Pictures

Just because it's been awhile here are a couple of cute pictures of Maria. First, all in pink, right down to her pink converse all-stars; second, she's finally starting to earn her keep around here!

14 November 2007

St. Josaphat, Bishop, Martyr

St. Josaphat, a monk of the Order of St. Basil and afterwards Archbishop of Polotsk, labored for the reunion of the schismatic Greek Church with the Church of Rome. He was murdered by the schismatics in 1623.

Happy patronal feast day to St. Josaphat parish in Detroit! We miss you and all of our dear friends there very much. Seeing Dcn. and Mrs. Bloomfield especially was the second best part of our Sunday mornings (after the holy Mass, of course)! Third best was the breakfast afterwards... St. Josaphat, pray for us! and pray for the return of the Greek Churches to the One True Church of Christ.

In an almost completely unrelated vein, I stumbled across some words of the Venerable Pope Puis XII that gave me pause. It's not everyday that one encounters such prophetic wisdom. I share them with you hoping to hear some of your reflections. I have put in bold some of the phrases which resonated with my own experiences.

The words of Pius XII (then Secretary of State of Pius XI) to his friend Jean Guitton as recorded by his biographer Msgr. Roche, Pius XII Devant L’Histoire, pp. 52-53:

Imagine, dear friend, that communism be only the most visible of the means of subversion against the Church and against the tradition of divine revelation, then we will assist at the invasion of all that is spiritual, philosophy, science, law, teaching, the arts, the press, literature, the theatre and religion. I am obsessed by the confidences of the Virgin to the little Lucy of Fatima. This obstinacy of the good Lady in front of the dangers which threaten the Church is a divine warning against the suicide represented by the alteration of the faith in its liturgy, its theology, in its soul. I hear all around me innovators who want to dismantle the Holy Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, throw away her ornaments, give her a remorse of her historical past. Well my dear friend, I have the conviction that the Church of Peter must assume her past or she will dig her own grave. A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt like Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God, that his Son is a mere symbol, a philosophy like many others and in the churches Christians will seek in vain the red light where God waits for them, like Magdalen weeping before the empty tomb, 'Where have they taken Him?'

Pope Pius XII, a few days before he died: The day the Church abandons her universal tongue [Latin] is the day before she returns to the catacombs.

13 November 2007

Feast of St. Didacus, Confessor

St. Didacus, a Franciscan lay brother, died in Spain in the odor of sanctity in 1463.

On the Byzantine calendar today is quite an important feast day, that of St. John Chrysostom. In view of this the Divine Liturgy was offered in the main church so that the whole ITI community could participate in the solemn celebration. To get an idea of how much the Byzantine's revere St. John Chrysostom, I think a Latin Christian would have to sort of role St. Peter, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas into one...

In other news, the ITI and Heiligenkreuz Abbey signed a contract whereby the ITI will be given the use of some land and buildings in Trumau, Austria (just south of Vienna). We will be moving there for the academic year 2009-2010. Please say a prayer that this transition is handled better than the last one in which I was involved.

Oh, and Maria is feeling better and our heat is back on. Deo gratias!

12 November 2007

St. Martin I, Pope, Martyr

St. Martin I suffered much persecution in his defense of the Catholic Faith against the Monothelite emperors of Constantinople. He was exiled and died in 655 from the evil treatment to which he was exposed.

Monothelitism is the heresy that arose in an attempt to reach a compromise solution between the Catholic doctrine of the Hypostatic Union, defined by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and the heretical doctrine of Monophysitism, which was itself an over-reaction against the Nestorian heresy. Chronologically, then, Nestorius (428 Patriarch of Constantinople) taught that in Christ there are two persons, or subjects of action, corresponding to two natures. Reacting against this, some (e.g. Eutyches, Archmandrite of Constantinople) went to the other extreme, asserting that in Christ there is only one person and only one nature (the Divine), hence the name "Monophysitism". A misguided attempt was then made by Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople (610-638) to make a doctrinal compromise with the Monophysites according to which Christ would be said to have two natures, but only one will (the divine will), hence, "Monothelitism". This last heresy was rejected by the Church at the Lateran Synod in 649 under Pope St. Martin I (today's saint) and again at the General Council of Constantinople in 680-681. Anyone who has ever read the Gospel narratives of Christ's Agony in the Garden can see plainly how erroneous was the opinion that Christ had no human will!

In other news, Maria is a little bit sick. She had a runny nose today as well as a rather pathetic demeanor. Furthermore, it helps not at all that the heat has inexplicably been turned off again. Grrr.

11 November 2007

Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

The Divinity of Jesus is established by His doctrine. The Church of Christ is the opposite of the devil and his works. The doctrine of Christ dwells abundantly in the Church which teaches and admonishes the faithful.

When Nov 11 does not fall on a Sunday, the feast of St. Martin of Tours is celebrated.

M for SAINT MARTIN, in Mitre and Cope
(The bishop of Tours, not Saint MARTIN the Pope);
His father, a soldier, disliked and despised
The True Faith, and prevented his being baptized
By making him serve in the army of Gaul,
Though he wasn't that sort of a soldier at all.
At Amiens one day, in the wind and the sleet,
He was stopped by a beggar who begged in the street;
He'd no money to give, so he made a great tear
In his cloak and gave part to the beggar to wear.
That night in a vision Saint MARTIN was shown
Our LORD as He reigns on His heavenly throne;
He was wearing the piece that the beggar had worn!
For CHRIST takes what we give to the poor and forlorn.
(An Alphabet of Saints by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson)

Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration
by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)
Trans. Adrian J. Walker
New York: Doubleday, 2007

Last night I finished reading this first book published by Joseph Ratzinger since his elevation to the See of Peter. Because he expressly desired to publish this book as a private theologian rather than as an expression of the Church's magisterium, I will refer to the author as Joseph Ratzinger.

Ratzinger's purpose throughout is to lead his readers to an encounter with Christ, the real historical Christ, as He is presented in the Gospels. There is in fact no distinction between the so-called "Jesus of history" and "Christ of faith." A twofold thread runs throughout the book. Ratzinger stresses the necessity of understanding the figure of Jesus in light of His unique "face-to-face" relationship with the Father and in light of His redemptive mission. These two are in fact intimately linked; the Person and the Work of Jesus cannot be separated from one another.

Of great importance generally speaking, but of less interest to me personally, are Ratzinger's repeated contradictions of (or corrections to) common threads of historico-critical biblical interpretation. While not in the least rejecting this method (in fact, he even accepts, for example, the "fact" that Isaiah 40-66 was written centuries after Isaiah 1-39; this despite the fact the then-magisterial Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1908 gave strong indications to the contrary) Ratzinger points out repeatedly and convincingly the limitations of historico-criticism in theology.

Of more interest to me personlly is Ratzinger's emphasis throughout on the doctrine of the Atonement. A systematic treatment of this topic is, of course, far beyond the scope of this work, but Ratzinger makes one facet of the Redemption in particular a point of emphasis. Namely, what it means for Christ to "bear the burden" of our sins. This emphasis is strongly marked right at the beginning of the book. Speaking of Christ's baptism, Ratzinger writes,

"Looking at the events in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind's guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross" (18).

Again, in chapter 2 on the temptations of Christ, Ratzinger remarks that, "He must recapitulate the whole of history from its beginnings - from Adam on; he must go through, suffer through, the whole of it, in order to transform it" (26). This "suffering through" is an important phrase for Ratzinger. The point seems to be that in order for guilt to really be healed from within (in contrast to two alternatives: retaliation, in which the guilty party is simply punished, and on the other hand, a simple amnesty; although in both cases justice is in a certain sense restored, in neither case has the guilty party really been healed interiorly) the guilty party has to "suffer through" his guilt, that is, he must re-experience his sin from the perspective of love. He must re-live, in a certain sense, his sin, this time seeing it for the evil that it is, stripped of its veneer of goodness. Simply put, we are speaking of contrition - which in its root means being "crushed" by the weight of sin. To return to Christ, then, Ratzinger seems to be saying that He "bears the burden" of our sins, He allows himself to be "crushed" by them, inasmuch as He experiences their wickedness from the perspective of love. In I may put it so, He experiences the "contrition" that we should have felt but are inadequate to feel.

This aspect of the redemption wrought by Christ receives its fullest treatment in Ratzinger's reflections on the fifth petition of the Pater noster - forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Here Ratzinger asks, "What is forgiveness?"

"What is forgiveness, really? What happens when forgiveness takes place? Guilt is a reality, an objective force; it has caused destruction that must be repaired. For this reason, forgiveness must be more than a matter of ignoring, of merely trying to forget. Guilt must be worked through, healed, and thus overcome. Forgiveness exacts a price - first of all from the person who forgives. He must overcome within himself the evil done to him; he must, as it were, burn it interiorly and in so doing renew himself. As a result, he also involves the other, the trespasser, in this process of transformation, of inner purification, and both parties, suffering all the way through and overcoming evil, are made new. At this point, we encounter the mystery of Christ's Cross" (158-59).

We could say that in this book we also encounter the mystery of Christ's Cross; we encounter it and it remains nonetheless mysterious, at least to this poor reader. It is a mystery, however, that I have been assigned to penetrate (term paper topic) to the extent that my frail nature will allow by mid-December! Deus miserere me!

10 November 2007

St. Andrew Avellino, Confessor

The holy priest Andrew was first a member of the ecclesiastical court of Naples. He entered the congregation of Clerks Regular, called the Theatine Order. He died at the foot of the altar, while saying: “Introibo ad altare Dei” in 1608.

09 November 2007

The Dedication of the Basilica of Our Savior

The Mother and Mistress of all Churches throughout the world, the Church of St. John Lateran, or the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior, was the first publicly consecrated. It was built by Constantine, the first Christian Emperor and consecrated by Pope St. Sylvester I on November 9, 324.

(photo is from our Rome Album, 2005; the inscription reads: The most holy Lateran church. Mother and head of all the churches of this city and of the world)

The Church of St. John Lateran is the highest ranking of the four patriarchal basilicas of Rome. Its name derives from the fact that the site of the Church was in acient times occupied by the palace of the Roman family of the Laterani. It was originally dedicated to our Savior, the "Basilica Salvatoris." Its further dedication both to St. John the Baptist and to St. John the Evangelist came at a later date due to the adjoining Benedictine monastery of Ss. John and John. Catholic Encyclopedia article: Saint John Lateran.

Five of the Church's twenty-one general councils were held at the Lateran (1123, 1139, 1179, 1215, 1512-17). The Fourth of these is justly famous for its exposition of the dogma of Transubstantiation.

08 November 2007

Commemoration of the Four Holy Crowned Martyrs

Four brothers: Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus, and Victorinus were cruelly put to death at Rome under Diocletian in 304.

Tonight the ITI hosted a lecture by an ultra-orthodox Hassidic Jewish Rabbi. The topic was the three pilgrimage feasts of the Jewish year, namely, Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. I will try to write up a short summary of the main points for you all tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, there will be offered in the upper chapel at 8:00 the low Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. Deo gratias!


So, Rabbi Shimone Naftalis from Jerusalem lectured on the topic of the Jewish Feasts, specifically the three pilgrimage feasts (all the Jews pilgrimaged to Jerusalem) of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

I learned some interesting details about each one of the feasts that I didn't know before.

For example, the four cups of wine in the Passover liturgy are connected to the four great expressions of redemption in Exodus 6:6-7a:

"Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am the Lord who will bring you out from the work-prison of the Egyptians, and will deliver you from bondage: and redeem you with a high arm, and great judgments. And I will take you to myself for my people."

All three of these feasts, of course, figure prominently in the New Testament. The Eucharist was instituted on the Passover, the Church was born on Pentecost (which in the Old Testament was associated with the giving of the Law) and the Feast of Tabernacles provides the contexts both for Jesus' lengthy discourse in John 7 and 8 as well as the event of the Transfiguration.

The Rabbi made the interesting observation that all three great western religions are the spiritual children of Abraham. His descendants, however, are divided between the children of Isaac (Jews and Christians) and the children of Ishmael (Moslems). The descendants of Isaac are then further divided between the children of Jacob (the Jews) and the children of Esau/Edom/Rome (the Christians).

I have never heard of any physical kinship between the Edomites and the Romans, but in a spiritual sense it is interesting to consider Christianity as descended from Esau.

Lastly, and this is sheer speculation on my part, I wonder if the evident fascination with Jewish customs and traditions (especially liturgical ones) that has arisen in the Christian west is due at all to the fact that we have abandoned so many of our own customs and traditions (especially liturgical ones). I'm thinking, for example, of the Ember days, the Rogation days, the season of Septuagesima, the Friday abstinence, vigil fasts, the forty hours devotion, first Friday devotion to the Sacred Heart, first Saturday devotion to our Lady, and God only knows how many others. I know that not all of these have disappeared completely but many of them have (except, of course, in places where the Traditional Latin Mass is still offered). Just a thought.

07 November 2007

The Always Interesting St. Augustine

In answer to the question, "Why does God allow evil?" it is often said that it is a necessary condition of our freedom. In other words, He wanted to create free beings capable of making a free response to Him of love and therefore had to allow for the possibility of man's choosing not to make that free response of love, of choosing sin.

St. Augustine, however, disagrees. "Who would dare to believe or assert that it was not in God's power to ensure that neither angel nor man should fall?" That is to say, He most certainly could have ensured that men and angels (rational and free creatures by definition) never sin. In fact He did so in the case of the Blessed Virgin. God ensured that she never sin. Yet in doing so He rather increased her freedom than violated it; He made her more capable of that free response of love for which we are all created. Surely we would not dare to believe or assert otherwise about the Blessed Virgin. Why could God not have done the same for all men?

Furthermore, not only does freedom not require the possibility of choosing to sin, but it is actually a defect in our freedom, a lack of full and perfect freedom, that makes that choice possible for us.

Why, then, did God prefer to make the choice to sin available to men and angels alike? "To show the magnitude of their pride's power for evil and of God's grace for good." (The City of God, XIV, 27).

Now for more pictures of Maria!

This one was actually taken yesterday early in the morning as Maria and I discussed some of the finer points of Aristotlian philosophy over coffee (or milk). She is listening bemusedly as I describe the Philosopher's doctrine of matter and form.

These two were both taken this evening just before dinner. Maria came swooping through the kitchen into the living/dining room intent on rescuing Rupert (her stuffed dog) from the same villain who had misplaced her pants.

06 November 2007

The Always Entertaining St. Augustine

In my reading this evening I came across this remarkable passage of St. Augustine. Enjoy!

"We do in fact find among human beings some individuals with natural abilities very different from the rest of mankind and remarkable by their very rarity. Such people can do some things with their body which are for others utterly impossible and well-nigh incredible when they are reported. Some people can even move their ears, either one at a time or both together. Others without moving the head can bring the whole scalp - all the part covered with hair - down towards the forehead and bring it back again at will. Some can swallow an incredible number of various articles and then with a slight contraction of the diaphragm, can produce, as if out of a bag, any article they please, in perfect condition. There are others who imitate the cries of birds and beasts and the voices of any other men, reproducing them so accurately as to be quite indistinguishable from the originals, unless they are seen. A number of people produce at will such musical sounds from their behind (without any stink) that they seem to be singing from that region. I know from my own experience of a man who used to sweat whenever he chose; and it is a well-known fact that some people can weep at will and shed floods of tears" (St. Augustine, The City of God, XIV, 24).

05 November 2007

Mid-Term Update

As today was my first day of classes after our ten day break I thought I would give you all a brief update on the status of my classes at the (roughly) halfway point of the semester.

German: The class is still painfully slow, but I've been getting up early everyday to study German on my own with the aid of the Rosetta Stone CD-ROM (generous gift of Fr Gerald). This has been helpful and I think I will make some good progress, but it is frustrating for me inasmuch as I am used to studying grammar much more formally (as in Latin).

Ancient Political Philosophy: Having finished Plato's Republic, we have moved into the first book of Aristitle's Politics. One of the highlights of book one is Aristotle's famous assertion that "man is a political animal." That is, man is by nature designed to live in community with others.

Natural Philosophy: In this class we have been reading Aristotle's Physics for a few weeks already and are neck deep in his doctrine of matter and form. In fact, the paper assignment for this class is on that very topic. Simply put, the fact that change is a reality, that things do change from being one thing into being another, shows quite conclusively that all natural things (excluding God and angels) are composed of matter and form. If one denies that things are composed of matter and form one must also deny the existence of real change. The existence of change is thus the death blow to strict materialism.

Ecclesiology: City of God: We are almost finished with book XIV of this monumental work of St. Augustine. Having already argued that the worshipping the pagan gods (demons) gains happiness neither in this life (bks I-V) nor in the next (bks VI-X), St. Augustine has now almost completed his discussion of the origins of the City of God and the City of Man (bks XI-XIV). He has dealt both with the fall of the angels and with the fall of man, devoting considerable time to the mysterious question as to how a good will, whether human or angelic, could choose an evil act. I have all but decided to write a paper on this, in part because of the importance of the subject, but also in part because it's something I've thought and written about before. As such it will require less time and work, thus leaving me more free to devote myself to a paper on the Atonement, my real interest, for another class.

Synoptic Gospels: Jesus of Nazareth by Josepf Ratzinger has occupied most of our attention in this class so far. I read today the first half of chapter 9 on St. Peter's confession of faith. Once again, as he does in literally every chapter, Ratzinger looks at the event through the lens of the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross. The recurring theme in this book is, such and such an event can only truly be understood in light of Jesus' sacrificial death on the Cross. I couldn't have asked for a better term paper assignment for this class. We are to write on the mystery of the atonement. What did Jesus do on the Cross? The question is immensely important, one might even say crucial, and affects one's understanding of almost every aspect of the Faith. I am looking forward very much to writing this paper, focusing especially on Ratzinger's understanding of the atonement.

Prophets: Instead of meeting twice a week for 1:15 each time, this class has evolved a once a week affair at varying times. The class is taught by the President of the Institute who has many other things on his plate so we get shuffled around a bit. Right now we are wrapping up Jeremiah and embarking on Ezekiel. It has been quite a whirlwind tour.

04 November 2007

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

O Lord, we beseech Thee, absolve Thy people from their offenses, that through Thy bountiful goodness, we may be freed from the bonds of those sins, which by frailty we have committed. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

03 November 2007

Nihil novum sub sole

Maria is crazy...
I took a nap...
Lisa has chapped lips...
St. Augustine says that we'll be able to eat food in Heaven if we want to (Deo gratias!)...
Our crazy landlord turned off the heat to save himself money...

Update: Well here is something new (new to me that is).

In my reading of the Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, I have more than once remarked as particularly important for a Catholic understanding of ecumensim the following warning:

Nothing is more alien to ecumenism than this false irenicism, through which the purity of Catholic doctrine is jeopardized and its true and indubitable meaning obscured. (UR, 2, 11).

As I mentioned, I noted this as an important warning. But I was not able to appreciate its import due to my ignorance of the meaning of the term "irenicism". Tonight, however, I came across an explanation of irenicism in my reading that greatly illuminates the meaning of this term and thereby makes clear the danger against which Catholic ecumenism must especially be on its gaurd. I offer it here because I know that many of my friends and family share with us an interest in the Catholic Church's teaching on ecumenism. I hope that you find it as enlightening as I did:

False irenicism is motivated by a misconceived charity at the service of a meaningless unity. It places unity above truth. Having severed the essential link between charity and defense of the truth, irenicism is more concerned with reaching a unity with all men than with leading them to Christ and His eternal truth. It ignores the fact that real unity can be reached only in truth. Our Lord's prayer "that they may be one" implies being one in Him and must not be separated from His words in John: "And other sheep I have that are not of this fold. Them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd" (Dietrich von Hildebrand, Trojan Horse in the City of God: The Catholic Crisis Explained, p. 91).

02 November 2007

All Souls’ Day

The practice of recommending to God the souls in purgatory that we may mitigate the great pains which they suffer, and that He may soon bring them to His glory, is most pleasing to God and most profitable to us. For those blessed souls are His eternal spouses, and they are most grateful to those who obtain their deliverance from prison, or even a mitigation of their torments. Hence, when they shall enter into heaven, they will certainly not forget those who prayed for them. It is a pious belief that God manifests to them our prayers for them, that they also may pray for us. Let us recommend to Jesus Christ, and to His holy Mother, all the souls in purgatory, but especially those of our relatives, benefactors, friends, and enemies, and, still more particularly, the souls of those for whom we are bound to pray; and let us consider the great pains which these holy spouses of Jesus Christ endure, and offer to God for their relief the Masses of this day.

Although we are obviously only now posting on each day of our trip to Salzburg, we're going to back date them in order to maintain a clear chronology. Enjoy the pictures! Salzburg Album; Hohensalzburg Fortress Album.

01 November 2007

Feast of All Saints

We can pay no greater honor to the Saints than by offering up to God in their name the Blood of Jesus. The efficacy of their past merits and present prayers is greatly increased when offered to God in close association with the merits and prayers of our Lord. Therefore the Church commemorates on this day all the Saints in heaven without exception, and thus honors also those who are unknown and who have no public recognition in the Liturgy.

Above: This morning's solemn high Mass.

We're back in Gaming, and we're all exhausted! Salzburg was beautiful, the weather was great, pictures et al. to follow tomorrow.