29 February 2008

More on Bishop Boyea

Pope Benedict's appointment of bishop Earl Boyea as the new Ordinary of the Diocese of Lansing has caught the attention of some of our favorite Catholic blogs. There is widespread enthusiasm for this appointment especially on account of the bishop's record of friendliness toward Tradition. As I believe I've mentioned, Lisa and I heard at least one Mass offered by him at St. Josaphat's in Detroit, where he offers the Traditional Latin Mass regularly. Here are some links to see what others are saying - a couple of days old already, of course, but no less interesting I hope.

The New Liturgical Movement
is featuring "An Inside View of the New Ordinary of Lansing, MI."

Fr. Z over at What Does the Prayer Really Say? reports on the "New Bishop for Lansing, MI."

Former classmate Thomas Peters, the American Papist himself, was the first source from which we learned the news: "Aux. Bp. Earl Boyea takes over Lansing Diocese."

Spring Break

Today is the first of ten days without classes. We began our break by hearing a low Mass at 8:00 and then watching the children of some friends here while their father was in class and their mother en route to the USA for a funeral. I was able to study a little bit this afternoon, and then we had dinner with some friends in the ITI common room and played a long game of Lord of the Rings Monopoly. The real fun, though, begins on Tuesday when we depart for Paris!

28 February 2008

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn at the ITI

This morning we were very privileged to welcome the Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna to our Institute. The Cardinal was the main editor of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1997), and he is the patron of the ITI. He spoke on the topic of Creation and Evolution - a topic for which he has become rather famous ever since his controversial July 2005 op. ed. piece in the New York Times. After the lecture he offered Mass together with the priests - Roman and Byzantine - of the Institute. Then lunch with some student representatives and dessert with the whole community.

As for the lecture itself, he seems to want to defend the presence of purpose within the framework of evolution, that is, to argue against chance as an ultimate explanation while conceding evolution as scientific fact (still maintaining, of course, the Catholic dogma of Creation ex nihilo).

I for one, though, am not at all convinced that evolution is true regardless of whether or not it can be made to square with the Faith. If you want to make a gift of a book to someone who thinks the world is the product of blind chance, then the Cardinal's recently published Chance or Purpose? Creation, Evolution, and a Rational Faith might be perfect. But if you're looking for a critical assessment of the theory of evolution itself, I suspect you'll be better off looking elsewhere. I hope that is not taken as overly critical however. One cannot write about everything at once; the Cardinal has chosen his battleground and is fighting courageously for Catholic Truth. Many thanks to him for his work, his patronage of the ITI, and his defense of the Faith!

27 February 2008

St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Confessor

St. Gabriel, born at Assisi in 1838, was guided by our Lady into the Passionist Institute and became a veritable Apostle of her Sorrows. His life was throughout perfect and irreproachable. He died at the age of twenty-four and many miracles bore witness to his holiness. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV, who gave him as a patron to young people.

New Bishop for Lansing Diocese

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Earl Boyea as the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Lansing. Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Carl F. Mengeling. See the Diocese of Lansing website for more.

St. Thomas Aquinas and Pope John Paul II

Jesus therefore replied and said to them: Amen, amen, I say to you, the Son cannot do anything of himself, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him everything that he does. [Jn. 5:19-20a]

St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, ch. 5, lec. 3.

753. Then when he says, For the Father loves the Son, he gives the reason for each, i.e., for the origin of the Son's power and for its greatness. This reason is the love of the Father, who loves the Son. Thus he says, For the Father loves the Son.

In order to understand how the Father's love for the Son is the reason for the origin or communication of the Son's power, we should point out that a thing is loved in two ways. For since the good alone is loveable, a good can be related to love in two ways: as the cause of love, or as caused by love. Now in us, the good causes love: for the cause of our loving something is its goodness, the goodness in it. Therefore, it is not good because we love it, but rather we love it because it is good. Accordingly, in us, love is caused by what is good. But it is different with God, because God's love itself is the cause of the goodness in the things that are loved. For it is because God loves us that we are good, since to love is nothing else than to will a good to someone. Thus, since God's will is the cause of things, for "whatever he willed he made" (Ps 113:3), it is clear that God's love is the cause of the goodness in things. Hence Denis says in The Divine Names (c. 4) that the divine love did not allow itself to be without issue. So, if we wish to consider the origin of the Son, let us see whether the love with which the Father loves the Son, is the principle of his origin, so that he proceeds from it.

In divine realities, love is taken in two ways: essentially, so far as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit love; and notionally or personally, so far as the Holy Spirit proceeds as Love. But in neither of these ways of taking love can it be the principle of origin of the Son. For if it is taken essentially, it implies an act of the will; and if that were the sense in which it is the principle of origin of the Son, it would follow that the Father generated the Son, not by nature, but by will - and this is false. Again, love is not understood notionally, as pertaining to the Holy Spirit. For it would then follow that the Holy Spirit would be the principle of the Son - which is also false. Indeed, no heretic ever went so far as to say this. For although love, notionally taken, is the principle of all the gifts given to us by God, it is nevertheless not the principle of the Son; rather it proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Consequently, we must say that this explanation is not taken from love as from a principle (ex principio), but as from a sign (ex signo). For since likeness is a cause of love (for every animal loves its like), wherever a perfect likeness of God is found, there also is found a perfect love of God. But the perfect likeness of the Father is in the Son, as is said: "He is the image of the invisible God" (1:15); and "He is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the image of his substance" (Heb 1:3). Therefore, the Son is loved perfectly by the Father, and because the Father perfectly loves the Son, this is a sign that the Father has shown him everything and has communicated to him his very own [the Father's] power and nature. And it is of this love that we read above (3:5): "The Father loves the Son, and has put everything into his hands"; and, "This is my beloved Son" (Mt 3:17).

Of special interest is the third paragraph in which Aquinas speaks of love in divine realities. Aquinas completely rules out the possibility that love is the origin of the Son's procession from the Father. If the principle of the Son's origin is the love of God taken essentially (i.e. the love of God as God in the unity of His being), this implies a decision of God's will and thus the creation of the Son, i.e. Arianism. If the principle of the Son's origin is the love of God taken personally (i.e. as the Holy Spirit proceeds as Love), it would follow that the Son proceeds from the Holy Spirit. Aquinas knows of no heretic so foolish as to hold this!

Contrast this with John Paul II's teaching in his theology of the body, where the origin of the Son is said to be rooted in the Father's "gift of self" (read: act of love). Apparently this is why many Thomists are unimpressed (to say the least) with John Paul's work, while many disciples of John Paul are more than ready to abandon the Universal Doctor of the Church. Interesting indeed; I intend to follow up on this and see what more I can learn. [UPDATE: I should add of course that I suspect that Dr. Waldstein thinks the two positions reconcilable. I still hope to hear from him how this is so.]

26 February 2008

Active Participation

This is part of a series of posts aiming to compile magisterial teachings and decisions on various doctrinal and disciplinary subjects. For other posts in this series see the growing list on the sidebar, or click on the 'Roma dixit' (Rome has spoken) label at the bottom of this post.

Pope St. Pius X, Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini, 1903.

Filled as We are with a most ardent desire to see the true Christian spirit flourish in every respect and be preserved by all the faithful, We deem it necessary to provide before anything else for the sanctity and dignity of the temple, in which the faithful assemble for no other object than that of acquiring this spirit from its foremost and indispensable font, which is the active participation in the most holy mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church. And it is vain to hope that the blessing of heaven will descend abundantly upon us, when our homage to the Most High, instead of ascending in the odor of sweetness, puts into the hand of the Lord the scourges wherewith of old the Divine Redeemer drove the unworthy profaners from the Temple... Special efforts are to be made to restore the use of the Gregorian Chant by the people, so that the faithful may again take a more active part in the ecclesiastical offices, as was the case in ancient times.

Pope Pius XI, Bull Divini Cultus, 1928.

In our times too, the chief object of Pope Pius X, in the Motu Proprio [Tra le Sollecitudini] which he issued twenty-five years ago, making certain prescriptions concerning Gregorian Chant and sacred music, was to arouse and foster a Christian spirit in the faithful, by wisely excluding all that might ill befit the sacredness and majesty of our churches. The faithful come to church in order to derive piety from its chief source, by taking an active part in the venerated mysteries and the public solemn prayers of the Church... In order that the faithful may more actively participate in divine worship, let them be made once more to sing the Gregorian Chant, so far as it belongs to them to take part in it.

Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Mediator Dei, 1947.

78. The cooperation of the faithful is required so that sinners may be individually purified in the blood of the Lamb. For though, speaking generally, Christ reconciled by His painful death the whole human race with the Father, He wished that all should approach and be drawn to His cross, especially by means of the sacraments and the eucharistic sacrifice, to obtain the salutary fruits produced by Him upon it. Through this active and individual participation, the members of the Mystical Body not only become daily more like to their divine Head, but the life flowing from the Head is imparted to the members, so that we can each repeat the words of St. Paul, "With Christ I am nailed to the cross: I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me."

192. Besides, "so that the faithful take a more active part in divine worship, let Gregorian chant be restored to popular use in the parts proper to the people. Indeed it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and the choir, according to the prescribed norms. If, please God, this is done, it will not happen that the congregation hardly ever or only in a low murmur answer the prayers in Latin or in the vernacular." A congregation that is devoutly present at the sacrifice, in which our Savior together with His children redeemed with His sacred blood sings the nuptial hymn of His immense love, cannot keep silent, for "song befits the lover" and, as the ancient saying has it, "he who sings well prays twice." Thus the Church militant, faithful as well as clergy, joins in the hymns of the Church triumphant and with the choirs of angels, and, all together, sing a wondrous and eternal hymn of praise to the most Holy Trinity in keeping with words of the preface, "with whom our voices, too, thou wouldst bid to be admitted."

199. Try in every way, with the means and helps that your prudence deems best, that the clergy and people become one in mind and heart, and that the Christian people take such an active part in the liturgy that it becomes a truly sacred action of due worship to the eternal Lord in which the priest, chiefly responsible for the souls of his parish, and the ordinary faithful are united together.

Council of Vatican II, Session III, Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963.

14. Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people" (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism... In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work.

19. With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. By so doing, pastors will be fulfilling one of the chief duties of a faithful dispenser of the mysteries of God; and in this matter they must lead their flock not only in word but also by example.

25 February 2008

St. Matthias

Matthias, one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus, was chosen as Apostle in the place of Judas. St. Matthias preached the Gospel for more than thirty years in Judea, Cappadocia, Egypt, and Ethiopia. He was stoned by the Jews in 80.

Today was the most beautiful day so far this spring. I guess it's getting repetitive, each day being more gorgeous than the day before, but it's true. It's a little odd to us that spring is starting while it's still February, but we're certainly not complaining, in fact, we're enjoying every minute of it. When Maria and I arrived in the fall, it was rainy, and it continued to rain on and off for the rest of fall and into winter. Now is the first time we can really appreciate Gaming in all its glory. For the past few days we've been taking trails that lead us off the road, and up the Alpine foothills surrounding us on all sides. Today we took a trail on a mountain behind the Gaming Parish Church. We had hiked one of the trails soon after we got here, but it simply took us around the base of the mountain. We didn't have any expectations of where we would end up today, but we decided to take another trail. As always, we added a link to the compete album on the sidebar, or you can just follow the link here. Below you can see the mountain we climbed.

The mountain side was completely covered with beautiful flowers!

At one fork in the trail, there was a sign which read "Kirchsteinkreuz" (Church-Rock-Cross). We didn't know exactly what this meant, although there are huge rocks jutting out the side of the mountain, so we thought that might have something to do with it. We decided to go that way, as it went up instead of down, and we wanted to reach the top. You can see below what we found!

We have heard from many world travelers that Austria is the most beautiful country in the world. We are beginning to see what they mean, and every time we take a walk we have to pinch ourselves to believe that this beautiful view is right in our backyard!

When we traveled to Salzburg we were amazed by the beauty of the Alps. Although our mountains are mere hills in comparison, we think that they are the perfect height, because we can decide, spur of the moment, to take a few hours in the afternoon and climb one, and we actually reach the top within an hour or so (less if we leave Maria with someone else). We still have so many to climb, I hope you don't get tired of pictures from the tops.

Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture

This is part of a series of posts aiming to compile magisterial teachings and decisions on various doctrinal and disciplinary subjects. For other posts in this series see the growing list on the sidebar, or click on the 'Roma dixit' (Rome has spoken) label at the bottom of this post.

Council of Trent, Session IV, Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures, 1546.

The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent, - lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same three legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein, - keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament - seeing that one God is the author of both - as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.

Council of Vatican I, Session III, On Revelation, 1870.

The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said council [Trent] and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical. These books the church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the church. Now since the decree on the interpretation of holy scripture, profitably made by the council of Trent, with the intention of constraining rash speculation, has been wrongly interpreted by some, we renew that decree and declare its meaning to be as follows: that in matters of faith and morals, belonging as they do to the establishing of christian doctrine, that meaning of holy scripture must be held to be the true one, which holy mother church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of holy scripture. In consequence, it is not permissible for anyone to interpret holy scripture in a sense contrary to this, or indeed against the unanimous consent of the fathers.

Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus, 1893.

5. For the Sacred Scripture is not like other books. Dictated by the Holy Ghost, it contains things of the deepest importance, which in many instances are most difficult and obscure.

20. But it is absolutely wrong and forbidden, either to narrow inspiration to certain parts only of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred... For all the books which the Church receives as sacred and canonical, are written wholly and entirely, with all their parts, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost; and so far is it from being possible that any error can co-exist with inspiration, that inspiration not only is essentially incompatible with error, but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true.

20. Because the Holy Ghost employed men as His instruments, we cannot therefore say that it was these inspired instruments who, perchance, have fallen into error, and not the primary author. For, by supernatural power, He so moved and impelled them to write - He was so present to them - that the things which He ordered, and those only, they, first, rightly understood, then willed faithfully to write down, and finally expressed in apt words and with infallible truth. Otherwise, it could not be said that He was the Author of the entire Scripture. Such has always been the persuasion of the Fathers. "Therefore," says St. Augustine, "since they wrote the things which He showed and uttered to them, it cannot be pretended that He is not the writer; for His members executed what their Head dictated." And St. Gregory the Great thus pronounces: "Most superfluous it is to inquire who wrote these things - we loyally believe the Holy Ghost to be the Author of the book. He wrote it Who dictated it for writing; He wrote it Who inspired its execution."

21. It follows that those who maintain that an error is possible in any genuine passage of the sacred writings, either pervert the Catholic notion of inspiration, or make God the author of such error.

Pope Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus, 1920.

8. You will not find a page in his writings which does not show clearly that he [St. Jerome], in common with the whole Catholic Church, firmly and consistently held that the Sacred Books - written as they were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit - have God for their Author, and as such were delivered to the Church. Thus he asserts that the Books of the Bible were composed at the inspiration, or suggestion, or even at the dictation of the Holy Spirit; even that they were written and edited by Him. Yet he never questions but that the individual authors of these Books worked in full freedom under the Divine afflatus, each of them in accordance with his individual nature and character.

16. St. Jerome's teaching on this point serves to confirm and illustrate what our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, declared to be the ancient and traditional belief of the Church touching the absolute immunity of Scripture from error: "So far is it from being the case that error can be compatible with inspiration, that, on the contrary, it not only of its very nature precludes the presence of error, but as necessarily excludes it and forbids it as God, the Supreme Truth, necessarily cannot be the Author of error."

19. For while conceding that inspiration extends to every phrase - and, indeed, to every single word of Scripture - yet, by endeavoring to distinguish between what they style the primary or religious and the secondary or profane element in the Bible, they claim that the effect of inspiration - namely, absolute truth and immunity from error - are to be restricted to that primary or religious element. Their notion is that only what concerns religion is intended and taught by God in Scripture, and that all the rest - things concerning "profane knowledge," the garments in which Divine truth is presented - God merely permits, and even leaves to the individual author's greater or less knowledge. Small wonder, then, that in their view a considerable number of things occur in the Bible touching physical science, history and the like, which cannot be reconciled with modern progress in science!

21. He [Leo XIII] also teaches that Divine inspiration extends to every part of the Bible without the slightest exception, and that no error can occur in the inspired text: "It would be wholly impious to limit inspiration to certain portions only of Scripture or to concede that the sacred authors themselves could have erred."

Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu, 1943.

3. Finally it is absolutely wrong and forbidden "either to narrow inspiration to certain passages of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred," since divine inspiration "not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church."

Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, 1950.

22. To return, however, to the new opinions mentioned above, a number of things are proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of Sacred Scripture. For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council's definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters.

Council of Vatican II, Session VIII, Dei Verbum, 1965.

11. Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted. Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.

24 February 2008

Third Sunday in Lent

We see Jesus today in open conflict with Satan and his works. So also during Lent, which is a time when the struggle against the old man is more intense, we should "live as children of the light," performing actions good, just, and true.

Today was the warmest and sunniest day here yet this spring! This afternoon I drove Dr. Waldstein to the train station in Amstetten (about 50 minutes away). The drive took us through the most beautiful part of Austria (according to him, a native). About 15 minutes before Amstetten the road ran right up to the edge of a long ridge overlooking valley after valley, with little farms dotting the landscape. It was pretty impressive.

Then this evening we had some friends over for dinner, which was great fun of course, and then we introduced them to Brian Regan. Jessica actually was already familiar with his comedy from her days at Ave Maria, but the others were new to it and about fell over laughing. Well, that's about all the news from here today I guess, so take luck!

23 February 2008

St. Peter Damian, Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church

Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk, was nominated Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia on account of his learning and high virtues. He rendered immense services to Gregory VII in his struggle for the rights of the Church. He retired to his abbey of Fonte Avellano, and died in 1072.

We took another long walk this afternoon (we are loving the spring-like weather here right now). The road we followed took us up and outside of Gaming affording us a nice view of our little town from above.

There are also a few more pictures of the scenery in our Gaming photo album.

22 February 2008

The Chair of St. Peter

The Feast of St. Peter's Chair in Antioch, formerly on this day, has been merged with that of his Chair in Rome, formerly on January 18. The Feast of St. Peter's Chair is now kept on February 22.

This afternoon we finally went, as we've been meaning to for some time, to climb the Kalvarienberg (Calvary Mountain) which is right across the road from the Kartause. The path up the mountainside is a way of the Cross. There is a little shrine for each station and a larger chapel on the top of the mountain for the 12th station (Christ's death on the Cross). The path was steep and rigorous at points, but it was quite beautiful. Here follow a few pictures, but you can see more here: Kalvarienberg. This new album will also be linked on the sidebar.

The sun was shining nicely today.

Spring is coming!

On our way down the mountain we followed a different path and came upon another shrine with a Nativity scene - part of another path that takes you through the mysteries of the Rosary. There is yet another that follows the seven sorrows of Mary. It's nice to live in a country with a long and glorious history of Catholicism.

Maria was quite delighted by the flowers that covered large portions of the mountainside.

Finally, we found a place from which a good picture of the Kartause was obtainable, without the crane that uglifies our beautiful school.

21 February 2008

Lecture Night at the ITI

I've neglected to post about the latest guest lecture at the ITI, on the topic of Jewish Kabbalah. The lecturer was a prof. of Judaistic studies from the University of Vienna. Frankly, I don't have much to say about it, except that Kabbalah is wierd. Apparently it's some form of Jewish mysticism mixed with plenty of magic. And this is the traditional Jewish form of Kabbalah, not the modernized version in which Madonna and other (in)famous people are involved.

20 February 2008

My First Written Work of the Semester

I'm sorry to report that my first written work of the semester, turned in today for my class on the Pentateuch, is exceptionally uninteresting. It is an attempt, and a poor one, at a textual analysis of Genesis 37. It's nothing very detailed, just a basic rundown on the main features of the story of Joseph being sold into slavery, with which you're probably already familiar. If I haven't yet discouraged you from reading it, you are more than welcome to do so here. It will also be linked on the sidebar with the rest of my written work.

Legends of the Jews

Last week in my class on the Pentateuch (the five books of Moses), the Prof. shared with us a couple of Jewish takes on the Scriptures. I found them to be delightful, and offer them here for your entertainment and edification.

On the Creation of Eve from the Side of Adam
When God was on the point of making Eve, He said: "I will not make her from the head of man, lest she carry her head high in arrogant pride; not from the eye, lest she be wanton-eyed; not from the ear, lest she be an eavesdropper; not from the neck, lest she be insolent; not from the mouth, lest she be a tattler; not from the heart, lest she be inclined to envy; not from the hand, lest she be a meddler; not from the foot, lest she be a gadabout. I will form her from a chaste portion of the body," and to every limb and organ as He formed it, God said, "Be chaste! Be chaste!" Nevertheless, in spite of the great caution used, woman has all the faults God tried to obviate. The daughters of Zion were haughty and walked with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes; Sarah was an eavesdropper in her own tent, when the angel spoke with Abraham; Miriam was a tale-bearer, accusing Moses; Rachel was envious of her sister Leah; Eve put out her hand to take the forbidden fruit, and Dinah was a gadabout.

On the Nature of Wine
Noah: "The fruit it bears is sweet, be it dry or moist. It yields wine that rejoiceth the heart of man."
Satan: "Let us go into partnership in this business of planting a vineyard."
Noah: "Agreed!"
Satan thereupon slaughtered a lamn, and then, in succession, a lion, a pig, and a monkey. The blood of each as it was killed he made to flow under the vine. Thus he conveyed to Noah what the qualities of wine are: before man drinks of it, he is innocent as a lamb; if he drinks of it moderately, he feels as strong as a lion; if he drinks more of it than he can bear, he resembles the pig; and if he drinks to the point of intoxication, then he behaves like a monkey, he dances around, sings, talks obscenely, and knows not what he is doing.

19 February 2008

Wine: Symbol of Justice, Wisdom, and Charity

In my class on the Gospel of John we are studying the narrative of Jesus' first miracle, at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-11). In my reading today I found St. Thomas's commentary on the words of our Lady, "they have no more wine," to be particularly delightful. He writes:

Here we should note that before the incarnation of Christ three wines were running out: the wine of justice, of wisdom, and of charity or grace. Wine stings, and in this respect it is a symbol of justice. The Samaritan poured wine and oil into the wounds of the injured man, that is, he mingled the severity of justice with the sweetness of mercy. "You have made us drink the wine of sorrow" (Ps. 59:5).

But wine also delights the heart, "Wine cheers the heart of man" (Ps. 103:15). And in this respect wine is a symbol of wisdom, the meditation of which is enjoyable in the highest degree: "Her companionship has no bitterness" (Wis. 8:16).

Further, wine intoxicates: "Drink, friends, and be intoxicated, my dearly beloved" (Cant. 5:1). And in this respect wine is a symbol of charity: "I have drunk my wine with my milk" (Cant. 5:1). It is also a symbol of charity because of charity's fervor: "Wine makes the virgins flourish" (Zec. 9:17).

18 February 2008

Commemoration of St. Simeon, Bishop and Martyr

St. Simeon, who was closely related to the Blessed Virgin, became Bishop of Jerusalem after St. James. As a martyr of the faith, he was crucified under Trajan at the age of 120 years in 106.

I watched a great short video of highlights from the Tigers' 2007 season on www.tigers.com three or four times today. I'm ridiculously excited to see baseball again. Spring Training is underway...

17 February 2008

Second Sunday in Lent

Let the sight of the grandeur of Jesus transfigured prepare us for a brief contemplation of the humiliation of His Passion.

As my birthday fell in Lent this year, we celebrated it today. Back home, John took me out for my birthday. But after visiting Italy over Christmas break, he was inspired to learn how to cook (as long as it's Italian food, that is). I must say, it's a lot more fun this way! Here are some pictures to fill you in on how it went:

John cooking the Amatriciana sauce (spicy tomatos and pancetta). I hope mom is proud of her Italian chef.

Gurktaler, an Austrian aperitif. One thing we've picked up in Austria, herbal liquors before fancy dinners. Everytime we go to someone's house for dinner, the first thing they do is offer us an herbal liquor.

The finished product. Delicious.

One of our favorite Spanish wines.


2008 Roman Missal

Sorry, this is coming very late, as it is most definately yesterday's news. However, as we haven't yet commented on it, John and I thought we would post about the changes Pope Benedict made to the Extraordinary Formof the Roman Rite's prayers for Good Friday. For those of you who do not follow the news regarding the Traditional Latin Mass as closely as we do, and have no idea to what I am referring, here is a summary:

Until the 1950s, the Good Friday intentions for the Jews said (of course, in Latin):

"Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise. Almighty and eternal God, who does not repel from your mercy even the Jews: hear our prayers, those which we offer for that blind people, that by acknowledging light of your truth which is Christ they will be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord."

In the 1962 missal, the word "perfidious" had already been removed.

In the Novus Ordo missal, the Good Friday prayer says (ICEL translation):

"Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Let us kneel. Let us stand. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Note that in the Novus Ordo missal, we are not explicitly praying for the conversion of the Jews. We pray that they may be saved, without any reference to Jesus Christ being the way of their salvation, which is one explanation as to why so many Catholics (and the USCCB) today believe the Old Covenant to be salvific for the Jews. Curiously, this seems quite contrary to everything that St. Paul says in the New Testament.

Since the Motu Proprio, many Jews (and specifically the Anti-Defamation League led by Abraham Foxman) have been pressuring Pope Benedict to change the Good Friday prayers, because the prayers in the 1962 missal are considered "anti-semetic". This "anti-semetism" of the Extraordinary Form has been one reason bishops cited for refusing to allow the older form, regardless of the fact that this is in direct opposition to Summorum Pontificum. When we first heard rumors that the Good Friday prayers were to be changed, we were most upset. Allowing those who are not even Catholic to dictate how we pray is absurd. I've never gotten into a tizzy that many Orthodox Jews thank God, not only once a year, but each and every day, that He did not make them a woman or a Gentile. Why should they care if I pray that they be converted? However, care they do.

Over a week ago it was announced that the prayer was changed. Here is the new Good Friday prayer for the Jews in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (what a mouthful!), translated by Fr. Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say?

"Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men. Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters Your Church, all Israel may be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen."

Now, there are a lot of traditionalists who are unhappy about this change, and there are a lot who are either content, or even happy with it, and both sides offer good points. However, this post is getting long, and I won't go too much into that debate. He is the Pope, he has the authority to change the prayers (having the authority to do something does not always mean that what you do is prudent, but I digress), and there have been many positives since this change was announced, and here are just two: Traditionalists can no longer be considered "nostalgic," or "stuck-in-the-mud," as we now use the 2008 Roman Missal, while the Novus Ordo missal is practically medieval, dating back to 2002. And, most reassuring of all, Abe Foxman is very upset.

Since the change, many Jewish leaders (as well as many Catholics) have complained that while it's great that we no longer refer to the "blindness" of the Jews in our Good Friday prayers, the new one still prays for their conversion to Christ. Jewish leaders have even stated that they will no longer continue dialoguing with us. Which begs the question, if all this "dialogue" since Vatican II has been so wonderful and enlightening, why are they so incredibly shocked that, gasp!, the Church actually wants them to become Catholic? Well, Catholics are partly to blame, since so many Catholics are shocked that the Church still teaches that outside the Church there is no salvation! Pope Boniface VII infallibly declares in the Bull Unam Sanctam:

"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

If you really think about it for more than a second, it would be quite anti-semitic if we did not pray for the conversion of the Jews, since we pray for the conversion of everyone else, beginning with ourselves.

16 February 2008

Ember Saturday

As you can see in the picture below, we got more snow here, for the first time since we came back from Rome. It has still been quite sunny out for the most part, although today it is quite cold.

On another note...
(just to make Chuck jealous)

15 February 2008

Ember Friday

Nihil est novus sub sole. Hodie Maria didicit dicere: "amo te" in lingua Latina! Syllabae sunt faciles ei dicere. Nimis difficilis est ei in lingua Anglicana. Orate hodie et cras pro sacerdotibus bonis. Amamus vos omnes, et valete!

14 February 2008

Happy Birthday, Lisa! (Commemoration of St. Valentine, Priest and Martyr)

This holy Roman priest assisted with other pious Christians a great number of martyrs. He was beheaded under Aurelian in 270.

Maria this morning in her new Valentine's Day outfit from Grandma and Papou. Isn't she cute?

Maria and Rupert later this morning while Lisa was in class learning about John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

Happy Birthday, Lisa! The chocolate (liquor) is for Valentine's Day.

13 February 2008

Ember Wednesday

Remember to pray for priests today, as we should everyday, but in particular on Ember days.

Recently, we've noticed Maria has taken to crawling again. For awhile we didn't know why she had regressed to her infant days, until one day she came into the room crawling, said, "Horse!" and then, "Neigh!" She especially loves to be a horse when we put Rupert on her back, and even more than that, she loves when daddy pretends to be a horse, and she gets to ride!

12 February 2008

Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order, Confessors

Seven noble Florentines founded in 1233 the Order of Servites of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Servites led an austere life, meditating constantly on the passion of our Lord and venerating the Blessed Virgin as our Lady of Sorrows.

Having finished reading Pope Pius XII's centenary letter on Lourdes (see below), I went back to the beginning as it were, to the 1854 Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus in which Pope Pius IX infallibly defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady. Below are the words of the definition itself, but I have also included the opening paragraph which I found to be particularly beautiful.

God Ineffable - whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom "reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly" - having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully...

...Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.

Le Pèlerinage de Lourdes

Encyclical of Pope Pius XII Warning against Materialism on the Centenary of the Apparitions at Lourdes to the Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops of France in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See. Given at Rome, from Saint Peter's, on the feast of the Visitation of the Most Holy Virgin, July 2, 1957.

Upon reading through this encyclical letter today (After stumbling upon excerpts of it on the excellent blog Rorate Caeli), this paragraph in particular makes one eager to visit France.

...The Middle Ages, which, especially through Saint Bernard, sang Mary's glory and celebrated her mysteries, witnessed a marvelous flowering of French cathedrals dedicated to our Lady: Le Puy, Rheims, Amiens, Paris, and so many others... With their spires upthrust they announce from afar the glory of the Immaculate; they heighten its splendor in the pure light of their stained-glass windows and in the harmonious beauty of their statues. They bear witness above all to the faith of a people which outdid itself in a magnificent display of energy, erecting against the sky of France the permanent homage of its devotion to Mary...

The most beautiful words in praise of the Immaculate Virgin in this letter are those taken from St. Bernard with which Pius XII concludes: In periculis, in angustiis, in rebus dubiis, Mariam cogita, Mariam invoces… Ipsam sequens, non devias; ipsam rogans, non desperas; ipsam cogitans, non erras; ipsa tenente, non corruis; ipsa protegente, non metuis; ipsa duce, non fatigaris, ipsa propitia, pervenis.

[Amid dangers, amid difficulties, amid doubtful things, think of Mary, call upon Mary... following her, you will not stray; entreating her, you will not despair; reflecting upon her, you will not err; with her holding you, you will not fall; with her protecting you, you will not fear; with her leading you, you will not grow weary; with her propitious, you will come through.]

The Pope also reminds us of our Lady's call to repentance, ever the more appropriate in this holy season of Lent.

...In a society which is barely conscious of the ills which assail it, which conceals its miseries and injustices beneath a prosperous, glittering, and trouble-free exterior, the Immaculate Virgin, whom sin has never touched, manifests herself to an innocent child. With a mother's compassion she looks upon this world redeemed by her Son's blood, where sin accomplishes so much ruin daily, and three times makes her urgent appeal: "Penance, penance, penance!" She even appeals for outward expressions: "Go kiss the earth in penance for sinners." And to this gesture must be added a prayer: "Pray to God for sinners"...

Pius XII speaks out against the dangers of materialism, which have become ever more prevalent in the intervening 50 years.

...But the world, which today affords so many justifiable reasons for pride and hope, is also undergoing a terrible temptation to materialism which has been denounced by Our Predecessors and Ourselves on many occasions.

This materialism ... rages also in a love of money which creates ever greater havoc as modern enterprises expand, and which, unfortunately, determines many of the decisions which weigh heavy on the life of the people. It finds expression in the cult of the body, in excessive desire for comforts, and in flight from all the austerities of life. It encourages scorn for human life, even for life which is destroyed before seeing the light of day.

This materialism is present in the unrestrained search for pleasure, which flaunts itself shamelessly and tries, through reading matter and entertainments, to seduce souls which are still pure. It shows itself in lack of interest in one's brother, in selfishness which crushes him, in justice which deprives him of his rights - in a word, in that concept of life which regulates everything exclusively in terms of material prosperity and earthly satisfactions...

11 February 2008

Apparition of the Immaculate Virgin Mary at Lourdes

This feast commemorates the appearing of our Lady on several occasions in 1858 at Lourdes in France.

Today is the 150th anniversary of the first apparition of our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette. A plenary indulgance is available (click this link and scroll to the bottom of the page).

Although sadly eliminated in the creation of the Novus Ordo, in the traditional propers for today's Mass a passage from the Canticle of Canticles is selected for its reference to the "dove" appearing in a cleft of a rock; similarly, the Communion verse applies the words of Psalm 64 to the miraculous spring which Mary caused to appear in the Grotto.

Traditional Propers:

Introit (Apoc. 21:2; Ps. 44:2)
I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her Husband. (Psalm) My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak my works to the King. Glory be to the Father. I saw...

O God, Who by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin didst prepare a worthy dwelling for Thy Son: we humbly beseech Thee, that we, who celebrate the Apparition of this same Blessed Virgin, may obtain health of soul and body. Through our Lord.

Epistle (Apoc. 11:19; 12:1, 10)
The vision of the Woman clothed with the sun

Gradual (Cant. 2:12,10,14)
The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come, the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. Arise, My love, My beautiful one, and come; My dove in the cleft of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall.

Tract (Jud. 15:10)
Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Isreal, thou art the honor of our people. Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the original stain is not in thee. Truly happy art thou, O holy Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise; for with thy virginal foot thou hast crushed the serpent's head.

Gospel (Luke 1:26-31)
Gospel of the Annunciation by the Angel to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Offertory (Luke 1:28)
Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.

May this sacrifice of praise which we offer to Thee, O Lord, through the merits of the glorious and Immaculate Virgin, be to Thee as a sweet-smelling savor, and may it bring to us the health of soul and body which we desire. Through our Lord.

Communion (Ps. 64:10)
Thou has visited the earth, and hast plentifully watered it: thou has many ways enriched it.

O Lord, may the right hand of Thine Immaculate Mother uplift us whom Thou hast satisfied with heavenly food: that by her help we may win through to our eternal homeland. Who livest and reignest.

10 February 2008

Photo Albums

We've created a new photo album called "Maria (February)" and added quite a few pictures to the already existing album called "Gaming". You can also click on the pictures linking to these and other albums on the sidebar. Enjoy!

First Sunday in Lent

Our Lord Jesus Christ, directly after His baptism, prepared Himself for His public life and mission by a fast of forty days in the desert, which extends from Jericho to the Mountains of Judaea. Let us prepare ourselves by fast, prayers and works of charity for the solemn Feast of Easter.

The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great was offered this morning for the first Sunday of the Great Fast (as the Byzantines call it). Today is also called Orthodoxy Sunday because it was on the first Sunday of Lent in 843 that the iconoclast heresy was definitively overthrown in the East. If, that is, my memory of the sermon hasn't failed me. Back home before brunch Maria was soaking in the sunlight streaming through the window - it has been really beautiful outside lately.

Also of interest, Lisa and I were reading last night Christ and the Americas by Anne Carroll (kindly sent to us for Christmas by Jake). We are enjoying it very much, and last night came across an interesting paragraph regarding Catholicism in the U.S.A.

"And some [American Catholics], unfortunately, went to an extreme to prove that Catholics were not foreign agents but loyal to the Constitution. They convinced themselves that America really was morally better than any other nation, that Catholic Europe was corrupt, that America was the City on a Hill, that the Catholic Church in America should be allowed to go its own way without undue interference from the Vatican. These beliefs eventually led to the 'Americanist Heresy,' condemned by Pope Leo XIII in his Apostolic Letter Testem Benevolentiae ('On True and False Americanism in Religion'), January 22, 1899. Among the propositions condemned in the letter were the following: that the Holy Spirit can guide men in their spiritual lives so that they do not need the Sacraments or organized church structure; that the natural virtues are higher than the supernatural; that the active life is better than the contemplative life; that religious vows are a restriction on freedom; that the Church needs to accommodate its doctrines and practices to attract more Americans into it.

"At the time of the letter, American Catholic leaders affirmed their adherence to Catholic doctrine and their rejection of Americanism. But Americanism never fully died out and would reappear in full bloom in the next century after the Second Vatican Council." (p. 193).

Intrigued, we decided to read this Testem Benevolentiae. The letter is very short, it took only ten minutes or so for Lisa and I to read it together. One need only look at these short excerpts to see the veracity of Mrs. Carroll's assessment of the inroads Americanism has made into the Church since Vatican II.

On the watering down of doctrine
"The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas..."

On religious liberty and freedom of speech
"These dangers, viz., the confounding of license with liberty, the passion for discussing and pouring contempt upon any possible subject, the assumed right to hold whatever opinions one pleases upon any subject and to set them forth in print to the world, have so wrapped minds in darkness that there is now a greater need of the Church's teaching office than ever before, lest people become unmindful both of conscience and of duty."

On the unity of the Church
"But the true church is one, as by unity of doctrine, so by unity of government, and she is catholic also. Since God has placed the center and foundation of unity in the chair of Blessed Peter, she is rightly called the Roman Church, for 'where Peter is, there is the church.' Wherefore, if anybody wishes to be considered a real Catholic, he ought to be able to say from his heart the selfsame words which Jerome addressed to Pope Damasus: 'I, acknowledging no other leader than Christ, am bound in fellowship with Your Holiness; that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that the church was built upon him as its rock, and that whosoever gathereth not with you, scattereth.'"

09 February 2008

More Cute Pictures

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church

St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, fought with his pen and his eloquence against the Nestorians. He presided in the name of Pope Celestine at the great Council of Ephesus, where the heresy of Nestorius was condemned, and he successfully defended the truth concerning the Mother of God and our Savior in His twofold nature of God and Man. He died in 444.

Today was another beautiful day, and both John and I are starting to feel healthy again, so we decided to take a walk. As much a we miss Michigan, it's nice to be able to see the sun between November and March! Today we took a path we have not been on before, up the hill behind the Kartause, and behind the wall that was built to protect it from the Turks. We were able to take some of our first decent pictures of the Kartause thus far. A brewery is being built in the Kartause restaurant, and there is a huge crane uglifying (John's word, Daddy, please don't yell at me) the sky-line. However we were able to work around it from behind. Maybe before we leave we will have a decent shot of the front, although we're not holding our breath.

08 February 2008

St. John of Matha, Confessor

With St. Felix of Valois, St. John founded the Order of the Trinitarians for the ransoming of captives who had fallen into the hands of the Mohammedans. He died in 1213.

I just finished reading the book of Genesis for my class on the Pentateuch. Being interested in historical chronologies I decided to investigate the dates given in Genesis from the standpoint of faith in the inerrancy of the holy writings. The question is how to interpret them. Ussher's famous attempt, in which he posits 4,004 B.C. as the creation of the world, ends up in a tangle of difficulties. The difficulty is knowing what to do with the formulaic geneologies found in Genesis, as for example the following:

"When Enosh had lived ninety years, he became the father of Kenan. Enosh lived after the birth of Kenan eight hundred and fifteen years, and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were nine hundred and five years; and he died" (Gen. 5:9-11).

Ussher attempted to read this as meaning that Kenan was literally the son of Enosh, a plausible interpretation at first sight. However, this results is absurdities all along the way - just one example is that he trims Israel's time in Egypt to 200 years and something whereas Exodus 12:40 states that Israel dwelt in Egypt for 430 years to the day.

Another approach, however, that I happened across in reading Robert Sungenis, is looking at examples like the above in the following way: when Enosh was 90 he fathered the man who was to become the anscestor of Kenan - who was born himself in the same year that Enosh died. This is certainly a possible interpretation as the word "begat" can refer to sons and descendants at further remove. Exceptions are found where the text states specifically that the father named his son, as Adam named his son Seth, and Seth named his son Enosh. These, then, are literal father-son relationships.

Following this line of interpretation I came up with the following as the historical timeline of Gensis. Dates will be from the creation of the world, along the lines of the Roman ab urbe condita. Enjoy!

1: Ceation of the World
130: birth of Seth
235: birth of Enosh
930: death of Adam
1042: death of Seth
1140: death of Enosh / birth of Kenan
2050: death of Kenan / birth of Mahalalel
2945: death of Mahalalel / birth of Jared
3907: death of Jared / birth of Enoch
4272: translation of Enoch / birth of Methuselah
5241: death of Methuselah / birth of Lamech
5423: birth of Noah
5925: birth of Shem
6018: death of Lamech (Noah's father)

6023: The Great Flood
6373: death of Noah
6525: death of Shem / birth of Arpachshad
6963: death of Arpachshad / birth of Shelah
7396: death of Shelah / birth of Eber
7860: death of Eber / birth of Peleg
8099: death of Peleg / birth of Reu
8338: death of Reu / birth of Serug
8568: death of Serug / birth of Nahor
8716: death of Nahor / birth of Terah
8786: birth of Abraham (this is uncertain because Gen. 11:27 says only that "when Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran." I therefore take Terah to be seventy years old at the birth of Abraham.)
8797: birth of Sarah

8861: Abraham departs from Haran

8872: birth of Ishmael
8885: Covenant of circumcision
8886: birth of Isaac
8921: death of Terah (Abraham's father)
8924: death of Sarah
8926: Marriage of Isaac and Rebekah
8946: birth of Esau and Jacob
8961: death of Abraham
9009: death of Ishmael
9037: birth of Joseph
9054: Joseph sold into slavery
9066: death of Isaac
9067: Joseph becomes steward of Egypt
9076: Jacob goes into Egypt (this is uncertain - the text says that it was the second year of the famine when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. Following this Jacob comes to Egypt and at least two years of famine remain. I therefore take Jacob to have entered Egypt in the second year of the famine.)
9093: death of Jacob
9147: death of Joseph

This would put the Exodus by the way at 9506 - four hundred and thirty years after Jacob's entry into Egypt. If we accept the consensus of historians that the Exodus took place around 1,500 B.C. we can work that back into our timeline and see that Abraham lived about 2,000 B.C., the Flood was about 5,000 B.C. and the creation of the world occured about 11,000 B.C.

07 February 2008

St. Romuald, Abbot

St. Romuald founded the Order of Camaldoli, one of the branches of the Benedictine Order, in which the eremitical life is united with the cenobitical. He died at the age of 120 in 1027.

Today Maria learned how to spin around like a ballerina, and march like a soldier. She's added these to her tricks of waddling like a penguin, hopping like a kangaroo, and trumpeting like an elephant (in addition to making countless animal noises).

06 February 2008

Ash Wednesday

tempus fugit memento mori

Ash Wednesday is from a liturgical point of view one of the most important days of the year. In the first place this day opens the liturgical season of Lent, which formerly began with the First Sunday and comprised only thirty-six days. The addition of Wednesday and the three following days brought the number to forty, which is that of our Lord's fast in the desert.

In the Old Law ashes were generally a symbolic expression of grief, mourning, or repentance. In the Early Church the use of ashes had a like signification and with sackcloth formed part of the public penances. The blessing of the ashes is one of the great liturgical rites of the year. It was originally instituted for public penitents, but is now intended for all Christians, as Lent should be a time of penance for all. The ashes used this day are obtained by burning palms of the previous year. They are blessed by four ancient prayers, sprinkled with holy water and incensed, and then placed in the form of a cross on the foreheads of each of the faithful with the words: "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return."

Appropriately enough, I guess, we are all sick here in Gaming (things spread easily here). Maria got it first and is pretty well recovered, but Lisa and I are still struggling. I suppose this makes it easier to meditate on one's mortality though. We created a playlist of lenten music consisting in:

The Lamentations of Jeremiah
~Tenebrae for Holy Thursday - First Lesson (Lamentations 1:1-5)
~Tenebrae for Holy Thursday - Second Lesson (Lamentations 1:6-9)
~Tenebrae for Holy Thursday - Third Lesson (Lamentations 1:10-14)
~Lamentations for Holy Saturday (Palestrina)

Gregorian Chant for Good Friday
~Tract: Domine, audivi
~Gradual: Christus factus est
~Gospel: Passio Domini (this one is over 30 minutes long!)
~Adoration of the Cross: Ecce lignum crucis
~Reproaches: Popule meus
~Hymn: Crux fidelis

Various Hymns
~Attende Domini
~O Sacred Head Surrounded
~Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.

Handel's Messiah Part II, 1-10
~Behold the Lamb of God (John 1:29)
~He was despised (Isaiah 53:3)
~Surely He hath borne our griefs (Isaiah 53:4,5a)
~And with His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5b)
~All we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6)
~All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn (Psalm 22:7)
~He trusted in God (Psalm 22:8; Matthew 27:43)
~Thy rebuke hath broken His heart (Psalm 69:20)
~Behold, and see if there be any sorrow (Lamentations 1:12)
~He was cut off out of the land of the living (Isaiah 53:8b)

~The Good Friday Reproaches (again, but this time in English)

05 February 2008

St. Agatha, Virgin and Martyr (Shrove Tuesday)

Born in Sicily of noble parents, St. Agatha suffered dreadful torture at the hands of her persecutors, but she was healed on the following night by St. Peter in a vision. Other sufferings were inflicted upon her, and from these she died in 254.

Maria is quite a little girl! First of all, she is very particular about what she wears. The t-shirt she is wearing in these pictures is her absolute favorite. Often, when she is not wearing it and Lisa has not snuck it away to the laundry, she wants to take it to bed with her. Today, she refused to wear pants.

She also loves to cook. Whenever Lisa is in the kitchen making dinner, Maria has to make dinner for her animals. Of course, she is very generous and always lets mommy and daddy have a taste (or many, many tastes, "mmmmm").

Another Great Tidbit about Another Favorite Saint

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, O.F.M. Cap.

Padre Pio was ordained priest (Capuchin) on August 10, 1910. He received visible stigmata on September 20, 1918. The Vatican suspended him for a time and issued five decrees against him. From 1931 to 1933 he was not allowed to celebrate Mass publicly or to hear confessions. Pope Pius XI said that he had been "badly misinformed" about Padre Pio.

Even before the end of the Council, in February 1965, someone announced to him that soon he would have to celebrate the Mass according to a new rite, ad experimentum, in the vernacular, which had been devised by a conciliar liturgical commission in order to respond to the aspirations of modern man. Immediately, even before seeing the text, he wrote to Paul VI to ask him to be dispensed from the liturgical experiment, and to be able to continue to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V. When Cardinal Bacci came to see him in order to bring the authorization, Padre Pio let a complaint escape in the presence of the Pope's messenger: "For pity sake, end the Council quickly" (Rev. Fr. Jean, O.F.M., Cap., "Padre Pio," apud Angelus, May 1999, p. 31).

04 February 2008

St. Andrew Corsini, Bishop and Confessor

St. Andrew, in his youth, led a dissolute life. Through the unceasing prayers and supplications of his mother, he was converted, became a famous Carmelite friar and was raised later to the dignity of Bishop of Fiesole. He died in 1373.

A Brilliant Quote from a Favorite Saint

The words of St. Edmund Campion to Queen Elizabeth and his judges upon being condemned to death:

"It was not our death that ever we feared. But we knew that we were not lords of our own lives, and therefore for want of answer would not be guilty of our deaths. The only thing that we have now to say is, that if our religion do make us traitors, we are worthy to be condemned; but otherwise are, and have been, as good subjects as ever the Queen had. In condemning us you condemn all your own ancestors - all the ancient priests, bishops and kings - all that was once the glory of England, the island of Saints, and the most devoted child of the See of Peter. For what have we taught, however you may qualify it with the odious name of treason, that they did not uniformly teach? To be condemned with these lights - not of England only, but of the world - by their degenerate descendants, is both gladness and glory to us."

This puts one in mind of a common traditionalist Catholic motto:

We are what you once were.
We believe what you once believed.
We worship as you once worshipped.
If you were right then, we are right now.
If we are wrong now, you were wrong then.

03 February 2008

Quinquagesima Sunday

It is Jesus Who, by the merits of His Passion, is to open the eyes of man as He did those of the blind man of Jericho, and deliver him alike from the bondage of sin and error.

Today we had lunch with a family here, the Labanics - Fr. Tomas is a Byzantine priest who is working on his doctorate: Theology of the Chapel, his wife Viera, and their two daughters, Paulina (3) and Clara (1 1/2). Maria plays very well with Paulina and Clara, and Viera and I try to get the girls together to play once a week (in addition to playing at Liturgy). They are from Slovakia, and Fr. Tomas painted the icons in the Byzantine Chapel.

02 February 2008

The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Candlemas)

The Feast of Candlemas, which derives its origin from the local observance of Jerusalem, marks the end of the feasts included in the Christmas cycle of the Liturgy. It is perhaps the most ancient festival of our Lady. It commemorates not only the obedience of the Blessed Virgin to the Mosaic Law in going to Jerusalem forty days after the birth of her Child and making the accustomed offerings, but also the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, and the meeting of the Infant Jesus with the old man Simeon - the Occursus Domini, as the feast was anciently termed. This is the principal theme of the liturgy on this day: Jesus is taken to the Temple "to present Him to the Lord." So the Lord comes to His Temple, and is met by the aged Simeon with joy and recognition.

The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western Liturgy. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, precedes the Mass today - a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: our Lord is the "Light for the revelation of the Gentiles." The anthems sung during this procession, eastern in origin, will express the joy and gladness of this happy festival, and the honor and praise we give to our Blessed Lady and her Divine Son by its devout observance.

Reading paragraphs like the above always makes me sad, and also a bit angry, at having been deprived of such beautiful parts of our common Catholic patrimony. God willing though Maria will grow up in a different era of the Church, one in which such things are allowed to flourish once more. The Christmas tree and other decorations came down in the Byzantine chapel this morning after Divine Liturgy. And Lisa produced some fine examples of traditional European Candlemas Day fare: crêpes (with Nutella inside - I don't know how traditional that is, but we discovered it in Orvieto and loved it).

We had dinner with a few friends in the Kartause - chicken soup, salad, and Lisa's carrot cake. Above is Maria (with Petrus at her feet) just before we headed out the door.