30 November 2008

C. S. Lewis on Modern Biblical Criticism

I was delighted recently to be assigned an essay by C. S. Lewis for my class on Scripture and its interpretation. The essay was originally called "Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism," although now it seems that it inexplicably goes under the title "Fern-Seed and Elephants." Thanks to my father-in-law it's an essay that I've read before, yet it certainly bears re-reading. It even merited a mention by Card. Ratzinger in his famous 1988 Erasmus lecture entitled "Biblical Interpretation in Conflict."

In the essay, Lewis makes four points against the (still) prevailing methods of historical-criticism:

1. "They seem to me to lack literary judgment... If he tells me that something in a Gospel is legend or romance, I want to know how many legends and romances he has read, how well his palate is trained in detecting them by the flavor; not how many years he has spent on that Gospel."

2. "The idea that any man or writer should be opaque to those who lived in the same culture, spoke the same language, shared the same habitual imagery and unconscious assumptions, and yet be transparent to those who have none of these advantages, is in my opinion preposterous. There is an a priori improbability in it which almost no argument and no evidence could counterbalance."

3. "I find in these theologians a constant use of the principle that the miraculous does not occur... Now I do not here want to discuss whether the miraculous is possible. I only want to point out that this is a purely philosophical question. Scholars, as scholars, speak on it with no more authority than anyone else."

4. "All this sort of criticism attempts to reconstruct the genesis of the texts it studies; what vanished documents each author used, when and where he wrote, with what purposes, under what influences - the whole Sitz im Leben of the text... My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of these guesses [made by reviewers in regard to Lewis's own writings] has on any one point been right; that the method shows a record of 100 per cent failure. You would expect that by mere chance they would hit as often as they miss. But it is my impression that they do no such thing. I can't remember a single hit. But as I have not kept a careful record my mere impression may be mistaken. What I think I can say with certainty is that they are usually wrong."

First Sunday of Advent

This first Sunday of Advent or the fourth before Christmas, is the first day of the Liturgical Year. The Mass prepares us this day for the double coming (adventus) of mercy and justice. That is way St. Paul tells us, in the Epistle, to cast off sin in order that, being ready for the coming of Christ as our Savior, we may also be ready for His coming as our Judge, of which we learn in the Gospel. Let us prepare ourselves, by pious aspirations and by the reformation of our lives, for this twofold coming. Jesus our Lord will reward those who yearn for Him and await Him: "Those who trust in Him shall not be confounded."

St. Andrew, Apostle (II Class)
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.

Today was spent recovering from last night's dinner, as well as in the enjoyment of the First Sunday of Advent. After Divine Liturgy, the ladies prepared a nice brunch at home while I brought in the tree and worked on setting it up.

You would not believe how much easier it is to set a tree up when you have one of those tree stands with screws that go into the sides of the trunk. Finding such a thing was quite an exciting development this year! After Maria and I took a long nap this afternoon, we decorated it with a simple purple ribbon (barely to be seen in the picture).

29 November 2008

An International Thanksgiving Dinner - American Style

Since we had to attend a lecture on Thursday evening, we moved our Thanksgiving feast to Saturday. Everybody spent all day cooking: Lisa made a turkey (her first!) and stuffing, and Katie made homemade green bean casserole and applesauce. Everybody then brought the food they had made into the beautiful baroque library in the Kartause.

The food was excellent! It was exactly what Thanksgiving dinner should be. We filled our plates a couple of times with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, bread, etc. Maria especially enjoyed the potatoes. Dessert had more of an international flavor, although it was not lacking in pumpkin and apple pies.

Happy Thanksgiving!

After dinner, we were entertained by music from all different cultures. Above is Katie playing her violin while the kids dance all around her. She kept playing even when little Eli was hanging on her right arm. We took a fair amount of pictures of the evening, which are now in an online album.

27 November 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving day. We, unfortunately, had a full day of classes, right up until 6:00, and then a mandatory lecture from 7:30 to 10:00 in the evening. So, needless to say, we had no Thanksgiving dinner. Very sad. Maria, however, cooked herself a nice Thanksgiving dinner on the window ledge - you can see that she is very thankful for all God's blessings.

In between our last class of the day and the lecture, we did squeeze in a quick dinner: meat loaf and mashed potatoes, followed by an apple dumpling with vanilla ice cream for Maria. The rest of us broke into the apple pie after the lecture.

Speaking of this lecture - it was the first one of the semester, unlike last year when they seemed to occur almost every other week - it was rather interesting. The speaker was the head of some institute for marriage and family. It's the group that organized the demonstration in front of parliament in September that we took part in. Anyways, his ideas for improving conditions for family life here are these: (1) lower the voting age to 0; (2) give pensions to children. In regards to the first, his idea is that parents can exercise their children's voting rights up to a certain age - I think it is 16 here - thus giving the most voting power to those with the biggest families. In regards to the second, his idea is that it is simply unjust to give 22% to retired people (who are not earning money, yet need to eat) and only 4% to children (who are not earning money, yet need to eat). Very interesting.

26 November 2008

St. Sylvester

Abbot (III Class)
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.

Sad to say, it seems that tomorrow morning's Traditional Latin Low Mass has been cancelled in the interest of having everybody attend the same Mass for a community celebration (FUS style) of Thanksgiving. Ah, well...

The domestic news of the day regards Maria's efforts at toilet training: I encountered an epic disaster when I arrived home this evening. We can just say that after many paper towels, wetwipes, and tears (not Maria's), everything was taken care of and we sat down for a nice dinner.

25 November 2008

St. Catherine of Alexandria

Virgin, Martyr (III Class)
St. Catherine, an illustrious virgin of Alexandria in Egypt, was famous for her learning. The emperor Maximian assembled learned men to bring her to the worship of idols, but they were converted to Christianity. Maximian then ordered her to be beheaded after many cruel torments in 305.

Katie turned in her first paper today! It dealt with Plato's dialogues, and touched upon, among other things, arguments for the immortality of the soul.

24 November 2008

St. John of the Cross

Confessor, Doctor of the Church (III Class)
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.

Well, the paper on faith is almost done at long last. I should be able to turn it in tomorrow, and then take a break for a few days before starting in on my last writing assignment of the semester: a 7 page biblical exegesis of a text of Matthew's Gospel.

Maria, by the way, has made immense progress in learning how to use the toilet. We've been going through quite a lot of gummy bears these last few days. She's getting to be quite the big girl.

23 November 2008

Last Sunday after Pentecost

St. Clement I, Pope, Martyr (III Class)
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.

In the Novus Ordo calendar today is the Feast of Christ the King. We actually celebrated this great feast day already some time ago, when we were in Lourdes as a matter of fact. The feast was originally ordered for the Last Sunday of October. The Encyclical Letter Quas Primas (1925), of Pope Pius XI, by which he instituted the feast day, is a great read and not very long.

: there is a plenary indulgence available today in connection with this Feast. The indulgenced work is the pious, public recitation of the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus composed by His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII. All of the usual conditions, of course, must also be met: (1) Communion, (2) Confession, (3) Prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father, (4) freedom from attachment to all sin, even venial.

My never-ending quest for a good German grammar book may have come to an end. I just ordered this book at the recommendation of one of my classmates here, and I have high hopes, but we'll have to wait and see what it is like when it arrives. Many thanks, by the way, to my generous parents in-law for the Amazon gift card which fueled the purchase. The title is: German Quickly: A Grammar for Reading German by April Wilson.

22 November 2008

St. Cecilia

Virgin, Martyr (III Class)
St. Cecilia, of an illustrious Roman family, converted her husband, Valerianus, and her brother-in-law, Tiburtius, preserved her virginity, and was beheaded during the pontificate of St. Urban I in 230.

When we awoke this morning there was a fresh layer of snow! At least a couple of inches were on the ground, and more fell during the day. It was our first snow of the year, and Maria had a great time playing in it, but even more fun eating it! Here she is all bundled up:

Later this evening, just before heading off to the Kartause to watch the big game:

Final score: Ohio State 42. Michigan 7. Ouch.

21 November 2008

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

(III Class)
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?

Today was bar none the nastiest weather we've seen this semester. You may or may not have noticed that we haven't complained much about the weather since our first few weeks here when it was raining non-stop. It really has been quite pleasant on the whole since then, really quite beautiful actually. Today though, it was raining hard when it should have been snowing. I mean half a degree colder and it would have been snow. Miserable. Now, however, it has finally turned to snow, and it's coming down pretty hard. We'll see if it amounts to anything in the morning, but it looks like it has a chance.

Dialogue concerning the Atonement

Dear Mark,

Very thought provoking, keep it coming.
Your comments will be in the normal font, and mine in bold.

First, regarding the thought experiment that you present. It seems like forgiveness could be involved in either option or not [where is the forgiveness if you kick me back?]; the disjunction is not that sharp. If you wrong me grievously by kicking my shins, it seems that justice demands that both I am revenged on you [clearly not, unless God is unjust for not sending us all to hell] and you pay reparation to me. Now maybe both are accomplished by you washing my car (it needs it) but maybe not. Every evil requires vengeance or punishment, which is penal. But as I say, your one act of washing my car may make reparation and as you say, still involve that penal aspect. [Washing the car, that is, making satisfaction, does involve something penal; but this is still fundamentally different from revenge. It comes down to this: justice may be restored by the sinner offering something sufficiently good to the offended, or by the offended inflicting evil on the sinner.]

In the case of the relationship between God and man, it seems that sin, at least original sin, merits the eternal punishment of damnation [exactly]. Yet God accepts the sacrifice of Christ as satisfaction for our sins [true]: those who become members of Christ, that is, who participate in Him and in His Passion through Baptism, no longer have to undergo this punishment [right; and neither does Christ. So, what has happened to: "justice demands vengeance"? Is God unjust?].

They do have to undergo the punishment of purgative suffering, however. [Yes, they do. God, in His Wisdom, seems to want our cooperation in our salvation. Sin entails both temporal and eternal punishment; once the sin is forgiven, eternal punishment is out of the question – once again I question how forgiveness remains when the full punishment is inflicted – but temporal punishment remains. Now, for those forgiven of their sins, there is a direct correspondance between the amount of satisfaction they make for their sins through penitential works on earth and the amount of punishment that will be inflicted upon them in purgatory. Making satisfaction = not being punished]. Now it is clear that Christ does not undergo eternal damnation (your point 3). So somehow Christ's sacrifice is sufficient for His members not having to undergo the punishment that they justly deserve for sin.

Here is what I would accept about the situation from what you have said: Christ freely offers Himself to the Father. He does this in obedience to the Father. In doing so, He takes upon Himself the deepest level of human suffering [This last depends very much on what you mean. When discussing the fact that Christ endured maximal pain, St. Thomas is very careful to say that this refers to maximal pain in this life: "The pain suffered by a separated soul belongs to a state of future damnation which exceeds every evil in this life, as the glory of the saints exceeds every good of our present existence. When we speak of Christ’s pain as being maximal, we exclude all comparisons with the pain endured by a soul in the next life" (S.Th. IIIa, 46, 6, ad 3)]. He does this so as to offer perfect worship to the Father, to reveal the glory of the self-donative love of the Trinity in a fallen world, to give us a perfect model of charity. He also does this so as to repay the debt which we owe to the Father, but not just repay it but overpay it, so to speak, that He might have an abundance of grace to pour out upon us [also true; it is at least the common opinion (Sent. communis) that Christ’s atonement is superabundant, that is, the positive value of the expiation is greater than the negative value of the sin. Actually, come to think of it, your point about the superabundance of Christ's satisfaction strikes me as an argument in my favor. Pope Clement VI declared that one drop of blood would have sufficed for the redemption of the whole human race on account of its infinite preciousness (is that a word?). Tradition says that the suffering on the Cross was more than enough; it seems to me that von Balthasar wants to say that it wasn't enough - now Holy Saturday must also be a day of suffering, in fact, of even greater suffering than good Friday. If this is the peak of Christ's redemptive work - his alienation from God in hell - why the stress upon the Cross, and specifically upon His Blood in the Bible and the Tradition?]. He furthermore does this so as to reveal His love for us, to be in total solidarity with us in our every suffering [just curious, but this seems like a premise to me, more than a conclusion – a premise which leads to the conclusion that Christ suffered the pains of damnation – and I wonder upon what is this premise based. It strikes me as unnecessarily assumed], even to the point of descending into death and hell [Christ's descent to hell has always been interpreted as a descent to the limbo of the fathers in order to lead them forth – never as a continuation of his suffering, at least until the modern era. His work of redemption was "finished" on the sixth day (Friday) – on the seventh day he rested]. St. Thomas argues that Christ descends into hell to shame the damned, but I think that there is something to what Balthasar says: He goes into hell so that even there His compassion has been manifested, so that no one can say that God was not there for him. [I’m not sure what that means]

So Christ repays our debt freely as a gift—on this we can agree. But this can lead to some problematic results [It shouldn't. It is one, undoubtably true premise. Problematic results could only occur throught the addition of false premises, or through faulty reasoning]. Our debt involves the punishment of suffering, death, and hell, and Christ takes these on Himself (though not so as to go to hell eternally [well, then, does he or doesn’t he take upon him our punishment? I don’t think you can have it both ways.]). Christ is innocent, yet the Father commands Him to suffer and He obeys—is this just of God to do (your point 1)? Christ is not fallen—so how can He pay our debt? How would it be just? For it is not qua human but qua fallen that we need to pay a debt in the first place. And the Fathers pointed out that "that which is not assumed is not redeemed" and Christ did not assume our fallenness. This seems to be an objection to the whole legal justice model that has to be met. [I don’t see the difficulty here – Christ’s innocence (and divinity) is precisely that which allows him to make such a valuable offering to God, and He makes this offering qua human, not just as a man, but as the definitive and last man, as the new Adam, who takes all of humanity up into himself; indeed, this is exactly why we must be incorporated into His body (the Catholic Church) in order to receive the fruits of the redemption. The “debt” cannot be paid by an innocent man if it is understood as the obligation to undergo punishment; it can be “paid” an innocent (representative) man if it is understood as the obligation to make reparation. If my brother breaks your car’s windows, it would be unjust for you to punish me, but it would be perfectly fine for me to pay for your window to be fixed. Re: the Eastern Fathers, and the "not assumed, not redeemed", it is not our "fallenness" that needs to be redeemed it is our nature, our race. This, at least, was clearly what they who said it meant by it. In fine, I see the points you make as an objection to penal substitution specifically, rather than to considerations of justice in general.]


Regarding Christ’s alienation from God, I think this is to be understood on an experiential or phenomenological level, not on the level of the actual principles involved. So there is no divide in the Trinity. [What does it mean to experience something that is not true/real? If Christ is not separated from God (remember: He is God), how can He experience this?] Rather, Christ willingly takes on all of our sufferings [I admit only maximal suffering in this life], including the experience of alienation from God [this is the suffering of the damned – this is the necessary conclusion of the penal substitution theory, which is precisely why I think that theory so woefully errant]. This does not preclude that He is actually close to God at the moment of his cry on the Cross. But we could tell the story this way: in the immanent Trinity, the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father involves the total self-donation of each to the other and thus their union. But when the Son becomes man in a fallen world, this total self-donation is experienced in terms of all the uncertainties and divisions that come with our fallen world. Coupled with His choice to experience all of our sufferings [again, only temporal sufferings], this means that the Son, in pouring Himself out to the Father on behalf of humanity reveals the glory of the Trinity (that is, the self-donative, self-emptying love of the Godhead) but this is experienced, in virtue of His humanity, in terms of uncertainty and loneliness. Thus it seems to me that both Balthasar and Ratzinger could be correct to a certain degree. [In regards to the story just told, I think that I can only admit that I don’t speak fluent von Balthasar. What does it all mean? I’m not really sure what you mean especially by kenosis within the Trinity. I’m aware of this word only in Phil. 2. Do you really think that Christ experienced uncertainty? What about the experience of the Beatific Vision that was his from conception unto eternity?]

It seems to me that we must take seriously the fact that our experience of alienation from God is the deepest source of suffering, and thus a 'place' that Christ must go if He is really to be 'God With Us' [I don’t see why. He is "God with us" in everything but sin.]; we must also take seriously the fact that the Son and the Father are one [I think that this actually has to be taken way more seriously than the previous point, since it is the Primary Dogma of the Catholic Faith, whereas the assertion that "God must experience alienation from God in order to be with us" could only be, if granted, a conclusion at some remove from the articles of faith. Theology works from the top downwards – soteriology is to be understood in terms of Christology, not vice versa]. An objection that you could make is that Christ is not fallen and so has no way of having this experience, but I think that this lodges you in the same difficulty I raised earlier about the justice model to begin with [I disagree, but I wrote a few inadequate words there, so I won’t repeat myself]. Part of the merit that Christ earns is that He suffers through this alienation, which is indeed arduous for Him on an experiential level in virtue of His humanity, still trusting in the Father. By taking this on Himself He both fully allows humanity to be assimilated to Himself and offers the perfect and total sacrifice of Himself in a fallen world as a man, and thus reveals to us the sacrifice of Himself which He eternally makes to the Father in His self-donative love in the immanent Trinity.

I look forward to hearing from you re: the weak points in all that I said, and re: which concerns of yours you think that I failed to address.

P.S. I see you've entered a new comment.

It seems to me that the hierarchical notion of truth is a good one, but the Trinity is, to say the least, difficult to understand. All of our understanding is in the form of analogies and metaphors. Thus it seems that it is possible that different models of the Trinity can be correct and thus perhaps different models of the Redemption. It seems to me that there are various paradoxes or aporias involved here, as I mentioned in the above post, and involving various Bible quotes. I'm not sure that there is a "one size fits all" interpretation of them, and it seems that we need to respect these difficulties and not just try to explain them away.

Just two things: (1) I agree that the Trinity (as well as the Hypostatic Union) is difficult to understand. In fact, that's precisely why I favor an interpretation of the atonement based upon this understanding of the Trinity: "The three Persons of the holy Trinity are one in being and yet really distinct in their relations of origin." And for Christology I take this: "Christ is one person in two natures unmixed, untransformed, undivided, unseparated."
What "self-donation" and kenosis mean in the inner life of the Trinity, and how these would be mirrored in the human life and actions of Christ, are far less certain.

(2) The only thing that I am trying to "explain away" is the theory of penal substitution. If it contradicts firmly clearly truths about the Trinity and/or Christ Himself, then its problems must be "explained" so as to make it go "away." If there is something that you think I'm inappropriately explaining away, I'd like to know, but maybe I'd need to hear more specificly what you don't want "away".


20 November 2008

St. Felix of Valois

Confessor (III Class)
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.

Joyous news: this morning at 7:00 was offered for the first time this semester the traditional Latin Low Mass. One of the priests here, never having said or even seen a traditional Latin Mass before, generously agreed to learn how to offer it at our request. This morning was his very first time, and he did a fine job. About a dozen of us were present - enough to completely fill up the small upper chapel, which still has an altar against the East wall. Everything looks promising that this will be a regular Thursday morning offering. Deo gratias!

(Statue of Ss. Felix of Valois and John of Matha on the Charles Bridge, Prague)

19 November 2008

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Widow (III Class)
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.

18 November 2008

The Dedication of the Basilicas of Ss. Peter and Paul

(III Class)
The two Basilicas, of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill and of St. Paul without the Walls, on the Ostian Way, were erected by Constantine on the site of the martyrdom of these Apostles. They were consecrated by St. Sylvester I on November 18, 325.

Maria likes very much to read her W├Ârterbilderbuch.

17 November 2008

St. Gregory the Wonderworker

Bishop, Confessor (III Class)
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.

I just performed an interesting thought exercise. Part of Year IV studies here involves taking a thesis writing tutorial class. The Prof. has been pushing us pretty hard to develop some ideas of what we will write about next year. Tomorrow's assignment: turn in a two page proposal in which you lay out the main lines of your thesis. So, (almost) completely off the cuff, here is what I'm thinking to write about:


The doctrine of the atonement merits close attention for two reasons, one speculative, the other practical. Firstly, the sacrifice of Christ upon the altar of the Cross is at the very center of Revelation and therefore also of theology, and yet the inner working, so to speak, of the atonement remains open to speculation. Secondly, it has great practical consequences: the doctrine of the atonement stands at the heart of the sacred Liturgy, which shapes to a great degree the faith and therefore also the lives of those who participate in it.

The traditional Catholic theory of the atonement was first formulated by St. Anselm (d. 1109). Its basic lines are these: Christ offers to the Father, in the place of sinful mankind, an infinite satisfaction. The value of his sacrifice more than counter-balances the offense of sin. With the order of justice thus restored, and the Father’s wrath appeased, God is pleased to forgive man his sins. Classical Protestantism retained much of the Catholic understanding of the atonement, but with the mistaken tendency to treat Christ’s sacrifice as a case of penal substitution, i.e., as if Christ’s death were a case of our just punishment being reassigned to him – God’s just anger redirected at him. In the modern era this notion of penal substitution has increasingly crept into Catholic theology, especially in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Ratzinger’s theology of the atonement is especially interesting along the same two lines outlined above. In regards to speculation upon the atonement, Ratzinger makes an excellent contribution to the discussion through the example of his hierarchical method, wherein he allows his soteriology to be shaped and guided by Christology, as also through his development of a line of thought taken from Romano Guardini that seeks to understand Christ’s “suffering through” evil as a process of healing mankind’s guilt from within. Secondly, in regards to the practical importance of the doctrine of the atonement, Ratzinger expresses both the importance of the liturgy in shaping the faith and therefore also the lives of the faithful, and the importance of the doctrine of the atonement in shaping one’s approach to the liturgy.

The main lines along which my thesis will develop are these: first, a consideration of the practical importance of the doctrine of the atonement according to the axiom lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. Second, a discussion of the method employed (rightly) by Ratzinger in interpreting Christ’s sacrifice. His method, in brief, is to respect the hierarchy of truths: he allows his soteriology to be illumined by Christology, which is illumined in turn by the mystery of the Trinity. Third, then, it will be necessary to turn to the basic datum of Christology that Ratzinger applies to his soteriological speculation, i.e., that Christ is the Son of the Father: an obvious statement with great implications for the doctrine of the atonement.

My fourth task will then be to turn to Ratzinger’s theology of the atonement itself: and in this regard he offers a negative critique of “mechanistic” theories of the atonement (here it will be necessary to counter objections put forward by proponents of the penal substitution theory in regards to Christ’s “cup” of suffering, his cry from the Cross, and especially his descent into hell), positing instead that Christ’s death is a great transformation of death into love. It is here that Ratzinger develops his favorite theme of “suffering through” evil and sin, for if Christ’s suffering is not part of some mechanized legal process in which he is punished for our sins, then why the intensity of his suffering? Ratzinger’s answer is that suffering is simply the form that love takes in a broken world; it is a necessary part of the process of healing guilt from within.

Fifthly, I will be to take stock of Ratzinger’s theology of the atonement within the wider field of Catholic tradition: his interpretation of Christ’s death as essentially an act of love (rather than punishment) fits easily into St. Thomas’ doctrine of the fourfold salvific causality of Christ’s Passion (by way of sacrifice, satisfaction, redemption, and merit). His emphasis on love, however, over and against St. Anselm’s emphasis on justice, must in turn be counter-balanced by the latter. In conclusion, I propose to return to the practical importance of the question of the atonement to see what connections can be drawn between Ratzinger’s soteriology and liturgical theology.

Table of Contents
Introduction: The Importance of the Doctrine of the Atonement
Chapter 1: Hierarchical Theology
Chapter 2: Ratzinger’s Christology
Chapter 3: Ratzinger’s Soteriology
Chapter 4: The Balance between Love and Justice
Conclusion: Liturgical Implications

16 November 2008

27th Sunday after Pentecost

St. Gertrude, Virgin (III Class)
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.

15 November 2008

St. Albert the Great

Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church (III Class)
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.

Happy 25th Birthday, John!

We began the celebrations yesterday. I had a doctor's appointment in a town about 30 minutes away, where there is also a large shopping center. John picked up several new, fun kinds of beer. Last night after dinner he opened his presents, which was a tradition the Joys started for John when he was young. Because John could not decide if he wanted beer food or wine food for dinner, we had spicy chicken wings for lunch with his beer, and wine, cheese and hors d'oeuvres for dinner with three friends, with carrot cake and ice-cream for dessert. I was going to take pictures of the festivities, but the conversation was so riveting I forgot. So this one will have to do, it was taken before we began dinner.

P.S. We opted not to find out if I'm having a boy or girl, but everything looks good so far.

14 November 2008

St. Josaphat

Bishop, Martyr (III Class)
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.

I finished reading this evening a delightful historical novel about St. Thomas Aquinas. It is by a man named Louis de Wohl, who has written an impressive number of historical novels about various saints and episodes in the history of the Church. Lisa has already finished The Last Crusader (about Don John of Austria and the battle of Lepanto), The Quiet Light (about St. Thomas Aquinas), The Citadel of God (about St. Benedict), The Glorious Folly (about St. Paul), and is now working on Lay Siege to Heaven (about St. Catherine of Siena).

Speaking of books, I also finished a few weeks ago Characters of the Inquisition by William Thomas Walsh, which succeeds quite admirably in refuting "the many lies about the Inquisition raised by the enemies of the Church." It's rather a shame that Torquemada hasn't been canonized.

Story for the Grandfathers

Yesterday Maria came up to me and told me that she wanted to sit on the windowsill so she could see when Grandpa Joy and Papou were coming (we have been telling her that her grandparents are all coming to visit this winter). I had to tell her that it would still be a little while before you came, and she looked at me with her big blue sad eyes and said, "Why? I miss them!" It was pretty heartbreaking, but I thought you would like to know that you are missed, and that she is really looking forward to your coming. I was able to cheer her up a little bit, by letting her color all over the wrapping paper covering the present she is giving to John tomorrow. She was also distracted by rehearsing "Happy Birthday, dear Daddy," and I haven't been able to get her to stop singing yet.

12 November 2008

St. Martin I

Pope, Martyr (III Class)
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.

Well, the airline tickets are booked, so it is official. Two friends and I are going to Milan for the Feast Day of St. Ambrose (7 Dec.) in order to hear the extremely rare Traditional Ambrosian Rite of Mass. It took months of watching the prices go up and down on Sky Europe's website, but we finally got the right price at the right time. We'll fly out of Vienna on Saturday the 6th at 3:00, and land in Milan around 4:30. On Sunday morning we'll hear Mass, and then have a little bit of the afternoon to walk around the city before getting on the 5:00 plane back to Vienna.

More exciting news: one of the priests here and I are going to begin learning the Tridentine Mass together: he, how to offer it; I, how to serve at the altar.

11 November 2008


St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, Confessor (III Class)
St. Martin, bishop of Tours in France, was at first a soldier, then a monk under the direction of St. Hilary. Famous through his boundless charity to the poor, he died in 397.

We discovered that there are all kinds of fun customs and traditions surrounding Martinmas, but we discovered them too late in the day to do anything. Ah, well. Next year we'll be prepared.

Of interest today was another lively discussion in my Scripture and Its Interpretation class. The text under discussion was this, from Pope Pius XII's Divino Afflante Spiritu:

"Hence with grave words did he [Leo XIII] proclaim that there is no error whatsoever if the sacred writer, speaking of things of the physical order "went by what sensibly appeared" as the Angelic Doctor says, speaking either "in figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science." For "the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately - the words are St. Augustine's - the Holy Spirit, Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things - that is the essential nature of the things of the universe - things in no way profitable to salvation"; which principle "will apply to cognate sciences, and especially to history," that is, by refuting, "in a somewhat similar way the fallacies of the adversaries and defending the historical truth of Sacred Scripture from their attacks"" (DAS 3).


"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"" (DAS 3).

How to put these two statements together was more or less the topic of our discussion in class this afternoon. Opinions were widely divergent. I have to say that I'm in favor of interpreting the former part of the paragraph in light of the latter, rather than conversely.

10 November 2008

St. Andrew Avellino

Confessor (III Class)
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.

In case anyone is interested, you can now read my lately finished Paper on Happiness. It is nothing more than a short summary (8 pages) of St. Thomas Aquinas' Treatise on Happiness found in questions 1-5 of the first part of the second part of his Summa Theologiae.

If you don't want to bother to read the whole thing, here is the short version: there is one last end or goal of human life, which every man aims for in each and every voluntary action, and this is generally called happiness (q. 1); happiness consists in God alone (q. 2), and it is essentially the vision of God's essence (q. 3); necessarily associated with happiness in some way are delight, comprehension, and rectitude of the will, as well as perfection of the body and the fellowship of friends (q. 4); and finally, happiness can be attained by man, but only from God (q. 5).

Please feel free to use the comment box to leave your comments, counter-arguments, etc. Enjoy!

09 November 2008

The Dedication of the Basilica of Our Savior

(II Class)
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.

Happiness is mine! I've finished the first of my papers this semester (on the topic of Happiness). It's been a good weekend, Cecilia Hendricks was here from Friday evening until this morning. She is a friend of Katie's who is spending the semester studying in Spain and decided to come out for a visit. Today was quite a nice Sunday. A handful of friends came over for brunch, I took a nap (Maria didn't) in the afternoon, and then after Vespers I got to work on my paper and finished it off.

The Lateran Basilica is pictured at the top of the sidebar, by the way.

08 November 2008

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.

06 November 2008

More Writing

Well, having received a longer extension for the paper on faith, I've switched my focus over to happiness, which I now have the weekend to complete.

On an unrelated note, a good friend of mine resolved a lingering question for me today. It seems that a Bishop upon whom episcopal consecration is bestowed by only one Bishop (rather than the regular three) is still validly ordained a Bishop. The question of one Bishop or three, in other words, touches only upon the issue of regularity, not validity.

05 November 2008

Happy Feast Day, Lisa!

In honor of the feast day of St. Elisabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist and Lisa's baptismal patronness, we walked down to the Kartausenkeller for ice cream after dinner. Maria was very cute. Her ice cream came out of the kitchen last, but she patiently refused to accept spoonfulls from our bowls preferring to wait for her own dish: "he's bringing one for me."

04 November 2008

St. Charles Borromeo

Bishop, Confessor (III Class)
St. Charles, Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, was one of the greatest and holiest prelates of the years when the great Council of Trent was being completed and its enactments put into execution. He reformed the clergy and renewed the spirit of the monasteries in his diocese. He died in 1584.

There occured in my class on Scripture interpretation a great debate over the authorship of the Gospels. Whatever the latest scholars and self-styled experts may say, it is the ancient and constant tradition of the Church that the authors are in fact the holy apostles Matthew and John, as also Mark (the disciple of St. Peter), and Luke (the disciple of St. Paul). The Church has furthermore declared in a magisterial statement which binds the consciences of the faithful that [update: what follows has been modified] this traditional understanding is to be regarded as certain. The order in which the Gospels were written (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) is also defended and re-asserted by the magisterium in the replies of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

Okay, I'm finished; just wanted to get that on the record...

Another update
: 4 years of Obama-nation are on their way! Here's to the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire...

03 November 2008

All Souls' Day

(I Class)
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.

This evening was full of more paper writing. I'm about 2/3 of the way through my paper on faith (due tomorrow), and then it's immediately on to a paper on happiness (due Friday).

: initially I had marked Nov. 2 as All Souls' Day, as it was in the Novus Ordo calendar, because we had actually attended a Novus Ordo Mass on that day. The traditional calendar, however, has the good sense to move this feast to Monday whenever Nov. 2 falls upon a Sunday.

02 November 2008

25th Sunday after Pentecost

We and a friend spent the day pleasantly in Vienna. By a combination of car and train, we made it to Vienna by 10:00 this morning in plenty of time to walk the half an hour or so to the Peterskirche in the city center to hear a Latin (Novus Ordo) Missa pro defunctis at 11:15. The Peterskirche is a beautiful, relatively small baroque Church that has been given into the care of Opus Dei.

After Mass we walked to the Naschmarkt hoping to find some fun food to eat, only to find it all closed up for Sunday. So we found a kebop stand and sat down next to the Opera House to eat a quick picnic lunch. After which Maria amused herself, as usual, by chasing the pigeons.

Then we crossed the street and went into the Sacher Cafe, so that Katie could have her first Sacher Torte in its original home. Since Lisa and I ate a Sacher Torte last year, we restricted ourselves to having hot drinks. I had a coffee (Viennese Melange) better than any I've had before anywhere. No kidding. Lisa had hot chocolate so that she could share something with Maria. Even the bathrooms in this Cafe are classy. Afterwards, we went back towards the Stephansdom to find a gelato stand that we like, and then just wandered about a bit: into a church of the Knights of Malta, which we had never noticed before, past the Hofburg Palace, into the church of St. Michael near the Hofburg (which holds the original relics of St. Blase, which are actually used in the blessings given on his feast day) and eventually back to the train station by 5:00 to head for home.

01 November 2008

The Feast of All Saints

(I Class)
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.

Don't forget that a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the poor souls in purgatory, is available each day from November 1st to 8th inclusive. To gain these indulgences for the holy souls, the usual three conditions apply:

1. Sacramental confession within a week or so of performing the indulgenced work (one confession suffices for the obtaining of many indulgences).

2. The reception of Holy Communion, preferably on the same day as the prescribed work (one Communion is necessary for each indulgence).

3. Prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (suggested: Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Gloria Patri), must be done each time on the day the indulgence is sought.

The prescribed work in this case is to visit a cemetery and to pray there for the holy souls in purgatory. My suggestion: Psalm 129 De profundis, and the prayer:

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

Requiescant in pace.