31 March 2009

Betsy is on her way

Aer Lingus Flight 122 departed Chicago at 6:50 PM local time, an should be arriving in Dublin at 8:30 AM local time, which is 9:30 our time - about 2 hours from now. We can't wait to see her in Vienna tomorrow!

29 March 2009

Passion Sunday

The royal banners forward go, * The Cross shines forth in mystic glow, * Where Life Himself our death endured * And by His death our life procured. * Where deep for us the spear was dyed, * Life's torrent rushing from His side, * To wash us in that precious flood, * Where mingled water flowed, and blood. * Fulfilled is all that David told * In true prophetic song of old, * To all the nations: God, saith he, * Hath reigned and triumphed from the Tree. * O Tree of beauty, Tree of light, * O Tree with royal purple dight, * Elect on whose triumphal breast * Those holy limbs should find their rest. * On whose dear arms, so widely flung, * The weight of this world's ransom hung, * The price of human kind to pay, * And spoil the spoiler of his prey. * O Cross, our one reliance, hail! * This holy Passiontide avail * To give new virtue to the saint * And pardon to the penitent. * To Thee, eternal Three in One, * Let homage meet by all be done, * As by the Cross Thou dost restore, * So rule and guide us ever more. Amen.

The Vexilla Regis, the Vespers hymn for Passiontide, is one of my favorite's for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it always reminds me of the heroism of the Catholic peasents of the Vendee in France who fought the godless French Revolutionaries from 1793-1796, with this hymn as their battle song. Highly to be recommended in this regard is Warren Carroll's The Guillotine and the Cross in which he devotes an entire chapter to the uprising of the Catholics of the Vendee, as well as generally exposing the French Revolution to be as truly horrific (in its motivations, in its execution, and in its effects) an event as just about any other in history.

On another note, we were ridiculous enough to forget to set our clocks forward last night, and as a result were exactly one hour late for Divine Liturgy this morning. In other words, we missed it. On the bright side, however, we now have a necessary reason for making the 40 minute drive to Amstetten for their 6:00 pm Tridentine Mass. The Mass is offered by a priest of the Congregation Servi Jesu et Mariae (servants of Jesus and Mary). The founder of this little order, who only just died last year, was expelled from the Jesuits in the 1970s on account of his orthodoxy and so founded the SJM in 1988 to carry on the work of the traditional Jesuits in the spirit of St. Ignatius Loyola.

28 March 2009

Beautiful Day!

On Wednesday we were told that, according to the weather reports, today was supposed to be 64 degrees and sunny. As the whole week was downright miserable, so much so that the entire population of Gaming is sick, what with the snow/rain mixture, we were somewhat skeptical. However, we woke up to see the sun shining! What a beautiful thing!

We went for a long, long walk over fields and hills, and saw quite a few of these:

Since I can't help myself (and because I know certain grandmothers who like it) I decided to post some more pictures of Thomas, who is growing bigger and cuter (at least I think so) by the minute. These are from this morning, before our walk. I know it's not really warm enough to go around without any pants on, but Thomas is never so happy as when he's as naked as possible. (I did, however, insist that he wear pants when we went out for our walk.)

25 March 2009

Feast of the Annunciation

All the rich among the people shall entreat Thy countenance: after her shall virgins be brought to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to thee in gladness and rejoicing. 

Grace is poured abroad in thy lips; therefore hath God blessed thee for ever. Because of truth and meekness, and justice; and thy right hand shall conduct thee wonderfully.

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and His name shall be called Emmanuel.

22 March 2009

Lætare Sunday

And happy Mothers' Day to our dear mothers! On account of the fact that the propers for today's Mass refer constantly to the heavenly Jerusalem as our mother (e.g. the Epistle reading from Gal. 4:22-31), this day was known as "Mothering Sunday". At least in English Catholicism it was traditionally a day to visit the Cathedral (Mother Church) of one's diocese, as well as a day to honor one's own natural mother (source: the ever informative Fish Eaters). St. Joseph's feast day (March 19) was, by the way, the traditional day to honor fathers. So, in our ongoing attempts to recover bits and pieces of Catholic culture wherever we can find them (to add to the many such traditions handed down to us by our own parents), we're trying to be extra nice to Lisa today. Here she is with her two beautiful children, whom she mothers admirably, in my humble opinion ;)

21 March 2009

Ireland Forever

We had a great time watching our first ever rugby game as Ireland hung on to beat Wales 17-15 and win the Six Nations Rugby tournament. Apparently, it's the first time in 60+ years that Ireland has won this tournament in a clean sweep, and they did it beating last year's champs. Although it's not quite baseball, I have to say that it's an extremely entertaining sport. I could see myself becoming a bit of a fan... More on the game here.

19 March 2009

Feast of St. Joseph

Here's a picture of little Thomas on his name day.

17 March 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The holy Bishop Patrick is the Apostle and Patron of Ireland. He used with profit the talents received from God to convert the whole Irish people which, thanks to him, has always been strongly loyal to the Holy See. He died in 464.

O God, Who didst vouchsafe to send blessed Patrick, Thy Confessor and Bishop, to preach Thy glory to the nations: grant, by his merits and intercession, that whatever Thou commandest us to do, we may by Thy mercy be able to fulfill. Through our Lord...

We've suspended all Lenten fasting, and the menu for the day looks something like this:

Breakfast: fried soda bread, fried eggs, bacon, and coffee with Irish cream.
Lunch: meat loaf, mashed potatoes, cabbage, and Kilkenny or Guinness beer.
Dinner: potato wedges and Irish car bombs.
Dessert: Irish cream over ice.

15 March 2009

Salvator Doppel Bock

Katie is safely back from her quick trip to Salzburg and Munich, and I am ridiculously excited that she managed to find and bring me a Salvator Doppel Bock! For those of you priveleged to own a copy of the famed Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song, please turn to page 277 and read "Salvator Beer - Save Us from Lent!"

This one was first brewed in 1629 specifically for Lent. It is strong, hardy, and up to 8% alcohol - meant to compensate a bit for the fasting. It was so good that they had to send a barrel down to Rome to get special permission from the Pope to drink it during Lent. Ah, I am looking forward to this.

Third Sunday in Lent

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you, 
Happy birthday, dear Uncle Vince Cow! 
Happy birthday to you.

14 March 2009

Trinity Paper

I'm almost finished with a small (five page) essay summarizing some of the main points of St. Thomas's trinitarian theology and putting them in relation to John 5:17-20. I had never realized before how much St. Thomas likes appropriate numerations. For example, the first part of the Summa begins with a treatise on the unity of God. The treatise on the Trinity then begins at question no. 27 (3x3x3). The next treatise, on creation, begins at question no. 44 (4 winds, 4 corners of the earth, etc.). Within the treatise on the Trinity there is one question on the Father (q. 33), two on the Son (qq. 34-35), and three on the Holy Spirit (qq. 36-38). Furthermore, his entire theology of God can be summarized thus:

1 Essence
2 Processions
3 Persons
4 Relations
5 Notions

The essence, of course, is the divine nature; the processions are of the intellect and of the will; the persons are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the relations are fatherhood, sonship, spiration (breathing forth), and procession; and the notions are the four relations plus innascibility (being ungenerated) as regards the Father.

Quite remarkable, I think.

[UPDATE] The paper is available via the link on the sidebar.

12 March 2009

Pretty in Pink

And extremely proud of it, too. This afternoon I emerged momentarily from my paper writing to find Maria excitedly showing off what she had accomplished with a pink marker. She was so proud of herself that we, bad parents that we are, burst out laughing instead of scolding her. She was pink all over her face as well as all over both legs up to the knees. Then we discovered that our white bed cover was also rather pink in parts... as was my bedside table... as were the pages of some of her books...

Happy Birthday!

To Mom (Nana), from all of us with lots of love!

Creator and Creation: Midterm Paper

How's this for an assignment? It's a full sheet of paper (single spaced) all on its own!

"God understands himself through himself. In order to understand this, it should be known that [sc. in the operation of understanding]... the intelligible in act is the intellect in act. ... Therefore, since God has nothing of potentiality, but is pure act, it is necessary that in him the intellect and the thing understood should be the same in every way" (ST I 14.2).

"God, however, is pure act both in the order of existing things and in the order of intelligible things, and therefore he understands himself through himself" (ST I 14.2 ad 3).

In these lines, Aquinas describes the phenomenon of knowing as an identity in act of the knower (intellect) and the thing known (the intelligible). Departing from this description try to unfold what Aquinas says about the Creator's knowledge of himself and his creation:

1. Explain or describe the identity in act of intellect and intelligible. How does it relate to the description of truth? (i.e. relate it to the three descriptions of truth). Relate this understanding of truth analogously to God's self-understanding and to divine truth; negate the imperfection of created truth which is not found in the divine truth!

2. Which kind of being enables the intellect to become the other, i.e. to become informed by the "form" of the thing known? How would you relate intelligible being (ens intelligibile) to that which first falls in the intellect (ens universale)? Which relation between natural and intelligible being is found (1) in God and (b) in material things? Why would Aquinas say: "the object of the intellect is the first and primary principle in the genus of formal cause, for its object is being and truth … [and] under the truth [or intelligible being] are comprehended all apprehended forms"? (On Evil, q. 6; cf. SCG II, 98, n. 9: "the proper object of the intellect is intelligible being, which includes all possible differences and species of being"). Relate this to the description of the nature of being! Try to show that it is necessary to have a confused knowledge of the whole truth in order to know the limited participation of truth which is found in this or that thing (hint: the tree of Porphyrius).

3. This understanding of being enables Aquinas to describe God’s knowledge of the world / creation: Give a general account of God's knowledge of other things, especially with respect to the proper knowledge of everything. Try to say why the distinction of natural and intelligible being enables Aquinas to say that God is able to create (hint: On the Power of God 7.1 ad 8).

4. As a conclusion, describe the phenomenon of divine presentiality, i.e. that God is the presence of all things. Your discussion should include that there is no discursive thinking and no cause of the understanding of creatures in God (cf. 14.7; 19.5). The consequent distinction of presentiality from causality does not exclude that God perceives himself as principle of this world – why? Relate this distinction to the freedom of human beings!

[UPDATE] I'm through with subsection no. 1 of the assignment!
[UPDATE #2] The final product is available via the link on the sidebar.

Papal Letter

The Holy Father has written a letter to the bishops of the world on the subject of the lifting of the excommunications of the bishops of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X. The letter comes in responce to the many vicious attacks made against the Holy Father by so many people both within and without the Church. The letter was written in German, and is available in English translation curtesy of The New Liturgical Movement: The Papal Letter; the letter may also be read with Fr. Zuhlsdorf's inimitable emphases and comments: Benedict's Letter; and finally, here is the official translation on the Vatican website: Letter of His Holiness et cetera.


11 March 2009

For Mr. Galer

For Tom and Vince

And special thanks to cousin Dominic for loaning the outfit!

10 March 2009


Gaming is beautiful in the Spring...

However, this picture is from last May, so that would just be wishful thinking at this point. On the other hand, Opening Day is only 27 days, 1 hour, and 45 minutes away for the Tigers. So Spring is coming. It was snowing again here today, though.

07 March 2009

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

His undisputed mastery in scholastic theology gained him the title of "Angelic Doctor." He is one of the greatest glories of the Friars Preachers. Leo XIII declared him the patron of all Catholic Schools. He died in the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova, on his way to the Council of Lyons, in 1274.

O God, through Whom Thy Church is glorified by the wonderful learning of Thy blessed Confessor Thomas and profiteth still from his holy labors: grant, we pray, that we may grasp his teaching with our minds and show it, as he did, in our lives. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Today is baby Thomas's first name day! In honor of him and of his illustrious patron we had some red wine and chocolate for dessert. Holding a chocolate bar as big as himself in the arms of his godmother got quite a smile out of the little guy!

~Encyclical Letter of Pope Leo XIII Aeterni Patris (on the Restoration of Christian Philosophy), 4 August 1879.
~Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI Studiorum ducem (on St. Thomas Aquinas), 29 June 1923.

06 March 2009

Not exactly a Lenten theme...

...but I just ran across a fabulous article by Jeffrey Tucker called Catholics Give the Best Parties. I'd say it's mandatory reading in preparation for a big Easter party. The spirit animating the article reminds me more than a little of that most excellent piece of literature, The Bad Catholics' Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song. Please enjoy thoroughly.

Tigers Prospect

04 March 2009

Spring Break

The Symposium on the Mission of the Eastern Catholic Churches in the Life of the Universal Church and for the Modern World (Mar. 4-6) began this evening with Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified, and then a welcome dinner at the Kartausenkeller. This symposium seems like a pretty big deal, actually (here for more info); there are 17 or 18 bishops here, and about 160 attendees total.

My last class of the first half of the semester was this morning (Greek at 8:00). The sky was blue and the sun warm and bright today, so we took a nice walk and what do you know, the ducks were out! Maria was quite excited.

Here are some more random pictures. First, showing how long Thomas is getting, next to the inch-worm Cornelius. Second, our new favorite drink ever since our acquisition of a nifty immersion blender which does a great job frothing milk for cafe-lattes.

02 March 2009

Paper Season

This afternoon I received another writing assignment, which means that I now have three papers to work on over spring break, which is fast approaching. Tomorrow I have a full slate of classes; on Wednesday I have only Greek in the morning; and then for the remainder of the week, and all of next week, we're on break. Katie is heading off to Slovakia to spend the break at a friend's home there, but the rest of us are staying put. So hopefully I'll get in a good bit of work on these papers. The topics are:

1) Trinity: relate John 5:17-20 to St. Thomas's teaching on the Trinity (especially: trinitarian persons as constituted by relation, and the real identity of relation and essence); 2-5 pages due March 16.

2) Creator & Creation: try to unfold what Aquinas says about the Creator's knowledge of Himself and of His creation; 10(ish) pages due March 24(ish)

3) Christology: christological foundations for the veneration of holy icons; 5-7 pages due April 23.

01 March 2009

First Sunday in Lent

This morning after Divine Liturgy, we were able to make use of two nice new gadgets my parents got as birthday / Christmas presents for me while they were here. An electric griddle, which John used to fry eggs this morning, and a "stabmixer" (I'm not sure exactly what that translates into in English - possibly an immersion blender?) which has all sorts of uses, but this morning we used it to froth milk for our coffee. Thanks mom and dad!

And here is Maria again! This time with her hair a little more evened out after another trim or two.