Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blog Structure and Comments

This blog, which was frozen in March 2008,  is structured unusually. Most blog authors add articles periodically and comments are almost always on recent articles. Here, there are 120 (a good round number) interconnected articles.
The Maude's Tavern book project has moved to my new blog, Maude's Tavern.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Revised Standard Bible
Seven Comedies; Shakespeare
Dante's Paradise; Anthony Esolen
Conceiving Parenthood; Amy L Hall
Poetry, Plays, Prose; Robert Frost
Compendium of the Catholic Catechism
Philosophy of Medicine; E Pellegrino
Four Romances; William Shakespeare
Aquinas on Friendship; D Schwartz
Ascension & Ecclesia; D. Farrow
Homilies; St John Chrysostom
A Parish Book of Chant

Schola Novum Flumen

Novum Flumen

Novum Flumen is a plainchant singing group based at Radford, in the New River Valley of Virginia. Our guiding principles are:
  • Our chant is grounded in adoration of our Lord, Christ Jesus.
  • We meet at homes in the College Park neighborhood of Radford.
  • We use The Parish Book of Chant

Wednesday catechesis

Sandro Magister has a very useful posting on Pope Benedict XVI's Wednesday catechesis.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ecclesiastical Discipline

Here's a dry but precise discussion of the Catholic Church's view of church discipline, from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Ecclesiastical Discipline

Etymologically the word discipline signifies the formation of one who
places himself at school and under the direction of a master. All
Christians are the disciples of Christ, desirous to form themselves at
His school and to be guided by His teachings and precepts. He called
Himself, and we, too, call Him, Our Master. Such, then, is evangelical
discipline. However, in ecclesiastical language the word discipline
has been invested with various meanings, which must here be enumerated and specified.


All discipline may be considered first in its author, then in its
subject, and finally in itself. In its author it is chiefly the method
employed for the formation and adaptation of the precepts and
directions to the end to be attained, which is the perfect conduct of
subjects; in this sense discipline is said to be severe or mild. In
those who receive it discipline is the more or less perfect conformity
of acts to the directions and formation received; it is in this sense
that discipline may be said to flourish in a monastery. Or, again, it
is the obligation of subjects to conform their acts to precepts and
directions, and is thus defined by Cardinal Cavagnis: Praxis factorum
fidei consona"conduct conforming itself to faith"
(Inst. jur. publ. eccl., Bk. IV, n. 147). More frequently, however,
discipline is considered objectively, that is, as being the precepts
and measures for the practical guidance of subjects. Thus understood
ecclesiastical discipline is the aggregate of laws and directions
given by the Church to the faithful for their conduct both private and
public. This is discipline in its widest acceptation, and includes
natural and Divine as well as positive laws and faith, worship, and
morals; in a word, all that affects the conduct of Christians. But if
we eliminate laws merely formulated by the Church as the exponent of
natural or Divine law, there remain the laws and directions laid down
and formulated by ecclesiastical authority for the guidance of the
faithful; this is the restricted and more usual acceptation of the
word discipline. Nevertheless, it must be understood that this
distinction, however justified, is not made for the purpose of
separatingecclesiastical laws into two clearly divided categories in
so far as practice is concerned; the Church does not always make known to what extent she speaks in the name of natural or of Divine law and
with this corresponds the observance of laws by her subjects.


Since ecclesiastical discipline should direct every Christian life,
its object must differ according to the obligations incumbent on each
individual. The first duty of a Christian is to believe; hence
dogmatic discipline, by which the Church proposes what we should
believe and so regulates our conduct that it shall not fail to assist
our faith. Dogmatic discipline springs from the power of magisterium,
i.e. the teaching office, in the exercise of which power the Church
can proceed only by declaration; therefore it is ecclesiastical
discipline only in a broad sense. The second duty of Christians is to
observe the Commandments, hence moral discipline (disciplina
morum). Strictly understood the latter does not depend much more upon
the Church than does dogmatic discipline, as the natural law is
anterior and superior to ecclesiastical law; however, the Church
authoritatively proposes to us the moral law, she specifies and
perfects it; hence it is that we generally call moral discipline
whatsoever directs the Christian in those acts that have a moral
value, including the observance of positive laws both ecclesiastical
and secular. Among the chief duties of a Christian the worship of God
must be assigned a place apart. The rules to be observed in this
worship, especially public worship, constitute liturgical
discipline. This cannot be said to depend absolutely upon the Church,
as it derives the essential part of the Holy Sacrifice and the
sacraments from Jesus Christ; however, for the greater part,
liturgical discipline has been regulated by the Church and includes
the rites of the Holy Sacrifice, the administration of the sacraments
and of the sacramentals, and other ceremonies.

There still remain the obligations incumbent on the faithful
considered individually, either on the members of different groups or
classes of ecclesiastical society, or, finally, on those who are to
any extent whatever depositaries of a portion of the authority. This
is discipline properly so called, exterior discipline, established by
the free legislation of the Church (not, of course, in a way
absolutely independent of natural or Divine law, but outside of, yet
akin to this law) for the good government of society and the
sanctification of individuals. On individuals it imposes common
precepts (the Commandments of the Church); then it states their mutual
obligations, in conjugal society by matrimonial discipline, in larger
societies by determining relations with ecclesiastical superiors,
parish priests, bishops, etc. Special classes also have their own
particular discipline, there being clerical discipline for the clergy
and religious or monastic discipline for the religious. The government
of Christian society is in the hands of prelates and superiors who are
subject to a special discipline either for the conditions of their
recruitment, for the determining of their privileges and duties, or
for the manner in which they should fulfil their functions. We may
include here the rules for the administration of temporal
goods. Finally, any authority from which emanate orders or
prohibitions should have power to ratify the same by penal measures
applicable to all transgressors; hence, another object ofdiscipline is
the imposing and inflicting of disciplinary sanctions. It must be
noted, however, that the object of these measures is to ensure
observance or to chastise infractions of the natural and Divine as
well as ofecclesiastical laws.


It is evident, therefore, that the disciplinary power of the Church is
a phase, a practical application, of its power of jurisdiction, and
includes the various forms of the latter, namely, legislative,
administrative, judicial, and coercive power. As for the power of
order (potestas ordinis), it is the basis of liturgical discipline by
which its exercise is regulated. For the proof that the Church is a
society and that, as such, it necessarily has the power of
jurisdiction which it derives from Divine institution through the
Apostolic succession, see CHURCH. Disciplinary power is proved by the
very fact of its exercise; it is an organic necessity in every society
whose members it guides to their end by providing them with rules of
action. Historically it can be shown that a disciplinary power has
been exercised by the Church uninterruptedly, first by the Apostles
and then by their successors. The Apostles in the first council at
Jerusalem formulated rules for the conduct of the faithful (Acts
15). St. Paul gave moral advice to the Christians of Corinth on
virginity, marriage, and the agape (1 Corinthians 7:11). The Pastoral
Epistles of St. Paul are a veritable code of clerical discipline. The
Church, moreover, has never ceased to represent herself as charged by
Christ with the guidance of mankind in the way of eternal
salvation. The Council of Trent expressly affirms the disciplinary
power of the Church in all that concerns liturgical discipline and
Divine worship (Sess. XXI, c. ii): "In the administration of the
sacraments, the substance of the latter remaining intact, the Church
has always had power to establish or to modify whatever she considered
most expedient for the utility of those who receive them, or best
calculated to ensure respect for the sacraments themselves according
to the various circumstances of time and place." In fact, we need only
to recall the numerous laws enacted by the Church in the course of
centuries for the maintenance, development, or restoration of the
moral and spiritual life of Christians.


That ecclesiastical discipline should be subject to change is natural
since it was made for men and by men. To claim that it is immutable
would render the attainment of its end utterly impossible, since, in
order to form and direct Christians, it must adapt itself to the
variable circumstances of time and place, conditions of life, customs
of peoples and races, being, in a certain sense, like St. Paul, all
things to all men. Nevertheless, neither the actual changes nor the
possibility of further alteration must be exaggerated. There is no
change in those disciplinary measures through which the Church sets
before the faithful and confirms the natural and the Divine law, nor
in those strictly disciplinary regulations that are closely related to
the natural or Divine law. Other disciplinary rules may and must be
modified in proportion as they seem less efficacious for the social or
individual welfare. Thomassin aptly says [Vetus et nova Ecclesiæ
disciplina (ed. Lyons, 1706), preface, n. xvii]: "Whoever has the
least idea of ecclesiastical laws, those that concern government as
well as those that regulate morals, knows well that they are of two
kinds. Some represent immutable rules of eternal truth, itself the
fundamental law, the source and origin of these laws from the
observance of which there is no dispensation, against which no
prescription obtains, and which are not modified either by diversity
of custom or vicissitudes of time. Other ecclesiastical rules and
customs are by nature temporary, indifferent in themselves, more or
less authoritative, useful, or necessary according to circumstances of
time and place, having been established only to facilitate the
observance of the fundamental and eternal law." As to the variations
of discipline concerning these secondary laws the same author
describes them in these terms (loc. cit., n. xv): "While the Faith of
the Church remains the same in all ages, it is not so with her
discipline. This changes with time, grows old with the years, is
rejuvenated, is subject to growth and decay. Though in its early days
admirably vigorous, with time defects crept in. Later it overcame
these defects and although along some lines its usefulness increased,
in other ways its first splendour waned. That in its old age it
languishes is evident from the leniency and indulgence which now seem
absolutely necessary. However, all things fairly considered, it will
appear that old age and youth have each their defects and good
qualities." Were it necessary to exemplify the mutability of
ecclesiastical discipline it would be perplexing indeed to make a
choice. The ancient catechumenate exists only in a few rites; the
Latin Church no longer gives Communion to the laity under two kinds;
the discipline relating to penance and indulgences has undergone a
profound evolution; matrimonial law is still subject to modifications;
fasting is not what it formerly was; the use of censures in penal law
is but the shadow of what it was in the Middle Ages. Many other
examples will easily occur to the mind of the well-informed reader.


What connexion is there between the discipline of the Church and her
infallibility? Is there a certain disciplinary infallibility? It does
not appear that the question was ever discussed in the past by
theologians unless apropos of the canonization of saints and the
approbation of religious orders. It has, however, found a place in all
recent treatises on the Church (De Ecclesiâ}. The authors of these
treatises decide unanimously in favour of a negative and indirect
rather than a positive and direct infallibility, inasmuch as in her
general discipline, i.e. the common laws imposed on all the faithful,
the Church can prescribe nothing that would be contrary to the natural
or the Divine law, nor prohibit anything that the natural or the
Divine law would exact. If well understood this thesis is undeniable;
it amounts to saying that the Church does not and cannot impose
practical directions contradictory of her own teaching. It is quite
permissible, however, to inquire how far this infallibility extends,
and to what extent, in her disciplinary activity, the Church makes use
of the privilege of inerrancy granted her by Jesus Christ when she
defines matters of faith and morals. Infallibility is directly related
to the teaching office (magisterium), and although this office and the
disciplinary power reside in the same ecclesiastical authorities, the
disciplinary power does not necessarily depend directly on the
teaching office. Teaching pertains to the order of truth; legislation
to that of justice and prudence. Doubtless, in last analysis all
ecclesiastical laws are based on certain fundamental truths, but as
laws their purpose is neither to confirm nor to condemn these
truths. It does not seem, therefore, that the Church needs any special
privilege of infallibility to prevent her from enacting laws
contradictory of her doctrine. To claim that disciplinary
infallibility consists in regulating, without possibility of error,
the adaptation of a general law to its end, is equivalent to the
assertion of a (quite unnecessary) positive infallibility, which the
incessant abrogation of laws would belie and which would be to the
Church a burden and a hindrance rather than an advantage, since it
would suppose each law to be the best. Moreover, it would make the
application of laws to their end the object of a positive judgment of
the Church; this would not only be useless but would become a
perpetual obstacle to disciplinary reform.

From the disciplinary infallibility of the Church, correctly
understood as an indirect consequence of her doctrinal infallibility,
it follows that she cannot be rightly accused of introducing into her
discipline anything opposed to the Divine law; the most remarkable
instance of this being the suppression of the chalice in the Communion
of the laity. This has often been violently attacked as contrary to
the Gospel. Concerning it the Council of Constance (1415) declared
(Sess. XIII): "The claim that it is sacrilegious or illicit to observe
this custom or law [Communion under one kind] must be regarded as
erroneous, and those who obstinately affirm it must be cast aside as
heretics." The opinion, generally admitted by theologians, that the
Church is infallible in her approbation of religious orders, must be
interpreted in the same sense; it means that in her regulation of a
manner of life destined to provide for the practice of the evangelical
counsels she cannot come into conflict with these counsels as received
from Christ together with the rest of the Gospel revelation. (See

Publication information Written by
A. Boudinhon. Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the
Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V. Published 1909. New York: Robert
Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort,
Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

The Library's Soundtrack

  • Gregorian Chant - various
  • Masses - Giovanni da Palestrina
  • Mass in B Minor - Johann Sebastian Bach
  • Mass in F Minor; Anton Bruckner
  • Mass & Motets; Ralph Vaughn Williams
  • Bringing it all Back Home; Dylan
  • Blood on the Tracks; Mary Lee's Corvette
  • Red on Blonde; Tim O'Brien
  • Bootleg Series #3; Dylan
  • Time out of Mind - Dylan
  • Every Grain of Sand - Barb Jungr
  • Modern Times - Bob Dylan

Friday, March 07, 2008

On Writing Styles

In an article in Communion, Roch Kereszty writes regarding Pope Benedict XVI's recent book:

Jesus of Nazareth can indeed be profitably read by a college graduate, but it also provides new insights to learned exegetes and theologians. What is, then, its literary genre? Pope Benedict himself describes it simply as “an expression of my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.’”

We can better understand Benedict’s unique blend of theology, exegesis, and contemplation if we compare it with the theological style of the Church Fathers and with that of St. Augustine in particular. When visiting St. Augustine’s tomb in Pavia, Pope Benedict explained that the second stage in Augustine’s conversion took place at the time when Augustine accepted ordination to the priesthood and gave up his contemplative scholarly existence for the sake of the ministry. He devoted himself to learning how to teach the most sublime mysteries of faith to the simplest folks in the city of Hippo. Through all this, he did not cease being a theologian; he merely abandoned the esoteric language and lifestyle of the scholar. Eventually, he succeeded in expressing the deepest theology in the simplest language, comprehensible for his provincial audience and
yet an enduring challenge for the learned.

On Faith

Fr. Aidan Nichols notes in The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger (T&T Clark, 1988) that Ratzinger “finds two figures within the Wittenberg Reformer. First, there is the Luther of the Catechisms, the hymns and the liturgical reforms: and this Luther can be received by Catholics whose own biblical and liturgical revivals in this century reproduce many of Luther’s own criticisms of the late medieval Church. But besides this Luther there is also another: the radical theologian and polemicist whose particular version of the doctrine of justification by faith is incompatible with the Catholic understanding of faith as a co-believing with the whole Church, within a Christian existence composed equally of faith, hope, and charity” (p. 276).

And, at the Communio website, they have posted a pdf of Ratzinger on Luther: Luther and the Unity of the Churches: An Interview With Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Communio 11: Fall, 1984).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Two Trains

Musica Sacra has put online Dr William Mahrt's A Critique of Sing to the Lord and I was struck by the poignancy in this paragraph:

Another positive statement and a distinct improvement in the present document is the acknowledgement of the role of Gregorian chant, quoting the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which gives chant “pride of place in liturgical services,” (SttL ¶72) and citing the council’s mandate that the faithful be able to sing the Ordinary of the Mass together in Latin (¶74), and even asserting a minimum: “Each worshiping community in the United States, including all age groups and all ethnic groups, should, at a minimum learn Kyrie XVI, Sanctus XVIII, and Agnus Dei XVIII.” A second stage of learning then includes Gloria VIII, the Credo, and the Pater Noster (¶75). Though the document does not mention it, the latter two are particularly desirable for international gatherings, especially for papal audiences, where everyone can participate in a common expression of worship. There is a touching story from the time immediately following the Second World War: Two trains arrived at the same platform, one from France and one from Germany, and the tension between the two groups disembarking was palpable. Then someone intoned “Credo in unum Deum,” and the entire crowd spontaneously continued singing the whole Creed, expressing a common faith which transcended the recent history of animosity. Would enough people today even know the Credo, were the same event even to occur now?

Building Cathedrals

My favorite blogs are the Mom blogs..just came across a new one today:

Building Cathedrals

We are a group of seven young, Catholic mothers who graduated from Princeton between the years of 2000 and 2003. While at Princeton, each of us found our way to the Catholic faith community, some of us near the beginning of our time at Princeton and others of us at different points along the way.
Between the 7 of us, we have 17 children in our homes with 3 more currently on the way! And although we are spread apart geographically, we all know that support is never far away when we need it. Among us are educators, political strategists, doctors-in-training, lawyers, and counselors, so each of us brings a unique perspective to our group conversations. Through it all, our primary goal is to give glory and honor to God by raising thoughtful, loving, and vibrant families! Just as the architects of the great cathedrals built their masterpieces for an audience of One, so too do we build our families day by day, stone by stone, seeking above all to please Him.
Seven bachelors degrees, four advanced degrees, and nearly 200 combined months of pregnancy have only convinced us of how much we have left to learn in matters of faith, family and vocation. We adhere wholeheartedly to every doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, but the details beyond that, from co-sleepers and breast pumps to schooling options and professional life, are grounds for robust discussion with like-minded friends. Nothing written on this blog is intended to incite maternal guilt, anger or to advise on medical or legal matters. Virgin most prudent, pray for us!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Priestly Community

Susan Woods goes on to say:

The sacramental character or "mark" also places us in relationship to the church. It is an ordination in the sense that it gives us our place within the church. Baptism orders us within a priestly community, confirmation orders us within a prophetic community, and the sacrament of orders bestows the ability to represent the church and Christ in the governance and sacramental life of the church. What is significant is that all these sacraments place us within a network of relationships. The church is the locus of intersection of these relationships. Another way of saying this is that the church is the locus of charisms, since baptism and confirmation in their bestowal of the Spirit confer gifts for the building up of the body that are personal and particular to each individual, yet oriented to the good of the community. The community, then, is "marked" with these gifts as a kingly, prophetic, and priestly community in its identity as the body of Christ who was priest, prophet, and king.

Baptism into the Church

In an article on baptism in the book The Marks of the Body of Christ, Susan Woods remarks:

Baptism does not just incorporate us into the church as a club or an organization. It does not just bestow grace to us as individuals. It makes us "living stones" to be "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood." Through our participation in the life, death, and resurection of Christ in baptism we share in his priesthood. Baptism gives us a share in the priesthood of all believers. Just as stones construct a building, so the church is constituted by Christians and is a priestly community by virtue of its being the body of Christ, the high priest. This "house" and this "priesthood" is essentially communal. However, for a number of reasons associated with Christianity becoming a majority rather than minority religion and the disintegration of a unified rite of initiation, the communal meaning of baptism was replaced by a more individualistic focus. This individualistic focus emphasized the salvation of any individual through the removal of sin and the bestowal of grace rather than incorporation into an eschatological community identified as the body of Christ. Eventually, too, the concept of graace became reified, imagined as a quantifiable substance rather than a relationship of communion.

For the early Christians, the implications of baptism were enormous demanding a total conversion that immediately placed them in a countercultural position at odds with the dominant faith systems, wheather Jewish, Roman, or Greek. This conversion was a process that proceeded in stages over what was frequently a three-year period of probation known as the catechumenate. Initiation was not easy, and half-hearted Christians were discouraged from undertaking the process.

Discipline and Discipleship

Cath: Help me with evangelism and discipleship and I'll help you with discipline and magisterium.

Prot: Fair enough, but why are you willing to do that?

Cath: Evangelism/discipleship is about personal relationship, in whatever community of Christians; discipline/magisterium is corporate and will inevitably lead to the Catholic Church in the long term.

Personality Profiles

In a comment on a topic at Welborn's Charlotte Was Both blog, Heath White makes a clear observation:

I am an evangelical and also an academic. I have several friends who have become Catholic from evangelicalism, and I know a lot of people who were raised Catholic and became evangelical. The profiles of the two types are extremely consistent.

Very consistently, evangelicals who become Catholic are very intelligent and historically informed. They reason their way into Catholicism, often with not much input from Catholics. They do this by observing the weaknesses of the evangelicalism they know—the thin ecclesiology, the problem of authority, the lack of roots in tradition and history—and figuring out that Catholicism is the antidote. Such conversions are not, in any case I know of, products of outreach on the part of Catholics.

Very consistently, Catholics who become evangelicals will tell you that they spent thirty years in the Catholic church and never heard the gospel. They were given a set of rules to follow, and told either (a) that their eternal destiny depended on how they followed the rules, or (b) that because they were Catholics they were good to go. (A generational difference.) Then they met an evangelical, who intentionally made friends with them, told them that Jesus could turn their life around, invited them to a church and a small group Bible study. They learned how to look for answers to their problems in life in the Bible. They got help with raising their children, or their marriage, or their problems at work. They learned how to pray without a text in front of them or memorized. And they learned how to repeat the process with their friends and neighbors.

The reason there is an 8:1 ratio is that the number of highly intelligent, historically informed evangelicals is rather small, and the number of unevangelized cradle Catholics is rather large. For example: at the Presbyterian church I now attend, the entire deacon board was baptized Catholic.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Church Discipline

There’s an article on church discipline from a Reformed/Baptist perspective by Albert Mohler at:
and John Drury discusses a connection between church government and discipline in his article Is Church Discipline Really Possible Any More?

Here are some Christianity Today articles on the topic.

The evangelical Anglican blog, Stand Firm in Faith, has a relevant discussion here.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Specific God

In an article on catechesis in The Marks of the Body of Christ, Robert Jenson writes:

"Finally there is theology. Folks are baptized into the name - that is, worship of and obedience to - a specific God. They have to know who that is. He is not Moloch, and therefore he does not want the blood of our children. He is not the Goddess, and therefore does not reveal himself in polymorphous sexuality. He is not the spirit of the wolf, and therefore dreams of wolves are not divine revelation. He is neither the Dialectic of History nor the Invisible Hand of the free market, and therefore life cannot be fulfilled by economic endeavor of whatever sort. And so on and on.

For my students, it is always a revelation that there are many and decidedly different candidates for the God-job, and that all of them cannot simultaneously be legitimate. Once the logic of the matter is pointed out to them, they see it. But somehow, their pastors and church teachers had not pointed it out to them.

The God of the church is Father, Son, and Spirit. For persons able to learn, warranted participation in the church's life requires fairly precise knowledge of the doctrine of the Trinity. This should not in fact require much time to teach; the time required is inversely proportional to the depth and accuracy of the teacher's knowledge.

Then, of course, since the church will be baptizing and making eucharist, those able to learn need to understand something of what the church thinks it is doing when it does these things. And again, the time required to give adequate understanding is inversely proportional to the depth of the teacher's understanding.

One more time the mystery. We first need to know who God is in order to address him. The doctrine of Trinity - and indead, by derivation, all Christian teaching - is not in the first instance a discourse in the third person, but rather in the second. It is in the first instance doxology, and only secondarily description. Therefore, when we teach would-be believers doctrine, we teach them to intrude on God."

Braaten on office of ministry

In an article, The Special Ministry of the Ordained, in the book The Marks of the Body of Christ, Carl Braaten writes:

"My thesis is threefold: first, that Lutherans have been and are still confused on the doctrine of the ministry; second, that there is no way to resolve the difficulty by going more deeply into our own confessional sources because they bear the imprint of ambiguity inherent in Luther's own statements on ministry; and third, and most importantly, there is no ecumenically viable way out of this morass without eventually realigning and reconciling Lutheran ordained ministry with the episcopally ordained ministries in apostolic succession in the Eastern and Western brances of the one holy catholic church."

It seems to me that the ambiguity Braaten mentions is also present within Anglicanism.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Surveys of Christian Belief

Surveys of Christian belief come in many forms. When they are for use among folks accepting the teaching authority of the Church, it is reasonable to follow the common practice of discussing those beliefs in the order of the Nicene Creed (as do, for example, Thomas Aquinas, Karl Barth and various catechisms at various levels).

This is still reasonable when the concept of "Church" and "teaching authority" have become somewhat fuzzy, perhaps. However, in my opinion, for the majority of folks in the United States today, there is little acceptance of such authority and for many "The Church" is more of an abstract idea than the living organism created by God. As a result, a survey of Christian belief (at whatever level) needs a reversed order of presentation: one that starts with the Church and human nature and ends with the triune God. Unfortunately, one can not just take standard presentations and read them back to front, so to speak. While the basic propositions of the faith remain the same, the reversal of order necessitates an entire rethinking of the rhetoric. This is difficult. Of course, the standard presentations remain very useful as one engages in this new evangelism.

Man is by nature a political animal....

Some folks see the Christian community going downhill soon after the Ascension, if not before! Such attitudes, whether by naturalists, unitarians, oneness pentecostals, or congregationalists seem to reflect a lack of confidence in the Holy Spirit along with an excessive confidence in oneself and one's immediate community.

A systematic exposition of the faith in response to this could be organized as:
  • Anthropology
  • Mariology
  • Ecclesiology
  • Pneumatology
  • Christology
  • Theology


With Easter Week fast approaching, here's a page on the Triduum, from an Anglican perspective.


From Heim's book, Joseph Ratzinger - Life in the Church and Living Theology, p 347:

Rediscovering Jesus Christ - who gathers his people around himself as ekklesia through their listening to his Word and their celebration of the Eucharist - as the spiritual center of the concept "Church" was, in Ratzinger's view, the chief concern of Lumen gentium. Accordingly, the term ekklesia has a fourfold meaning that expands concentrically: the worshipping assembly, the local community, the Church "in a larger geographical area", and the one Church of Jesus Christ himself. Moreover "there is a continuous transition from one meaning to another, because all of them hang on the christological center that is made concrete in the gathering of believers for the Lord's Supper." [quote from Called to Communion]

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The World That Has No Music In Its Soul

On the Touchstone blog, Anthony Esolen has a post: The World That Has No Music In Its Soul

....But what happens when you don't have a culture? I've argued this before, but it bears repeating. I'm taking the word literally. You have a culture when you cultivate those beliefs, customs, celebrations, and virtues you hold most dear; and in this sense culture is by nature conservative and often proudly local. That's why totalitarian systems despise it; it stands in the way of the flattening of variety that the modern state demands. But this consumer society of ours despises it, too. It stands in the way of the itch for the new-and-improved, for novelty for the sake of vanity....

Monday, February 11, 2008

Augustine on the word: Catholic

The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house.

-St. Augustine, Against the Epistle of Manichaeus

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dominican Chant

Fr. Augustine Thompson has several informative postings, at the New Liturgical Movement blog, about Dominican Chant.

What I am about to describe is how Dominicans have dealt with the problem of rhythm since the 1200s. I do not claim that this system is "better" than any of the modern Solesmes methods, including that of Dom Mocquereau, currently in favor with workshops sponsored by the Church Music Association of America. Those who want to sing Dominican music, however, cannot use that method because it depends on the presence of Solesmes marks, and these do not exist in our books....

Friday, February 08, 2008


(source: )

Women have had a hand in aiding and abetting the consumerism that objectifies them, and it's the result of original sin, says Helen Alvare.

Alvare, the former pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops' conference, and a law professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., said this today at the Vatican conference under way through Saturday on "Woman and Man, the 'Humanum' in Its Entirety."

Given our environment of rampant consumerism, "it was almost inevitable that human beings would become the 'ultimate' consumer product," said Alvare. "Women's physical beauty and sexual complementarity with men make them particularly desirable in a commercial economy."

"The money to be made on sexualized images of women is staggering. It is conservatively estimated in fact today that the pornography industry is worth $60 billion annually. It is further estimated that pornography attracts 40% of all Internet users in the U.S. at least once a month, 70% of male Internet users between the ages of 18 and 34, and half of all hotel patrons," Alvare explained.

Empty pursuit

However, she continued, "the degree to which women, individually and via organized groups, have embraced their own objectification as consumer items is a particularly disturbing feature of our current situation."

Alvare added, "In his Theology of the Body series of talks, and in 'Mulieris Dignitatem,' John Paul II discusses original sin's effect upon women. He repeats the words that God 'addressed to the woman' after the commission of the first sin: 'Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.' He interprets this as indicating that the woman develops an insatiable desire for a different union. It is not for a relationship of communion, but a 'relationship of possession of the other as the object of one's own desire.'

"Even a secular observer would have to conclude that women's cooperation, even encouragement in the objectification of their bodies today, seems a modern manifestation of this inclination which Catholics call 'original sin.' Women debasing themselves in pursuit of the belief that it will lead to union with a man."

"This is not confined to the pornography industry, or even to commercial advertising or films or television," Alvare underlined. "Rather, ordinary women across the continent buy clothing designed to emphasize or expose those parts of their bodies associated with sex. Many women often also debase themselves with their speech, or by exposing themselves to media which gradually desensitizes them to the proposal that women are beautiful, sexualized objects for consumption."

Mimicking domination

"A final and disturbing aspect of women's conniving in their own objectification," continued Alvare, "is the involvement of prominent strains of feminism who insist that they are striking a blow for women's freedom by identifying freedom with undisciplined sexuality."

"On the one hand, one can see how strong was the temptation to break women out of the limited roles assigned to them in earlier times [...] but this feminism's response was and remains fundamentally flawed."

This type of feminism "drew upon the worst features of male behavior for its prescriptions. Thus was the feminist woman urged to be a sexually adventurous, marriage-and-children-spurning, money and career driven, creature," Alvare concluded. "Feminism urged women to imitate the male version of original sin -- domination -- to attain equality and happiness."

McCain's Position

"I believe today -- as I believed 25 years ago -- in small government; fiscal discipline; low taxes; a strong defense; judges who enforce, and not make, our laws; the social values that are the true source of our strength; and, generally, the steadfast defense of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, which I have defended my entire career as God-given to the born and unborn."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sympathetic Ashes

Amy Welborn writes:

....Which I succeeded at up until the last - that last moment when I thought I had escaped, but ’twas not to be.

“Please join in our closing hymn…..Ashes.”

No, we do not “create ourselves anew.”

Well, we do actually. We try and we try to “create ourselves anew” pretty constantly. But Lent reveals to us the opposite - it’s futile and even destructive. Empty yourself and let God create you anew. He wants to. He’ll do a better job than you would. Promise.

Personality and Language

There are interesting connections between concepts of personality and concepts of language. For example, the McCabe quote below calls to mind Wittgenstein's discussion of private language.

A Christian Worldview

Here's a quote from an essay, Obedience, by Herbert McCabe:

Just as what I called the modern view is based on a certain notion of the human being as an individual of sheer autonomous will whose life is the development of her individual personality (the view we call liberal individualism), so our view is based on another notion of the human being, a more ancient notion, perhaps a more primitive notion, but any way I think a more accurate notion. (We could even call the modern view Protestant and ours characteristically Catholic, but that would be to oversimplify.) For the modern view society is made of individuals, for our view the individual is made of societies. There is simply no such thing as the sheer me existing prior to, and in isolation from, the very many societies or communities in which I have a role. I came into existence as the fruit of community, the union between my parents which itself depended on a social community to which they belonged. My process of growing up and developing the personality I have was the process of being brought into, having a role in a whole succession of communities, family, school, church, university, the political and economic world, the Dominican Order. These are all networks of human relationship, which is to say that they are forms of love, for love just is that specifically human relationship. In so far as a school or the political order succeeds in being a form of love it is a good school or political order, in so far as it doesn't - it isn't. The political order is not the same form of love as the family, and if it tried to be it would fail to be a form of love altogether. All these are different forms of love each valid in its own way.

All this means that I find myself, my unique personality, not in dividing myself off from others, not by looking for some unimaginably private me existing prior to my relationship with others, but precisely in my relations with others. I discover myself not by standing back from but by entering into community. I am my membership of community - not of course one but many. For me to exist is for me to be a citizen of the Irish Republic, a Dominican, a teacher in a university, the brother of my various siblings, the friend of these and these men and women, a creature of God, a child of God. There is no me apart from all that. As St Thomas says:

Since a man is a part of a family, or a city, he has to consider what is good for him in terms of his good sense with regard to the good of the community. For the good disposition of a part depends on its relation to the whole (ST IIa IIae, 46, 10).

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Faithful Departed

Catholic World News has online the first chapter of Philip Lawler's eloquent The Faithful Departed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Geographic Ecclesiology

One can only reasonably be a part of parish life if travel time is not too great. If a congregation is particularly evangelistic and new to an area, the travel time can be increased somewhat but there's still a limit. Also, on the 'iron sharpens iron' principle and given various realities which I'll label political, the requirement should be extended to: two congregations in full communion both within reasonable driving time (where I define full communion not denominationally or ethnically but rather via the full recognition of one another's sacraments, and where sacrament is extended to, for example, the gift of tongues among Pentecostals - that being their confirmation sacrament). What counts as reasonable travel time will, of course, vary.

My own rule of thumb, given current modes of transportation and expectations, is that an ecclesiastical community has a presence in a place if there are two congregations in full communion within a 30 minute drive of that place, or at least if both are within a total driving time of an hour of that place.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Parker's Back

My favorite Flannery O'Connor story is perhaps Parker's Back, both for its words and its images.

"Sarah Ruth thought churches were idolatrous"

Saturday, February 02, 2008

World Religion

From page 60 of Herbert McCabe's God Matters (regarding postmodern attitudes towards the Incarnation):

One of the concerns of these authors, particularly John Hick, is that the incarnation seems provincial in that it makes Christianity something utterly different from all other world religions. Now quite apart from the presence of grace and therefore of incarnation in the followers of other religions, it is relly time we stopped and criticised this phrase. There is no significant world religion except Christianity. Every other religion, however many its adherents, has shown itself incapable of breaking free from a particular culture or even a particular people. Atheistic humanism is worldwide but not a religion. Indeed the paradoxical concept of a religion (something which is tied to history and tradition and particularity) which is nonetheless worldwide, transcending cultures and histories, is itself a peculiarly Christian and 'incarnational' notion. The Greek term for a world religion is Catholicism.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Anglican Ecclesiology?

In a recent post on The Continuum blog (continuing Anglican), I commented:

Taking this posting to be, broadly, about ecclesiology, I'd like to recommend to those wanting to read current Catholic thinking to look at a recently translated book by Maximilian Heim: Joseph Ratzinger: Life in the Church and Living Theology - Fundamentals of Ecclesiology with Reference to Lumen Gentium. Yes, does sound more like a dissertation title. The second edition/English translation (2007) has a forward by Pope Benedict XVI.

I'd like to read something comparable from an Anglican but wouldn't know where to find it. The situation is, in my opinion, much like that within Eastern Orthodoxy: After a lecture a year or two ago, I said to David Bentley Hart that I was looking forward to reading what he had to say about ecclesiology and he replied (not exact quote): I don't know if I have anything to say..everyone has their own opinion...

Which I found rather sad.

and also

Wanted: a coherent and comprehensive setting forth of ecclesiology in an in-print book of 300+ pages with some right to authoritively represent contemporary Continuing Anglican understanding.

Wanted: a coherent and comprehensive setting forth of ecclesiology in an in-print book of 300+ pages with some right to authoritively represent contemporary Eastern Orthodox understanding.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Political Realism

Speaking of McCain, in a useful article about Republican attitudes towards the Gang of 14, Richard Baehr concludes that, contrary to the majority opinion of conservative talk-radio:

The gang of 14 compromise helped two Supreme Court nominees get approved quickly and a few Appeals Court nominees to be confirmed as well. Use of the nuclear option in 2005 would have enabled a few additional Appeals Court nominations to get through in 2005 and 2006.

But it would also have given a blank check for the next Democratic President who took office with a majority for his party in the Senate to get all of his or her judicial nominations approved from the start. That would be a really bad deal for the GOP, much worse than the gang of 14 deal, a compromise in which the GOP gained more than it lost.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Humpty Dumpty

From John Richardson's blog:

Much of the problem is that the Anglican Communion was always a mongrel organization. Ostensibly representing something called ‘worldwide Anglicanism’, it was actually the result of the successful propagation of the British Empire, not Anglican theology.

Nevertheless, it should have been obvious that a body bonded more by historical accidents and affections than theology would find it hard to hold together as a global manifestation of the universal Church, any more than the Commonwealth has been able to survive as a political institution in the face of the dissolution of the British Empire.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Friday, January 25, 2008

On Secondary Matters

It often happens in complex discussions that one side will say "That's just a secondary issue, it's not of primary importance." However, while in some sense the issue itself may be secondary, it may force a position on primary matters. For example, David Virtue interviews J.I. Packer at the current Anglican Mission in America Winter Conference and there is this:

VIRTUEONLINE: On women's ordination. CANA is opening up the subject and AMiA has opened up this subject, do you think that pursuing women's ordination as an issue will eventually bring schism and division among the orthodox?

PACKER: My hope is that the ordination of women will never bring about church division. This is not a part of the gospel, it is a secondary issue rather than a primary one and I would hope that an amicable arrangement, not to everyone's full satisfaction, but a workable arrangement, can be arranged that have differed historically can come together. It is hoped that 10 splinter bodies will come together in the Common Cause diocese.

Now if one assumes that ordained ministry has a prophetic role but not a priestly role and if one agrees with Packer regarding Holy Orders and the sacraments in general, then yes it is a secondary matter. However, by the same token, agreeing that women's ordination is a secondary matter by implication also commits to ecclesiastical and sacramental views that are incompatible with the doctrinal position of the Catholic Church and of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

While it would be clearer to discuss these ecclesiastical and sacramental positions directly, it is not intellectually honest to dismiss a doctrinal matter as secondary if it has implications that a majority of Christians have considered of primary importance. Although not all news about the Church is good, there is no gospel without the Church as the creeds make clear.

Maternal Ontology

Seems to me that mothers go through more significant ontological changes than other folks. I was reminded of this by Rachel Balducci's musing on What's a Mom to Do?

"....One of the trickiest parts of being a mom, I have found, is that need to remember who I am while becoming someone else entirely. A woman has a baby and she is instantly transformed, whether she likes it or not, into someone who is no longer the center of her universe. And while that change happens suddenly, there are a million other changes that happen over the coming days, months and years. Reading materials start to change, music selections change, what we do with our time – slowly these other human beings that have entered our life begin to make demands on our time and energy that have a tremendous impact on nearly everything about us...."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Underhanded Secularism

Via Zenit, this translation from Pope Benedict XVI's address to the Slovenian eucharistic conference:

The Pope then went on to consider the "main challenge" facing the Church in Slovenia: "Western-style secularism, which is different and perhaps more underhand than Marxist secularism." It results in "the unbridled pursuit of material goods, the drop in birth rate and the reduction in religious practice with a notable diminution in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life."

"Each generation is called to renew the choice between life and goodness and death and evil. We as pastors have the duty to show Christians the path of life, that they in their turn may become the salt and light of society. I encourage the Church in Slovenia, then, to respond to materialist and selfish culture with a coherent evangelizing activity that begins in parishes."

Referring to the National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Slovenia in 2009, Benedict XVI stated that the Eucharist and the Word of God "constitute the true treasure of the Church. Faithful to the teaching of Christ, each community must use earthly goods simply, in the service of the Gospel."

He added: "On this subject, the New Testament is rich in teachings and in normative examples so that at all times pastors may correctly approach the delicate problem of worldly goods and their appropriate use. In all periods of the Church, witness to evangelical poverty has been an essential element of evangelization, as it was in the life of Christ."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Not swimming the Tiber

While most of Rome is to the southeast of the river, Vatican City is on the west of the Tiber and for many swimming is not needed if one does adequate research.

Brague's Law of God

There is a useful review of Remi Brague's The Law of God by Christopher Morrissey in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review. George Weigel also refers to the book in an article in Commentary.

In a review at the Hoover Institute, Benjamin Balint says:

Brague argued in his book Eccentric Culture (2002) that Christianity comprises neither a third element in European culture nor a synthesis of Athens and Jerusalem, but “the common structure of our relationship to both sources.” It conditions the very way Europe relates to the past: “Christianity is not an element among others in European culture, but its very form, the form that enables it to remain open to whatever can come from the outside and enrich the hoard of its experiences with the human and the divine.”

In a 1992 issue of First Things, Brague writes about Christ, Culture, and the New Europe and notes:

Forgiveness, then, turns out to be more than a theme for sermons. In Europe in any case, and likely even in the world at large, forgiving one another is by far the most real and concrete of all political programs. If we want peace, historic wounds must be healed. Can they be? In order to answer this question, we have to realize that forgiveness is basically a religious idea. It begins with faith: we first have to believe, in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary, that reconciliation is possible, that both we and our enemy can change our hearts.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


1 Glory be to God on high,
God whose glory fills the sky:
Peace on earth to man forgiven,
Man the well-beloved of Heaven!

2 Sovereign Father, Heavenly King!
Thee we now presume to sing;
Glad Thine attributes confess,
Glorious all and numberless.

3 Hail! by all Thy works adored,
Hail! the everlasting Lord!
Thee with thankful hearts we prove
Lord of Power, and God of Love.

4 Christ our Lord and God we own,
Christ the Father's only Son!
Lamb of God for sinners slain,
Saviour of offending man!

5 Bow THine ear, in mercy bow,
Hear, the World's Atonement Thou!
Jesu, in Thy name we pray,
Take, O, take our sins away.

6 Powerful Advocate with God,
Justify us by THy blood!
Bow thine ear, in mercy bow,
Hear, the World's Atonement Thou!

7 Hear; for THou, O Christ, alone
With Thy glorious Sire art One!
ONe the Holy Ghost with Thee,
One supreme Eternal Three.


1 Sons of God, triumphant rise,
Shout th' accomplish'd Sacrifice!
Shout your sins in Christ forgiven,
Sons of God, and heirs of heaven!

2 Ye that round our altars throng,
Listening angels, join the song:
Sing with us, ye heavenly powers,
Pardon, grace, and glory ours!

3 Love's mysterious work is done!
Greet we now th' accepted Son,
Heal'd and quicken'd by His blood,
Join'd to Christ, and one with God.

4 Christ, of all our hopes the seal;
Peace Divine in Christ we feel,
Pardon to our souls applied:
Dead for all, for me He died!

5 Sin shall tyrannize no more,
Purged its guilt, dissolved its power;
Jesus makes our hearts His throne,
There He lives, and reigns alone.

6 Grace our every thought controls,
Heaven is open'd in our souls,
Everlasting life is won,
Glory is on earth begun.

7 Christ in us; in Him we see
Fulness of the Deity.
Beam of the Eternal Beam;
Life Divine we taste in Him!

8 Him we only taste below;
Mightier joys ordain'd to know,
Him when fully ours we prove,
Ours the heaven of perfect love!


1 How happy are Thy servants, Lord,
Who, thus remember Thee!
What tongue can tell our sweet accord,
Our perfect harmony?

2 Who Thy mysterious supper share,
Here at Thy table fed,
Many, and yet but one we are,
One undivided bread.

3 One with the living Bread Divine
Which now by faith we eat,
Our hearts, and minds, and spirits join,
And all in Jesus meet.

4 So dear the tie where souls agree
In Jesu's dying love:
Then only can it closer be,
When all are join'd above.


1 Happy the saints of former Days,
Who first continued in the word,
A simple, lowly, loving race,
True followers of their lamblike Lord.

2 In holy fellowship they lived,
Nor would from the commandment move
But every joyful day received
The tokens of expiring Love.

3 Not then above their Master wise,
They simply in His paths remain'd
And call'd to mind His sacrifice
With steadfast faith and love unfeign'd.

4 From house to house they broke the bread
Impregnated with life Divine,
And drank the Spirit of their Head
Transmitted in the sacred wine.

5 With Jesu's constant presence blest,
While duteous to His dying word,
They kept the Eucharistic feast
And supp'd in Eden with their Lord.

6 Throughout their spotless lives was seen
The virtue of this heavenly food;
Superior to the sons of men,
They soar'd aloft, and walk'd with God.

7 O what a flame of sacred love
Was kindled by the altar's fire!
They lived on earth like those above,
Glad rivals of the heavenly choir.

8 Strong in the strength herewith received,
And mindful of the Crucified,
His confessors for Him they lived,
For Him His faithful martyrs died.

9 Their souls from chains of flesh released,
By torture from their bodies driven,
With violent faith the kingdom seized,
And fought and forced their way to heaven.

10 Where is the pure primeval flame,
Which in their faithful bosom glow'd?
Where are the followers of the Lamb,
The dying witnesses for God?

11 Why is the faithful seed decreased,
The life of God extinct and dead?
The daily sacrifice is ceased,
And charity to heaven is fled.

12 Sad mutual causes of decay,
Slackness and vice together move;
Grown cold, we cast the means away,
And quench the latest spark of love.

13 The sacred signs Thou didst ordain,
Our pleasant things, are all laid waste;
To men of lips and hearts profane,
To dogs and swine and heathens cast.

14 Thine holy ordinance condemn'd
Hath let the flood of evil in,
And those who by Thy name are named
The sinners unbaptized out-sin.

15 But canst Thou not Thy work revive
Once more in our degenerate years?
O, wouldst Thou with Thy rebels strive,
And melt them into gracious tears.

16 O, wouldst Thou to Thy church return,
For which the faithful remnant sighs,
For which the drooping nations mourn!
Restore the daily sacrifice.

17 Return, and with Thy servants sit
Lord of the sacramental feast;
And satiate us with heavenly meat,
And make the world Thy happy guest.

18 Now let the spouse, reclined on THee,
Come up out of th ewilderness,
From every spot and wrinkle free,
And wash'd and perfected in grace.

19 Thou hear'st the pleading Spirit's groan,
Thou know'st the groaning Spirit's will:
Come in Thy gracious kingdom down,
And all Thy ransom'd servants seal.

20 Come quickly, Lord, the Spirit cries,
The number of Thy saints complete;
Come quickly, Lord, the bride replies,
And make us all for glory meet;

21 Erect Thy tabernacle here,
The New Jerusalem send doen,
Thyself amidst THy saints appear,
And seat us on Thy dazzling throne.

22 Begin the great millenial day;
Now, Saviour, with a shout descend,
Thy standard in the heavens display,
And bring the joy which ne'er shall end.


John and Charles Wesley published Hymns on the Lord's Supper in 1745. It contains 166 hymns, organized into six sections:

  1. As it is a Memorial of the Sufferings and Death of Christ
  2. As it is a Sign and a Means of Grace
  3. The Sacrament as a Pledge of Heaven
  4. The Holy Eucharist as it implies a Sacrifice
  5. Concerning the Sacrifice of our Persons
  6. After the Sacrament

I'll be posting the hymns in reverse order and then, perhaps, adding a few comments.

Friday, January 18, 2008

On Miracles

There's a nice posting over at Crossed the Tiber on miracles.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The speech the Pope didn't give

Translation by AsiaNews

It is a great joy for me to meet the community of "La Sapienza - Università di Roma" on the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year. For centuries, this university has marked the progress and the life of the city of Rome, bringing forth intellectual excellence in every field of study. Both during the period when, after its foundation at the behest of Pope Boniface VIII, the institution was directly dependent upon ecclesiastical authority, and after this, when the Studium Urbis became an institution of the Italian state, your academic community has maintained a very high standard of scholarship and culture, which places it among the most prestigious universities in the world. The Church of Rome has always looked with affection and admiration at this university centre, recognising its sometimes arduous and difficult efforts in research and in the formation of the new generations. There has been no lack, in recent years, of significant instances of collaboration and dialogue. I would like to recall, in particular, the worldwide meeting of university rectors on the occasion of the Jubilee of Universities, which saw your community take the responsibility not only for hosting and organising the meeting, but above all for making the complex and prophetic proposal for the development of a "new humanism for the third millennium".

I am moved, on this occasion, to express my gratitude for the invitation extended to me to come to your university to deliver an address to you. In this perspective, I first of all asked myself the question: What can a pope say on an occasion like this? In my lecture in Regensburg, I indeed spoke as pope, but I spoke above all in the guise of a former professor of the university, seeking to connect memory and the present. But at the university "La Sapienza", the ancient university of Rome, I have been invited as "Bishop of Rome", and so I must speak in this capacity. Of course, "La Sapienza" was once the pope's university, but today it is a secular university with that autonomy which, on the basis of its founding principles, has always been part of the nature of the university, which must always be exclusively bound to the authority of the truth. In its freedom from political and ecclesiastical authorities, the university finds its special role, and in modern society as well, which needs institutions of this nature.

I return to my starting question: What can and should the pope say in meeting with his city's university? Reflecting on this question, it has seemed to me that it includes two more questions, the clarification of which should by itself lead to the answer. It is necessary, in fact, to ask: What is the nature and mission of the papacy? And again: What is the nature and mission of the university? It is not my intention here to belabour either you or myself with lengthy examinations of the nature of the papacy. A brief summary should be enough. The pope is, first of all, the bishop of Rome, and as such, in virtue of apostolic succession from the Apostle Peter, he has Episcopal authority in regard to the entire Catholic Church. The word "bishop"—episkopos—, which in its immediate meaning refers to "supervision", already in the New Testament was fused together with the biblical concept of the shepherd: he is the one who, from an elevated point of observation, surveys the whole landscape, making sure to keep the flock together and on the right path. This description of the bishop's role directs the view first of all to within the community of believers. The bishop—the shepherd—is the man who takes care of this community, the one who keeps it united by keeping it on the path toward God, which Jesus points out through the Christian faith—and He does not only point this out: He himself is the way for us. But this community that the bishop cares for as large or small as it may be—lives in the world; its conditions, its journey, its example, and its words inevitably influence the rest of the human community in its entirety. The larger it is, the more its good condition or eventual decline will impact all of humanity. Today we see very clearly how the situation of the religions and the situation of the Church—its crises and renewals—act upon the whole of humanity. Thus the pope, precisely as the shepherd of his community, has increasingly become a voice of the ethical reasoning of humanity.

But here there immediately comes the objection according to which the pope does not in fact truly speak on the basis of ethical reasoning, but instead draws his judgments from the faith, and therefore he cannot claim that these have validity for those who do not share this faith. We must return to this argument later, because it poses the absolutely fundamental question: What is reason? How can an assertion—and above all a moral norm—demonstrate that it is "reasonable". At this point, I would like to note briefly that John Rawls, while he denies that religious doctrines overall have the character of "public" reasoning, he nonetheless sees in their "non-public" reasoning at least a reasoning that cannot simply be dismissed by those who support a hard-line secularist rationality. He sees a criterion of this reasonableness in, among other things, the fact that that such doctrines are derived from a responsible and well grounded tradition, in which over a long span of time sufficiently strong arguments have been developed in support of the respective doctrines. It seems important to me that this statement recognises that experience and demonstration over the course of generations, the historical backdrop of human wisdom, are also a sign of their reasonableness and their lasting significance. In the face of an a-historical form of reason that seeks to construct itself in an exclusively a-historical rationality, the wisdom of humanity as such—the wisdom of the great religious traditions—should be viewed as a reality that cannot be cast with impunity into the trash bin of the history of ideas.

Let's return to the opening question. The pope speaks as the representative of a believing community, in which throughout the centuries of its existence a specific life wisdom has matured; he speaks as the representative of a community that holds within itself a treasury of ethical understanding and experience, which is important for all of humanity. In this sense, he speaks as the representative of a form of ethical reasoning.

But now we must ask ourselves: What is the university? What is its purpose? It is a huge question which I can only answer once again in almost telegraphic style by making just a few observations. I believe that it can be said that the true intimate origin of the university lies in man’s craving for knowledge. He wants to know what everything around him is. In this sense the Socratic questioning is the impulse that gave birth to the Western university. I am thinking here, just to mention one text, the dispute that sets Euthyphro, who defends mythical religion and his devotion to it, against Socrates. In contrast Socrates asks: “And do you believe there is really a war amongst the gods, with terrible feuds, even, and battles . . . Are we to say that these things are true, Euthyphro? (Euthyphro, 6: b and c). In this apparently not very devout question—but which drew in Socrates from a deeper and purer sense of religiosity, one that sought a truly divine god—the Christians of the first centuries recognised their path and themselves. They accepted their faith non in a positivist manner or as a way of getting away from unfulfilled desires but rather as a way of dissolving the cloud that was mythological religion so as to discover the God that is creative Reason as well as Reason-as-Love. For this reason, asking themselves about the reason for the greater God as well as the real nature and sense of being human did not represent for them any problematic lack of religiosity, but was part of the essence of their way of being religious. They therefore did not need to solve or put aside the Socratic dilemma but could, indeed had to accept it. They also had to recognise as part of their identity the demanding search for reason in order to learn about the entire truth. The university could, indeed had to be born within the Christian world and the Christian faith. We must take another step. Man wants to know; he wants the truth. Truth pertains first and foremost to seeing and understanding theoria as it is called in the Greek tradition. But truth is not only theoretic. In correlating the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mountain and the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11, Augustine asserted the reciprocity of scientia and tristitia. For him just knowing is source of sadness. In fact those who only see and learn all that happens in the world end up becoming sad. But the truth means more than knowledge. The purpose of knowing the truth is to know what is good. This is also the sense of Socrates’ way of questioning: What good thing makes us true? Truth makes us good and goodness is true. This optimism dwells in the Christian faith because it was allowed to see the Logos, the creative Reason that, in God’s incarnation, revealed itself as that which is Good, as Goodness itself.

In medieval theology there was a great dispute over the relationship between theory and praxis, over the proper relationship between knowledge and action, a dispute that we must not go into further here. In fact with their four faculties medieval universities embodied this correlation. Let us begin with medicine, which was the fourth faculty according to the understanding of that time. Although it was seen more as an “art” than as a science, its inclusion in the realm of the universitas meant that it was seen as belonging to the domain of rationality. The art of healing was seen as something guided by reason and was thus beyond the domain of magic. Healing is a task that always requires more than simple reason but exactly for this reason it needs the connection between knowledge and power and must belong to the realm of ratio. Inevitably in law faculties the relationship between praxis and theory, between knowing and doing takes front seat for it is about giving human freedom its right shape which is always freedom in reciprocal communion. The law is the premise upon which freedom is built; it is not its adversary. But this raises another question. How can we identify what the standards of justice are, that is those that make freedom as part of a whole possible and serve mankind’s goodness? Let us come back to the present. It is a question that is related to how we can find legal rules that can govern freedom, human dignity and man’s rights. It is an issue that concerns us insofar as it relates to the democratic processes that shape opinions but also one that can distress us insofar as it relates to humanity’s future. In my opinion Jürgen Habermas articulates a view, widely accepted in today’s world of ideas, in which the legitimacy of a constitution as the basis for what is legal stems from two sources: the equal participation of all citizens in the political process and reasonable conflict-resolution mechanisms in politics. Insofar as the reasonable mechanisms are concerned he notes that the issue cannot be reduced to a mere struggle for who gets more votes but must include a “process of argumentation that is responsive to truth” (wahrheitssensibles Argumentationsverfahren). This is well said but it is something difficult to turn into political praxis. We know that the representatives of this public “process of argumentation” are for the most part political parties which shape the formation of the public will. In fact they invariably will seek a majority and will almost always take care of the interests they pledge to protect which are very often partisan and not collective interests. Responsiveness to the truth always takes the back seat to partisan interests. To me it is significant that Habermas should say that responsiveness to truth is a necessary component of political argumentation, since it reintroduces the concept of truth in philosophical and political debates.

Pilate’s question then becomes inevitable: What is truth? How do we recognise it? If we turn to “public reason” as Rawls does, another question necessarily follows: What is reasonable? How does a reason prove to be the true reason? Whatever the case may be, it is obvious that in the quest for freedom and for living together equitably groups other than parties and interest groups must be heard; although that does not mean that the latter are any less important. Let us go back to medieval universities and the way they were set up. Along with law, philosophy and theology had their own faculty with the task of studying mankind in his totality and thus keep alive responsiveness to truth. One might even say that this is the real and enduring meaning of both faculties—they maintain responsiveness to truth and prevent man from being distracted in his quest for the truth. But how can they do this? This is a question which we must always work at and which can never be raised and answered once and for all. Hence at this point not even I can properly give you an answer. I can though invite you to keep asking this question, one that has involved all the great thinkers who throughout history have fought for and sought out the truth, coming up with their own answers and enduring their own fears, always going beyond any one answer.

Theology and philosophy are an odd couple; neither can be totally separated from the other and yet each must keep its own purpose and identity. Compared to the answers Church Fathers formulated in their day and age, St Thomas Aquinas deserves a special place in history for highlighting the autonomy of philosophy as well as that of the law. He equally has the merit of pointing out the responsibilities that fall on reason when it questions itself on the basis of its own strengths. Unlike neo-platonic ideas that saw religion and philosophy inseparably intertwined, the Church Fathers had presented the Christian faith as real philosophy, insisting that this faith corresponded to the needs of Reason in its quest for the truth, that is a faith that was a “Yes” to truth when compared to mythical religions that had ended up turning into mere custom. However, when universities were founded in the West those religions were no more—only Christianity existed. This meant highlighting in a new way reason’s own responsibility, one that was not absorbed by the faith. Thomas lived at a special time. For the first time all of Aristotle’s philosophical writings were available as were the Hebrew and Arabic text that embodied and extended Greek philosophy. Thus as Christianity interacted with others and engaged their reason in a new dialogue it had to fight for its own reasonableness. The Faculty of Philosophy, i.e. the so-called artists’ faculty, was until then only a preparatory stage before moving onto theology. Afterwards it became a faculty in its own right, an autonomous partner to theology and the faith which the latter reflected. We cannot dwell on the gripping confrontation that followed. I would say that St Thomas’ idea about the relationship between philosophy and theology can be expressed by the formula handed down by the Council of Chalcedon on Christology, namely that philosophy and theology must relate to each other “without confusion and without separation.” “Without confusion” is understood in the sense that each will maintain its own identity so that philosophy is truly a free and responsible search for reason and aware of its own limits and thus of its own greatness and vastness. Theology must instead continue to draw from a source of knowledge that it has not invented and that is always greater than itself, and which always renews the process of thinking since it is never totally exhausted by reflection. “Without confusion” does not stand alone for there is “without separation,” that is the idea that philosophy never starts from scratch in isolation but is part of great dialogue found in the accumulated knowledge that history has bequeathed and which it always critically but meekly accepts and develops. Yet it should not shut itself off from what religions, especially the Christian faith, have received and given to humanity as a sign for the path to follow. Indeed History has shown that many of the things that theologians have said in the course of time or that Church authorities have put in practice have been proven false and today they confuse us. But it is equally true that the history of the saints and the history of the humanism that has developed on the basis of the Christian faith are proof of the truth of this faith in its essential core, making it something that public reason needs. Of course, much of what theology and faith say can only be appropriated from within the faith and thus cannot be seen as a need for those to whom this faith remains inaccessible. It is true however that the message of the Christian faith is never only a "comprehensive religious doctrine" in Rawls’ terms, but that it is instead a force that purifies reason itself, further helping the latter to be itself. On the basis of its origins the Christian message should always encourage the search of the truth and thus be a force against the pressures exerted by power and interests.

Well, so far I have only talked about the university in the Middle Ages, trying however to show to what extent its nature and purpose have remained the same all along. In modern times knowledge has become more multi-faceted, especially in the two broad fields that now prevail in universities. First of all, there are the natural sciences which have developed on the basis of experimentation and subject matters’ supposed rationality. Secondly, there are the social sciences and the humanities in which man has tried to understand himself by looking at his own history and uncovering his own nature. From this development humanity not only acquired a great deal of knowledge and power but also an understanding and recognition of the rights and dignity of mankind. And for this we can be grateful. But man’s journey can never be said to be over and the danger of falling into inhumanity is never just warded off as we can see in today’s history. The danger faced by the Western world, just to mention the latter, is that mankind, given its great knowledge and power, might give up on the question of the truth. At the same time this means that reason in the end may bow to the pressures of partisan interests and instrumental value, forced to acknowledge the latter as the ultimate standard. From the point of view of the academic world this means that there is a danger that philosophy, feeling incapable of fulfilling its task, might degenerate into positivism, a danger that theology and the message it has for reason might be confined to the private sphere of a group more or less big. If however reason, concerned about its supposed purity, fails to hear the great message that comes from the Christian faith and the understanding it brings, it will dry up like a tree with roots cut off from the water that gives it life. It will lose the courage needed to find the truth and thus become small rather than great. Applied to our European culture this means that if it wants to constitute itself on the basis of its arguments and whatever appears to it to be convincing, with concerns about its own secular nature, it will cut itself off from its life-sustaining roots, and in doing so will not become more reasonable and pure but will instead become undone and fragmented.

And so let me go back to the initial point. What does the Pope have to do or say in a university? He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others, which can only be freely offered. Beyond his ministry as Pastor of the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral ministry, it is his task to keep alive man’s responsiveness to the truth. Similarly he must again and always invite reason to seek out truth, goodness and God, and on this path urge it to see the useful lights that emerged during the history of the Christian faith and perceive Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates history and helps find the way towards the future.

From the Vatican, 17 January 2008

Feast of Corpus Christi

In 1264, Pope Urban IV asked Fr. Thomas Aquinas to compose an Office for the new feast of Corpus Christi, in honor of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, which is celebrated on the Thursday or Sunday following Trinity Sunday. Tom Kreitzberg has a nice page about these hymns.

Here are the first four verses from Gerard Manley Hopkins' translation of Adoro Te Devote:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

On the cross thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

(I'm posting this now, out of season, in preparation for a series of postings on Wesley's Eucharistic Hymns.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Calling Democratic Bluff

Jeff Gannon writes:

As the result of liberal historical revisionism, few Americans realize that Democrats ruled the segregated South until the 1960s. Democrats were the party of Jim Crow and Bull Connor. Senate Democrats, including former Ku Klux Klan recruiter Robert Byrd and Bill Clinton mentor William Fulbright and Al Gore, Sr. filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The stalemate was broken by Senate Republicans ensuring passage of the bill.

The racism that never left the Democratic Party has bubbled to the surface in the battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for the presidential nomination. The Clintons went out and got BET founder Robert Johnson to put the smear on Obama - in order to avoid the backlash that took place after Bill Shaheen and Bob Kerrey each took shots at the uppity Illinois senator.

Even though Republican President George W. Bush appointed more blacks to positions of real power and authority, idiots like Kanye West blurt out on national television that "Bush doesn't like black people." African-Americans have consistently given an overwhelming majority of their votes to Democrats based on illusory promises that are never fulfilled.

However, the Clintons are going to have to take down the black guy if they are to achieve their own political ends....

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Freedom of Education

Nancy Salvato writes, in The New Media Journal:

As an education reformer, I read about education every day. I read about ways to hold institutions of higher learning accountable for their education curriculum, I read about how important it is to have highly qualified teachers, and I read how students not receiving an equitable education should be afforded the right to attend private schools or charter schools with the tax dollars set aside for public education. While all of these are noble ideas, none of them address the real problem with education.

The real problem is that nowhere is it written in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that there is freedom of education. Unlike religion, which received protection from the faction of the majority by the Bill of Rights which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” nowhere is education specifically addressed in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Yet, today, we have in place a Department of Education funded by the taxpayers’ money and a public education system funded by the taxpayers’ money.

I am convinced that James Madison, who fought tooth and nail against using public money for religion, would have felt the same way about education. How can I be so certain about this? No one, especially James Madison, wanted the state to support a single system of religious beliefs. Furthermore, against majority opinion, James Madison fought against a general assessment tax which would have given “individual citizens the option of designating his taxes to any one of a number of denominations.”

Read it all

Catena Aurea

Catena Aurea, The Golden Chain, is a commentary on the four gospels which St. Thomas Aquinas made by organizing selections from the writings of the early Church Fathers (Basil, Chrysostom, Gregory, etc). In the preface to the english edition, John Newman writes:

All such commentaries have more or less merit and usefulness, but they are very inferior to the 'Catena Aurea,' which is now presented to the English reader; being all of partial and capricious, dilating on one passage, and passing unnoticed another of equal or greater difficulty; arbitrary in their selection from the Fathers, and as compilations crude and indigested. But it is impossible to read the Catena of S. Thomas, without being struck with the masterly and architectonic skill with which it is put together. A learning of the highest kind,—not a mere literary book-knowledge, which might have supplied the place of indexes and tables in ages destitute of those helps, and when every thing was to be read in unarranged and fragmentary MSS.—but a thorough acquaintance with the whole range of ecclesiastical antiquity, so as to be able to bring the substance of all that had been written on any point to bear upon the text which involved it—a familiarity with the style of each writer, so as to compress into few words the pith of a whole page, and a power of clear and orderly arrangement in this mass of knowledge, are qualities which make this Catena {iv} perhaps nearly perfect as a conspectus of Patristic interpretation. Other compilations exhibit research, industry, learning; but this, though a mere compilation, evinces a masterly command over the whole subject of Theology.

The Catena is so contrived that it reads as a running commentary, the several extracts being dovetailed together by the compiler. And it consists wholly of extracts, the compiler introducing nothing of his own but the few connecting particles which link one extract to the next.

The Catena Aurea is available in print from Amazon and is also online in various formats, for example, it is at Catechetics Online in a chapter by chapter format.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Carroll on Eucharistic Hymns

Speaking of Dr. Carroll, here's an article on Eucharistic hymns:
Singing for the Supper or the Sacrifice?

Dr. Carroll is organist/choral director at the Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia; associate professor at Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and Scholar in Residence, PHMC, Ephrata. The article above first appeared, I assume, in the Adoremus Bulletin.

Lucy Carroll on Chant

Here's a good introduction to chant, by Lucy Carrol. She

In the wake of the Council, certain chants were culled from the great repertoire and put into a little book called Jubilate Deo. The easiest Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus were put together into a Missa Jubilate Deo. The same Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus, with a different Gloria, became known as the Missa Primitiva.

I must confess to a hearty dislike for these re-names; I continue to call them by their Liber Usualis names. However, I have no qualms about mixing and matching other chant pieces. Our congregation at the monastery can sing the Kyrie from the litany, Kyrie VIII, Kyrie XVI; Kyrie XII Pater Cuncta (a congregational favorite); Kyrie XI Orbis Factor (a choir favorite).

They know Gloria VIII, the Ambrosian Gloria, and one psalm-tone-like Gloria in English.

They can sing Sanctus and Agnus X (Alme Pater); XVI; XVIII, (Deus Genitor Alme); and VIII (de Angelis).

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Saint Elias Maronite Catholic parish

While western Virginia is a bit of a Catholic backwater, we are blessed to have, in addition to the common Roman rite parishes, a Maronite Catholic church - Saint Elias (at 4730 Cove Road, just off Peters Creek Road):

St. Elias Catholic Church is located in Roanoke, Virginia. The church belongs to the Maronite Rite, which evolved from the Antiochene Tradition of Catholicism.

The Maronite Rite takes its name from a holy hermit called Maron, who lived in the 4th and 5th centuries near Antioch, in Northern Syria. He was a staunch defender of the Catholic faith. His disciples followed in his footsteps. It has been said that their history "is the story of a people who were continually willing to shed their blood and sacrifice their lives and possessions for religious convictions and human liberties."

The Maronite Church became a formal entity with the institution of the Maronite Patriarchate of Antioch and the Whole East in the 7th century. The first Patriarch was St. John Maron chosen in 685 C.E. The residence of the Maronite Patriarch is now in Lebanon.

The Maronite Church professes the same faith and beliefs of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. It also administers the seven sacraments instituted by Christ, and obeys all the rules and ordinances issued by our Holy Father the Pope, the successor of Saint Peter in the Vatican.

The only difference between the Maronite Church and the Roman Church is in the Divine Liturgy.

Community Organizing

The various political campaigns prompt this ironic juxtaposition of three links with reference to Alinsky:

From a "progressive" site: Jesus and Alinsky

And on First Things, Neuhaus writes, in passing:

Our old hand thinks part of the problem is with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), an effort launched more than thirty years ago by the late Saul Alinsky of Chicago, who made no secret of his strategy of hijacking the resources of the Catholic Church for his self-declared revolution. IAF is, under various names, still very much a force in community organizing around the country. But why are Catholic dioceses and CCHD so hesitant to insist that assisted programs be commensurate with Catholic support and teaching? Part of the answer is a good ecumenical impulse gone awry. In many urban areas, liberal Protestant churches are a small minority in community coalitions but exercise a large influence, often because Catholics don’t want to offend them by pressing issues such as support for crisis pregnancy centers or opposition to partial-birth abortion. Another part of the answer is that it is naively assumed that more "inclusive" groups will more impartially serve "the common good," when, in fact, any viable organization has its particular goals-a.k.a. "interests"-for good or ill.

And, to make the connection even more obvious: a useful, even if overheated, Catholic City article.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Call to Pray

Richard Owen reports in London Times Online that:

Pope Benedict XVI has instructed Roman Catholics to pray “in perpetuity” to cleanse the Church of paedophile clergy. All dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries will be expected to organise continuous daily prayers to express penitence and to purify the clergy.

Vatican officials said that every parish or institution should designate a person or group each day to conduct continuous prayers for the Church to rid itself of the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Alternatively, churches in the same diocese could share the duty. Prayer would take place in one parish for 24 hours, then move to another.

Vatican watchers said that there was no known precedent for global prayer on a specific issue of this kind. There are about one billion Roman Catholics worldwide.

The instruction was sent to bishops by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Brazil, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. He told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that he was acting in the Pope’s name. The Pope wanted Catholics to pray for the “mercy of God for the victims of the grave situations caused by the moral and sexual conduct of a very small part of the clergy”, he said.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


From Fr John Zuhlsdorf's blog:

Epiphany is from the Greek word for a divine “manifestation” or “revelation”. The Church’s liturgy for the feast, especially in its antiphons for Vespers, reflect the tradition that Epiphany was thought to be the day not only when the Magi came to adore Christ, but also the same day years later when Jesus changed water into wine at Cana, and also when He was baptized by St. John at the Jordan.


In each of these three mysteries Jesus is revealed to be more than a mere man. He is man and God. The are many “epiphanies” of God in the Scripture, for example, the burning bush seen by Moses, the Transfiguration, and the abovementioned. The history of the modern feast of Epiphany is ancient and complicated history. In the East Epiphany was an extremely important feast far more important than the relative latecomer Christmas. In the West, the Nativity developed first and the celebration of Epiphany came later. In many places in the world, Epiphany, and not Christmas, is the day to exchange gifts, in imitation of the Magi. Epiphany truly really falls on the 6th of January, the twelfth day after Christmas (as in “On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…” – which some think comes from Ireland during the time when Catholicism was illegal). Twelfth Night as in Shakespeare’s play, refers to Epiphany. In the post-Conciliar calendar, it can be transferred to Sunday and perhaps this is good: the ancient and mysterious feast now gets more attention than it did when it was observed strictly on January 6th.