Blog Template Theology of the Body: January 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let's Meme

It's about that time of the year. I tag all Vocatum contributors to post their own memes, especially those we have not heard from in a while. Readers, please fill us in on yourselves in the comments! We love to hear from you.

The MM Alphabet

Accent: Texan when I'm home, various elsewhere; in Rwanda, it helps to speak like a Rwandan.
Best Feature: A lion's heart, I've been told.
Chore I Hate: Getting my car washed.
Dog or Cat: Absolutely dogs! Especially my mini black dachsund Zali Pop.
Essential Electronics: Laptop, IPhone, magnetism.
Favorite Cologne(s): Anything from Creed or Carolina Herrera; the latter is staunchly pro-life.
Gold or Silver: Gold! - I feel really strongly about this.
Hometown: Remember the Alamo!
Insomnia: I wish.
Job Title: PhD candidate in Theology, TA, faithful friend of the World Youth Alliance.
Kids: God willing someday, a little girl named Caeli Christi (get it?!) and a little boy named after his daddy... etc. etc. etc.
Living arrangements: Apartments, with whistful glances at my parents' ranch.
Most admirable trait: Joe Jones says its "moxie."
Overnight hospital stays: Three, when a car ran over my head when I was a child.
Nemesis, arch. The devil, dammit.
Phobias: Swimming in the ocean, elevators, cramped spaces, the dark, Irenic Episcopalianism.
Quote: Come, thou long expected Jesus.
Religion: Catholic and loving it.
Siblings: Oldest of six, four charming boys and two formidable girls.
Time I wake up: 7 AM.
Unusual talent or skill: I always score perfectly on the verbal sections of standardized tests.
Vegetable I refuse to eat: Steamed broccoli.
Worst habit: Anxiety.
X-rays: Teeth and neck (cf childhood accident).
Yummy stuff I cook: Famous Easter quiche, curried beans and rice, Beef Bourgignonne, creamed spinach, cherry clafoutise, evangelical cookies.
Zany Extras: I hunt heresies.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

J.R.R. Tolkien on the Eucharist

"Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death. By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste -or foretaste- of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires.

The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals.

Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children - from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn - open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand - after which our Lord propounded the feeding that was to come."

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to his son.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Aquinas Lectures 2008 at the University of Dallas

They begin tonight:

2008 Aquinas Lecture, "When did the 'Modern Subject' Emerge?" by Alain de Libera, University of Geneva, Switzerland.

More Here.

Saint Peter Lombard and the Wall of Fire

The first Scholastic (1100-1160), on why we do theology:

"Earnestly longing with the poor woman to place something from our neediness and meagerness into the guardhouse of the Lord's treasury, and to scale its steep (steps), we have presumed to do a work beyond our strength. We place our trust in its consummation and recompense in the Samaritan's labors, who, having offered two denarii to care for the half-alive man, professed to render the rest to the one paying out more.

The truth of the One proffering delights us, but the immensity of this labor frightens; the desire of making progress exhorts, but the infirmity of failing discourages; but this infirmity is conquered by zeal for the house of God. We have caught fire from this zeal, by which I am catching fire to wall our faith against the error of carnal and animal men... we have studied to wall the Church with the round shields of the Tower of David, and to open those things withdrawn from theological inquiries and to put on display the knowledge of the sacraments to the limited extent of our serve the laudable studies in Christ for those entreating us, with tongue and stylus. As a chariot in us, the charity of Christ puts us in motion."

- Prologue to the Sentences
(MM's translation)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lent for the spiritually retarded

Earlier today, MM posted a brief link to the Episcopalian church's decision to base their Lenten reflections on the Millennium Development Goals. Now the problem with even attempting to criticize something like this is that makes you sound like some sort of spiritual curmudgeon who isn't interested in the welfare of anyone else in the world. To object in any way may make you seem like someone who has relegated Christianity to some spiritual plane that ignores the suffering and poverty of people around you. So let me go on the record from the beginning to state that I am firmly AGAINST poverty...and malaria...and child mortality, etc. I mean, really, who is FOR any of those things? And I think it can be helpful when churches turn their attention to these key issues and try to address them. The Anglican Church's fight against slavery in the 19th century is testimony to how the good news of Christ can transform the lives of people in ways that allow them to effect political change for the benefit of the oppressed.

Nevertheless, the devotional itself is, to be charitable, a piece of junk; it is, as my heading says, Lent for the spiritually retarded. It looks like it was written by someone who was spiritually tone deaf and if I was an Episcopalian I would be embarrassed that my denomination even produced something so facile, superficial, condescending and, at best, tenuously connected to Christian faith. To make it easier for you to understand my complaints, here's the actual Lenten devotional in a pdf file for your perusal and reference (open it up in a separate tab, as I'll be referring to specific sections). Some complaints:

1. Where's Jesus? Lent starts on February 6, and the Lenten devotional has something for each of the days of Lent. Just flip through the first week and see if you can see who is missing? That's right, between February 6 and February 12, the name of Jesus does not appear one single time. In fact, Bishop Schori's name appears in the devotional a full three days before the name of Jesus. This is a pattern that repeats itself all the way through the devotional, where large swaths of political propaganda go by without any mention of Jesus. Now, to be fair, they do actually begin to talk about Jesus on Holy Week, but even here they still manage to leave him out on Wednesday, March 19. A Lenten devotional with Jesus as the supporting cast instead of the central character? What exactly is Christian about this?

2. No room at the inn. There is a reason that there is no room at the inn for Jesus (to mix my liturgical calendar metaphors), and that is that Jesus has been superseded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Check out Thursday, February 7. I'll wait until you come back...See anything wrong here? The Scripture reference is a lovely promise from Deuteronomy 6:6, "These words which I command you today shall be on your heart." Ah yes, the commands of God -- always something good to ruminate on during Lent. After all, thinking about how I violate God's commands might lead me to think about how I contribute to things like poverty and oppression and how Jesus died to redeem me from my sins.

Except, of course, that's not at all what I'm supposed to commit to my heart and ruminate upon. Instead, I'm supposed to memorize the eight MDGs. For some reason this strikes me as just slightly idolatrous, when we put memorizing human goals, no matter how worthy, above the divinely inspired Scripture. Here's a Lenten bonus for you...instead of memorizing the 8 MDGs, try memorizing the 8 Beatitudes. Which one is more likely to transform the way you think about poverty and your fellow humans?

The reality of the this so-called Lenten devotional is that references to the MDGs seem to outnumber references to Jesus by about 3 to 2. Sorry Jesus, but there's not much room for you in this year's Lenten devotional.

3. Jerry McGuire was an Episcopalian?

This really isn't so much a Lenten devotional as it is a pledge drive for the Episcopal church. Let's face it, the bottom line here is the bottom line. We end, of course, with Easter. And then we go out into the world and proclaim the good news of what God has done. Christ is risen!!, actually, we just sign the pledge card and sign off our guilt with a nice check. Do I get an indulgence with my check? Can I pay at the beginning of Lent and skip all of this other crap? And I'm a little bit confused about this anyway, because on February 8 they told me I didn't have to give anything up -- I just had to reconsider my spending habits (of course, they forgot to mention that my spending habits supply jobs for the people who make what I buy, but let's not expect any economic reality here). In fact, the whole thing is really about money, not Christ. Got a problem, let's solve it by spending money! Obviously there are things that require money to solve -- like the mosquito nets, but I'll really believe that the Episcopal church is serious about solving the malaria problem when they campaign for the return of DDT. It's even cheaper and it works. **

4. Education is dumb. Though not quite as dumb as this devotional. You see, the real problem is that we just aren't educated enough. If only we knew more about the rest of the world, we'd pray more, and write our Lent checks. Seriously, all you really need to do is just learn 50 facts about another country (March 11), or buy a globe (March 10), or learn about the plight of children around the world (March 19). Does this seem just a little juvenile to you?

5. Jesus came to create global partnerships. The theological stupidity of this devotional is just staggering. Check out March 13, which asks a really interesting question: "How does that reconciliation happen?" We all know the answer, which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:19 -- we are reconciled to God through Christ. Except that's not quite apparently how reconciliation works. Instead, we just need to creatively find some global partnerships so that we can "develop connections across borders." It's Lenten and it's pro-immigration!!

There is something deeply materialist and obscene about this Lenten devotional. Again, I'm not opposed to any of those goals, but it seems to me that a Lenten devotional that relegates Christ to a minor character -- that uses the goals as a criterion for understanding Christ instead of Christ as a criterion for understanding the goals -- is detrimental to both our faith and to the goals. Though, to be fair, I was hoping that the U.N. would have a goal of stopping their peacekeepers from raping little girls. Now that would be progress.

Well, I've probably spent more time on this than it deserves, so I'll crawl back under my rock and come out again in a month when I have something else that fires me up. In the meantime, I'll be wondering if what most Episcopalians should give up for Lent is this devotional.

**My prediction: more people will be upset by my call for the return of DDT than by this Lenten devotional.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What is the worth of liturgical music?

One of our favorite blogfans has asked me to post this issue because she is engaged in a conversation on point with the elders of her Presbyterian congregation: the question is whether music is essential to Christian worship.

What do you think?

(Interestingly, when we discussed reasons for remaining Episcopalian, quite a few of our readers treated music and other elements of liturgical aesthetics as though these aspects of the Christian worship service might be tantamount to essentials...)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An Episcopalian Lent

In lieu of focusing on the Stations of the Cross and Repentence this year, Episcopalians are to spend their Lent meditating on the United Nations Millenium Development Goals- more here.

(The UN Millenium Development Goals that Episcopalianism celebrates are bolstered in several key areas by the work of the United Nations Population Fund, whose methods are sketchy at best. For instance, when turning to the support of maternal health in the developing world, they do so by "avoiding unwanted pregnancies" through contraception and abortion on demand.

...We discussed that demonic idea once, here.)

Imputation at Trent? II

Some commentors are puzzled as to why anyone would say that the imputation of Christ's extrinsic righteousness to the repentant sinner might be excluded by Trent.

The only righteousness that justifies is Christ's. But Catholic theology teaches that what is Christ's becomes ours by grace. In fact, Canon 10 anathematizes anyone who denies that we can be justified without Christ's righteousness or anyone who says that we are formally justified by that righteousness alone. Here are the words:

If anyone says that men are justified without Christ's righteousness which he merited for us or that they are formally justified by it itself let him be anathema.

Canon 10 says that Christ's righteousness is both necessary, and not limited to imputation. So, imputation is not excluded but only said to be insufficient.

Catholics hold that the rigid distinction between justification and sanctification so prominent in Reformation theologies is an artificial distinction that Scripture does not support. When one takes into account the whole of Scripture, especially James's and Jesus's teaching on the necessity of perfection for salvation (e.g. Matthew 5;8), Catholics understand that man cannot be simul justus et peccator. Transformational righteousness is absolutely essential for final salvation. Once one realizes this, the entire Catholic system of sacraments, purgatory etc. fits into a coherent pattern.

...But does this mean that "imputation ... is totally foreign to Catholic thought?" I am not sure it does.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Ecumenical Acumen Excursus Continued.

In October 2007, Muslim leaders sent a note to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders; various Christian leaders responded. In November, the New York Times published,"Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to A Common Word Between Us and You" on point. The relevant texts can be found here and here. Do these documents represent a breakthrough in the proper Muslim-Christian pursuit of peace? What do you think?

St. Antony of Egypt

"It is worth while that I should relate, and that you, as you wish it, should hear what his death was like. For this end of his is worthy of imitation.
According to his custom he visited the monks in the outer mountain, and having learned from Providence that his own end was at hand, he said to the brethren, 'This is my last visit to you which I shall make. And I shall be surprised if we see each other again in this life. At length the time of my departure is at hand, for I am near a hundred and five years old.' And when they heard it they wept, and embraced, and kissed the old man. But he, as though sailing from a foreign city to his own, spoke joyously, and exhorted them 'Not to grow idle in their labours, nor to become faint in their training, but to live as though dying daily. And as he had said before, zealously to guard the soul from foul thoughts, eagerly to imitate the Saints, and to have nought to do with the Meletian schismatics, for you know their wicked and profane character. Nor have any fellowship with the Arians, for their impiety is clear to all. Nor be disturbed if you see the judges protect them, for it shall cease, and their pomp is mortal and of short duration. Wherefore keep yourselves all the more untainted by them, and observe the traditions of the fathers, and chiefly the holy faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, which you have learned from the Scripture, and of which you have often been put in mind by me."

The Life of Antony, Athanasius of Alexandria.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is there something spiritual about sleep?

NPR did a whole segment this morning on our culture's insistence that the powerful, the intelligent, and the effective don't seem to sleep much; we are a culture that glorifies the short sleeper. I think it's true; consider it, from Bill Clinton bragging about his four hours a night to my academic advisor reminding his students of some German scholar who used to read by candlelight into the wee hours, with his feet in a bucket of ice water. It's so mortal to sleep. Subtle reproaches.

But I wonder about sleeping, theologically. A professor of mine used to tell us that "sleep is spiritual," and a denial of the need to rest looked like a Pelagian refusal to conform to the God of grace and rest; I think this professor must have read the great Josef Pieper on point, perhaps in his Leisure, the Basis of Culture. Scripture has a lot to say about rest; God rests, over and over again. Christ retreated and rested. The Psalmist states the words that ring in my head whenever I am caught looking for caffeine at 3 AM: "He giveth His beloved sleep... I will lie down in peace, and sleep, for you Lord, make me dwell in safety..." Whenever I go on retreat, I am reminded that in the original academies, formed in convents to serve the Church, cloistered monks and nuns conformed their sleeping and waking to the careful regimen of their cycle of prayer, with deliberate discipline and high regard for the pleasure and duty of sleep.

...So, I wonder about sleep.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Did Trent Rule out all Variants on Imputation?

...I think not. Here's why, drawing from Kenneth Howell at Biblical Evidence for Catholicism.

The Canons of the Council of Trent, Canon 11 (Sixth Session) responded to Protestant proposals about justification sola fide as follows:

"If anyone says that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace of and charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and remains in them, or also that the grace by which we are justified is only the good will of God, let him be anathema."

As Howell explains, this statement does not exclude the notion of imputation; it only denies that justification consists solely in imputation, in as much as we are told in Scripture that faith without works is dead, and in as much as we know that if we do not have love, we have nothing.

Howell considers further the Tridentine Canons 9,10, and 11. Canon 9 does not deny salvation sola fide, but rejects the minimal interpretation of that notion: "If anyone says that the impious are justified by faith alone, so that he understands by this that nothing else is required in which he cooperates in working out the grace of justification, and that it is not necessary at all that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his will, let him be anathema."

Canon 9 thus only anathemztizes such a reduced form of the sola fide doctrine that would urge that no outworking of that faith is necessary. This canon in no way says that the imputation of justification is not true, but only that it is heretical to hold that justification consists solely in imputation.

To be continued...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ecumenical Acumen Excursus IX

Can anyone describe the basic distinction between an Aristotelian/Thomistic ontology of morals and modern de-ontologized ethics, giving examples of the personalities who were driving forces behind each trend? Extra credit if you can identify a few of those "new natural law theorists" running around at Notre Dame and Princeton. Good luck...

*Hint: begin by defining "quiddity"...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Quando Tu, Ego

(This is an ancient wedding of the instances where Roman family law really got it right. And yes, you've seen this post before. But the points at hand have been on my mind a lot lately, and the parent essay just got an "A," so here you go. Not for young readers. - Just kidding.)

Augustine’s favorite popular descriptor of the Christian church, as we find in his sermons, is that of a virgin bride, contracted in marriage by the conflated covenantal/inheritance structure neatly summarized in the tabulae matrimoniales. The family law of the classical Julian age required laborious negotiations between the father of the bride and the prospective son- in- law, which ultimately designated their own covenantal exchange of goods (in bride price and dowry) that culminated in the body of the bride.

While the Roman law of St. Augustine’s time excluded the bride from the commercial negotiations in anticipation of her wedding, the law expectantly required the waiting bride to signify her public and free consent to the contract arranged between her betrothed husband and father. She showed her legal consent in multiple and recurring ways.

She would have worn her betrothed’s bronze rings, symbolizing the durability and frugality of the empire that her household would constitute. She would have clasped his hand publicly, face- to- face, in symbolic declaration of fidelity. And lastly, following even the ratification of the detailed deed of purchase by which she was bestowed upon her husband at his wedding, she had to pause one last time on the threshold of her husband’s home for her final and free public act of consent to his nuptial invitation, without which no legal marriage could take place. She said Quando Tu, Ego: whenever and wherever you are, I am then and I am there… wherever you are, I am.

I think it’s a fascinating statement, linguistically. Quando is a Latinate free-for-all. The word is a potential interrogative, carrying within it a multitude of ongoing questions: Who are you?... Where are you?... Who will you become? It’s also a relative adverb, conditioned by the data of times and places beyond control, relativized by a dozen possible particles that may alter its construal in grammatical structures. And the word is also a conjunction, situated tentatively in the immediate place between all that has gone before, on the one hand, and, on the other, the moment wherein the bride pauses for breath before her final statement.

The bride's response to this tentative, broadly contingent qualifier is so simple. For herself, she must speak with the starkest clarity of a unilateral promise that stands in relation to one contingency alone and none other. She alone seals the nuptial contract with the all-consuming self-reference of the singular being verb: I am.

Amen; the nuptial covenant is complete.

Patristics scholar John Cavadini has suggested that the Fathers work in images as much as they do in concepts. They find in every image of bride and groom the vivid reality of Christ's espousal to His Church, for which human nuptials are merely the shadowy metaphor. The Fathers find the Church in Eve, in the valiant woman of Proverbs 31, in Ruth; the Church is the one who follows the Lamb wherever He goes, saying, as we have heard it before, where you dwell, I will dwell; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Augustine finds an image of the Church in every Roman bride who seals her matrimoniales with her vow upon her husband's threshold.

The far-out exegetes in my life remind us that in Scripture, the precise exchange above- where you go, I will go, the Old Testament equivalent of the Quando Tu- occurs between two women, not between a nuptial pair. But the reality is that in the Christian faith, this declaration is not so much spoken as it is finally enacted. It is the Bridegroom Himself who utters the final words of covenantal consummation. The final act of (divine) consent is completed in His own body: it is finished.

Just as Roman customary norms understood that the bride was formed into a true, mature personal agent by conformity to her husband, Augustine locates the formation of the Church as Christ’s nuptial body upon His Cross- In Christ's case, a bride was born for Him as He hung on the Cross, and the Church was made from his side. With a lance his side was struck as he hung there, and out flowed the sacraments of the Church. (Ennaratione 56.11).

The consenting, responsive ego has, of course, already been spoken. The Holy Spirit has already hovered over the first fruit of the Father’s promises to the Son, when a timid teenage girl in Nazareth paused at the threshold of her spouse’s household, and, to conclude the long series of free acts of assent made by the symbolic gestures of her ancestors, gave consent to the terms once established between the Father and the Son: may it be to me according to your word.

(Mary, of course, did not know about Roman jurisprudence. She does not speak with the merely self-referential ego of the contracted bride; she speaks with the determination of an adjudicator: Fiat. It is, after all, God who has proposed to her.)

To all who will join her first act of consent, so that with her definitive “let it be to me according to your word, wherever you go, I will go,” we simply join in: “Amen.” The door to the Father’s household has already been opened, the nuptial Covenant has been ratified, the Word has been made flesh in the body of a bride, the marriage has been consummated on the Cross, its procreative purpose is already unfolding in the weary world as we are gathered, more and more, into Christ’s embrace. Consumatum est. You know how the rest goes. It’s just a matter of time.

…But the bride no longer pauses on her husband’s threshold. It is now He who stands at the door and knocks: Quando tu, ego.

Anglican Sisters Discerning...

...Their own place in the reunion of the Church; apparently a vibrant order called The All Saints Sisters of the Poor has recently entered into prayerful dialogue with Catholic clergy about being received into the Catholic Church. Pray for these beautiful sisters... praise be.

Saint Claire of Assisi, 1193-1253

She was in love with Jesus and His young herald, Francis; so she ran away from a noble home to found and lead an order of servants before she reached the age of eighteen. Like all great women, her vocation provided a home and a dwelling place for the charism of the men she loved. With bare feet and open hands, she and her sisters embodied and established in quiet, stable cloisters the wild call of the Franciscan mission.

We shall keep our vision still;
One moment was enough,
We know we are not made of mortal stuff.
And we can bear all trials that come after,
The hate of men and the fool's loud bestial laughter
And Nature's rule and cruelties unclean-
For we have seen the Glory...we have seen.

- C. S. Lewis, Spirits in Bondage: Dungeon Grates

Friday, January 11, 2008

Even so Lord Jesus Come

(Farewell with me the end of Christmas... As Giotto's image of the Nativity, above, reminds us: next we have Easter)

Peace be to you, and grace from Him
Who freed us from our sin,
Who loved us all
And shed His blood that we might saved be;
Sing holy, holy to our Lord-
The Lord, almighty God
Who was and is and is to come
Sing holy, holy Lord.

Rejoice in Heaven, all that ye that dwell therein,
Rejoice on earth ye saints below,
For Christ is coming soon.

Even so Lord Jesus, quickly come;
And night shall be no more,
They need no light nor lamp nor sun
For Christ will be their all in all.

- Paul Manz, 1919.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


  • The Christmas lights are all coming down in my neighborhood. I hate that. Might as well start getting ready for Lent.

    As you all know, Christmas really does not end till this Sunday! In that vein, check out this very very sad Christmas skit from Saturday Night Live, here.... boo hoo. (This is not for little viewers! It will make them sad.)

    ... But on a happier note, what has been the highlight of your Christmas?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Call for Papers on Theological Exegesis

The Spring 2008 issue of the Princeton Theological Review is currently accepting submissions on the topic of “theological exegesis” through January 28. More here. I get so excited when theology gets Biblical.

HT: The Fire and the Rose

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

New Year's Revisions at Theology of the Body...

To celebrate the new year, some changes...

First: I've cleaned up and reorganized our side bar! This was a long time coming. I use our sidebar almost daily as a quick point of access to some good online resources, so I've done my best to provide well-organized links that will be useful to our little cache of excellent readers. I've omitted inactive blogs and re-organized our Apologetics section, which I refer to often; and I've added a few good blogs that I've recently discovered. Check them out! Some of my personal favorites include Take Your Stand, "Living as a Lay Apostle in the New Millenium;" Adversaria, an insightful UK Anglican blog; Fides Quaerens Intellectum, "a handful of philosophy PhD students reflect on philosophy, religion, and other stuff;" Mockingbird documents the Manhattan outreach of Dave and Cate Zahl; Intellectuelle is for "Thinking Christian Women;" Church Ladies is a place for "the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies, to exchange such pieces of feminine genius as are useful to their craft;" and, just for fun: Overheard at YDS.

The blogs that get a permalink here either consistently witness to the best of the Church's mind and practices, or provide an excellent look at the considerations of those who (like all of us) are continually seeking understanding with their faith, and doing it really well. Then, there are a few blogs which merely provide some very useful tools for the building up of the Church's families; or, there are those which support the Church's gifts to the secular world by the promotion of the culture of life.

Secondly: I've put together a new section for "Sermon Aids and Resources" in the top section of our sidebar. This idea was inspired by my clergy friends who frequently have to scramble to get a sermon together for Sunday services while at the same time balancing many other duties. Googling "homily help" provides a rather random assortment of links, so I have done a little research and pooled some sound online resources for sermon writing to be available here. I hope that you all will approve. All the best to our wonderful pastors who read and comment here.

Some Sermon Aids and Resources

The Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City: Homily Help

Medieval Sourcebook: The Golden Legend Online, Etc. Lives of the Saints, medieval references, and other resources.

Prepare the Word Each week, Prepare the Word provides tools to prepare effective, powerful homilies—the kind that touch people’s minds and hearts and nurture their faith: insightful, succinct homily reflections for each weekday of the year; sample homilies for special occasions; useful information on feast days and other important church celebrations. (Subscription required)

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology Resource Center The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition. The Center serves clergy and laity, students and scholars, with research and study tools — from books and publications to multimedia and on-line programming.Our goal is to be a teacher of teachers. We want to raise up a new generation of priests who are fluent in the Bible and lay people who are biblically literate.

The WorkingPreacher Web A ministry of the Center for Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary: inspiring better preaching by offering timely, compelling and trustworthy content for today’s working preachers. The inspiring and educational content is deeply grounded theologically and biblically, to inspire more faithful and creative proclamation of the Word.

Finally, for a little ecclesiology. I've changed the sub heading in our title: as you can see, this blog is now to be known as a place for "young catholics and friends," period. This reflects the fact that in our world, there are those who identify with the Church Catholic with varying degrees of integrity, and those who do not, for their own reasons. I want this blog to bear witness to the fact that the Body of Christ is not a network of means or ways, much less a "tree" with "branches," but truly one Body, called into visible being by the will and body of her Lord, Jesus Christ. Whether we will be found within or without that Body is a matter of conformity and profound hope, not of verbal machinations or tricky self-identifications. As the author of Revelation puts it, the Spirit and the Bride say, with great simplicity, "come."

Happy new year to you all!

Monday, January 07, 2008

It is Truly a Miracle!

Before I begin the update on my Father's amazing recovery, first let me apologize for the extended silence. With all the trauma after Thanksgiving on top of trying to finishing up the semester with finals, and then the holidays, I found no time to sit down and blog. That being said, and with the spring semester in commencement preparation I have returned.

When I posted initially concerning my Father, we nor the doctors knew much about what was happening. My Father had not been feeling well the night of Nov. 24 and began exhibiting symptoms of hypoglycemia. To combat this episode of low blood sugar my Mother brought him a root beer and then left the room to get a peppermint. The first part of this miracle was that my Mother was there to help him, the doctors said repeatedly that if he had been alone he would have died. When my Mother returned with the peppermint my Father was sweating profusely and was unable to breath, this was when my Mother call the ambulance and shortly afterwards my Father lost consciousness. After arriving at the emergency room the EMTs told my Mother that my Father had stopped breathing and had no heartbeat in the ambulance and that they had been doing CPR for over 9 minutes. When he got to the hospital the doctors gave my Father all the different types of blood thinners that the hospital had because they suspected a stroke or heart attack, as well as, intubated and placed my Father on a respirator as he was unable to breathe on his own. The next week was very uncertain and frightening because the doctors performed numerous tests but were not really finding anything in order to make a diagnosis. By the end of the week they ruled out a stroke and assumed he had a heart hypoglycemia induced heart attack, the did not however find a clot most likely due to all the blood thinners he was given upon arrival at the hospital. At the end of the week the doctors were able to remove the respirator and feeding tube and my Father was successful at breathing on his own. Although unable to speak because of the tubes that were removed, my Father did recognize everyone that came in to see him and could comprehend what was being said. This is another miracle because brain damage occurs after 4 minutes without oxygen and my Father was without oxygen for over 9 minutes. The next week my Father went home and did not go back to work until the first of the year. He is a very hard worker and good provider for the family, this was the longest vacation he ever had, and the first Christmas he did not have to work on the 26th of December.

I can not thank everyone enough for all the prayers, I know that without them my Father would not be here. All the Praise and Glory be to God the Mighty Healer!


Blessed Epiphany

Lord, every nation on earth will adore you; every people will call on your name. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess...

Psalm 72.

Check out this cool bit on the Star of Bethlehem that Fr. WB found.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Last Days of Christmas

From our contributor NCCatholic:

The Twelve Days of Christmas

There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won't come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? Today, I found out.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning, plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which children could remember.

- The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
- Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
- Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
- The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
- The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
- The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
- Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the
Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership and Mercy.
- The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
- Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love,
Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.
- The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
- The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
- The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.