Saturday, May 24, 2003

qui ex patre filioque procedit

Bill at Pro Deo et Patria quotes an interesting comment from John Allen in his latest Word from Rome:
Fr. Johannes Grohe, an Opus Dei priest who teaches church history at Santa Croce, spoke on the history of church councils. He offered several interesting nuggets, such as the fact that a regional council in Persia in 410 produced one of the earliest insertions of the famed "filioque" clause into the Creed, specifying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father "and from the Son." This council, as Grohe points out, was an Eastern affair, and its adoption of the filioque came out of the rich theological reflection of early Persian Christianity. Hence the notion that the filioque is solely an imposition of the medieval Western Church upon the East, born of later controversies between Rome and Byzantium, is historically dubious.
Interesting! I agree with Bill that this could have a very positive effect on current Catholic/Orthodox dialogue. But it will be interesting. I sincerely hope that this is treated seriously. Ut Unum Sint!

Friday, May 23, 2003

Chapel, Court, and Countryside

After having a long day at work, I ended it with an evening concert at the university campus that was presented by the UCSB Musica Antiqua entitled Chapel, Court, and Countryside It was a truly sublime concert, featuring Baroque works for church, stately home, and pastoral settings. It included pieces of Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Handel, and Bach. There were also a few others with whom I was not familiar such as Heinrich Biber, Johann Rosenmuller, and Georg Telemann. I particularly liked Handel's operatic pieces, which were taken from Orlando and Alcina. Excellent!

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church

One of the beautiful churches we have here in Santa Barbara, California is St. Barbara's Greek Orthodox Church. The first time I visited this church was back in November, 1997 when St. Barbara's hosted an Environmental Symposium featuring the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. I was pretty impressed with it. I went on the invitation of Bill Cork (back when he was pastoral associate of our university's Newman Center, St. Mark's.) Bill, maybe we're somewhere in this picture, but I don't know!

A view of the Altar from the Soleas, decorated with Easter lilies.

They also have available for veneration a holy relic of St. Barbara given to them as a gift from Pope John Paul II back in 1987.
Gibson at Loyola Marymount

Turns out all of the controversy surrounding the selection of Mel Gibson as keynote speaker at LMU's commencement was mostly wasted air, as he actually gave a pretty good keynote, even if it was fairly standard as far as keynotes go.
Following a standing ovation by the crowd, Gibson began his address "I could hit you with a dozen cliches today. Follow your dreams. Fight for what you believe in... until the cops show up."

Delivering a speech peppered with wry humor and anchored with sincerity, Gibson's address focused on society's constant search to be happy in life.

"Perfect happiness is not attainable in this imperfect world we live in," he said. "This creates a void, and people seek to fill that void with relationships, drugs, alcohol, or work... I hope you look to fill that void in an unlikely place. Treading boldly where you would rather not, and inhabiting the place that seems most likely not to fill the void is often where peace can be found."

... Closing his speech, Gibson advised, "I hope you can learn to love not only yourself and those who love you, but love those who don't love you. If you can do that, your life will be rich and full in ways the world can never make it."
I would've asked him to talk about why, in his movie Braveheart, the Battle of Sterling Bridge was missing the bridge! But then maybe his keynote would not have been as inspirational!

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Becoming One Family in Christ - Reflecting on the Communion of Saints

In our Creed, we profess the notion of the Communion of Saints, which the Church describes in many ways. As a convert, it was one that I tackled with supreme caution as I grew to gradually embrace its mystery. Seemingly without words, it resonated with my spirit. One of the most touching articulations, I believe, can be found in the Catechism, paragraphs 957-959 (taken from Lumen Gentium):
957. "Communion with the saints. 'It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself'[LG 50; cf. Eph 4:1-6 .]:
We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples![Martyrium Polycarpi, 17: Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396.]"
958. "Communion with the dead. 'In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them.'[LG 50; cf. 2 Macc 12:45 .] Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective." 959. "In the one family of God. 'For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity - all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ - we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church.'[LG 51; d. Heb 3:6 .]"
What strikes me about the Communion of Saints is precisely the nature of this Communion that we have in Christ. We who are Christians are inseparably linked in a spiritual communion with our brothers and sisters in Heaven because we are in Christ as they are in Christ, albeit they are in a perfect relationship with Him. But if we do have this type of spiritual relationship with them in Heaven, then certainly we have this type of spiritual relationship with all who are in Christ here on the Earth, albeit not perfectly. We are called to the fullest manifestation of this communion with the whole Church particularly when we participate in the sacraments. Hence our spiritual communion on earth is one of vocation -- the communal call to holiness. The Catechism also states in paragraph 946 and 947:
What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints? The communion of saints is the Church. Since all the fathful form one body, the good of each is communicated to the others... We must therefore believe that there exists a communion of goods in the Church. But the most important member is Christ, since He is the head... Therefore, the riches of Christ are communicated to all the members, through the sacraments.
Certainly we intercede for one another. But if we are in communion with one another in a way that achieves its perfection in Christ, particularly as revealed by our brothers and sisters in Heaven, then this is truly a profound concept, is it not? That our relationship with the rest of the Church both on Earth and in Heaven transcends and surpasses the physicality of our human relationships. In a way, our spiritual relationship with one another redefines and transforms our physical relationship with one another. And the gifts of God, the riches of Christ, are communicated through the sacraments. At the core of all of this is prayer. So when in life you have passing thoughts about a brother or sister, don't let them fall into a void. Rather, pause and pray for them - that we might empower one another spiritually and be that family Christ calls us to be. This is our vocation.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Matrix Multiplication

My girlfriend Christina and I finally went and saw Matrix: Reloaded. Beyond the hype, I was moderately pleased. There were certainly elements that could've been left out - like a boring "night-club / sex" scene that went on for way too long. However, there were many other developments in the plot that I found interesting. I won't spoil it, but I found it interesting how the character's understandings of choice and free will evolved. That's all I will say. The whole Matrix concept interests me on many levels. Stunning visuals and action sequences aside, the films seem to reflect some of the philosophical ideas of Plato and, it seems to me, a little from empiricist George Berkeley. And the Christian symbolism reveals a sort of theology reminiscent of the ancient Gnostic heresy, which I found fairly well described in Steve Kellmeyer's article for Envoy Magazine, The New Gnostic Gospel. Strange how this idea seems to appeal to many die-hard matrix followers. :)

Oh, and if you're a big fan of the Matrix, you'll know to wait around until the credits are over to see the preview for the third film, Matrix: Revolutions, as we and about 6 other people did. :)


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