Friday, March 18, 2005

Speaking of Faith and Reason
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth - in a word, to know himself - so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.
Pope John Paul II from the opening of his encyclical letter, Fides et Ratio.
The Pope: Doctor Veritatis or Rock Star?

Another thing stuck out about John Allen's column; he discusses Archbishop Michael Miller, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, who spoke March 9 in the "Theology on Tap" series in Rome, at the Nag's Head Pub, on the subject "The Pope is a Rock Star!: Legacy of a Living Legend."
Miller began by emphasizing that the title of his talk was assigned to him, and he doesn't think the pope is a rock star.

He then told two stories of John Paul II, one set in 1978 when Miller was a student at the Canadian College and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was first elected pope. "He was a strong man, a robust man, who simply dominated St. Peter's Square from the beginning," Miller recalled. He contrasted that memory with seeing the pope in February/March 2005, now the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.

"We don't see God's athlete," Miller said. "We see a face frozen in this Parkinsonian mask. We see a man who has always been in touch with his own body slowly crumbling. ? He's letting it unfold before us, allowing himself to be a kind of spectacle to the world. He's demonstrating that life is still wonderful and beautiful, that there's nothing shameful in illness, suffering and approaching death."

Miller then presented what he conceded is inevitably a partial list of elements of John Paul's legacy.

First, Miller argued, John Paul has "recast the meaning of the papal ministry, and set an agenda for what it means for generations to come. He has done so, Miller believes, by regarding "the whole world as his parish." He is "the evangelizer par excellence," so that it is now unimaginable that a future pope would "withdraw behind the walls of the Vatican and have people come to him."

Second, John Paul is a world leader, "the single most authoritative voice on moral questions worldwide." In this regard, Miller observed, no one in the future will ever be able to complain about a "silence" of John Paul II on pressing social and ethical concerns.

Third, Miller noted, John Paul is a "true believer," a man for whom there are "no shortcuts and no compromises." He said that "in a world of doublespeak, you get clarity."

Fourth, Miller said that John Paul has created a body of teaching "which surpasses that of any other pope," certainly in quantity, and arguably in richness and depth. Miller said that today some call John Paul II the doctor veritatis, or "doctor of truth." On quantity, Miller observed that John Paul has turned out 30 pages a day of written material.

Fifth, Miller said that John Paul has helped to shape "a new Christian humanism." The pope believes that modern civilization is in crisis, Miller said, and that the way forward must revolve around three central truths about Christ, the human person and the church. "The pope has a radical sense of Christ as the center of the universe and of history," he said. "He's Christological to the core."

Sixth, Miller said that John Paul has worked out a theology of the body that is deeply sacramental. It arises, he said, from the pope's "rich vision" of the human person and what human dignity requires.
He's absolutely right about these points. Yet I don't think many people, including many Catholics my age, have a memory with regard to all that the Pope has done, nor do we appreciate just how much he has contributed to the world. What might explain some of this is the fact that all many Catholics my age know about the Pope is what we have seen on the television news or read in newspapers. To use a harsh term, we have allowed the secular media to spoon feed us for too long. We've lost our ability to engage and reflect.

I wish more young adults would spend time studying the pope's encyclicals - they contain so much depth and wisdom, and they are strikingly prophetic, particularly Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), and Veritatis Splendor (The Splendor of Truth).

I also wish more young adults would spend time studying all that the Holy Father has put forth regarding the Theology of the Body and weigh it, honestly and sincerely, against what the world says about humanity, love, sex, human dignity, and responsibility. We also need leaders who are willing to teach these things and actually challenge us, knowing full well that we have brains!
Cardinal George on the New Missal

In John Allen's latest Word from Rome column, he recalls having a conversation with Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and discussing, among other things, the new English translation of the mass and the new Roman Missal:
On liturgical matters, George said that English-speaking Catholics will indeed one day be saying "and with your Spirit" rather than "and also with you" when the celebrant says "The Lord be with you" during Mass.... He conceded it may be tough for some Catholics to swallow.

"People possess the English texts in a way they never possessed the Latin," he said. "For some, it will be a difficult habit to break." For precisely that reason, George said, the preference among most bishops is to leave the rest of the "people's parts," meaning those phrases spoken aloud by the faithful, alone.
I myself have often wondered how difficult it will be to instruct the faithful on saying new things. I recall the chaos over the implementation of the 2000 GIRM, where some parishes spent a great deal on education, while others, like my own parish, did absolutely nothing to educate the faithful. Then there are others who will refuse to change or adapt. It will take time. Allen goes on:
Still, George predicted it will be at least another three years before work is completed on the new Roman Missal, the book containing the prayers for the Mass. He said roughly 40 percent of the work is done, and that the rest could be completed within that time "with a lot of hard work by a lot of people."

... Some liturgists, I noted, feel that what's happened is not so much about content as about power, specifically Rome's desire to take control of liturgical translation away from local churches.

"The challenge Rome put to the local bishops was to take possession of the process itself, to have bishops involved in every step," George said. "Maybe it's more accurate to say that control has been taken away from the experts and given back to the bishops."

"Canonically, I don't believe it's any more centralized than before," George said. "The structures are intact, but with a different cast of characters."
It will be interesting as it unfolds.
Pray for Terri

Pray for Terri Schaivo who is now being starved to death. Please also pray for Operation Rescue, a group of individuals who will risk arrest in civil disobedience by bringing food and water to Terri tomorrow. As Bill mentions, tomorrow is the feast of St. Joseph, and this is a corporal work of mercy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Inactivity, with Bush in Heaven

Sorry for all of the inactivity lately; I've been busy with various things, including a major release at work, various events related to my ministry work here in Santa Barbara, and preparation to take the train (first time ever) down to the San Diego area for Holy Week.

But to add some relief, I found this posted over at, so I couldn't resist posting it here:
George W. Bush mortuus erat et ad ianuam caeli stetit. Introire voluit et ianuam pulsavit. "Quis es?", Deus quaesivit. Bush dixit se Bush esse. "Proba te illum esse", dixit Deus. Dixit Bush, "Cur me Bush esse probare debeo?". "Omnes debent; Einstein debuit, Picasso debuit", Deus respondit. Bush miratus: "Quis Einstein est, quis Picasso est?". Suspiravit Deus, "introi".
I'll refrain from posting an English translation since you've no doubt heard a version of it before.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

John Allen, Opus Dei, and RE Congress

Last week, I received the tape of John Allen's talk concerning Opus Dei: Myth and Reality from last month's Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles. In my opinion, it was an excellent talk, as he addressed the various myths concerning the group that have been perpetuated in various Catholic circles and in pop-culture (such as from "The Da Vinci Code"). What Allen has presented is a very even handed presentation using his research done for his upcoming book concerning Opus Dei, which I will certainly make a point of reading. Claude Muncey has already written an excellent review of the talk. I agree with his points and refer you there for more information. :) I would also like to refer you to Opus Dei cooperator and fellow blogger Matthew Collins' Opus Dei FAQ.

The Religious Education Congress is a mixed bag. Though I didn't attend this year, I myself have attended four times in the past and have had occasion there to hear some really good speakers, such as John Allen, Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., and Fr. Virgilio Elizondo. I have also had occasion to hear some not-so-good speakers, such as Fr. John Gallen, S.J., and I know to avoid others whom I have heard before at other venues. I do have to be discerning when selecting certain speakers or attending certain liturgies, yet, I have never regretted attending, and I have always been challenged to learn something new.

The pictures of what you see during the liturgies are nothing new. But there have been, on occasion, some good liturgical treasures - such as when the Eastern Catholic communities of Los Angeles help put together the Byzantine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom at the Congress, cantored by the Schola Cantorum of Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church in Anaheim. And during the closing liturgy of the 2002 congress, with Cardinal Mahony as celebrant, I, myself, heard with my own ears a full choir sing Palestrina's Sicut Cervus during the Offertory. It was the only time I have ever heard polyphony during any liturgy of the current ordo missae.

For some pretty even handed opinions concerning the RECongress, please see Claude Muncey's commentary as well as the various commenters at Amy Welborn's blog. Most of you know me: I love a little Latin and masses celebrated ad orientem, so you can take my opinion for what it's worth or leave it :p


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