Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tout est bien
Car il est impossible que les choses ne soient pas où elles sont. Car tout est bien... -Pangloss, le professeur
Finally got around to playing with this new blogger template..

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Benedict and Liberation Theology

John Allen discusses the "Love/Hate Relationship between Benedict and Liberation Theology" in his coverage of the first day of the Holy Father's visit to South America:
At the heart of Ratzinger’s critique of liberation were two key theological motifs, which recur time and again in his writing on other subjects.

(1) Truth: Because the liberationists argued that theological understanding should follow political commitment, Ratzinger believed they were saying that praxis is the standard for judging the rightness of doctrine. In other words, one decides which Christian teachings are “true” on the basis of how well they support political efforts for social justice. As early as 1968 in his Introduction to Christianity, Ratzinger was resisting the “tyranny of the factum,” the tendency to reduce truth to what one does instead of what reality is. This mistake leads some to present Christianity as a tool for changing the world, and to “transpose belief itself to this place.” Thus all doctrine is suspect unless it is useful for social change.

Ratzinger was not simply projecting this understanding onto the liberationists; some did hold this position. Juan Luis Segundo's famous line from Theology for Artisans of a New Humanity was: “The only truth is the truth that is efficacious for liberation.” Similarly, the Brazilian Hugo Assmann wrote in 1976: “The Bible! It doesn’t exist. The only Bible is the sociological Bible of what I see happening here and now.”

(2) Eschatology: Ratzinger's fundamental complaint about liberation theology is that it embodies a mistaken notion of eschatology. The liberationists, Ratzinger believes, are looking for the Kingdom of God on this earth and in this order of history. This sort of utopianism is not merely wrong, Ratzinger says, it's dangerous. Whenever a social or political movement makes absolutist claims about what it can deliver, fascism is not far down the road. It is the lesson of Nazi Germany, Ratzinger argues, and it is the lesson of Soviet Russia.

Thus the goal of Christian must be to strip politics out of eschatology. As he put in his 1987 book Church, Ecumenism and Politics: “Where there is no dualism, there is totalitarianism.”

In Ratzinger's judgment, the consequences of liberation theology's warped eschatology show up in at least four ways.

1. Defections from Catholicism: By promising the poor a reign of justice that never comes, Ratzinger believes, liberation theology actually estranged them from Catholicism and led many of them to seek a transcendental faith somewhere else.
2. Terror. If you allow yourself to believe that a perfect society can be the work of human hands, Ratzinger believes, those hands will end up stained with blood.
3. Dissent: Ratzinger has long believed that, inspired by liberation theology, Catholics will perceive a form of “class struggle” between those who hold ecclesial power and those excluded from it, and will thus demand “liberation” from oppressive church structures.
4. Collapse into the culture: Ultimately, what is at stake for Ratzinger is his Augustinian understanding of the distinction between church and culture. To the extent that liberation theology vests its hopes in secular political progress rather than the liberation only Christ can bring, Ratzinger felt, it lost sight of the cross.

None of this means, however, that Ratzinger has an unremittingly bleak view of liberation theology.

In a more positive 1986 document, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Ratzinger declared, “Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a love of preference on the part of the church, which since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members has not ceased to work for their relief, defense and liberation.”

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Evolution of Homer

Cardinal Mahony and the Pastoral Provision

Last Sunday, Cardinal Mahony ordained William Lowe to the priesthood, the first married and former Episcopalian priest to be ordained in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by way of the Pastoral Provision established under Pope John Paul II. From Cardinal Mahony's statement:
We all welcome Father Lowe and his wife Linda to this unique offering of their gifts to build up the Body of Christ, His Church. They both bring with them their own experience of the Christian tradition, and their love for the Catholic Church and its ministries.

The priestly ordination of married men who were formerly Lutheran or Episcopalian clergy is neither as unusual nor as recent a development as it is popularly perceived. The practice of ordaining such persons in Germany goes back at least to the pontificate of Pope Pius XII [1939-1958]. This practice is not so much an example of relaxing the discipline of priestly celibacy as it is an instance of an extraordinary act of compassion on the part of the Church in regard to someone whose whole life had been spent in both preparation for, and the exercise of, pastoral ministry.

Thus, the individual’s reception into full communion with the Catholic Church does not carry with it the requisite that he renounce or reject this vocation; but, instead, the self-offering of the person who is received into the Church leads to the completion, the “consecration,” so to speak, of their earlier ministry.

The person thus brings with him and offers to the Church the particular gifts and talent for pastoral ministry he had partly developed in another part of the Christian family. Again, this is not a precedent that implies any diminishing of the value of celibacy in priestly ministry, but an instance in which the Church acts in an exceptional way to strengthen and ennoble the gifts brought its newest members.

We all welcome Father William Lowe as he begins to share in the Roman Catholic Priesthood, and we offer Father Lowe and Linda our prayers and support as they begin this new leg of their faith journeys.
Archdiocesan statement here. I haven't been able to find out where Fr. Lowe will serve or in what capacity, but it's interesting nonetheless. We are fortunate to have here in Texas a number of priests ordained under the same Pastoral Provision, former clergyman from other Christian denominations. And as I've mentioned before, here in Houston we have a personal parish of the pastoral provision, a parish of the Anglican Use: Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Musica Sacra Sugar Land

St. Theresa Catholic Church will be offering a series of First Friday concerts to celebrate the arrival of the new harpsichord and organ. The concerts are offered free of charge, begin at 7:30 pm, and will last about an hour. According to the notice, "The concerts will be directed by Dr. Gregory Hamilton, music director, and will feature many noteworthy guest artists and also musicians of the St. Theresa community."

This is what they have planned:
June 1st, 7:30pm: Canten al Señor un Cántico Nuevo!
An engaging program of Latin American music by Susan Karako, our assistant organist at St. Theresa.

July 6th, 7:30pm: American Inspiration
Music for organ by American composers of our time, reflecting Patriotic tunes, hymns, and composers. Music by Diemer, Bolcom, Hamilton, Halley, and others. With Courtney Kilgard, flute.

August 3rd, 7:30pm: The Great Buxtehude
Music from this brilliant and tuneful Danish/German master, performed by Gregory Hamilton, with harpsichord and organ, in honor of the 300th anniversary of his death. With guests from the music ministry of St. Theresa.

September 7th, 7:30pm: The Beauty of the French Baroque
Harpsichord and organ music from Catholic France, 1650-1750, one of the richest periods in music history.

October 5th, 7:30pm: Dr. Joanna Elliot
We welcome international recitalist Dr. Joanna Elliot for a performance of virtuosity and musical elegance.

November 2nd, 7:30pm: Remembrance Vespers
The Choirs of St. Theresa and St. Laurence will combine for this annual sacred event.
All events at:
St. Theresa Catholic Church
115 Seventh St.
Sugar Land, TX 77478
May, the month of Mary

Our parish bulletin offered a timely reflection based on this quotation from the Second Vatican Council's document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, section 60-63:
60. There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, "for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all". The maternal duty of Mary toward men in no wise obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows His power. For all the salvific influence of the Blessed Virgin on men originates, not from some inner necessity, but from the divine pleasure. It flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on His mediation, depends entirely on it and draws all its power from it. In no way does it impede, but rather does it foster the immediate union of the faithful with Christ.

61. Predestined from eternity by that decree of divine providence which determined the incarnation of the Word to be the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin was in this earth the virgin Mother of the Redeemer, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls. Wherefore she is our mother in the order of grace.

62. This maternity of Mary in the order of grace began with the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the cross, and lasts until The eternal fulfillment of all the elect. Taken up to heaven she did not lay aside this salvific duty, but by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.

For no creature could ever be counted as equal with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer. Just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by the ministers and by the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is really communicated in different ways to His creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.

The Church does not hesitate to profess this subordinate role of Mary. It knows it through unfailing experience of it and commends it to the hearts of the faithful, so that encouraged by this maternal help they may the more intimately adhere to the Mediator and Redeemer.

63. By reason of the gift and role of divine maternity, by which she is united with her Son, the Redeemer, and with His singular graces and functions, the Blessed Virgin is also intimately united with the Church. As St. Ambrose taught, the Mother of God is a type of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. For in the mystery of the Church, which is itself rightly called mother and virgin, the Blessed Virgin stands out in eminent and singular fashion as exemplar both of virgin and mother. By her belief and obedience, not knowing man but overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, as the new Eve she brought forth on earth the very Son of the Father, showing an undefiled faith, not in the word of the ancient serpent, but in that of God's messenger. The Son whom she brought forth is He whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, namely the faithful, in whose birth and education she cooperates with a maternal love.
Sancta Maria, mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus...


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