Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Bishops Conference crackdown 

Apparently they don't want the official 'Catholics for Kerry' website run from their offices. Bad publicity and the like.

I think the action was a bit reactionary. But I can't say Ekeh didn't make things easy for them:

"Ekeh acknowledges that some of his writings on his personal Web site were critical of the bishops (he criticized, for example, the bishops' statements on gay marriage) though he says he was always supportive of 'the church itself.'"

"I believe Kerry's entire vision resonates with Catholic social teaching," said Ekeh, and his support for the candidate "is in no way close to being contradictory with what I did at the conference."

That last statement is a bit telling, and epitomizes what might have made the Conference leadership somewhat concerned.

# posted by Jamie : 7:40 AM


Ave Maria sets out to counter its 'conservative' image 

By constructing one of the most hideous architectural monstrosities ever known.

# posted by Jamie : 7:33 AM


Follow-up on Boston ecumenical worship service 

This just in: a schedule of the service. Most notable is what happens at 4:08 pm:

4:08 p.m. -- Choir of more than 40 voices singing "Marry Us" (Boston Gay Men's Chorus) to Celebrate Justice.

Too bad I missed that one. (Thanks to Curt Jester for the story).

# posted by Jamie : 7:17 AM


Scientists Embark on 'Brave New World' 

"More than 3.5 billion years after nature transformed non-living matter into living things, populating Earth with a cornucopia of animals and plants, scientists say they are finally ready to try their hand at creating life."

"If they succeed, humanity will enter a new age of "living technology . . .
Scientists eagerly talk of a new world of ultra-small living machines."

"But the first artificial life also is likely to shock people's religious and cultural belief systems. People from many different backgrounds have special views about what life is: how it originates, the special sanctity it has, the special dignity it deserves," Bedau said. "The ability to make new forms of life will perturb all of that. We need to think through the implications and how we are going to react to them."

"I will ascend to the heavens," said one researcher, "I will be like the Most High...," apparently referring to Isaiah 14:14. Said another, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves!"

Okay, I made that last part up. This endeavor is not as scary as it is simply laughable.

# posted by Jamie : 7:03 AM


Monday, March 29, 2004

CUA Dean of Theology on 'The Passion' 

Moloney: 'Scene After Scene is Just Wrong' in Passion Film. The film "laughably misinterprets scripture," and portrays Jews as "so massively negative."

# posted by Jamie : 8:11 AM


More foolishness in Boston 

An ecumenical worship service in honor of gay marriage. "What right has the Archdiocese (of Boston) to attempt to impose a Catholic definition of marriage upon the civil polity?''

Of course, as the rules state, a leftist nun has to be present. This honor fulfilled by Sister Rosemary Brennan, SSJ, who "supported the cause, saying, "'The God of justice and peace is determined to reconcile the human race. May we have the grace to cooperate.''' Looks like O'Malley has his hands full.

# posted by Jamie : 8:06 AM


Bishop Burke for ecclesiastical independence 

Does this remind anyone of Pope Gregory VII?

Sorry, more accessible link here.

# posted by Jamie : 8:04 AM


Unborn Victims of Violence Act Passes 

By the narrowest margin possible. No help from Kerry, who voted against it. Catholic World News list the ten 'Catholic' senators who voted against it.

# posted by Jamie : 7:51 AM


Kerry: boldly taking a stand for the 'little guy' 

"John Kerry says he is a proud, churchgoing Catholic, but the former altar boy insists he won't be bossed around by the Pope."

"I don't tell church officials what to do, and church officials shouldn't tell American politicians what to do in the context of our public life."

"The Scriptures say, what does it profit, my brother, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?" Kerry said.

# posted by Jamie : 7:46 AM


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Trouble brewing in the Arlington diocese 

And, as usual, Michael Rose is right on top. Story at Crux News. While Rose isn't always known for his scrupulosity in gathering proof for his assertions, he certainly knows how to expose corruption where he sees it. It looks like most of this nastiness is in the not-too-distant past, but the swords are being crossed as recently as this month.

# posted by Jamie : 8:32 AM


Surreal ecclesiastical headlines 

"72-year-old woman who describes herself as a lifelong, devout Catholic is alleging in a lawsuit that she was threatened with excommunication after being injured at a parish bingo game. "

It gets worse: "According to the lawsuit, she was seriously injured by a negligently maintained bathroom stall that collapsed on her."

Story here.

# posted by Jamie : 7:57 AM


In the Pontiff's spare time 

He wrote a book. Coming soon to a Barnes & Noble near you.

# posted by Jamie : 7:55 AM


Archbishop Weakland has a blog! 

Well, okay, not a blog, but a website.

As Bettinelli comments:

"You know when you're forced to retire after it's revealed that you misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars to give it to your gay lover, you'd think you'd have enough shame not to set up your own website."

Weakland's pride is indomitable.

# posted by Jamie : 7:19 AM


John Kerry performs his Sunday obligation 

Receiving communion in a ski outfit, with cameras flashing.

Story from Domenico Bettinelli.

# posted by Jamie : 7:15 AM


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Balthasar and the ordination of women 

Discussion by Christopher at Against the Grain.

# posted by Jamie : 8:04 AM


A headline you thought you would never see... 

Oregon county bans all marriage.

The 'logic': "They are not going to participate in discrimination." In other words, if homosexuals can't marry, then neither can heterosexuals.

"We are happy Benton County is not going to violate the law by issuing illegal marriage licenses, but we are perplexed as to why they would not issue legal licenses," he added.

You knew it was coming sooner or later.

# posted by Jamie : 7:05 AM


Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Population Implosion 

Problem: The world's population is rapidly declining.
Solution: More condoms.

Well, not exactly. A CNN report places a large part of the blame on declining fertility levels among women, resulting from contraception use. But a BBC report places the bulk of the blame on the death tolls from AIDS in Africa, suggesting that the dangerous trend could be reversed through 'AIDS education programs,' which means, at least in part, condom distribution.

# posted by Jamie : 10:51 AM


St. Augustine's Marian teaching 

A question came up recently regarding the Mariological teaching of St. Augustine. As much as I would like to write a more lengthy treatment of the subject, it may suffice for the present purpose to simply throw out a few references from St. Augustine's teaching, which may shed light his consideration of the Blessed Virgin.

We find, for example, a reference to Mary which uses the 'New Eve' imagery reminiscent of St. Irenaeus a few centuries earlier.

"Our Lord . . . was not averse to males, for he took the form of a male, nor to females, for of a female he was born. Besides, there is a great mystery here: that just as death comes to us through a woman, life is born to us through a woman; that the devil, defeated, would be tormented by each nature, feminine and masculine, as he had taken delight in the defection of both" (Christian Combat 22:24).

Such imagery, by this time, was more or less commonplace among the Fathers. Although it does not touch on the realm of dogma, it does show a high consideration of the role of the Virgin in the economy of salvation.

We also find a reference to Mary as the 'mother of believers,' which both highlights her ecclesiological and her soteriological importance for Christian doctrine. You may also note St. Augustine's rather bold reference to Mary having 'cooperated' in the work of salvation, a statement which has gotten a good deal of play in the contemporary discussion over Mary's role as 'co-redemptrix':

"That one woman is both mother and virgin, not in spirit only but even in body. In spirit she is mother, not of our head, who is our Savior himself—of whom all, even she herself, are rightly called children of the bridegroom—but plainly she is the mother of us who are his members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that head, might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is the Mother of that very head" (Holy Virginity 6:6).

St. Augustine's most famous Marian reference is from his 'On Nature and Grace':

"Having excepted the holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom, on account of the honor of the Lord, I wish to have absolutely no question when treating of sins -- for how do we know what abundance of grace for the total overcoming of sin was conferred upon her, who merited to conceive and bear him in whom there was no sin? -- So, I say, with the exception of the Virgin, if we could have gathered together all those holy men and women, when they were living here, and had asked them whether they were without sin, what do we suppose would have been their answer?" (Nature and Grace 36:42).

St. Augustine seems here to be issuing a quite uncompromising denial that the Blessed Virgin could have suffered from any taint of sin. Now, many scholars have pointed out quite insistently that Augustine is not here offering any positive teaching regarding the sinlessness of Mary. Rather, in his general discussion of the sinfulness of humanity, he is 'putting aside' the person of the Virgin because of her unique role in bearing the Savior. It is not clear whether Augustine is doing this because (a) he personally believes Mary to be sinless, or (b) he is aware that others hold this belief, and does not want to get dragged into a debate which would distract him from the central purpose of this text. Either way, at the very least this text shows that, in Augustine's day, belief in Mary's sinlessness was widespread enough to enter Augustine's thought, whether or not he personally subscribed to it. But, when placed alongside other Marian texts in Augustine's canon, I think a strong case can be made that he personally subscribed to this belief.

In another text, St. Augustine places a strong emphasis upon Mary's virginity, with a slight hint that he may have considered this state perpetual ('chose to remain'), although this is not explicit:

"In being born of a Virgin who chose to remain a Virgin even before she knew who was to be born of her, Christ wanted to approve virginity rather than to impose it. And He wanted virginity to be of free choice even in that woman in whom He took upon Himself the form of a slave." (Holy Virginity 4:4)

There are certainly more references to the Virgin in St. Augustine's writings, but these are those which carry, at least potentially, the most doctrinal or devotional import.

For the record, a certain Marian prayer, purporting to have been written by St. Augustine, circulates in many prayer books, and especially in that purveyor of misinformation, the internet. This prayer, overflowing with Marian piety as it is, most certainly does not belong to St. Augustine of Hippo. My research, however, has yet to identify the actual source. It may have been one of the numerous pseudo-Augustinian texts which circulated in European monasteries in the early Middle Ages.

# posted by Jamie : 8:58 AM


Cardinal Mahoney's diocese shows its true colors 

Rainbow colors, that is.

"Early Christians recognized each other by the sign of the fish. See in this fish pin a sign of recognition of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers."

# posted by Jamie : 7:56 AM


Anyone remember the Terry Schiavo case? 

John Paul II: "The administration of water and food, even when delivered using artificial means, always represents a natural method of preserving life and not a medical act."

I don't suspect the words have any canonical 'punch' to them in the present form, but that may change down the road.

# posted by Jamie : 7:45 AM


My blog makes headline news!! 

I mean, they are talking about my blog, right?

Seriously, though. I hope some of these bishops are given a stern talking to. Not that they're taking this seriously or anything: It's more of a vacation, really. "The first thing is visiting the tombs of the apostles, and the second is spending time with the pope."

# posted by Jamie : 7:41 AM


The Pledge of Allegiance case evaporates into nothingness 

As if it were ever more than that to begin with.

# posted by Jamie : 7:34 AM


Efforts to undermine The Passion get desparate 

Come on, is this really newsworthy?

And for the record, since when are Presbyterian ministers called 'priests'?

Now, although you should consult your physician before watching The Passion (seeing as this has caused fatalities in some clinical trials), it has also been known to have beneficial effects, such as moral conversion.

# posted by Jamie : 7:32 AM


An act of principle meets an act of compromise 

The FMA attempts to broadens its base of support by cutting away at its foundation of moral principle. If it sounds familiar, it's the same tactic that, for the past three decades, has castrated every attempt to overturn legal abortion.

# posted by Jamie : 7:23 AM


Thursday, March 18, 2004

Great Augustinian resources 

David Armstrong's Augustine page.

# posted by Jamie : 10:03 AM


Mel Gibson on The Passion's place in history 

"I don't know where it's going to fall. And quite frankly... you want to hear something? I don't give a flying f**k!"

From Barbara Nicolosi's Church of the Masses.

# posted by Jamie : 9:02 AM


The wisdom of the Fathers 

"Thus are we the Lord's chickens."

--St. Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus, I, 5.

(Sorry, just had to share that.)

# posted by Jamie : 8:41 AM


Passion update 

"Could become top-grossing film of all time."

# posted by Jamie : 7:30 AM


Caviezel on his private audience with the Pope 

"So, Karol, was it that is it as it was, or wasn't it?"

# posted by Jamie : 7:23 AM


Coalition of the Willing? 

Once again, a coalition of Western nations (parts of the European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, potentially the U.S.) are lined up, in battle formation, against a similar coalition of Islamic countries. And once again, the Vatican seems frustratingly insistent on speaking out on behalf of the latter.

But this time, the battlefield is the U.N., and the issue is homosexual marriage.

Those who see the future in terms of 'The West vs. Islam' need to take a closer look at the moral-religious dimension. More and more, it seems that the Islamic countries, along with the Vatican and a handful of Latino states, seem to be the last holdouts against the amoral, godless culture perpetrated by the 'civilized' West.

# posted by Jamie : 7:14 AM


Cardinals debate condom usage 

"So just what is the Roman Catholic Church's position? It depends on whom you ask."

I know it sounds bad, but the above comment is justified by the Cardinals' behavior. If the Magisterium has not yet reached a definitive conclusion as to a controversial moral issue, just keep your mouth shut. Otherwise you present to the public the image of an uncertain, confused Church full of inner contradictions and ambiguities, not to mention the ever-present possibility of moral scandal.

# posted by Jamie : 7:03 AM


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

If you liked the Passion... 

You'll love Mel Gibson's 'Maccabean Revolt.' Coming soon...

# posted by Jamie : 8:00 AM


Another death from RU-486 

By 'another death,' of course, I mean another one besides the intended one. If you think about it, it's almost the equivalent of an unintentional murder-suicide.

# posted by Jamie : 7:43 AM


Archbishop O'Malley reaffirms his status as my episcopal hero 

Openly endorsing the FMA, and doing all sort of other politically-incorrect things to undermine his status as 'America's most most huggable bishop.'

# posted by Jamie : 7:38 AM


Another advance in the unborn victims of violence act 

This could be more successful than anyone thought, in the long run. Surprised at the wide backing.

# posted by Jamie : 7:34 AM


Before you buy that box of girl scout cookies... 

Better read this.

It is sick that abortion and contraception are considered consonant with, even necessary for, the formation of a feminine value system.

# posted by Jamie : 7:32 AM


Clergy charged over gay unions 

On the one hand, I'm happy to see that those who break the law are getting their due, even if it's a mere slap on the wrist. On the other hand, I have the sick feeling that these silly shenanigans carried out by the homosexual community are having exactly the effect which was intended: to rustle up mass amounts of media attention, to focus the efforts of legislators and democratic bodies, and to draw the eyes of the entire world community on THEM and THEIR CAUSE. As long as they are successful at this, this issue will never go away, it will never settle down, and Americans will eventually have no other choice but to give them what they want.

# posted by Jamie : 7:21 AM


John Jay Report 

The full text of the John Jay Report came out in the journal Origins. It is rather cumbersome and tedious, but I found the sections dealing with homosexuality in the priesthood to be the most interesting. Some excerpts:

"In addition, although neither the presence of homosexually oriented priests nor the discipline of celibacy caused the crisis, an understanding of the crisis is not possible without reference to these issues. There are, no doubt, many outstanding priests of a homosexual orientation who live chaste, celibate lives, but any evaluation of the causes and context of the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more than 80 percent of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature."

"That 81 percent of the reported victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy were boys shows that the crisis was characterized by homosexual behavior. It has been reported that in some areas the large number of homosexual priests or candidates had the effect of discouraging heterosexual men from seeking to enter the priesthood. In the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, there developed at certain seminaries a 'gay subculture,' and at these seminaries, according to several witnesses, homosexual liaisons occurred among students or between students and teachers. Such subcultures existed or exist in certain dioceses or orders as well. The board believes that the failure to take disciplinary action against such conduct contributed to an atmosphere in which sexual abuse of adolescent boys by priests was more likely."

A discussion follows of the arguments for or against excluding homosexuals from the priesthood.

"Such decisions are the prerogative of a bishop . . . . But given the nature of the problem of clergy sexual abuse of minors, the realities of the culture today and the male-oriented atmosphere of the seminary, a more searching inquiry is necessary for a homosexually oriented man by those who decide whether he is suitable for the seminary and for ministry. For those bishops who choose to ordain homosexuals there appears to be a need for additional scrutiny and perhaps additional or specialized formation to help them with the challenge of chaste celibacy."

Granted, this is one among many issues cited as causative factors in the crisis; homosexuality is not singled out as the root cause, and it shouldn't be. But it is refreshing to see such a frank and candid discussion of clerical homosexuality and the problems it presents, especially when the bishops might have used this opportunity to simply bow to political correctness and avoid offense.

I can't find a full text of the Report on-line, but a summary and some related links are here.

# posted by Jamie : 6:52 AM


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The battle for abstinence education 

Thrust. Counter-thrust.

The bottom line: It appears to be undisputable that 'abstinence-only' education reduces the amount of sexually promiscuous behavior in the long-run among young people. But here is the problem. There is a deep disagreement running deep within the culture over exactly WHY sexually promiscuous behavior is undesirable among young people. The mainstream media and health community keep harping about STDs and teen pregnancies as if they were the root of the problem. Of course, they are not. Problems, yes, but mere symptoms. The root reason why sexual promiscuity is undesirable, however, is that it tears apart the moral tissue of our young people, leaving in its wake shipwrecked relationships, emaciated wills, and permanently disfigured sexual faculties. As long as we measure the success of 'sex education' curriculums by the number of teen pregnancies and contracted STDs, we will be missing the forest for the trees.

# posted by Jamie : 7:56 AM


New norms on Eucharistic liturgy coming... 

On April 8th.

Whether or not these norms will make any difference in the actual liturgical life of the Church at large, of course, is another question. But liturgical reform, like all reform, is an incremental process. Even a small step in the right direction is key in the long run. But this may be a large step, even if it takes a long time to take effect.

# posted by Jamie : 7:52 AM


Requiem in Pacem 

R.I.P. Cardinal Konig.

# posted by Jamie : 7:50 AM


Another Jim Caviezel interview 

I'm beginning to think that Caviezel, even more so than Gibson, is the true hero that emerges from this film. He embodied what it means to be, in his words, 'shamelessly Catholic.' Selected excerpts from a recent interview:

"I have been scourged, crucified, and, oh yes, struck by lightning. I know from whence I speak. That's why I came here to show this remarkable film that speaks for itself," Caviezel told the 1,400 young adults in attendance at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students conference. "I want all of you to have the courage to go out into this pagan world and shamelessly express your Catholic faith in public!"

"What was it like to play this role? Unquenchable fire. There was no comfort. There was no peace," the actor said.

"The experience of feeling rejected and alone as all those around me laughed while drinking their hot coffees, oblivious to what was occurring. Jesus must have felt like this - forsaken, rejected, alone, and despised. It helped me pray in a very deep way - to pray without words, to pray from the heart. The discomfort, the loneliness, the split shoulder, the raw flesh all forced me into the arms of God because I had nowhere else to go for a performance I knew I was unable to create."

Caviezel emphasizes that anything good about his performance was born out of the fasting, the prayers, and the daily Masses.

"As I hung there I thought about all the twists of providence that brought me to that cross." The truth was that Caviezel had been chosen and he knew it had not been a coincidence.

He recounted for the captivated audience how Mary had been guiding him through all the key moments of his career - a career that would lead him to her Son. He gives credit to Mary for landing the most sought-after role in The Thin Red Line, by director Terrence Malick. He remembered arriving at Malick's home for an audition in a state of panic and self-doubt. It was a moment of truth, because he had decided that if he did not get the role, he would quit acting. He could not go on wondering if he would ever work consistently as an actor. "It's 6 p.m. and I'm still in the car," he said. "I need to go in. I believe in my heart the next 10 minutes changed my life forever. I'm an emotional mess and it's 6:05. I'm in the middle of the fourth glorious mystery."

He would go on to finish the rosary and, compelled by a familiar sensation, he took the rosary with him to the meeting. He had first experienced this sensation when, at 19, he felt called to be an actor. "I had a sensation right here in my chest that I was supposed to be an actor. That this was what God had crafted me for. This is what He wanted of me. Reluctantly I went forward." The woman who opened the door for him wore a Miraculous Medal. He assumed she was Catholic and the maid. She was neither. While they were talking, he got the sensation again, stronger then ever.

"I interrupt her and I say, 'This is for you Ma'am.' She is completely startled and she asks, 'Why did you do that?' Tears [are] welling up in her eyes. 'I prayed this morning that God would send me another [rosary] and in walks you.' This woman is now collapsing in tears. I'm holding the rosary between us and in walks the director [who] says, 'Honey, what's wrong?' I realize this isn't the maid!

"When I was up there on that cross I learned that in His suffering was our redemption. Some of you may feel confused or uncertain about the future. This is not the time to give in. We each must carry our cross. It is time for our generation to accept that call. Young people, tear yourselves apart from this corrupt generation - be saints! Use the gifts given to you by God for good purposes. You can only reach the splendid heights He has reserved for you if you first submit to Him. Conform your will to Him."

"You, my friends, by God, you must fight with Mary and with Christ as your sword. May you fight with St. Michael and all the angels in defending God, in sending Lucifer and his army straight back to hell where they belong!"

(This article originally appeared in the Catholic Standard & Times, Archdiocese of Philadelphia and can be read in full here.

Meanwhile, Caviezel visits the Pope.

Thanks to Lori M. for the link.

# posted by Jamie : 7:35 AM


Monday, March 15, 2004

The saddest story you've ever heard 

Antiquated, moralistic laws dash the hopes of millions of would-be parents.

(CNN) -- An experimental fertility treatment transferring part of a woman's egg into another's raised hopes among millions of infertile Americans, but U.S. government concerns about the procedure's safety have forced those seeking it to travel to other countries.

"Most of these women are in their late 30s, and they really don't have time," he said. "Time is really precious, and they don't have the time to wait for approval."

Made me cry, really. Story here.

# posted by Jamie : 3:30 PM


More 'chipping away' at Roe v. Wade 

Another development in legislation considering unborn victims of violence.

# posted by Jamie : 3:25 PM


More trouble for the Episcopal Church 

The schism begins...

# posted by Jamie : 9:15 AM


Thursday, March 11, 2004

Oremus pro vincem... 

I have an interview tomorrow. If all goes well, I might owe my buddy a six-pack of Heffweisen.

# posted by Jamie : 8:36 AM


Commonweal on St. Blog's 

The liberal Catholic journal Commonweal has an article on the 'St. Blog's' phenomenon, where they complain that perspective of these Catholic blogs "tilts decidedly to the conservative side of the Catholic culture wars."

Christopher from Against the Grain, who gave me the story, responds.

# posted by Jamie : 8:30 AM


Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Brooklyn bishop calls for marriages between people and pets 

"Why can't we have marriages between people and pets?" DiMarzio said on Albany radio station WROW. "I mean, pets really love their masters."

(Of course, His excellency is being sarcastic, pointing out the 'slippery slope' which comes from the breakdown of traditional marriage. But, on the other hand, I always did think my cat was kinda cute . . .). Full story here.

# posted by Jamie : 7:43 AM


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Speaking of Avery Dulles... 

Dulles, in a 1996 article 'The Travails of Dialogue,' notes Cardinal Law's criticism of the all-too-frequent appeals to 'dialogue' on theological matters, i.e. on the part of the Magisterium of the Church:

The fundamental flaw . . . is its appeal to 'dialogue' as a path to 'common ground.' The Church already has 'common ground.' It is found in sacred Scripture and tradition, and it is mediated to us through the authoritative and binding teaching of the magisterium. The disconnect that is so often found today between that Catholic common ground and [the] faith and practice of some Catholics is alarming. Dialogue as applied to this pastoral crisis must be clearly understood, however. Dissent from revealed truth or the authoritative teaching of the Church cannot be 'dialogued' away. Truth and dissent from truth are not equal partners in ecclesial dialogue. Dialogue as a pastoral effort to assist in a fuller appropriation of the truth is laudable. Dialogue as a way to mediate between the truth and dissent is mutual deception.

And Dulles' own comments: Cardinal Ratzinger, recalling the student uprisings of 1968, declared that he then learned the lesson that there are times when dialogue would become a lie and would amount to collaboration with terrorism. To turn to a more classical example, Jesus evidently judged that on certain occasions excoriation rather than dialogue should be directed to the Pharisees. And when brought to trial before Herod, Jesus responded not with dialogue but with silence. In our day, groups that call for dialogue in order to confront the Church with inexorable demands must be met with a firm refusal.

For more resources on Dulles.

# posted by Jamie : 3:50 PM


Augustinian mis-quote 

You may have heard the following quote attributed to St. Augustine; I have more times than I would like:

"In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity."

Thanks to Dr. James O'Donnell of Georgetown for finally debunking the myth:

The question most commonly bouncing off the Internet wall to me about Augustine is the source of the following quotation: "in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity." It seems to have gotten into circulation as something attributed to Augustine, and so I am asked the source. I cannot find the text in Augustine's own texts, nor does it sound Augustinian to me, but it is clearly popular.

I found a specific reference to John XXIII's first encyclical, Ad Petri cathedram of 1959: "But the common saying, expressed in various ways and attributed to various authors, must be recalled with approval: in essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity." I take that as suggesting that the Vatican's own scribes and scholars cannot find a sure attribution.

Dr. O'Donnell goes on, in a lengthy and rather tedious post, to trace the quote back to Rupertus Meldenius, a 17th-century Anglican divine. Like O'Donnell, I never thought the quote really 'meshed' with what I know of St. Augustine. It is more suitable as a motto of Enlightenment-era Irenics than of the fiery preacher of Hippo.

# posted by Jamie : 7:41 AM


Monday, March 08, 2004

For those of you in the Washington area . . . 

Cardinal Dulles is comin' to town. He is usually pretty good. Better in person than on paper, I've always thought.

# posted by Jamie : 2:57 PM


Episcopal 'consecration' 

'Journeys of faith, you know, are a risky business.'

# posted by Jamie : 8:22 AM


Speaking of the Passion 

I hear Jesus is a bit ticked.

# posted by Jamie : 8:17 AM


Evangelization and the Passion 

While filling the coffee pot this morning, one of the housekeeping staff stopped me in the hall: "Man, have you seen dat movie, 'da passion'?" He continued with a lengthy description of how, while watching Our Lord suffer for his sins, he 'just broke down, nigga,' and after the movie 'all of us was just sittin' there tryin' to collect our thoughts and sh*t.' (Another observation was that, if he had been dying on the cross, he wouldn't have just forgiven his persecutors -- he 'woulda burned them f*ckers'). After seeing the movie, he 'went back to church an' everything,' apparently after a long absence.

This is a guy who, as it happens, has had a long history of trouble with the law (which I happen to know only because, despite my protestations, and for reasons unknown to myself, he comes to me frequently for legal advice). He's a bit rough around the edges, and usually keeps to himself. I had never seen him like this before, as animated as a five-year-old boy. The whole incident was just a refreshing breather from the incessant 'culture wars' into which this movie (still doing well, by the way) has reluctantly been drawn. After all of the accusations of anti-semitism, theological sadism, etc., have all died down, I only pray that the lives of ordinary men and women, like my friend on the housekeeping staff, have been changed for the better.

# posted by Jamie : 7:36 AM


Saturday, March 06, 2004

Seduction of the Archons 

"The Third Messenger sailed in his vessel of light, the moon, across the vault of heaven and showed himself to the fettered demonic powers. To the male Archons he displayed the radiant, naked beauty of his femininity in the shape of the virgin of light . . . , whilst to the female Archons he came in the sun's form as a naked, shining youth. This godhead is therefore introduced as hermaphroditic."

"The Messenger's activity achieved the desired end. In their violent sexual excitement the male Archons discharged the particules of light as sperms which fell upon the earth . . . The female demons, already pregnant, bore their offspring prematurely [i.e., abortions] at the sight of the Messenger's loveliness. Thrown to earth, these monsters . . . assimilated the particles of light present therein."

--Widengren, Mani and Manichaeism

That a man who, at one time, actually believed this -- i.e., that the cosmos was created from the cumulative effect of supracosmic masturbation and botched daemonic abortions -- possessed a mind which would later produce an edifice of speculative and practical wisdom which would serve as the foundation for all of Western civilization, will never cease to blow my mind.

N.b. "The so-called 'Seduction of the Archons' was a further mythical element which could not fail to appear particularly repulsive to the Christian fathers of the Church.' Yeah, no kidding.

I wonder if my old mentor, Bart Ehrman, considers Manichaeism one of the 'lost Christianities' which he so wistfully pines away for; or if the 'Seduction of the Archons' is one of the 'lost Scriptures' so brutally suppressed by the mean old Catholic Church.

# posted by Jamie : 6:54 PM


I wonder... 

I wonder if St. Augustine's parents, i.e. Patrick and St. Monica, ever had the vexing problem of fending off nicknames for their son. His name is 'Augustine' -- not 'Gus,' 'Gussie,' 'Auggie,' 'Aug,' or any other derivative. I wonder of St. Monica ever tried to get the name 'Tino' to catch on, to the relative dismay of her husband. I wonder if they ever had to correct people for using the pronounciation 'August-een,' instead of 'August-in.' If you're detecting some personal animus here, be assured that your perceptions are accurate.

And if it shows you the utter lack of culture that still perpetuates itself in some parts of Northern Virginia, my neighbor responded to the announcement of my son's birth, after handing me a Miller Lite, with the shout, 'Damn, the Romans are comin'!' No, my friend, please go back to school and learn the distinction between the pagan Emperor and the Catholic saint.

# posted by Jamie : 1:29 PM


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