Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Friday, May 27, 2005

As implied in my previous post, and to justify my long absence, my household has been visited by our long-awaited second child. Ambrose Philip was born May 18, weighing in just one ounce shy of nine pounds. Mommy was once again blessed with less than an hour of heavy labor (offered up for an end to abortion - against my better judgment - I tend to be a more 'conversion of Russia' kinda guy, but she's the one doing the pushing). His little brother, Augustine, thought the whole thing was great fun until he realized that we were bringing him home from the hospital. But he's warming up. Two kiddies and a convalescing wife equal little blogging time, so expect these pages to be quiet.

To forestall objections, yes I know that Ambrose should have been firstborn, Augustine second. These things are a little easier to plan on paper than in reality, okay? His name has seems to invoke either unbridled joy or sheer horror ('what an unfortunate child', said one mother). And no, I didn't force it on my poor wife; she was the one set on it. Ambrose will be made a Christian this Sunday (no 'let-him-wallow-in-original-sin-for-six-months-so-all-the-relatives-can-be-here' - I'm an Augustinian, remember?)

# posted by Jamie : 3:48 PM


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It dawned on me last night why the Council suppressed the hour of prime.

The answer: clerical celibacy.

A man without children just has no business being up at that time of night.

# posted by Jamie : 8:26 AM


Monday, May 16, 2005

It is only in Christianity that a certain quite definite and very radical attitude to truth is found 

The history of Christianity is also a history of heresies and consequently of the attitudes adopted by Christianity and the Church towards heresy, and so involves a history of the concept of heresy itself. In all religions that possess any kind of definite doctrine, that is, in all the higher religions, there are differences of opinion about that doctrine and as a consequence quarrels and conflict about it and about the socially organized forms in which the different religious views find expression. To that extent we might say that the concept of heresy is exemplified in all the more highly developed religions.

But caution is needed, nevertheless, for it is readily observed that religious wars are only found in Christendom. However much this assertion may call for qualification, and whatever more precise explanation is given, (for much that is involved may, of course, have little to do with Christianity itself), the assertion, though disputable, does draw attention to something. It is only in Christianity that a certain quite definite and very radical attitude to truth is found. This is the source of a quite specific view of heresy and that is why heresy is only really found there.

- Karl Rahner, On Heresy.

# posted by Jamie : 8:33 AM


Friday, May 13, 2005

Dusty Canons 

It is a common experience I have, on those not infrequent occasions when I happen to consult the Code of Canon Law. That is, the emotion of being shocked into a renewed awareness of reality, which brings with it a vivifying sense of faith and anticipatory joy, which after a moment dips into confusion and then distaste.
It might seem odd that a massive and ancient tome which details the Catholic Church's intricate legal code can inspire such a complex of emotion. The reason is simple. The laws of the Church, in short, seem to have little connection with reality.

I say this not as a criticism of the laws, but as a criticism of the reality. The laws of the Church lay out a vision of the Church and her members which is disciplined, well-ordered, ambitious, and efficient. Roles are assigned, duties are carried out, the disorderly are chastened, the sacraments are offered, the Gospel is preached, and the faithful grow in holiness and charity. Now, I'm hardly a doom-and-gloom type with regard to the state of the American church, but one has to wonder about the gaping chasm between Church law and Church life.

We will, of course, hear protests from some that Church law was never meant to reflect the reality, but is proposed as some sort of ideal to be lived up to. As if the legislators of the Church, first and foremost the Holy Father, had promulgated a Code of Canonical Ideals rather than a Code of Canon Law. Isn't the very point of laws that they should be implemented, carried out, and enforced? There's little reason to place blame on one institution or another within the Church. Blame should rather be placed on a widespread and epidemic 'culture of low expectation': The faithful see the laws of the Church as unattainable ideals, and the pastors of the Church are afraid to enforce them for fear of the appearance of tyranny.

What would be the effect, say, if even a few of these canons were actually taken seriously? I highlight only disciplinary codes because these seem the most neglected. All emphases are added.

Can. 678.2 In the exercise of an apostolate towards persons outside the institute, religious are also subject to their own Superiors and must remain faithful to the discipline of the institute. If the need arises, Bishops themselves are not to fail to insist on this obligation.

Can. 806.1 The diocesan Bishop has the right to watch over and inspect the catholic schools situated in his territory, even those established or directed by members of religious institutes. He has also the right to issue directives concerning the general regulation of catholic schools these directives apply also to schools conducted by members of a religious institute, although they retain their autonomy in the internal management of their schools.

Can. 810.1 In catholic universities it is the duty of the competent statutory authority to ensure that there be appointed teachers who are not only qualified in scientific and pedagogical expertise, but are also outstanding in their integrity of doctrine and uprightness of life. If theserequirements are found to be lacking, it is also that authority's duty to see to it that these teachers are removed from office, in accordance with the procedure determined in the statutes.

Can. 810.2 The Episcopal Conference and the diocesan Bishops concerned have the duty and the right of seeing to it that, in these universities, the principles of catholic doctrine are faithfully observed.

Can. 1372 A person who appeals from an act of the Roman Pontiff to an Ecumenical Council or to the College of Bishops, is to be punished with a censure.

Can. 1373 A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just
If these canons were even paid the slightest heed, what radical and earth-shaking changes would take place in our schools, or religious communities, our parishes and chanceries, our lay institutions and theological journals and periodicals? And any pastor who would dare to impose these canons would be seen, not as an arbitrary despot seeking to impose his own will on the faithful, but as an obedient son of the Church carrying out his morally and juridical duty. This, you see, is why I go through such emotional undulations whenever I dust off my Code.

# posted by Jamie : 9:41 AM


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Ad Limina's Scrupulosity Index 

1. Your confessor instructs you to say a rosary as your penance. As you are shuffling through the decades, mumbling your AveMarias, your finger slips, and you forget which bead you're on.

0 You take your best guess at where you were, pick a bead and resume where you left off.
+1 You take your best guess at where you were, then back up one bead . . . just in case.
+2 You do the whole decade over again . . . just in case.
+3 You do the whole rosary over again . . . just in case.
+9 You do the whole rosary over again, then say it a second time making acts of contrition for your lack of attentiveness the first time, all while you're standing in line to make another confession.

2. You're up all night taking care of a sick newborn, you sleep through the alarm and show up for Sunday mass late. You drop your family at the door, then park the car and meet them inside. As you walk walk to the pew, the priest has just finished reading the last sentence of the Gospel.
-1 You blow it off - those rules are meant for slackers, they don't apply to good Catholics like you.
0 You say an act of contrition, vow to show up five minutes early from now on, and trust that God knows you did your best.
+1 On your way out, you take the priest aside and ask him if you've satisfied your Sunday obligation . . . just to cover yourself.
+2 You come back alone later in the day . . . just in case.
+3 You cancel the plans for the day and drag the whole family, including the newborn, back again . . . just in case.
3. You're saying a novena to Our Lady. You miss day three.
-1 Just skip day three and pick up on day four. It wasn't intentional.
0 Pack days three and four into the fourth day and get back on track.
+1 Do day three on the fourth day, and finish the novena a day later.
+4 Scrap the whole thing. You've botched it and it doesn't count anymore. Try again next year.
Drawing the line between piety and scrupulosity is no easy thing. If only it could be measured with ease on an index. I used to be of the opinion that a bit of scrupulosity was a healthy thing. The fact is, nothing withers and strangles the spiritual life more than scrupulosity. The great saints struggled more with temptations to scrupulosity than with temptations to grave sin. The danger of scrupulosity is that it kills the child in us, the child which we must become to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, the child of which that kingdom is made. The scrupulous have the audacity to imagine that their salvation depends solely on themselves and their own works of piety, and forget that their piety depends solely upon the divine grace which inspires it.

# posted by Jamie : 8:13 AM


Friday, May 06, 2005

Change of Heart in Minneapolis? 

Back in December I noted some interesting inconsistencies emerging in the U.S. bishops' response to the communion protests of the Rainbow Sash Movement (RSM), a group which wears rainbow sashes to receive communion as a symbolic expression of their desire for homosexual inclusion in the Church. A CNS article at that time showed how Archbishop Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis had publicly invited the RSM crowd to receive communion in his cathedral, because of his interpretation that the sashes did not signify a protest. At the same time, Cardinal George, now vice-president of the USCCB, saw an inappropriate form of protest and denied them communion. Later that month Flynn visited Cardinal Arinze in the Vatican and discussed the matter. He came away noting that Arinze had not asked him to change his policy, and that he had no intention of changing it.

A new letter from Archbishop Flynn to RSM (made public by RSM) lays out a clear change in policy on the part of Flynn. The refreshingly lucid letter seems to indicate two reasons for the change: a perceived increase of aggressiveness on the part of the RSM, and a more direct clarification by the Holy See and the other American bishops (I suppose this would include Cardinals George and McCarrick?):

Brian, it has become apparent to me that the wearing of the sash is more and more perceived as a protest against church teaching. Such a perception has been heightened by the explicit statements to this end made in other parts of the United States. Locally, people wearing the sash did not honor Father Talbot's request to remove the sash prior to receiving the Eucharist. Brian, the fact that you personally chose to confront Father Talbot after that Mass confirms the adversarial nature of your appearance at the Mass. Finally, the Vatican has communicated to me that it does indeed consider the wearing of the Rainbow Sash during reception of Communion to be unacceptable, a directive that I believe all Bishops will adhere to.

Therefore, this is to notify you and the other members of the Minnesota Rainbow Sash group that I am asking you to remove your sashes before you receive Holy Communion. I ask you to observe this sign of respect for the Eucharist not only in the Cathedral but in all our parishes. No one wearing the sash will be permitted to receive the Blessed Sacrament.

The National Catholic Register has an excellent piece on the events, which details some of the more aggressive agitations of the RSM (including an apparent expansion of the use of sashes to protest male-only ordination, etc.), along with more extensive comments by Cardinal Arinze's office, secured via Barbara Kralis. Whatever Flynn's reasons for changing his policy, it does reflect a broader development in the thinking of the U.S. bishops on pastoral policies surrounding the reception of communion, a subject which may prove to be one of the most symbolic pastoral challenges to the Church in these years.

# posted by Jamie : 9:10 AM


Crosier of Iron Awards 

We have two winners of the Crosier of Iron Award for this week.

The first is the Archbishop of New Orleans, Alfred C. Hughes, for his public boycotting of [Dis]Loyola[l] University's bestowal of an honorary doctorate upon a pair of pro-abortion politicians:

"Not all members of the family have been faithful to the church's teaching regarding public policy," Hughes said in a statement. He added that he would boycott commencement exercises because he didn't want to "confuse the faithful" by giving the "impression that it is appropriate to include in an honor anyone who dissents publicly from Church teaching." (Source)

The second is Edward Cardinal Egan of the Archdiocese of New York, who had the courage to call a spade a spade, declaring Marymount Manhattan College 'no longer Catholic' after that institution's repeated honoring of pro-abortion politicians, including Senator Hillary Clinton:

"There is tremendous value to clearly and formally identifying wayward Catholic institutions as no longer Catholic, as Cardinal Egan has done so courageously," [Cardinal Newman Society's Patrick] Reilly said. "If Senator Clinton had a similar degree of dignity, she might have declined the College's honor out of respect for faithful Catholics who are appalled by her stridency on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. If the College's trustees and officials had a similar degree of dignity, they might have chosen to respect the College's roots and give their students something young people today are longing for -- a moral education rooted in the truth about God and man."(Source). Hat tip, Curt Jester & Old Oligarch)

Christopher of the Ratzinger Fan Club has his own collection of what he (using Mark Shea's coinage) calls 'Episcopal spine alerts' here. I think he runs it in his spare time. I mean, between his other sixteen online projects.

# posted by Jamie : 8:29 AM


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

More on Papal Ceremonial 

Incidentally, the ever-dependable Zadok has answered my question about Pope Benedict's distinct installation ceremonies and hence, has proven to be more intelligent than me.

Zadok points us to Can. 332 ยง1: The Roman Pontiff obtains full and supreme power in the Church by his acceptance of legitimate election together with episcopal consecration (emphasis added).
[M]y understanding is that both acts are purely symbolic and relate to two intimately related aspects of the Papacy - the Pope as Universal Pastor and the Pope as Bishop of Rome. This second ceremony whereby he takes possesion of the Lateran is symbolic of his role as Ordinary of the Diocese of Rome. However, it should be noted that (to the best of my knowledge) neither ceremony has any jurdical effect. (This in in contrast with the fact that other diocesan bishops have to 'take canonical possession' of their diocese before their exercise their power to govern.)
I concur. My concern was that, if both ceremonies were required to grant canonical jurisdiction - first, respective to the universal church, and second with respect to the Roman - this would create an extraneous and arbitrary separation between the two offices, which I believe to be conjoined. If, as Zadok puts it, both ceremonies are purely symbolic, and if the Pope receives full jurisdictional power the moment of his election, then my concern is resolved. (Not that the Roman curia were waiting on the edges of their seats for me to think this through, but it does help me...) It may be best to think of them, as Zadok does, as two aspects of the same office, rather than two separate offices.

# posted by Jamie : 3:20 PM


Van Impes = Papists? 

Years ago (think me as a twenty-year-old Protestant fundamentalist) I was somewhere in northeast China with a covert mission team. In the apartment where we were staying, I was rifling through a storage room and discovered a handful of dusty videos. One of them was a full-length video production by Jack and Rexella Van Impe. (I know, his poor wife's name just begs for commentary.) Bright red lettering splashed across the cover read something to this effect:


Of course I stuck it in the VHS. It began with Jack and his drenched-with-mascara-and-hairspray wife intoning something along the lines of, 'If you are watching this, viewer, then the world's news agencies are probably broadcasting alarming headlines, informing you that tens of thousands of people across the world have suddenly disappeared without reason. The purpose of this video is to explain, to those of you who were left behind, why this has happened. ' Most of you are probably familiar with fundamentalist 'rapture' theology, and I needn't get into it here. The Van Impes made a cottage industry out of this stuff.

I only convey this because there are rumors that the couple has converted to Catholicism. Eric Svendsen of 'Real Clear Theology' bemoans, 'You foolish Van Impes, who has bewitched you!' (note the latter revision). This has yet to pan out: I haven't yet seen anything on their official website. If so, this may be the most unlikely conversion I've seen in my lifetime. (Hat tip, Bill Cork)

# posted by Jamie : 2:42 PM


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Pacifism: Heresy? 

Occasionally (well, once a day or more) I engage in rapid-fire email debates with one of my readers and friends, the Polish Prince (pictured here). Since I probably put more thought and energy into these than most anything else in my life, including this blog, we both agreed to post one or two of them here, to see if any other readers have anything more to contribute.

Our most recent discussion was on the dogmatic standing of pacifism.

PP: [I]s pacifism a heresy?

J: Could be.

If pacifism is defined as the belief that war is always and everywhere immoral.

Even if the opposite belief has never been formulated de fide, it remains a part of our dogmatic (and conciliar) tradition:

"[G]overnments cannot be denied the right to legitimate defense." (Gaudium et Spes, 79)

Of course, the usual conditions apply in order to move from material to formal heresy - obstinacy, etc.

PP: How about the belief that there could technically be a just war, but the refusal to ever participate in such.

J: I doubt that could be formal heresy. That would be a matter of simple volition, not intellect (formal heresy, I believe, requires the refusal to submit the intellect to rightful authority). E.g. To deny that abortion is wrong, and to proclaim definitively that it is just, is heresy. To admit that it is wrong, and to go get one anyway, is not heresy, but sin (perhaps formal sin).

In the same way, to admit that a war is just but to refuse to serve in it, is not heresy, but a sin (of omission in this case).

Now, a third case might be to admit that wars could be just, but to deny that THIS war is just - that would be no heresy, because you haven't denied any principle of church teaching, which does not require us to think that any particular was is just or unjust.

A fourth might be to admit that this war is just, but to profess the belief that one need not participate in a just war. That is an interesting case. Does the Church teach that participation in a just war is morally obligatory? If so, then to deny it would/could be heresy. Certainly there would be exceptions to the obligation - matters of age, sex, etc. But to profess that anyone, irregardless of circumstances, remains unobliged in principle to participate in a war, even a just war, and that any participation in such a war remains strictly 'optional' - hm. This could be heresy. I think our tradition would make such participation more than an optional matter. But the exact level of participation might be a matter of debate - obviously, even if the war in Iraq were just, you and i probably aren't in material sin since we are not in the trenches of Baghdad. Or maybe we are.


PP: I think you have spelled things out quite well. About the fourth point, though, I think the Catechism offers the answer:

2310 Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.

2311 Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way

I think if the war was just, and public authorities imposed on us the obligation to defend the country (i.e. draft) we would be required to fight in it.

However, if we truly in conscience believed the war was unjust, I think we would be required to serve the human community in some other way.

Now, the question of whether someone can rightfully, by reason of conscience, never take up arms, even in just wars (and a war he admits is just) is a tough one. I think one would be obstinately refusing to submit their intellect to the teaching of the Church that it is not immoral to operate a weapon in a just war (and, ultimately, to kill enemy soldiers). I don't think one can be a pacifist, yet believe a war is just, and serve the military in a way that saves him from killing (at least if he is a Catholic). It seems that CCC 2311 in bringing up reasons of conscience is speaking of one fighting in a war he truly believes is unjust. I don't think it is saying one can, by reason of conscience, believe that all killing of enemy soldiers is always immoral...given that the Church teaches the just war doctrine.


J: Interesting question. If I admit that the war in Iraq was just, and therefore that it was in self-defense/defense of an innocent, with just cause, etc. and therefore that the killing of enemy combatants in such a war is just, yet I refuse to kill them myself... I'm prone to conclude that such a person is confused, inconsistent or simply weak-willed. But proponents of the conscientious objection position might say that this embodies their position exactly: that they would admit that a war is just yet embrace a 'better path' - assuming (rightly) that something can be just yet other alternatives can be MORE just, or more perfect (think marriage/celibacy).

On second thought, scrap that, it's morally inconsistent - if a war is just, and one of the principles of a just war is that reasonable, peaceful alternatives have been exhausted, then insisting on continuing such peaceful alternatives, in the face of manifest clarity that they have proven useless, becomes not a higher sense of justice but vain and morally inconsistent futility.

PP: Yeah. Bring it to the personal level. If you witnessed a crime occurring and did not do anything to protect the person who was being attacked (even by calling the police who might use force) you would be sinning by omission. Now, back to the war example...if an innocent country was attacked (heck, if you OWN country was attacked) and you said you would cook for the troops but wouldn't fight (even though there were plenty of cooks already and the country needed soldiers), would you not be sinning by omission...that is, allowing an evil to occur to your brothers (compatriots) without defending them? I would think so...

J: Mm. But troops do need cooks. Maybe they could find refuge there. Perhaps that is precisely the legitimate conscientious objector (CO) position. An army needs food as much as it needs gunners. In opting for the kitchen position, you are serving your country, perhaps, just as much, but you avoid personal bloodshed. ?

PP: However, isn't your refusal to shoot an enemy soldier, in a sense, an admission that you believe the act to be unjust? Why would you refuse to do a just act (shooting enemies) for another just act (cooking for troops) unless you truly believe one is LESS JUST than the other (if there is such a possibility of something being LESS JUST). To me it seems that, even though you are not voicing it, you still believe it is unjust to kill, even in a just war.

# posted by Jamie : 2:53 PM


A Time of Desert for Theology 

Summa Minutiae has called my attention to an excellent talk on theology given by Christoph Cardinal Schonborn, subtitled "Ressourcement versus Models of the Church". The Cardinal discusses the collapse of neo-scholastic theology and the influx of ressourcement theology in the conciliar era, with a keen eye for the benefits and dangers of each. He goes on to critique trends in modern theology: the 'models' approach (duck, Avery), what he calls 'encyclopedism', an undue dependence upon secondary literature, and a distraction from theology's true object, Jesus Christ. One or two excerpts ought to give you a taste for the whole article:
The real situation of theology today is that of poverty, a lack of greatness, a lack of great inspiration. The great masters of this century have gone, figures such as Langrange, Henri de Lubac, Yves Congar, Hans Urs Von Balthasar, even Karl Rahner. Now, we are in a period of poverty, a time of desert. If we humbly recognize that we are at a turning point in the history of theology, we can begin to build a better period of theology.

The second point: Back to the masters. It is so sad to lose time with secondary authors. Read St. Irenaeus, read St. Anselm, read the Church Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure--but do not read all the secondary stuff that floats around our libraries. In Germany there are 7,000 theological titles published every year. Who can read all this stuff without getting indention? It is much better to have read, during theological formation, the Confessions of St. Augustine, than a book about Augustine. A seminarian who has gotten the taste of a great master will be able to discern what is good food, and what is fast food. Much of what is on the theological market is fast food, even junk food.

# posted by Jamie : 10:01 AM


This seems like a silly question. Maybe someone smarter than me can answer it (there's got to be some of you out there).

Why are

(a) the installation of the Pope and inauguration of his Petrine ministry (April 24), and
(b) the installation of the Pope as Bishop of Rome (May 7)

separate events? Doesn't this seem, a bit . . . redundant? Or am I missing something?

# posted by Jamie : 9:34 AM


Monday, May 02, 2005

The 'Reform of the Reform' has Already Begun

# posted by Jamie : 10:55 AM


Cardinal McCarrick on Retirement, Pope Benedict XVI

# posted by Jamie : 8:41 AM


Under the Patronage of
St. Augustine of Hippo

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Ad Limina Apostolorum: An ecclesiastical term meaning a pilgrimage to the sepulchres of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome, i.e., to the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles and to the Basilica of St. Paul "outside the walls".

"Augustine of Hippo Refuting Heretic"
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Books Recently Read or Currently Reading

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J. B. Schneewind's Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy (reading)

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