Ad Limina Apostolorum (Blog) | St. Augustine's Library
Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My own university was deprived of the great Fr. Shanley last year, as was the Dominican community next-door. But as long as he is cleaning house in Rhode Island, I suppose I can bear to forgive him.

For this link and the two below, hat tip to CWNews.

# posted by Jamie : 12:24 PM


What bothers me most about ridiculous pieces like this, which NCR seems to run about every two weeks, just to keep a dead issue on life support, is not that it sensationalizes the issue of women's ordination. It's the way that the journal, through its editorial presentation, accepts the women's ordination as matter of fact, by off-handedly referring to how "Rev. Victoria Rue of Watsonville, Calif., [was] ordained last summer on the St. Lawrence Seaway," and using headlines like "After 'illicit but valid' ceremony, they find ways to serve."

# posted by Jamie : 12:15 PM


Excellent interviews with Bishop Bruskewitz and Corrada on Vatican II. Skip the introductory banter and go right to the interviews. Bruskewitz is predictably good, but Corrada, the Jesuit Bishop of Tyler, is refreshingly clear-headed as well.

# posted by Jamie : 12:11 PM


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Newman and Augustine 

What gave me pause in taking up Newman's autobiographical sketch was the possibility of its personal irrelevance. After all, Newman wrote it to defend himself against specific accusations leveled against him in print, and the work is littered with historical details, mostly trivial in nature. Only about ten percent of the text is actually theological in nature.

I found the work surprisingly relevant. Newman's gradually-increasing awareness of the impossibility of remaining Anglican finds echoes in our modern situation. Newman held out as long as he did only because he held an increasingly 'Catholic' interpretation of Anglican dogma (as expressed in the 39 articles, specifically). Earlier, he was convinced that this was the true sense of the articles, as their authors had understood them. Later, he acknowledged it was probably not their original sense, but insisted that the Catholic interpretation of them was valid nonetheless. His Catholic interpretation of them was tolerated long enough by the authorities, but eventually grudging tolerance moved towards ambivalence and eventual condemnation. Besides, Newman grew frustrated that the Anglican episcopacy continued to tolerate the existence of outright heretics in the Church, which in itself seemed inconsistant with its tolerance of the Catholic interpretation.

What I found especially delightful was Newman's reading of early Church history, and his shocking realization that it was the 'Roman' side of the debates which always ended up vindicated by history. Best of all, the shadow of Augustine is long as ever.

"It was difficult to make out how the Eutychians or Monophysites were heretics, unless Protestants and Anglicans were heretics also; difficult to find arguments against the Tridentine Fathers, which did not tell against the Fathers of Chalcedon; difficult to condemn the Popes of the sixteenth century, without condemning the Popes of the fifth. The drama of religion, and the combat of truth and error, were ever one and the same. The principles and proceedings of the Church now, were those of the Church then; the principles and proceedings of heretics then, were those of Protestants now. I found it so,-almost fearfully; there was an awful similitude, more awful, because so silent and unimpassioned, between the dead records of the past and the feverish chronicle of the present. The shadow of the fifth century was on the sixteenth. It was like a spirit rising from the troubled waters of the old world, with the shape and lineaments of the new. The Church then, as now, might be called peremptory and stern, resolute, overbearing, and relentless; and heretics were shifting, changeable, reserved, and deceitful, ever courting civil power, and never agreeing together, except by its aid; and the civil power was ever aiming at comprehensions, trying to put the invisible out of view, and substituting expediency for faith. What was the use of continuing the controversy, or defending my position, if, after all, I was forging arguments for Arius or Eutyches, and turning devil's advocate against the much-enduring Athanasius and the majestic Leo? Be my soul with the Saints! and shall I lift up my hand against them? Sooner may my right hand forget her cunning, and wither outright, as his who once stretched it out against a prophet of God . . . . "

"The Donatist controversy was known to me for some years . . . [T]he case was not parallel to that of the Anglican Church . . . But my friend, an anxiously religious man, now, as then, very dear to me, a Protestant still, pointed out the palmary words of St. Augustine, which were contained in one of the extracts made in the "Review," and which had escaped my observation. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum." (ed. "the secure judgement of the whole world ") He repeated these words again and again, and, when he was gone, they kept ringing in my ears. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum;" they were words which went beyond the occasion of the Donatists, they applied to that of the Monophysites. They gave a cogency to the Article which had escaped me at first. They decided ecclesiastical questions on a simpler rule than that of Antiquity. Nay St. Augustine was one of the prime oracles of Antiquity; here then Antiquity was deciding against itself. What a light was hereby thrown upon every controversy in the Church! not that, for the moment, the multitude may not falter in their judgment,-not that, in the Arian hurricane, Sees more than can be numbered did not bend before its fury, and fall off from St. Athanasius,—not that the crowd of Oriental Bishops did not need to be sustained during the contest by the voice and the eye of St. Leo; but that the deliberate judgment, in which the whole Church at length rests and acquiesces, is an infallible prescription, and a final sentence, against such portions of it as protest and secede. Who can account for the impressions which are made on him? For a mere sentence, the words of St. Augustine, struck me with a power which I never had felt from any words before. To take a familiar instance, they were like the "Turn again Whittington" of the chime; or, to take a more serious one, they were like the "Tolle, lege,-Tolle, lege," (ed. "Take, read") of the child, which converted St. Augustine himself. "Securus judicat orbis terrarum!" By those great words of the ancient Father, interpreting and summing up the long and varied course of ecclesiastical history, the theory of the Via Media was absolutely pulverized."

# posted by Jamie : 1:26 PM


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy 2006 

After taking a week or two off for the holidays, I'm back in action once again. The holidays were spent with close family, a box of wine, and a hot tub (convincing my son that fearsome, man-eating manitees roamed the hot-tub actually increased, not decreased, his desire to swim in it). I ended up with a copy of Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf in my hands, which my sister-in-law brought with no intention of reading. Meanwhile, my wife, who is deeply convinced of my untested ability to write fiction, informed me on Christmas Eve that she wanted a short story for her Christmas present. I began promptly, and two days later had 3-4 pages of what I thought was a knock-dead story. I was then informed that my story was 'revolting' and 'disgusting' and that she had no intention of reading past the second page. What can I say?: I'd been staying up late reading the Steppenwolf for three days straight.

I also brought with me something a little more uplifting: The Venerable-soon-to-be-Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua. I'll have more on that in a bit. In short, the more things change, the more they stay the wame.

# posted by Jamie : 3:42 PM


Under the Patronage of
St. Augustine of Hippo

Contact me:

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"
(illuminated manuscript,
13th century)

"Jamie . . .
I could kill you in three seconds.
-Bishop Sheridan

Books Recently Read or Currently Reading

John Milbank's Theology & Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason (next in stack)

Colson Whitehead's Zone One (reading)

Michael Wyschogrod's Body of Faith: God and the People Israel (reading)

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

Paul Hacker's Ego in Faith: Martin Luther and the Origins of Anthopocentric Religion (finished: 3 stars)

Edward Peter's Modern Guide to Indulgences: Rediscovering this Often-Ministerpreted Teaching (finished: 1 star)

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