Friday, February 27, 2009

Dark Night Lifting

I might've mentioned before that I'm playing with a band for the diocesan young-adult ministry, TVYAM or Treasure Valley Young Adult Ministry. The name of the band is Dark Night Lifting, and Chris, one of my bandmates, has put up a web site here. We also have a fan site on Facebook put up by Bob Bailey, the TVYAM director, here.

We play fairly regularly, and I'm happy that I get to switch back and forth from bass to acoustic guitar. It helps me keep up my chops on both.

Now of we could just write some songs and record a little.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UVM: My Father's Alma Mater

Well, for medical school, anyway. He grew up in Montpelier and after finishing at Notre Dame, he attended medical school in Burlington. Anyway, for my visitor from Vermont, welcome!

True Simplicity for the Christian

My spiritual reading is currently from Dietrich Von Hildebrand's Transformation in Christ. Much like Fr. Thomas Dubay's Fire Within, Transformation is a spiritual two-by-four for the complacent Catholic. What both books do is clarify just what it means to entrust yourself to God's will. It's a message that we sometimes think we understand, until someone like Dubay or Von Hildebrand holds up the truth to daylight.

Last night, I woke up at 2:30 AM and had some trouble getting back to sleep. So I took my copy of Transformation out to the couch. The chapter I'm reading now is titled "True Simplicity." VH does an excellent job of identifying false simplicity in various forms, from an affected childlike innocence in the mature adult to simplicity of the primitive (by which he means the individual who is so involved with subsistence to have no time for self reflection). True simplicity, to VH, requires a depth of insight into the true nature of things.

Another example of false simplicity is that posed by many of the evangelical Atheists: the simplicity of reductionism. He describes this simplicity in a number of ways. First, it's the tendency to view "the entire cosmos after the pattern of its lowest sphere. Without considering the specific logos of the object they are faced with, they apply the categories of mechanism to the province of organic life and even to the realm of spiritual personality and culture" (79). He goes on to note that these individuals attempt to drag everything down to the sphere at which they themselves feel comfortable and are very pleased with the facility and shallow simplicity.

On the other side of the spectrum are those who believe themselves more willing to deal with abstractions but who don't adequately enough in that abstraction and "denature" it. As VH notes, "They believe they see through all things and know everything; nnor is there anything for which they would not promptly supply an obvious explanation" (79). VH sees this tendency toward simplification as more problematic than other barriers to true simplicity:

This simplicity of platitude, which would strip the cosmos of all depth and all metaphysical stratification, is perhaps even more radically opposed to true Christian simplicity than is the disease of complexity. For he who denies the dimensions of being, its depth and width, and pretends to flatten out the entire universe, is even farther remote from truth than he who ignores the supreme value of inward unity. (79-80)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hello, Austria!

I assume that's Mike up there diligently studying in Gaming, but you never know. Welcome, anyway. Feel free to comment, as I can always use some input in my thinkifying.

Lecture 3 Study Questions

I have to say that the forum participation this term is worse than most. That is one of the most frustrating things about distance learning: unless forum participation is required, few will bother with it.

I see it as another opportunity to clarify my understanding, so I do it whether it's required or not.


Desribe in detail Patristic themes concerning Christ’s saving work

Christ’s saving work is part of the salvation economy of God the Father—His plan for saving mankind. As St. Irenaeus states in Against Heresies, the intent of the Incarnation is our salvation—the re-establishment of all things and the raising up of humanity (Jurgens, Vol. 1, p. 84), and he adds, “He has fitted and arranged all things by His wisdom” (p. 88). Undoubtedly, that would include Christ’s saving work. Certainly, God foresaw what would happen given man’s free will.

Christ reveals a new way of life and reveals the truth about God, man, and human destiny. Jesus preaches a life of compassion and reminds the Jews of Israel and the Decapolis of their obligation to help others and to treat each other with charity. The message in particular is sent to the Pharisees, who have turned the compassion of God into a code of man-made laws and traditions. Jesus called them and all Jews back to the Truth. For the pagans, this would mean a single Truth and single Lawgiver and a sense of absolute, of real justice rather than just the capriciousness of lesser gods who act just as badly as the worst of mankind. God is a God of mercy and justice, and we are called to submit through our own merciful and just actions.

Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are an example that we as Christians should imitate. Jesus is the exemplar of the life to which we as Christians are called. In our life, we are to remember mercy. In our suffering of death, we are to offer all to God, and to join our suffering to that of Christ for the redemption of the world. Finally, in submitting fully t the will of God, we will be raised from death. As Rev. Mosey notes, the Fathers were concerned with helping their people live holy lives, not just with speculating on abstract theological positions that required mere intellectual assent. St. Paul entreats in 1 Cor. 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” The Fathers certainly tried to encourage the same.

Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (particularly his obedience unto death) demonstrates God’s love and moves people to respond in return out of faith, hope, and love. First is the notion that God allows His Son to be a sacrifice, much like Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac. God lovingly and willingly supplies the proper sacrifice to make good mankind’s redemption. Likewise, Christ lovingly, obediently, and willingly becomes the paschal sacrifice to redeem us from our fall. As the Gospel of John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Naturally, if people of good conscience see this action for what it is and recognize the extraordinary offering, they will be moved to respond by moving closer to God.

Christ’s saving work is a victory over sin, death, and Satan. Christ’s saving work is an undoing of the sins of Adam. Through Adam’s disobedience, Satan gains a foothold, and sin and death are loosed in the world. Through Christ’s obedience unto death, He defeats death and sin by justifying humanity, and He becomes a stumbling block for Satan, giving him an ever more slippery slope back into Hell. Rev. Mosey notes that Satan is sometimes “seen more as a personification standing between sin and death” (Lecture 3, p. 4). I’m not quite sure whether he means that contemporary Christians often understand Satan this way or whether some of the Fathers did. From the following statement, it implies that the Fathers held him to be a person, but that this belief is often not held anymore. Count me in with the Fathers.

Christ’s Incarnation in and of itself is salvific. Because of the Hypostatic Union, humanity and divinity are joined in one Person. There is no diminution of the divine nature, but human nature is exalted, divinized, and restored. A Patristic maxim to this point states that God became man that man might become God. Our “becoming God,” in no way suggests a change in nature from human to divine (which would mean either an adding to God—an absurdity—or becoming a distinct god—which would be pantheistic), but a participation in the divine life with God. This concept is present in the works of St. Athanasius, St. Gregory or Nyssa, and St. Cyril of Jerusalem. In the Incarnation, every human person is affected because human nature—the essence of what it means to be human—is affected (Mosey, p. 5).

Christ’s entire life is part of His saving work. While His passion, death, and resurrection are of primary focus for western Christians, His entire life, including His death and resurrection, reveals the truth about God and saves mankind. By living as a man, Christ recapitulates human life, redeeming each stage for all. In St. Irenaeus’ words, “Therefore He passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age; and at the time of becoming for them an example of piety, of righteousness, and of submission; a young man for youths, becoming and example for youths and sanctifying them for the Lord.” (Jurgens, Vol. 1, p.87) Irenaeus continues through every stage unto death. In passing through each stage, Christ dignifies each and redeems it. Finally he becomes the first born from the dead, “having the first place in all things, the originator of life, before and preceding all” (Ibid).

Two common subelements of this theme reappear throughout the Patristic writings. First, Jesus Christ is the new Adam (and the Blessed Mother, the new Eve). Through the Blessed Mother’s obedience, her Seed crushes the head of the serpent. What Adam and Eve wrought through disobedience, Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary recapitulated, relived, and redeemed (Mosey, Lect. 3, p. 6). Second, because Jesus was true man and is true God, He redeemed all that He assumed. As Gregory Nazianzus and other Fathers would argue, what Christ did not assume, He did not repair (Ibid).

Christ’s death is expiation for our sins. As noted before, the Fathers see Adam’s and our own disobedience leading to death. Christ’s obedience to death out of love expiates or repairs the offence of Adam. This subelement seems common to many of the themes. I’m wondering why the original paschal sacrifice is not being mentioned here as it is the type of Christ’s passion and death as sin offering. Of course, we might look at the Passover lambs as being the type and Christ being the antitype since His Incarnation was preordained to serve as expiation for our sins (that is, if you look at God’s plan outside of time). The paschal lambs of early Judaism are then seen as imperfect offerings that can only be fully expressed in Christ’s paschal sacrifice. I’m probably theologizing more than is appropriate here, but it does seem that the subelements of these themes overlap a lot. By the way, I find the terms antetype and antitype to be frustratingly confusing here. One means what precedes the type, and the other what follows the type. In Greek, the distinction is probably quite clear, but since we English speakers tend to pronounce the two words identically, it can cause some confusion. Maybe figure and prefigure might be better on that account. Of course, I guess we’d then need to add postfigure.

Christ’s life and death were a freely accepted sacrifice. The theme of obedience and freedom are important here for two reasons. First, Christ demonstrates His love for us and for the Father by accepting and embracing the Father’s plan of salvation for our sake. Without the freedom to accept death, there’s really no sacrifice as a sacrifice must be offered, not forcibly taken. Second, because Christ accepts this sacrifice in His humanity, we are given an example of our own offering for sin—ourselves. He offered Himself for us. We, as Christians, should offer ourselves back to Him. If we don’t do this willingly rather than out of compulsion, it is likewise no sacrifice. Our offering must come out of love by our own free will.

I find it interesting that the eighth theme includes the discussion on suffering because it seems to me to be much more appropriate here. Christ freely offers His suffering for the redemption of mankind. We can also offer our suffering join with Christ’s to complete the redemption of mankind. Again, this is probably more theologizing than appropriate for the course material.

Christ is a mediator between God and man. Because Christ has joined divinity and humanity in the Hypostatic Union, He is the natural mediator between God and man. He divinizes human nature, and He draws us into participation with God. Having suffered as a man, Jesus knows the meaning of our suffering. We can see Christ as mediator in that He settles the dispute between God and man, but also in that He communicates God’s Truth to us as the divine Word. The Fathers also talk of our being appropriated into Christ. So in another sense, Christ is the medium through which we are sanctified, both in a physical and spiritual sense.

Describe the main points concerning Christ and his saving work in the Council of Chalcedon

Jesus Christ is one divine Person or Hypostasis of the Son of God. His having taken a physical form does not alter His divine Personhood. He is not a human person (as Arius taught) or two separate persons, divine and human (as Nestorius was purported to have taught, although he apparently denied this).

This one divine Person subsists in two natures, one divine and one human. Each
nature is perfect and lacks nothing that pertains to each particular nature. As such, the human nature has a human soul and a human body, united together in one Hypostasis, except during the time between His death and resurrection. The Hypostatic Union does not diminish the divine nature but, in contrast, raises up and restores human nature.

This Hypostatic Union is substantial and not merely accidental (by way of appearance or in a nonessential way only) or moral (through adoption, as is the case with us, or in some legalistic sense). These two natures come together in one Person, not merely as entities treated or having the mere appearance of a single person.

The natures in the Hypostatic Union do not comingle and become some new nature. They remain distinct from each other. This point addressed the claims of the Eutychian monophysites that Christ’s human nature was “dissolved like a drop of honey in the sea” or as the Apollonarists held that the divine intellect had superseded the human (“Monophysitism,”

Since one Person exists in two natures, what can be predicated to one nature can be predicated to the entire person of Christ. Because only one person exists, a divine Person in two natures, any activity or property attributable to either of these natures can be attributed to Christ the divine Person. For this reason, it is acceptable to refer to the Virgin Mary as Theotokos, just as it is likewise appropriate to say that God the Son suffered and died on the cross.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Where There are Two Wills, One Finds a Way*

UPDATE: Greetings to everyone coming over from the Patristic Carnival at Hyperekperissou. I want to apologize for the confusion caued by my title. The essay actually deals with the mature of Christ's natures. As I noted in my comments, "The problem [the matter if His two natures]seemed intractible, but because Christ had two wills, He provided a way." My original explanation is below.

*That matter of Christ's two wills wasn't actually settled until the Third Council of Constantinople. However, the title just worked, so I kept it.

Following the affirmation of the Nicene-Constantinople creed at the first Council of Constantinople, a new storm began brewing in the Catholic Church, one that perhaps can be seen as a response to the Trinitarian denial of the Arians as well as an attempt to accommodate certain Gnostic tendencies in some early Christian communities.[1] The Councils Nicaea and Constantinople resolved that Jesus Christ is truly “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made.”[2] What came, then, to the forefront was the question of Christ Himself. How could Jesus Christ be Divine and God, yet a man? It is not surprising that this paradox raised questions in people’s minds. Oddly enough, as St. Augustine noted, heretics do us a kind of favor in that they force us to clarify our theological formulations.[3]

Proponents of the Antiochene school, in response to a heresy put forward by Apollinaris, stressed the full humanity of Christ.[4] By assuming our humanity, Christ was able to repair the damage done to us in Adam’s fall.[5] Apollinaris had proposed that Christ assumed only a human body and soul (meaning, the principle of animal life), but not a human spirit (the rational center of man).[6] As St. Gregory of Nyssa and other Fathers would note, if Christ did not also assume a human mind as well as a human soul, then our souls and minds could not be saved.[7] In this emphasis, the Antiochene Fathers occasionally went too far in seeing in Christ a human person[8] and perhaps did not describe clearly enough Christ’s unity. This lack of precision in their language contributed to the Nestorian heresy, which diminished the unity of the divine and human in Christ and suggested two persons (divine and human, with a single prosopon or outward appearance) rather that one divine Person or hypostasis.[9]

The competing school in Alexandria went the opposite direction, overstressing the unity of the divine Person in Christ. Because of their role in contesting Arianism, they focused on Christ’s divinity in such a way that tended to minimize His humanity.[10] This overemphasis on the divine would lead to the opposite extreme of Monophysitism, proposing that Jesus Christ had only one divine nature. Somewhere between the two extremes of Nestorianism and Monophysitism lay the truth, one that employed the two complementary emphases of the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools. It would take several councils to settle the matter definitively for the orthodox Catholic Church.

While support can be found in scripture and in the writings of many Fathers (for example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem and St. Epiphanius of Salamis)[11], two Fathers figure prominently in the development of the doctrine of the Incarnation: St. Cyril of Alexandria and Pope St. Leo the Great.[12] St. Cyril had written several works condemning the teachings of Nestorius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, and both had appealed to Rome. The eventual result was the Council of Ephesus, where St. Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas became part of the acts of the council (although not fully endorsed).[13] Because of the lack of clarity in St. Cyril’s language, some from the Antiochene school leveled charges of both Apollinarism and Monophysitism against him.[14] Pope St. Leo also wrote several letters, including one to Flavian, Bishop of Constantinople, which clarified the doctrine of the two natures,[15] and he captured in particular the necessity of the Hypostatic Union for our salvation:

While preserving, therefore, the quality proper to each nature, and joining both in one Person, lowliness was taken on by majesty, weakness by strength, and mortality by eternity. And in order to pay the debt of our condition, an inviolable nature was united to a nature capable of suffering so that, this being the kind of reparation we needed, one and the same Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, as able to die in one nature and not the other.[16]

In the end, both Fathers contributed to the formulation that eventually came about in 451 AD. At the Council of Chalcedon, the definitive doctrine on the Incarnation of Christ was ratified and made the official stance of the Church.

At Chalcedon, the bishops and priests confirmed the following points of doctrine. First, Christ is a divine Person or Hypostasis.[17] He is not a human person (as Arius taught) or two separate persons, divine and human (as Nestorius was purported to have taught, although he apparently denied this).[18] Second, Christ exists in a divine and a human nature, each of which is perfect and complete.[19] The Hypostatic Union does not diminish the divine nature, but in contrast, raises up and restores human nature.[20] Third, the Hypostatic Union is substantial and not merely accidental (in appearance or in a nonessential way only) or moral (as an indwelling or as a divine rational soul superseding a human intellect).[21] Fourth, the divine nature and the human nature are distinct and do not combine to form a new nature. Finally, because only one person exists, a divine Person in two natures, any activity or property attributable to either of these natures can be attributed to Christ the divine Person. For this reason, it is acceptable to refer to the Virgin Mary as Theotokos, just as it is likewise appropriate to say that God the Son suffered and died on the cross.[22] So the council confirmed that we worship only one God. In the words of St. Cyril of Alexandria, “According to His Divinity He is consubstantial with the Father, and according to His humanity He is consubstantial with us. A union was made of two natures, on which account we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord.”[23]

While the Council of Chalcedon settled the question of Christ’s dual natures, it did not prevent the eventual rupture with the Monophysite churches in the East.[24] Nonetheless, it did settle for all time the teaching of the Church in regards to the reality of Christ’s divinity and humanity.

Walter Drum, “The Incarnation,” 1910, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 9 February 2009, .

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd Edition, (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Vatican, 1997), 49–50.

Rev. Douglas Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 2,” International Catholic University, (Catholic Educational Television, Inc., 2006), 9.

“Chalcedonians and Monophysites: Do We Share the Same Beliefs?” Orthodox Christian Information Center, 10 February 2009 .

Rev. Douglas Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 3,” International Catholic University, (Catholic Educational Television, Inc., 2006), 6.

Joseph Sollier, “Apollinarianism,” 1907, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 10 February 2009 .

Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 3,” p. 6.

Ibid., p. 10.

“Chalcedonians and Monophysites: Do We Share the Same Beliefs?” Orthodox Christian Information Center, 10 February 2009 .


William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1, (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1970), 350; also Volume 2, 69.

Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 3,” p. 9.

William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 3, (Collegeville: The Liturgucal Press, 1979), 229–230,

Ibid., 230.

Ibid., 268.

Ibid., 270.

Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 3,” 10.

John Chapman, “Nestorius and Nestorianism,” 1911, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 10 February 2009, .

Mosey, “Patristics: Lecture 3,” 10.

Ibid., 6.

Ibid., 10. I have to admit that I was not able to find an adequate definition of the term moral in this context. However, as it indicates agency, I deduced (hopefully, correctly) that this referred to the error of Apollinaris in teaching that the human rational faculty absent in Christ, and to Nestorius’ error in suggesting a junction of the natures rather than a union.

Ibid., 10.

William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 3, (Collegeville: The Liturgucal Press, 1979), 207.

Ibid., 269.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Note on Music

Earlier this week, I was reading a post by Tim Jones on speaking in an authentic, counter-cultural voice. While I appreciate the concept, I can't agree with his take on Christian pop music. He seems to be confusing medium with message. While there's certainly a lot of bad Christian pop music (and maybe that classification may be a bit broad), there's most certainly some very good Christian contemporary music. If Tim is talking about packaging Christian music in the same fashion, then I would have to agree. However, the sounds and timbres in music are much like the various media with which Tim works in his art. The message you convey has less to do with the particulars of the media than with the actual message. For example, Dali had an amazing ink portrait of Christ's face under the crown of thorns that looked like random ink splotches on paper. The effect was stunning, yet it was an effect very much in vogue at the time to carry a Christian message. Would Tim consider the medium in that case to be flawed regardless of the message?

I'm a musician rather than a plastic artist. I don't always appreciate the media used to express these ideas. My take, for example, on the renovation of a local church is a good example. I can appreciate that some styles aren't appropriate for conveying a Christian message (for example, diabolical tatoo styles). Frankly, I detest much of the ecclesial style from the 70s and 80s, which is what this local church seems to be targting. (I call it Flinstone or Stone-age Ecclesial. You cradle Catholics know what I'm talking about.)

Anyway, there's a difference between trying to force the message into the medium and using the medium to convey the message. I've heard a whole lot of bad Christian contemporary music (in various timbres). I've also heard some truly inspired music using timbres I never would have expected in Christian music. When we classify mush as being pop or alternative or metal or country, we're talking about textures and timbres—the tools musicians use to do what they do. Painters (and others in the plastic arts) have the same types of materials. To exclude the options for musicians simply based on how those options are often employed in secular music is simply bigoted.

There are certainly legitimate divergences. Dipping a crucifix in something resembling urine or smearing a portrait of the Blessed Mother with something resembling dung are certainly unacceptable, but it's not only the media that are the issue but the message those media convey. Likewise, attempting to convey the love and mercy of God (or the justice and wrath) using graphic, hateful, and obscene language doesn't work. It offends the message itself.

So the question isn't in style but in the materials. For artists, the materials are the canvas, oils, marble, wood, or whatever. For musicians, the materials are instruments, lyrics, rhythms, tonalities, and tempos. There are some tonalities that are said to evoke evil feelings (traditionally, the Locrian mode, though I think this has more to do with the associations of minor tonalities in that mode than anything else).

That said, I can completely agree that some styles are completely inappropriate for liturgy. I do not like contemporary (or even pseudo-contemporary/folk) music for the Mass. It conveys a sense of the everyday that doesn't belong in a timeless celebration. I played for a time in a Lifeteen group, but I've since decided that the Lifeteen approach only enhances a sense of alienation between adolescents and the parent parish rather then fostering a sense of belonging. That's not a judgment on the many youth ministers out there who use Lifeteen to reach out, but it is a judgment on the mindset that says that the liturgy has to appeal by being secular.

Anyway, I and my band play many covers of contemporary Christian music for our diocesan young adult ministry. I'm happy for the opportunity to serve this way, and I hope that the music we play edifies those who attend the various TVYAM functions.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Some Good in the World

Patrick Madrid has this oldish clip up, and I watched it again today. It still just stuns and touches me. First, this story reminds me that, while much is wrong with the direction our country is heading, there is much that is good about the people. Second, as my wife mentioned earlier to me, God doesn't make mistakes. He makes opportunities for moments of grace. This video is a prime example.

What I love most is how Jason's classmates react when he's simply given the opportunity to play. Wow. Were they in for a surprise!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I've Said It Before, and I'll Say It Again...

Fun-size candies lack fun.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Paper 1 is on the Way

I had a shocking discover last evening, when I looked again at my syllabus to find that the paper I thought was due on Saturday was actually due tonight.

I panicked. I didn't think I had the material together enough to form a coherent thought. After a few emails back and forth with my tutor, I determined that I was going to finish on time and not take a differment (even though he would have let me). I managed to get the work done and submit it on time.

I'm luck to be self employed, or I wouldn't have had the option.

Anyway, I'll post the paper once its been graded and the due date is well past.

UPDATE: Good grade, Deo gratias. I'll post the paper this weekend.

Monday, February 09, 2009

St. John: Patron of Paper Airplanes?

You tell me. This mosaic is on the front of the ambo at my parish, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

What's that in his right hand?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

St. Cyril of Jerusalem on the Eucharist and Prayers for the Dead

One of the things I love about studying the Church Fathers is how you'll so frequently encounter very exlicit and clear explanations of Catholic doctrine. Now, early belief in the Real Presence in the Eucharist is fairly easy to prove, since St. Paul notes this in 1 Corinthians 11. Now, some people dispute that St. Paul is teaching anything about Transubstantiation, but the same teaching is contained in the Didache, in the writing of St. Ignatius, in St. Ireneaus, in St. Justin Martyr, and so on. The only solution is that the Church must've gone wrong very early on.

Well, let's add St. Cyril of Jerusalem to the mix as well. Writing catechetical notes in 350, St. Cyril pretty much hammers the belief in the True Presence home:

Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, ye are become of the same body. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He brake it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?

My translation (Jurgens) is a little different, but you can hardly walk away from this statement thinking that Early Christians didn't believe in the Real Presence.

Another point is prayers for the dead. Catholics support this Tradition using a scripture that Protestant churches don't recognize (2 Maccabees 12:43–45). However, again, since this aspect of Catholic Worship predates claims of Purgatory's fabrication by Pope St. Gregory, something has to give. In this passage, St. Cyril talks about the prayers for the dead offered during the Eucharistic prayer:

And I wish to persuade you by an illustration. For I know that many say, what is a soul profited, which departs from this world either with sins, or without sins, if it be commemorated in the prayer? For if a king were to banish certain who had given him offence, and then those who belong to them should weave a crown and offer it to him on behalf of those under punishment, would he not grant a remission of their penalties? In the same way we, when we offer to Him our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, weave no crown, but offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves.

That Church Fathers area a treasure for the Church, and a bulwark against false doctrine.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Random Photos from Israel

I was emailing a friend and coworker from Israel today and started reminiscing about my two visits there. Then this evening, my wife and I went to a social after the vigil Mass, and one of the retired priests who lives close by, Fr. Joe Muha (whose photgraphs were on display for the social), had a few shots of Nazareth and the Mt. of Olives. I started looking over some of my photos, and I realized that I still have quite a few I haven't posted.

Why Israel? What I can tell you is that something about the country gets into your blood, particularly if you go to Jerusalem or the northern sites. Tel Aviv is really not much to write home about. Jaffa has some very cool aspects, but both Tel aviv and Jaffa are simply too modern and too secular. However, step into Jerusalem, and things are simply different. How many cities can you recall that are built out of cut stone? And for a Christian (as for a Jew or a Muslim), Jerusalem is just am incredible place. Gallilee also holds some intrigue, but I can tell you that summer is not the best time to take that tour. Being from southern Idaho, I'm used to heat, but 98 degrees seems much hotter below sea level at Lake Kinneret.

Anyway, photos...

The entrance to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre is actually a Crusader ruin. You'll notice a stairway up to Station 10 of the Way of the Cross, where Jesus was stripped prior to crucifixion.

All three times I have gone to the basilica, someone from the Nusseibeh family has been sitting on those steps. This Mulsim family has been responsible for holding the keys to the basilica for the last 900 years.

This altar is on the back side of the Edicule and is maintained by the Armenian Apostolic Church, relative late comers to the basilica.

The Coptic/Ethiopian Church has shrines on the roof of the basilica. There are small points of interest all throughout the basilica.

This prie-dieu is located in the quarry wher St. Helena found the true cross.

This panel is below Golgotha and is the traditional location of the burial of Adam's skull. From a different angle, you can see a fracture in the rock that was to have occured at the crucifixion. If you can find older crucifixes, you might find a skull at the base, a token of this ancient tradition.

Sorry for the flash. I really need to learn how my camera works.

As Fr. Amateis and I were walking along the Herodian streets, we came upon this replica of a mosaic found in Madaba.

This mosaic shows the layout of Jerusalem in the 6th century, with the cardo maximus running north of the original Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This photo is of the Dome of the Rock.

Just to the east on the temple mount is the Al-Aqsa mosque. I've been told that you really don't want to be around the western wall on Fridays (which is the Muslim holy day). Apparently, the people on the temple mount will lob rocks down onto the people praying at the western wall. Also, you don't want to call the temple mount by that name around Muslims if you are visiting the Old City. To Muslims, it's the Noble Sanctuary. Even Fr. Amateis was harrassed by someone in the souks when he was explaining to me the geography of the Old City.

This is the Damascus gate, which is on the north side of the Old City and in east Jerusalem. I made the mistake of asking my taxi driver to take me here on my second trip. He dropped me off "200 meters" from the gate, which was actually two miles or so from where I asked him to take me (Gethsemane). You'll find that some places are more accessible on foot that via bus or taxi.

I did get one disappointing shot as we drive by the gate at the olive grove at Gethsemane (also known as the garden). "Gethsemane" means "oil press," and there is an oil press dating to the time of Christ on the compound.

Here's the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa. Jaffa is sort of an artists' enclae thes days. It's traditionally an Arab city (Yafo).

The narrow streets of Jaffa are what you would expect of an ancient city.

The photos following are all from the second trip. By this time, I was fully into travelling around Israel and less concerned about my personal safety. Tours are a good way to see the Holy Land as the directors have a good grasp of the situation on the ground and won't take you into dangerous situations.

Nonetheless, you will see some tours with armed guards, and you'll see armed staff everywhere. It's oddly unnerving for people in the US, especially those of us who support the second amendment. In the US, very few police carry assault weapons, except in extraordinary circumstances. In Israel, they're the norm. In Britain and France, they carry various bullpup (as we learned in our lovely layover incident at Charles De Gualle Internatinal Airport).

I took most of those photos above on my first trip. Those that folow are almost exclusively from the second.

This is one of the many doors of the Basilica of the Annunciation. Each has various scenes from scripture.

This one is a shot of the ground level in Nazareth at the time of Christ. This was taken in the basilica and is supposed to be around the locale of the annunciation.

Here is the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth, which is built over a craftsman's shop, supposedly Joseph's. Keep in mind that these are sites borne out by tradition with a lower-case T. However, it's a scant 100 yards or so from the basilica. In a town of 200, that seems about right.

This is the entrance to Capernaum. The whole site is now owned by the Vatican. However, the Greek Orthodox Church has a site nearby.

This photo is from within the church at Capernaum and is above the ruins of the church that was built onto St. Peter's house.

Here's a shot of the ruins of Capernaum southeast of the synagogue.

This mosaic is in front of the altar at the church of the Primacy of St. Peter.

Friday, February 06, 2009


One of the mistakes we Christians and Catholics often make is that we think our financial contributions are enough. I'm beginning to learn this as I try to reach out to homeless individuals. I've noted before that panhandlers seem to be less interested in money and more excited by more personal offerings. This may vary from place to place, but I've found that most of the homeless and poor whom I encounter are more touched when I give them a meal or a bible than if I give them money.

Robert is a fellow I encounter frequently at the exit of our local grocery store. He actually quizzed me the first time I talked with him to see if I remembered his name (after a short, two-minute conversation). It's only been a few months that I met him, but he seems to be deteriorating fast.

Today, I stopped by to give him a sandwich and some soup. He got up and gave me a hug. I could tell he was troubled, so I stayed and chatted with him for a few minutes. It turns out that he had taken a friend of his over to meet some people who let him store his bike and some other items at their store (a second-hand bookstore in Boise). Apparently, they either misunderstood Robert's intent, or they were anrgy about something else, and they told Robert to take his things and leave. This must've occured in the morning.

When I talked to him, he was devastated. He wanted to share one important person in his life with others who were also important to him. And because of that desire, he was cast further away. He invited me to sit down, and I did. He had a difficult time talking about what had happened, and he wept. I haven't seen him in this state before, and I hope he weathers it.

Please pray for Robert and all others who are chronically homeless.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Official TVYAM Band

Word has it that my band has been made the official TVYAM band. I think this might be due to the fact that Bob (the organizer) lost the other regular act that played at our Holy Grounds coffee house and our Theology on Tap sessions. Nonentheless, we're happy to oblige.

By the way, the band's name is Dark Night Lifting. I play bass and sing when we do amplified gigs and play acoustic guitar and sing when we play the smaller venues. It's a nice mix that forces me to work on both instruments. Who knows? Perhaps I'll start posting clips from our gigs. Right now, we do all covers, but if we get serious, we might start writing some original material.

The name came about when I was listening on a regional alternative Christain rock station about another local band, A Rotterdam November. The name (and the story behind it) reminded me of two things: St. John of the Cross's dark night of the soul, and the opening paragraph of Moby Dick, specifically "whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul."

Seems to fit.

Anyhoo, the point was to highlight a phase that many of use go through in life, the dark night through which we pass in our early adulthood to that point where we see a glimmer of hope and the beginning of faith.

If you're in the Boise/Treasuse Valley area, please join us at Perks of Life on Feb. 16. Fr. Hugh Feiss will be talking about St. Irenaeus of Lyons.

I'm all about them patristics!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Lecture 2 Study Questions

After a good three hours this weekend, I lost my responses to these questions. Here's my reprise.

Describe the categorization of the Fathers into Apostolic, Apologists, Third Century, Golden Age, and Later Fathers.

The Apostolic era includes those Fathers who lived and learned at the feet of the Apostles and their disciples. It begins in the late first century with Clement of Rome, purported to be a disciple of St. Peter. There’s some question of whether this is truly the case, as noted by William Jurgens in Vol. I of The Faith of the Early Fathers (p. 6). What is clear is that he lived while some apostles still lived and in an era within living memory of all, dying sometime between AD 92 and 101. St. Ignatius of Antioch, a hearer of St. John and predecessor to St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch, wrote numerous letters as he was transported to Rome to face martyrdom in AD 110. St. Polycarp, also a hearer of St. John’s and a recipient of several letters from St. Ignatius, was martyred in 155 or 156. Some scholars include St. Papias with the Apostolic Fathers because he is mentioned as a friend of St. Polycarp and a hearer of St. John. However, Eusebius notes that Papias himself denied having heard St. John (Jurgens, Vol. I, p. 38).

Following the Apostolic Fathers were the Apologists. These Fathers mounted a defense of Christian doctrine to Jews, pagans, and Gnostics. St. Justin Martyr and St. Irenaeus of Lyon are perhaps the best known of the Apologists. The New Catholic Encyclopedia also includes Athenagoras of Athens and Theophilus of Antioch as Fathers of this era (Vol. 10, p. 965). While the apologists defended the various doctrines about Christ and His life, death, and Resurrection, they also “contrasted the purity of the Christian life with the immorality of the pagan” (p. 965).

The Fathers of the third age followed the Apologists. This period brought increased sophistication in philosophical and theological thought and language of the Fathers, in part because of terminology adopted by Tertullian. St. Hippolytus of Rome, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Clement of Alexandria, and Origen (Clement’s successor) all belong to this period of tremendous theological growth for the Church. Sadly, much of Origen’s work (according to Jurgen) was lost, and he was considered by many to be a heretic (Vol. I, p. 189).

While the fourth and fifth centuries are considered the Pax Romana, it seems to have been a fairly contentious time for the Church, at least in terms of important doctrinal disputes. Two great theological questions were resolved during this time period. First, the Church affirmed at the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God, consubstantial and coequal. Second, the Church affirmed at Chalcedon (451) that Jesus Christ was True God and True Man, possessing both a Divine and a human nature, with no admixture of the two. During this time, the West gave us Pope St. Leo the Great, St. Hilary of Poitiers, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome. In the East, we have St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. John Chrysostom (the Golden Mouth), and the Cappadocian Fathers—St. Basil the Great, his brother St. Gregory of Nyssa, and his friend St. Gregory Nazianzus—who were largely responsible for developing the early Trinitarian theology of the Church.

The final age of the patristic period brings us the Later Church Fathers. St. Gregory the Great contributed to our liturgy by introducing (or at least influencing the development of) Gregorian Chant. He is often considered the first Medieval Pope and the last of the Western Fathers. However, others consider St. Isidore of Seville (d. 636) or St. Bede (d. 735, also called the venerable Bede) as the last Fathers of the West. In the East, an anonymous author writing under the Dionysius (often called Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite) contributed a work on Greek spirituality. St. John Damascene (d. 749) is considered the last Patristic Father of the East.

Describe the major aspects of the Trinitarian thought of the Church Fathers.

First, the Church Fathers affirmed that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not merely three names, forms, evolutions, or modes of Divine Being but are three distinct Persons. The Modalists (also known as Patripassians), Monarchians, and Sabellians each had varying doctrines that disputed three distinct persons in the Trinity but suggested three different ways of considering the Divine, or three different Divine perspectives (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, p. 780). The Fathers confirmed that the three Persons of the Trinity existed before human consideration of Its nature.

Second, the Fathers affirmed that each Person of the Trinity is consubstantial and coequal, meaning that each possesses the one Divine Essence in Its entirety without division. At the Council of Nicaea, in response to the Arian heresy (which denied Christ’s Divinity), the Fathers chose the word homo-ousios to indicate that the three were of the same substance. Later semi-Arian sects would attempt to form other creedal formulae and posit their own definitive terms to describe this relationship. The hardliners chose the word anomoios (unlike) to describe the relationship between Father and Son. The middle-of-the-road faction chose only an iota’s difference between the substance of the Father and that of the Son—homoiousios, meaning “of like substance.” (I have to give credit for that pun to Mike Aquilina, who truly has a knack pour le bon mot.) Finally came the more conservative (or perhaps less committed) heretics who claimed that the Son’s essence was homoios (similar to, like) the Father. In 381, the Fathers confirmed at the Council of Constantinople that the three were truly of one substance.

Third, the Fathers concluded that there is an order of origin among the three Divine Persons that has no priority in time and implies no superiority or inferiority of being. Various heresies concluded that the Son and Holy Spirit were inferior to the Father, and several patristic writers and Fathers reflect some Subordinationist tendencies (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13, p. 566). The Church clarified that the Father has no source or principle, but is the source of the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Son proceeds from the Father by way of generation, while the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (or as many of our Orthodox brethren believe, from the Father through the Son) but not by way of generation. Each differs from the other by way of origin, but all are the one absolute reality of God.

Describe the problem of the Hypostatic Union.*

Much of the debate in the early Church centered around the Person of Jesus Christ, both in His relationship to the other Persons of the Trinity and the question of His own nature (or natures as would be the case). The primary Christological question had to do with Jesus Christ’s nature. How is Jesus Christ both God and man, yet still one person? Conceding that He is indeed God, did He possess only a Divine nature? If so, how was He Truly man? And if He was truly God and man, how was He one Person? The Arians and many monotheistic Jews believed he was Messiah but not God and that he was “adopted” at baptism. (This heresy actually persisted well into the late patristic era and even later, according to The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 119–120). The Gnostics suggested that He was not God but some intermediate spiritual being. The Monophysitists claimed that Christ had one nature (“Monophysites and Monophysitism,”, while the Nestorians claimed that Jesus was two persons (“Nestorius and Nestorianism,” If nothing else, the lack of consensus was a problem, second only to coming up with an explanation that could satisfy the faithful.

St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, and Tertullian all contributed to the Christology of the Church by stressing the Divinity of Christ in the Logos of St. John’s Gospel. This development also demonstrates how the Fathers incorporated acceptable elements of pagan philosophy into Christian theology to accommodate more the contemporaneous cultures. Finally, at the Council of Chalcedon, the Church affirmed (based on the works of earlier and current Fathers) that Jesus Christ was Truly God and Truly man, had two natures (and later, two wills, which was confirmed at the Third Council of Constantinople to condemn Monothelitism—“Monothelitism and Monothelites,”, yet was only one Divine Person.

*I've been reading a series of Christian novels by Brock and Bodie Thoene lately, and all of the "Jewish" color has been affecting me. I had an impulse, as I was formatting this post, to wrote, "Oy, gevalt! What a problem!"

Michael Dubrueil, Rest in Peace

My prayers go out for the soul of Michael Dubrueil and for Amy Wellborn Dubrueil and their family.

I'm without words. God be with you, Amy and family.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Why yes, I do hate Word 2007

At least I do now. I've had some issues in the last few months where the tmp files would corrupt, and I'd have to save as a new file. Yesterday, I kept saving, but the application locked up, and I had to kill it. I lost a good four hours of work on my theology assignment.

Don't save to docx format. Two years is apparently still not enough time to eliminate the bugs in WordML.