May the Holy Spirit make you creative in charity, persevering in your commitments, and brave in your initiatives, so that you will be able to offer your contribution to the building up of the “civilization of love”. The horizon of love is truly boundless: it is the whole world!--Pope Benedict XVI

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Through Christ and in Christ

Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba, Father.--Gaudium Et Spes (22)

Tracey Rowland--Seeking a Christocentric Culture

Winston Elliott, Tracey Rowland, Barbara Elliott
Last evening I had the opportunity to listen to a masterful presentation by Tracey Rowland on culture and the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. She is Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Studies in Melbourne, Australia. She is also a member of the editorial board of Communio:  International Catholic Review, North America Edition.  Tracey has focused her scholarship on the interpretation of Vatican II and the theology of culture. She is the author of several books that I highly recommend: Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II, Ratzinger's Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI and Benedict XVI: A Guide for the Perplexed.

Dr. Rowland's work, along with that of David Schindler, Hans Urs von Balthasar and Pope Benedict XVI, provides us with the theological and anthropological understanding necessary to transform our culture so as to reflect the perfect love of the perfect community, the Holy Trinity. Thank you Tracey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Novena to Our Lady of Walsingham

Devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham is always centered on the Mystery of the Annunciation. It was at the Annunciation that Our Lady accepted God's invitation to be the Mother of God, the Theotokos. She gave herself over to God's will and conceived by the Holy Spirit. By this same Holy Spirit Mary always leads us to Jesus, and her prayers help us say "yes" to God's will in our lives even as she did at the Annunciation.

¶ The Veni Creator Spiritus may precede the Novena devotions.

Veni Creator Spiritus
O come, Creator Spirit, come
And make within our souls thy home;
Supply thy grace and heav'nly aid
To fill the hearts which thou hast made.
O Gift of God, most high, thy name
Is Comforter; whom we acclaim
The fount of life, the fire of love,
The soul's anointing from above.
The sev'nfold gift of grace is thine,
Thou finger of the hand divine;
The Father's promise true, to teach
Our earthly tongues thy heav'nly speech.
Thy light to every sense impart;
Pour forth thy love in every heart;
Our weakened flesh do thou restore
To strength and courage evermore.
Drive far away our spirit's foe,
Thine own abiding peace bestow;
If thou dost go before as guide,
No evil can our steps betide.
Through thee may we the Father learn,
And know the Son, and thee discern,
Who art of both; and thus adore
In perfect faith for evermore. Amen.
X In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

Cardinal Mercier's Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Written by him from the Holy Ghost Chapel in the Slipper Chapel
Walsingham, England
Holy Spirit, soul of my soul I adore you; enlighten, guide, strengthen and console me; tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it. I promise to be submissive in every-thing that you ask of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me, only show me what is your will. Amen.
Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory be...

Ancient Walsingham Prayer
O alone of all women, Mother and Virgin, Mother most happy, Virgin most pure, now we sinful as we are, come to see thee who are all pure, we salute thee, we honour thee as how we may with our humble offerings; may thy Son grant us, that imitating thy most holy manners, we also, by the grace of the Holy Ghost may deserve spiritually to conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul, and once conceived never to lose him. Amen.
¶ The Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham follows.
Litany of Our Lady of Walsingham

Mary, without sin,
Mary, God's Mother,
Mary the Virgin,
Mary taken to Heaven,

Mary at Bethlehem,
Mary at Nazareth,
Mary at Cana,

Mary at the cross,
Mary in the Upper Room,
Mary model of Womanhood,

Woman of Faith,
Woman of Hope,
Woman of Charity,
Woman of suffering,
Woman of anxiety,
Woman of humility,
Woman of poverty,
Woman of purity,
Woman of obedience,

Woman who wondered,
Woman who listened,
Woman who followed Him,
Woman who longed for Him,
Woman who loves Him,

Mother of God,
Mother of Men,
Mother of the Church,
Mother of the World,
Mother we need,

Mother of the Unborn,

Mother who went on believing,
Mother who never lost hope,
Mother who loved to the end,
Pray to the Lord for us

Pray for all mothers.
Pray for all families.
Pray for all married couples.

Pray for all who suffer.
Pray for all who wait.
Pray for all women.

Remember us.

Remember us to God.

Be our Mother always

Pray for all children

We thank God for you.
Let us Pray.
All Holy and ever-living God, in giving us Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and Brother, You gave us Mary, His Mother, to be our Mother also; grant us, we pray you, to live lives worthy of so great a Brother and so dear a Mother, that we may come at last to you the Father of us all, Who lives and reigns for ever. Amen.
Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us.

Prayer to Our Lady of Walsingham
O blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Walsingham, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon us, our parish, our country, our homes, and our families, and upon all who greatly hope and trust in your prayers, (especially...) By you it was that Jesus, our Savior and hope, was given to the world; and he has given you to us that we may hope still more. Plead for us your children, whom you did receive and accept at the foot of the Cross, O sorrowful Mother. Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of your Son. Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith fruitful in good works we all may be made worthy to see and praise God, together with you in our heavenly home. Amen.
Our Lady of Walsingham, Pray for us.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eyes on the prize--Romano Guardini & "The End of the Modern World"

Medieval man centered his faith in Revelation as it had been enshrined in Scripture, in that Revelation which affirmed the existence of a God Who holds His Being separate and beyond the world.--Romano Guardini
Guardini, in The End of the Modern World, reveals the depth of the Christian faith found in medieval Christianity. Do we Christians today center our faith in Revelation as it is enshrined in Scripture? Does our faith shape our lives? Does our faith shape how we spend our time, our talent, and our money? Or do the priorities of the world shape us?

It is a necessity of the Christocentric Life to keep our eyes on the prize. Looking neither to the left or to the right, we followers of Christ run the race to the end. Only then may we hear "well done, good and faithful servant."

"The doctrine of creation most decisively reveals the power of God, the Infinite Sovereign. The world was created out of nothing by the freedom of the Almighty. Whose commanding Word gives to all things being and nature; of itself that world lacks any trace of internal necessity or external possibility.

Christian Faith meant trust in and obedience to God's Revelation to man. It also meant that man must confront and answer His Call, which alone gives meaning to finite personality."

Monday, September 13, 2010

"One great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament"--J.R.R. Tolkien

“Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament . . . . [ellipses in original] There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends, life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained , or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.” J.R.R. Tolkien to his son, Michael, dated 6-8 March 1941

From Brad Birzer's marvelous book, J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth.

"Threads" interview of David L. Schindler

David L. Schindler is Gagnon professor of fundamental theology at the John Paul II Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C., and editor of the North American edition of Communio, the international theological review. A nationally recognized author, teacher and lecturer, his latest book is "Heart of the World, Center of the Church" (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich.). He spoke with "Threads" recently from his Washington office.

THREADS: How would you describe the central themes of 20th-century Catholic theology -- the main accomplishments and reversals over the last 100 years?

SCHINDLER: Let me begin by focusing on one theologian in particular, and then point out some of the themes that revolve around his work. The theologian is Henri de Lubac, and his life, interestingly enough, spanned most of the century: He was born at the turn of the century and died just five years ago. In a certain sense, De Lubac's work was part of all the major controversies from the late 1930s right up until the last decade or so of his life -- both the pre-Vatican II debates and the post-conciliar ones.

The basic theme of the 20th century -- and in a way, it's the theme of every century, but it has a particular urgency in our time -- is our sense of God in light of the problem of atheism. This finds its abstract formulation in the question of nature and grace, which was so controversial from the beginning of De Lubac's career up through the years following the council. The question has to do with the way in which relation to God becomes constitutive of the human being, such that life is fundamentally a drama, an engagement with God.

What De Lubac understood [most profoundly] was this problem of atheism; one of his best known books is "The Drama of Atheist Humanism." The battle before the Church, as she faces the culture in the 19th and 20th centuries, is the question of atheism. In the 19th century, you had an atheism of the style of Nietzsche. In the 20th century, at least in America and in Anglo-American liberal society, the problem of atheism takes the form of Jack Kevorkian or the philosopher Richard Rorty --

I'm curious why you'd pick De Lubac as pivotal, rather than Balthasar or Congar or some of the German theologians.

The quick answer is that, in a way, De Lubac was first. His work became the galvanizing point of debate. His book "The Supernatural," published in 1946, criticized what he saw as too much dualism in the modern Catholic tradition. In other words, he perceived that Catholic theology, by excessively separating the natural and supernatural orders, was actually colluding with a kind of naturalism in the culture. That's putting it abstractly. But the point for De Lubac is: Is the relationship to God constitutive for the human being, does it constitute his being, or doesn't it? Is God something accidental and abstract, or Someone the relation to whom goes very deep in the creature? De Lubac's work became the classical point of reference, and even though Balthasar may one day be seen as the great interpreter of the Second Vatican Council, the one whose writings most profoundly grasp the council's main themes, still the council itself was really shaped by the theology of De Lubac.

The aftermath of the council was marked by the divergence of "Concilium" and "Communio" theologians in interpreting what Vatican II actually intended. What was that split about?

In the opening phase of the council, theologians shared a common view that a certain kind of traditional Catholic theology had to be renewed. That had a lot to do with the sense of God and the relation of the natural and supernatural orders. But, as so often happens when you have a negative unity, a common enemy, you discover that once you're victorious, not much positive unity remains. So as the council went on, theologians seeking renewal bifurcated into one group that wanted to adapt as much as possible to modern culture, post-Enlightenment culture; and another group who insisted that, in order to achieve renewal, we had to go back to the sources and immerse ourselves in the tradition. As Charles Peguy said, one has to go to the bottom of the well to retrieve the freshest water.

This divergence continued into the years after the council and resulted in the creation, first, of a review called "Concilium" --

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

If you see charity, you see the Trinity

“If you see charity, you see the Trinity”, wrote Saint Augustine in De Trinitate. The Trinity is the perfect model of a community of love. A true community (communio) is where love received as a gift from our Creator is poured out in abundance to the broken and the needy. Doesn't this include most of us? Aren't many of us in need of a "Good Samaritan" who offers healing love to hearts that have grown cold?

In "Deus Caritas Est" Pope Benedict XVI writes that those who carry on true works of charity: "must not be inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but should rather be guided by the faith which works through love (cf. Gal 5:6). Consequently, more than anything, they must be persons moved by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening within them a love of neighbour. The criterion inspiring their activity should be Saint Paul's statement in the Second Letter to the Corinthians: “the love of Christ urges us on” (5:14). The consciousness that, in Christ, God has given himself for us, even unto death, must inspire us to live no longer for ourselves but for him, and, with him, for others. Whoever loves Christ loves the Church, and desires the Church to be increasingly the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ."

Government can provide social services, tax credits, assistance payments, "free" lunches and perhaps even contribute to the "general welfare." But, can it love? No. The national government should stop taking resources from some of us to give to others. This most often has a paralyzing effect on impulses toward true charity and reduces what we have to give.

In gratitude for the tremendous love that has been given to us Christians will share with the broken, the lost and the lonely. Why is it important that we share the love we have been given? As John Paul II wrote: "Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. why Christ the Redeemer 'fully reveals man to himself'".

Man remains the same in primitive conditions as in technologically developed societies

"Man qua man remains the same in primitive conditions as in technologically developed societies and does not advance to a higher level simply by the fact that he has learned to employ more highly developed tools. Human nature starts over from the beginning in every human being. Therefore there cannot be such a thing as a definitively new, advanced, and smooth-running society. Not only was this the hope of the grand ideologies, but it has been becoming more and more the general objective expected by all ever since hope in the hereafter was demolished. A definitively well-run society would presuppose the end of freedom. " -- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger