Monday, December 30, 2013

Remarks on Cardinal Burke's Opinion on the Magisterial Authority of "Evangelii Gaudium." -- Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the highest court at the Vatican, said he did not think that Pope Francis's Apostolic Exhortation -- a 224-page document entitled The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelli Gaudium), which touches on myriad issues and has been widely quoted by the media -- was intended to be part of the papal magisterium, the ordinary teaching authority of the Catholic Church.

It seems that Pope Francis makes it clear in the Exhortation's introduction "that these are a number of reflections he's making, that he doesn't intend them to be part of the papal magisterium," said Cardinal Burke, an American, whose official title is Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

Cardinal Burke, the former archbishop for the archiocese of St. Louis, Mo., made his comments during a Dec. 13 interview with EWTN's Raymond Arroyo on the program, The World Over.

During the exchange, Arroyo asked, "Let's talk for a moment about this recent exhortation, the Apostolic Exhortation. It has been getting a lot of play in the media and, of course, lines have been pulled about capitalism and all these other things, and I think over-exaggerate at moments what the Pope's intentions are. In the total, do you agree that that docuemnt is a part of the continum of the teaching we saw with John Paul II, Benedict, and now Francis and that it's only the expression and the tone that has shifted?"

Cardinal Burke answered,  "I don't know. I think that one has to look at the Introduction to the document itself and it seems to me -- and I would have to have the text in front of me -- it seems to me that the Holy Father made a very clear statement at the beginning: that these are a number of reflections he's making, that he doesn't intend them to be part of the papal magisterium."
Arroyo: "He said they're programmatic."
Burke:  "Yes. They're suggestions. He calls them guidelines, there's programmatic. And so, to me, it's a distinct kind of document and I haven't quite figured out in my mind exactly how to describe it. But I would not think -- I don't think it was intended to be part of papal magisterium, at least that's my impression of it."

Blogger's comment

      It seems that one would be hard pressed to say Evangelium Gaudium is not Magisterium. What level of Magisterium is another question.

     Consider Lumen Gentium #25"(T)he faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their bishops' decisions made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a ready and respectful allegiance. This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not  speak, ex cathedra. In such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention, which is made known principally either by the character of the documents in  question, or by the frequency with which a certain doctrine is proposed, or by the manner in which the doctrine is formulated(my underline).

   It must be added that the bishops of the Church do not speak infallibly "taken individually"... But the pope does. That is, the pope can be speaking infallibly as an individual when the document speaks on faith and morals, is directed to the universal Church in an authoritative tone as Chief Shepherd and is reiterating doctrine that has been proposed. This can be the infallibility of ordinary Magisterium
            With regard to his remarks on economics and what can be clearly understood to be capitalism, he is repeating what Vatican II said in Gaudium et spes #65: “Economic development must remain under man’s direction; it is not to be left to the judgment of a few individuals or groups possessing too much economic power, nor of the political community alone… Nor should development be left to the almost mechanical evolution  of economic activity nor to the direction of public authority.” John Paul II in “Of Social Concern:”

Of Social Concern:
#21. In the West there exists a system which is historically inspired by the principles of the liberal capitalism which developed with industrialization during the last century. In the East there exists a system inspired by the Marxist collectivism which sprang from an interpretation of the condition of the proletarian classes made in the light of a particular reading of history. Each of the two ideologies, on the basis of two very different visions of man and of his freedom and social role, has proposed and still promotes, on the economic level, antithetical forms of the organization of labor and of the structures of ownership, especially with regard to the so-called means of production.
It was inevitable that by developing antagonistic systems and centers of power, each with its own forms of propaganda and indoctrination, the ideological opposition should evolve into a growing military opposition and give rise to two blocs of armed forces, each suspicious and fearful of the other's domination.
This is one of the reasons why the Church's social doctrine adopts a critical attitude towards both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism. For from the point of view of development the question naturally arises: in what way and to what extent are these two systems capable of changes and updatings such as to favor or promote a true and integral development of individuals and peoples in modern society? In fact, these changes and updatings are urgent and essential for the cause of a development common to all.
#15. The Church's social doctrine is not a "third way" between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own. Nor is it an ideology, but rather the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church's tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior. It therefore belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology.

#41: The Church's social doctrine is not a "third way" between liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism, nor even a possible alternative to other solutions less radically opposed to one another: rather, it constitutes a category of its own. Nor is it an ideology, but rather the accurate formulation of the results of a careful reflection on the complex realities of human existence, in society and in the international order, in the light of faith and of the Church's tradition. Its main aim is to interpret these realities, determining their conformity with or divergence from the lines of the Gospel teaching on man and his vocation, a vocation which is at once earthly and transcendent; its aim is thus to guide Christian behavior. It therefore belongs to the field, not of ideology, but of theology and particularly of moral theology.

Centesimus Annus #42: If by ‘capitalism’ is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a ‘business economy’, ‘market economy’ or simply ‘free economy’. But if by ‘capitalism’ is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.”

   This last sentence, "freedom in the economic sector" that is at the service of human freedom in its totality, and of which "it is a particular aspect," demands a comment.
    What is this "freedom in its totality?" It is the freedom of being out of oneself and for the others. Work is work only because there is the development of the self or "I" in creating an "it" or product that is to become "gift" for another. If that does not happen, that is, if there is no giftedness of a product that represents the "I" [and work is always an "artistic" production whose quality is the creating "I" incarnate in it], then there is no economy. This giftedness is freedom. Economy is freedom as interchange of gift based on trust. 
   To reduce the economy to a mathematical and mechanical calculus of supply and demand, and work as a commodity - an "it" - separated from the person, is to condemn the economy to failure for having failed to understand its true dynamic. And you can't fix it unless you understand how it works. 
Quid Ad casum:

 The pope is clearly manifesting his mind and will in the first person singular when - in just two examples - the semantics read: "In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church's journey in years to come" (#1).  And: "I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded" (#203). 

   Also, the document is offered as an "Apostolic Exhortation... of  the Holy Father Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful..." and ends officially: "Given in Rome, at St. Peter's, on November 24, the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, and the conclusion of the Year of Faith, in the year 2013, the first of my Pontificate" and signed: "Franciscus"

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Here’s a guy going in the right direction on the epistemology. The “Real” is person and that’s what we mean by “being.”[After reading it, consider Benedict XVI’s Realism at the end]

Me to the author (David Warren below) below:
I received your Essay "Being & not-nothingness" and liked it (as God-beyond-being, understanding "being" to be in the first order epistemology of Greek abstraction). I take this to be the basic thrust of Pope Francis who is working with reality as person, and person understood as relational [self-transcending]. So the real is not "being" but Person as in Christ, and if we want it to be "being," we will have to move "being" to another epistemological horizon [consciousness] where we know that we are talking about "finding self by gift of self." Such "reality" is the moral criterion of both sexual morality and economic. This is the demand of Evangelii Gaudium: a moral criterion that is the same for sex and economics. That is, both sex and economics must be relational. Helpful paper! 

Being & not-nothingness
There is a Frenchman named Jean-Luc Marion, student of Derrida, who wrote a bookentitled God without Being. It is one of those horse texts (er, “hors-texte,” or outside-the-text) we rightly associate with post-modernism, and gentle reader may be aghast if I don’t run it down. Marion himself is celebrated in all the wrong ways, in all the wrong circles, from my seethingly provincial point of view. He has, to my uncertain knowledge, never been quoted with approval by a single member of the Tea Party. On the contrary, he was elected an immortel to the Académie française (taking the seat of the late Cardinal Lustiger), and that should be that: … Dismissed!
Some fifteen years has passed since I first acquired a copy of this book and attempted to read it. I found it exhilarating. In my nutshell, it argues that if God is Love, then in some sense “Love” is prior to “Being.” The theological implications of this mischievous notion are then teased out. What begins as apparently a wildly irresponsible, deconstructionist attack on the received Christian theological tradition, turns persistently on dimes, until we find it merely attacking Heidegger. Or, put another way, by the time Marion is finished with the modern conception of “Being,” there is nothing left standing except God. As I say, exhilarating. Had I been working in that publishing house, it might have appeared with the title, “The Incredible Caducity of Being.”
We then discover that (the more ferocious Catholic traddies should avert their attention for a moment) — Marion is also a disciple of Danielou, Bouyer, de Lubac, von Balthasar, under each of whom he seems also to have studied. And that, in God without Being and subsequent books, he seems to be trying to square his doctrines with those of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and other scholastics. His presentation of Christ as “pure gift” is moreover a hinge between what we imagine to be plain traditional teaching, and what might otherwise appear to be “no longer in Kansas.” His dangerously Neoplatonic notion of the “saturated phenomenon” — let us say for shorthand, truth so dense that it overloads truth — wends us back to Saint Augustine. Marion is an unfamiliar train taking us through some very familiar stations.
Would I put him on the Index? … But of course, I would put everyone on the Index for at least fifty years. To rotate Marion, I think that love should precede being, for authors spouting novelties. We may be able to see, in another half-century or so, whether Marion was a flash in the pan, or if another generation entirely can find some use for him. My own suspicion is that there is something in the love-before-being thesis, of real value to Christian faith.
Let me put it this way. In juxtaposing e.g. Thomas Aquinas with Martin Heidegger and the boys, on the question of Being, I find they are not speaking quite the same language. On the other hand, when moving from Saint Thomas to, say, the Vedanta, or to the Bible itself, I find that they are speaking the same language. “Being,” including that which presents as I-Am-That-I-Am, is a kind of action. By contrast, in the modern philosophers — and by this I mean almost everything since Descartes — “Being” is a kind of lump, or physical solid, described abstractly. It doesn’t really do anything, it is just there. Whereas, to oversimplify Marion, it is not there at all, it is instead doing something.
But Christ is there, to be sure, as what have you — let us say, “pure gift.” And Histhere-ness, we are to understand, was from the beginning, before all worlds. “In principio” means not only in the beginning but also “in principle,” or “prior” in the philosophical sense. We might also supply “at” or “on” as alternative prepositions of place. I am not writing this to restrict the meaning of the opening of Saint John’s gospel, but rather by way of opening the star-gate. Our temporal notion of before and after may be viewed as a trap. To say of God, that He “was there, in the beginning,” i.e. the beginning of time, might lead us into a very confined, or constrictively modern, and finally atheist, apprehension of the Creation itself.
Or if you will, it will lead us back into the fatal Cartesian bifurcation, by way of various post-Cartesian imbecilities, in which God winds up this clock, then leaves it ticking till the end of time, perhaps dropping in Christ as a kind of daylight-savings-time mechanical correction. The machinery of Nature is allowed to be miraculous, on this view, but only just barely. For sure, it is something, or if you will, “not-nothing.” Being, against the atheistical background of non-being, comes as a surprise. Something appears to come out of nothing. (To which the atheist adds, “ho-hum.”) …
Observe, that it is “pure gift.”
The Creation is not like that clock, and cannot be like that. The temporal “in the beginning” continues as we speak. God has created, is creating, and will create and sustain in every moment, in perfect transcendence. I would add, too, in perfect immanence, except that notion is too easily misunderstood — thanks, I would say, to our received modern notion of Being as an abstractly-described physical solid; or if you will, that blockhead notion that comes from drinking too much empiricism and not vomiting enough.
For conversely, the very somethingness of God eliminates the possibility of nothingness. That somethingness may be beyond comprehension, but cannot be denied. I think of amukhya Upanishad — composed long before Jesus, before even Buddha — in which I once read: “He is not a male. He is not a female. He is not a neuter. He neither is, nor is not. When he is sought he will take the form in which he is sought; but again he will not come in such a form. It is indeed difficult to describe the Name of the Lord.”
And the Messiah came in a form we were not expecting.
It will be noted that Christmas begins tomorrow night. In the crèche, in the holiness of the Nativity, we contemplate an astounding metaphysical fact. Our Lord has come to visit us “in person.” All the prophets have arrived in Bethlehem, in the humblest of rock-solid caves, with the animals, the sheep and shepherds of the fields, and too, the angels of the Creation. Not “elsewhere” but in the order of our own Being. Unbelievers may make of this what they will — some sweet little fairytale I suppose — but for me it cracks open that whole order of our Being. For everything that could be said about this world, it was not as it appeared.
The Love, the “pure gift”; the mystery of fatherhood in the person of Joseph, and of Mary the Mother of God; the fulfilment of all prophecy “from the beginning” — it is all there, in the crèche. The “ideas” that will be presented in due course, in the Life, the Teaching, the Crucifixion, and Resurrection, will be of necessity perfectly astounding, as they follow from this. But really I find even more astounding the bottomless simplicity of this question:
What child is this?

Benedict XVI: Furthermore, the Word of God is the foundation of everything, it is the true reality. And to be realistic, we must rely upon this reality. We must change our idea that matter, solid things, things we can touch, are the more solid, the more certain reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount the Lord speaks to us about the two possible foundations for building the house of one's life: sand and rock. The one who builds on sand builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently these are the true realities. But all this one day will pass away. We can see this now with the fall of large banks: this money disappears, it is nothing. And thus all things, which seem to be the true realities we can count on, are only realities of a secondary order. The one who builds his life on these realities, on matter, on success, on appearances, builds upon sand. Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality. Therefore, we must change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes the Word of God, in this apparently weak reality, as the foundation of all things. Realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation, which is permanent. Thus the first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what reality is and how to find the foundation of our life, how to build life. 

The Meaning of All Endeavor in the Present World, Including the Economic: “some of the promises and principles sound like a funeral procession, with everyone consoling the relatives, but nobody waking the dead.”

In 2,000, Bergoglio said: “Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t marching, in certain aspects of the life of our society, in a sad parade, and if we aren’t’ putting a tombstone on our search as if we were walking toward an unavoidable destiny, doomed to impossible things, and we just resign ourselves to small illusions lacking hope. We must acknowledge, with humility, that the system has fallen into a period of dark shadow – the shadow of distrust – and that some of the promises and principles sound like a funeral procession, with everyone consoling the relatives, but nobody waking the dead.”[1]
Explanation of this: “We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being.”[2]

Always connect this with Joseph Ratzinger's understanding of the Son of God - Pure Relation - as Prototype of the human person: “The Son as Son, and in so far as he is Son, does not proceed in any way from himself and so is completely one with the Father; since he is nothing beside him, claims no special position of his own, confronts the Father with nothing belonging only to him, retains no room for his own individuality, therefore he is completely equal to the Father. The logic is compelling: if there is nothing in which he is just he, no kind of fenced-off private ground, then he coincides with the Father, is ‘one’ with him. It is precisely this totality of interplay that the word ‘Son’ aims at expressing. To John ‘Son’ means being-from-another; thus with this word he defines the being of this man as being from another and for others, as a being that is completely open on both sides, knows no reserved area of the mere ‘I.’ When it thus becomes clear that the being of Jesus as Christ is a completely open being, a being ‘from’ and ‘towards,’ that nowhere clings to itself and nowhere stands on its own, then it is also clear at the same time that this being is pure relation (not substantiality) and, as pure relation, pure unity. This fundamental statement about Christ becomes, as we have seen, at the same time the explanation of Christian existence. To John, being a Christian means being like the Son, becoming a son; that is, not standing on one’s own and in oneself, but living completely open in the ‘from’ and ‘towards.’ In so far as the Christian is a ‘Christian,’ this is true of him. And certainly such utterances will make him aware to how small an extent he is a Christian.[1][2]

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Introduction to Christianity,” Ignatius (1990) 134.
[2] Ratzinger: “I think it is not unimportant to note how the doctrine of the Trinity here passes over into a statement about existence, how the assertion that relation is at the same time pure unity becomes transparently clear to us. It is the nature of the Trinitarian personality to be pure relation and so the most absolute unity. That there is no contradiction in this is probably now perceptible. And one can understand from now on more clearly than before that it is not the ‘atom,’ the indivisible smallest piece of matter, that possesses the highest unity; that on the contrary pure oneness can only occur in the spirit and embraces the relativity of love. Thus the profession of faith in the oneness of God is just as radical as in any other monotheistic religion; indeed only in Christianity does it reach its full stature. But it is the nature of Christian existence to receive and to live life as relatedness, and thus to enter into that unity which is the ground of all reality and sustains it. This will perhaps make it clear how the doctrine of the Trinity, when properly understood, can become the nodal point of theology and of Christian thought in general” [Ibid.].

[1] Francesca Ambrogetti and Sergio Rubin, “Pope Francis,” Putnam (2013) xxvi.
[2] Evangelii Gaudium #8.

Feast of the Holy Family - 2013

Dear brothers and sisters, hello!

On this first Sunday after Christmas, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. In fact, every crèche scene shows us Jesus together with Our Lady and St. Joseph in the grotto of Bethlehem. God wanted to be born in a human family, he wanted to have a mother and a father like us.

And today the Gospel presents the Holy Family traveling the sorrowful road of exile, in search of refuge in Egypt. Joseph, Mary and Jesus experience the dramatic fate of refugees, with the fear, uncertainty and uneasiness it brings (Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23). Unfortunately, in our time, millions of families can encounter this sad reality. Almost every day the television and the newspapers cay news about refugees who flee from hunger, from war, from other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and their families.

In distant lands, even when they find work, refugees and immigrants do not always meet with true welcome, respect, appreciation of the values which they bring with them. Their legitimate expectations conflict with complex situations and difficulties that sometimes seem insuperable. So, when we fix our gaze upon the Holy Family of Nazareth in the moment that they become refugees, we think about the drama of those grants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and slave labor. But let us also think about the other “exiles”: I would call them “hidden exiles,” those exiles that can be within our own family: the elderly, for example, who are sometimes treated as an inconvenience. I often think that an indicator of how a family is doing is how the children and old people in the family are treated.

Jesus wanted to belong to a family that experienced these hardships, so that no one would feel excluded from the loving presence of God. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threats shows us that God is present where man is in danger, there where man suffers, there where he flees, where he experiences rejection and abandonment; but God is also there where man dreams, where he hopes to return to freedom in his homeland, plans and decides about his life and dignity and those of his family.

Today our contemplation of the Holy Family lets itself be drawn also by the simplicity of the life they lead at Nazareth. It is an example that is very good for our families, it helps them further to become communities of love and reconciliation in which tenderness, mutual help and reciprocal forgiveness are experienced. Let us remember the 3 key phrases for a life of peace and joy in the family: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. In a family when you are not intrusive but say “excuse me,” when you are not self-centered but say “thank you,” and when you realize that you have done something wrong and you say “I’m sorry,” in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these 3 phrases. But we can say them all together: excuse me, thank you, I’m sorry. (The people gathered in St. Peter’s Square then repeated the words after the Holy Father.) I would also like families to be aware of their importance in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, passes first of all through families to then reach the different spheres of daily life.
Let us fervently invoke Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St. Joseph her husband. Let us ask them to enlighten, to comfort, to guide every family in the world so that they may carry out the mission that God has entrusted to them with dignity and serenity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said a prayer to the Holy Family and then greeted the people gathered in St. Peter’s Square:]
Dear brothers and sisters,

The upcoming consistory and Synod of Bishops will deal with the topic of the family, and the preparatory phase started some time ago. Because of this, today, the feast of the Holy Family, I would like to entrust the synodal work to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, praying for the families of the whole word. I invite you to join spiritually with me in the prayer that I now recite:

Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendor of true love,
we turn to you in trust.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make our families too
places of communion and cenacles of prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and little domestic Churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may violence, closure and division
never again be experienced in families;
may whoever has been wounded or scandalized
soon be consoled and healed.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may the coming Synod of Bishops
reawaken in everyone the consciousness
of the sacred and inviolable character of the family,
its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
hear and grant our supplication. Amen.

I offer a special greeting to the faithful with whom we are connected by video: in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops is present; in the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, where the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family is present; in the Basilica Shrine of the Holy House in Loreto. And I extend this greeting to those gathered in various parts of the world for other celebrations of the family, such as the one in Madrid.

Finally, I greet with affection all of the pilgrims present here, especially the families! I know that there are members of the Romanian community of Rome present. I greet thhe young people of the Focolari movement who have come from various countries, among whom are the groups from the Dioceses of Milan, Como, Lodi, Padua, Vicenza and Concordia-Pordenone. I greet the yooueople from Curno and Calcinate with their catechists; the faithful from Salcedo, Carzago Riviera, San Giovanni in Persiceto and Modica

I wish you all a beautiful feast of the Holy Family, a beautiful and good Sunday and a good lunch. Good bye!

Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27, 2013: Feast of St. John the Evangelist/Apostle

Three Significant Readings for the Feast of St. John

First Reading
1 John 1:1-2:3 ©
Something which has existed since the beginning,
that we have heard,
and we have seen with our own eyes;
that we have watched
and touched with our hands:
the Word, who is life –
this is our subject.
That life was made visible:
we saw it and we are giving our testimony,
telling you of the eternal life
which was with the Father and has been made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard
we are telling you
so that you too may be in union with us,
as we are in union
with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ.
We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.
A treatise by St Augustine on the epistle of John

The flesh revealed Life itself
We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?
  Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary’s womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John’s letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.
  Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ’s body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next:and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.
  And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, but was not revealed to men, only to angels, who looked upon it and feasted upon it as their own spiritual bread. But what does Scripture say? Mankind ate the bread of angels.
  Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye, and so heal men’s hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well. We already possessed the means to see the flesh, but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us by which we could see the Word.
  John continues: And we are witnesses and we proclaim to you that eternal life which was with the Father and has been revealed among us – one might say more simply “revealed to us.”
  We proclaim to you what we have heard and seen. Make sure that you grasp the meaning of these words. The disciples saw our Lord in the flesh, face to face; they heard the words he spoke, and in turn they proclaimed the message to us. So we also have heard, although we have not seen.
  Are we then less favoured than those who both saw and heard? If that were so, why should John add: so that you too may have fellowship with us? They saw, and we have not seen; yet we have fellowship with them, because we and they share the same faith.
  And our fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And we write this to you to make your joy complete – complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.


Opening words of Pope Francis in “Evangelii Gaudium”
“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

The point of St. John, St. Augustine and Pope Francis is to register astonishment at the fact/event that God has actually and really become man. He is the real thing. He is God and man. John felt Him and saw.
                Since the divine Persons are constitutively relational, and we are made in the image and likeness of the Second Person, then we must become relational in order to be who we are. Hence, the commandment to love – radically. Self-referentiality is sickness. Health is going out of self to the peripheries. This holds in matters sexual, and in matters economic.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Morning 2013

On Christmas morning that is clear and cold, and confronting an overflowing folder marked “Porta Fidei” with the animus of throwing it all out – the Year of Faith having terminated – my eyes fall on the second paragraph of Benedict XVI’s motu proprio which reads: “Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ.” And I immediately think of pope Francis on November 6 last and his heading straight for Vinicio Riva, 53, from Vincenza, Italy, who suffers from a startlingly disfiguring (and repugnant) neurofibromatosis. “He didn't have any fear of my illness. He embraced me without speaking. I quivered. I felt a great warmth… I felt like I was in paradise.” Francis had no idea if his wounds were contagious. Robert Moynihan of  “Inside the Vatican” wrote: “People are usually afraid to come close to the hundreds of boils that cover Riva’s body, fearing that his  very presence could make them sick. He thought the Pope would speak to his aunt, who was with him and that he would only get a cursory glance. But instead, Francis headed straight towards Riva, wrapped his arms around the man’s head and pulled him in for a tight embrace. It was like nothing Riva had ever experienced before.”
                In that second paragraph, Benedict quotes himself from the homily of his inauguration Mass in 2005: “The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance.” And he continues in Porta Fidei: “It often happens that Christians are more concerned for the social, cultural and political consequences of their commitment, continuing to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society. In reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, but it is often openly denied.”
                And the event of Benedict’s resigning from the papacy at the midpoint of the Year and the election of Bergoglio as Francis impresses the action of God on me. Bergoglio's pre-conclave call to renounce the “self-referential” and to go “to the peripheries” becomes iconically impressed on the imagination. And as someone remarked to me last week: It doesn’t matter what the media say. What is important are the pictures: the New Evangelization has no words, and should not have them. The New Evangelization is Francis heading straight for Riva.

   Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Francis: “The scandal is the Incarnation of the Word”

Hic de Virgine Maria Iesus Christus natus est 

(Here the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ)
Inscription in the silver star that indicates the birthplace of Christ in Bethlehem’s Basilica of the Nativity.

The problem that scandalized these people was the same that demons shouted to Jesus: “You are the Son of God, you are the Holy One.” This is the centre. The scandal is that Jesus is the incarnated God. And just like they set traps for Jesus then, they set trap for us now; the Church scandalizes them because of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word. In fact, we often hear them say to us: “You Christians must be more normal, more like other people, be sensible, do not be so rigid.” Behind these words is the request not to announce that God became man, because "the scandal is the Incarnation of the Word".

Morning meditation of Pope Francis in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae
June 1, 2013

Development of the Previous Post by Pope Francis

Joseph Ratzinger Contrasting the Early Christian Call to Christ to Come: “Maranatha” ("Come, Lord Jesus") and Our “Dies Irae” ("Day of Wrath" - Doomsday [when Christ comes]

                Ratzinger gives an explaination of the the text below of St. Bernard, his Sermo 5, In Adventu Domini, that  reads:

“(T)here are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved… Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last…. In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him” (Office of readings, Wednesday of the first week of Advent).  

                 Ratzinger writes that advent has lost its true meaning of eschatological hope. From the Ascension to the Second Coming, there is a wasteland of the absence of Christ who has come 2,000 years ago, and will return at the end for the final judgment. But the intermediate stage in which we are now, the so-called state of the Spirit by Joachim of Flora, is a valley of tears where we are left to our own devices of a truncated Christianity where moral life is the zenith of our achievement, at the end of which harsh Judgment [Doomsday] will come ("Dies Irae"). This state of affairs is what Francis refers to when he speaks of Christian life today, that morality cannot substitute for sanctity. This getting out of self and going to the peripheries for the others who are always poor in love besides the necessities of life has been bypassed and obliterated. In fact, it doesn’t even surface, and the case in point is economic life. There has been no call to sanctity there. To "out" this has drawn down the ire of “conservative” Christianity on Francis. And this is the reason why he persistently asks for prayer on all sides.

                Ratzinger commented: “The term adventus, the translation of the ancient Greek parousia (the arrival of the king and his ongoing and burgeoning presence), has lost its eschatological meaning… [It is obvious that] we are dealing with… a Christianity for which grace and salvation are past, and the future holds only threat and judgment.  Isn’t this shifting of the axis the real cause of the crisis in Christianity? Hasn’t  Christianity elected to make the past its preferred moment in time and so deprived itself of the future?... I have to confess that my impression is of a sensibility welling up from the late mediaeval period by which Christendom became so attached to its past that it lost hold of both present and future. In part, it must be admitted, Gospel preaching was itself responsible for this deadly development  through  a one-sided emphasis on the threat of doomsday….
                “What can we learn from all this? In the first place, the decisive consideration is still looking to our Lord. Eschatology’s meaning and driving force depend upon the power of this waiting on Christ, not on temporal expectations of the world’s end of transformation, no matter of what kind. Furthermore, though past Christian history receives very considerable emphasis, that history is invoked in the Litany as a generator of hope, and so contains a dynamism directed to the future.”[1]
                 I break off to send out a few Christmas cards. What fits in here is the entire content of the spirit of Opus Dei which is to achieve the fullness of the baptismal vocation which is to become not only “another Christ,” but “Christ Himself.” This is the universal call to holiness as announced in Chapter V of Lumen Gentium of Vatican II. Having been made in the image and likeness of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, each human person, created and sinful, has been baptized (or destined for baptism), and therefore, chosen  and called to be another Christ and a Son/Daughter of the Father. St. Josemaria Escriva received the vocation to announce and provide the formation necessary to achieve this universal call in the founding of Opus Dei. Its ground consists precisely in becoming “Ipse Christus” as the normal and ordinary denouement of imaging The Son and Baptism into Christ. Its practical achievement is neither leaving the world (which is to be loved passionately) and taking the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience which are integral parts of “consecrated life,” but rather living out the hidden life of Christ in the exercise of ordinariy work and ordinary secular life. This is the true eschatology which fills the space between the Ascension to “the right hand of the Father” and the parousia of the Second Coming. The petition is Maranatha rather than Dies Irae. It is the time of hope that vibrates as a result of the exodus from the self to, as pope Francis says, living the mission to the peripheries. Amen. Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus.


Maranatha (either מרנא תא: maranâ thâ' or מרן אתא: maran 'athâ' ) is a two-wordAramaic formula occurring only once in the New Testament (see Aramaic of Jesus) and also in the Didache, which is part of the Apostolic Fathers' collection. It is transliteratedinto Greek letters rather than translated and, given the nature of early manuscripts, the lexical difficulty lies in determining just which two Aramaic words comprise the single Greek expression, found at the end of Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (1Cor 16:22 ).
If one chooses to split the two words as מרנא תא (maranâ thâ), a vocative concept with an imperative verb, then it can be translated as a command to the Lord to come. On the other hand, if one decides that the two words מרן אתא (maran 'athâ), a possessive "Our Lord" and a perfect/preterite verb "has come," are actually more warranted, then it would be seen as a credal expression. This interpretation, "Our Lord has come," is supported by what appears to be an equivalent of this in the early credal acclamation found in the biblical books of Romans 10:9 and 1 Corinthians 12:3, "Jesus is Lord."
In general, the recent interpretation has been to select the command option ("Come, Lord!"), changing older decisions to follow the preterite option ("Our Lord has come") as found in the ancient Aramaic Peshitta, in the Latin Clementine Vulgate, in the Greek Byzantine texts, Textus Receptus, critical Greek texts like Westcott and Hort, Tischendorf, Cambridge, etc., and in the English translations like the King James Version, the Finnish Raamattu, etc. One reason the change from the previous scholarly view has occurred is that the P46 papyrus (ca. A.D. 200) divides it as μαρανα θα ("marana tha").
The NRSV of 1 Cor 16:22 translates the expression as: "Our Lord, come!" but notes that it could also be translated as: "Our Lord has come"; the NIV translates: "Come, O Lord"; the NAB notes:
"As understood here ("O Lord, come!"), it is a prayer for the early return of Christ. If the Aramaic words are divided differently (Maran atha, "Our Lord has come"), it becomes a credal declaration. The former interpretation is supported by what appears to be a Greek equivalent of this acclamation in Book of Revelation 22:20 "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

The 1985 New Jerusalem Bible translates 1 Cor 16:22, "If there is anyone who does not love the Lord, a curse on such a one. Maranatha." In the context of First Corinthians, understanding the Greek "maranatha" as Aramaic "Maranatha" in the preterit sense would provide substantiation for the preceding anathema. That is, one who does not love the Lord is accursed because our Lord has ascended and come unto his throne (e.g., Dan 7:13) and wields power to implement such a curse. It would also substantiate the following prayer for grace from the ascended Lord Jesus, who has come to his throne and then sends the Holy Spirit.

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Eschatology,” CUA (1988) 10-12,