Friday, July 29, 2005

Bishop and Diocese, part 3
Christus Dominus section 13 continues the chapter discussed in the past two CD posts. Bishops must be able to teach "in a manner adapted to the needs of the times, that is to say, in a manner that will respond to the difficulties and questions by which people are especially burdened and troubled." Interesting how this is defined, not by modern teaching methods: newspaper columns, radio or tv addresses, or even blogs, but in the target audience of people who are troubled. Also note that the case listed is not those who already adhere to Catholic teaching, but those who have "difficulties" and "questions" about it. So much for tossing dissenters off the barque. "They should also guard that doctrine, teaching the faithful to defend and propagate it. In propounding this doctrine they should manifest the maternal solicitude of the Church toward all men whether they be believers or not. With a special affection they should attend upon the poor and the lower classes to whom the Lord sent them to preach the Gospel." So much again for the big money donors some clerics like to court. Bishops are asked not to wait for dialogue with others, but to take matters into their own hands: Since it is the mission of the Church to converse with the human society in which it lives, it is especially the duty of bishops to seek out men and both request and promote dialogue with them. These conversations on salvation ought to be noted for clarity of speech as well as humility and mildness in order that at all times truth may be joined to charity and understanding with love. Likewise they should be noted for due prudence joined with trust, which fosters friendship and thus is capable of bringing about a union of minds.

The fostering of friendships. One thing that strikes me about this is how much we lay Catholics have gotten off track on this principle. Especially in St Blog's, one sees dividing lines along ideological premises. We may not be bishops, but I fail to see how the principles involved do not apply to us laity in our dealings with one another. If we weren't Catholics, one would expect the virtues of humility, mildness, charity, and love. That we are and we lack these: this is a serious problem.

And CD 13 does apply a nod to the modern media methods:

"They should also strive to make use of the various media at hand nowadays for proclaiming Christian doctrine, namely, first of all, preaching and catechetical instruction which always hold the first place, then the presentation of this doctrine in schools, academies, conferences, and meetings of every kind, and finally its dissemination through public statements at times of outstanding events as well as by the press and various other media of communication, which by all means ought to be used in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ." Any thoughts?
Cleaning House
I've also been updating the sidebar over there. Check out a few of those sites listed. One new blog is author Chet Raymo's Science Musings. I've dropped in there from time to time, but the past few weeks I've been making more regular visits. If you have any science-plus-artistic tendencies in your blood, you'll enjoy his reflections. Also, if any bloggers would like to mutually link sites, let me know by e-mail or post on this thread. I suspect there are some bloggers out there linking me for whom I've not returned the courtesy. If so, I'll happily post a link. I don't think mutual congruence of opinion is needful for such things. I don't believe the Orthodoxy Thought Police really care that not every one of our friends and associates are Good Housekeeping-approved in their religious sensibilities. From time to time, I put out a blanket invitation for blog associates. Neil and Liam know they have a standing invitation to post on CS any time they wish. (I'd give them my blogger codes, but I've forgotten them myself and rely on the automatic stuff that gets you on the site.) People without blogs who have something sensible to write are welcome to send me something, too. I certainly invite anyone to comment, and I especially encourage those who comment infrequently to never. Speak up, if you wish; it's your internet, too. Additionally, if you'd prefer to e-mail me (more or less anonymously) and ask me to post my opinion on something, I would be happy to do that. I know some folks are skittish about broadcasting their identities over the internet, so just explain the level of secrecy you'd prefer, and I will abide by it.
Simulating Space
As opposed to the real thing, you can also check out this web site to get views of solar system moons and planets from dozens of vantage points at any given time over a period of decades. This is how the Earth might look from the moon right now. The scale is similar if you were looking through a pair of 3x binoculars.

Where We've Been
Okay. That worked for web photos. Let's try my hard drive. Don't ask me the web site where you can go and click off the states or countries you've visited and they give you a map of your travels. The last few years, I've just used MS Paint to update our travel maps. Red states are where we've been. Here are my travels: And my wife's states visited: And even Brittany has gotten around a good bit these past few years: When I was her age, I only had New York, Pennsylvania (a diner in Erie), and Ohio. I added Ontario at age 12. State number four was getting lost in Jersey on the way out of Manhattan when I was 18. Looks like a family vacation in the northwest is called for. Maybe next summer.

Saturn From Below
Anita is off to do some shopping this morning, so I'm playing with some picture posting things. Here's Saturn at an angle you don't see from earth.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sounds of Saturn
Go here to listen to the sounds of Saturn's auroras.
Do Catholics Need Warning Labels?
One interesting movement I've noted in St Blog's is the recent request to move away from labels, especially the liberal/conservative variety. This site, Cosmos, Liturgy, Sex has had some fascinating discussions. David posted an essay yesterday on the topic to which I replied. Slightly expanded from their comment box, here are my thoughts on the issue. David writes, "Now I understand the desire to know where someone is coming from and the convenience of placing him or her into an intellectual box. However, it seems to me that the importation of the 'liberal' and 'conservative' classification schemes, by those trying to classify any particular Catholic, is problematic ..." and he gives four reasons: 1. What does the person actually mean by "liberal" or "conservative?" And I would ask what is meant by the related terms of tradi and prog. If I were to support the local election of bishops, like the Patristic Era did it, would that be tradi? Or because the Vatican embraced central selection officially in the 19th century, does that mean supporters of the Congregation of Bishops are prog? 2. " ... the classifications are overly simplistic and fail to take into account that many Catholics do not submit to particular, secular ideologies. Along these lines, a further problem is that it seems to me that once classified, there is a tendency by some to dismiss someone with whom they disagree without actually listening to what is said or engaging his arguments." I had a good friend and classmate who was very traditionalist in most of his sensibilities. But he was also an ardent pacifist. I liked him even before I discovered he was a pacifist. We had the most vigorous discussions over his dinner table. We disagreed on much, but we also shared a high regard for each other. I composed a setting for the Litany of Loreto, which he and his bride used at their wedding. I thought of Tom as friend and brother in Christ first, crunchy con somewhere down the list. So I guess my sense is that if you have to use labels, make them footmotes, not headlines. 3. " ... unfortunately, too often the term “liberal” is simply used as a euphemism by those who think that this ideology justifies their dissent from authoritative Church teaching." Or by those who want to criticize such persons. I found this the weakest of David's reasons. There is much controversy about what church teaching is authoritative and what is prudential. And dissent can take many forms: One can engage internally church teaching, pray about it, but still be unsatisfied. A person might choose to keep her or his doubts private. A person might figure church teaching on a particular item is just plain whacked. But it might not apply directly to her or his life so the issue has no relevance. Either of those people might mention their doubts to members of their social circle or even their parish priest, but go no further. Does that qualify as dissent? That was Thomas More's approach: withdraw from public life. His friends knew his view on Henry's divorce and obviously, so did Henry. Henry pushed, but almost always, the Catholic doubter doesn't get pushed. Either of those people might go public. Mention their view either as their alternative to church teaching or teach it as superior. Or they accept an invitation to an ordination cruise or something like that. Long-winded, I know, but bear with me. My question: at what point does dissent become dissent? 4. " ... it exacerbates the problem that both conservatives and liberals can unthinkingly presume that their _________ (political, economic, fill in the blank) philosophy is foundational and that the Church must some how fit into it." My reply on Cosmos, Liturgy, Sex in part, included: "The real challenge is not to eliminate name-calling (or box-putting, or whatever) but to induce working together. In my experience, I've worked wonderfully well with many Catholics of traditional sensibility. My question is more pragmatic: Will you lead music at a Mass with me? Will you join or even chair a committee in my parish for me? Would you write a book on good liturgy with me?" In other words, can Catholics of differing sensibilities demonstrate a practical unity of belief in concrete ways? You can set aside the petty name-calling if you wish, but unless you're also willing to give up exclusivity and the bad fruits that come of it, I don't see the Christian ideal realized.
Cool Zoom
Nice animation zooming in on the icy moon Enceladus. Scientists did not originally consider the possibility of tectonic activity on the small moons of the outer solar system. The spectacular volcanoes of Io were guessed at shortly before the 1979 Voyager I flyby. But Io is about the size of Earth's moon, and is tugged at by bodies similar in size to our moon (Europa and Ganymede) at distances similar to the earth-moon distance. In retrospect, volcanoes were a logical consequence of Io's orbital dynamics. But what happened or is happening on Enceladus?
Bishop and Diocese part 2
Teaching is "conspicuous among the principal duties" of bishops, so it says in Christus Dominus 12. It also says what you might expect it to say: emphasize the saving mission of Christ, teach according to Church doctrine, support human good (family, work, leisure, the arts, science, etc.). Then it says this:
Finally, they should set forth the ways by which are to be answered the most serious questions concerning the ownership, increase, and just distribution of material goods, peace and war, and brotherly relations among all countries. In other words, the exact content of the much-villified USCCB pastoral letters of the 80's, those on peace and on economic justice.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bishop and Diocese, part 1
Christus Dominus 11 begins the second chapter of the document, which details the relationship of the bishop with his diocese. A diocese is defined in two ways: - a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a bishop to be shepherded by him with the cooperation of the presbytery. - a particular church in which the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative. In other words, part of a universal whole, yet also inclusive of the four qualities attributed to that same universal Church. Something more, it seems, than a local representation of the Church of Rome. Bishops are recognized as pastors, like the pope, "performing for (their people) the office of teaching, sanctifying, and governing." Bishops are entrusted with the care of the faithful, but also of "those who have strayed in any way from the path of truth or are ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His saving mercy..." I'm genuinely curious. Do bishops take this seriously? And if they do, how do they conduct this ministry to inactive Catholics and non-Christians? This commission need not always take the direct approach: namely, the bishop himself persuading people to return or convert to Christ. But at minimum, one would think if the bishop is not personally involved in these ministries, he oversees a coordinated effort through chancery or some other official channel. What interfaith efforts does your bishop involve himself in? And how does he address the return of inactive Catholics?

Monday, July 25, 2005

What is Reverence? by Neil Dhingra

When we discuss the liturgy, many of us speak of missing a sense of “reverence.” What is this absence? What is “reverence”? Perhaps it is when a choir movingly sings an Easter cantata. Perhaps it is a dramatic silence. These things happened at Frank Macchia’s church. But, as he writes, then “came a loud cry in tongues from a woman somewhere in the auditorium. She followed with a series of cries in tongues, which were not spoken as much as they were wept.” Dr Macchia, an Assemblies of God theologian, tells us that these cries show a response to the presence of the Holy Spirit “which is ultimately too deep for words” – they are, he says, powerful mysteries that are sacramental, announcing beyond the capacities of ordinary language that “God is here.”

Would we consider this sort of worship, spontaneous and artless, properly “reverent”?

To better understand “reverence,” let’s look at what St Paul says about speaking in tongues in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 14. (I’m here indebted to an article in the current Journal for the Study of the New Testament by the Church of Scotland priest Stephen Chester.) In particular, Paul writes, “So if the whole church meets in one place and everyone speaks in tongues, and then uninstructed people or unbelievers should come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” (14:23). The New American Bible’s translation for “mainesthe,” “out of your minds,” would seem to suggest that speaking in tongues is not immediately “reverent” – to the outsider, it connotes insanity or frenzy. Paul would seem to be criticizing a form of “irreverence.” I don’t think that this conclusion would be all that counterintuitive to many of us.

But if we look deeper, we will discover two different and rather counterintuitive conclusions: many people did find being out of one’s mind rather “reverent,” and this “reverence” presented a problem for Paul. In the Phaedrus, Plato has Socrates state that “the greatest of blessings comes to us through madness, when it is sent as a gift of the gods.” “When they have been mad,” Socrates says - using the same vocabulary as St Paul, the prophetess at Delphi and the priestesses at Dodona “have conferred many splendid benefits upon Greece both in private and public affairs.” But only when they have been mad. Philo of Alexandria later applied this “mad” version of inspiration to the Hebrew prophets: “the mind is evicted at the arrival of the divine spirit, but when that departs the mind returns to its tenancy.” Besides this Platonic tradition of leaving behind ordinary rationality, the Greeks also took part in the cult of Dionysus, which involved a good deal of dancing and shouting that could resemble speaking in tongues. Pausanius says that Dionysus’ female worshippers were “maddened” by his inspiration. Dr Chester concludes that we can retranslate 1 Cor 14:23b as “will they not say that you are inspired?”

But if the tongues would appear impressive and “religious” to the outsider, why does Paul still prefer the wisdom of prophecy (1 Cor 14:24)? While speaking in tongues is the uttering of “mysteries in spirit” (1 Cor 14:2), and Paul gives thanks to God that he speaks in tongues more than the Corinthians (1 Cor 14:18), unintelligible tongues cannot fully communicate the Gospel. Their unintelligibility cannot help the listener distinguish between God and “mute idols” (1 Cor 12:2), and Paul commends praying “with the mind” (1 Cor 14:15) for the sake of the uninstructed. Likewise, the Corinthian believers’ reliance on tongues won’t create spiritual maturity within them. Paul here channels Isaiah 28. Both the Septuagint and the Targum’s renditions of Isaiah 28:10 suggest that God, through the Assyrians, will speak to Israel “with a stammering lip and with alien tongue,” for God had earlier spoken a more intelligible message about giving rest to the weary “yet they would not hear” (MT). Paul here reconfigures Isaiah, writing, “It is written in the law: ‘By people speaking strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me, says the Lord’” (1 Cor 14:21). Paul says that God has now spoken to people with tongues, yet, once more (and “even so”), they will not hear. They will be trapped in the spiritual distress described in Isaiah 28:7-9 (“all the tables are covered with filthy vomit”). Tongues remain “a sign not for those who believe but for unbelievers,” because, while unbelievers might initially be drawn to them as a sign of inspiration, believers really grow in their faith through prophetic utterances. And even the unbeliever is able to say “God is really in your midst” only as a response to prophecy.

In Dr Macchia’s church, after the woman spoke in “a series of cries in tongues,” an interpretation came from the congregation. “It was by no means a translation of the tongues, since no words were adequate to capture fully those glossolalic cries. The interpreter functioned more like a critic who struggles to interpret a work of art.” But he showed how the woman’s cries were “taken up in the much larger mystery of the redemption drama of Christ’s death and resurrection and of the final redemption to come.” The tongues are not left uninterpreted and unintelligible.

Before I wear out my welcome, I think that I want to ask two questions:

Do we have a concept of “reverence” that grasps how the spontaneity and ecstasy of tongues can be a sign for unbelievers, or is our sense of “reverence” much too limited?

Are we unaware of the danger of depending upon “reverence,” forgetting Paul’s claim that he “would rather speak five words with my mind, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Cor 14:19), even though tongues are truly “mysteries”?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

It's my diocese. Parishioners have complained to me about it. (Why exactly, I'm not sure.) And St Blog's has taken up the theme on a handful of sites. Three times a charm. Our new bishop has deep-sixed Richard McBrien's syndicated column from the diocesan newspaper. Those seem to be the headlines. Said newspaper ran a nice interview with Bishop Finn this week. I confess I don't have a strong opinion about the McBrien column or its axing. I also confess I don't read the Key too much, unless something on the front page catches my attention. It reprints CNS stories you can get here, in both long and short formats. In other words, it's not much different from other diocesan newspapers I've known. Anita felt badly about using it for the bunnies' litter boxes. I told her not to give it another thought. What did strike me about Bishop Finn's comments was this: "We need clear expressions of the meaning of faith, why we believe and how we can inspire each other," he said. "We've got to give people hope and direction, and we don't have a lot of time and space (in the newspaper) to do that. I think we can do a whole lot better." I agree. We can indeed do a lot better. I would see that as one of the incomplete mandates of Vatican II: nothing less than the sanctification of the entire Catholic laity. Do dioceses print newspapers to imitate the secular media? Or do they have a mission other than the communication of news and opinion? Perhaps our diocese and others should reexamine their print media. Maybe the time has come for old formats to be updated and replaced by something more progressive. It certainly couldn't sink circulation rates. Our parish is required to buy 720 subscriptions to keep the Key afloat. I tend to doubt that a collection of favorite columnists of any ilk is going to float a periodical like this. So long as the diocese and parishes subsidize this type of journalism, why not make it more like a tool for ministry and faith, rather than merely an outlet for news and opinion?
A Game End to a Vacation
As surface temperatures soar to near 100 in KC, Brittany and I have foregone any earthbound activity the past few days in favor of an old favorite, Solarquest. Proving adept in other capitalist endeavors earlier this summer, Life and Monopoly, I thought it was time to introduce the Little Moneybags to a game truly out of this world. My friend Christopher from Illinois introduced me to Solarquest years ago. We had one running battle that lasted several weeks and went to twenty-four hours of playing time. When I left Illinois, he and his parents got me my own game. I've probably only played four or five games on it. In her first game, Brittany has already lasted eight hours (over the past three days). She currently has control over the Saturn and Mars systems. I have all the space docks. The other properties are split evenly enough that we're in that "eternal" game mode now: we each have enough cash so that bankruptcy is not a looming prospect. On break this afternoon, we visited the Cassini web site, so she could see actual photos of her Saturn real estate. Cassini scientists, by the way, have summarized their top ten discoveries of the past year in orbit. It's a useful summary. Back to earth on Saturday. I have a wedding liturgy outline for 6:30 that has somehow gotten lost. The bride says she dropped it off at the parish office last week, but the pastor hadn't seen it as of Thursday when I saw him at a staff member's birthday lunch. School begins, amazingly enough, in about three and a half weeks. I have some summer projects to complete by then. Mainly, I've put my neck on the line to lead a more comprehensive planning program for school liturgy planning. The parish music committee has also charged me and our organist to give them a handful of selections of possible Mass settings to decide upon. Meanwhile, I go to sleep dreaming of how I can wrest Titan from Brittany's clutches ...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reviewing Potter
Finished the latest Harry Potter book a few days ago, and now that it's sinking in, I thought it was time for a review. I wanted to like the book: that's an upfront bias. I enjoyed the book as much or more as any of the others, that much I know.
The third book still stands as the high watermark of the series in my thinking. I look for any new book to surpass Chamber of Secrets, which this one does, easily. But it doesn't match Azkaban. Not quite.
First the positive points: Half-Blood Prince is well-plotted and unlike the few negative reviews suggest, it's well-paced and deliberate, rather than too slow. I was considering the various hints and clues from previous books, so the various surprises were just as they needed to be: surprises, but set up mostly well. And too snail-paced? I don't think so. Mary GrandPre's art is the best in the series, both the cover and chapter headings.
In book five, everyone but Harry's closest friends think he's whacked. Circumstances are reversed in the new book: Harry's obsession with Malfoy is an annoyance for his three closest allies. It's not played up too much, which is good, because it comes off as a trifle contrived. It's rather necessary for the plot, and it makes a good contrast from Phoenix, but Hermione's smart enough not to dismiss Harry's suspicions too easily. This item needed more set-up, but I'm at a loss as to what I would've done.
My biggest complaint about the book is reserved for Rowling's editor(s). In the first hundred pages, I saw the over-reliance on spell-check three times. "Site" instead of "sight?" A writer shouldn't make a mistake like that, but it's even more unforgiveable for an editor to miss it. Book editors in general have gotten too damned lazy, and Harry Potter is no exception. They should offer me a job on book 7. I've heard reports about sloppiness in printing: pages missing, sections repeated, etc.. No excuse for that either. Scholastic Press can and should do better. Printing millions of advance orders is no excuse: you're making this kind of money on a publishing phenomenon, and you should be up to the task. It's that simple.
Good fantasy writers are distinguished by the quality of their ideas, and despite over two-thousand pages heading into HBP, there are still some nice ideas popping up. Great fantasy or science fiction is distinguished by what marks other good literature, especially characterization. There's that, but there could have been more. Rowling uses her typical chapter introductions to reset the scene and mood in a comfortably familiar way. And at times, the writing is very good. I think an active editor would catch Rowling's occasional sloppiness, thing like using the same descriptive word twice within a few hundred words, say. A collaborative editor might suggest a thing or two about enriching descriptions, or perhaps fleshing out a secondary character a bit more. Or even disguising a clue a bit deeper. Or streamlining the overall narrative a touch. I was happy for the secondary romances, but were they worth the ten percent of the book to set them up? If Rowling is going to focus the book on Ron and Hermione along with Harry, I'd rather see a bit more backstory on those two to explain why they doubt Harry all of a sudden in book 6.
In three thousand pages of narrative, we know Harry and his two friends very well. We know the supporting cast somewhat well, but it's mostly a sharp drop-off after Ron and Hermione. Like a good mystery, we don't see the motiviations of the antagonists until the end, and then Dumbledore explains it for Harry and us. I don't have a complaint with Rowling focusing almost every chapter on Harry, Ron and Hermione. But I think her backstory with the Marauders, the Order, and the other students gets in the way if the only point is to fill in the details she has in her head. An outstanding writer would have thought of that.
As it is, I think Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a very good book. It was what I expected: a great read and very enjoyable. It wasn't quite what I had hoped, or what it could have been.

More quizzes
What I was doing 10 years ago: Just got engaged, just accepted a new position at a parish in Iowa, so I was in Waterloo, looking for two apartments. Also I had just learned my dad was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and had only a few months to live. What I was doing five years ago: Getting ready to sell our first house and move to the country for two years in Eagle Grove in a parish without a resident priest. Anita had just bought me the first Harry Potter book, saying I was going to need something to occupy my mind in all the upheaval. What I was doing one year ago: This was close to the time when Brittany and I went to Oceans of Fun. The new pastor had recently arrived and our turnover of clergy was complete. What I was doing yesterday: playing bridge, going on a date with my wife, reading a bit of Harry Potter Five songs I know all of the words to: you're kidding, right? Five things I would do with $100 million: give about 20% to causes that promote domestic special needs adoption and assist children in foster care, go to Australia and New Zealand for about six months, design and build my own house, complete my collection of American copper coins 1793 to the present, then give the rest away after paying off all my debts. Five locations to which I would like to run (or fly): Australia, Antarctica, New Zealand, Iceland, and assuming I had enough life support for a few weeks, the moon's north pole. Five things I like doing: playing music with friends, playing games, astronomy, cooking, doing things with my wife and daughter Five things I would never wear: anything polyester, cowboy attire, clothing with words on it, suspenders with a belt, sandals with socks. Tagged: Lee at the Back Pew and anyone else willing to play along.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Your Local Bishop and Rome
The second section of the first chapter of Christus Dominus treats the relationship of the bishop with Rome. First, a nod to the authority of the local bishop: pretty much everything that Rome hasn't already covered: To bishops, as successors of the Apostles, in the dioceses entrusted to them, there belongs per se all the ordinary, proper, and immediate authority which is required for the exercise of their pastoral office. But this never in any way infringes upon the power which the Roman pontiff has, by virtue of his office, of reserving cases to himself or to some other authority.

The general law of the Church grants the faculty to each diocesan bishop to dispense, in a particular case, the faithful over whom they legally exercise authority as often as they judge that it contributes to their spiritual welfare, except in those cases which have been especially reserved by the supreme authority of the Church.

Curia, enter stage right in Christus Dominus 9

In exercising supreme, full, and immediate power in the universal Church, the Roman pontiff makes use of the departments of the Roman Curia which, therefore, perform their duties in his name and with his authority for the good of the churches and in the service of the sacred pastors.

However, the Vatican Council recommended these offices be reorganized and adapted for the needs of the present, presumably to keep the notion of service to the local bishops and their dioceses at the forefront. CD 10 suggests these offices be widened from their Italian make-up, inclusive of a catholic Church, looking to diocesan bishops for curial department membership, and even lay people.

Finally, the fathers of the council think it would be most advantageous if these same departments would listen more attentively to laymen who are outstanding for their virtue, knowledge, and experience. In such a way they will have an appropriate share in Church affairs.

It would be good to see even more lay people, but note that the definition of what sort of share would be "appropriate" is left to the judgment of the pope and curial heads.

In Dungeons Dark and Prisons Vile ...
Christus Dominus 7 states: Let (bishops) especially embrace in brotherly affection those bishops who, for the sake of Christ, are plagued with slander and indigence, detained in prisons, or held back from their ministry. They should take an active brotherly interest in them so that their sufferings may be assuaged and alleviated through the prayers and good works of their confreres. The key understanding, of course, is in the phrase "for the sake of Christ." I know some Catholics are upset at the lack of criticism of bishops from their own. I guess the laity could also be included in this prayer effort. Are we invited to do so?
I Thought I'd be More Kerygmatic, but ...

Your model of the church is Sacrament. The church is the effective sign of the revelation that is the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are transformed by Christ and then become a beacon of Christ wherever they go. This model has a remarkable capacity for integrating other models of the church. For the record, my results: Mystical Communion Model 56% Servant Model 56% Sacrament model 56% Herald Model 22% Institutional Model 17% Fred asked me what I thought of this quiz. It's the first internet one I've taken. I landed in a tie for three of Avery Dulles' Five Models of the Church. No real surprise I scored low on institution, though some observers might think I'm turning positively ultramontanist for registering 17%. It also says I'm your guy for integrating liberals and conservatives. Maybe I should've been a diplomat, eh? Quizzes like this are a fun diversion, but I think people are best quantified by their interactions with others, not a set of questions for which there are occasional difficult answers. Fred notes that "the selection and pairing of songs is calculated to amuse and confuse." I agree. If this quiz is not Catholic enough or sensible enough as is, perhaps you have a suggestion or two for improvement. The song choices seem a bit lame, but quizzes like this are meant to sort people quickly and easily to one side or another. What is really telling about the quizzes is not where a person lands in the final judgment, but how close it was to get them there. The longer the quiz, the more accurate it tends to be. Thoughts?

By the way, here's the link: http://quizfarm.com/test.php?q_id=49752

Getting (to) Good Liturgy
I confess: I'm a sucker for many liturgical threads on other blogs. It's a good way to get me out from hiding, especially if the blogger is a sensible type. Up a few days ago at open book, this thread led to this post, and for visitors from open book, welcome, and here's where I want to go with the discussion: My first take on the liturgy wars is lament. I think Catholic liturgy and Catholicism is weaker for the bad attitudes we bring to liturgy and the tussles that go on around it. Yes, yes, some commenters will say the liberals started it by breaking from a smooth tradition in 1970 and disrupting all things holy and venerable. And back comes the claim that the curia was trying to button down the Council in 1959-62, so why shouldn't we go as far and as fast as we can to reform the Mass before the evil crackdown hits? It's a chicken and egg kind of thing, I suspect. The battle is most often a parish one. Get a new priest, do new things. Get a new music director or liturgist, do new things. Old things get undone in the wake of such changes. I hear calls for respect for tradition, but I see a mixed record coming from both conservatives and progressives on the respect front. I heard of a recent new pastor who took the parish's ceramic chalices out to the front yard, put them in a canvas sack, hammered them to bits, then buried them. Does this teach your average in-the-pew Catholic reverence? Run the film, ask your grade school child and wait for the answer. My assessment on this line of thinking and acting is chalk it up as self-reliance; individualism, if you will. To a degree one can see how incoming newcomers from the pope down to the 5 o'clock cantor want to lean on their own track record when they hit town: what went well before, what didn't and go from there. You see it in conservatives pining for the 50's, liberals yearning for the heady late 60's and 70's, or for many of today's Catholics, just a yearning for the way things were before the sex scandals broke loose. Just give me liturgy when it was safe and warm. This is a mixed bag. On one hand, the spiritual life demands we leave behind possessions, let go, and take up the cross. But on the other, there is a line of respect for individuals: it's not up to the experts, not even the pope, to tell an individual when the letting go time has come spiritually. A respectful person can only suggest, invite, and open the door. People choose to move or stay put. And sometimes the situation calls to give people the freedom to hold up for awhile. On one level, I don't think material resources are the end-all, be it for catechesis, liturgy, or whatever endeavor the Church undertakes. On the other hand, when spiffy new suburban parishes build schools first, they send a certain message: your assessed home values in our booming suburb are what matters ... send your kids to school, but Sunday Mass is optional. So are the virtues of justice and charity. The fact is, most complainers go to parishes with incomes, budgets, etc.. To suggest that money is part of the solution for schools (be it bigger budgets, tax breaks for parents, or whatever) but not for good liturgy strikes me as being a bit disingenuous. This would be my main beef with Amy's post: she missed my point about people who invest or don't invest themselves (not their money) in liturgy. My main complaint with Catholics isn't conservatives; it's with apathetic folks who have a lip for complaint, but no effort to make a difference. And that goes for any ideological persuasion. It is my sense that many of St Blog liturgy commentators are happier complaining about the status quo than getting to work praying, singing, and making that difference. And most complaints don't even target one's own parish; so often it seems this other parish or even a diocese not one's own. Some seem to expect heads to roll courtesy of the new pope, but I just don't see it happening. My bottom line? Liturgy must be a commitment for a Catholic. Talking the talk on the internet is fine, but does the walk get walked in the parish? Is complaining done to hear one's voice or read one's comment, or does it have a point? Amy makes a four point suggestion: - trust the liturgy that the Church has given us - put every other agenda aside - put a lid on our own egos - pray It's good advice. Conservatives and liberals alike have problems with all four. Not because of ideological blindness, but because we're human sinful beings. It is difficult to put trust in human institutions, at times. It is difficult enough to set aside distractions, let alone agendas we bring to the liturgy. It is hard to separate from our egos. It can be hard to pray. People heavy on complaint and light on prayer and action fall short in the virtues of trust, selflessness, and surrender to God. We all do it on occasion. Some people just make it their habit, that's all.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Cost of Popularity
Being on vacation has been nice. I've seen our new kitchen put together and managed to learn a few things about home repair and carpentry in the bargain. I've gotten in some good reading. Going to play some bridge tomorrow. The Little Moneybags (aka Brittany) has won three of the last four Life or Monopoly tussles. Maybe I can get even in Solarquest, do you think? Since I began my series on Vatican II, blog traffic has been down. In fact, I've been trying to consciously be more constructive and positive. Either the conservatives have given up on CS or they have little to say when unprovoked. I've also been cutting down on my reading and commentary on other blogs the past week, and I find it works. It's given me confirmation that I should take Neil's and other's suggestions more seriously about being less contentious. I'll be returning to Christus Dominus commentary in a few days, and blog posts here for the foreseeable future will be more in the vein of less popular items. Like what Vatican II really is teaching, and things like that. I've found I could manipulate blog traffic rather easily, but I've realized I much prefer more constructive uses of my time. The 800 pound gorillas of St Blog's mostly seem to enjoy being confrontative or encouraging confrontation in their comment boxes--let them continue, I guess. I still have strong opinions that Roman Catholicism would benefit greatly from a renewed progressive approach to liturgy, theology, and all. I certainly won't shy away from arguing in favor of that. I continue to urge those who do visit here to use the comment boxes as they wish. If any readers have suggestions for commentary, simply e-mail me tf1212 (at) kr (dot) rr (dot) com and I will gladly post and reply. I'm most grateful for Neil's continued commentary on a number of issues, and if any tyro bloggers out there want to e-mail me something Catholic and sensible, I'll gladly consider posting it.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Talking To One Another from Neil Dhingra

In a question-and-answer session last year, Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke of the “dismissiveness” and “rawness of anger” in some of the e-mail messages sent to him. About the “vitriolic” tenor of the disagreements in the Anglican Communion, Dr Williams said, “Somebody some day ought to write a thesis on the spirituality of e-mail because that has something to do with all this.” Perhaps one day somebody will also write a thesis on the spirituality of blogs. But more generally, how should Christians speak to one another? I’d like to look at a recent popular work by the Presbyterian minister, Thomas G. Long - Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian.

It might be easy to conclude that it doesn’t really matter how we speak to one another, as long as we say the right things. But, as Dr Long tells us, we often figure out what we believe by first saying things out loud. “The most effective Bible study groups, for example, allow for a free flow of honest conversation, questioning, probing, exploration, and even skepticism, because it is the experience of such groups that putting ideas into words in dialogue with others is an important aspect of how we come to know and believe the wisdom of the Scripture. When we talk about our faith, we are not merely expressing our beliefs; we are coming more fully and clearly to believe. In short, we are always talking ourselves into being Christian.”

In order to “talk ourselves into being Christian,” we will first need to avoid letting “God” stand in for political ambition or conventional wisdom. We’ll have to abstain from any cheapening of the Holy Name – Thomas Merton once complained that “God is Love” was being used so thoughtlessly that to say it was like saying “Eat Wheaties.” To speak and hear about God, we might instead have to prepare ourselves for a disconcerting experience – the amazement of the people of Jerusalem at the “boldness of Peter and John” (Acts 4:13). Dr Long asks us to remember when Harvard asked Alexander Solzhenitsyn to speak at their commencement. Instead of the usual inoffensive clichés, Solzhenitsyn, resembling an Old Testament Prophet, claimed that the “spiritual life” was being destroyed by the “ruling party” in the East and “commercial interests” in the West. We should always have the sense that Christianity is a distinct (and sometimes disturbing) way of speaking patterned after the testimony of Jesus Christ, always marked by the sense of constant pilgrimage. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,” St Paul says.

If we let the way we speak be shaped by being on this “Way” (Acts 9:2), we can’t merely speak of God “as a pious form of marketing” either – our words must not be reduced to the measures of church growth, institutional self-perpetuation, or cultural success. Again, our speech must always be a testimony or witness to Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness” (Rev 1:5) whose own testimony was validated by the Resurrection and whose return we await. You must learn to speak in this way just like you would learn to speak Spanish (if not elvish). You cannot become a Christian by merely reading a catechism anymore than you can become a Texan by watching John Wayne movies. This process will often require following rules – the Rule of St Benedict carefully instructs the monks on how to speak (“gently and without laughter, humbly and seriously, in few and sensible words”). You have to “talk yourself” into being Christian; you yourself have to follow this “Way.”

But what does this Christian speech, this “testimony,” actually look like if it isn’t merely a matter of being doctrinally correct or using religious phrases? Think of Merton’s “second conversion,” when on the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville he was “suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that [he] loved all these people.” Merton wrote, “I have the immense joy of being human, a member of the race in which God himself became incarnate.” What Merton had always professed in worship had suddenly become real even on the very ordinary streets of Kentucky. “Christian speech” is speech that has been shaped by the experience of worship. Many Christians begin services with the words, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord all the earth; worship the Lord with gladness.” Christian speech testifies to the holiness and neglected epiphanies that lie around us. Worship involves a confession of sin. Christian speech has the honesty and courage to face our own brokenness, and testify to the realities of forgiveness and reconciliation. In worship, we hear, “Once you were no people, but now you are God’s people” (1 Pet 2:10). Christian speech testifies to the dignity and value of those whose humanity is being threatened. Even, I daresay, when Christians are talking about politics.

Christian speech also must not be selfish, because we know that joy comes from abandoning self-absorption. As Thomas Merton said, “In an age where there is much talk about ‘being yourself’ I reserve to myself the right to forget about being myself, since in any case there is very little chance of my being anybody else.” This is especially true in prayer, as it is surprisingly easy to “heap up empty phrases” (Matt 6:7). Christians will be unwilling to distort the truth even for a good cause, always aware of the mandate to empty themselves (and their lesser goals) before the greater reality of God and the neighbor. Selfishness remains a temptation, even if we are saying the right things. Dr Long recalls a Christian radio talk-show during which the host was trying to “prove” the truth of Christianity to a hesitant listener with “unassailable proof,” no less. Dr Long worries that the host’s sense of urgency about conversion prevented him from taking time to understand the listener – she had become an object, a potential statistic. Dr Long even conjectures, “When we ourselves are plagued with doubts, one tactic is to turn that energy outward and to fortify ourselves by seeking to persuade others,” because most beliefs, even for supposedly rugged individuals, are socially maintained. For the host, the ultimate purpose of his “unassailable proof” might not have been to give his testimony to another, but to use the listener’s submission to reinforce his own precarious self-conception as a convinced Christian and a gifted evangelist. Christian speech sometimes means letting go. Once Henri Nouwen confronted a seeker (who wanted the famous author to solve all his problems) with the simple truth, “Christianity is not for getting your life together.” Instead, Nouwen wrote, he could only offer hospitality, “not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.” The seeker eventually came around.

Nouwen’s renunciation of a sort of powerful guru-status was an act of humility, but we should not confuse it with accommodation. Christian speech “offers them space where change can take place” by courageously, if at times quietly, offering testimony that, in Rowan Williams’ words, “History does not ultimately lie in the hands of the slaughterer,” that the simply naivety of the Golden Rule is worth remembering even in the midst of warfare. The avoidance of testimony, whether through the safe recitation of “unassailable proof” or a compromised silence, comes under judgment – “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account of every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt 12:36). This judgment is real, even if it is the judgment of the God who loves us.

When we converse at St Blog’s, does the way we speak testify to the realities of holiness, reconciliation, and the sheer gratuity of the Father’s love? Is the very shape of our speech marked by the humility that offers others “space where change can take place” on our collective pilgrimage? Do we speak like Christians? Or do we really have some work to do?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The people at the bank want to see what my new kitchen looks like. Working on it this week brought back memories. After I quit my telemarketing gig in 1983, I worked a summer for a friend who was rehabbing his house. We tore out old stuff. We put in drywall, repaired floors and doors, rebuilt a bathroom and installed a second, tiled, refinished, and did a bit of plumbing. I didn't have to do that this week, but the plumbing stuff we did do was vaguely familiar. I wouldn't mind doing more work on my house. The problem, as I see it: if you only work on your own house, you never get experienced or comfortable enough with the tasks. I changed the plugs on my car once. About ten years ago with my brother coaching me. If I had a book, I could do it again. Probably. But it's just more convenient to have the mechanic do it. My contractor, a friend from the parish, is getting married in six weeks. So his life is busy. Then he's got his other jobs. We were supposed to begin work on Monday, but the last job ran over, so I told him Tuesday was fine. Here was our timetable: Tuesday: finish ripping out the old sink cabinet, install new base cabinets, set up the plumbing, build the dishwasher cabinet (since this appliance was being raised off the floor, this involved some nifty carpentry work on some really cool and powerful saws. Wednesday: finish up the dishwasher cabinet, finish some rewiring, and haul several hundred pounds of granite (two pieces) to start cutting out the countertops. Thursday afternoon: cut the last two pieces, cut out the sink hole, round and polish the edges--I got to do some of that: nice! We saved some scraps for the backsplashes. Friday afternoon: put in the sink, hook up the new dishwasher and fridge. Everything works and nothing leaks! One problem: we didn't leave enough room between the bottom of the dish cabinet and the top of the dishwasher for our third granite piece. Since my friend left his belt sander at another job site, he'll come back Monday to trim it and put in the last big piece of granite. Plus the backsplashes. Raising the dishwasher gives us a nice storage drawer underneath, but that piece will need to be custom built. My take on this: carpentry would be a nice skill to maintain. I've already had to rebuild part of the deck railing this year, and doing another section would be a good idea. I also need to finish off the kitchen-garage doorway I switched around a few months ago: some moulding, paint and weatherstripping before winter would be nice. Working with nice, fast, and expensive electric tools all week has spoiled me. But it also has me thinking about the next project.
Mischief Managed
Went to get HP6 last night. Anita asked me if I would. Parked four stores down. Walking in, the Borders was full but not to the gills. They gave me number 677 and I was off to browse. A gaggle of Muggles was sitting in science, astronomy, but the game section wasn't too bad. I read a bridge book and when the sf section cleared out, I camped out there for a bit. After they called my number, I only spent ten minutes in line. Home by 2:30AM. I participated in a pop culture event. I read a book and a half while I waited. That's all I can say about it. My wife will fetch HP 7 when it comes out, and this will be my suggestion: go to the kid's party at 9PM and pick up a ticket. If you don't want to browse, just go home and take a nap. Come back and get your book later. Got to page 9 before sleep came. Good book so far.
Robots or People or Nothing at all
Since the 50's, one of the hot debates in space science circles has been who or what is better suited for exploration: human beings or remote controlled probes? While the shuttles remain grounded, Cassini and other probes continue to reap scientific information, including the Enceladus fly-by in the Saturn neighborhood. The space program was good in the 60's. A pacifist would approve, if for no other reason than the diverting of military budgets for the race to the moon. I could easily nod at contests overtaking arms build-ups as both more entertaining and less warlike. The notion that shutting down the space program for being a waste doesn't carry much weight with me. Only a blind optimist would think that money would be rolled into social programs. Or even tax cuts. Most likely is that it would be folded into the defense budget. And anything that deflates the defense budget for research is fine with me. I used to think that people in space was a good way to go. And I think we'll get there eventually. But there's no doubt that survey and weather satellites have more than proved their worth in earth orbit. Communications satellites pay for themselves ... or could, if they weren't being partially underwritten. And since human beings are nowhere close to Saturn, much less Mars, or even the moon, computer programmed robot probes are hands down the best choice for science research. The Deep Impact comet probe, though not a long term attention-getter, is probably the most significant mission of the decade. Why? Human beings need to know what is zooming around the near-Earth neighborhood: mainly, what these things are made of and how they're put together. We probably have about a thirty to fifty year window from the discovery of a collision object to Earth impact. If an object has our number--and it's only a matter of time before we find one--we will need the know-how to nudge it out of the way before it hits. Even though it wouldn't be as glamorous as going to Mars, I think a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid should be a higher priority. After a thorough robotic exploration, of course. It might be that in a few hundred years, we'll still be struggling to get people into space cheaply. But if a major collision object--a comet or asteroid--is heading our way, we'll need to make sure we have the capacity to nudge such an object out of the way in time. And if there are a few people on a moon or Mars colony by then, that would be nice. But I'd rather have a 6 sextillion ton planet under my feet with a habitable atmosphere and water and other life and all that than take my chances repopulating the human race on the moon. That's the one big reason why the space program must continue: for the survival of the species, if for no other reason.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Three Weddings and an Engagement
Still up to my elbows in kitchen renovation this week. One of the reasons why we didn't make it back to upstate New York for a friend's wedding tomorrow. But three certain weddings and an engagement are on my mind this week. Wedding this year: The bride's parents are good friends, and I have fond memories of playing with very little girls before I shipped off to the Great Liturgical Midwest in 1988. You parents know the routine, right? Single friend gets the kids hyper-excited just before it's time to put them to bed. Then friend shoves off and leaves the parents to clean up the mess and calm down the babes. Anyway, my young friend is getting married tomorrow. Her mom mentioned they're using a song I wrote for a wedding years ago ("That old song?"), which leads me to ... Wedding twenty years ago: a couple my age got married twenty years ago Wednesday. It seemed like weddings were breaking out all over in the mid-80's amongst my friends. I was away at summer liturgy school in Indiana, but I was asked to write a song. I think Agnes and Phil told me they wanted something based on Ruth 1:16, but different from Norbet's "Wherever You Go." At first, it was coming with great difficulty. Phil was heabily involved with the Catholic Worker movement, so I was intent on combining Scripture with a strong social justice sensibility. But the first few days of classes, reuniting with old chums and new, I found inspiration. I gathered a bunch of friends to make a tape to send back home. You get spoiled on those experiences: great musicians playing your music and making it sound pretty neat. I still have the tape, and my only regret is that we only put two songs on it. Exactly in between these two weddings, my great friends Brook and Carrie got married ... ten years ago today. That was a special wedding, of course. Mostly because it was when I proposed to Anita. I didn't write songs for that wedding or my own, though. July seems off the beaten path for weddings and accompanying events, but for me, the middle of July seems quite extraordinary. So I raise a thought and a prayer for my July wedding friends today: thinking of you six and wishing you the happiness and blessings of married life. Thanks for the example and inspiration you have been.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Looking Beyond the Bounds of One's Diocese

Some of the sentiment in Christus Dominus 6 reflects the social concerns of the 50's and 60's. It also weaves in notions that undercut the false sense of the Cahtolic Church as a corporation or an army: pope at the top, curia next, and both giving marching orders to particular bishops. Just today I was reading apost from a Catholic on another site about how much better off we'd be if the pope exercised in-your-face authority and cleaned up our liberal, pedophile mess.

As legitimate successors of the Apostles and members of the episcopal college, bishops should realize that they are bound together and should manifest a concern for all the churches. For by divine institution and the rule of the apostolic office each one together with all the other bishops is responsible for the Church.

"All the churches" means dioceses and the various Eastern and Western rites. A bishop should be widened in his vision to the point that other areas beyond his diocese, especially places in spiritual need, must be considered part of his "concern" for the Church. Would that some bishops exercised more care for smaller and mission dioceses, rather than what see might net them a red hat:

They should especially be concerned about those parts of the world where the word of God has not yet been proclaimed or where the faithful, particularly because of the small number of priests, are in danger of departing from the precepts of the Christian life, and even of losing the faith itself.

The laity have an "active" role in these efforts of evangelization and ministry. Another of those "Spirit of Vatican II" moments some seem anxious to quash in the retrenchment. Clergy have a role to play, too:

(Bishops) should also see to it, as much as possible, that some of their own priests go to the above-mentioned missions or dioceses to exercise the sacred ministry there either permanently or for a set period of time.

CD 6 concludes by reminding bishops to see to material needs beyond their borders. The USCCB took this prescription to heart by pushing the CHD for so many years. Individual bishops, too, might be reminded of their responsibility. My own home diocese of Rochester NY had a relationship with the Mexican Diocese of Tabasco. Do you know if your diocese has paired with a Third World diocese? And if not, perhaps your bishop might take some friendly advice.

On the Way to Christus Dominus

from Neil Dhingra

As Todd reminded us, the first chapter of Christus Dominus says, “By virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college, bishops are constituted as members of the episcopal body.” This “order of bishops” succeeds the “college of apostles,” and we can speak of a “collegiate power in union with the pope.” What does all this college-talk mean? I’m sorry to say that figuring this out might mean going through a bit of history. But at least I can offer the distinguished Assumptionist theologian George Tavard as a guide (see The Jurist 64 [2004] 82-115).

We’ll begin with the announcement of the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII on January 25, 1959. An Antepreparatory Commission then gathered recommendations from bishops, superior generals, Roman dicasteries, and universities. These recommendations now fill sixteen rather thick volumes. Fr Tavard tells us that we can sense a general expectation that Vatican II would complete the work of Vatican I by unfolding a doctrine of the episcopate. For instance, Archbishop Emile Guerry of Cambrai would elaborate that, in his opinion, bishops were members of an episcopal college that succeeded the apostolic college. They were “sponsors” of the gospel mission to the world, bearing the weight of the whole Church in communion and solidarity with (and under) the bishop of Rome. Many bishops also happened to think that the centralization of Church government under Pius XII had gone too far.

Fifteen conciliar commissions were created on the feast of Pentecost, June 5, 1960; the Theological Commission drafted the schema De Ecclesia. The Council itself began on October 11, 1962. De Ecclesia was presented on Friday, November 30, 1962. The reception was chilly – Emile-Joseph de Smedt, Bishop of Bruges, described the text as expressing “triumphalismus, clericalismus, jurisidicismus.” The question of episcopal collegiality soon came up in the following debates. In a written communication, the Melkite bishop of Aleppo, Athanase Toutoungy, presented the venerable Eastern theology of collegiality: “In each of the Churches one recognizes the complete notion of the universal Church, … and … in the universal Church one finds the lineaments of each of the particular Churches.” John XXIII had hoped that the Council would end by Christmas. This proved to be impossible; the Council outlasted Good Pope John, who went to his reward on June 3, 1963. He was followed by Pope Paul VI.

During the Second Session of the Council, it became clear that the bishops were not in agreement about collegiality. Between October 4 and October 15, 31 bishops spoke in favor of the doctrine, 18 expressed reservations, and two speakers were entirely negative. One of the latter was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who worried that collegiality would destroy papal primacy and conferences of bishops would ruin the authority of the bishop in his diocese. This would not be Lefebvre’s last worry. But the majority seemed to support the idea that there was an episcopal college in succession to the apostolic college. One would enter this college by a sacramental episcopal ordination. This college was inseparable from the universal primacy of the bishop of Rome who was its head. The Church only possessed one supreme authority whether exercised by a Council or the pope by himself, but never in isolation from the college. And all political analogies, noted this majority, were inadequate.

Cardinal Leo-Joseph Suenens, moderator of the session, forced a vote on five questions on October 15, 1963. One of them invited approval or disapproval of the claim that the college of bishops succeeds the college of apostles in the tasks of evangelization, sanctification, and pastoral care, and that it has authority over the entire Church with its head, the bishop of Rome. The vote was 1808 to 336. But among the opponents were the secretary, vice president, and president of the Doctrinal Commission. The president, the formidable Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, claimed that the apostles had never acted collegially, with only the possible exception of the Council of Jerusalem.

So, as Fr Tavard says, the intersession between the second and third sessions “was a theatre of considerable agitation. There was intense lobbying around the pope by cardinals and bishops who systematically opposed the doctrine of collegiality.” The fateful Third Session began on September 14, 1964. It was announced that the overall vote on the revised text De Ecclesia, now in the form of the constitution Lumen Gentium, would take place on September 30th. A representative of those who had difficulties with collegiality was unusually allowed to speak alongside the presentations of Lumen Gentium – Bishop Franjo Franic, Bishop of Split (Yugoslavia), did his best to show that collegiality was a theological novelty that contradicted the teachings of Vatican I. But the vote on sections 18-23 of Lumen Gentium, which would establish collegiality, was 1624 to 42, with 572 others giving a placet iuxta modum (in other words, a “yes” with a proposed amendment).

The principle of episcopal collegiality comes from three doctrinal convictions, all expressed in Lumen Gentium. The Lord, it is believed, is present in the ministry of bishops. The sacramental character of episcopal ordination means that “bishops, in a resplendent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representatives.” And the bishop of Rome is the visible head of the episcopal body. In his closing address to the Third Session, Paul VI repeated that the doctrine of episcopal collegiality did not nullify papal primacy, but meant that the Church’s government was “at the same time monarchical and hierarchical.” Paul said that he intended to facilitate episcopal collegiality by creating appropriate commissions and reforming the Roman Curia.

The Fourth Session of Vatican II began on September 14, 1965. On the very next day, Paul VI, in order to “tighten the bonds of our union with the bishops,” created the Synod of Bishops. The Council never revisited the debate on episcopal collegiality. It perhaps further hinted at the relevance of collegiality in Gaudium et Spes, which suggested that the mission of the Church required that “all who constitute the one People of God will be able to engage in ever more fruitful dialogue, whether they are pastors or other members of the faithful.” More explicitly, the decree Christus Dominus, promulgated on October 28, 1965, at the end of the session, endorsed the creation of the Synod of Bishops: “This council, as it will be representative of the whole Catholic episcopate, will bear testimony to the participation of all bishops in hierarchical communion in the care of the universal Church.”

We can ask whether the Synod of Bishops has succeeded in this task. In a 1996 lecture, Archbishop John Quinn said, “Many Bishops feel that issues which they would like to discuss responsibly cannot come up.” We can also ask if the collegial principle extends to a particular Church itself, so that the priests of a diocese share responsibility with their bishop for the care of the diocese. “All priests, in union with bishops, so share in one and the same priesthood and ministry of Christ that the very unity of their consecration and mission requires their hierarchical communion with the order of bishops” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7).

Well, what do you think?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bishops and the Universal Church, part 1
Christus Dominus 4 and 5 begin the first chapter of the document which commences an examination of the relationship between bishops and the universal Church. Bishops are first and foremost members of a community, "constituted as members of the episcopal body," the descendant of the "college of the apostles in teaching and pastoral direction." Their relationship with the pope is made clear, of course:

Together with its head, the Roman pontiff, and never without this head it exists as the subject of supreme, plenary power over the universal Church. But this power cannot be exercised except with the agreement of the Roman pontiff.

However, it is clear from the outset that bishops are not vicars of the pope. It is certainly clear that bishops are to be seen in a higher regard than an upper pyramid level in a marching army. The upper Catholic hierarchy is clearly a body that shares the responsibilities for teaching and pastoral ministry, and as we shall see in later sections of CD, not necessarily limited to one's own diocese. Also commentary on the role of a bishop in and the right to participate in an ecumenical council:

This power however, "is exercised in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council." Therefore, this sacred synod decrees that all bishops who are members of the episcopal college, have the right to be present at an ecumenical council.

Section 4 concludes with a quote from Vatican I:

The exercise of this collegiate power in union with the pope is possible although the bishops are stationed all over the world, provided that the head of the college gives them a call to collegiate action, or, at least, gives the unified action of the dispersed bishops such approval, or such unconstrained acceptance, that it becomes truly collegiate action.

Lumen Gentium 22, 23, and 25 is referenced as CD briefly describes the Synod of Bishops and its purpose:

Bishops chosen from various parts of the world, in ways and manners established or to be established by the Roman pontiff, render more effective assistance to the supreme pastor of the Church in a deliberative body which will be called by the proper name of Synod of Bishops. Since it shall be acting in the name of the entire Catholic episcopate, it will at the same time show that all the bishops in hierarchical communion partake of the solicitude for the universal Church.

October's meeting in Rome treating the topic of the Eucharist is an exercise of this body. It must be significant that the first concrete description of the role of the bishop deals with the deliberative nature of the bishops, not the hierarchical set-up. Roman offices--the curia--are not part of this first picture at all.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Beam Me Out of Here
Watching too much Star Trek. Count me as a teleportation doubter. Big time. More likely that we'll be able to pour human consciousness into a space probe and get there lightweight, though I'm still holding out hope for an elevator.
Evolution Tussles
Getting into it over evolution seems to be the topic of the month at St Blogs, here and on other web sites. Cardinal Schönborn's op-ed last Thursday caused dismay and concern. The NY Times dug a little deeper on Sunday. "How did the Discovery Institute talking points wind up in Vienna?" wondered Glenn Branch, deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, which advocates the teaching of evolution. "It really did look quite a bit as if Cardinal Schönborn had been reading their Web pages." Cardinal Schönborn does need to read a bit more than the Discovery Institute material. I have no problem with a cardinal weighing in on an important matter of science and public debate, but for such opinions to be taken seriously, a thorough grounding in the disciplines at hand are essential. Discovery touts the book (and now the video) The Privileged Planet as serious stuff. I read the book a few months ago, and would largely agree with Amy Coombs' assessment from Astronomy magazine last December. Gonzalez and Richards do muster a wide range of scientific insights, and while I'm generally convinced of the notion that the Earth is nearly unique in the universe, I thought the book was somewhat lightweight, harping too much on the notion that our ability to make practical science observations has somehow come out just right. I found some of the cardinal's opinion piece to be lacking, especially: Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not. Any system of thought that denies or seeks to explain away the overwhelming evidence for design in biology is ideology, not science. As I understand it, evolution favors life that adapts optimally to its environment. Human beings can certainly guide and plan their fate to some extent, at least in the physical universe. Some scientists might consider randomness as part of the equation. Either it is a fact or it isn't. If species began with small populations susceptible to random natural acts, then it is hard to deny an element of the random in evolution. Genetics tells us that all living human beings had a single male ancestor. Genetics was not my favorite college subject, and I'm willing to concede competence to those who say this common father existed. Was this man ever near death? Did he have a sense of praying to God? Could that have saved him and enabled him to father children who populated the world? Such questions are beyond the realm of science. A scientist looking at the natural facts might see on the surface that it was sheer good fortune than human beings didn't die out on the African savannahs. A scientist of faith might attribute that fortune to God's protective hand. I would too. But attributions are not science, simply because they cannot be verified by observation of the physical universe. But that doesn't make God's hand of protection a matter beyond fact. Now at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human reason by proclaiming that the immanent design evident in nature is real. Scientific theories that try to explain away the appearance of design as the result of "chance and necessity" are not scientific at all, but, as John Paul put it, an abdication of human intelligence. This is a big stretch for the cardinal. Design is hard to prove; I don't see how it can be said to be "real," at least from the scientific view. If Intelligent Design is true, the debate, by definition, has moved off the science square and into the lap of the "soft" sciences. Science would have nothing to say about evolution if God decided to tweak DNA every few generations until he arrived at Adam and Eve. I think we can say that much of evolution has a direction, namely optimum adaptivity. That's how human beings genetically engineer their animals and plants of choice. Multiverses (parallel universes in which every possibility exists) are very much in the hypothesis stage, and not terribly relevant to the evolution debate. If they exist, God has a reason for them. But you don't begin with the premise that since "I find them incompatible" the Church finds them so, therefore God does too. This kind of backwards reasoning has tripped up Church leaders in the past. Like the best scientists, theologians need to confront the facts of the universe as they are discovered, affirm that God's creative hand was in it, then deal with the aftermath of theology, finding meaning for the person of faith and guiding the faithful from that point. People tell me Cardinal Schönborn is a great intellect. But wise leaders know when to step back from disciplines of which they have a scant or middling grasp. Why did the cardinal need to run his essay through a think tank? I'd have a higher respect for the man if he were to have submitted an opinion piece directly to the Times editors. If need be, consult his advisors in paleontology and cosmology ahead of time, then formulate a coherent and original opinion from there. Running an essay through the Discovery Institute looks plain bad. A smart person wouldn't have done it, no matter how much they knew about evolution and faith.
After Terrorism
(from Neil Dhingra)
I’d like to join Todd’s reflection on the documents of Vatican II. But, after this past week’s terrorism, I want to first reflect on the life of Brother Henri Vergès (I will be indebted to the work of Brother Martin McGhee, OSB). The Anglican Diocese of London’s webpage includes a prayer to Christ for those who are suffering that ends: “We ask that through your ministry of love and life, wounds of body and spirit may be healed and that in You people will find peace with God and peace with one another, for your truth and mercy's sake. Amen.” Brother Henri’s life might show us the true depths of that prayer. Henri was the son of a farmer in the French Pyrenees. He took final vows as a Marist in 1952 and desired to become a missionary. His superiors finally asked him to join the community in Algiers, where he arrived on August 6, 1969. After a great deal of bloodshed, France had officially left Algeria in 1962. 900,000 Christians also departed, leaving only a tiny remnant behind. As Br McGhee writes of Henri, “His challenge was to ‘reveal the face of Christ’ to his Muslim brothers and sisters in a country undergoing the birth pangs of independence after 132 years of French domination.” At first, Henri served as headmaster of a diocesan school. There was a community of five Marist brothers, but nearly all of the students and staff were Muslim. Proselytism was unthinkable. Henri had to witness to the Gospel through everyday actions – by showing a disciplined life of daily prayer, spiritual reading, and study. Another brother wrote that Henri’s life was marked by the virtues of “service, joy, simplicity, Marian piety, faith, dedication, humility.” Henri cultivated such a life, in his words, “so that these young people may sense through me a Presence which loves them and which calls them to be their best selves. … Christ must shine through us. The fifth Gospel which everyone can read is the Gospel of our lives.” At the very least, Henri thought, his witness could help the Algerian people “hold on to its personality and to its faith in the one God.” The Algerian government eventually nationalized all the Catholic schools in 1976, and, with one other brother, Henri applied to teach in the national school system. He was given a post in the small town of Sour-El-Ghozlane, 75 miles from Algiers. Eventually, his fellow brother left, and Henri was alone, “truly immersed in the humble life of the Algerian people.” As he wrote, “All the exterior trappings of power have disappeared: we are simply servants of everyone, without any more human security than in the past, but happy to find ourselves in the midst of a less well off population than in the capital. Our concern? To be a humble presence which witnesses to the Lord Jesus with whom we try, too imperfectly, to be in communion more and more, a presence which maintains and develops dialogue with our Algerian Muslim brothers, in a reciprocal discovery of our respective values.” Although he was living in solitude, Henri had been shaped by life in community, which had taught him that, “Rather than just tolerating others, we must try to find God’s gift to each individual so that we can marvel at it.” Henri tried to find God’s gift in his Muslim brothers and sisters. Henri had learned Arabic and possessed a good knowledge of the Koran. He thus had a deep respect for Muslim culture, which enabled him to develop an authentic sympathy and openness. Henri also knew that one could not engage in any religious dialogue without a profound sense of the truth, along with a desire to submit to the will of God. Henri saw that Muslims were attracted to him when they saw him pray, when they sensed the “mystery living in him.” As for himself, Henri wrote about his participation in an interfaith group, “His Spirit is there … It is He who, on occasion, makes our hearts beat as one. A deepening for me, in this contact with the Islam of the people, of the meaning of prayer, of the sovereignty of God and of brotherly welcome.” After twelve years, Brother Henri’s teaching contract was not renewed; he came back to Algiers and began to run a library and a social center. Over 1,000 students belonged to this library, where they found a place of peace and quiet. Many of them were from disadvantaged families; a majority of them were female. In his writings, Brother McGhee says, Henri kept mentioning the word “disponsibilite”: Henri was committed to being wherever the Holy Spirit and his order meant for him to be. Henri wrote, “The complete initiative must be left in the hands of the Lord, while trying without worry to discern His will in all circumstances and committing myself to it with all the potential which he has given to me. To be completely focused on what is given to me. To be completed focused on what it is given to me to live here and now.” So, when the fundamentalist Armed Islamic Group, entangled in civil war with the government, warned all foreigners to leave in December, 1993, Henri stayed. On Sunday, May 8, 1994, Henri was with Sister Paul-Hélène, who assisted him in his work. Three young fundamentalists were also there, disguised as policemen. One shot Henri in the face, and another shot Sister Paul-Hélène in the back of the neck. Henri had held out his hand to his murderer. At Tibhirine, a Cistercian monastery 40 miles from Algiers, Fr Christophe wrote in his diary about the martyrdoms; death had now become part and parcel of his own daily life. A month later, Fr Christophe wrote, “there is turbulence in the choir” and began to pray for the grace to overcome his own feelings of anger and desire for revenge. He remembered that, when he received the Eucharist, he was drinking “the Blood of non-violence.” “Your victory, Jesus, is not easy in me, in us. I am sure, Love: you win.” Fr Christophe’s throat was cut on May 21, 1996. The Bishop of Oran, Monsignor Pierre Claverie, OP, had angrily condemned the assassinations of Henri and Paul-Hélène. He too was expecting death. On August 1, 1996, he returned to Oran from Algiers and was met at the airport by a Muslim friend, Mohammed Bouchikhi, who had earlier found refuge with his siblings in Bishop Pierre’s presbytery. Mohammed had told Bishop Pierre, “I know that I am going to die but I am going to come because I love you.” There was a powerful explosion as the two crossed the threshold of the bishop’s house. Their blood, Muslim and Christian, was mingled together in death. May we remember all of them as we pray to Christ, “We ask that through your ministry of love and life, wounds of body and spirit may be healed and that in You people will find peace with God and peace with one another, for your truth and mercy's sake. Amen.”

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