"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Please Welcome David Meyer and his Family

In June I posted a note here that David Meyer had decided to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. Tomorrow (Dec 19), he and his wife and children will be received at Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park, MN. Please go to his blog and congratulate and welcome him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

St. Josaphat and the Internal and External Unity of the Church

St. Josaphat of Polotsk

Today is the feast day of St. Josaphat of Polotsk, an Eastern Rite bishop who gave his life for the unity of the Church on this day in 1623. (Read an account of his martyrdom here.) The following is an excerpt from the Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Dei, promulgated on this day in 1923 by Pope Pius XI in commemoration of St. Josaphat. In this excerpt we see the nature of the unity Christ established in His Church.

The Church of God, by a wondrous act of Divine Providence, was so fashioned as to become in the fullness of time an immense family which embraces all men. The Church possesses-a fact known to all-as one of its visible marks, impressed on it by God, that of a world-wide unity. Christ, Our Lord, not only entrusted to His Apostles and, to them alone, the mission which He had received from His Father when he said: "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations;" (Matt. xxvii, 18, 19) He also wished the College of Apostles to possess perfect unity, a unity based on a twofold and well-knit bond, one bond internal, that of the selfsame faith and charity which is "poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost" (Romans v, 5); the other external, that of the rule of one of the Apostles over all the others, for He conferred upon Peter a primacy over the Apostles as a perpetual principle and visible foundation for the Church's unity. At the close of His mortal life, he impressed upon the Apostles in the strongest possible terms the supreme need of this unity. (John xvii, 11, 21, 22) In His last soul-stirring prayer he asked His Father for this unity and His prayer was heard: "He was heard for his reverence." (Hebrews v, 7)

The Church was born in unity and grew into "a single body," vigorous, animated by a single soul, of which "the head is Christ from whom the whole body is compacted and fitly joined together." (Ephesians iv, 15, 16) Of this body, following the reasoning of St. Paul, He is the visible head who takes the place of Christ here upon earth, the Roman Pontiff. In him, as the successor of St. Peter, the words of Christ are being forever fulfilled: "Upon this rock I will build my Church." (Matt. xvi, 18) And the Pope who, down the ages, exercises the office which was bestowed upon Peter never ceases to confirm in the Faith, whenever it is necessary, his brethren and to feed all the sheep and lambs of the Master's flock.

No prerogative of the Church has been assailed more bitterly by "the enemy" than this unity of government, by means of which the "unity of the Spirit" is joined "in the bond of peace." (Ephesians iv, 3) It is quite true that the enemy has never, and never will, prevail against the Church. He has, however, succeeded in wresting from her bosom many of her children, and in some cases, even whole nations. These great losses were brought about in many instances by the wars which divided nations, by the enactment of laws inimical to the interests of religion and of virtue, or by an unbridled love for the passing goods of this world. (continue reading Ecclesiam Dei)

St. Josaphat, pray for us, that all those who seek to follow Christ would be reconciled in full and visible unity. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Lutheran Theology Professor and an Anglican Priest become Catholic

Rev. Giles Pinnock
Dr. Michael Root

Recently Dr. Michael Root, Professor of Systematic Theology at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, announced that he will be received into the Catholic Church.

And today Giles Pinnock, Vicar of St Mary-the-Virgin, in Kenton, announced his intention to pursue full communion with the Catholic Church. (See also here.)

H/T Jeffry Steel

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Barrett Turner's "Pelagian Westminster?"

Barrett Turner

I recommend this essay by Barrett Turner. Barrett completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia. This Spring he graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary with an M.Div. This Fall he will be pursuing his doctorate in moral theology at the Catholic University of America. He lives with his wife and son in Alexandria, Virginia. They were members of the Presbyterian Church in America until they were received into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil this year. In this essay he shows the Pelagian character of the Covenant of Works apart from infused grace.

Continue reading

Sunday, June 20, 2010

David Meyer and Christopher Lake seek full communion with the Catholic Church

Yesterday Christopher Lake and David Meyer independently announced their intention to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. Christopher was raised in the Catholic Church but has been a Protestant for fifteen years. David has never been Catholic; he has been a Reformed Protestant the past ten years.

Christopher wrote:

On Tuesday of this now-almost-past week, I met with a wonderful, orthodox, kind, wise, 80-year-old Catholic priest (with age, indeed, comes much wisdom!) and expressed my desire to return to the Church. We talked for 90 minutes, every single one for which I very grateful to God. Lord willing, he will hear my confession as soon as it can be arranged– and then, soon after, the Eucharist, the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of the one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
David wrote a letter to the session of his PCA church explaining his decision. He posted his letter at New Christendom. Toward the end of his letter he writes:

The Catholic Church is the only option left. In many ways it is a bitter pill to swallow for me. I have been very critical of Catholic doctrine as a Protestant. Much that they believe I am not inclined to believe. But I will have to submit to the mind of what I must believe is the church Christ founded.
Read the rest of David's letter.

Please welcome them and pray for them.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How John Calvin Made me a Catholic

John Calvin
Dr. David Anders received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 2002, in Reformation history and historical theology. He was received into the Catholic Church in 2003. He has recently written an article titled "How John Calvin Made me a Catholic." He will be on EWTN Live on June 23rd, 7:00 pm Central (8 EST), and may be discussing some of the material from this article.

(Continue reading)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pentecost, Babel, and the Ecumenical Imperative

"But as the old Confusion of tongues was laudable, when men who were of one language in wickedness and impiety, even as some now venture to be, were building the Tower; (Genesis 11:7) for by the confusion of their language the unity of their intention was broken up, and their undertaking destroyed; so much more worthy of praise is the present miraculous one. For being poured from One Spirit upon many men, it brings them again into harmony." (St. Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration 41)

(Continue reading)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood

Tim Troutman has just published an article at Called To Communion. The article is titled "Holy Orders and the Sacrificial Priesthood." He writes:

At the heart of the separation of Catholics and Protestants lies a disagreement about the ecclesial hierarchy. Who are the rightful shepherds of Christ’s flock? This article will examine the Catholic Church’s doctrine of the sacrificial priesthood, and in doing so, will lay the foundation for our subsequent discussion on the critical issue of apostolic succession. We will argue for the following four claims. The hierarchical difference between the clergy and the laity was ordained by God and is supported by the Biblical data. The distinction between presbyters and bishops existed from apostolic times and was intended by Christ. Christian ministers are ordained into a visible priesthood that is distinct from the general priesthood of all believers. Finally, Holy Orders is a sacrament.

(continue reading)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An opportunity to study orthodox Catholic theology

At Called to Communion I posted a link to two lectures recently given by Professor Lawrence Feingold on the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon. As usual, these lectures are outstanding both historically and theologically. In my opinion, Professor Feingold is one of the premier Catholic theologians in the United States. (See the latest issue of The Thomist for responses to his book The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters.) And yet his lectures are clear and accessible even to those with very little theological training. This, in my opinion, is an additional mark of a good theologian.

If you are looking for an opportunity to deepen your understanding of Catholic theology or become qualified to take on some pedagogical role of service in your diocese or parish, and would like to study under Professor Feingold and other well qualified and orthodox Catholic theologians, consider taking classes in the Institute for Pastoral Theology (IPT) through Ave Maria University. The IPT is currently accepting applications for the Master of Theological Studies degree program for classes beginning in August 2010. Classes meet one weekend per month in various locations around the US, ten months each year. Deadline for applications is June 1, 2010. For further information, visit their web site at www.ipt.avemaria.edu.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hadley Arkes becomes Catholic

Hadley Arkes and Michael Novak
In October of 2008 I sat in a large room in Boston College and listened to probably the wittiest-yet-substantive lecture I have ever heard. The lecturer was Hadley Arkes, the Edward Ney Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions at Amherst College, prolific author and frequent contributor to First Things. This past Saturday in Washington D.C., Hadley, who is Jewish, was received into the Catholic Church. Read more here and here.

UPDATE: Hadley tells his story here.

Photo courtesy of Frank Beckwith.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Five years ago today

Five years ago today, I decided to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. This was three days after Pope Benedict's election as the 265th successor of St. Peter, and two days after Pope Benedict, in his first message as Pope, said the following:

Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Lk 22: 32).

With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty. He is aware that good intentions do not suffice for this. Concrete gestures that enter hearts and stir consciences are essential, inspiring in everyone that inner conversion that is the prerequisite for all ecumenical progress.

Theological dialogue is necessary; the investigation of the historical reasons for the decisions made in the past is also indispensable. But what is most urgently needed is that "purification of memory", so often recalled by John Paul II, which alone can dispose souls to accept the full truth of Christ. Each one of us must come before him, the supreme Judge of every living person, and render an account to him of all we have done or have failed to do to further the great good of the full and visible unity of all his disciples.

The current Successor of Peter is allowing himself to be called in the first person by this requirement and is prepared to do everything in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. Following the example of his Predecessors, he is fully determined to encourage every initiative that seems appropriate for promoting contacts and understanding with the representatives of the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Indeed, on this occasion he sends them his most cordial greeting in Christ, the one Lord of us all.

Pray to God that many young men and women would rise to this call, and join with Pope Benedict in rebuilding the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers, through the charitable pursuit of truth and peace in Christ. May this be our ambition, and our impelling duty. May the heart of the Shepherd be the heart of Christ's sheep. As Pope Benedict said, each of us will come before Christ to give an account to Him of all that we have done or have failed to do to further the great good of the full and visible unity of all His disciples. May our labor of love now be such that on that Day we are not ashamed.

Video H/T: dans la tradition

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Michael Spencer (1956-2010) R.I.P.

Michael Spencer
I learned last night that Michael Spencer (aka IMonk) has passed from this life into the next. He began suffering symptoms less than a month after our interview in November, and was diagnosed with cancer right before Christmas.

I didn't know Michael well. Over the past two years, he occasionally commended or criticized things I wrote, and from time to time I did the same to some of the things he wrote. But, it was clear to both of us, I think, that under the disagreements, there always remained a mutual respect, and a mutual recognition of a shared faith in Christ. My experience with him through the interview only confirmed that. He was a gracious gentleman to me. From my point of view, Michael was a kind of visionary. He saw the problems in Evangelicalism that few inside seem to see, and he had the courage to look for solutions outside of what he called the "evangelical wilderness." What I said about him at the time of the interview is this:

Especially over the last year or so Michael has been doing things that no other prominent Evangelicals (that I know of) are doing. It might be called an honest and transparent self-examination of Evangelicalism, seeking to determine its strengths and its weaknesses, its identity and its future. He's not doing it to be critical, but to save it. The fascinating part of this endeavor, from my point of view, is that in seeking to understand and preserve Evangelicalism, Michael, in a sense, has flung open the doors to receive insight from other Christian traditions. And that has begun an ecumenical conversation. Such conversations can easily devolve into ugliness, especially on the internet. But Michael runs a tight ship, and so has fostered a safe context in which these discussions can take place. The result is often that Baptists and Lutherans and Calvinists and Catholics and Pentecostals and Orthodox and Anglicans are all talking to each other in a friendly, respectful way, about their theology and practice. In this respect, what Michael is doing ecumenically is pioneering. So I'm grateful for his invitation to contribute to the discussion.

Michael, thank you for all you did. You will be missed.

Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine; et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace. In nomine Patris et fillii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tom Brown comes home

Regular readers of this blog know my friend Tom Brown (who also goes by 'Thos'), who has commented here for several years, and runs his own blog titled Ecumenicity, and is an editor at Called To Communion.

Tom and his family are being received into full communion with the Catholic Church tonight at the Easter Vigil. The Archdiocese of Seattle has the story.

To welcome and congratulate Tom and his wife, go here and leave a note in the combox.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Telegraph: 100 US Anglican parishes to enter the Catholic Church

Telegraph: 100 US Anglican parishes to enter the Catholic Church

Each of the bishops of the Anglican Church in America have made this request to the Holy See, but apparently each individual parish must decide whether to accept it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Adoro Te Devote

  1. Adoro te devote, latens Deitas,
    Quæ sub his figuris vere latitas;
    Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit,
    Quia te contemplans totum deficit.
  2. Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur,
    Sed auditu solo, tuto creditur:
    Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius:
    Nil hoc verbo veritatis verius.
  3. In cruce latebat sola Deitas;
    At hic latet simul et humanitas:
    Ambo tamen credens, atque confitens,
    Peto quod petivit latro pœnitens.
  4. Plagas sicut Thomas, non intueor,
    Deum tamen meum te confiteor:
    Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
    In te spem habere, te diligere.
  5. O memoriale mortis Domini,
    Panis vivus vitam præstans homini,
    Præsta meæ menti de te vivere,
    Et te illi semper dulce sapere.
  6. Pie pellicane Jesu Domine,
    Me immundum munda tuo sanguine,
    Cujus una stilla salvum facere
    Totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.
  7. Jesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio,
    Oro fiat illud quod tam sitio,
    Ut te revelata cernens facie
    Visu sim beatus tuæ gloræ.
  1. Devoutly I adore Thee, O hidden God,
    Truly hidden underneath these veils:
    To Thee my whole heart submits,
    Since in contemplating Thee it completely fails.
  2. Sight, touch, and taste, about Thee are deceived,
    But hearing only is sufficient to believe;
    I believe everything that God the Son has spoken;
    Nothing than this Word of Truth is truer.
  3. On the Cross only Thy Divinity was veiled,
    Here Thy humanity lieth hidden too;
    Yet both I believe and confess,
    I ask that, which asked the contrite thief.
  4. Thy wounds, not as Thomas do I see,
    But I confess Thee as my God:
    Make me more and more to believe in Thee,
    To Hope in Thee, and love Thee.
  5. O Memorial of the Lord's death,
    Living Bread, that givest life to man;
    Grant my soul on Thee to live,
    And always Thy sweetness to taste.
  6. Tender Pelican, Lord Jesus,
    Wash me clean in Thy blood,
    Of which a single drop can save
    the whole world from all that defiles.
  7. Jesus, whom now I see hidden,
    I ask, grant that for which I so thirst,
    That on seeing Thee face to face
    I may be happy in the vision of Thy glory.

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, 2010. (The words of Adore Te Devote are about Christ in the Eucharist.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

St. Thomas Aquinas on the Unity of the Church

Today, on this eighth and last day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we will look at what St. Thomas Aquinas says about the unity of the Church, drawing from his commentary on the Apostles’ Creed in his catechism, his Summa Contra Gentiles and his Summa Theologica. (Continue reading)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

St. Francis de Sales: Reconciling Calvinists to the Catholic Church

Today, the seventh day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, (1567-1622), bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church.

In 1594 he volunteered to go to Le Chablais, south of Geneva, where the population had become Calvinist and separated from the Catholic Church. The encyclopedia article explains St. Francis' subsequent activity:

He journeyed through the entire district, preaching constantly; by dint of zeal, learning, kindness and holiness he at last obtained a hearing. He then settled in Thonon, the chief town. He confuted the preachers sent by Geneva to oppose him; he converted the syndic and several prominent Calvinists. At the request of the pope, Clement VIII, he went to Geneva to interview Theodore Beza, who was called the Patriarch of the Reformation. The latter received him kindly and seemed for a while shaken, but had not the courage to take the final steps.

Through his work in this region over the course of four years (from 1594 to 1598), 72,000 Calvinists were brought back into the Catholic Church. When he initially went from house to house to talk with the Calvinists, they refused to talk with him or even listen to him. So he started writing pamphlets, and slipping them under doors in the villages and towns. Those pamphlets have been collected into the book now published under the title: The Catholic Controversy: St. Francis de Sales' Defense of the Faith.

One of the more important points in these pamphlets is that the Church comes from the Apostles, as the Apostles come from Christ, and as Christ comes from the Father. The Father sent the Son. The Son authorized and commissioned the Apostles. The Apostles authorized and commissioned the bishops. And these bishops authorized and commissioned bishops. This is a top-down transmission of divine authority and mission, from the Father to Christ, from Christ to the Apostles, and from the Apostles to the bishops they ordained. Only those persons authorized and sent by the Apostles should be received by Christians as rightful shepherds, and thus only those authorized and sent by the bishops sent by the Apostles should be received by Christians as rightful shepherds. We should not follow those who are self-sent, or self-appointed, for such persons are not authorized by Christ to shepherd the Lord's sheep. Anyone can claim to be authorized, but only those who have been authorized by those whom the Apostles authorized are actually authorized. The Calvinists were following self-appointed men who were not authorized to speak for the Church. St. Francis taught that these men had not entered the sheepfold by the door, but were climbing in some other way.

St. Francis explained that the unity of the Church derives directly from the unity of Christ Himself, through a continuous organic relation to the incarnate Christ, by holding to the shepherds who have authorization from the Apostles. Just as an organism grows, so by apostolic succession the Church retains within itself the unity it received directly from the incarnate Christ, its Head. "We are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies ...." (Ephesians 4:16)

The bust at right is located on the west side of the Saint Louis Cathedral Basilica.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Canon Question

How do we know which books belong in the canon of Scripture? In what way do we necessarily depend upon the Church in order to answer this question? If the Church has the authority to determine the canon of Scripture, what does this entail regarding the Church's authority to determine the authentic interpretation of Scripture? What difficulties face the sola scriptura position regarding the Canon Question? Tom Brown posted a challenging and well-researched article today that addresses the Canon Question in relation to the Protestant-Catholic dialogue. Read it here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Club Church

"One altar/sacrifice/bishop forces the breaking down of those barriers that we naturally erect (along ethnic lines and nationalist lines and class lines and …) as a function of the sin that expresses itself not just in Gen 3 but quite fundamentally in Gen 10. Otherwise the church is built-bottom up in our own image (or our collective, ethnic, nationalist … image), and becomes a club for those who associate with others who think like them and act like them (…), others whom they’d be comfortable associating with in any case, and fails utterly to appreciate the radical newness and inclusiveness of the religion centered around the Gospel."

- Neal Judisch, professor of philosophy at the University of Oklahoma.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Seeing Schism as Schism

Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

When a sin becomes sufficiently commonplace, we tend to lose the ability to see it for what it is. It becomes merely something that 'everyone does.' We lose sight of its evil, and take it for granted. It blends into the background of our daily lives. And when we no longer see it as evil, we no longer labor to eliminate it. We refer it to fallen 'human nature,' whose only cure is the Second Coming. We might even mock those who work against it, treating them as foolish idealists.

What is true of sin in general is also true of schism. The fact of schism has become so commonplace that very few recognize it for what it is. It is as if schism simply disappeared, one of those evils of long ago, but one which has no referent or application among us today. It disappeared by becoming ubiquitous and ordinary. We swept schism under the rug of diversity, making the fact of division the new unity. We think nothing of there being Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Pentecostal, Independent, Seventh Day Adventists, ... etc., etc., buildings on each block. We look at them and think that's the way it is supposed to be. We do not think, "Wow, look at all the schism." That's not how we see. Schism is so normal that we don't see it as schism.

The first step in overcoming an evil is recognizing it as an evil. And the first step in overcoming schism, is seeing it for what it is, seeing our divisions as divisions. May God give us the eyes to see.

Pray the prayer for the first day of the Octave.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's pull together for the people of Haiti

Let's pull together for the citizens of Haiti, who just endured a devastating earthquake. Donate at Catholic Relief Services, or Food for the Poor, or the American Red Cross, or World Vision, or Samaritan's Purse.

Photo credit: (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Is Rome the True Church?

Norman Geisler and Joshua Betancourt published a book by that title in November of 2008, arguing over the course of 240 pages that the answer to that question is "No." But it was brought to my attention today that Joshua Betancourt has since been received into the Catholic Church. See here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Holy Theotokos, please pray for the full unity of those who love your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.