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

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.