Here is an essay, the fruit of a lot of research, that explains how it was that John Courtney Murray found his views, at least the views attributed to him, condemned as “erroneous” by the Holy Office and was then advised by his Jesuit superiors to pursue other areas of inquiry. “I suppose you may write poetry,” one of them wrote to Murray. Ten years after his silencing, of course, Murray was one of the major architects of Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.
June 27, 2014
June 26, 2014
The extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops was convoked by Pope John Paul II to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. I attended the Synod and wrote a couple of pieces afterwards. One appeared in French as the Introduction to a volume that gathered a great deal of documentation about the event. The original English can be found here: Introduction to Synode Extraordinaire
Another article appeared in Chicago Studies and can be found here: Notion of the Church at Synod 1985
Here is an essay on how the Church was conceived of as a communion in post-Reformation theology and at Vatican II.
April 19, 2014
Easter Vigil – March 28-29, 1964 – Santa Susanna, Rome
If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you shall appear with him in glory (Col 3:1-4).
These words of St. Paul are the Epistle of this evening’s Mass.
“This night has made us greater than we know” (Newman). What we have become this night only God’s Spirit fully knows; but “this is the Spirit we have received from God” (1 Cor 2:12), and he will help us understand what God has done for us this night.
Jesus Christ took up man’s condition before God: in “a form like that of our sinful nature” (Rom 8:3), in “the form of a. slave” (Ph 2:7). Living our life, he showed us both how great is God’s love for us and how we are to return it. In him we learn both what God is like and what man is like (Pascal), for they are one and the same in him. He became a slave, though he was Son, and underwent the slave’s most terrible bondage, death. And this night we discover that he has taken that bondage away, or rather transformed it, so that it is now the way to the freedom only God’s children possess. “This is the night,” as the Deacon sang, “Christ broke the bonds of death and rose victorious from the grave.” “And all the Christians of the world, this night sets free from earthly vice and sinful gloom, restoring them to grace, uniting them to holiness.”
For Christ’s “purpose in dying for all was that men, while still in life, should cease to live for themselves, and should live for him who for their sake died and was raised to life (2 Cor 5:15-16).” (more…)
April 18, 2014
Good Friday – March 31st, 1972 – CNR
This service in celebration of the Lord’s Passion unites the several aspects of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. The text from Isaiah gives the classic description of “the man of sorrows and acquainted with grief,’” “the lamb led to the slaughter,” bearing our infirmities, enduring our sufferings. With the 21st Psalm, it is the chief Old Testament text for a Christian’s meditations on the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.
The Liturgy refuses, however, to indulge in moaning recollection of Jesus’ suffering. (more…)
April 17, 2014
Holy Thursday – March 30, 1972 – Seminary
We celebrate in these holy days the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The passage of the Lord from death to life is the memory, and these rites are the act of remembering, that make us the people of a new covenant, a holy nation, God’s chosen people, proclaiming the mighty deeds of him who called us out of darkness into his own marvellous light. We recall the events in which Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, was made both Lord and Messiah, and in discovering our Lord, we discover ourselves as the Church.
As the New Testament readings for this service make clear, we attend upon the founding of the Church, the giving and the revelation-in-the-giving of what makes the Church the Church. For we hear in these readings of the service of the Lord. In the Gospel, we see Jesus, Teacher and Lord, rise from table and stoop to the service of his disciples. Peter protests, for as yet he does not understand; death and resurrection will make it clear what Jesus does. But when he persists in his protest, he is answered by the word of the Lord: “Unless I wash you, you will have no part with me.” As so often, Peter stands for the disciples, uncomprehending, still having to make their own transition from the way men think to the way God thinks, having now to accept their Lord in the form of a slave.
We are Peter, and we are not differently placed. (more…)
April 5, 2014
FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT – MARCH 28, 1993 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
With the scriptural readings we have heard today, we are already placed before the great mystery which we will celebrate two weeks from today, the triumph of Christ over death. Rarely do the Mass readings concentrate so clearly and so exclusively on a single theme, and today’s is the one around which our faith centers: resurrection.
It centers around resurrection, first, because Christianity arose out of a conviction that Jesus of Nazareth, the one who had been crucified, had been made Lord and Messiah in the Spirit that raised him from the dead. (more…)
March 30, 2014
4TH SUNDAY IN LENT – MARCH 25, 1990 – ST. PHILIP NERI, WABAN
As we move closer and closer to Easter, the Liturgy brings us ever deeper into the great Mystery which was realized in the death and resurrection of Christ and which became the mystery of our lives in our baptism. In today’s readings, we are invited into one of the great Easter themes: the dawning of light at the resurrection of Jesus and its shining forth into our transformed lives.
The symbolism is put to great effect in the reading from St. Paul: “There was a time when you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Well, then, live as children of light.” (more…)
March 22, 2014
3RD SUNDAY OF LENT – MARCH 18, 1990 – ST. PHILIP NERI
At first sight the readings we have heard today may appear not to have too much to do with one another. We have first the mysterious account of the water-producing rock in the desert, the beautiful and powerful description of basic Christian hope in St. Paul, and the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in the Gospel. But, particularly during Lent, the Church follows a logic in its choice of these readings, and a closer look will reveal linkages between the readings that point towards aspects of our Christian existence which the Church wishes us especially to focus on during Lent.
Let us begin with the Gospel account. It is a narrative typical of the literary and theological genius of St. John. (more…)
March 16, 2014
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT – FEBRUARY 24, 2002 – BLESSED SACRAMENT
The account of the transfiguration of Jesus stands out in Matthew’s Gospel; it is a unique epiphany between the revelations described in the account of Jesus’ birth and infancy and those that follow upon his resurrection. A host of biblical symbols are gathered. It takes place on a mountain, where God traditionally reveals himself; a bright cloud appears as in OT epiphanies; a voice is heard from heaven; the two greatest figures of the Old Testament are present, Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets; Jesus is transfigured, transformed. There could be no doubt in the minds of a Jewish reader of Matthew’s Gospel that a major encounter with God, a major revelation by God, is occurring. (more…)