"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

November 24, 2017

Toward a synodal Church

Filed under: Essays, Foundations in Ecclesiology — komonchak @ 8:42 pm

This is the paper I gave at a Vatican symposium devoted to re-thinking and re-structuring the Synod of Bishops, in February 2016. I attempt to identify the reasons why some cannot understand the need for synodality, co-responsibility at all levels.

JAK – Synodality

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October 29, 2017

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 3:16 pm

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

Some things never change. To illustrate the second of the great commandments stated by Christ in today’s Gospel, we heard an extract from the Book of Exodus. The events described in this, the second book of the Bible, date from around thirteen centuries before Christ and were first handed down in oral traditions which began to be written down and combined into a narrative some centuries later. The section from which our reading was taken is known to scholars as “the Book of the Covenant,” because it sets down prescriptions that embody Israel’s responsibility in the covenant, or pact, that God struck with her at the foot of Mt. Sinai. It may have become part of the book long after the Israelites entered the Promised Land, that is, around six centuries before Christ. In other words, we have listened to moral prescriptions, commandments, that are at least 2,500 years old, and were written for a land far away and a culture far different.

But, as I said, some things never change. It is not possible to hear those words without thinking about circumstances and challenges of our own time and place. Let’s look at the text closely, and allow me to illumine the prescriptions by citing a commentary on the Book of Exodus [by Martin Noth], published in Germany 75 years ago, that describes them as “aiming to protect those who are underprivileged in law, work and society (personae miserabiles)”.

And so we have, first: “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.” (more…)

October 22, 2017

Fr. Joseph N. Moody

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 3:44 pm

It was a great blessing in my life to have had Fr. Joseph N. Moody as a teacher, mentor, and, eventually, friend. Some years ago, I wrote this appreciation of him for dot-Commonweal, the blog which, unfortunately, has since been dis-continued for reasons that continue to escape me.

Fr. Joseph N. Moody was one of the great priests of the Archdiocese of New York in the last six or seven decades. Tall, athletic, and handsome, he was first encountered by most of us as a professor of modern history at Cathedral College, the minor seminary of the Archdiocese of New York. We knew him to be the nearly polar opposite, physically and ideologically, of another great character on the faculty there, Florence D. Cohalan. Fr. Moody was a passionate teacher who could come close to tears in describing a particularly dramatic moment in history. He took a great deal of interest in his students and actually sought their views on historical personages. He was also the only teacher whose language in the classroom occasionally betrayed his experience in the navy.

We were eventually to learn that Fr. Moody was an acknowledged expert on nineteenth-century French history, was a participant in the National Council of Christians and Jews, a vigorous defender of the rights of labor, and a champion of efforts on behalf of Negroes (as the word was then). He edited a 914-page volume, Church and Society. Catholic Social and Political Thought and Movements, 1789-1950 (New York: Arts,. Inc. 1953), many of whose chapters, including especially his on France, are still worth reading. He served as pastor in two parishes in the suburbs of New York City. He also taught at the College of New Rochelle and at The Catholic University of America. (Upon his death in 1993, a lovely appreciation of him appeared in the American Historical Review.)

During World War II, Fr. Moody served as a navy chaplain, and would receive citations for his service on the USS Massachusetts and the USS Yorktown. While at sea, he arranged for $50.00 to be sent to Commonweal every month so that its editors could send books from current reading lists. He sent a letter of thanks to the Editors which included this encomium:

The Commonweal is more valuable to me than ever before, for it keeps me informed, better than any other vehicle, in those areas that are of deepest significance. Each week, after reading my copy, I place it in the officers’ wardroom, and I have found that it is the only bridge we possess to reach the secularized American mind. Recently when our officers drew up a list of magazines they wished to obtain, they included The Commonweal, a striking testimony of its power to reach a segment of our reading public that would otherwise be untouched by things Catholic.

In March 1944, Commonweal published an article by Fr. Moody: Moody as naval chaplain , “Routine: Days in the Life of a Navy Chaplain,” which recounts with his typical combination of down-to-earth realism and hearty optimism the challenges and joys of his work with the men at sea. The whole piece is worth reading, but I draw attention to the last two paragraphs, which can usefully go into any account or appreciation of pre-conciliar Catholicism:

A census showed that the great proportion of Catholics aboard were more active in the practice of religion than they had been at home. The explanation is obvious: the intimacy with which the priest lives with them and his opportunity to influence their personal lives; the activity of lay apostles; the increased occasion for reflection that came in lives freed from all distraction. In practically all cases where a radical change for the better occurred, it was necessary to buttress it with a full course of instructions, for lack of religious training is the prime defect in our adult Catholic. Rarely was fear an important element, as modern naval war-fare is too impersonal to inspire terror, and men’s mental habits are too firmly grooved to be deeply affected thereby. The conviction was always present that although the spiritual results were gratifying, they could have been achieved by intensive missionary activity on Main Street, almost as well as aboard a man-o’-war.

The chaplain’s greatest help in bringing his men to God is the liturgy. The use of Father Stedman’s missal is universal among them, and the regularity of their attendance is increased by their growing appreciation of the beauty of the Sacrifice. They frequently aver that they had no concept of its meaning until they had learned to follow it intelligently. The numbers at daily Mass tripled once the “Missa Recitata” [jak: the “Dialogue Mass”] was introduced, and the response on Sunday was almost as noteworthy. There is little doubt that they were being prepared for a real interest in liturgical participation, which gives one hope that some abiding spiritual result may have been obtained from their experience aboard ship. At least in their religious life, the influence of routine was diminished. Coupled with the aid furnished by the Confraternity Home Study Courses and pamphlets, it was felt that a firm basis was afforded for their further religious development.

Here is the AHA tribute:

Monsignor Joseph N. Moody, professor emeritus of history at the Catholic University of America and a founding member of the Society for French Historical Studies, died in Statesboro, Georgia, on March 2, 1994. He was 89 years old.

A New York City native, he received his A.B. from St. Joseph’s Seminary in 1925 and his Ph.D. from Fordham University in 1934. His graduate major was classical history and literature, but he later switched to modern European history, doing postdoctoral work at Columbia University under Carlton J. Hayes.

Father Moody was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1929 and soon became renowned as one of the best preachers in the archdiocese. Additional responsibilities included teaching at Cathedral College and the College of New Rochelle, where he founded a labor school and acted as its first dean.

During this time, he started speaking out against the “vicious new” anti-Semitism. With strong backing from Cardinal Hayes of New York, he wrote an important pamphlet debunking anti-Semitic canards. He also gave a nationally broadcast speech attacking anti-Semitism at Madison Square Garden before Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and a large audience. For his efforts, B’nai B’rith honored him with its 1938 Human Rights Award. When war finally came, Father Moody, a naval reserve chaplain, was assigned to the Pacific theater, where he served with distinction on both the USS Massachusetts and the USS Yorktown. Later, he received both a naval and a presidential citation.

After 1945, he taught successively at Notre Dame College, in Staten Island, N.Y., Ladycliff College, in Highland Falls, N.Y., and Catholic University, where he became a full professor in 1965. He retired in 1975, but he loved teaching so much that he continued offering courses at Catholic for an additional year. Then he moved on to teach at the College of New Rochelle, Boston College, St. John’s Seminary, in Brighton, Mass., and, finally, Georgia Southern University. Countless students over the years remember him as a vibrant teacher who won their enduring affection and inspired them to a love for both history and rigorous scholarship.

Father Moody published a variety of books and pamphlets, including Church and State: Catholic Social and Political Movements, 1789–1950 (1953); The Church as Enemy: Anticlericalism in Nineteenth-Century French Literature (1968); and French Education since Napoleon (1978). He also contributed seminal articles to major historical journals and a steady stream of book reviews. A member of several professional associations, he was especially active in the Association of New York State European Historians, serving as president in 1960 and 1977; the Society for French Historical Studies, serving as vice president twice and president once (1969); and the American Catholic Historical Association, serving as president in 1978. Editorial commitments included acting as consulting editor for Church History, modern European history editor for The New Catholic Encyclopedia, and from 1965 until his death, associate editor of the Catholic Historical Review.

Father Moody continued to participate in history conferences even after his health began to decline. At the bicentennial conference on the French Revolution, in Washington, D.C., in 1989—his last conference—the Society for French Historical Studies awarded him a distinguished service medal.

Father Moody had a great many friends in the profession, all of whom fondly recall his enduring human qualities. A full list of these qualities could be given here, but perhaps the most important were his unfailing cheerfulness and his genuine concern for the careers of young historians. Father Moody will be greatly missed.
James Friguglietti
Montana State University at Billings
Sandra Horvath-Peterson
Georgetown University

July 23, 2017

Vatican II: Continuity and Discontinuity

In December 2005, Pope Benedict XVI devoted part of his Christmas talk to the Roman Curia to the interpretation, or hermeneutics, of the Second Vatican Council. His remarks, and especially his counter-posing of a “hermeneutics of rupture or discontinuity” to a “hermeneutics of reform,” were widely seen as a criticism of the so-called Bologna School and the five-volume History of Vatican II prepared by a team led by Giuseppe Alberigo. As a member of that international team, a contributor to two of the volumes, and editor of the English-language edition of the work, I took a special interest in the Pope’s remarks. Close analysis of the talk and in particular of his use of the Council’s teaching on religious freedom to illustrate the “hermeneutics of reform” convinced me that the Pope’s principal interest was not in rejecting the mythical Scuola bolognese, but in making an appeal to the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre for whom the Council’s text on religious freedom represented an unacceptable departure from the Church’s teaching on the matter. Here is the article in which I made this case:

JAK on Benedict XVI on VC2

Vatican II as an “Event”

Filed under: Vatican II — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 2:18 pm

In the continuing debate about the interpretation and evaluation of the Second Vatican Council, whether and, if so, in what sense, it can be said to have been an “event.” The debate often is a dialogue of the deaf because people often mean different things by “event” and differ also as to whether it should be understood in a theological or an historical sense. Here are two essays in which I explore the historiographical implications of seeing the Council as an “event” and argue against purely or even primarily theological notions of the matter.

JAK Vatican II as Event

Interpreting Vatican II Leuven 2010

 

May 22, 2017

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — komonchak @ 3:52 pm

Sixth Sunday in Eastertide – May 21, 2017 -St. John’s, Goshen

This year our second reading during Eastertide has been taken from the First Epistle of St. Peter, which is a writing that from beginning to end basks in the light and warmth of Easter. Last week we heard the recipients of the letter, who, of course, include us today, described as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people God claims for his own to proclaim the glorious works of the One who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people, but now you are God’s people.”

Between that exalted announcement and the passage we heard today, St. Peter set out the consequences for the lives of this new people of God as he described what their relationships should be like both within their community, in the larger civil society, and in their homes. (more…)

March 19, 2017

Third Sunday in Lent – 2017

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , — komonchak @ 11:41 am

Third Sunday of Lent – March 19, 2017 – St. John’s, Goshen

True, integral Christianity has two dimensions, one inner, one outer, and they are both represented in our New Testament readings today.

Our second reading was taken from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, a letter that is almost entirely devoted to the question of how we human beings can be in a right relationship to God. His premise is that all of us–whether Jews or Gentiles–have fallen short of what we should be as creatures and children of God, and that the recovery of a right relationship with God is impossible by our own efforts. This right-making was initiated by God and was accomplished by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it must be appropriated by each of us by an acknowledgment of our need, a confession of our sins, a surrender of ourselves in faith and obedience, all of it the gift of God’s Spirit transforming our minds and hearts.

This is what St. Paul has been describing: (more…)

April 10, 2016

The Ordination of Women

Filed under: Essays, Uncategorized — Tags: — komonchak @ 1:38 pm

In November 1975, a conference in Detroit on the ordination of women attracted over a thousand participants. One of the results was the determination to hold similar conferences around the country. In the Spring of 1976, an all-day meeting on the topic was held in the Borough of Queens, in New York City, and I was invited to speak at it.

I constructed my talk as a commentary on a document issued in 1973 by the Committee on Pastoral Research and Planning of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops that gave various arguments against ordaining women to the priesthood. I rapidly reviewed seven of those arguments and offered my opinion about them.

Meanwhile, the acts of the Detroit Conference were being prepared for publication. Someone alerted the editor, Sr. Anne Marie Gardiner, to my paper and she expressed a desire to include my talk in the volume, but because it was so late in the editorial process, it could appear only as an appendix to that book, Women and Catholic Priesthood: An Expanded Vision (New York: Paulist Press, 1976). My essay also appeared in The Catholic Mind, 75 (1977) 13-28.

It was to such movements, of course, that subsequent magisterial statements were to respond.

You will find the essay here: JAK – Ordination of Women

Third Sunday in Eastertide

Filed under: Homilies — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 12:15 pm

Third Sunday of Easter – April 22, 2007 – Blessed Sacrament

During the fifty days of Eastertide, which ought to have at least the same place in the awareness of Christians as the forty days of Lent, the Church tries to appropriate, make its own, realize, make real to itself the great blessings of the day which, as John Henry Newman said, “has made us greater than we know.” Easter is not the feast of the resuscitation of a corpse. It is the feast that marks the turning of the ages, that sets the great “Before-and-After” of human history, the end of the reign of sin and death, the triumph of love and life.
As usual we have an account of a resurrection-appearance of Christ. This one anticipates the life of the Church that will unfold in the future. (more…)

March 27, 2016

This is the Day the Lord has made!

Filed under: Homilies, Newman — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 5:53 am

Easter Alleluia

          And now, to conclude, for it is hardly befitting on this Day to speak much, when God has done His greatest work. Let us think of it and of Him. Let us rejoice in the Day which He has made, and let us be “willing in the Day of His Power.” This is Easter Day. Let us say this again and again to ourselves with fear and great joy. As children say to themselves, “This is the spring,” or “This is the sea,” trying to grasp the thought, and not let it go; as travellers in a foreign land say, “This is that great city,” or “This is that famous building,” knowing it has a long history through centuries, and vexed with themselves that they know so little about it; so let us say, This is the Day of Days, the Royal Day, the Lord’s Day. This is the Day on which Christ arose from the dead; the Day which brought us salvation. It is a Day which has made us greater than we know. It is our Day of rest, the true Sabbath. Christ entered into His rest, and so do we. It brings us, in figure, through the grave and gate of death to our season of refreshment in Abraham’s bosom. We have had enough of weariness, and dreariness, and listlessness, and sorrow, and remorse. We have had enough of this troublesome world. We have had enough of its noise and din. Noise is its best music. But now there is stillness; and it is a stillness that speaks. We know how strange the feeling is of perfect silence after continued sound. Such is our blessedness now. Calm and serene days have begun; and Christ is heard in them, and His still small voice, because the world speaks not. Let us only put off the world, and we put on Christ. The receding from one is an approach to the other. We have now for some weeks been trying, through His grace, to unclothe ourselves of earthly wants and desires. May that unclothing be unto us a clothing upon of things invisible and imperishable! May we grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, season after season, year after year, till He takes to Himself, first one, then another, in the order He thinks fit, to be separated from each other for a little while, to be united together for ever, in the kingdom of His Father and our Father, His God and our God.

John Henry Newman: “Difficulty of Realizing Sacred Privileges,”
Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 6, sermon 8)

       Let him easter in us,
be a dayspring to the dimness of us,
be a crimson-cresseted east.

G. M. Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” 35

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