This is one of the first articles I ever published. It appeared in a special issue of The Dunwoodie Review that represented a Festschrift in honor of Msgr. Myles M. Bourke.
April 16, 2015
November 25, 2014
November 15, 2014
33rd Sunday of the Year – November 19, 1972 – CNR
The first reading in this evening’s Liturgy isn’t obviously connected with the others. It sings the praises of a faithful and industrious housewife. If we don’t think it is the only way for a woman to show her worth, it does show her displaying a nice balance of care for her family and concern for the poor. And its final praise is perhaps especially worth mention in an age which seems to have inverted proper values: “Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Need I add that the same thing is true of men?
Of the other readings, the Gospel parable might be taken as an illustration of the final lines of Paul’s letter: “All of you are children of light and of the day. We belong neither to darkness nor to night; therefore let us not be asleep like the rest, but awake and sober!” The parable of the rich man who went off on a journey and left his servants sums of money to be kept for him, was originally told by Jesus as an indictment of the religious leaders of his time. They were like the man who had received the money and then gone and buried it, out of fear of losing what had been entrusted to him. He received the master’s condemnation. His audience would have understood Jesus to be criticizing the Scribes for hoarding for themselves the Word of God they were given to care for, burying it in their restrictive and legalistic interpretations, preventing it from being a life-giving force. It is a classic indictment of the fearful conservative, who is so afraid of losing what he has that he buries or imprisons it, and so in effect kills it.
September 20, 2014
25th Sunday of the Year – September 24, 1972 – St. Elizabeth’s, Manhattan
The parable told by Jesus in today’s Gospel, although it is familiar to us, is one we find it difficult to be comfortable with. I think normally we find ourselves sympathizing with the man who had worked all day, only to find another, who had worked only an hour, receive the same pay as he. That we are so moved is good, because it means we are involved in the story, and that, therefore, Jesus’ words to the man are also addressed to us.
The parable is a figure of our life before God. He is the owner of the estate, we are the workers, and the reward of the day’s wages is eternal life. We are not supposed to look for allegorical meanings in each of the different times the owner goes out recruiting workers, nor, even more, are we to read it in the light of death-bed conversions, although some of the resentment we may be tempted to on such an occasion reveals a good deal about the secret joys of our hearts. The point of the parable lies in the concluding dialogue, in the contrasting attitudes of the owner and the all-day worker. (more…)
June 27, 2014
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 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…)