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

December 27, 2011

Vatican II: Fifty Years Later – 1

Filed under: Vatican II — komonchak @ 2:11 pm

Pope John XXIII solemnly convoked the Second Vatican Council in his apostolic constitution Humanae salutis, issued on Christmas Day 1961. It sets out the challenges the Church was facing at the time, the vitality with which the Church was facing them, the main purposes of the Council, and a working agenda for it.  Here is an English translation: Humanae salutis .


December 25, 2011

A Christmas Poem

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 7:56 pm

By Robert Southwell

Behold the father is his daughter’s son,
The bird that built the nest is hatch’d therein,
The old of years an hour hath not outrun,
Eternal life to live doth now begin,
The word is dumb, the mirth of heaven doth weep,
Might feeble is, and force doth faintly creep.

O dying souls! behold your living spring!
O dazzled eyes! behold your sun of grace!
Dull ears attend what word this word doth bring!
Up, heavy hearts, with joy your joy embrace!
From death, from dark, from deafness, from despairs,
This life, this light, this word, this joy repairs.

Gift better than Himself God doth not know,
Gift better than his God no man can see;
This gift doth here the giver given bestow,
Gift to this gift let each receiver be:
God is my gift, Himself He freely gave me,
God’s gift am I, and none but God shall have me.

Man alter’d was by sin from man to beast;
Beast’s food is hay, hay is all mortal flesh;
Now God is flesh, and lies in manger press’d,
As hay the brutest sinner to refresh:
Oh happy field wherein this fodder grew,
Whose taste doth us from beasts to men renew!

Augustine on Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 7:54 pm

Three texts from Augustine for our great feastday, already sent in separately on other occasions:

What praise of the love of God we should express! What thanks we should give! He loved us so that he through whom all time was made for our sakes came to be in time; he who in his eternity is older than the world became younger in age than many of his servants; he who made man became man; he was created from a mother he created; he was carried by hands he shaped, sucked breasts he filled, and the Word without which human eloquence is dumb squalled in a manger, dumb, unable to speak [in praesepi muta vagiret infantia Verbum , sine quo muta est humana eloquentia].

See what God became for your sake; learn the lesson of such great lowliness, learn it even from a teacher not yet able to speak. Once, in paradise, you were so fluent that you gave names to every living thing (Gen 2:19-20); but for your sake your Creator lay speechless, unable even to call his mother by her name. In that broad estate of fruitful trees you lost yourself by failing to obey; he obediently came as a mortal into a very narrow lodge in order by dying to seek you who had died. Although you were man, you wished to be God, and you were lost; he, although he was God, wished to become a man so that he might find what was lost. So deeply did human haughtiness press you down that only divine lowliness could raise you up. [Tantum te pressit humana superbia, ut te non posset nisi humilitas sublevare divina.]” (Augustine, EnPs. 188, 2-3; PL 38, 1004)

Word of God before all time, Word made flesh at the appropriate time; maker of the sun, made under the sun; disposing all the ages from his Father’s bosom, consecrating this day from his mother’s womb; remaining there, coming forth here; the creator of heaven and earth, born beneath heaven on earth; speechlessly wise, wisely speechless [ineffabiliter sapiens, sapienter infans]; filling the world, lying in a manger; ruling the stars, sucking at a breast; so great in the form of God, so small in the form of a slave, that the greatness was not diminished by the smallness, nor the smallness crushed by the greatness. (Augustine, Sermon 187, 1; PL 38, 1001)

And lest we counterpose Christmas and Easter, there is this from a Lenten sermon:

Eleemosyna, our word for alms, is Greek for “mercy” or “pity.” What greater pity could be shown to the piteous than the mercy that brought the creator of heaven down from heaven and clothed the maker of earth with an earthly body, that made him who was equal to the Father in eternity equal to us in mortality, that lay the form of a slave on the Lord of the world, so that bread hungered, fullness thirsted, strength became weak, health was wounded, and life died? And all this so that our hunger would be fed, our dryness watered, our weakness comforted, our wickedness extinguished, our charity set afire. What greater mercy than that the creator be created, the Lord serve, the redeemer be sold, the one who raises be lowered, the one who revives be killed? We are commanded to give alms, to give bread to the hungry (see Is 58:7); he, in order to give himself to us in our hunger, first handed himself over for us to those who raged against him. We are enjoined to receive strangers; he for our sake came to his own and his own did not receive him (Jn 1:11). So let our soul bless him who forgives all its iniquities, who heals all its diseases, who redeems its life from destruction, who crowns it with mercy and compassion, who satisfies its desires with good things (see Ps 102:3-5). Let us, then, continue at our works of mercy all the more eagerly and all the more constantly the closer comes the day on which the mercy shown to us is celebrated. A fast without mercy is useless to the one fasting. (Augustine, Sermon 207, 1: PL 38, 1043)

All the blessings of Christmas to you all!

December 23, 2011

“See how much God has loved us!”

Filed under: Homilies — komonchak @ 8:02 pm

Christmas – 20009 – St. John’s, Goshen

Over the last ten days or so, I have been reading the Christmas sermons of St. Augustine. As you may know, he was the bishop of Hippo, a small city in northern Africa, for about forty years until his death there in the year 428. He was one of the great minds in the history of Christianity and wrote important works on the Trinity, on grace and freedom, on the Church, and on the relationship between the Church and the world (“The City of God”). He is the author of the first known autobiography, “The Confessions,” a celebration of the operation of grace in his life.
But he was first of all a pastor to his people to whom he preached on average probably two or three times a week. (more…)

December 17, 2011

From above and from below

Filed under: Homilies — komonchak @ 2:56 pm

Fourth Sunday in Advent – December 18, 2011 – St. John’s

We are at the threshold of our celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior. The opening antiphon for this Mass quotes from the prophet Isaiah: “Shower, o heavens, from above, and let the skies rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth, and let it cause righteousness to spring up” (Is 45:8). This already anticipates the mystery of the Incarnation: God’s gift of his Son descends and accomplishes in Jesus Christ the full flowering of creation, of our humanity–heaven and earth meeting in the Word made flesh. The old liturgy for this fourth Sunday of expectation had this opening prayer: “Stir up your might, O Lord, and come, and help us by your great power.” (more…)

December 11, 2011

Comments are welcome

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 8:09 pm

I just want to make it clear that comments on my postings are welcome, with the usual exhortations, of course, to courtesy and charity….


Filed under: Homilies — komonchak @ 10:07 am

Third Sunday in Advent – December 11, 2011 – St. John’s

We all know that the Bible was not written in the cool, logical, technical, theoretical language of a scientific, philosophical, or theological treatise, whose primary purpose is to convey information or to pursue a careful argument to an established conclusion. The authors of such works disappear behind their language since their purpose is to describe or explain, not how things are in relationship to us, but how they relate to one another. An objectivity is sought that may mask, even to the scientific or scholarly authority, the subjectivity that achieves it.
The Bible is entirely different. (more…)

December 6, 2011

At the front of the line

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 11:54 am

My godmother has died, my uncle’s wife, at the age of 96, the last member of their generation, my parents’ generation. We–brothers and sisters and cousins–are now next in line. In fact, one sister and two brothers-in-law, as well as several cousins, are already gone, as well as a lovely niece, from the next generation. Linda Pastan has two poems that convey some sense of what we are feeling. The second of them, The Last Uncle, provides the title of a collection of her poems that has much on relations among generations.

For a Parent
By Linda Pastan

Move to the front
of the line
a voice says, and suddenly
there is nobody
left standing between you
and the world, to take
the first blows
on their shoulders. (more…)

December 5, 2011

Benedict XVI on the interpretation of Vatican II

Filed under: Vatican II — komonchak @ 12:01 pm

JAK on Benedict links you to an article in which I offer a close analysis of Pope Benedict XVI’s speech to the Roman Curia in which he contrasted “a hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture” to “a hermeneutic of reform” and espoused the latter as acknowledging in the Council “continuity and discontinuity at different levels.”   And here is a shortened version of it that was published in America.

December 4, 2011

Can the magisterium admit error?

Filed under: Essays — komonchak @ 2:37 pm

This essay was printed as: “Renewing Authority: The Lesson of Dei verbum,” Commonweal, 76 (November 19, 1999) 21-22.

Once, when Fr. Myles M. Bourke, former Professor of Sacred Scripture at Dunwoodie, the major seminary of the Archdiocese of New York, was presenting an interpretation that denied the complete historical character of a scriptural passage, a student in the back of the class made a sound like that of a page being ripped from a book. A couple of years later, Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, head of the Holy Office, tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Francis Cardinal Spellman to remove Bourke from the seminary faculty because of his interpretation of the infancy-narrative in Matthew’s Gospel. A few years later, a New York priest unhappy with developments in Catholic biblical scholarship noticed a copy of the slim journal entitled The Bible Today and asked a colleague, “Is that all that’s left of that great big book?” (more…)

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