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

March 20, 2019

De profundis

He brought me out of the pit of misery (Ps 39:3). What is the pit of misery? The depth of wickedness…. From where did he bring you out? From a certain depth. In another Psalm you cry out, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord” (Ps 129:1). Those who cry out from the depths, are not completely in the depths; their very cry is lifting them. Most deeply in the depths are those who do not even know they are in the depths. (Augustine, Enarr. in Ps 39, 3; PL 36, c. 434)

While Augustine is thinking here of the depths of sin, what he says is something those who have suffered from depression know only too well: “I’m not depressed–the world sucks.” To be able to cry out from the depths, to say one’s own “De profundis” is already to be rising from the deepest depths.  Perhaps alcoholics and people suffering from other addictions know it, too. Was the writing of what have been called his “terrible sonnets” a De profoundis for Gerard Manley Hopkins?

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap

May who ne’er hung there.

March 11, 2019

ADAM shattered

Filed under: Lent with St. Augustine, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — komonchak @ 10:53 am

The idea of the Fall as the shattering of an original unity was a major theme in Henri de Lubac’s great book Catholicism, whose original subtitle was “The Social Aspects of Dogma.” He wrote it in part to overcome the idea that Christianity was a religion simply for private individuals, for a few blessed souls. The very first words of the book are taken from a criticism of the Christian who is so focused on his own joy that “in his blessedness he passes through the battlefields with a rose in his hand.” De Lubac amassed a host of patristic texts to show sin as a splintering and redemption as the restoration of unity, to demonstrate that “Fundamentally the Gospel is obsessed with the idea of the unity of human society.” John Courtney Murray was inspired by de Lubac’s book when in the early 1940s he delivered two sets of lectures on the contribution that the Church can and ought to make to address what he would a little later call “the spiritual crisis in the temporal order.” This text of Augustine illustrates the theme.

He shall judge the world with equity (Ps 95[96]:13). Not just a part of it, because it was not just a part of it that he bought. He is to judge the whole because he paid the price for the whole. You have heard the Gospel that says that when he comes he will gather his elect from the four winds (Mt 24:31). He gathers all the elect from the four winds, that is, from all around the world. As I once said, the name “Adam” in Greek signifies the whole world. In Greek the four letters A, D, A, M are the first letters of the names for the four parts of the earth: Greeks call the east Anatole, the west Dusis, the north Arktos, and the south Mesembria. So there you have it: ADAM. Adam was strewn all over the world. He once was in a single place, but he fell and was shattered and filled the whole world. But God’s mercy has gathered the broken pieces from all over and fused them together with the fire of charity and made what had been broken one again. That Craftsman knows how to do that. Don’t despair. Yes, It’s a difficult work, but consider who the Craftsman is. It is the one who made it in the first place who re-made it; the one who originally shaped it has reshaped it. He shall judge the world with equity, and the peoples by his truth. (Augustine, EnPs 95, 15; PL 38, 1236)

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

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

February 16, 2016

Celibacy and Tradition

Filed under: Essays, Uncategorized — Tags: , — komonchak @ 3:51 pm

As the note on the page facing my page indicates, this essay originated as a study of the recent scholarly literature on the history of the discipline of sacerdotal celibacy.

JAK – Celibacy and Tradition

July 20, 2013

Martha and Mary (again)

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 1:52 pm

In tomorrow’s Gospel we pay our tri-annual visit to the home of Martha and Mary, just at the time they are playing host to that Jesus of Nazareth.  Last time, we had quite a conversation about what we witnessed and heard.  Has anything changed meanwhile?

Here’s what I made of it then: https://jakomonchak.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/martha-and-mary/

St. Martha’s feastday is coming up: July 29th.

May 13, 2013

Nanuet Fire Siren 1953-1954

During the last year of the Korean War (1953-1954), my father, Joseph B. Komonchak, edited a newsletter for members of the Nanuet Fire Department and other citizens of the hamlet who were serving in the military to keep them informed about doings in the Fire Department and elsewhere in Nanuet and indeed in Rockland County, N.Y. I have copied and scanned the issues of the newsletter, which provide a series of snapshots of local history in the early 1950’s. Most of them are easily legible, but some issues were mimeographed on colored paper and are more difficult to read. (more…)

May 26, 2012

Pentecost

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 9:58 am

Here is a lovely image of Pentecost, ca. 1230 in England, from the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.

April 8, 2012

Alleluia

Filed under: Lent 2012, Uncategorized — komonchak @ 9:12 am


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. (more…)

December 25, 2011

A Christmas Poem

Filed under: Uncategorized — komonchak @ 7:56 pm

THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.
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!

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: