03 December 2011

A Roman Rambling. . .

Just three more days in Rome. . .

There may be a sentimental bone somewhere in my body. . .maybe. . .however, moving from one place to another rarely sets it to aching.  In the last year, I've lived in two U.S. states and three countries, traveling approx. 30, 000 miles in the process.  It's hard to get weepy over another trip.

Though I usually despise packing/unpacking, this time around the process has been something of a minor joy.  Why?  Since I'm actually moving out of Rome rather than just traveling home for a visit, I'm being merciless in cleaning out my stores of Stuff.  Getting rid of Stuff is always en-lightening for me (sorry).  And this time is no exception.  There is one difference, however:  more than any previous move (the last one being in 2008), I'm determined not to accumulate excessive amounts of Stuff again.  We'll see how that goes when the next order to move comes.

One of the brothers remarked that packing for me must be easy since I don't have "knick-knacks."  He's right; I don't.  I have books instead.  But a Dominican w/o his books is like a Franciscan w/o his sandals and a Jesuit w/o his Scotch.  It's unnatural.  Most of my literature and theology books are in storage in Texas, so there will another culling sometime soon.   Right now, I'm giving books to friars here in Rome and to the university's library.  There's still plenty to pack.

Someone asked me recently what I will miss about Rome.  This was my honest answer:  the peace and quiet.  I know, I know. . .peace and quiet can be had anywhere but here I've been able to spend inordinate amounts of time in solitude, a rare thing for pastors and parochial vicars.  Busyness makes me crazy.  Deadlines, schedules, to-do lists, meetings, etc. give the impression of accomplishment and productivity but rarely is anything of real importance achieved.  The same is true for small group politics--something I am really not very good at!  I'm a gregarious introvert.  I can turn on the extrovert qualities when necessary, but then I need a day or two of introversion to recover.  Truly, I envy people who thrive on group interaction--parties, meetings, etc.--people who are energized and renewed while working and playing well with others.  Give me the one-on-one of spiritual direction, the confessional, the marriage prep, the tutorial, the seminar. . .

Anyway, I will miss Rome.  Her narrow, cobblestone streets upon which I invariably manage to twist an ankle.  Her indomitable gypsies and their ingenuous tactics for earning a euro.  Her very southern pace of daily life--what's the rush?  Her sensible yet inefficient attitude toward rules, schedules, and what we Americans think of as "common sense."  Her love of bella figura and her rejection of utilitarianism.  The heavy sense that history waits around every corner.  

Of course, I'm moving to New Orleans. . .not exactly the epicenter of American efficiency and the bourgeois work ethic.  Deo gratis!

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02 December 2011

On the magisterial authority of Vatican Two

From L'Osservatore Romano (Dec. 2, 2011)

The forthcoming 50th anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council (25 December 1961) is a cause for celebration, but also for renewed reflection on the reception and application of the Conciliar Documents. Over and above the more directly practical aspects of this reception and application, both positive and negative, it seems appropriate also to recall the nature of the intellectual assent that is owed to the teachings of the Council. Although we are dealing here with a well-known doctrine, about which there is an extensive bibliography, it is nevertheless useful to review it in its essential points, given the persistence - also in public opinion - of misunderstandings regarding the continuity of some Conciliar teachings with previous teachings of the Church's Magisterium.

First of all, it is not pointless to recall that the pastoral motivation of the Council does not mean that it was not doctrinal – since all pastoral activity is necessarily based on doctrine. But, above all, it is important to emphasise that precisely because doctrine is aimed at salvation, the teaching of doctrine is an integral part of all pastoral work. Furthermore, within the Documents of the Council it is obvious that there are many strictly doctrinal teachings: on Divine Revelation, on the Church, etc. As Blessed John Paul II wrote: “With the help of God, the Council Fathers in four years of work were able to produce a considerable collection of doctrinal statements and pastoral norms which were presented to the whole Church” (Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, 11 October 1992, Introduction).

Assent Owed to the Magisterium 

The Second Vatican Council did not define any dogma, in the sense that it proposed no doctrine with a definitive act. However, even if the Magisterium proposes a teaching without directly invoking the charism of infallibility, it does not follow that such a teaching is therefore to be considered "fallible" - in the sense that what is proposed is somehow a “provisional doctrine” or just an “authoritative opinion”. Every authentic expression of the Magisterium must be received for what it truly is: a teaching given by Pastors who, in the apostolic succession, speak with the “charism of truth” (Dei Verbum, n. 8), “endowed with the authority of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, n. 25), “and by the light of the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

This charism, this authority and this light were certainly present at the Second Vatican Council; to deny this to the entire episcopate gathered to teach the universal Church cum Petro and sub Petro, would be to deny something of the very essence of the Church (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 24 June 1973, nn. 2-5). 

Naturally not all the affirmations contained in the Conciliar documents have the same doctrinal value and therefore not all require the same degree of assent. The various levels of assent owed to doctrines proposed by the Magisterium were outlined in Vatican II’s Constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 25), and subsequently synthesised in the three clauses added to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in the formula of the Professio fidei published in 1989 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Blessed John Paul II.

Those affirmations of the Second Vatican Council that recall truths of the faith naturally require the assent of theological faith, not because they were taught by this Council but because they have already been taught infallibly as such by the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. So also a full and definitive assent is required for the other doctrines set forth by the Second Vatican Council which have already been proposed by a previous definitive act of the Magisterium.

The Council’s other doctrinal teachings require of the faithful a degree of assent called “religious submission of will and intellect”. Precisely because it is “religious” assent, such assent is not based purely on rational motives. This kind of adherence does not take the form of an act of faith. Rather, it is an act of obedience that is not merely disciplinary, but is well-rooted in our confidence in the divine assistance given to the Magisterium, and therefore “within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, 24 May 1990, n. 23). This obedience to the Magisterium of the Church does not limit freedom but, on the contrary, is the source of freedom. Christ’s words: “he who hears you hears me” (Lk 10:16) are addressed also to the successors of the Apostles; and to listen to Christ means to receive in itself the truth which will make you free (cf. Jn 8:32).  

Documents of the Magisterium may contain elements that are not exactly doctrinal — as is the case in the documents of the Second Vatican Council — elements whose nature is more or less circumstantial (descriptions of the state of a society, suggestions, exhortations, etc.). Such matters are received with respect and gratitude, but do not require an intellectual assent in the strictest sense (cf. Instruction Donum Veritatis, nn. 24-31).

The Interpretation of Teachings

The unity of the Church and unity in the faith are inseparable, and this also involves the unity of the Magisterium of the Church in every age, since the Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Divine Revelation transmitted by Sacred Scripture and by Tradition. This means, among other things, that an essential characteristic of the Magisterium is its continuity and consistency through history. Continuity does not mean an absence of development; down the centuries the Church deepens in her knowledge, in her understanding and, consequently, also in her magisterial teaching of Catholic faith and morals.

A number of innovations of a doctrinal nature are to be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council: on the sacramental nature of the episcopate, on episcopal collegiality, on religious freedom, etc. These innovations in matters concerning faith or morals, not proposed with a definitive act, still require religious submission of intellect and will, even though some of them were and still are the object of controversy with regard to their continuity with earlier magisterial teaching, or their compatibility with the tradition. In the face of such difficulties in understanding the continuity of certain Conciliar Teachings with the tradition, the Catholic attitude, having taken into account the unity of the Magisterium, is to seek a unitive interpretation in which the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the preceding Magisterial documents illuminate each other. Not only should the Second Vatican Council be interpreted in the light of previous Magisterial documents, but also some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council. This is nothing new in the history of the Church. It should be remembered, for example, that the meaning of important concepts adopted in the First Council of Nicaea in the formulation of the Trinitarian and Christological faith (hypóstasis, ousía), were greatly clarified by later Councils.

The interpretation of the innovations taught by the Second Vatican Council must therefore reject, as Benedict XVI put it, “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” while it must affirm the “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity” (Discourse, 22 December 2005). These are innovations in the sense that they explain new aspects which have not previously been formulated by the Magisterium, but which do not doctrinally contradict previous Magisterial documents. This is so even though, in certain cases — for example, concerning religious freedom — these innovations imply very different consequences at the level of historical decisions concerning juridical and political applications of the teaching, especially given the changes in historical and social conditions. An authentic interpretation of Conciliar texts can only be made by the Magisterium of the Church herself. Therefore, in the theological work of the interpretation of passages in the Conciliar texts which arouse queries or seem to present difficulties, it is above all necessary to take into account the sense in which they have been interpreted in subsequent Magisterial interventions. Nevertheless, there remains space for legitimate theological freedom to explain in one way or in another how certain formulations present in the Conciliar texts do not contradict the Tradition and, therefore, to explain the correct meaning of some expressions contained in those passages.

Lastly, in this regard, it does not seem superfluous to call to mind that almost half a century has passed since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and that in these decades four Roman Pontiffs have succeeded one another on the Chair of Peter. An assessment of the teaching of these Popes and the corresponding assent of the Episcopate to that teaching should transform a possible situation of difficulty into a serene and joyful acceptance of the Magisterium, the authentic interpreter of the doctrine of the faith. This must be possible and is to be hoped for, even if aspects that are not entirely understood remain. In any case, there remains legitimate room for theological freedom and for further opportune in-depth study. As Benedict XVI wrote recently: “the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past” (Benedict XVI, Motu Proprio Porta Fidei, 11 October 2011, n. 4).

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01 December 2011

Coffee Bowl Browsing

McDonald's outsmarts SanFran Food Nannies. . .I'm sure that was pretty easy.

Making the KKK boring by whitewashing its historical ties to the Democrats and progressive ideology.

To husbands:  your wife is not your mother. . .To wives:  your husband is not your girlfriend
OWS Colorado Springs gets outvoted by a mob. . .of course, the mob votes don't count b/c they didn't vote the Right Way.

Some excellent news on the vocations front. . .add our seminarians to your prayer list, please!

He doesn't like his job.  No worries. . .his boss is always looking for an opportunity to replace him.

Anti-Catholic bigot and crusader loses in court.

I'm with the lizard on this one. . .go to confession!

Caring Bear has a message for you.

Why is this funny?  I dunno.  It just is.

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30 November 2011

St. Pius X Press

A new Catholic publishing enterprise worthy of your time:  Saint Pius X Press!

From the "About Us" page:

“Despise not the discourse of them that are ancient and wise: but acquaint thyself with their proverbs.” (Ecclesiasticus 8:9)

St. Pius X Press is a start up company which was established recently in 2009. This began with two Catholic men who had a sizable Catholic library. Many of the books in this library are dated prior to the early 20th century.

Seeing the importance of preserving the Catholic heritage and culture in these days they strove with all of their energy and time to scanning and preserving these books. St. Paul tells us: “therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.” (II Thessalonians 2:14)

Some of these books may indeed contain imperfections. We are not perfect. We have a small but very dedicated staff (2 people). We are striving for the utmost perfection in quality. But you must consider too that we have so many books that need to be preserved. Imagine how heart broken we are when we cannot preserve a Catholic book. Tears are shed over the loss of one Catholic book. Tears are shed when old 100+ year old Catholic books are bought in garage sales. How little is the Catholic faith loved! Yet instead, many have abandoned the faith and therefore get rid of these precious treasures [. . .]

They have books, booklets, posters, and study guides.  And the catalog of available items is still growing.  

So, check them out.  

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Changes. . .they are a comin'

About this time next week (Dec. 7th) I will flying over the east coast of the U.S. heading toward Atlanta on my way to Nawlins'.

Given that my ministry in Nawlins' will be parochial vicar to a large suburban parish, I'm anticipating some changes in the content posted here at HancAquam.

The most immediate change will be the addition of homilies. . .remember those?  St Dominic's has two daily Masses and about four or five Sunday Masses.  That's a lot of preachin'.

The other change will likely be a reduction in the frequency or the outright disappearance of Coffee Bowl Browsing.  We'll have to wait and see if there's time to indulge this particular habit.

The last three years have been one long academic retreat with occasional breaks for teaching and parish work.  The next three years will be the exact opposite, assuming I can find a teaching job in Nawlins'.

Anyway, bear with me and pray for me.  As always, God bless, Fr. Philip Neri, OP.

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29 November 2011

Coffee Bowl Browsing

Consumerism vs. Occupyism. . .and the winner is. . .$$$.   

The Walking Dead:  a zombie apocalypse TV series crippled by endless Oprah-esque yammering.

This is what happens when Science Run Amok meets Morals Gone Astray.  Throw in some left-feminist political correctness in the courts and you've got a Disaster Writ Large.

And the Prize for Most Descriptive Blog Post Title goes to. . .Jimmy Akin!  Hilarious.

How armed robberies go in Texas. . .

8 days and counting. . .let's hope the Nannies can hold on to their Euro-fantasy until then.

Looks like the new missal translation had few problems. . .though the OP nuns of Summit, NJ flubbed a few times!  (NB.  I've celebrated Mass on that altar. . .great church and even greater sisters).

Speaking of the new translation. . .what are supposed to do with the old missals?  Burn 'em!

Little Missy chooses the Dark Side. . .I hope she got a cookie.

OK. . .I laughed at this. . .and now I feel bad. . .but not bad enough to skip it.

Italian plumbing. . .

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27 November 2011

The New Translation: how'd it go?

Let's hear about your experiences with the new English translation of the Roman Missal. . .The Good, the Bad. . .and the Ineffable!

I was really shocked to hear how many parishes/pastors have done little or nothing to prepare their people for the transition.  One would hope that this failure isn't some sort of self-fulfilling doomsday prophecy about the new translation:  "We told you it was going to be a disaster!"  

Anyway, my guess is that 99.99% of regular Catholic folks are going to be just fine with it.  

Let us know!

Update:  thanks to all of you who've shared your experiences with the new translations. . .I'm happy to hear that there were no riots.

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