20 August 2016

Brief Book Review: A Deeper Vision

When I teach Adult Lay Formation classes, I always get questions along these lines: "Father, how did X happen?" Or "Why did the Church start doing Y?"

I am challenged in answering these question by the fact that the answers are usually highly complicated and would require a couple of hours of explanation.

Why a couple of hours?

Because our faith (liturgy, canon law, theology, philosophy, etc.) are all intertwined. . .every question about X is rooted in several additional questions about A, B, C. . .W.

For example, "Why did the Church move the priest behind the altar to face the congregation after VC2?" I can't even begin to answer this question thoroughly until it's clear why the priest faced liturgical East in the first place. . .why we consider the Mass a sacrifice. . .the role of the priest in sacrifice. . .the move toward liturgical egalitarianism post VC2. . .etc.

One way for the laity to better prepare themselves as teachers and preachers is to read Robert Royal's latest book, A Deeper Vision: The Catholic Intellectual Tradition in the Twentieth Century.

What you get in this excellent book is an overview of how the Church thought about her faith from the late 19th century to the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI.

Some of the chapters will be tough going for regular Catholics (i.e., 99.99% of Catholics who don't spend their lives as academic theologians and philosophers). For example, he covers Rahner, von Balthasar, Ratzinger, and several other modern European theologians.

The chapters on the various and competing forms of 20th c. Thomism are fascinating but dense.

The chapter on the intellectual challenges and reforms of VC2 is spot on. He explores the major documents in some detail and covers the more controversial aspects of others. He's balanced here, but it is abundantly clear that he does not believe that the Council has been fully or properly implemented.

The chapter on Catholic biblical scholarship is a must-read for the laity.

The second half of the book is probably the most important for the laity in that it places the intellectual life (not just the academic life) of the Church squarely in the public sphere, challenging the laity to take up their charge to evangelize our secular culture.

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19 August 2016

Surgery Update

All is well!  I managed to waddle downstairs this morning for some Much Needed Coffee. . .

The Knee is fixed. Doc said that there was more damage than the MRI showed, so the operation took a little longer than normal. He had to go in from three different portals.

The anesthesiologist said that I took to the anesthesia like a pro. No problems there.

I'm sitting here with a Polar Care Kodiak machine wrapped around the knee to counter the swelling.

Because I am extremely susceptible to staph infections, they gave me an IV bag of my old friend, Vancomycin

With the Aleve and the Norco, I'm set for inflammation and pain management.

Classes at NDS start on Monday, so I'll be on crutches or a walker for a couple of days. 

Thanks for all the prayers! 

P.S. Bubba Sue, I talked to Mom this morning. . .she said you were worried, thus the update.  :-)


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14 August 2016

Help Him Set the World on Fire!

NB. My surgeon has ordered me to stop taking all anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.) a week before the surgery. I'm finding it difficult to stand for too long. . .so, a short homily this week.

NB 2.0. My surgeon's father, Pete Finney, Sr. died over the weekend. Please keep him in prayer.  

Audio File

20th Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP

Are you ready, willing, and able to help Christ set fire to the world?If you have entered his birth, death, and resurrection through baptism, then you are indeed able to help him. You have been made ready in the waters of baptism to stand before the world and bear witness to the power of the Father's mercy. But being ready and able is not the same as being willing. You have to want to set the world on fire with Christ. You have to want to stand out there and bear up under the questions, the ridicule, the temptations, the applause, whatever else the Enemy might send your way to break your will. If it's You out there, just You and your determination, just You and your will out there trying to bear up under what comes with living the Good News, then you bought failure before you left the house. You can stack the rules and rituals all around you. You can build up a tidy fort of logical arguments and historical data. You can dig a deep and wide moat of separation between yourself and the world. BUT if you want to help Christ set fire to the world with your witness, then you must first live as Christ lived. AND die to self as he did. . .for others.

Being ready, willing, and able to help Christ with his mission and ministry is just the beginning of our lives with him. Being followers of Christ does not make us immune to the same traps and errors that await men and women of other faiths or no faith at all. The author of Hebrews writes to admonish us, “. . .let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. . .” As we step out into the world to bring the world the Good News, we can be lured into a dangerous self-righteousness that slowly twists our hearts and minds back in on themselves and leads us to believe that we are the source of our goodness and strength. That I am the rock upon whom my faith is built. That I am the one who's setting the world ablaze with my zeal. Self-righteousness hides the burden of sin. And it prevents us from doing the work we have vowed to do. If I cannot surrender myself to Christ – sins and all – then I cannot be a faithful witness to the mercy he purchased for me. I cannot testify to having been made free. Without our freedom in Christ, without being a slave to Christ, we can only work for ourselves and our homemade righteousness. 

If you are willing to help Christ set fire to the world, then surrender yourself – body, soul, heart, and mind – to the mercy he freely gives you. Once freed from your burden of sin, you are free to tell the truth. And nothing burns the darkness of this world like the truth. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ so that you never move from the Way he has shown you. Nothing that Enemy can throw at you can move you. . .unless you want to be moved. So, make your witness, your testimony so much a part of your daily living that to be moved away from Christ means being moved away from everything and everyone you love. And when you are tempted or confronted or ridiculed “consider how [Christ] endured such opposition from sinners, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” Jesus asks his disciples, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?” His answer shocks us, “No, I tell you, but rather division.” He comes to divide us from our sin, from our self-righteousness, from our attachments to this world. He comes to divide us one from other in the world so that our unity might be rooted in him. Help him to set fire to whatever stands btw you and his peace.

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