Papist Orthodoxy

October 29, 2009

THE DOMESTIC CHURCH (PART 1)

Filed under: Doctrine, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 10:53 pm

A priest at the seminary for the Fraternity of St. Peter said to me, “Families are the future of the Church.” Fr. Berg, the Superior General of the Fraternity of St. Peter, said on the same day that all that the seminary does is to refine in a few years what the families have been doing for 18+ years — that the families did all the real or hard work. I say, “God bless them both for their kind acknowledgement.”

However, to rephrase what these priests said, all formation begins in the Domestic Church — the Christian hearth & home. It is in the Domestic Church where we are (or should be) principally formed. Let us look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church and see what it has to say about this [and I mean the current edition].

From the Vatican website.

VI. THE DOMESTIC CHURCH

1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than “the family of God.” From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers “together with all [their] household.”164 When they were converted, they desired that “their whole household” should also be saved.165 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica.166 It is in the bosom of the family that parents are “by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.”167

1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way “by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.”168 Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and “a school for human enrichment.”169 Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.

1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live – often not of their choosing – are especially close to Jesus’ heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the “domestic churches,” and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. “No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who ‘labor and are heavy laden.'”170

IN BRIEF

1659 St. Paul said: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. . . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:25, 32).

1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. CIC, can. 1055 # 1; cf. GS 48 # 1).

1661 The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).

1662 Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love.

1663 Since marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration, before the priest (or a witness authorized by the Church), the witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful.

1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child (GS 50 # 1).

1665 The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.

1666 The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called “the domestic church,” a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.

YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT EDUCATED (PART 1): WHY IT IS SO

Filed under: Education, Philosophy — Tags: — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:48 pm

The following article, though not very scholarly itself,  is on the current model of education used as the standard in public and private school systems at the primary, grammar, and secondary levels. If you are parents of children that are enrolled in a school, unless that school explicitly states that it operates with some sort of alternative method (e.g. “classical liberal arts”, “trivium & quadrivium”, “montessori” [no, I am not necessarily endorsing montessori], etc.) then your child, more likely than not, is involved with the Horace Mann/John Dewey method of education which was modeled on the Prussian and Soviet systems for the purpose of producing compliant, dumbed-down, soldiers and “citizens”. Even private schools, Catholic or otherwise, employ this system, just with a Catholic or Christian varnish, albeit without malice. This is why even in private high schools, students might graduate with piety but also with an inability to think themselves out of a paper bag.

–Antiochian-Thomist

The Public School Nightmare:

Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?

by John Taylor Gatto  [Two time New York State “Teacher of the Year”]

I want you to consider the frightening possibility that we are spending far too much money on schooling, not too little. I want you to consider that we have too many people employed in interfering with the way children grow up — and that all this money and all these people, all the time we take out of children’s lives and away from their homes and families and neighborhoods and private explorations — gets in the way of education.

That seems radical, I know.  Surely in modern technological society it is the quantity of schooling and the amount of money you spend on it that buys value.

And yet last year in St. Louis, I heard a vice-president of IBM tell an audience of people assembled to redesign the process of teacher certification that in his opinion this country became computer-literate by self-teaching, not through any action of schools.  He said 45 million people were comfortable with computers who had learned through dozens of non-systematic strategies, none of them very formal; if schools had pre-empted the right to teach computer use we would be in a horrible mess right now instead of leading the world in this literacy.

Now think about Sweden, a beautiful, healthy, prosperous and up-to-date country with a spectacular reputation for quality in everything it produces.  It makes sense to think their schools must have something to do with that.

Then what do you make of the fact that you can’t go to school in Sweden until you are 7 years old?  The reason the unsentimental Swedes have wiped out what would be first and seconds grades here is that they don’t want to pay the large social bill that quickly comes due when boys and girls are ripped away from their best teachers at home too early.  It just isn’t worth the price, say the Swedes, to provide jobs for teachers and therapists if the result is sick, incomplete kids who can’t be put back together again very easily. [Sweden is considered to have the best educated populace in the developed world. –Antiochian-Thomist]

The entire Swedish school sequence isn’t 12 years, either — it’s nine.  Less schooling, not more.  The direct savings of such a step in the US would be $75-100 billion, a lot of unforeclosed home mortgages, a lot of time freed up with which to seek an education.

Who was it that decided to force your attention onto Japan instead of Sweden?  Japan with its long school year and state compulsion, instead of Sweden with its short school year, short school sequence, and free choice where your kid is schooled?   Who decided you should know about Japan and not Hong Kong, an Asian neighbor with a short school year that outperforms [emphasis added] Japan across the board in math and science?  Whose interests are served by hiding that from you? [not yours, let me tell you…]

One of the principal reasons we got into the mess we’re in is that we allowed schooling to become a very profitable monopoly, guaranteed its customers by the police power of the state.  Systematic schooling attracts increased investment only when it does poorly, and since there are no penalties at all for such performance, the temptation not to do well is overwhelming.  That’s because school staffs, both line and management, are involved in a guild system.  And in that ancient form of association no single member is allowed to outperform any other member, none are allowed to advertise or to introduce new technology or improvise without the advance consent of the guild.  Violation of these precepts is severely sanctioned–as Marva Collins, Jaime Escalante and a large number of once-brilliant teachers found out.

The guild reality cannot be broken without returning primary decision-making to parents, letting them buy what they want to buy in schooling, and encouraging the entrepreneurial reality that existed until 1852. That is why I urge any business to think twice before entering a cooperative relationship with the schools we currently have.  Cooperating with these places will only make them worse.

The structure of American schooling, 20th century style, began in 1806 when Napoleon’s amateur soldiers beat the professional soldiers of Prussia at the battle of Jena.  When your business is selling soldiers, losing a battle like that is serious. Almost immediately afterwards a German philosopher named Fichte delivered his famous “Address to the German Nation” which became one of the most influential documents in modern history.

In effect he told the Prussian people that the party was over, that the nation would have to shape up through a new Utopian institution of forced schooling in which everyone would learn to take orders. [emphases added]

So the world got compulsion schooling at the end of a state bayonet for the first time in human history; modern forced schooling started in Prussia in 1819 with a clear vision of what centralized schools could deliver: [yes, make the comparisons]

1. Obedient soldiers to the army;

2. Obedient workers to the mines;

3. Well subordinated civil servants to government;

4. Well subordinated clerks to industry

5. Citizens who thought alike about major issues.

Schools should create an artificial national consensus on matters that had been worked out in advance by leading German families and the head of institutions.  Schools should create unity among all the German states, eventually unifying them into Greater Prussia.

Prussian industry boomed from the beginning.  She was successful in warfare and her reputation in international affairs was very high.  Twenty-six years after this form of schooling began, the King of Prussia was invited to North America to determine the boundary between the United States and Canada.  Thirty-three years after that fateful invention of the central school institution, at the behest of Horace Mann and many other leading citizens, we borrowed the style of Prussian schooling as our own. [emphases added]

You need to know this because over the first 50 years, our school’s Prussian design — which was to create a form of state socialism — gradually forced out our traditional American design, which in most minds was to prepare the individual to be self-reliant.

In Prussia the purpose of the Volksshule [work school], which educated 92 percent of the children, was not intellectual development at all, but socialization in obedience and subordination [emphasis added]. Thinking was left to the Real Schulen, [Real School] in which 8 percent of the kids participated.  But for the great mass, intellectual development was regarded with managerial horror, as something that caused armies to lose battles.

Prussia concocted a method based on complex fragmentation to ensure that its school products would fit the grand social design.  Some of this method involved dividing whole ideas into school subjects, each further divisible, some of it involved short periods punctuated by a horn so that self-motivation in study would be muted by ceaseless interruptions. [I knew there was a reason I hated those darn school horns/buzzers.]

There were many more techniques of training, but all were built around the premise that isolation from first-hand information, and fragmentation of the abstract information presented by teachers, would result in obedient and subordinate graduates, properly respectful of arbitrary orders.

“Lesser” men would be unable to interfere with policy makers because, while they could still complain, they could not manage sustained or comprehensive thought.  Well-schooled children cannot think critically, cannot argue effectively. [Oh boy, is this ever true.]

One of the most interesting by-products of Prussian schooling turned out to be the two most devastating wars of modern history.

Erich Maria Ramarque, in his classic, All Quiet on the Western Front, tells us that the First World War was caused by the tricks of schoolmasters, and the famous Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that the Second World War was the inevitable product of good schooling.

It’s important to underline that Bonhoeffer meant that literally, not metaphorically — schooling after the Prussian fashion removes the ability of the mind to think for itself.   It teaches people to wait for a teacher to tell them what to do and if what they have done is good or bad.  Prussian teaching paralyses the moral will as well as the intellect.  It’s true that sometimes well-schooled students sound smart, because they memorize many opinions of great thinkers, but they actually are badly damaged because their own ability to think is left rudimentary and undeveloped.

We got from the United States to Prussia and back because a small number of very passionate ideological leaders visited Prussia in the first half of the 19th century, and fell in love with the order, obedience and efficiency of its system and relentlessly proselytized for a translation of Prussian vision onto these shores.

If Prussia’s ultimate goal was the unification of Germany, our major goal, so these men thought, was the unification of hordes of immigrant Catholics into a national consensus based on a northern European cultural model.  To do that children would have to be removed from their parents and from inappropriate cultural influence.

In this fashion, compulsion schooling, a bad idea that had been around at least since Plato’s Republic, a bad idea that New England had tried to enforce in 1650 without any success, was finally rammed through the Massachusetts legislature in 1852.

It was, of course, the famous “Know-Nothing” [which was one of the most anti-Catholic political parties in America] legislature that passed this law, a legislature that was the leading edge of a famous secret society which flourished at that time known as “The Order of the Star Spangled Banner,” whose password was the simple sentence, “I know nothing” — hence the popular label attached to the secret society’s political arm, “The American Party.”

Over the next 50 years state after state followed suit, ending schools of choice and ceding the field to a new government monopoly.  There was one powerful exception to this — the children who could afford to be privately educated. (Although it may be relevant that not ALL private schools are geared to a “real” education, but are simply more of the same as the public schools, but are promoted as being for the elite.)

It’s important to note that the underlying premise of Prussian schooling is that the government is the true parent of children — the State is sovereign over the family.  At the most extreme pole of this notion is the idea that biological parents are really the enemies of their own children, not to be trusted.

How did a Prussian system of dumbing children down take hold in American schools?

Thousands and thousands of young men from prominent American families journeyed to Prussia and other parts of Germany during the 19th century and brought home the Ph. D. degree to a nation in which such a credential was unknown.   These men pre-empted the top positions in the academic world, in corporate research, and in government, to the point where opportunity was almost closed to those who had not studied in Germany, or who were not the direct disciples of a German PhD, as John Dewey was the disciple of G. Stanley Hall at Johns Hopkins.  Virtually every single one of the founders of American schooling had made the pilgrimage to Germany, and many of these men wrote widely circulated reports praising the Teutonic methods.  Horace Mann‘s [the father of the American public school system] famous 7th Report of 1844, still available in large libraries, was perhaps the most important of these.

By 1889, a little more than 100 years ago, the crop was ready for harvest.  It that year the US Commissioner of Education, William Torrey Harris, assured a railroad magnate, Collis Huntington, that American schools were “scientifically designed” to prevent “over-education” from happening.   The average American would be content with his humble role in life, said the commissioner, because he would not be tempted to think about any other role. [emphases added]

My guess is that Harris meant he would not be able to think about any other role.

In 1896 the famous John Dewey, then at the University of Chicago, said that independent, self-reliant people were a counter-productive anachronism in the collective society of the future.   In modern society, said Dewey, people would be defined by their associations –not by their own individual accomplishments.  In such a world people who read too well or too early are dangerous because they become privately empowered, they know too much, and know how to find out what they don’t know by themselves, without consulting experts. [emphases added]

Dewey said the great mistake of traditional pedagogy was to make reading and writing constitute the bulk of early schoolwork.  He advocated the phonics method of teaching reading be abandoned and replaced by the whole word method, not because the latter was more efficient (he admitted that it was less efficient), but because independent thinkers were produced by hard books, thinkers who cannot be socialized very easily.

By socialization Dewey meant a program of social objectives administered by the best social thinkers in government.  This was a giant step on the road to state socialism, the form pioneered in Prussia, and it is a vision radically disconnected with the American past, its historic hopes and dreams.

Dewey’s former professor and close friend, G. Stanley Hall, said this at about the same time, “Reading should no longer be a fetish.  Little attention should be paid to reading.”

Hall was one of the three men most responsible for building a gigantic administrative infrastructure over the classroom.  How enormous that structure really became can only be understood by comparisons: New York State, for instance, employs more school administrators than all of the European Economic Community nations combined.

Once you think that the control of conduct is what schools are about, the word “reform” takes on a very particular meaning.  It means making adjustments to the machine so that young subjects will not twist and turn so, while their minds and bodies are being scientifically controlled.  Helping kids to use their minds better is beside the point. [emphases added]

Bertrand Russell once said that American schooling was among the most radical experiments in human history, that America was deliberately denying its children the tools of critical thinking.

When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning.  That’s if you want to teach them to think.  There is no evidence that this has been a State purpose since the start of compulsion schooling.

When Frederich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten in 19th century Germany, fashioned his idea he did not have a “garden for children” in mind, but a metaphor of teachers as gardeners and children as the vegetables.

Kindergarten was created to be a way to break the influence of mothers on their children [Take note of this]. I note with interest the growth of daycare in the US and the repeated urgings to extend school downward to include 4-year-olds.  The movement toward state socialism is not some historical curiosity, but a powerful dynamic force in the world around us.

The state socialism movement is fighting for its life against those forces which would, through vouchers or tax credits, deprive it of financial lifeblood, and it has countered this thrust with a demand for even more control over children’s lives, and even more money to pay for the extended school day and year that this control requires.  A movement as visibly destructive to individuality, family and community as government-system schooling has been, might be expected to collapse in the face of its dismal record, coupled with an increasingly aggressive shake down of the taxpayer, but this has not happened.

The explanation is largely found in the transformation of schooling from a simple service to families and towns to an enormous, centralized corporate enterprise.  While this development has had a markedly adverse effect on people and on our democratic traditions, it has made schooling the single largest employer in the United States, and the largest grantor of contracts next to the Defense Department.

Both of these low-visibility phenomena provide monopoly schooling with powerful political friends, publicists, advocates and other useful allies.  This is a large part of the explanation why no amount of failure ever changes things in schools, or changes them for very long.  School people are in a position to outlast any storm and to keep short-attention-span public scrutiny thoroughly confused.

An overview of the short history of this institution reveals a pattern marked by intervals of public outrage, followed by enlargement of the monopoly in every case.  After nearly 30 years spent inside a number of public schools, some considered good, some bad, I feel certain that management cannot clean its own house.  It relentlessly marginalizes all significant change.

There are no incentives for the “owners” of the structure to reform it, nor can there be without outside competition.  What is needed for several decades is the kind of wildly-swinging free market we had at the beginning of our national history.

It cannot be overemphasized that no body of theory exists to accurately define the way children learn, or which learning is of most worth.  By pretending the existence of such we have cut ourselves off from the information and innovation that only a real market can provide.  Fortunately our national situation has been so favorable, so dominant through most of our history, that the margin of error afforded has been vast.

But the future is not so clear. Violence, narcotic addictions, divorce, alcoholism, loneliness… all these are but tangible measures of a poverty in education.   Surely schools, as the institutions monopolizing the daytimes of childhood, can be called to account for this.  In a democracy the final judges cannot be experts, but only the people.

Trust the people, give them choices, and the school nightmare will vanish in a generation.

THE SEVEN LIBERAL ARTS

Filed under: Education, Philosophy — Tags: , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 8:36 pm

From the Original Catholic Encyclopedia.

Arts, the SEVEN LIBERAL. —The expression artes liberales, chiefly used during the Middle Ages, does not mean arts as we understand the word at the present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time. They are called liberal (Lat. liter, free), because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with the artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes; their aim is to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term, i.e. the combination of philosophy and theology known as scholasticism. They are seven in number and may be arranged in two groups, the first embracing grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, in other words, the sciences of language, of oratory, and of logic, better known as the artes sermocinales, or language studies; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, i.e. the mathematico-physical disciplines, known as the artes reales, or physiccs. The first group is considered to be the elementary group, whence these branches are also called artes triviales, or trivium, i.e. a well-beaten ground like the junction of three roads, or a crossroads open to all. Contrasted with them we find the mathematical disciplines as artes quadriviales, or quadrivium, or a road with four branches. The seven liberal arts are thus the members of a system of studies which embraces language branches as the lower, the mathematical branches as the intermediate, and science properly so called as the uppermost and terminal grade. Though this system did not receive the distinct development connoted by its name until the Middle Ages, still it extends in the history of pedagogy both backwards and forwards; for while, on the one hand, we meet with it among the classical nations, the Greeks and Romans, and even discover analogous forms as forerunners in the educational system of the ancient Orientals, its influence, on the other hand, has lasted far beyond the Middle Ages, up to the present time.

It is desirable, for several reasons, to treat the system of the seven liberal arts from this point of view, and this we propose to do in the present article. The subject possesses a special interest for the historian, because an evolution, extending through more than two thousand years and still in active operation, here challenges our attention as surpassing both in its duration and its local ramifications all other phases of pedagogy. But it is equally instructive for the philosopher because thinkers like Pythagoras, Plato, and St. Augustine collaborated in the framing of the system, and because in general much thought and, we may say, much pedagogical wisdom have been embodied in it. Hence, also, it is of importance to the practical teacher, because among the comments of so many schoolmen on this subject may be found many suggestions which are of the greatest utility.

The Oriental system of study, which exhibits an instructive analogy with the one here treated, is that of the ancient Hindus still in vogue among the Brahmins. In this, the highest object is the study of the Veda, i.e. the science or doctrine of divine things, the summary of their speculative and religious writings for the understanding of which ten auxiliary sciences were pressed into service, four of which, viz. phonology, grammar, exegesis, and logic, are of a linguistico-logical nature, and can thus be compared with the Trivium; while two, viz. astronomy and metrics, belong to the domain of mathematics, and therefore to the Quadrivium. The remainder, viz. law, ceremonial lore, legendary lore, and dogma, belong to theology. Among the Greeks the place of the Veda is taken by philosophy, i.e. the study of wisdom, the science of ultimate causes which in one point of view is identical with theology. “Natural Theology”, i.e. the doctrine of the nature of the Godhead and of Divine things, was considered as the domain of the philosopher, just as “political theology” was that of the priest; and “mystical theology” of the poet. [See O. Willmann, Geschichte des Idealismus (Brunswick, 1894), I, -§ 10.] Pythagoras (who flourished between 540 B.C. and 510 B.C.) first called himself a philosopher, but was also esteemed as the greatest Greek theologian. The curriculum which he arranged for his pupils led up to the ieros logos, i.e. the sacred teaching, the preparation for which the students received as mathematikoi, i.e. learners, or persons occupied with the—mathemata, the “science of learning”—that, in fact, now known as mathematics. The preparation for this was that which the disciples underwent as akousmatikoi, “hearers”, after which preparation they were introduced to what was then current among the Greeks as mousike paideia, “musical education”, consisting of reading, writing, lessons from the poets, exercises in memorizing, and the technique of music. The intermediate position of mathematics is attested by the ancient expression of the Pythagoreans metaichmon, i, e. “spear-distance”; properly, the space between the combatants; in this case, between the elementary and the strictly scientific education. Pythagoras is more over renowned for having converted geometrical, i.e. mathematical, investigation into a form of education for freemen. (Proclus, Commentary on Euclid, I, p. 19, ten peri ten geometrian pholosophianeis schema paideias eleutherou metestesen.) “He discovered a mean or intermediate stage between the mathematics of the temple and the mathematics of practical life, such as that used by surveyors and business people; he preserves the high aims of the former, at the same time making it the palaestra of intellect; he presses a religious discipline into the’ service of secular life without, however, robbing it of its sacred character, just as he previously transformed physical theology into natural philosophy without alienating it from its hallowed origin” (Geschichte des Idealismus, I, 19 at the end). An extension of the elementary studies was brought about by the active, though somewhat unsettled, mental life which developed after the Persian wars in the fifth century B.C. From the plain study of reading and writing they advanced to the art of speaking and its theory (rhetoric), with which was combined dialectic, properly the art of alternate discourse, or the discussion of the pro and con. This change was brought about by the sophists, particularly by Gorgias of Leontium. They also attached much importance to manysidedness in their theoretical and practical knowledge. Of Hippias of Elis it is related that he boasted of having made his mantle, his tunic, and his footgear (Cicero, De Oratore, iii, 32, 127). In this way, current language gradually began to designate the whole body of educational knowledge as encyclical, i.e. as universal, or all-embracing (egkuklia paideumata, or mathemata; egkuklios paideia). The expression indicated originally the current knowledge common to all, but later assumed the above-mentioned meaning, which has also passed into our word encyclopedia.

Socrates having already strongly emphasized the moral aims of education, Plato (429-347 B.C.) protested against its degeneration from an effort to acquire culture into a heaping-up of multifarious information (polupragmosune). In the “Republic” he proposes a course of education which appears to be the Pythagorean course perfected. It begins with musico-gymnastic culture, by means of which he aims to impress upon the senses the fundamental forms of the beautiful and the good, i.e. rhythm and form (aisthesis). The intermediate course embraces the mathematical branches, viz. arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, which are calculated to put into action the powers of reflection (dianoia), and to enable the student to progress by degrees from sensuous to intellectual perception, as he successively masters the theory of numbers, of forms, of the kinetic laws of bodies, and of the laws of (musical) sounds. This leads to the highest grade of the educational system, its pinnacle (thrigkos) so to speak, i.e. philosophy, which Plato calls dialectic, thereby elevating the word from its current meaning to signify the science of the Eternal as ground and prototype of the world of sense. This progress to dialectic (dialektike poreia) is the work of our highest cognitive faculty, the intuitive intellect (nous). In this manner Plato secures a psychological, or noetic, basis for the sequence in his studies, namely: sense-perception, reflection, and intellectual insight. During the Alexandrine period, which begins with the closing years of the fourth century before Christ, the encyclical studies assume scholastic forms. Grammar, as the science of language (technical grammar) and explanation of the classics (exegetical grammar), takes the lead; rhetoric becomes an elementary course in speaking and writing. By dialectic they understood, in accordance with the teaching of Aristotle, directions enabling the student to present acceptable and valid views on a given subect; thus dialectic became elementary practical logic. The mathematical studies retained their Platonic order; by means of astronomical poems, the science of the stars, and by means of works on geography, the science of the globe became parts of popular education (Strabo, Geographica, I, 1, 21-23). Philosophy remained the culmination of the encyclical studies, which bore to it the relation interfere with the search for the truth which they contain. The choicest gift of bright minds is the love of truth, not of the words expressing it. “For what avails a golden key if it cannot give access to the object which we wish to reach, and why find first to obtain a firm foothold; culture was by them identified with eloquence, as the art of speaking and the mastery of the spoken word based upon a manifold knowledge of things. In his “Institutiones Oratorise” Quintilian, the first professor eloquentue at Rome in Vespasian’s time, begins his instruction with grammar, or, to speak precisely, with Latin and Greek Grammar, proceeds to mathematics and music, and concludes with rhetoric, which comprises not only elocution and a knowledge of literature, but also logical—in other words dialectical—instruction. However, the encyclical system as the system of the liberal arts, or Artes Bonce, i.e. the learning of the vir bonus, or patriot, was also represented in special handbooks. The “Libri IX Disciplinarum” of the learned M. Terentius Varro of Reate, an earlier contemporary of Cicero, treats of the seven liberal arts adding to them medicine and architectonics. How the latter science came to be connected with the general studies is shown in the book “De Architecture.”, by M. Vitruvius Pollio, a writer of the time of Augustus, in which excellent remarks are made on the organic connection existing between all studies. “The inexperienced”, he says, “may wonder at the fact that so many various things can be retained in the memory; but as soon as they observe that all branches of learning have a real connection with, and a reciprocal action upon, each other, the matter will seem very simple; for universal science (egkuklios, disciplina) is composed of the special sciences as a body is composed of members, and those who from their earliest youth have been instructed in the different branches of knowledge (variis eruditionibus) recognize in all the same fundamental features (notas) and the mutual relations of all branches, and therefore grasp everything more easily” (Vitr., De Architecture, I, 1, 12). In these views the Platonic conception is still operative, and the Romans always retained the conviction that in philosophy alone was to be found the perfection of education. Cicero enumerates the following as the elements of a liberal education: geometry, literature, poetry, natural science, ethics, and politics. (Artes quibus liberales doctrins atque ingenuse continentur; geometria, litterarum cognitio et poetarum, atque ills quae de naturis rerum, quae de hominum moribus, quae de rebus publicis dicuntur.)

(more…)

ICON CORNER: A Beginning

Filed under: Sacred & Liturgical Arts — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:41 pm

Below are some images of the beginning of our new “icon corner” or “icon wall”. These icons were blessed and heard the Divine Liturgy at Our Lady of Solitude Cloister & Retreat, a Melkite monastic foundation in rural northeastern Pennsylvania. These new “portals to heaven” are replicas of classic Greek icons.

Most of those who read this blog (all 6 of you) are Latin Rite Catholics and might be unfamiliar with the whole notion of the “icon corner” or the “icon wall”. They might even be unfamiliar with the theology of the icon. As a preface I have excerpted some articles on icons, iconography, and the icon wall.

The New Icon Corner

With an Italian iconographic crucifix, Christ the Life-Giver, and the All-Holy Theotokos.

From Orthodox Wiki via Agios Icons.

Iconography (from Greek: εικωνογραφία) refers to the making and liturgical use of icons, pictorial representations of Biblical scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, historical events in the life of the Church, and portraits of the saints. Icons are usually two-dimensional images and may be made of paint, mosaic, embroidery, weaving, carving, engraving, or other methods. A person who practices the art of iconography is called an iconographer.

Images have always been a vital part of the Church, but their place was the subject of the Iconoclast Controversy in the 8th and 9th centuries, especially in the East. The Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of the Great Fast (Lent) every year celebrates the reestablishment of the Orthodox veneration of icons. The use of iconography is considered one of the most distinctive elements of the Byzantine Rite.

History

From the first centuries of Christianity, icons have been used for prayer. Orthodox Tradition tells us, for example, of the existence of an icon of the Christ during his lifetime, the Icon-Not-Made-With-Hands, and of the icons of the Theotokos immediately after him written by the All-laudable Apostle and Evangelist Luke.

Egyptian death masks

Historically, the icon is thought to be a descendant of the Egyptian death masks that were painted on mummies wrapped in strips of glue and powered gypsum soaked linen. This led to the traditional icon painting technique of gluing linen on a board, gessoing it, and painting on it. The Christian icon also inherited the cultic task of the ritual mask and exalted this task. The task that revealed the deified spirit of the deceased resting in eternity. The spiritual essence of the old Cult was transfigured into a new cultural image manifesting itself more perfectly than the old.

Unlike the mask, the Christian icon is not part of a mummy or sarcophagus, it does not need to connect to a saint’s body. No matter where on earth the saint’s remains are, and no matter the physical condition, his resurrected and deified body lives in eternity, and the icon that shows him forth does not merely depict the holy witness but is the very witness. It is not the icon, as art, that tells us anything, it is the saint, through the icon that is teaching. This window, to the resurrected, breaks when the icon itself is separated by the observer, from the saint it depicts. At that moment the icon just becomes another thing of this world. The vital connection between haven and earth disintegrates.

“Written” or “painted”?

The most literal translation of the word Greek: εικονογραφία (eikonographia) is “image writing,” leading many English-speaking Orthodox Christians to insist that icons are not “painted” but rather “written.” From there, further explanations are given that icons are to be understood in a manner similar to Holy Scripture—that is, they are not simply artistic compositions but rather are witnesses to the truth the way Scripture is. Far from being imaginative creations of the iconographer, they are more like scribal copies of the Bible.

While the explanation of the purpose and nature of icons is certainly true and consistent with the Church’s Holy Tradition, there is a linguistic problem with the insistence on the word written rather than painted. In Greek, a painted portrait of anyone is also a γραφή (graphi), and the art of painting itself is called ζωγραφική (zographiki) while any drawing or painting can be referred to as ζωγραφιά (zographia). Ancient Greek literally uses the same root word to refer to the making of portraits and the making of icons, but distinguishes whether it is “painting from life” (ζωγραφιά) or “painting icons” (εικονογραφία). Thus, from a linguistic point of view, either all paintings—whether icons or simple portraits—are “written” or (more likely) “painted” is a perfectly usable English translation, simply making a distinction between the painting appropriate for icons and that appropriate for other kinds of painting, just as Greek does.

Some have suggested that icon writing be used because of the fact that for many centuries, (whether the early Church, the persecutions against the Christians by the pagan authorities, or more recently around the Orthodox World when the faithful have been subjected to non-Orthodox authority), icons were the books of the illiterate and through the depiction of an often simple image refer to and confirm the fundamental belief of the Church; the Incarnation. God’s becoming human, his undertaking and sanctifying of human nature and matter in general means that He can be depicted using matter.

The New Icon Corner

A close view of the icons with a traditional lantern.

And now an article on the “icon corner”. This also comes to us from Wikipedia via Agios Icons.

The Icon Corner (Greek: εικονοστάσι) is a small worship space prepared in the homes of Eastern Orthodox or Greek-Catholic Christians.

The Book of Acts and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul record that in the early Church, Christians used to meet in the homes of the faithful. (Acts 2:46, Acts 20:7-12, I_Corinthians 16:19, etc.) This tradition of the “House Church” continues to this day in Eastern Christianity. The home is considered to be a microcosm of the Church. The parents (both the husband and the wife) are the “clergy” of the house church, and the children are the “laity.” The wedding ceremony (“crowning”) is analogous to Ordination, and the house is blessed with a rite that is based upon the Consecration of a Church. Once a year, the priest will come to bless the house with Theophany Water.

An Orthodox Christian is expected to pray constantly. According to Bishop Kallistos Ware, “[I]n Orthodox spirituality, [there is] no separation between liturgy and private devotion.”[1] Thus the house, just like the Temple (church building), is considered to be a consecrated place, and the center of worship in the house is the Icon Corner.

An Icon Corner is normally oriented to face east. It is often located in a corner to eliminate worldly distractions and allow prayer to be more concentrated. Here is where the icons that the family owns should be located, normally including at least icons of Christ, the Theotokos, and the Patron Saint(s) of the family. An oil lamp normally hangs in front of the icons. The careful trimming of the lamp to keep it burning at all times is interpreted as symbolic of the attentive daily care faithful Christians should take over their souls. Relics of saints (if the family possesses any) and a Gospel Book and a blessing cross would be kept there, as well as incense, holy water, palms and pussywillow from Palm Sunday, candles from Pascha (Easter), and other sacred items, as well as a personal Commemoration Book (containing the names of family and loved ones, both living and departed, to be remembered in prayer).

Ideally, the Icon Corner is located so that it is visible when one first enters the house from the main entrance. Traditionally, when first entering the house, an Orthodox Christian would venerate the icons before greeting the members of the house.

A traditional Orthodox family will gather together every day for morning and evening prayers. Sometimes, at the end of the prayers, the head of the household will take the hand censer and cense the icons and all of the members of the household.

Often, in addition to the Icon Corner, a family will hang a small “Portal Icon” (usually of the Virgin and Christ Child) by the door, which is venerated by family and guests whenever going in or out of the house.

Notes

1.^ Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Penguin Books, London, 1964, ISBN 0-14-020592-6), p. 310.

With the lit lantern and the smoke of the incense rising with our prayers.

With lantern lit and the smoke of the incense rising with our prayers.

Art & Architecture: A New Blog

I have found a new blog dedicated to beauty and order in the architectural arts. He (the owner of the blog) is a talented architect of enthusiasm and passion. I am happy to be able to call him “friend”. His name is Mr. Erik Bootsma, and I encourage all to look at his blog (beatusest.blogspot.com) which shows some samples of his fine work.

You can find the link to his site in the “blogroll” in the sidebar of this blog, or click on the image below to go to his blog. Enjoy.

October 28, 2009

Historical Curiosity: The Sign of the Cross

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:52 pm

I’m not intending to make a big deal out of this or ruffle anyone’s feathers. Pure and mere curiosity. I came across this and thought other history geeks like me might find it interesting.

Pope Innocent III (b. 1160/1161, d. 1216; reign: 1198-1216) said in his work, De sacro altaris mysterio, written and promulgated to regularize and unify liturgical practice in the West:

The sign of the cross is made with three fingers, because it is done together with the invocation of the Trinity….It is done from above to below, and from the right to the left, because Christ descended from heaven to the earth, and from the Jews He passed to the Gentiles (De sacro altaris mysterio 2, 45).

Innocent III goes on to say:

Others, however, make the sign of the cross from the left to the right….[Some priests] do it this way so that they and the people will be signing themselves in the same manner. For example, imagine the priest facing the people for the blessing — when we make the sign of the cross over the people, it is from left to right…(Ibid.)

So, when did the exception become the rule? I wonder how it changed? A curiosity, however minor.

I first read about this here.

The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language — A Book Review by David Roemer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:17 pm

The following is an excerpt of a book review by David Roemer on the work, The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language by Christine Kenneally. I haven’t read the book itself, but the subject is of some interest to me as I have been required to study related material in my studies of the liberal arts. The whole review can be found at the website, OrthodoxyToday.org.

Antiochian-Thomist

 

The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language
By Christine Kenneally
The Penguin Group, 357 pages, $26.95
ISBN 978-0-670-03490-1

Review by David Roemer

The study of the evolution of language began in earnest in the 1990s when Paul Bloom and Steven Pinker, linguists at MIT, took issue with Noam Chomsky’s views on the subject. In an interview, Bloom said:

And then, at the same time, Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini, a colleague and friend of mine in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, published an article in Cognition on the evolution of cognition and language. His article presented in this very sharp, cogent fashion the Chomskyan view on evolution—basically he said that there was very little interesting to make of the connection between natural selection and cognition and that language has features that simply cannot be explained in terms of adaption. I strongly disagreed with it. (p. 52)

Christine Kenneally provides us with the following Chomskyan quotes:

Chomsky’s signature claim is that all humans share a “universal grammar,” otherwise known as UG, a set of rules that can generate the syntax of every human language. This means that apart from the difference in a few mental settings, English and Mohawk, for example, are essentially the same language. Traditionally researchers committed to Chomskyan linguistics believed that universal grammar exists in some part of our brain in a language organ that all humans possess but no other animals have. (p. 25)

As he wrote in 1975: “A human language is a system of remarkable complexity. To come to know a human language would be an extraordinary achievement for a creature not specifically designed to accomplish this task. A normal child acquires this knowledge on relatively slight exposure and without specific training. He can then quite effortlessly make use of an intricate structure of specific rules and guiding principles to convey his thoughts and feelings to others, arousing in them novel ideas and subtle perceptions and judgments.” (p. 36 )

In his book Language and Mind he wrote, “It is perfectly safe to attribute this development [of innate mental structure] to ‘natural selection,’ so long as we realize that there is no substance to this assertion, that it amounts to nothing more than a belief that there is some naturalistic explanation for these phenomena.” (p. 38)

Humans have the observable and definable property of being able to converse with one another. This property is closely related to the unobservable and indefinable properties of free will and conscious knowledge. We can comprehend the unobservable properties because we have the ability to transcend ourselves and make ourselves the subject of our own knowledge. Existentialism is a philosophy that arises from this self-knowledge and addresses our need to decide what to do with our lives. Kenneally acknowledges that the uniqueness of human beings is based on both existential and observable properties:

But asking what makes humans unique is almost always qualitatively different from asking what makes the antelope unique, or the sloth, or the dung beetle. These questions don’t have to be, but have historically been so, the former is never purely scientific, but is inevitably shaded by our self-regard and is always, to some degree, existential. (p. 85)



READ THE REST OF THE BOOK REVIEW HERE.

On Leo Tolstoy — Literature and Condemnation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 8:09 pm

From the official website of the Department of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Hilarion: It was not the Church who condemned Tolstoy but Tolstoy who condemned the Church

Speaking in the Church and World talk-show, Archbishop Hilarion, when asked about the excommunication of Tolstoy, replied, ‘It was not the Church who condemned Tolstoy but Tolstoy who condemned the Church. He condemned and discredited it, humiliated and insulted it in many of his works. For instance, in his Resurrection, he gave an utterly blasphemous description of the Divine Liturgy’. According to His Eminence, the writer’s works of this kind include the so-called ‘translation’ of the Gospel. ‘Having no knowledge of the Greek language, Tolstoy simply rendered the Gospel, distorting the text consciously by throwing out many importance passages and adding his own blasphemous comments’, he said.

Precisely for this reason, the Orthodox Church announced that this man, who had never belonged to it, placed himself outside of the church fold by his blasphemous and sacrilegious utterances. In response to that decision of the Holy Synod, Leo Tolstoy declared, ‘I have really repudiated the Church’.

‘Tolstoy excommunicated himself and announced it publicly. The Church only had to ascertain the accomplished fact. It is a different matter that before his death he must have felt agony and torments. He set off for the Optina Monastery possibly to make repentance but eventually he did not because his relatives did not let a priest to come to him. As Leo Tolstoy died without repentance, we can only commit his after-death fate to the hands of God and the Lord Himself will judge him’, the archbishop said.

SSPX Meetings with the Vatican

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 8:00 pm

From the Holy See Press Office.

On Monday 26 October 2009 in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, headquarters of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, the study commission made up of experts from “Ecclesia Dei” and from the Society of St. Pius X held its first meeting, with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See.

In a cordial, respectful and constructive climate, the main doctrinal questions were identified. These will be studied in the course of discussions to be held over coming months, probably twice a month. In particular, the questions due to be examined concern the concept of Tradition, the Missal of Paul VI, the interpretation of Vatican Council II in continuity with Catholic doctrinal Tradition, the themes of the unity of the Church and the Catholic principles of ecumenism, the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions, and religious freedom. The meeting also served to specify the method and organisation of the work.

[01551-02.01] [Original text: Italian, traduzione a cura della Sala Stampa]

[B0663-XX.01]

October 23, 2009

The CATHOLIC HOLIDAY and HERITAGE of HALLOWEEN: Part 2 — How Halloween Can Be Redeemed

Filed under: History, Morality — Tags: , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:35 am

The following is an introduction to an article that originally appeared in Catholic Update and was written by Page McKean Zyromski.

How Halloween Can Be Redeemed

by Page McKean Zyromski

Halloween has grown into a major secular holiday in American culture. But for those who don’t value devotion to the saints, the Eve has become “hollow” instead of “hallow.” The purpose behind it has been lost—like celebrating New Year’s Eve without a New Year’s Day. Take away the saints and our beliefs about the dignity and destiny of human beings, and the only thing left is pre-Christian superstition regarding the dead.

Among many Christians, there has been concern that things have gotten out of hand. After all, doesn’t Halloween glorify evil? Is it right to send our children out as devils and vampires, or is it better to emphasize the saints, whose nearly forgotten feast day is the reason for Halloween? Hallow is the same word for “holy” that we find in the Lord’s Prayer, and e’en is a contraction of “evening.” The word Halloween itself is a shortened form of “All Hallows Eve,” the day before All Saints Day. In this Update we’ll consider how Catholics can “redeem” Halloween. This holiday, properly understood and celebrated with all of its fun trappings, can be a way for us to deepen our understanding of our faith. The key to this understanding is close at hand for Catholics in our love of the communion of saints.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

SSPX: Personal Prelature?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:51 am

From the Catholic News Agency.

Vatican Could Convert Lefebvrists Into Personal Prelature, Says Fellay

Santiago, Chile, Oct 22, 2009 / 01:03 pm (CNA).- In an interview with the Chilean daily, “El Mercurio,” the Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, Bernard Fellay, acknowledged that the Vatican is considering the possibility of converting the Lefebvrist group into a personal prelature as part of the discussions aimed at bringing about reconciliation. Fellay, who visited members of the SSPX movement in Chile, is one of four bishops whose excommunication was lifted by Pope Benedict XVI last January. Asked about the speculation that the Society of Pius X could be made into a personal prelature similar to Opus Dei, Fellay responded, “There is a lot of truth to that. I think the Vatican is moving towards that kind of canonical solution.”

He also noted that the controversy unleashed by Bishop Richard Williamson’s statements on the Nazi holocaust “was a well-planned attack, not against the Society, but directly against the person of Pope Benedict XVI, in order to tarnish his gesture.”

THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

October 22, 2009

Christ, the Lover of Mankind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Antiochian-Thomist @ 10:36 pm

Christ

“Oath-Keepers”: Alienated & Radicalized?

Filed under: Politics — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:52 pm

The following is an excerpt of an article composed by Pat Buchanan for Chronicles Magazine.

Alienated & Radicalized

by Patrick J. Buchanan

October 20th, 2009

In the brief age of Obama, we have had “truthers,” “birthers,” Tea Party activists and town-hall dissenters.

Comes now, the “Oath Keepers.” And who might they be?

Writes Alan Maimon in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Oath Keepers, depending on where one stands, are “either strident defenders of liberty or dangerous peddlers of paranoia.”

Formed in March, they are ex-military and police who repledge themselves to defend the Constitution, even if it means disobeying orders. If the U.S. government ordered law enforcement agencies to violate Second Amendment rights by disarming the people, Oath Keepers will not obey.

“The whole point of Oath Keepers is to stop a dictatorship from ever happening here,” says founding father Stewart Rhodes, an ex-Army paratrooper and Yale-trained lawyer. “My focus is on the guys with the guns, because they can’t do it without them.

“We say if the American people decide it’s time for a revolution, we’ll fight with you.”

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE.

Bulgarian Orthodox Leader Affirms Desire for Unity

Filed under: Ecumenism — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 7:41 pm

Croatian Politician Invites Pope to Visit

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A Bulgarian Orthodox prelate told Benedict XVI of his desire for unity, and his commitment to accelerate communion with the Catholic Church.

At the end of Wednesday’s general audience, Bishop Tichon, head of the diocese for Central and Western Europe of the Patriarchate of Bulgaria, stated to the Pope, “We must find unity as soon as possible and finally celebrate together,” L’Osservatore Romano reported.

“People don’t understand our divisions and our discussions,” the bishop stated. He affirmed that he will “not spare any efforts” to work for the quick restoration of “communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”

Bishop Tichon said that “the theological dialogue that is going forward in these days in Cyprus is certainly important, but we should not be afraid to say that we must find as soon as possible the way to celebrate together.”

“A Catholic will not become an Orthodox and vice versa, but we must approach the altar together,” he added.

The prelate told the Pontiff that “this aspiration is a feeling that arose from the works of the assembly” of his diocese, held in Rome, in which all the priests and two delegates from every Bulgarian Orthodox parish took part.

“We have come to the Pope to express our desire for unity and also because he is the Bishop of Rome, the city that hosted our assembly,” he stated.

Initiatives

After the bishop, Luka Bebic, speaker of the Croatian Parliament, addressed the Holy Father, inviting the Pontiff to visit his homeland and thanking him “for the support the Holy See has given our people since independence, during the war back then and now in the process that will lead Croatia to enter the European Union.”

Benedict XVI next greeted members of the Association Rondine Cittadella della Pace [Citadel of Peace], which promotes dialogue and peace by bringing together students from conflict areas to live and study in community.

They shared with the Pope a concrete proposal titled “14 Points for Peace in the Caucasus” that was developed at an international congress the association organized in May.

The proposal was also distributed to the ambassadors of the Caucasus countries and to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Young people of all the ethnic and religious groups of the Caucasus were also present at the audience.

Members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha, whose founder, Cardinal Ciriaco María Sancha y Hervas, was beatified Sunday in Toledo, Spain, also greeted the Pontiff. Headed by their superior, Sister Maria del Carmen Dominguez, the religious expressed to the Holy Father their commitment to be faithful to their original charism “of service to the poor, orphans and the elderly.”

Many Churches of the (former) Anglican Communion to Reunite With Rome

Filed under: Ecumenism, Petrine Primacy — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 12:18 am

Exciting news regarding the relations between many churches of the former Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s Unexpected Announcement

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A text message sent Monday evening ensured that Vatican correspondents wouldn’t miss today’s announcement that Benedict XVI is facilitating the process for groups of Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.

[…]

Given the Vatican’s announcement, several agencies and newspapers began to publish brief articles, which in general coincided in interpreting this message as the announcement of the entry of numerous Anglicans into the Catholic Church, something that had been expected for more than a year.

However, these sources had no more details on Benedict XVI’s imminent apostolic constitution with which he creates personal ordinariates to receive former Anglican faithful.

Hours after the press conference, images of the meeting were published on the Vatican’s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/vatican).

Anglican Archbishop: Our Prayers Have Been Answered

Welcomes Pope’s Offer of Personal Ordinariates

BLACKWOOD, South Australia, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The prayers of Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church have been more than answered today, according to the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion.

Archbishop John Hepworth said this today in a statement that responded to the Vatican announcement that Benedict XVI would allow Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition.

This policy has been established in a forthcoming apostolic constitution, and it responds to requests from Anglicans who have expressed wishes to become Catholic, particularly as the Anglican Tradition continues to take steps toward opening their priesthood and episcopate to women and active homosexuals, and blessing same-sex unions.

Between 20 and 30 Anglican bishops have made such a request.

The constitution was announced at a press conference at the Vatican today, offered by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Hepworth, who also heads the Diocese of Australia in the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, said that the Traditional Anglican Communion is “profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”

Traditional Anglican Communion on Personal Ordinariates

“It More Than Matches Our Prayers”

BLACKWOOD, South Australia, OCT. 20, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the statement published by Archbishop John Hepworth, the primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, in response to the Vatican announcement today of a provision that has been established by Benedict XVI that would allow Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition.

* * *

I have spent this evening speaking to bishops, priests and lay people of the Traditional Anglican Communion in England, Africa, Australia, India, Canada, the United States and South America.

We are profoundly moved by the generosity of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. He offers in this Apostolic Constitution the means for “former Anglicans to enter into the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church.” He hopes that we can “find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to us and consistent with the Catholic faith.” He then warmly states “we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”

May I firstly state that this is an act of great goodness on the part of the Holy Father. He has dedicated his pontificate to the cause of unity. It more than matches the dreams we dared to include in our petition of two years ago. It more than matches our prayers. In those two years, we have become very conscious of the prayers of our friends in the Catholic Church. Perhaps their prayers dared to ask even more than ours.

While we await the full text of the Apostolic Constitution, we are also moved by the pastoral nature of the Notes issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. My fellow bishops have indeed signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and made a statement about the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, reflecting the words of Pope John Paul II in his letter “Ut Unum Sint”.

Other Anglican groups have indicated to the Holy See a similar desire and a similar acceptance of Catholic faith. As Cardinal Levada has indicated, this response to Anglican petitions is to be of a global character. It will now be for these groups to forge a close cooperation, even where they transcend the existing boundaries of the Anglican Communion.

Fortunately, the Statement issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury reflects the understanding that we have gained from him that he does not stand in our way, and understands the decisions that we have reached. Both his reaction and our petition are fruits of a century of prayer for Christian unity, a cause that many times must have seemed forlorn. We now express our gratitude to Archbishop Williams, and have regularly assured him of our prayers. The See of Augustine remains a focus of our pilgrim way, as it was in ages of faith in the past.

I have made a commitment to the Traditional Anglican Communion that the response of the Holy See will be taken to each of our National Synods. They have already endorsed our pathway. Now the Holy See challenges us to seek in the specific structures that are now available the “full, visible unity, especially Eucharistic communion,” for which we have long prayed and about which we have long dreamed. That process will begin at once.

In the Anglican Office of Morning Prayer, the great Hymn of Thanksgiving, the Te Deum, is part of the daily Order. It is with heartfelt thanks to Almighty God, the Lord and Source of all peace and unity, that the hymn is on our lips today. This is a moment of grace, perhaps even a moment of history, not because the past is undone, but because the past is transformed.

Other Commentaries

The End of the Anglican Communion

Pope Benedict to Anglicans: Come Home to Rome

October 21, 2009

The CATHOLIC HOLIDAY and HERITAGE of HALLOWEEN

Filed under: History, Liturgy, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 8:29 pm

Being a Catholic in America often ends up meaning that, due to the puritanical/Calvinistic influences of our protestant culture, you are a heretic that happens to goes to Mass/Divine Liturgy and Confession. In practice, this does not necessarily translate into openly espousing heterodox doctrine, rather it usually manifests itself in some sort of material heresy that is the product of overzealousness in one thing or another. The end result is usually some twisted version of Americanism or Jansenism.

Our Calvinist admixture usually displays itself around holidays of various assortments. For Americanists, the 4th of July and Thanksgiving are veritable Holy Days of Obligation. Many of this strain of contagion feel the need on these civic holidays to sing patriotic songs during the processionals and recessionals of liturgies ad nauseam. This, however, is not the focus of this post. The focus is the upcoming holiday of Halloween.

I hear it every year. Well-intentioned Catholics denouncing Halloween shouting, “It’s pagan! It’s Satanic! It’s demonic! It’s Druidic!” In reality all that they are displaying are their puritanical tendencies or how well they have been duped by duplicitous and calumniating myths fueled by Protestants and Occultists.

Sorry, but here’s a “burst your bubble” moment. Halloween is a CATHOLIC holiday.

What has happened is that there has been a long attempt to corrupt Halloween and take it over…by Satanists and Capitalists…oh, wait…uh…no, never-mind, that wasn’t necessarily redundant.

Nonetheless, instead of spending a lot of time having to argue this point again and again (it happens every year), I’ll let some others, clergyman and laymen alike, of greater reputation take the helm this time. A few articles follow with links.

If you are against Halloween, but have every desire and intention to rebuild Catholic culture, if you have any desire to actually know the TRUTH and not succumb to MYTH, then read the following articles.

SURPRISE: HALLOWEEN’S NOT A PAGAN FESTIVAL AFTER ALL

By FR. AUGUSTINE THOMPSON, O.P.

Excerpted from Catholic Parent magazine in 2000.

We’ve all heard the allegations: Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods.

Nothing could be further from the truth [Preach it, Fr. Thompson!]. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope [Yikes! Bringing out the big guns early.], and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety.

It’s true that the ancient Celts of Ireland and Britain celebrated a minor festival on October 31–as they did on the last day of most other months of the year. However, Halloween falls on the last day of October because the Feast of All Saints, or “All Hallows,” falls on November 1. The feast in honor of all the saints in heaven used to be celebrated on May 13, but Pope Gregory III (d. 741) moved it to November 1, the dedication day of All Saints Chapel in St. Peter’s at Rome. Later, in the 840s, Pope Gregory IV commanded that All Saints be observed everywhere. And so the holy day spread to Ireland.

The day before was the feast’s evening vigil, “All Hallows Even,” or “Hallowe’en.” In those days Halloween didn’t have any special significance for Christians or for long-dead Celtic pagans.

In 998, St. Odilo, the abbot of the powerful monastery of Cluny in southern France, added a celebration on November 2. This was a day of prayer for the souls of all the faithful departed. This feast, called All Souls Day, spread from France to the rest of Europe.

So now the Church had feasts for all those in heaven and all those in purgatory. What about those in the other place? It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory, they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. Thus, in Ireland at least, all the dead came to be remembered–even if the clergy were not terribly sympathetic to Halloween and never allowed All Damned Day into the church calendar.

But that still isn’t our celebration of Halloween. Our traditions on this holiday center on dressing up in fanciful costumes, which isn’t Irish at all. Rather, this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague–the Black Death–and it lost about half its population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife.

More Masses were said on All Souls Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality. We know these representations as the danse macabre, or “dance of death,” which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people–popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc.–into the tomb. Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. [You mean to tell me all those physical representations of the dead are Catholic?! Sorry to disappoint, but yes…IT SURE IS CATHOLIC…look at the Spanish Catholic world’s “day of the dead”.]

But the French dressed up on All Souls, not Halloween; and the Irish, who had Halloween, did not dress up. How the two became mingled probably happened first in the British colonies of North America during the 1700s, when Irish and French Catholics began to intermarry. The Irish focus on hell gave the French masquerades an even more macabre twist.

But as every young ghoul knows, dressing up isn’t the point; the point is getting as many goodies as possible. Where on earth did “trick or treat” come in?

CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE HERE.

SHOULD CATHOLICS CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN?

By SCOTT RICHERT

A Controversial Holiday:

Every year, a debate rages among Christians: Is Halloween a satanic holiday or merely a secular one? Should Christian children dress up like ghosts and goblins? Is it good for children to be scared? Lost in the debate is the history of Halloween, which, far from being a pagan religious event, is actually a Christian celebration that’s almost 1,300 years old. [emphasis added]

The Christian Origins of Halloween:

“Halloween” is a name that means nothing by itself. It is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve,” and it designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known as All Saints Day. (“Hallow,” as a noun, is an old English word for saint. As a verb, it means to make something holy or to honor it as holy.) All Saints Day, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and both the feast and the vigil have been celebrated since the early eighth century, when they were instituted by Pope Gregory III in Rome. (A century later, they were extended to the Church at large by Pope Gregory IV.) [So, this so-called “pagan” holiday was Pontifically mandated.]

The Pagan Origins of Halloween:

Despite concerns among some Christians in recent years about the “pagan origins” of Halloween, there really are none. [emphasis added] The first attempts to show some connection between the vigil of All Saints and the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain came over a thousand years after All Saints Day became a universal feast, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain.

In Celtic peasant culture, however, elements of the harvest festival survived, even among Christians, just as the Christmas tree owes its origins to pre-Christian Germanic traditions without being a pagan ritual.

Combining the Pagan and the Christian:

The Celtic elements included lighting bonfires, carving turnips (and, in America, pumpkins), and going from house to house, collecting treats, as carolers do at Christmas. But the “occult” aspects of Halloween–ghosts and demons–actually have their roots in Catholic belief. Christians believed that, at certain times of the year (Christmas is another), the veil separating earth from Purgatory, heaven, and even hell becomes more thin, and the souls in Purgatory (ghosts) and demons can be more readily seen. Thus the tradition of Halloween costumes owes as much, if not more, to Christian belief as to Celtic tradition.

The (First) Anti-Catholic Attack on Halloween:

The current attacks on Halloween aren’t the first. In post-Reformation England, All Saints Day and its vigil were suppressed, and the Celtic peasant customs associated with Halloween were outlawed. Christmas, and the traditions surrounding that feast, were similarly attacked, and the Puritan Parliament banned Christmas outright in 1647. In America, Puritans outlawed the celebration of both Christmas and Halloween, which were revived largely by German Catholic (in the case of Christmas) and Irish Catholic (in the case of Halloween) immigrants in the 19th century.[In short, attacks on Halloween are PURITANICAL in origin.]

The Commercialization of Halloween:

Continued opposition to Halloween was largely an expression of anti-Catholicism (as well as anti-Irish prejudice) [emphasis added]. But by the early 20th century, Halloween, like Christmas, was becoming highly commercialized [emphasis added]. Pre-made costumes, decorations, and special candy all became widely available, and the Christian origins of the holiday were downplayed.

The rise of horror films, and especially the slasher films of the late 70’s and 80’s, contributed to Halloween’s bad reputation, as did the claims of putative Satanists and Wiccans, who created a mythology in which Halloween was their festival, co-opted later by Christians. [emphasis added]

The (Second) Anti-Catholic Attack on Halloween:

A new backlash against Halloween by non-Catholic Christians began in the 1980’s, in part because of claims that Halloween was the devil’s night; in part because of urban legends about poisons and razor blades in Halloween candy; and in part because of an explicit opposition to Catholicism. Jack Chick, a rabidly anti-Catholic fundamentalist who distributes Bible tracts in the form of small comic books, helped lead the charge.

By the late 1990’s, many Catholic parents, unaware of the anti-Catholic origins of the attack on Halloween, had begun to question Halloween as well [Yes, ’tis typical…we Catholics drink the Protestant Kool-Aid…and often ask for seconds], and alternative celebrations became popular.

Alternatives to Halloween Activities:

Ironically, one of the most popular Christian alternatives to celebrating Halloween is a secular “Harvest Festival,” which has more in common with the Celtic Samhain than it does with the Catholic All Saints Day. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the harvest, but there’s no need to strip such a celebration of connections with the Christian liturgical calendar.[thank you.]

Another popular Catholic alternative is an All Saints Party, usually held on Halloween and featuring costumes (of saints rather than ghouls) and candy. At best, though, this is an attempt to Christianize an already Christian holiday.

Safety Concerns and the Fear Factor:

Parents are in the best position to decide whether their children can participate safely in Halloween activities, and, in today’s world, it’s understandable that many choose to err on the side of caution. One concern that’s often overblown, however, is the effect that fright might have on children. Some children, of course, are very sensitive, but most love scaring others and being scared themselves (within limits, of course). Any parent knows that the “Boo!” is usually followed by laughter, not only from the child doing the scaring, but from the one being scared. Halloween provides a structured environment for fear.

Making Your Decision:

In the end, the choice is yours to make as a parent. If you choose, as my wife and I do, to let your children participate in Halloween, simply stress the need for physical safety (including checking over their candy when they return home), and explain the Christian origins of Halloween to your children. Tie the vigil explicitly to the Feast of All Saints, and explain to your children why we celebrate it, so that they won’t view All Saints Day as “the boring day when we have to go to church before we can eat some more candy.”

Let’s reclaim Halloween for Christians, by returning to its roots in the Catholic Church! [Amen! Mr Richert! …and Thank You.]

THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE.

October 17, 2009

A Catholic View of Orthodoxy by Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P.

originally from: New Blackfriars, Vol 77, No. 905, June 1996

this version from Christendom-Awake.org.

In this article I attempt an overview in four parts. First, I shall discuss why Catholics should not only show some ecumenical concern for Orthodoxy but also treat the Orthodox as their privileged or primary ecumenical partner.

Secondly, I shall ask why the schism between the Catholic and Orthodox churches occurred, focussing as it finally did on four historic ‘dividing issues’.

Thirdly, I shall evaluate the present state of Catholic-Orthodox relations, with particular reference to the problem of the ‘Uniate’ or Eastern Catholic churches.

Fourthly and finally, having been highly sympathetic and complimentary to the Orthodox throughout, I shall end by saying what, in my judgment, is wrong with the Orthodox Church and why it needs Catholicism for (humanly speaking) its own salvation.

Part 1

First, then, why should Catholics take the Orthodox as not only an ecumenical partner but the ecumenical partner par excellence? There are three kinds of reasons: historical, theological and practical – of which in most discussion only the historical and theological are mentioned since the third sort ? what I term the ‘practical’ takes us into areas of potential controversy among Western Catholics themselves.

The historical reasons for giving preference to Orthodoxy over all other separated communions turn on the fact that the schism between the Roman church and the ancient Chalcedonian churches of the East is the most tragic and burdensome of the splits in historic Christendom if we take up a universal rather than merely regional, perspective.

Though segments of the Church of the Fathers were lost to the Great Church through the departure from Catholic unity of the Assyrian (Nestorian) and Oriental Orthodox (Monophysite) churches after the Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) respectively, Christians representing the two principal cultures of the Mediterranean basin where the Gospel had its greatest flowering – the Greek and the Latin – lived in peace and unity with each other, despite occasional stirrings and some local difficulties right up until the end of the patristic epoch.

That epoch came to its climax with the Seventh Ecumenical Council, Nicaea II, in 787, the last Council Catholics and Orthodox have in common, and the Council which, in its teaching on. the icon, and notably on the icon of Christ, brought to a triumphant close the series of conciliar clarifications of the Christological faith of the Church which had opened with Nicaea I in 325.

The iconography, liturgical life, Creeds and dogmatic believing of the ancient Church come down to us in forms at once Eastern and Western; and it was this rich unity of patristic culture, expressing as it did the faith of the apostolic community, which was shattered by the schism between Catholics and Orthodox, never (so far) to be repaired.

And let me say at this point that Church history provides exceedingly few examples of historic schisms overcome, so if history is to be our teacher we have no grounds for confidence or optimism that this most catastrophic of all schisms will be undone. ‘Catastrophic’ because, historically, as the present pope has pointed out, taking up a metaphor suggested by a French ecclesiologist, the late Cardinal Yves Congar: each Church, West and East, henceforth could only breathe with one lung.

No Church could now lay claim to the total cultural patrimony of both Eastern and Western Chalcedonianism – that is, the christologically and therefore triadologically and soteriologically correct understanding of the Gospel. The result of the consequent rivalry and conflict was the creation of an invisible line down the middle of Europe. And what the historic consequences of that were we know well enough from the situation of the former Yugoslavia today.

After the historical, the theological. The second reason for giving priority to ecumenical relations with the Orthodox is theological. If the main point of ecumenism, or work for the restoration of the Church’s full unity, were simply to redress historic wrongs and defuse historically generated causes of conflict, then we might suppose that we should be equally – or perhaps even more – interested in addressing the CatholicProtestant divide.

After all, there have been no actual wars of religion – simply as such – between Catholics and Orthodox, unlike those between Catholics and Protestants in sixteenth century France or the seventeenth century Holy Roman Empire. But theologically there cannot be any doubt that the Catholic Church must accord greater importance to dialogue with the Orthodox than to conversations with any Protestant body.

For the Orthodox churches are churches in the apostolic succession; they are bearers of the apostolic Tradition, witnesses to apostolic faith, worship and order – even though they are also, and at the same time, unhappily sundered from the prima sedes, the first see.

Their Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers, their liturgical texts and practices, their iconographic tradition, these remain loci theologici – authoritative sources – to which the Catholic theologian can and must turn in his or her intellectual construal of Catholic Christianity. And that cannot possibly be said of the monuments of Anglican, Lutheran, Reformed or any other kind of Protestantism.

To put the same point in another way: the separated Western communities have Christian traditions – in the plural, with a small ‘t’ – which may well be worthy of the Catholic theologian’s interest and respect. But only the Orthodox are, along with the Catholic Church, bearers of Holy Tradition – in the singular, with a capital ‘T’, that is, of the Gospel in its plenary organic transmission through the entirety of the life – credal, doxological, ethical – of Christ’s Church.

There is for Catholics, therefore, a theological imperative to restore unity with the Orthodox which is lacking in our attitude to Protestantism – though I should not be misinterpreted as saying that there is no theological basis for the impulse to Catholic-Protestant rapprochement for we have it in the prayer of our Lord himself at the Great Supper, ‘that they all may be one’.

I am emphasising the greater priority we should give to relations with the Orthodox because I do not believe the optimistic statement of many professional ecumenists to the effect that all bilateral dialogues – all negotiations with individual separated communions – feed into each other in a positive and unproblematic way.

It would be nice to think that a step towards one separated group of Christians never meant a step away from another one, but such a pious claim does not become more credible with the frequency of its repeating. The issue of the ordination of women, to take but one particularly clear example, is evidently a topic where to move closer to world Protestantism is to move further from global Orthodoxy – and vice versa.

This brings me to my third reason for advocating ecumenical rapport with Orthodoxy: its practical advantages. At the present time, the Catholic Church, in many parts of the world, is undergoing one of the most serious crises in its history, a crisis resulting from a disorienting encounter with secular culture and compounded by a failure of Christian discernment on the part of many people over the last quarter century – from the highest office – holders to the ordinary faithful.

This crisis touches many aspects of Church life but notably theology and catechesis, liturgy and spirituality, Religious life and Christian ethics at large. Orthodoxy is well placed to stabilise Catholicism in most if not all of these areas.

Were we to ask in a simply empirical or phenomenological frame of mind just what the Orthodox Church is like, we could describe it as a dogmatic Church, a liturgical Church, a contemplative Church, and a monastic Church – and in all these respects it furnishes a helpful counter-balance to certain features of much western Catholicism today.

Firstly, then, Orthodoxy is a dogmatic Church. It lives from out of the fulness of the truth impressed by the Spirit on the minds of the apostles at the first Pentecost, a fulness which transformed their awareness and made possible that specifically Christian kind of thinking we call dogmatic thought.

The Holy Trinity, the God-man, the Mother of God and the saints, the Church as the mystery of the Kingdom expressed in a common life on earth, the sacraments as means to humanity’s deification – our participation in the uncreated life of God himself: these are the truths among which the Orthodox live, move and have their being.

Orthodox theology in all its forms is a call to the renewal of our minds in Christ, something which finds its measure not in pure reason or secular culture but in the apostolic preaching attested to by the holy Fathers, in accord with the principal dogmata of faith as summed up in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church.[1]

Secondly, Orthodoxy is a liturgical Church. It is a Church for which the Liturgy provides a total ambience expressed in poetry, music and iconography, text and gesture, and where the touchstone of the liturgical life is not the capacity of liturgy to express contemporary concerns (legitimate though these may be in their own context), but, rather, the ability of the Liturgy to act as a vehicle of the Kingdom, our anticipated entry, even here and now, into the divine life.

Thirdly, Orthodoxy is a contemplative Church. Though certainly not ignoring the calls of missionary activity and practical charity, essential to the Gospel and the Gospel community as these are, the Orthodox lay their primary emphasis on the life of prayer as the absolutely necessary condition of all Christianity worth the name.

In the tradition of the desert fathers, and of such great theologian-mystics as the Cappadocian fathers, St Maximus and St Gregory Palamas, encapsulated as these contributions are in that anthology of Eastern Christian spirituality the Philokalia, Orthodoxy gives testimony to the primacy of what the Saviour himself called the first and greatest commandment, to love the Lord your God with your whole heart, soul, mind and strength, for it is in the light of this commandment with its appeal for a God-centred process of personal conversion and sanctification – that all our efforts to live out its companion commandment (to love our neighbour as ourself) must be guided.

And fourthly, Orthodoxy is a monastic Church, a Church with a monastic heart where the monasteries provide the spiritual fathers of the bishops, the counsellors of the laity and the example of a Christian maximalism. A Church without a flourishing monasticism, without the lived ‘martyrdom’ of an asceticism inspired by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s Cross and Resurrection, could hardly be a Church according to the mind of the Christ of the Gospels, for monasticism, of all Christian life ways, is the one which most clearly and publicly leaves all things behind for the sake of the Kingdom.

Practically speaking, then, the re-entry into Catholic unity of this dogmatic, liturgical, contemplative and monastic Church could only have the effect of steadying and strengthening those aspects of Western Catholicism which today are most under threat by the corrosives of secularism and theological liberalism.

1. Cf. A. Nichols, O. P., Light from the East. Authors and Themes in Orthodox Theology (London 1995).

Read the rest of the article HERE.

The Father as the Source of the Whole Trinity: The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Greek and Latin Traditions

Filed under: Doctrine, Sacred Scripture and Theology — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 1:24 pm

by the Pontifical Council Promoting Christian Unity.

from the website: CatholicCulture.org.

The Greek and Latin Traditions About the Procession of the Holy Spirit

In its first report on The Mystery of the Church and of the Eucharist in the Light of the Mystery of the Holy Trinity, unanimously approved in Munich on 6 July 1982, the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church had mentioned the centuries-old difficulty between the two Churches concerning the eternal origin of the Holy Spirit. Not being able to treat this subject for itself in this first phase of the dialogue, the Commission stated: “Without wishing to resolve yet the difficulties which have arisen between East and West concerning the relationship between the Son and the Spirit, we can already say together that this Spirit, which proceeds from the Father (Jn. 15:26) as the sole source in the Trinity and which has become the Spirit of our sonship (Rom. 8:15) since he is also the Spirit of the Son (Gal. 4:6), is communicated to us particularly in the Eucharist by this Son upon whom he reposes in time and in eternity (Jn. 1:32).” (Information Service of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, no. 49, p. 108, I, 6).

The Catholic Church acknowledges the conciliar, ecumenical, normative, and irrevocable value, as expression of the one common faith of the Church and of all Christians, of the Symbol professed in Greek at Constantinople in 381 by the Second Ecumenical Council. No profession of faith peculiar to a particular liturgical tradition can contradict this expression of the faith taught by the undivided Church.

On the basis of Jn. 15:26, this Symbol confesses the Spirit “to ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon” (“who takes his origin from the Father”). The Father alone is the principle without principle (arche anarchos) of the two other persons of the Trinity, the sole source (peghe) of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, therefore, takes his origin from the Father alone (ek monou tou Patros) in a principal, proper, and immediate manner.1

The Father’s Monarchy

The Greek Fathers and the whole Christian Orient speak, in this regard, of the “Father’s Monarchy,” and the Western tradition, following St. Augustine, also confesses that the Holy Spirit takes his origin from the Father principaliter, that is, as principle (De Trinitate XV, 25, 47, P.L. 42, 1094-1095). In this sense, therefore, the two traditions recognize that the “monarchy of the Father” implies that the Father is the sole Trinitarian Cause (Aitia) or Principle (Principium) of the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This origin of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone as Principle of the whole Trinity is called ekporeusis by Greek tradition, following the Cappadocian Fathers. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, in fact, characterizes the Spirit’s relationship of origin from the Father by the proper term ekporeusis, distinguishing it from that of procession (to proienai) which the Spirit has in common with the Son. “The Spirit is truly the Spirit proceeding (proion) from the Father, not by filiation, for it is not by generation, but by ekporeusis” (Discourse 39. 12, Sources chretiennes 358, p. 175). Even if St. Cyril of Alexandria happens at times to apply the verb ekporeusthai to the Son’s relationship of origin from the Father, he never uses it for the relationship of the Spirit to the Son (c.f. Commentary on St. John, X, 2, P.G. 74, 910D; Ep 55, P.G. 77, 316D, etc.). Even for St. Cyril, the term ekporeusis as distinct from the term “proceed” (proienai), can only characterize a relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Trinity: the Father.

That is why the Orthodox Orient has always refused the formula to ek tou Patros kai tou Uiou ekporeuomenon [an unwisely proposed translation of “who proceeds from the Father and the Son”] and the Catholic Church has refused the addition kai tou Uiou [and the Son] to the formula ek to Patros ekporeumenon in the Greek text of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Symbol, even in its liturgical use by Latins.

Orthodox View: Holy Spirit from the Father Through the Son

The Orthodox Orient does not, however, refuse all eternal relationship between the Son and the Holy Spirit in their origin from the Father. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a great witness to our two traditions, makes this clear in response to Macedonius who was asking: “[Macedonius asks] What then is lacking to the Spirit to be the Son, for if nothing was lacking to him, he would be the Son? We say [Gregory answers] that nothing is lacking to him, for nothing is lacking to God; but it is the difference in manifestation, if I may say so, or in the relationship between them (tes pros allela scheseos diaphoron) which makes also the difference in what they are called” (Discourse 31, 9, Sources chretiennes No. 250, pp. 290-292).

The Orthodox Orient has, however, given a happy expression to this relationship with the formula dia tou Uiou ekporeuomenon (who takes his origin from the Father by or through the Son). St. Basil already said of the Holy Spirit: “Through the Son (dia tou Uiou), who is one, he is joined to the Father, who is one, and by himself completes the blessed Trinity” (Treatise on the Holy Spirit, XVIII, 45, Sources chretiennes 17 bis, p. 408). St. Maximus the Confessor said: “By nature (phusei) the Holy Spirit in his being (kat’ousian) takes substantially (ousiodos) takes his origin (ekporeuomenon) from the Father through the Son who is begotten (di Uiou gennethentos)” (Quaestiones ad Thalassium, LXIII, P.G. 90, 672 C). We find this again in St. John Damascene: “ho Pater aeien, echon ex eautou ton autou logon, kai dia tou logou autou ex eautou to Pneuma autou ekporeuomenon,” in English: “I say that God is always Father since he has always his Word coming from himself, and through his Word, having his Spirit issuing from him” (Dialogus contra Manichaeos 5, P.G. 94, 1512 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1981, p. 354; c.f. P.G. 94, 848-849 A). This aspect of the Trinitarian mystery was confessed at the seventh Ecumenical council, meeting at Nicaea in 787, by the Patriarch of Constantinople St. Tarasius, who developed the Symbol as follows: “to Pneuma to agion, to Kyrion kai Zoopoion, to ek tou Patros dia tou Uiou ekporeuomenon” (Mansi, XII, 1122 D).

This doctrine all bears witness to the fundamental Trinitarian faith as it was professed together by East and West at the time of the Fathers. It is the basis that must serve for the continuation of the current dialogue between Catholic and Orthodox.

Catholic Teaching on the Filioque

The doctrine of the Filioque must be understood and presented by the Catholic Church in such a way that it cannot appear to contradict the Monarchy of the Father nor the fact that he is the sole origin (arche, aitia) of the ekporeusis of the Spirit. The Filioque is, in fact, situated in a theological and linguistic context different from that of the affirmation of the sole Monarchy of the Father, the one origin of the Son and of the Spirit. Against Arianism, which was still virulent in the West, its purpose was to stress the fact that the Holy Spirit is of the same divine nature as the Son, without calling in question the one Monarchy of the Father.

We are presenting here the authentic doctrinal meaning of the Filioque on the basis of the Trinitarian faith of the Symbol professed by the second Ecumenical Council at Constantinople. We are giving this authoritative interpretation, while being aware of how inadequate human language is to express the ineffable mystery of the Holy Trinity, one God, a mystery which is beyond our words and our thoughts.

The Catholic Church interprets the Filioque with reference to the conciliar and ecumenical, normative, and irrevocable value of the confession of faith in the eternal origin of the Holy Spirit, as defined in 381 by the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in its Symbol. This Symbol only became known and received by Rome on the occasion of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. In the meantime, on the basis of the earlier Latin theological tradition, Fathers of the Church of the West like St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Leo the Great, had confessed that the Holy Spirit proceeds (procedit) eternally from the Father and the Son.2

Since the Latin Bible (the Vulgate and earlier Latin translations) had translated Jn 15:26 (para tou Patros ekporeutai) by “qui a Patre procedit,” the Latins translated the “ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon” of the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople by “ex Patre procedentum” (Mansi VII, 112 B). In this way, a false equivalence was involuntarily created with regard to the eternal origin of the Spirit between the Oriental theology of the ekporeusis and the Latin theology of the processio.

The Greek ekporeusis signifies only the relationship of origin to the Father alone as the principle without principle of the Trinity. The Latin processio, on the contrary, is a more common term, signifying the communication of the consubstantial divinity from the Father to the Son and from the Father, through and with the Son, to the Holy Spirit.3 In confessing the Holy Spirit “ex Patre procedentem,” the Latins, therefore, could only suppose an implicit Filioque which would later be made explicit in their liturgical version of the Symbol.

In the West, the Filioque was confessed from the fifth century through the Quicumque (or Athanasianum,’ DS 75) Symbol, and then by the Councils of Toledo in Visigothic Spain between 589 and 693 (DS 470, 485, 490, 527, 568), to affirm Trinitarian consubstantiality. If these Councils did not perhaps insert it in the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople, it is certainly to be found there from the end of the eighth century, as evidenced in the proceedings of the Council of Aquileia-Friuli in 796 (Mansi XIII, 836, D, ff.) and that of Aix-la-Chapelle of 809 (Mansi XIV, 17). In the ninth century, however, faced with Charlemagne, Pope Leo III, in his anxiety to preserve unity with the Orient in the confession of faith, resisted this development of the Symbol which had spread spontaneously in the West, while safeguarding the truth contained in the Filioque. Rome only admitted it in 1014 into the liturgical Latin version of the Creed.

In the Patristic period, an analogous theology had developed in Alexandria, stemming from St. Athanasius. As in the Latin tradition, it was expressed by the more common term of ‘procession’ (proienai) indicating the communication of the divinity to the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son in their consubstantial communion: “The Spirit proceeds (proeisi) from the Father and the Son; clearly, he is of the divine substance, proceeding (proion) substantially (ousiodos) in it and from it” (St. Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaurus, PG 75, 585 A).4

In the seventh century, the Byzantines were shocked by a confession of faith made by the Pope and including the Filioque with reference to the procession of the Holy Spirit; they translated the procession inaccurately by ekporeusis. St. Maximus the Confessor then wrote a letter from Rome linking together the two approaches — Cappadocian and Alexandrian — to the eternal origin of the Spirit: the Father is the sole Principle without Principle (in Greek, aitia) of the Son and of the Spirit; the Father and the Son are consubstantial source of the procession (to proienai) of this same Spirit. “For the procession they (the Romans) brought the witness of the Latin Fathers, as well, of course, as that of St. Cyril of Alexandria in his sacred study on the Gospel of St. John. On this basis they showed that they themselves do not make the Son cause (aitia) of the Spirit. They know, indeed, that the Father is the sole cause of the Son and of the Spirit, of one by generation and of the other by ekporeusis — but they explained that the latter comes (proienai) through the Son, and they showed in this way the unity and the immutability of the essence” (Letter to Marin of Cyprus, PG 91, 136 A-B).

According to St. Maximus, echoing Rome, the Filioque does not concern the ekporeusis of the Spirit issued from the Father as source of the Trinity, but manifests his proienai (processio) in the consubstantial communion of the Father and the Son, while excluding any possible subordinationist interpretation of the Father’s Monarchy.

The fact that in Latin and Alexandrian theology the Holy Spirit proceeds (proeisi) from the Father and the Son in their consubstantial communion does not mean that it is the divine essence or substance that proceed in him, but that it is communicated from the Father and the Son who have it in common. This point was confessed as dogma in 1215 by the fourth Lateran Council: “The substance does not generate, is not begotten, does not proceed; but it is the Father who generates, the Son who is begotten, the Holy Spirit who proceeds: so that there is distinction in persons and unity in nature. Although other (alius) is the Father, other the Son, other the Holy Spirit, they are not another reality (aliud), but what the Father is the Son is and the Holy Spirit equally; so, according to the orthodox and catholic faith, we believe that they are consubstantial. For the Father, generating eternally the Son, has given to him his substance… It is clear that, in being born the Son has received the substance of the Father without this substance being in any way diminished, and so the Father and the Son have the same substance. So the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from them both, are one same reality” (DS 804-805).

In 1274, the second Council of Lyons confessed that “the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, not as from two principles but as from one single principle (tamquam ex uno principio)” (DS 850). In the light of the Lateran Council, which preceded the second Council of Lyons, it is clear that it is not the divine essence that can be the “one principle” for the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church interprets this formula in no.248 as follows: “The eternal order of the divine persons in their consubstantial communion implies that the Father, as the ‘principle without principle,’ is the first origin of the Spirit, but also that as Father of the only Son, he is, with the Son, the single principle from which the Spirit proceeds” (Council of Lyons II, DS 850).

The Catholic Church understands that the Eastern tradition expresses first that it is characteristic of the Father to be the first origin of the Spirit. By confessing the Spirit as he “who takes his origin from the Father” (“ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon” cf. Jn 15:26), it affirms that he comes from the Father through the Son. The Western tradition expresses first the consubstantial communion between Father and Son, by saying that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (Filioque). “This legitimate complementarity, provided it does not become rigid, does not affect the identity of faith in the reality of the same mystery confessed.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church no.248). Being aware of this, the Catholic Church has refused the addition of kai tou Uiou to the formula ek tou Patros ekporeuomenon of the Symbol of Nicaea-Constantinople in the churches, even of Latin rite, which use it in Greek. The liturgical use of this original text remains always legitimate in the Catholic Church.

If it is correctly situated, the Filioque of the Latin tradition must not lead to subordination of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity. Even if the Catholic doctrine affirms that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son in the communication of their consubstantial communion, it nonetheless recognises the reality of the original relationship of the Holy Spirit as person with the Father, a relationship that the Greek Fathers express by the term ekporeusis.5

Harmony of Catholic and Orthodox teaching

In the same way, if in the Trinitarian order the Holy Spirit is consecutive to the relation between the Father and the Son, since he takes his origin from the Father as Father of the only Son,6 it is in the Spirit that this relationship between the Father and the Son itself attains its Trinitarian perfection. Just as the Father is characterised as Father by the Son he generates, so does the Spirit, by taking his origin from the Father, characterise the Father in the manner of the Trinity in relation to the Son and characterises the Son in the manner of the Trinity in his relation to the Father: in the fullness of the Trinitarian mystery they are Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.7

The Father only generates the Son by breathing (proballein in Greek) through him the Holy Spirit and the Son is only begotten by the Father insofar as the spiration (probole in Greek) passes through him. The Father is Father of the One Son only by being for him and through him the origin of the Holy Spirit.8

The Spirit does not precede the Son, since the Son characterises as Father the Father from whom the Spirit takes his origin, according to the Trinitarian order.9 But the spiration of the Spirit from the Father takes place by and through (the two senses of dia in Greek) the generation of the Son, to which it gives its Trinitarian character. It is in this sense that St. John Damascene says: “The Holy Spirit is a substantial power contemplated in his own distinct hypostasis, who proceeds from the Father and reposes in the Word” (De Fide Orthodoxa I, 7, PG 94, 805 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1973, p.16; Dialogus contra Manichaeos 5, PG 94. 1512 B, ed. B. Kotter, Berlin 1981, p. 354).10

What is this Trinitarian character that the person of the Holy Spirit brings to the very relationship between the Father and the Son? It is the original role of the Spirit in the economy with regard to the mission and work of the Son. The Father is love in is source (2 Cor 13:13; 1 Jn 4:8.16), the Son is “the Son that he loves” (Col 1:14). So a tradition dating back to St Augustine has seen in the Holy Spirit, through whom “God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5), love as the eternal Gift of the Father to his “beloved Son” (Mk 1:11, 9:7; Lk 20:13; Eph 1:6).11

The divine love which has its origin in the Father reposes in “the Son of his love” in order to exist consubstantially through the Son in the person of the Spirit, the Gift of love. This takes into account the fact that, through love, the Holy Spirit orients the whole life of Jesus towards the Father in the fulfilment of his will. The Father sends his Son (Gal 4:4) when Mary conceives him through the operation of the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 1:35). The Holy Spirit makes Jesus manifest as Son of the Father by resting upon him at baptism (cf. Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:33). He drives Jesus into the wilderness (cf. Mk 1:12). Jesus returns (“full of the Holy Spirit” (Lk 4:1). Then he begins his ministry “in the power of the Spirit” (Lk 4:14). He is filled with joy in the Spirit, blessing the Father for his gracious will (cf. Lk 10:21). He chooses his apostles “through the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2). He casts out demons by the Spirit of God (Mt 12:28). He offers himself to the Father “through the eternal Spirit” (Heb 9:14). On the Cross he “commits his Spirit” into the Father’s hands (Lk 23:46). “In the Spirit” he descended to the dead (cf. 1 Pet 3:19), and by the Spirit he was raised from the dead (cf. Rom 8:11) and “designated Son of God in power” (Rom 1:4).12 This role of the Spirit in the innermost human existence of the Son of God made man derives from an eternal Trinitarian relationship through which the Spirit, in his mystery as Gift of Love, characterises the relation between the Father, as source of love, and his beloved Son.

The original character of the person of the Spirit as eternal Gift of the Father’s love for his beloved Son shows that the Spirit, while coming from the Son in his mission, is the one who brings human beings into Christ’s filial relationship to his Father, for this relationship finds only in him its Trinitarian character: “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba!Father!” (Gal 4:6). In the mystery of salvation and in the life of the church, the Spirit, therefore, does much more than prolong the work of the Son. In fact, whatever Christ has instituted — Revelation, the church, the sacraments, the apostolic ministry, and its magisterium — calls for constant invocation (epiclesis) of the Holy Spirit and his action (energeia), so that the love that “never ends” (1 Cor 13:8) may be made manifest in the communion of the saints with the life of the Trinity.

Footnotes

[1] These are the terms employed by St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, Ia q. 36 a. 3 1um and 2um.

[2] It is Tertullian who lays the foundations for Trinitarian theology in the Latin tradition, on the basis of the substantial communication of the Father to the Son and through the Son to the Holy Spirit: “Christ says of the Spirit ‘He will take from what is mine’ (Jn 16:14), as he does from the Father. In this way, the connection of the Father to the Son and of the Son to the Paraclete makes the three cohere one from the other. They who are one sole reality (unum) not one alone (unus) by reason of the unity of substance and not of numerical singularity” (Adv. Praxean, XXV, 1-2). This communication of the divine consubstantiality in the Trinitarian order he expresses with the verb procedere (ibid., II, 6). We find this same theology in St. Hilary of Poitiers, who says to the Father: “May I receive your Spirit who takes his being from you through your only Son” (De Trinitate XII, PL 10, 471). He remarks: “If anyone thinks there is a difference between receiving from the Son (Jn 16:15) and proceeding (procedere) from the Father (Jn 15:26), it is certain that it is one and the same thing to receive from the Son and to receive from the Father (De Trinitate, VIII, 20, PL 10, 251 A). It is in this sense of communication of divinity through procession that St. Ambrose of Milan is the first to formulate the Filioque: “The Holy Spirit when he proceeds (procedit) from the Father and the Son, does not separate himself from the Father and does not separate himself from the Son” (De Spiritu Sancto, 1, 11, 120, PL 16, 733 A = 762 D). St. Augustine, however, takes the precaution of safeguarding the Father’s monarchy within the consubstantial communion of the Trinity: “The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father as Principle (principaliter) and, through the latter’s timeless gift to the Son, from the Father and the Son in communion (communiter)” (De Trinitate XV , 25, 47, PL 42, 1095). St. Leo, Sermon LXXV, 3, PL 54, 402; Sermon LXXVI, 2, ibid. 404).

[3] Tertullian uses the verb procedere in a sense common to the Word and the Spirit insofar as they receive divinity from the Father: “The Word was not uttered out of something empty and vain, and he does not lack substance, he who proceeded (processit) from such a (divine) substance and has made so many (created) substances. (Adv. Praxean, VII, 6). St. Augustine, following St. Ambrose, takes up this more common conception of procession: “All that proceeds is not born, although what is born proceeds” (Contra Maximinum, II, 14, 1, PL 42, 770). Much later St. Thomas Aquinas remarks that “the divine nature is communicated in every processing that is not ad extra (Summa Theologica Ia, q.27, a.3, 2um). For him, as for all this Latin theology which used the term “procession” for the Son as well as for the Spirit, “generation is a procession which puts the divine person in possession of the divine nature” (ibid., Ia. q.43, a 2, c), for “from all eternity the Son proceeds in order to be God” (ibid.). In the same way, he affirms that “through his procession, the Holy Spirit receives the nature of the Father, as does the Son (ibid., Ia, q.35, a.2, c). “Of words referring to any kind of origin, the most general is procession. We use it to indicate any origin whatever; we say, for instance, that the line proceeds from the point; that the ray proceeds from the sun, the river from its source, and likewise in all kinds of other cases. Since we admit one or another of these words that evoke origin, we can, therefore, conclude hat the Holy Spirit proceeds from the son (ibid., Ia, q.36, a.2, c).

[4] St. Cyril bears witness here to a Trinitarian doctrine common to the whole school of Alexandria since St Athanasius, who had written “Just as the Son says: ‘All that the Father has is mine’ (Jn 16:15), so shall we find that, through the Son, it is all also in the Spirit” (Letters to Serapion, III, 1, 33, PG 26, 625 B). St. Epiphanius of Salamis (Ancoratus, VIII, PG 43, 29 C) and Didymus the Blind (Treatise on the Holy Spirit, CLIII, PG 34, 1064 A) link the Father and the Son by the same preposition ek in the communication to the Holy Spirit of the consubstantial divinity.

[5] “The two relationships of the Son to the Father and of the Holy Spirit to the Father oblige us to place two relationships in the Father, one referring to the Son and the other to the Holy Spirit” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Ia, q.32, a.2, c).

[6] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no.248.

[7] St. Gregory of Nazianzus says that “the Spirit is a middle term (meson) between the Unbegotten and the Begotten” (Discourse 31, 8, Sources Chrétiennes, no.250, p.290). Cf. also, in a Thomistic perspective, G Leblond, “Point of view on the procession of the Holy Spirit,” in Revue Thomiste, LXXXVI, t.78, 1978, pp.293-302.

[8] St. Cyril of Alexandria says that “the Holy Spirit flows from the Father into the Son (en to Uiou),” (Thesaurus, XXXIV, PG 75, 577A).

[9] St. Gregory of Nyssa writes: “The Holy Spirit is said to be of the Father and it is attested that he is of the Son. St. Paul says: ‘Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him’ (Rom 8:9). So the Spirit who is of God (the Father) is also the Spirit of Christ. However, the Son who is of God (the Father) is not said to be of the Spirit: the consecutive order of the relationship cannot be reversed” (Fragment In orationem dominicam, quoted by St. John Damascene, PG 46. 1109 BC). And St. Maximus affirms in the same way the Trinitarian order when he writes: “Just as the Thought (the Father) is principle of the Word, so is he also of the Spirit through the Word. And, just as one cannot say that the Word is of the voice (of the Breath), so one cannot say that the Word is of the Spirit” (Quaestiones et dubia, PG 90, 813 B).

[10] St. Thomas Aquinas, who knew the De Fide Orthodoxa, sees no opposition between the Filioque and this expression of St. John Damascene: “To say that the Holy Spirit reposes or dwells in the Son does not exclude his proceeding from the Son; for we say also that the Son dwells in the Father, although he proceeds from the Father (Summa Theologica, Ia, q.36, a.2, 4um).

[11] St. Thomas Aquinas, following St. Augustine, writes: “If we say of the Holy Spirit that he dwells in the Son, it is in the way that the love of one who loves reposes in the loved one” (Summa Theologica Ia, q.36, a.2, 4um). This doctrine of the Holy Spirit as love has been harmoniously assumed by St. Gregory Palamas into the Greek theology of the ekporeusis from the Father alone: “The Spirit of the most high Word is like an ineffable love of the Father for this Word ineffably generated. A love which this same Word and beloved Son of the Father entertains (chretai) towards the Father: but insofar as he has the Spirit coming with him (sunproelthonta) from the Father and reposing connaturally in him” (Capita physica XXXVI, PG 150, 1144, D-1145 A).

[12] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem nn.18-24, AAS LXXVIII, 1986, 826-831. Cf. also Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 438, 689 690, 695, 727.

October 14, 2009

Gregory Palamas: Knowledge, Prayer, and Vision

by M.C. Steenberg

from Monachos.net.

Three foundational aspects of the Theology of St Gregory Palamas

The theology of St Gregory Palamas, as expressed during the Palamite Controversy of the mid-14th century, is far too extensive to be addressed in its full breadth in a paper such as this. Rather than attempt a manifestly impossible task, then, we will limit the focus of this essay to three central points in that theology: first, the idea of knowledge as expressed in the conflict between Gregory and Barlaam; second, the matter of prayer and the body; and third, the notion of the divine vision, which will lead naturally into a discussion of the energies and the essence of God.

A Knowledge Beyond Knowing: Barlaam’s Objection to Apodictic Theology

One of the first objections raised against St Gregory Palamas’ theology was brought forth by Barlaam of Calabria, and dealt specifically with the issue of knowledge. Two fundamentally different views on knowledge were involved in this dispute: first was that which Barlaam and others held, and which might broadly be termed, following Meyendorff, as the Dialectic Method of knowing God.1 This was a largely philosophical view, based upon the position that knowledge of God might be gained by the use of discursive reason, dialectic, and rational investigation. As this very fact would suggest, the dialectic approach involved a strong element of kataphaticism. Yet, following the course of the great philosophers, it also readily admitted of the incapability of affirmative theology to truly apprehend the divine truths of God; and thus there was a strong, if not consuming trend towards apophatic theology present in this view. Barlaam himself seems to have based his own severe apophaticism on the model and example of Pseudo-Dionysius, with which he was quite familiar; yet his understanding of that writer was incomplete: where Dionysius was to stress certain positive elements of his apophatic reasoning (such as the positive experience of the divine darkness), Barlaam’s model seems to have been almost wholly negative—to the point of bordering on a certain agnosticism. God is transcendent, he taught, and thus to ascend to purer knowledge we must espouse negative theology and transcend our own perceptive reason; yet ultimately the Transcendent cannot be truly known, even with apophaticism used to its utmost. At the heart of Barlaam’s teaching is the significant idea that God cannot truly be perceived by man; that God the Transcendent can never be wholly known by man the created and finite.

Gregory, on the other hand, taught something quite different. This second conception of knowledge of God brought it out of the realm of mere dialectic—whether positive or negative, kataphatic or apophatic—and into the arena of demonstration; what Meyendorff terms Apodictic Knowledge of God.2 Natural knowledge, believed Gregory, is one aspect of man’s relationship to his Creator; and yet it is quite a different thing to know about God, than it is to actually know Him. The great divergence between this view and that of Barlaam, was that Gregory believed the latter aspect to be not only a hypothetical possibility (which Barlaam would have denied), but a fully attainable reality. It was not a question of whether or not man could know God by direct, immediate knowledge, but whether or not he would, given the life he was leading.

Gregory’s view should not be seen to undermine a positive view of philosophical thought as a whole, which was a continual accusation made by Barlaam. Taken as a tool for the progression of the human person towards a state receptive to divine grace, Gregory saw philosophy and discursive knowledge as a perfectly reasonable set of aids for the Christian. It was only when philosophy, whose created end is the furtherance of knowledge of God,3 was misused by the philosophers and turned, in effect, into God, that Gregory raised his voice in ardent opposition. This was the ‘fallen’ state of knowledge, which did not betray an evil inherent in knowledge itself, but simply the misuse made of it by certain philosophical schools. Gregory understood natural knowledge within the metaphor of the natural world revealing aspects of God; to which revelation God Himself would add the grace to know Him intimately. He writes:

There is a knowledge about God and His doctrines. (…) The use and activity of the natural powers of the soul and of the body do shape the rational image of man, but that is not the same as the perfect beauty of the noble state which comes from above; that is by no means the supernatural union with the more than resplendent light, which is the sole source of sure theology.4

Thus Gregory viewed natural knowledge, in all its philosophical forms, as a tool leading to something greater, yet every bit as real as that very knowledge: the divine grace which brings about union, the true source of contemplative knowing.

But this conception clashed harshly with that of Barlaam, who seems firmly to have espoused the neo-Platonic tradition as he interpreted it from Dionysius, and could not find common ground between his own rationalist views and those of Gregory. Much of the earlier arguments in the Palamite conflict centred in this very issue of knowledge, and apart from being an interesting debate in its own right, this dispute led Gregory into the formative stages of the theological conceptions he would bring forth later in the controversy. The relationship of apophaticism to human knowledge, and that to God’s nature as transcendent Being, would come into play with great importance a short time later, and, as we shall see, would have direct bearing on Gregory’s famous argument for the distinction of energies and essence.
(more…)

October 13, 2009

Sacred Places: The Significance of the Church Building

Filed under: Sacred & Liturgical Arts — Tags: , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 9:00 pm

By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, currently reigning as His Holiness, Benedict XVI, the Pope of the Catholic Church.

From the Institute for Sacred Architecture.

Even the staunchest opponents of sacred things, of sacred space in this case, accept the Christian community needs a place to meet, and on that basis they define the purpose of a church building in a non-sacral, strictly functional sense. Church buildings, they say, make it possible for people to get together for the liturgy. This is without question an essential function of church buildings and distinguishes them from the classical form of the temple in most religions. In the Old Covenant, the high priest performed the rite of atonement in the Holy of Holies. None but he was allowed to enter, and even he could do so only once a year. Similarly, the temples of all the other religions are usually not meeting places for worshippers, but cultic spaces reserved to the deity. The Christian church soon acquired the name domus ecclesiae (the house of the Church, the assembly of the People of God), and then, as an abbreviation the word ecclesia (“assembly,” “church”) came to be used, not just of the living community but also of the building that housed it. This development is accompanied by another idea: Christ himself offers worship as he stands before the Father. He becomes his members’ worship as they come together with him and around him. This essential difference between the Christian place of worship and the temples of other religions must not, of course, be exaggerated into a false opposition. We must not suggest a break in the inner continuity of mankind’s religious history, a continuity that, for all the differences, the Old and New Testaments never abolish. In his eighteenth catechesis (23-25), St. Cyril of Jerusalem makes an interesting point about the word convocatio (synagoge-ekklesia, the assembly of the people called together and made his own by God). He rightly points out that in the Pentateuch, when the word first makes its appearance with the appointment of Aaron, it is ordered towards worship. Cyril shows that this applies to all the later passages in the Torah, and, even in the transition to the New Testament, this ordering is not forgotten. The calling together, the assembly, has a purpose, and that purpose is worship. The call comes from worship and leads back to worship. It is worship that unites the people called together and gives their being together its meaning and worth: they are united in that “peace” which the world cannot give. This also becomes clear in relation to that great Old and New Testament archetype of the ekklesia, the community on Sinai. They come together to hear God’s Word and to seal everything with sacrifice. That is how a “covenant” is established between God and man.

But instead of continuing with these theoretical considerations, let us look more closely at the process by which church buildings took concrete form. Using the research of E.L. Sukenik, Louis Bouyer has shown how the Christian house of God comes into being in continuity with the synagogue and thus acquires a specifically Christian newness, without any dramatic break, through communion with Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord. This close connection with the synagogue, with its architectural structure and liturgical form, does not in any way contradict what we said about the Christian liturgy not just continuing the synagogue but also incorporating the Temple. For the Jews saw the synagogue in relation to the Temple. The synagogue was never just a place for instruction, a kind of religious classroom, as Bouyer puts it. No, its orientation was always towards the presence of God. Now, for the Jews, this presence of God was (and is) indissolubly connected with the Temple. Consequently, the synagogue was characterized by two focal points. The first is the “seat of Moses,” of which the Lord speaks in the Gospel (cf. Mt 23:2). The rabbi does not speak from his own resources. He is not a professor, analyzing and reflecting on the Word of God in an intellectual way. No, he makes present the Word that God addressed and addresses to Israel. God speaks through Moses today. What the seat of Moses stands for is this: Sinai is not just a thing of the past. It is not mere human speech that is happening here. God is speaking.

The seat of Moses, then, does not stand for itself and by itself, nor is it simply turned towards the people. No, the rabbi looks—as does everyone else in the synagogue—toward the Ark of the Covenant, or rather the shrine of Torah, which represents the lost Ark. Up to the Exile, the Ark of the Covenant, was the only “object” allowed inside the Holy of Holies. That is what gave the Holy of Holies its special dignity. The Ark was seen as an empty throne, upon which the Shekinah—the cloud of God’s presence—came down. The cherubim—representing as it were, the elements of the world—served as “assistants at the throne.” They were not self-subsistent deities, but an expression of the created powers that worship the only God. God is addressed as “thou who art enthroned between the cherubim.” The heavens cannot contain him, but he has chosen the Ark as the “footstool” of his presence. In this sense, the Ark embodies something like the real presence of God among his own. At the same time it is an impressive sign of the absence of images from the liturgy of the Old Testament, which maintains God in his sovereignty and holds out to him, so to speak, only the footstool of his throne. During the Exile, the Ark of the Covenant was lost, and from then on the Holy of Holies was empty. That is what Pompeius found when he strode through the Temple and pulled back the curtain. He entered the Holy of Holies full of curiosity and there, in the very emptiness of the place, discovered what is special about biblical religion. The empty Holy of Holies had now become an act of expectation, of hope, that God himself would someday restore his throne.

The synagogue, in its shrine of the Torah, contains a kind of Ark of the Covenant, which means it is the place of a kind of “real presence.” Here are kept the scrolls of the Torah, the living Word of God, through which he sits on his throne in Israel among his own people. The shrine is surrounded, therefore, with signs of reverence befitting the mysterious presence of God. It is protected by a curtain, before which burn the seven lights of the menorah, the seven-branch candlestick. Now the furnishing of the synagogue with an “Ark of the Covenant” does not in any way signify the local community has become, so to speak, independent, self-sufficient. No, it is the place where the local community reaches out beyond itself to the Temple, to the commonality of the one People of God as defined by the one God. The Torah is in all places one and the same. And so the Ark points beyond itself, to the one place of its presence that God chose for himself—the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem. This Holy of Holies, as Bouyer puts it, remained the “ultimate focus of the synagogal worship” (p. 15). “Thus have all the synagogues, at the time of the Lord and since that time, have been oriented” (p. 15). The rabbi and the people gaze at the “Ark of the Covenant,” and in so doing, they orient themselves toward Jerusalem, turn themselves toward the Holy of Holies in the Temple as the place of God’s presence for his people. This remained the case even after the destruction of the Temple. The empty Holy of Holies had already been an expression of hope, and so, too, now is the destroyed Temple, which waits for the return of the Shekinah, for its restoration by the Messiah when he comes.

The orientation towards the Temple, and thus the connection of the synagogue’s liturgy of the Word with the sacrificial liturgy of the Temple, can be seen in its form of prayer. The prayers said at the unrolling and reading of the scrolls of Scripture developed out of the ritual prayers originally linked to sacrificial actions in the Temple and now regarded, in accord with the tradition of the time without the Temple, as an equivalent of sacrifice. The first of the two great prayers of the synagogue rite comes to a climax in the common recitation of the Kiddush, of which the hymn of the seraphim in Isaiah chapter 6 and the hymn of the cherubim in Ezekiel chapter 3 are a part. Bouyer makes this comment: “But the truth must be that the association of men with these heavenly canticles, in the worship of the Temple, had probably been a central figure of the offering of the sacrifice of incense morning and evening of every day” (p. 22). Who would not be reminded of the Trisagion of the Christian liturgy, the “thrice holy” hymn at the beginning of the Canon? Here the congregation does not offer its own thoughts or sharing in the cosmic song of praise of the cherubim and seraphim. The other great prayer of the synagogue culminates in “the recitation of the Abodah which, according to the rabbis, was formerly the consecration prayer of the daily burnt offering in the Temple” (p. 22). The petition added to it about the coming of the Messiah and the final restoration of Israel may be seen “as the expression of the essence of the sacrificial worship” (p. 22). Let us remind ourselves here of that transition from animal sacrifices to “worship in harmony with the logos” which characterizes the path from the Old Testament into the New. Finally, we must mention the fact that no special architectural form was created for the synagogue. The “typical Greek building for public meetings: the basilica,” was used (p. 17). Its aisles, divided off by rows of columns, enabled people entering the building to circulate around it.

I have lingered over this description of the synagogue because it exhibits already the essential and constant features of Christian places of worship. Once again we see clearly the essential unity of the two Testaments. Not surprisingly, in Semitic, non-Greek Christianity, the original form of church buildings generally retains the close connection of church with synagogue, a pattern of religious continuity and innovation. (I am thinking here of the Monophysite and Nestorian Churches of the Near East, which broke away from the Church of the Byzantine Empire during the Christological debates of the fifth century.) Christian faith produced three innovations in the form of the synagogue as we have just sketched it. These give Christian liturgy its new and proper profile. First of all, the worshipper no longer looks towards Jerusalem. The destroyed Temple is no longer regarded as the place of God’s earthly presence. The Temple built of stone has ceased to express the hope of Christians; its curtain is torn forever. Christians look toward the east, the rising sun. This is not a case of Christians worshipping the sun but of the cosmos speaking of Christ. The song of the sun in Psalm 19(18) is interpreted as a song about Christ when it says, “[The sun] is coming forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber. …Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them” (vv. 5f.). This psalm proceeds directly from applauding creation to praising the law. Christians interpret it in terms of Christ, who is the living word, the eternal Logos, and thus the true light of history, who came forth in Bethlehem from the bridal chamber of the Virgin Mother and now pours out his light on all the world. The east supersedes the Jerusalem Temple as a symbol. Christ, represented by the sun, is the place of the Shekinah, the true throne of the living God. In the Incarnation, human nature truly becomes the throne and seat of God, who is thus forever bound to the earth and accessible to our prayers. In the early Church, prayer towards the east was regarded as an apostolic tradition. We cannot date exactly when this turn to the east, the diverting of the gaze from the Temple, took place, but it is certain that it goes back to the earliest times and was always regarded as an essential characteristic of Christian liturgy (and indeed of private prayer). This “orientation”1 of Christian prayer has several different meanings. Orientation is, first and foremost, a simple expression of looking to Christ as the meeting place between God and man. It expresses the basic Christological form of our prayer.

The fact that we find in Christ the symbol of the rising sun is the indication of a Christology defined eschatologically. Praying towards the east means going to meet the coming Christ. The liturgy, turned towards the east, effects entry, so to speak, into the procession of history we encounter in Christ. It is a prayer of hope, the prayer of the pilgrim as he walks in the direction shown by the life, Passion and Resurrection of Christ. Thus very early on, in parts of Christendom, the eastward direction for prayer was given added emphasis by a reference to the Cross. This may have come from linking Revelation 1:7 with Matthew 24:30. In the first of these, the Revelation of St. John, it says: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, every one who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Here the seer of the Apocalypse depends on John 19:37, where, at the end of the account of the Crucifixion, the mysterious text of the prophet Zechariah (12:10) is quoted, a text that suddenly acquired a wholly new meaning: “They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” Finally, in Matthew 24:30 we are given these words of the Lord: “[T]hen [on the Last Day] will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn [cf. Zech 12:10], and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven [cf. Dan 7:13] with power and great glory.” The sign of the Son of Man, of the Pierced One, is the Cross, which has now become the sign of victory of the Risen One. Thus the symbolism of the Cross merges with that of the east. Both are an expression of one and the same faith, in which the remembrance of the Pasch and of Jesus makes it present and gives dynamism to the hope that goes out to meet the One who is to come. But finally, this turning toward the east also signifies that cosmos and saving history belong together. The cosmos is praying with us. It, too, is waiting for redemption. It is precisely this cosmic dimension that is essential to Christian liturgy. It is never performed solely in the self-made world of man. It is always a cosmic liturgy. The theme of creation is embedded in Christian prayer. It loses its grandeur when it forgets this connection. That is why, wherever possible, we should definitely take up again the apostolic tradition of facing the east, both in the building of churches and in the celebration of the liturgy. We shall come back to this later, when we say something about the ordering of liturgical prayer.

The second innovation in regard to the synagogue is as follows. A new element has appeared that could not exist in the synagogue. At the east wall, or in the apse, there now stands an altar on which the Eucharistic Sacrifice is celebrated. As we saw, the Eucharist is an entry into the liturgy of heaven; by it we become contemporaries with Jesus Christ’s own act of worship, into which, through his Body, he takes up worldly time and straightaway leads it beyond itself, snatching it out of its own sphere and enfolding it into the communion of eternal life. Thus the altar signifies the entry of him who is the Orient into the assembled community and the going out of the community from the prison of this world through the curtain now torn open, a participation in the Pasch, the “passing over” from the world to God, which Christ has opened up. It is clear that the altar in the apse both looks towards the Oriens and forms part of it. In the synagogue the worshippers looked beyond the “Ark of the Covenant,” the shrine of the Word, towards Jerusalem. Now, with the Christian altar, comes a new focal point. Let us say again: on the altar, where the Temple had in the past foreshadowed, is now present in a new way. Yes, it enables us to become the contemporaries of the Sacrifice of the Logos. Thus it brings heaven into the community assembled on earth, or rather it takes that community beyond itself into the communion of saints of all times and places. We might put it this way: the altar is the place where heaven is opened up. It does not close off the church, but opens it up—and leads into the eternal liturgy. We shall have more to say about the practical consequences of the Christian altar, because the question of the correct position for the altar is at the center of postconciliar debate.

But first we must finish what we were saying about the different ways in which Christian faith transformed the synagogue. The third point to be noted is that the shrine of the Word remained, even with regard to its position in the church building. However, there is a fundamental innovation here. The Torah is replaced by the Gospels, which alone can open up the meaning of the Torah. “Moses,” says Christ, “wrote of me” (Jn 5:46). The shrine of the Word, the “Ark of the Covenant,” now becomes the throne of the Gospel. The Gospel does not, of course, abolish the “Scriptures,” nor push them to one side, but rather interprets them, so that henceforth and forever they form the Scriptures of Christians, without which the Gospel would have no foundation. The practice in the synagogue of covering the shrine with a curtain, in order to express the sacredness of the Word, is retained. Quite spontaneously, the new, second holy place, the altar, is surrounded by a curtain, from which, in the Eastern Church, the Iconostasis develops. The fact that there are two holy places had significance for the celebration of the liturgy. During the Liturgy of the Word, the congregation gathered around the shrine of the Sacred Books, or around the seat associated with it, which evolved quite spontaneously from the seat of Moses to the bishop’s throne. Just as the rabbi did not speak by his own authority, so the bishop expounds the Bible in the name, and by the mandate, of Christ. Thus, from being a written word from the past, it again becomes what it is: God’s addressing us here and now. At the end of the Liturgy of the Word, during which the faithful stand around the bishop’s seat, everyone walks together with the bishop to the altar, and now the cry resounds: “Conversi ad Dominum,” Turn towards the Lord! In other words, look towards the east with the bishop in the sense of the words from the epistle to the Hebrews: “[Look] … to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). The Liturgy of the Eucharist is celebrated as we look up to Jesus. It is our looking up to Jesus. Thus, in early church buildings, the liturgy has two places. First the Liturgy of the Word takes place at the center of the building. The faithful are grouped around the bema, the elevated area where the throne of the Gospel, the seat of the bishop and the lectern are placed. The Eucharistic celebration takes place in the apse, at the altar, where the faithful “stand around.” Everyone joins with the celebrant in facing east, towards the Lord who is to come.

Finally, we must mention one last difference between the synagogue and the earliest church buildings. In Israel, only the presence of men was deemed to be necessary for divine worship. The common priesthood described in Exodus chapter 19 was ascribed to them alone. Consequently, in the synagogue, women were only allowed into the tribunes or galleries. As far as the apostles were concerned, as far as Jesus himself is concerned, there was no such discrimination in the Church of Christ. Even though the public Liturgy of the Word was not entrusted to women, they were included in the liturgy in the same way as men. And so now they had a place—albeit in separation from men—in the sacred space itself, around both the bema and the altar.

Finis.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, regarded as one of the world’s foremost theologians, has written numerous books and articles on theology and spirituality. He currently reigns as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

This article can be found as Part II, Chapter 2 of Pope Benedict XVI’s book The Spirit of the Liturgy, available from Ignatius Press.

1. The word “orientation” comes from oriens, “the East.” “Orientation” means “east-ing,” turning towards the east.

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