After a long time away, I decided to get back to blogging regularly, that is, once a week.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus! He is coming to save his people.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
After a long time away, I decided to get back to blogging regularly, that is, once a week.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Monday, April 17, 2006
It's a happy road we walk to Pentecost from here. As you celebrate the Easter season, remember that we are a Resurrection people, entering in to the JOY of the Lord. Let us proclaim like the Apostle Peter:
"I saw the Lord ever before me,
with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence."
Posted by SWP at 12:53 PM
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I watched the Mel Gibson movie to prepare myself for Holy Week this past Friday. And all I could think afterwards is that we are each facing our own viae dolorosae. In so many ways each day Christ is suffering in the sufferings of the world and in so many moments of each day we are being redeemed by the prayers and support of one another. And in the encounter with those moments, we discover our truest selves. We realize that we too have something to offer. Let us Rejoice then, for our God is good to us and full of mercy and total compassion~
Posted by SWP at 12:14 PM
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
For Lent, from the Office of Readings today:
Reading From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop
Prayer knocks, fasting obtains, mercy receives
There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.
Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.
When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.
Let this be the pattern for all men when they practise mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.
Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defence, a threefold united prayer in our favour.
Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.
Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.
To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.
When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.
Posted by Mark John at 5:32 PM
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Here is a section of a paper I wrote for a class in Fundamental Theology on von Balthasar's view of nature and grace. The transfer from Word to Wordpad necessitated by the software on the computer I'm using to post this has stripped my paper of its footnotes. If anyone wants the source of a quote or idea, or even the list of all my sources, let me know and I'd be happy to give them. Here in this Wordpad version I put von Balthasar quotes in italics.
Von Balthasar’s work has a particular focus on Christ. Without doubt, the Christocentric approach is most appropriate to Catholic theology—even demanded by it. He continues this approach in his handling of the difficult question of the relation between nature and grace, influenced by his friend, French theologian Henri de Lubac, who was known particularly for his contribution to the subject. According to von Balthasar, this issue requires above all a Christocentric approach. The need here is to look to Christ.Given the fact that I agree with von Balthasar's view that the universe was created in the Incarnate Logos--in Christ--it seems especially odd that the "Are You a Heretic" quiz would rate me as having Nestorian tendencies. Rather, it is Nestorian to say that the relation of the Incarnate Lord to the universe is not the same as the relation of the Eternal Logos to the universe. That would be to say that the divine and human natures in Christ are not truly united. The truth is that they are united in one Divine Person who is related to the world as both Creator and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The problem is that, in his words, “the concept of nature that Catholic theology is accustomed to presuppose undialectically can in reality only be grasped dialectically, in accord with Henri de Lubac’s renewed vision of patristic-high-scholastic theology.” Indeed, the traditional interpretation of the famous Thomistic formula, grace builds on nature, can almost make it seem that nature (which is also a gift) is something external to grace and, without grace, sufficient and complete unto itself. Nevertheless, Christ is one. Christ, in whom we have been created in God’s image, he—the perfect image of God, is also our Redeemer. After the Incarnation, which was planned before all the ages, there can be no question of a separation of the (creating) work of the world-embracing Logos from the (redeeming) work of the concrete universal that is Christ: “All were created through him; all were created for him…In him everything continues in being…. It pleased God…to reconcile everything in his person” (Col. 1:16-20).
Grace and nature, though truly distinct, should be seen as united in Christ. Pope John Paul II often used to quote these words from Gaudium et Spes: “The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (Rom 5:14), Christ the Lord. Christ the new Adam…fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.” These words seem to tell of a unity and of fulfillment, rather than indicating a strict and clear dissimilarity between nature (Adam) and grace (Jesus Christ): “Only in the…Incarnate Word does…man take on light.” Only in the grace of the Redeemer does human nature find its meaning and center—Christ is not the “new and improved” version of an already complete humanity but rather the true man. Nature and grace cannot be as neatly separated and defined as has been thought, for they are both summed up in Christ.
What, therefore, is the relation between nature and grace? With the state of affairs as they are in the real world, in actual history, where the grace of Christ is offered to all men of all times and Christ is exalted and established as the archetype summing up everything in himself, there is no need to look to a hypothetical “ungraced nature” in order to understand the relation between grace and nature—rather, again, there is only the need to look at Christ:
Man, therefore, in investigating the relationship between nature and supernature has no need to abandon the standpoint of faith, to set himself up as the mediator between God and the world, between revelation and reason, or to cast himself in the role of judge over that relationship. All that is necessary is for him to understand “the one mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 2:5), and to believe him in whom “were all things created in heaven and on earth…all by him and in him” (Col. 1:16).
Seen Christocentrically—as it can alone be seen, given the actual state of affairs wherein the one Son of God, Jesus Christ, sums up all things in heaven and on earth—nature, though distinct, must be thought of as internal to grace; just as the human nature of Christ, though distinct from his divine nature, is brought together with it in his one divine Person, “One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures which undergo no confusion, no change, no division, no separation.” Angelo Schola, the Patriarch of Venice and an interpreter of von Balthasar puts it well: “Inevitably, [nature] must be thought of as a dimension, a component of that Christic whole which is grace.”
In saying all these things—it is important to try to make absolutely clear—in no way does von Balthasar let nature be absorbed by grace. Rather he is maintaining that, while on the one hand nature has its own distinct constitution, on the other hand, “the why and wherefore of nature are grace.” Jesus Christ is not only the Omega, (wherefore), but also the Alpha (why).
To him be all glory and praise forever!
Posted by Mark John at 11:52 AM
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Tonight at a Holy Hour of Adoration I heard a priest, preaching on the evil of abortion, use the readings from the feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec. 28th), the baby boys in the area of Bethlehem who were massacred at the order of King Herod, who was bent on destroying the newborn King of the Jews. The gospel for that feast is, of course, Matthew 2:13-18, which tells this story. My attention was caught by the quote from chapter 31 of the prophet Jeremiah at the end of this Matthean pericope. With the thought that the Holy Innocents must be the key to interpreting an inspired meaning of this word of the prophet, I turned to this place in his book, where he proclaims the salvation of the Lord, the return of the exiled people to the land of Israel.
I wrote a poem of sorts about verses 15-20:
My thoughts are that with the story and the feast of the Holy Innocents as the context for Jeremiah 31, we are presented with a scriptural witness to a solidly founded hope for the salvation of unbaptized infants and children through their witness to Christ, who experienced the frailty of being a child, and who experienced the wrath of man under which children in all ages have suffered and often died. This is, of course, not to deny original sin, but to rhetorically ask, 'Who is more open and responsive to the love of others than a child?...What then about the grace of God?' and 'Who is more "invincibly ignorant" than an infant?'
The Holy Innocents
The prophet Jeremiah says, "Thus says the Lord:
In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning, of bitter weeping! Rachel mourns her children, she refuses to be consoled because her children are no more."
If she refuses to be consoled, why then does the Lord, through the mouth of the prophet, immediately then say:
"Cease your cries of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes"?
Her children are no more!
... Yes, her children are no more, but behold, the Lord has the power to bring them back.
As the Lord says through the prophet: "They shall return from the enemy's Land."
Although the innocents were born in sin, by their witness to the Christ Child they will be reborn in heaven. Though they were "untamed calfs" they will return, if the Lord allows them.
... And for His part, He says,
"My heart stirs for them, I must show them mercy."
What do you all think? Tell me especially if you think that I apply the scriptures wrongly. The question of unbaptized infants/children has recently resurfaced again (See Zenit.org Archives, December 2, 2005: "Theological Commission Studying Limbo")--what are your thoughts?
Check out the "Are You a Heretic? Quiz."
This is how I was scored:
| You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.|
Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com
It seems that I have some serious Nestorian tendencies. Thom Peters of American Papist thinks that there are a few problems with the quiz--in the wording, etc. Ask him for the specifics. It seems hard to understand how I can have such strong Nestorian tendencies and be Chalcedonian compliant at the same time.
AmericanPapist: Are you a heretic? The Quiz.
Posted by Mark John at 1:38 PM
Saturday, January 14, 2006
The Christmas season having come to an end, and the season of ordinary time now beginning, it is important to stay faithful to our calling, and to prayer. In Christ, the ordinary, while remaining in some sense ordinary, is truly extraordinary. The work and the leisure, the joys and the sufferings of ordinary days lived in Jesus, are days pierced through with the eternal. Heaven begins now, because "this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ" (Jn 17:3). Lets pray so that we might know our God, and that he might dwell within us.
From the Imitation of Christ, Book Two, Chapter One:
The kingdom of God is within you" (Lk 17:21), says the Lord.Lets open our hearts to Jesus.
Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious.
Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed.
Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him" (Jn 14:23).
Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end.
Posted by Mark John at 9:34 AM