quod pro nobis traditum est

Friday, January 28, 2011

Faith and Reason

One of the great theologians in Christian history is Thomas Aquinas. On the traditional calendar his feast is March 7 although the recent calendar recognizes him today. The following is a brief video introduction to Aquinas by the pope tv report from Rome.

Probably, one of Aquinas' greatest contributions or legacies he left to Christianity is his understanding and discussion of the relationship between faith and reason.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

...our enjoyment of Him in the Gift

Today's commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord is all the more significant considering that there is a trend in some countries in Europe for people to "de-baptize" themselves. When I mentioned this to a believer recently she gave the response, "Let's all return to our sin. Let's cover ourselves up with the grime of sin." Her response to this idea of de-baptism is somewhat sarcastic but it also points out the truth why Jesus gives us this Gift to begin with. To run away from baptism is to run toward sin. Baptism brings us forgiveness. In Baptism we are clothed with Christ and His righteousness, we are buried with Him in His death and raised with Him in His Resurrection and newness of life. We are given the Holy Ghost. There is so much more to the Sacrament of Holy Baptism that we receive from the merciful hand of God but receiving Christ's righteousness and forgiveness is clearly in the opposite direction when contrasted with any desire to embrace sin and whatever all that means.

On the traditional western calendar tomorrow is the feast of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Below is an excerpt from his writing, De Trinitate (Book I, 1):

"Believers have always found their satisfaction in that Divine utterance, which our ears heard recited from the Gospel at the moment when that Power, which is its attestation, was bestowed upon us:— Go now and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I command you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:19-20 What element in the mystery of man's salvation is not included in those words? What is forgotten, what left in darkness? All is full, as from the Divine fullness; perfect, as from the Divine perfection. The passage contains the exact words to be used, the essential acts, the sequence of processes, an insight into the Divine nature. He bade them baptize in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that is with confession of the Creator and of the Only-begotten, and of the Gift. For God the Father is One, from Whom are all things; and our Lord Jesus Christ the Only-begotten, through Whom are all things, is One; and the Spirit, God's Gift to us, Who pervades all things, is also One. Thus all are ranged according to powers possessed and benefits conferred—the One Power from Whom all, the One Offspring through Whom all, the One Gift Who gives us perfect hope. Nothing can be found lacking in that supreme Union which embraces, in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, infinity in the Eternal, His Likeness in His express Image, our enjoyment of Him in the Gift."

HT: New Advent

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Theology and the Antichrist

For many years theology has been a favorite area of study. An outsider may be surprised but there are actually many distractions and obstacles within Christianity pushing away from the pursuit of the study of theology. A big obstacle in Lutheran theology that I have run across, discouraging the discussion of any theological issue, is the focus on the papacy and the Antichrist. This too is a big topic. If any theological topic becomes associated with the papacy and/or Antichrist then the focus quickly shifts from the actual topic in discussion to that of the papacy and the Antichrist. Thus, many theological topics are lost in Lutheranism even if they come from Scripture and are also taught by the Catholic Church. For me it has almost reached the point that when I hear charges of "papist" and "Antichrist" I immediately equate that to mean "let us Not discuss theology".

I limit what theology I discuss online so I may have the freedom to continue learning offline. Since we are on the topic, here is a theological discussion from St. Hilary of Poitiers on the antichrist against the teaching of the Arians that Jesus was created, a creature:

"To believe, therefore, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is true salvation, is the acceptable service of an unfeigned faith. For we have no love within us towards God the Father except through faith in the Son. Let us hear Him speaking to us in the words of the Epistle; --Every one that loveth the Father loveth Him that is born from Him. [1 Jn. 4:1] What, I ask, is the meaning of being born from Him? Can it mean, perchance, being created by Him? Does the Evangelist lie in saying that He was born from God, while the heretic more correctly teaches that He was created? Let us all listen to the true character of this teacher of heresy. It is written, He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. [1 Jn. 2:22] . . . He that denies the Son is destitute of the Father; he that confesses and has the Son has the Father also . . . His object [that is, the object of the Antichrist] is to pluck from our hearts the confident assurance of the Divine nature of the Son; next, he would fill our minds with the notion of Christ's adoption . . ."

- De Trinitate, Book VI, NPNF, Vol. 9, pp. 113, 115

Monday, January 10, 2011

another book

The following beginning to a review of a new book about Adrian Fortescue is written by Dr. Alcuin Reid:

"Adrian Fortescue is of much wider interest and importance than his liturgical works alone. He himself would say that he was first and foremost a theologian and an historian, and as such he knew that the sacred liturgy was far more important than simply rubrics and ceremonial . . ."

The above paragraph could stand alone as a quote of the day. Fortescue's book The Mass: A Study of the Roman Liturgy is an interesting read to me because it is liturgy, theology and history in one.

For more from the book review read here.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

manifested in the flesh

. . . ἵνα εἰδῇς πῶς δεῖ ἐν οἴκῳ θεοῦ ἀναστρέφεσθαι, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἐκκλησία θεοῦ ζῶντος, στῦλος καὶ ἑδραίωμα τῆς ἀληθείας. καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶν τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον: ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι, ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις, ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ, ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ.

. . . ut scias quomodo oporteat te in domo Dei conversari, quæ est ecclesia Dei vivi, columna et firmamentum veritatis. Et manifeste magnum est pietatis sacramentum, quod manifestatum est in carne, justificatum est in spiritu, apparuit angelis, prædicatum est gentibus, creditum est in mundo, assumptum est in gloria.

. . . that you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto angels, has been preached unto the Gentiles, is believed in the world, is taken up in glory.

- 1 Timothy 3:15, 16

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Give us this day . . .

For a period of over a year we had daily mass at a Lutheran parish so I appreciate this column and discussion by Catholics on the topic. Although this practice is not well known in modern Lutheranism it was certainly practiced in Lutheran history. If anything, maybe this linked discussion of the importance of the daily mass might encourage us at least to consider and value more the mass even once a week?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Yesterday and a New Year

Anno Domini 2011

The New Year is the most noticeable change in time on the secular calendar. This year I did what I normally do not do anymore on New Year's Eve - I stayed up past midnight. The strange thing is I did not stay up to watch the ball drop at Times Square nor was I at a party with friends. This year I went downtown to pick up my daughter who was ice skating with friends. Staying up for my daughter on a night like that is a real reminder of the change in time. Instead of driving downtown to attend some outing of my own now it was simply a routine trip to pick up my daughter who was having an outing of her own with friends. This, surprisingly, was not as bothersome as I expected and yes, she had fun.

Earlier I did attend a church service on New Year's Eve with the family and briefly attended a gathering of families so the evening was not without my own events to attend, although I am quite fine with a quiet New Year's Eve at home.

A most noticeable change on the church calendar is the return of the "Glory to God in the highest" of the Christ-mass following the Kyrie in the liturgy. Christmas Eve is about the only evening left in the entire year where I gladly stay up past midnight. This, of course, is for good reason.

The family enjoyed a brief trip to St. Louis after the mass of Christmas Day. After a few days of rest we returned to Milwaukee just in time for 2011. St. Stephen, St. John, The Holy Innocents. The church year is full of great reminders of God's grace in Christ and in the lives of His people. We are not always aware of the rich Scripture readings and the taste of heaven that we pass by with the passage of time. It is a busy and festive time also in a secular sense.

While I was walking around the rink to find my daughter I was asked by a member of a Muslim family to take their picture by the outdoor Christmas tree. Although I am not much of a picture taker I gladly obliged and the pictures turned out just fine. Finally, sometime after the clock passed midnight I found my daughter and her friends and we headed home.

One dictionary defines "secular" as "denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis." I looked up both "secularism" and "fundamentalism" in the dictionary as I contemplated some of the issues that affect the lives of people and cause them to lose sight of calendars not their own. For Christians the new year has already come and gone with the First Sunday of Advent.

In the fulness of time the Lord came, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. God with us. For the Christian this is the blessed Incarnation, prior to the Cross the greatest change in time. The other great event on the church calendar is the Resurrection. The secular calendar helps us order our lives. The church calendar is about meetings of time and eternity. The Word made flesh.

In our time we witness the rage of fundamentalism on Christians overseas. Meanwhile secularism quietly steals away time at home, leading us not only to downplay the more minor feasts on the church calendar but even those of greatest import in God's plan of salvation. Both fundamentalism and secularism are extreme reaches of man's deeper problem of sin. Sin is connected to death and light is connected to life.

Each day brings its cycle of light and darkness to light again. Each life is full of the things of time - work, play, relaxation, entertainment. There is a time and a season for everything under the sun. Already we are filling up the dates on the calendar for 2011.

Outside of the secular, or non-spiritual or non-religious, time and yet together with the same time is sacred or "holy" time. A Christian once told me it is called "baptism" not "Holy Baptism." The church may be in the world but the secular is also in the church. We may be struck by the extremes of fundamentalism in the world and secularism in the church but one great loss in the church is that of sacred or holy time. Baptism is holy because it is "God with us." The Eucharist is holy because it is "God with us" in His Body and Blood. Absolution is holy because it is "God with us."

As sinners we are tempted to compare ourselves with others. This is the error of sin. How many are not comfortable in church simply because of such unnecessary comparisons? The church calendar is not a measurement of holiness but an opportunity to see "God with us" sinners all. He who gave up His only begotten Son is for us. Who can be against us? We do well to follow Mary in the fulness of His grace. Mary says, "Let it be done to me, according to your Word." Mary's firstborn Son is born.

As Christmas approaches the Epiphany it crosses over the noticeable change in time of the new year. After eight days Mary's Son is circumcised. Following the New Year of secular time the church rehearses the naming of Jesus. "He shall save His people from their sins."

Yesterday, in the liturgy on the first Sunday after New Year's Day I could not help but appreciate in the new year of secular time the first procession of the cross toward the altar and the blessedness and salvation associated with the most holy name of Jesus. What better way to begin a new year? What greater name to bear each day as baptized believers do in the church and in this world? What greater meaning has been given to time in our day? Knowing and understanding time as we do, what better way to come to know that which is eternal than through Him Who comes to us?

In nomine Jesu omne genu flectatur, coelestium, terrestrium, et infernorum . . .