Announcement: The Scholasticum

Good Readers: I wanted to call your attention to an exciting new educational opportunity for those interested in medieval theology and philosophy: The Scholasticum. The institute is currently enrolling new students for the 2016-2017 academic year and offers a wide range of courses covering medieval philosophy, medieval Biblical studies, and Scholastic theology. More information on the institute is available at the link given above and in the flyer attached below. Resources like The Scholasticum are few and far between in this day and age. Those with a serious interest in how some of the most towering minds in Church history approached the most important and perennial questions of our existence would do well to seriously considering enrolling.

Further information can be found on this poster.

Patriarch Sviatoslav’s Paschal Message

Although most Ukrainian Greek Catholics won’t be celebrating Pascha for more than another month, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and All Rus, has already issued his annual Paschal message so that the faithful — Eastern and Western — following the Gregorian Calendar can benefit from its words as they prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The full text of the letter is available here. What follows are three paragraphs which stood out to me in particular.

Not all are able to receive this message of salvation. To speak of the Christ-Lamb, crucified on the cross, in today’s world seems as problematic as it was in the times of the earliest Christians. This was St. Paul’s understanding when he wrote: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). Even though Christ’s Gospel is being preached now for almost two thousand years, often it seems that the world, even one that calls itself “Christian,” still understands only the language of riches, affluence, power, weaponry, and might. Manifestations of the folly of the mighty of this world never disappear from the arena of history. They take on different forms: empires, reichs, unions, federations, led by individuals, who propose themselves instead of God, and impose on others their own depravation as a measure of truth.

. . . .

Most often, it is in weakness and infirmity that God’s power and God’s wisdom is revealed. What is important is not to allow oneself to be tempted, or deceived, or discouraged in our fight, for that, against which we struggle, is merely a manifestation of the unclean spirit, who shakes, falls to the ground, foams at the mouth and convulses, for it knows that by the blood of the unblemished Paschal Lamb its end is near (see Mark 9:17-27). The Risen Christ, who through suffering and death carries us over to resurrection and eternal life, comes to us today showing us the wounds on His glorified body. As then he spoke to his frightened apostles, so today he says to us, his disciples: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38).

How much have we already experienced the “impossible” made possible for those, who firmly kept their faith in the Risen Lord! Seventy years ago the evil one decided once again to crucify our people and drag our Church into the grave. However, to the surprise of the entire world, she rose and became stronger than at any time in her history. At the Lviv pseudo-sobor of 1946 the enemy attempted to forcibly separate us from unity with the successor to the apostle Peter. Today we are living witness to how the blood of the martyrs and confessors of our Church has forever sealed this Catholic unity and become a force of resilience and resurrection for Ukraine, a force for the unity of its people, and a catalyst for social renewal. Indeed, through such a witnessing of faith in the resurrection an authentic unification of the Churches of Ukraine is possible, a restoration of the unity of the Churches of Kyivan Christianity, which we have received as an inheritance from Prince Volodymyr, equal-to-the-apostles.

The Case for Papalotry?

Daniel Schwindt, writing over at The Distributist Review, offers up what he calls “The Case for Popery.” Although Schwindt is normally on his game when it comes to Catholic (social) teaching, this is not his best effort. Consider, for instance, these paragraphs:

Although most Catholics will readily claim “faithfulness” to the Church, in practice this tends to look a lot like the Protestant obedience to Scripture. It begins in good intentions and ends in arbitrariness, and the individual just winds up being obedient to himself alone.

Enter, the Pope.

The office of the pope—the Chair of Peter—was instituted to prevent precisely this sort of descent into abstraction and arbitrariness. Christ knew humanity, and in his supreme wisdom he left behind, not a book or an abstraction, but an Apostle. An Apostle named Peter. And he left him with instructions and a set of keys. The papacy provides the Church with an actual point of reference—a living, breathing, center of gravity within time and place.

Whether intended or not, this type of maximalist rhetoric is deeply insulting to Eastern Catholics everywhere, none of whom recognize the pope as their patriarch nor belong to his rite. Acknowledging in full the pope’s supreme jurisdiction over the Church does not mean following on every word and action he undertakes, particularly if his words and actions are ever contra fide. This is not true just for Eastern Catholics; it is true for Latins as well. 2,000 years of Church history has witnessed scoundrels, rogues, and — yes — even a heretic or two sitting on the papal throne; should these men be considered “point[s] of reference” for the faithful as well? And what of the college of bishops? What are they worth in Schwindt’s papal-centric scheme? Did Christ not have 12 Apostles? Is the Church not more than one man’s successor?

A Sorrowful Anniversary

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Tomorrow, March 10, is the anniversary of the pseudo-Synod of Lviv, which was orchestrated by the Soviet government and the Russian Orthodox Church for the purpose of abolishing the Union of Brest and liquidating the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). For the next 53 years, the UGCC would remain the largest outlawed religious group in the world. Following the intervention of Pope John Paul II, the UGCC was allowed out of the catacombs and today serves as a spiritual bridge between East and West throughout the world. Under the pastoral care of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Patriarch of Kyiv-Halych and All Rus, the Ukrainian Church continues to spread the Gospel in the lands St. Andrew the First Called first blessed with an eye toward the bright and glorious day when Catholics and Orthodox will share one cup in full ecclesiastical communion.

Some Thoughts on the Recent Tridentine Mass Dustup

Traditional Catholics have been weeping and gnashing their teeth since the appearance of Msgr. Charles Pope’s National Catholic Register blog post, “An Urgent Warning About the Future of the Traditional Latin Mass.” I confess I don’t know why. Though Pope relies largely on anecdotal evidence and some odd comparisons to the tragic decline of Catholic schools, his main point about the need for traditionalists to engage in more evangelization is sound. Joseph Shaw, the former head of the Latin Mass Society, disagrees. Writing over at Rorate Caeli, Shaw takes umbrage with Pope’s analysis, pointing out that the numbers don’t lie: the number of traditional Masses around the world is growing; traditional Catholic communities foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life; and traditional Catholics can’t be blamed for the fact their non-traditional brethren of the past two generations or so have been grossly under-catechized and are thus not in a position to truly experience – or have “fruitful participation” in – the Tridentine Mass. I don’t disagree necessarily with Shaw’s first two observations; the last comes a bit too close to cheap blame-shifting for my tastes. I always thought one of the central “points” of the traditional Catholic movement was to correct the catechetical problems introduced by bishops and priests over the past 50 years and that promoting the Tridentine Mass came hand-in-hand with delivering orthodoxy Catholicism. Why does Shaw seem to be disavowing this element of the traditionalist apostolate?

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Quick Update

I am sorry about the lack of blog content lately. My job situstion has finally stabilized, which has meant more work and a lot less downtime. And that’s a good thing. To all of you who have answered my requests for prayers on this matter, thank you very much. Regular posting shall resume shortly.