Christopher Blosser

Band of Bearded Brothers with Joe.

New biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles

As if one didn’t have enough books to read already. From Paulist Press, a new biography of Avery Cardinal Dulles, America’s most distinguished Catholic theologian, who passed away in December 2008. (And at 736 pages, it sounds like quite a read).

Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ: A Model Theologian, 1918-2008
by Patrick W. Carey. Paulist Press. 736p.

Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ, is the foremost American Catholic theologian of the post-Vatican II era. This book is a religious and intellectual biography that focuses on his contributions to the development of American Catholic theology and to the larger arena of American Catholic life. The book traces his life and thought from his childhood in a prominent American Presbyterian and political family to his days as a student at Harvard where he converted to Catholicism, to his World War II experience in the Navy, to his ordination as a Jesuit, and then to his career as a theologian in the post-Vatican II era. In the entire twentieth century, no other theologian, with the possible exception of John Courtney Murray, SJ, has had as important an impact upon American Catholic thought. Dulles, though, is unmatched in the twentieth century because of his prolific publications and the wide distribution and reading of his published theology. More bishops, priests, and religious, as well as large numbers of laity, have been influenced by his writings and by any other single American theologian. This book will put his contributions to theology within the wider context of his religious life and the cultural and religious transformations in the United States during the last half of the twentieth century.

Reviews and Related Info

Seminarians make a music video …

It all started in Dr. Blosser’s philosophy class …:

It all started with an off-hand remark I made at the beginning of the semester this fall while talking about the challenges of reading Aristotle and St. Thomas. Students today might find it preferable, I joked lamely, if somebody could come up with a different medium for communicating metaphysics, like, say, a MUSIC VIDEO!

The students politely laughed. But two of them approached me after class with the idea of undertaking precisely such a project. For a moment, I wasn’t sure whether they were joking or serious. They were serious. [more].

The Messiah in the Food Court

SOURCE: On November.13, 2010 unsuspecting shoppers got a big surprise while enjoying their lunch. Over 100 participants in this awesome Christmas Flash Mob. This flash mob was organized by http://www.AlphabetPhotography.com to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Personally, what I found equally impressive was the beautiful display of public (and explicitly Christian) religiosity — and the complete absence of disgruntled atheist loons protesting it. ;-)

HT: The Anchoress

Pope Benedict and the Great Condom Conundrum

As far as the Great Catholic Condom Conumdrum of 2010 goes (prompted by an excerpt of no more than 2 out of a nearly 200 page book-length interview God and the World), the myriad reactions among Catholic circles, seems to me largely (perhaps loosely) divided among two camps. But this is not simply a division between “progressives” and “conservatives”. Even those who would consider themselves orthodox, faithful adherents to Church teaching and admirers of Pope Benedict are divided.

On one side you have Fr. Martin Rhonheimer, Dr. Austen Ivereigh and even Fr. Lombardi himself. On the other side, you have Janet Smith, Fr. Joseph Fessio, and Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Consider… →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Notable Catholic news stories (I mean, besides condoms)

Providing a moment’s respite from what George Weigel dubs the media obsession with “Salvation by Latex”, here are some other notable (and/or interesting) Catholic stories that caught my attention:

Thomas Wenski – “hard charging, hog-driving” Archbishop of Miami

Michael E. Miller (Miami New Times) provides a detailed — and fascinating — profile of Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski:

Dressed all in black, the biker roars his 1,800-cc Harley-Davidson Street Glide to a halt on the gravely shoulder of Florida Avenue in Lakeland. Ray-Bans hide his eyes. With his spike-topped black helmet glinting in the South Florida sun, he more closely resembles a Prussian soldier than Easy Rider.

Lucas Benitez spots the motorcyclist and his palms begin to sweat. All day, the stocky Mexican with a buzzcut has led a thousand Latino tomato pickers on the 11-mile march from Plant City to Lakeland to protest the stingy pay of $50 per two tons of fruit torn off the vine. When he looks at the biker, all he can think is: Not another pinche redneck picking a fight.

Then the heavyset motorcyclist steps from his machine and ambles toward the marchers. “Buenas tardes,” he says, holding out a hand. “I’m Bishop Thomas Wenski.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

"The New Evangelization"?

Carrying on the mission of his predecessor, Pope Benedict announced in June 2010 a pontifical council for the “the new evangelization”, the principle task of which was to:

[promote] a renewed evangelization in the countries where the first proclamation of faith has already resounded and where there are churches of ancient foundation present, but which are living through a progressive secularization of society and a kind of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.

Fr. Mirilli of Rome seems to have interpreted the Holy Father’s directive in a rather novel manner:A section of the crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso near St. Peter’s Square has boasted tombs of cardinals for centuries, has been turned into a nightclub by Rome’s Catholic Church.

Image Source: The Beerean

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Happy Halloween!

In the spirit of the season, Taylor Marshall (Called to Communion) offers “top ten ways to have a Catholic Halloween:

This time of year introduces several debates. Among conservative Protestants it’s “Halloween or no Halloween?” which sometimes becomes “Halloween vs. Reformation Day,” the latter being the celebration of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on Oct 31. Even some Catholics are concerned that Halloween has become “evil.” Well, here are ten ways to keep good ol’ Halloween fun and sacred. …

Secondly, a great reflection by John Zmirak (InsideCatholic) on “the brightest, best moment of the whole liturgical year.”

And speaking of our Protestant brethren, John Mark Reynolds (First Things‘ “Evangel”) asks: Is Reformation Day the new Kwanzaa? ;-)

A Catholic Ghost Story

What are Catholics to make of supernatural phenomena? and ghosts in particular?

There is little question that the Catholic Church believes in the reality of the spiritual realm — St. Paul in Ephesians speaks of “our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” But it is a realm inhabited by angels, demons, and of course, Satan himself. (And, if you’re an enlightened “post-Vatican II” Catholic like Fr. Richard McBrien, you can scoff at the very mention of the latter).

As far as ghosts are concerned, the prevailing tendency among Catholics is to look askance at the concept of “lost souls”, trapped in this life and waiting to cross over. There is scarce mention of “ghosts” in the Catechism and judging by the absence of clear, definitive teaching — the Church has refrained from adopting a firm position on their existence.

According to Gary Jansen, a contemporary Catholic from Rockville Centre, Long Island, ghosts simply didn’t exist. For him, “heaven, hell, angels were basic tenents of my Catholic faith, but never basic tenents of my life. . . . these topics were never discused during my twelve years of attending parochial school.” While his devout Catholic mother would mention strange occurrences, he prided himself on his rationality.

Until, that is, when he had an unsettling encounter in his son’s bedroom in 2007. Holy Ghosts: Or How a (Not-So) Good Catholic Boy Became a Believer in Things That Go Bump in the Night is an account of one Catholic’s real-life haunting: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Woody Guthrie vs. Joseph Ratzinger ;-)

Communist Liberation TheologianOver at Vox Nova, Henry Karlson draws our attention to a video of Bono, expounding on why U2 felt compelled to cover Woody Guthrie’s song “Jesus Christ”. In short, “it’s more relevant today than when he wrote it.”

But why is it more relevant? — For Bono, “we decided to do it because of the line, “the bankers and the preachers, they nailed him in the air.”

Curiousity provoked, I took a look at the complete lyrics:

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Praying the Holy Rosary in October

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary — by personal recommendation of Pope Leo XIII:

In a letter of September 1, 1883, mindful of the Rosary’s power to strengthen faith and foster a life of virtue, he outlined the triumphs of the Rosary in past times and admonished the faithful to dedicate the month of October to the Blessed Virgin through the daily recitation of her Rosary in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, in order to obtain through her intercession the grace that God would console and defend His Church in her sufferings.

Beginning on September 1, 1883, with SUPREMO APOSTOLATUS OFFICIO, Pope Leo wrote a total of eleven encyclicals on the Rosary, ending with DIUTURNI TEMPORIS in 1898. (Source: Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello, Catholic.net).

The spread of the devotion of the rosary is attributed to the revelation of Mary to St. Dominic, who sought her help in battling the heresy of the Albigenses. Robert Feeney’s “St. Dominic and the Rosary” gives a detailed account,

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"The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II" — George Weigel's sequel to "Witness to Hope"

George Weigel’s new book, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, which was published by Doubleday on September 14, is the fulfillment of a promise the author made to Pope John Paul II less than four months before the pope died. In “A Promise To Pope John Paul II” (“The Catholic Difference” 9/17/10), Weigel gives his account of his parting words to the late Pope before his death:

The conversation over dinner was wide-ranging, and at one point, after the usual papal kidding about my having written “a very big book,” John Paul asked about the international reception of Witness to Hope, his biography, which I had published five years earlier. He was particularly happy when I told him that a Chinese edition was in the works, as he knew he would never get to that vast land himself. As that part of the conversation was winding down, I looked across the table and, referring to the fact that Witness to Hope had only taken the John Paul II story up to early 1999, I made the Pope a promise: “Holy Father,” I said, “if you don’t bury me, I want you to know that I’ll finish your story.”

It was the last time we saw each other, this side of the Kingdom of God.

The End and the Beginning covers the last six years of John Paul II’s life, including:

  • Karol Wojtyla’s epic battle with communism through the prism of previously classified and top-secret communist files
  • the Great Jubilee of 2000 and his historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land
  • September 11th, and the Pope’s efforts to frustrate Osama bin Laden’s insistence that his war with the West was a religious crusade
  • the Long Lent of 2002, when the Church in America grappled with the twin crises of clerical sexual abuse and episcopal misgovernance;
  • John Paul’s ongoing efforts to build bridges of dialogue and reconciliation with the Churches of the Christian East
  • his struggle with illness, “which brought him into at least one ‘dark night’ spiritually; and his heroic last months, in which his priestly death became, metaphorically, his last encyclical”

(Given that Weigel was personally engaged in the Catholic just war debate over the war in Iraq, it will be interesting to see the extent to which he covers this aspect of John Paul II’s pontificate).

Related

Are you ready for Pope Benedict's next gig?

Preparing for Pope Benedict’s journey to England and Scotland later this week, Catholic bishops have likened the Pope to the headline act at a series of gigs in a ‘cringe-worthy’ guide, exposing the Church to new heights of ridicule.

The Daily Mail reports (September 12, 2010):

In a list of ‘useful terms’ in the official booklet, the three open-air Papal masses – the most solemn occasions of the historic trip – are referred to as ‘shows’ or ‘gigs’, terms normally associated with rock concerts.The document also compares the clergy who organise services – known as liturgists – to ‘performers’ or ‘artists’ …

The unusual glossary raises fresh questions over the handling of Pope Benedict XVI’s four-day visit, which starts on Thursday and has already been mired in controversy.

The Church is distributing thousands of copies of the glossy, eight-page booklet produced by the Papal Visit Team, overseen by Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols. Its cover carries the official slogan of the visit – the first to Britain since 1982 – Heart Speaks Unto Heart.

Insiders said the pamphlet is aimed at workers from companies arranging events, police officers, broadcasters and journalists who may not be Catholics and are unsure about the Church’s rituals and beliefs.

Thomas Peters (The American Papist) puts the Bishop’s phrasing in the most charitable light:

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Understanding Pope Benedict XVI on the Liturgy

Assessing Benedict’s views of the liturgy

In “Where Truth and Beauty Meet”: Understanding Benedict (The Tablet August 14, 2010) – Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity, and Fellow and Director of Studies at Magdalene College, Cambridge, aptly summarizes Pope Benedict’s view of the liturgy and his calls for reform

[Pope Benedict] believes that behind many celebrations of the new liturgy lie a raft of disastrous theological, cultural, sociological and aesthetic assumptions, linked to the unsettled time in which the liturgical reforms were carried out. In particular, he believes that twentieth-century theologies of the Eucharist place far too much emphasis on the notion that the fundamental form of the Eucharist is that of a meal, at the cost of underplaying the cosmic, redemptive, and sacrificial character of the Mass.

The Pope, of course, himself calls the Mass the “Feast of Faith”, “the Banquet of the reconciled”. Nevertheless Calvary and the empty tomb, rather than the Upper Room, are for him the proper symbolic locations of Christian liturgy. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist has to be evident in the manner of its celebration, and the failure to embody this adequately in the actual performance of the new liturgy seems to him one of the central problems of the post-conciliar reforms. … →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Court Blocks Federal Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

A bit of good news midst the gloom: A federal judge temporarily blocked the Obama administration Monday from using federal dollars to fund expanded human embryonic stem cell research (FoxNews.com).

Further analysis of the ruling from Adam Keiper and Yuval Levin @ National Review.

As expected, “stunned and disappointed” officials of the Obama administration have vowed to appeal.

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