Saturday, April 10, 2021

"Scripture is not the property of the specialists"

"Scripture is not the property of the specialists.  It is a public garden in which all Christians have the right to wander. . . .  Why don't you, for your part, take a stroll, for example with one of your little daughters, to whom you could explain these marvellous images?"

"l'Écriture n'est pas la propriété des spécialistes.  C'est un jardin public où tous les chrétiens ont le droit de se promener. . . .  Pourquoi de ton côte n'y ferais-tu pas un tour, avec une de tes petites filles par exemple à qui tu expliquerais ces merveilleuses images?"

     Paul Claudel, Introduction à l'Apocalypse, Conférence lue à l'Institut catholique de Paris le 10 février 1946 (Paris:  Egloff, 1994), 9, as quoted by Philippe Cardinal Barbarin, in his "La liberté du théologien," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 113 (2012), 370 (365-384), translation mine.  Barbarin adds that "Naturally, our freedom to comment [(la liberté de notre commentaire)] does not dispense us from [the obligation] to do all of the [exegetical] work of which we are capable."  But note that he is discussing here one of the most difficult books in the whole of Scripture!

Friday, April 9, 2021

A psychiatrist who did not experience the five stages of Death and dying

"The process of dying cannot be adequately understood by applying a rigid phenomenological framework that does not do justice to the resource of biblical faith and the contribution that faith makes to the acceptance of death."

     Orville S. Walters, "A psychiatrist's approach to death," Christian Medical Society journal 6 (Fall 1975):  4-6, which is, presumably, the source of the INPM version online.  Walters composed this little essay in the final throes of stomach cancer.  He died on 18 February 1975.

Kübler-Ross’s "Death and Dying takes little notice of the resources of Christian faith for the dying."  For this reason "It is difficult to imagine the writer of these words working through anxiety over approaching death in the troubled stages currently associated with dying."

Friday, April 2, 2021

Beauty puts a legitimate thumb on the scales

      "The encounter with beauty can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the soul and thus makes it see clearly, so that henceforth it has criteria, based on what it has experienced, and can now weigh the arguments correctly."

     Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "Wounded by the arrow of beauty:  the cross and the new 'aesthetics' of faith," chap. 2 of On the way to Jesus Christ (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 2005 [2004]), 37, italics mine.  As with a Bach cantata:  "'Anyone who has heard this knows that the faith is true.'"  "Arguments so often have no effect, because too many contradictory arguments compete with one another in our world, so that one cannot help thinking of the remark of the medieval theologians that reason has a wax nose:  in other words, it can be turned around in any direction, if one is clever enough.  It is all so clever, so evident—whom should we trust?"
     Ratzinger opens with the "Two antiphons [to Ps 45 that] stand . . . side by side [in the Liturgy of the hours], one for the season of Lent, the other for Holy Week":  "'the fairest of the children of men'" "'had neither beauty nor majesty, nothing to attract our eyes'" (32-33).

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

"That's not how my Aana taught me to read the Bible."

"the first epistle of John. . . .  was composed at a time when the emergence of a new group of intellectuals, the so-called Gnostics, raised problems that are not unlike those we are facing today.  They interpreted the Christianity of the Church as a Christianity of the naive in comparison with the 'real' Christianity, in which the letter of faith, which Christians had thus far accepted, could be manipulated by sophisticated methods of interpretation to accord with one's own views.  Simple Christians felt themselves deceived and, at the same time, more or less helplessly victimized by the intellectual superiority of the Gnostics and their inventions.  In his response (1 Jn 2:18-27), John says:  You have all received the anointing that instructed you; you have no need of further instruction.  The Apostle opposed to the arrogance of an intellectual elite the unsurpassability of simple faith and of the insight it bestows. . . .  This common knowledge, which comes from baptism, is not subject to a higher interpretation; it is itself the measure of every interpretation.  It is the source of life for the Church, which, in the sacrament and in the catechesis that is part of the sacrament, is the real bearer of the word.

     "We come thus to understand the duty of bishops as representatives of the Church with regard to theology.  Their obligation as bishops is not to seek to play an instrument in the concert of specialists but, rather, to embody the voice of simple faith and its simple primitive instincts, which precede science and threaten to disappear where science makes itself absolute.  In this sense, they serve, in fact, a completely democratic function that rests, not on statistics, but on the common gift of baptism. . . .  The common ground of baptismal faith, which the Magisterium must protect, does not fetter a theology that properly understands itself but rather issues to it that challenge that has proved fruitful again and again throughout the centuries.  The model of enlightened reason cannot assimilate the structure of faith. . . .  But faith, for its part, is comprehensive enough to assimilate the intellectual offer of the Enlightenment and give it a task that is meaningful also for faith."

     Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The Church and scientific theology" (1978), in Principles of Catholic theology:  building stones for a fundamental theology, trans. Sister Mary Frances McCarthy, S.N.D. (San Francisco:  Ignatius Press, 1987), 330-331 (322-331) =Theologische Prinzipienlehre (Munich:  Erich Wewel Verlag, 1987) ="The Church and scientific theology," Communio:  international Catholic review 7 (1980):  332-342 ="Kirche und wissenschaftliche Theologie," in W. Sandfuchs, ed., Die Kirche (Würzburg, 1978), 83-95.  "The shepherds of the Church not only find themselves exposed today to the [supposedly Enlightened] accusation that they still hold fast to the methods of the Inquisition and try to strangle the Spirit by the repressive power of their office; they are, at the same time, attacked by the voice of the faithful, who accuse them more and more loudly of being mute and cowardly watchdogs that stand idly by under the pressure of liberal publicity while the faith is being sold piecemeal for the dish of pottage of being recognized as 'modern'" (324).  "Under this new aspect, the shepherd of the Church is offered the opportunity of giving his teaching ministry a democratic form:  of becoming the advocate of the faithful, of the people, against the elitist power of the intellectuals" (324).  "To that extent, we are correct in seeing in the function of the ecclesial Magisterium a democratic element that derives from its Christian origin" (325).  For "Faith is not to be placed in opposition to reason, but neither must it fall under the absolute power of enlightened reason and its methods" (325), which often set themselves up in opposition to the intrinsic logic of the Christian faith (which, unlike the religions of the East, is, in fact, a logos, and not a mythos (327)).
     The headline I stole from my dear friend and sister Esther Smith.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A church in the heart of which heathenism is alive and well

"The appearance of the church in the modern era is determined by this, that in a completely new way it has become a church of heathens, and continues to become so more and more:  no longer, as it once was, a church made up of heathens who have become Christians, but a church of heathens, who still call themselves Christians, but have really become heathens.  Heathenism sits today in the church itself, and precisely this is what characterizes both the church of our day as also [the church] of the new heathenism, that it is a question of a heathenism in the church and of a church in the heart of which heathenism lives."

"Das Erscheinungsbild der Kirche der Neuzeit ist wesentlich davon bestimmt, dass sie auf eine ganz neue Weise Kirche der Heiden geworden ist und noch immer mehr wird: nicht wie einst, Kirche aus den Heiden, die zu Christen geworden sind, sondern Kirche von Heiden, die sich noch Christen nennen, aber in Wahrheit zu Heiden wurden. Das Heidentum sitzt heute in der Kirche selbst, und gerade das ist das Kennzeichnende sowohl der Kirche unserer Tage wie auch des neuen Heidentums, dass es sich um ein Heidentum in der Kirche handelt und um eine Kirche, in deren Herzen das Heidentum lebt."

     Joseph Ratzinger, "Die neuen Heiden und die Kirche," Hochland 51, no. 1 (Oktober 1958):  1-11, as encountered in Peter Seewald, Benedict XVI:  a life, vol. 1, youth in Nazi Germany to the Second Vatican Council, 1927-1965, trans. Dinah Livingstone (London: Bloomsbury Continuum, 2020), 296, but modified and corrected by me.  German from and elsewhere, i.e. not yet the article in Hochland itself.  What is more, I have not read the whole thing, just this one fragment.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

"'This is why her God will be my God.'"

"During this period, since Daphrose [Rugamba] was a Christian, she prayed and cared for her husband.  Cyprien told me:  'After everything I did to her, she didn’t leave me, even when I got sick.  Instead, she took care of me.  This is why her God will be my God.'"

     Xaverine Kabihogo, in the film J’entrerai au ciel en dansant =Nzinjira mu ijuru mpamiriz, by François Lespes (2018), 14:24.  According to the film, Cyprien was struck, in the early 1980s, by "a mysterious illness" that affected not just his appetite, but "all . . . his senses":  touch, hearing, sight, etc.

"joint heirs of the grace of life"

     1 Pet 3:7 RSV.  Photo is of Servants of God Cyprian and Daphrose Rugamba (d. 7 April 1994).