Pentecost

“Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”

1 Corinthians 3:16

Here is the tract from Holy Mass today:

VENI, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.
COME, Holy Ghost,
send down those beams,
which sweetly flow in silent streams
from Thy bright throne above.
Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum
veni, lumen cordium.
O come, Thou Father of the poor;
O come, Thou source of all our store,
come, fill our hearts with love.
Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.
O Thou, of comforters the best,
O Thou, the soul’s delightful guest,
the pilgrim’s sweet relief.
In labore requies,
in aestu temperies
in fletu solatium.
Rest art Thou in our toil, most sweet
refreshment in the noonday heat;
and solace in our grief.
O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.
O blessed Light of life Thou art;
fill with Thy light the inmost heart
of those who hope in Thee.
Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.
Without Thy Godhead nothing can,
have any price or worth in man,
nothing can harmless be.
Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.
Lord, wash our sinful stains away,
refresh from heaven our barren clay,
our wounds and bruises heal.
Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.
To Thy sweet yoke our stiff necks bow,
warm with Thy fire our hearts of snow,
our wandering feet recall.
Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.
Grant to Thy faithful, dearest Lord,
whose only hope is Thy sure word,
the sevenfold gifts of grace.
Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium,
Amen, Alleluia.
Grant us in life Thy grace that we,
in peace may die and ever be,
in joy before Thy face.
Amen. Alleluia.

Good Reads for Pentecost:
The Holy Ghost Our Greatest Friend by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan
Swift Victory by Fr. Walter Ferrell, OP and Fr. Dominic Hughes, OP

Book Review: Handbook of Catholic Apologetics

It should be noted from the outset that this book is the earlier “Handbook of Christian Apologetics” with a new cover and partial title change, and one new chapter (about forty or so pages). I did not compare each and every page, but nearly every section I checked was exactly the same. The only differences being in font-size and the chapter outlines made more concise. They are good changes, but I am not sure if they are enough to demand a new publication.

As far as apologetical content goes, Mr. Kreeft and Fr. Tacelli do a decent job defending the reasonableness of faith and explaining some of the many philosophical proofs for the existence of God. However, since they renamed the book to Handbook of Catholic Apologetics I had been hoping for a stronger focus on apologetics for theists—for explaining and defending the faith to Protestants and persons of other religions. The book is divided about half and half: the first half addresses atheists and non-believers and the latter portion of the book focuses on defending commons objections to Catholic belief (ex. Mary, the Eucharist, etc.). It is a good resource, but far from and exhaustive and serves really as a good beginning, or grounding, in apologetics.

For example, one shortcoming is the gloss over Father Leonard Feeney. In (briefly) mentioning the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside the Church There is No Salvation), the authors overcomplicate the matter, dismiss Father Feeney (yes, Fr. Feeney was excommunicated, but not for doctrinal reasons as the authors insinuate) and so Mr. Kreeft and Fr. Tacelli fail to give a really good apologetic defense for the doctrine. The brief sentence or two offered by the authors is useless to anyone who is familiar with the particulars of Fr. Feeney’s case about Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

Despite some of its shortcomings, Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is a book that has its apologetical merits for Catholics seeking an introduction to basic questions of faith.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Book Review: American Babylon

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ American Babylon is a weighty description of what it means for Christians to be in the world, but not of the world. It is an often repeated phrase that holds a variety of meanings, but Fr. Neuhaus likens it to the relationship between the soul and the body: “The soul is captive to the body, yet it holds the body together. So Christians are held captive to the world, and yet they hold the world together.”

While a good read, American Babylon is not light reading. Fr. Neuhaus does a great job demonstrating the difference between living in the city of men (earthly life) and the City of God (eternal life), but he often explains these differences by references to competing contemporary philosophies that could be confusing to the inexperienced reader unfamiliar with persons like Richard Rorty, Peter Singer, or the Niebuhr brothers.

Surely the most polemical topic of Fr. Neuhaus’ book is the chapter which asks, “Can an Atheist Be a Good Citizen?” Fr. Neuhaus responds in the negative. Surprising this may seem (to some) at first, I found it interesting that Fr. Neuhaus’ sentiments are echoed in our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI’s most recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate. The Holy Father explains that atheism is an impediment to integral human development (see Caritas in Veritate #29). Fr. Neuhaus says that the “new atheism” growing in the world today has no real moral accountability. The atheist is unable to give compelling reasons defending the society (and the actions of the society where he lives).

I found American Babylon to be a thought-provoking and necessarily slow read in order to digest the many wise words of Fr. Neuhaus. Fr. Neuhaus definitely had a talent for engaging the public square on matters of religion and philosophy.

You can purchase this book here.

I wrote this review for the Tiber River Blogger Review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, the largest Catholic Store online. For more information and to purchase, please visit Aquinas and More Catholic Goods.

Tiber River is the first Catholic book review site, started in 2000 to help you make informed decisions about Catholic book purchases.

I receive free product samples as compensation for writing reviews for Tiber River.

Year of the Priest

Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest. … After God, the priest is everything! … Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is” ~ St. John Mary Vianney, quoted in Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Clergy for the “Year of the Priest”

Starting Friday (6/19), Pope Benedict XVI will declare a “Year of the Priest” for the Church under the patronage of the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney).

In addition to praying fervently for our priests, I hope to get in some good reading on the priesthood. Here are my (intended) reads so far:
Theology of the Priesthood by Fr. Jean Galot
The Curé of Ars Today by Fr. George William Rutler
The Curé of Ars by Father Bartholomew O’Brien
The Sermons of the Curé of Ars by St. John Vianney
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii by Pope Pius XI (encyclical letter)
Christ, the Life of the Priest by Blessed Columba Marmion
The Priest is Not His Own by Fulton J Sheen
The Priest in Union With Christ by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

More junk from Dan Brown

This Friday the movie release of Dan Brown’s other poorly researched book “Angels & Demons” hits theaters. Though I am loathe to give this more attention than it needs, I think there is an obligation to correct the blatant lies this work purports as truth.

Firstly, and more concerning than any idea that a Pope would engage in sinful behavior, is the idea that there is a divorce between faith and science– that the Catholic Church is somehow hostile to science. This is simply untrue. Although with the sketchy “theories” floating around as scientific fact today, it’s not hard to see where one might get that impression. But that’s the fault of modern scientists pushing an agenda rather than seeking to truly understand the world.

The Church loves science, and there is (and can be) no hostile relation between faith and science– by which most people aim at understanding as reason. When we paint science as reasonable, we paint faith as unreasonable. Faith is a comforting fairy tale, they say, and reason is the mature real world understanding. But this is simply a false dichotomy. Faith and reason is not an either/or situation. Yes, faith is beyond that natural (i.e., faith is supernatural); but faith does not violate reason. To use a pedantic analogy: it is not unreasonable for me to believe that my car stays parked in the parking lot while I’m shopping in the store and can’t see it. Barring some abnormal occurrence like someone stealing my car or a tornado comes by and takes my car three towns over, my car will indeed still be in the parking lot even when I can’t see it. This would not be considered an unreasonable belief– in fact, most people might suggest it would be unreasonable to think otherwise.

Now, I do grant that the belief of religious faith is a bit different. But not entirely. God’s existence is something the Catholic Church has taught can be known by the light of natural reason. We did not need God to tell us that He exists. But matters of faith like the Incarnation, that God is three persons, one God are things we could not have figured out had God not revealed them to us. This kind of faith is not simply believing something exists even when I’m not looking at it, but is a kind of belief in the testimony of others alongside recognition that God is not (and cannot be) a deceiver by His very nature.

Some reading recommendations:

Pope John Paul II’s “Fides et Ratio” (“On the Relationship Between Faith & Reason”)

Answering Angels & Demons by Mark Shea (free download from Ascension Press)

Angels & Devils by Joan Carroll Cruz

Is the Theology of the Body scandalous?

Christopher West, among other lay Catholic speakers, has definitely popularized Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. But if you caught his stint ABC’s Nightline, or the small fury in the blogosphere over an article that quotes Dr. Alice von Hildebrand saying West’s approach is “dangerous”; you might be wondering where’s the balance? Are we too prudish, or is the Theology of the Body scandalous?

I’ll be honest. I like Christopher West. I think he’s a good guy trying hard to do a difficult job. But, I also agree with many of the criticisms leveled against him. In that vein, I think he should take the criticism seriously, learn from it, and move on adjusting his presentations as necessary.

Pope John Paul II’s catechesis on the “Theology of the Body”(TOB) is revolutionary. Indeed, I remember reading his Love & Responsibility and thinking, “a celibate guy wrote this? Seriously?” and then immediately understood the scope of Pope John Paul II’s phenomenology (i.e., I have a lot to learn). It’s not that TOB added anything new to the Church’s teaching on sexuality or the human person; but the understanding and explanation is unfolded carefully and meaningfully in TOB.

Sex is a touchy subject. It has to be handled faithfully and sensitively– which tends to make most people turn off their listening ears. Christopher West’s presentation of the Theology of the Body is lively; he tries to wake up his audience to help them see that the Catholic Church really does know what she’s talking about in regards to who we are as human persons– and especially as regards our sexuality. He says some outlandish things (to grab the attention of the audience) but usually goes on to explain and nuance the odd sayings in the light of Church teaching.

For mature Christians, I think there is some wiggle room for discussion. For example, while The Theology of the Body Institute recently made it clear that Mr. West does not endorse oral sex; his book The Good News About Sex & Marriage does give the go-ahead. I think his conclusions are based on sketchy evidence, at best; and on that point I think Mr. West is off base. While the Church is not going to draw up a list of bedroom dos and donts for married couples, I don’t think the Nihil Obstat or Imprimatur in Mr. West’s books can make up the beginning of one. Theology of the Body is not about learning how far we can go, or how much we can get away with– that’s the wrong way to look at things. Theology of the Body is about who we are as persons and the ultimate purpose of the gift of sexuality lived out in human life–whether through the sacrament of marriage OR (and I think this is too often forgotten) through celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.

Year of the Priest

For the Year of the Priest:

Reads
“Theology of the Priesthood” by Fr. Jean Galot (SJ)
The Sermons of the Curé of Ars (St. John Vianney)
Christ, the Ideal of the Priest by Blessed Columba Marmion

… and most importantly: pray for priests!