Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Dutch in the History of Biblical Scholarship, cont.

Descartes’ methodology of doubt has as a corollary his break from all tradition, particularly the Aristotelian tradition that had dominated European Christian thought for centuries.  For Descartes, philosophy is the project of an individual mind (namely his own), not a conversation of minds through history.  Of course, Descartes is almost na├»ve in his failure to realize his own indebtedness to the Western tradition, since the language and concepts in which he communicates are themselves the patrimony of a long intellectual history.  Nonetheless, Descartes is dismissive and contemptuous of the accomplishments of those who have come before him, and he does not regard them in any sense as a source of truth or illumination.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Dutch in the History of Biblical Scholarship

An odd set of circumstances had me doing some work in an area wherein I usually don't research or publish, namely, the history of biblical scholarship. 

One of several surprises I came across in the process of researching for a little essay, was the significance of my ancestral homeland, the Netherlands, to the development of modern thought, and particularly modern biblical scholarship.

During the wars of religion that characterized the post-Reformation period and dominated the seventeenth century (1600's), the Netherlands established their independence from Spain and reached the brief zenith of their economic and military power on the global stage.  The relative political tolerance in the Netherlands in this time period, particularly in and around the capital Amsterdam, attracted all manner of radical intellectuals whose writings anticipated and provoked the "Enlightenment," which did not "arrive" in most of the rest of Europe until the eighteenth century (1700's).

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eating the Flesh of the Messiah: The Feast of Corpus Christi

 This weekend is another great liturgical feast, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, otherwise known as Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi is one of a handful of feasts that celebrates the very gift of the Eucharist itself.  It is one of my favorite feasts, because the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was instrumental in my becoming Catholic.

Back in the Fall of 1999 I was reading through the Apostolic Fathers and came to this passage in Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Smyrneans (c. AD 106):

Friday, June 17, 2011

Trinity Sunday

This weekend we observe the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, a liturgical feast which celebrates the central mystery of the Christian faith.

Belief in the Trinity distinguishes Christians from adherents of all other world religions.  Hinduism is pantheistic, Buddhism agnostic.  Islam and Judaism hold to monopersonal monotheism.  Jews consider the Trinity erroneous, Muslims find it offensive.

Although the truth of the Trinity cannot be demonstrated, and must be accepted by faith in God’s revelation of Himself, nonetheless, philosophical meditation on the nature of love lends credibility to this act of faith.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Let the Fire Fall! Reflections on the Readings for Pentecost

The Lectionary provides a wealth of Scriptural inspiration for this weekend’s celebration of the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost.

As usual, there is too much beauty and richness for us to deal with it all in depth.  I was minded only to deal with the Sunday Mass Readings, but the Vigil’s selections are just too rich to pass without a brief comment on each:

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Thought for the Approach of Pentecost

Here's a thought I came across while reading in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost this Sunday:
"And so, there cannot be faith in the Holy Spirit if there is not faith in Christ, in his sacraments, in his Church. A man cannot act in accordance with his christian faith, cannot truly believe in the Holy Spirit, unless he loves the Church and trusts it. He cannot be a coherent Christian if he limits himself to pointing out the deficiencies and limitations of some who represent the Church, judging her from the outside, as though he were not her son."
--St. Josemaria Escriva, fom the homily "The Great Unknown," in Christ is Passing By.

Monday, June 06, 2011


"Of recent commentators the number is almost infinite.  Their superabundance makes it difficult for the reader to know which to choose … Among commentaries which are so divergent in their interpretations, you do not know which one to prefer and follow. Many, moreover, are so wordy that not only students but even learned scholars who devote themselves entirely to Sacred Scripture do not have the time and leisure to read them (not to mention the intellectual strength and endurance)."
Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide, S.J., from his Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, published c. 1630.

Friday, June 03, 2011

God Mounts His Throne with Shouts of Joy: The Readings for Ascension Day

In the Diocese of Steubenville, as well as in most of the USA, Ascension Day is observed this Sunday.  I wish the traditional observance on Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter was retained, but reality is what it is.

Therefore, this weekend we will look at the powerful readings for Ascension Day. 

This is an unusual Lord’s Day, in which the “action” of the Feast Day actually takes place in the First Reading.  We typically think of all the narratives of Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospels, overlooking that Acts records at least two important narratives about the activity of the Resurrected Lord (Acts 1:1-11; also 9:1-8).

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,