December 5, 2016

Cooperatores veritatis

Today I finished Last Testament: In His Own Words. To be honest, I didn't find it as interesting as Seewald's other interview books, but if you appreciate Benedict XVI very much, as I do, you will enjoy it. Particularly interesting is the material about Joseph Ratzinger's younger life, especially the time around the Second World War.

I'll never forget the time of his election back in 2005. Nobody knew what it would mean. I was in my last semester of the M. Div. program at the former Weston Jesuit School of Theology, but looking forward to a couple more years there as an STL student. Wanting to acquaint myself better with the new Pope, I took Introduction to Christianity out of the library. It was so clear and sensible. I remember thinking, why didn't they give us this to read before?

At the very end of the book, Benedict says something about how he chose his episcopal motto, cooperatores veritatis, taken from 3 John 8:

"Therefore, we ought to support such persons [the missionaries Gaius is hosting], so that we may be co-workers in the truth." (Nos ergo debemus sublevare huiusmodi, ut cooperatores simus veritatis.)

The Pope emeritus says:
I had for a long time excluded the question of truth, because it seemed to be too great. The claim: 'We have the truth!' is something which no one had the courage to say, so even in theology we had largely eliminated the concept of truth. In these years of struggle, the 1970s, it became clear to me: if we omit the truth, what do we do anything for? So truth must be involved. 
Indeed, we cannot say 'I have the truth', but the truth has us, it touches us. And we try to let ourselves be guided by this touch. Then this phrase from John 3 [sic] crossed my mind, that we are 'co-workers of the truth'. One can work with the truth, because the truth is person. One can let truth in, try to provide the truth with value. That seemed to me finally to be the very definition of the profession of a theologian; that he, when he has been touched by this truth, when truth has caught sight of him, is now ready to let it take him into service, to work on it and for it.

November 19, 2016

Priestly Vocations Ramble/Rant

That tweet is from the other day. Given responses, it seems to have hit some particular nail on the head. In thinking about it I decided it needed some follow-up for fairness sake.

November 7, 2016

All Franciscan Souls Ramble

On Saturday, in the Mass I celebrated with the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto and in the Liturgy of the Hours here at home, we had the Commemoration of all the Franciscan Faithful Departed, or All Franciscan or All Seraphic Souls.

Sister Death presides over the friars' cemetery, Yonkers, New York

I like how we Franciscans have our own All Souls Day. It's like a family thing; just as in a family folks might take care to have Masses celebrated for their dear departed, so we Franciscans have a liturgical day for ours. I forget how we do it at home in the USA, but here in Italy this day always gets scheduled for the first totally free liturgical day after November 2. So this year, having duly celebrated the days for Martin de Porres and Charles Borromeo, it was this past Saturday.

The gospel for the Mass was from St. John.

November 1, 2016


The feast of All Saints today and the commemoration of All Souls tomorrow are perfect opportunities to recall to ourselves the catholicity of the Church. We are members of the Catholic Church, practitioners of Catholic Christianity. Catholic is a Greek word that simply means general or universal. The Church is ‘universal’ or ‘general’ in many ways. In one sense the Church is universal because it extends over the whole earth. There’s even a Catholic chapel in Antarctica; it’s dedicated to St. Francis by the way. The moon, it’s already been decided, is part of the diocese of Rome, in case you were thinking of making a visit and were wondering who your bishop might be. The Church is also universal because it extends until the end of time. But most of all, the Church is universal and catholic because it passes beyond the boundaries of time and space to include both heaven and earth.

This teaching on the catholicity of the church comes to us in the classic language of the Church Triumphant, the Church Militant, and the Church Suffering or Expectant. The Church Triumphant is the Church we honor today on All Saints’ Day: those Christians who have completed their journey and enjoy the vision of God in heaven. We who make up the Church on earth are classically called the Church Militant; “militant” in the sense that we are in the midst of the struggle with sin and the work of ushering in the fullness of the Kingdom of God.

October 31, 2016

Vatican II Speaks To The Election

Maybe like a lot of people, I find the choices for the next president of the USA disappointing. Even if I had bothered to ask for an absentee ballot--I'm registered at home in a very blue state and so I didn't think it mattered much--I don't know if I could vote for either of them.

October 27, 2016

The Dashboard Clock Changing Difficulty

This weekend the clocks turn back here in Italy. Here they call Standard Time and Daylight Savings Time ora solare and ora legale, respectively. 'Solar time' and 'legal time.' The change in the fall is a week before that in the USA. Not that this affects me much, but I do notice that regularly expected emails start to arrive at different times, and I have to remember the difference when tuning into radio programs from home. In the spring the difference is two weeks.

So I was reminded of a cute story. One of the senior friars would go through some stress twice a year because he could never remember how to change the time on his watch. It was of the inexpensive, digital variety. Brethren were consulted, manuals were searched for online, etc., and eventually the biannual crisis would be resolved.

So one time I suggested to him, given that his watch was of a very inexpensive kind, why didn't he just get another one. He could set one to EST and the other to DST, and then twice a year he would only have to switch watches.

The friar seemed to appreciate the solution. But then he raised the following objection:

"But next I will need two cars."

October 15, 2016

Lazy Capuchin Friars

One of the brethren brought to my attention this excerpt from William Dean Howells's Venetian Life.
The islands near Venice are all small, except the Giudecca (which is properly a part of the city), the Lido, and Murano. The Giudecca, from being anciently the bounds in which certain factious nobles were confined, was later laid out in pleasure-gardens, and built up with summer-palaces. The gardens still remain to some extent; but they are now chiefly turned to practical account in raising vegetables and fruits for the Venetian market, and the palaces have been converted into warehouses and factories. This island produces a variety of beggar, the most truculent and tenacious in all Venice, and it has a convent of lazy Capuchin friars, who are likewise beggars. To them belongs the church of the Redentore, which only the Madonnas of Bellini in the sacristy make worthy to be seen.