The Sacraments of Initiation in the Council of Trent

3 01 2009
The Sacraments of Initiation in the Council of Trent THUMB

The title of this paper turned out to be a little misleading. I was assigned this topic by my professor, and when I asked if he could recommend any sources off of the top of his head, he replied, “the Council documents would be a good place to start.” Hah. So, I did. I had also recently read Hilaire Belloc’s How the Reformation Happened, which had given me more insight into the developments which had occurred during this period of history. I soon realized that it would be impossible (and less interesting) to write this paper without taking into account the historical context.

So, borrowing from Belloc’s brilliant ability to get to the heart of the problem, I discuss the underlying problems which led the Reformers’ to act as they did; the rejection of authority because of the poor choices and behavior of some of the members of the Church, which led them in the only direction they could possibly go: to sola fide and sola Scriptura, which (as we continue to see in our own day) has as its fruit numerous “popes” and “magisteriums.” That is, because there is no longer a central authority preserving the unity of the Church in and through the Chair of Peter, we now have a multitude of “popes” and “magisteriums” handing on their version of Christianity, their interpretation of Scripture, as the “true” interpretation. This rejection of authority and necessary turn towards justification by faith alone through the individual’s interpretation of Scripture is the foundation of the rest of Protestantism. Everything Protestant rests on the above mentioned points. This will underly the rest of my arguments in this paper, from the Protestants’ positions on the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist), to the Church’s response in the Council of Trent as deliberately attacking these fundamental positions.

Although I was not terribly excited to be assigned a topic (he did give us chance to change it), this turned out to be an enlightening paper which gave me the opportunity to improve my understanding of the Reformation.

This was written in my third semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for The Sacraments of Initiation.

The Search for Intimacy in the Celibate Life

2 01 2009

The Search for Intimacy in the Celibate Life THUMB

A big part of my discernment in seminary was about the issue of intimacy and how it is lived out. I wasn’t for sure what I was going to write about for this class, but since: this topic had been so prevalent in my discernment, we were going through John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and I like to write about things I’m interested in, I decided to dig into this topic and see what I could come up with. I enjoyed the research and I learned a lot about intimacy, especially through John Paul II’s beautiful work on the spousal meaning of the body.

In the paper, I look at what intimacy means, especially as viewed through its relation to the spousal meaning of the body, then I discuss the manner in which intimacy is lived out in the married life (i.e., total, exclusive gift of self to an-other), and I close by moving into how intimacy is lived in the celibate life (i.e., total gift of self to an-Other and others), finding some very interesting parallels between the two ways of life.

This was written in my third semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for Human Sexuality and the States of Life.

Distributism: Adherence to the Social Teaching of the Church and Man’s Social Recourse to Leisure

2 01 2009

Distributism-Church Teaching and Leisure THUMB

Although it wasn’t my original “intention” to pick up the topic of leisure again, when I began digging into the encyclicals, the writings of Belloc and Chesterton, and others, the theme continued to present itself to me. So, after making the connections a bit more solid through my research, this is the paper that I came up with.

Distributism is a social/economic theory put forth by the Chesterbelloc & Co., which is based on the social teachings of the Church (especially Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno) and the practice of parts of medieval Europe (such as England and France). In short, the distributist theory grew out of the social and political turmoil brought about by the Industrial Revolution and the response to it by communism (in particular, Marxism). These two are often seen to be the only two “ways” of social and economic governance. What distributism provides is another “third way,” which Belloc holds to be “the only way,” as capitalism and communism are both based on faulty principles and don’t take into account a full understanding of man. My hunch is that neither allow for man to truly be free; capitalism in that it doesn’t give enough weight to the reality that man is fallen (and, consequently, provides a framework which disposes him to become enslaved by himself), and communism (as a response to capitalism) doesn’t trust man enough to exercise his genuine freedom.

The main argument of this paper is that neither (communist) socialism nor capitalism provide a social setting in which man is truly able to flourish as man. In different manifestations, man is enslaved by the oppression caused by these two systems and, consequently, is unable to be disposed to leisure, which is a necessity that should be provided for by a social/economic structure (which should respect the nature of man who it serves). As Belloc said, distributism is “the only way;” a way which disposes man to a proper understanding and living of leisure, in which he is able to flourish as a true human being, made in the image and likeness of God.

This may have, in some way, surpassed my paper on leisure as my favorite. But the two are very closely related, and this one could not exist without the former…so let’s just say I love this topic.

Written in my third semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for History of the Medieval Period with Fr. Mark Raphael (who left some hilarious comments on my paper and is probably one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever had the privilege of having).