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).

The Cause of the Crusades

21 08 2008

The Cause of the Crusades THUMB

Boy, did I enjoy researching for and writing this paper. It has been a couple of years since I’ve looked at it, so don’t expect me to remember the whole argument, but I can tell you the reasoning for wanting to write this paper. It was because of all of the thoughtless (but emotional) comments that I had constantly heard brought up against the Church about the Crusades. “Oh, the Church is evil because She started the Crusades,” etc., etc., etc. And, thanks to a CD set by Matthew Arnold (of St. Joseph Communications) and mainly the work of (the brilliant historian) Hilaire Belloc, I set off to learn about the Crusades and to challenge the “argument.”

This was written while taking Bachelor’s classes at Our Lady of Holy Cross College for History of Western Civilization I.


21 08 2008

Leisure THUMB

To summarize, if I can remember it well enough myself: there has been a reversal in the “thrust” of modern man, a thrust towards work for work’s sake, to the point that all that is worthy in all aspects of life is work and there is now an almost impossibility for modern man to be at rest (in any sense of the word) – which is what the natural “thrust” is for him, anyway.

And so, I search for what it means to be at leisure, and how it is that man is truly to be at leisure: which (as you will see if you read it) is almost to my surprise that man finds true leisure only when his gaze is fixed on God. It is this – and this only – which allows man the opportunity to truly be at peace, and, consequently, at leisure, in his life.

This is probably my favorite paper which I have written since having been at NDS, both in content and in discovery.

This was written in my second semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for Foundations of Moral Theology II.

Ordering the Passions with Virtue

21 08 2008

Ordering the Passions with Virtue

This was a paper that I wrote in order to discover the means at our disposal in order to properly deal with the emotions that we all experience. Specifically, it is written to discover in what ways we can properly order the emotions, so that they don’t run our lives and control our actions. With virtue lived in our lives, it is possible to overcome the very common (in our day) situation of “emoting”, and placing the emotions in their proper position in our lives: as “informants” or “guides” (but not as infallible ones) to the decision made by our intellect and the consequent action that is taken. Doing so allows us to act as we were intended to act; to have our emotions in their proper place allows us to be more well-ordered persons, whose actions are more fluidly made when “all things are in their proper place, performing their proper function.”

This was written in my first semester of theology at Notre Dame Seminary for Foundations of Moral Theology I.

On the slipperiness of writing

1 06 2008

For months now, I have been, well, procrastinating, with/against the idea of writing in some form or another. Today, I have finally buckled down and began to type. And about what? The slipperiness of writing.

For years now, one of my favorite authors is the late, great, G.K. Chesterton – a man who wrote more than I could possibly fathom writing. As a newspaper journalist, Chesterton wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 11,000 articles for various publications throughout his life. I have yet to read most of his numerous articles, books, poetry, etc., but I have made may way through (in some form or another) a few of his works and am currently enjoying Joseph Pearce’s biography of Chesterton, Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton. I am just past the halfway point in this near 500-page book, and am increasingly in awe at his utter simplicity in life, whether it be his relationship with children, the romance with his wife, the sincere way in which he approaches thought and dialogue, his complete firmness in what he himself believes through much effort of searching and finding, and, I believe, most importantly, the way in which the discoveries of his tireless searching were not merely for some sort of intellectual gratification (alone), rather these discoveries were reached and then lived by him. Of all the many quotes from his contemporaries that I have seen so far in this biography of Chesterton, one of the most familiar type is that of his being a magnanimous character (and not only in size, although it seems that his enormous stature was quite the illustration of the man he was): a man who lives what he believes.

So if this post is about the elusiveness of writing, then why did I just write a paragraph about Chesterton, and not about not writing?

The topic of the slipperiness of writing is very much involved with the persona of Chesterton. For Chesterton was a man of deep, incisive, penetrating thought. And he did not keep these thoughts to himself. He articulated these thoughts to himself and to others, in his (and their) quest for the truth of things (indeed, the Truth of things) and brought these very thoughts to the masses through his many and various writings. Chesterton could very well have been one to run about his daily life, without ever questioning or examining, without ever wondering or searching, and, really, without ever articulating his perspective of the same reality which we all experience. But then, who would Chesterton be? He simply would be a disappearing memory, whose name would only be recognized by those who he would have known in his life in England in the 1900’s: relatives, friends, colleagues, etc. Not that that is at all a negative place to be, for God knows many of the greatest souls to ever walk this earth are just that. But Chesterton had a gift, and this gift did not go unused, this talent not buried. And the gift was his simplicity (or, as Pearce says, his innocence).

For what could be a greater cause of duplicity than being inarticulate? To wander about one’s daily life, unexamined, unquestioned, unaided by articulation of thought; what is the purpose of it? As the country song goes, “you’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything.” “Falling for anything” is another way of saying duplicitous, for if one is not at all grounded in his articulation, his way of expressing reality, then he can’t help but be thrown about in every possible direction by passing fads and rootless opinions of others. This makes one duplicitous because he’s not simple in accepting, in appreciating, and in interpreting reality, the truth, for himself. So he walks around, amidst all sorts of noise, never questioning, never understanding, never able to explain why certain things happen, why they happen in certain ways, never able to appreciate life in its depths because he’s completely caught up in its superficialities: the colors, the sounds, the movements, the passions, the new this and the new that – all tangled up in a big blur which he calls life. If only he would stop and question, stop and appreciate. What do these things which I experience mean? Do they point to anything other than themselves? Why is the rose beautiful? Why a sunset? Why are the leaves of trees so abundantly green and so precisely beautiful in their composition? Could I tell you the difference between the sunset today from the sunset yesterday? Do I appreciate (in some form) the similarity or difference between the two?

If one doesn’t ask questions, if one doesn’t appreciate … then what is life? What is life but a blur of fading and intertwining memories mixed with continual sensual experience, never pondered, never questioned, never appreciated? “Life” is lifeless – “life” has no soul; it is a dead person watching life stream before his eyes, but never partaking of it. For what else brings the seemingly endless influx of experiences together and gives them meaning more than expressing (as opposed to simply riding the emotional “flow”) what life means? It brings order to the chaos; and from the order springs a symphony: taking many and varied objects and experiences, and utilizing them in tandem to create something beautiful, something more than that which is capable with each of the things on their own. It brings life to life.