Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Legacy of the Popes on the Western World

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

The popes can rightly be seen as the founders of the modern western world.  The popes provided for an explosion in the advancement of the sciences and humanities never before seen.  When we examine the Catholic clergy only, we see the following:

When examining the history of science between 900 BC and 1800 AD, we are amazed to find that five percent of history’s greatest mathematicians are recognized as Jesuit priests—this is particularly impressive when you consider that the Jesuit order did not exist until the fifteenth century. Thirty-five craters on the moon are named after Jesuit scientists.

The popes guided the work of the monks.  The monks and their monasteries were responsible for fostering a common language, for protecting, copying, and preserving ancient texts, for developing and elevating astronomy, music, arithmetic, geometry, logic, grammar, and rhetoric to heights never before achieved.  They developed a common script with letters, punctuation, spaces, and paragraphs.  Through Cathedral Schools they preserved and reproduced for all generations the works of the writers of antiquity.  They were the creators and distributers of comprehensive encyclopedias of knowledge.

With over 37,000 monasteries, the monks, known as the agriculturists of Europe, saved and perfected the art of agriculture and laid the foundation for industry.  They transformed much of Europe, such as modern day Germany, from a forest into a country. The monks introduced crops, developed new production methods (such as complicated irrigation systems), raised better producing bees, developed salmon fisheries, and engineered better fruits and vegetables.

The monks became the great technical advisors to the west, and became rightly so the fathers of what would eventually become the Industrial Revolution.  They were the leading iron producers, and the leading miners of salt, lead, iron, and marble.  They were among the first to use the byproducts of their iron production as fertilizer for crops.

The popes invented the university system for those who desired an education, whether wealthy or poor.  All were offered an education, if they so desired one—inventing the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master’s.  The Catholic Church has founded 1,358 universities!  Pope Innocent VII is known as the father of nascent humanism and the Renaissance.

Despite the sad Galileo incident, the popes have done more than any organization in the history of the world for the advancement of science.  Roger Bacon, a Franciscan, and Bishop Grosseteste are often referred to as the forerunners of the modern scientific method. The priest Georges Joseph Edouard Lemaitre is the originator of the theory of the “Big Bang.”  He is the first to derive what is known as the Hubble constant.  The priest Giambattista Riccioli laid the foundation and principles that would be responsible for all of modern astronomy.  The priest Roger Boscovich is often referred to as the father and forerunner of atomic physics, the father of modern atomism. The priest Athanasius Kircher was a master chemist who debunked alchemy and astrology and laid the foundation of Egyptology.  Kircher made the interpreting of the Rosetta stone possible. The priest Nicolas Zucchi invented the reflecting telescope.  Jean Buridan, the Catholic professor at the Sorbonne, laid the foundation for much of Newton’s work, particularly his first law.  The priest Nicolaus Steno is acknowledged as a pioneer in modern geology and is considered the father of stratigraphy. The monk Gregor Mendel became the father of genetics and the laws of inheritance.  The priest Pierre Telhard de Chardin was part of the team that discovered Peking man.

The popes inspired further revolutions:

Antoine Laurent Lavoisier is associated with the revolution in chemistry, Erwin Schrodinger with wave mechanics, Blaise Pascal for his theory of probability and the mechanical adding machine, Enrico Fermi with atomic physics, and Marcello Malpighi with microscopic anatomy.

The Catholic Church as guided by the popes is rightly acknowledged as the father of modern science.

The foundations of modern civil law are often attributed to the monk Gratian in his Concordance of Discordant Canons (ca. 1140).  Western civilization owes its sense of international law and civil law to the Church’s legacy.   The priest Francisco de Vitoria is often referred to as the father of modern international law. Vitoria would be responsible for laying down what we now call the law of nations, laws among nations in peacetime and war. Jacques Maritain’s emphasis on the natural law and natural rights would form the core philosophy of the United Nations’ Universal Declarations of Human Rights.

Way before Adam Smith, the foundations for modern economic systems or what has become known as scientific economics were laid down by the Catholic Church.  Abbot Etienne Bonnot de Condillac, the abbot Robert Jacques Turgot, and Francois Quesnay are often referred to as the founders of the economic sciences.  Nicolas Oresme is considered the founding father of monetary economics; he would lay the foundation for what would evolve into Gershan’s law.  Cardinal Cajetan would become known as the founder of the expectation theory in economics.  Pierre de Jean Olivi would become known as the founder of the value theory of economics.  The abbot Ferdinando Galiani would be instrumental in laying the foundations for the idea that utility and scarcity are determinants to price.

The popes invented the hospital—the modern system where institutions of care are staffed by doctors and nurses.  Doctors diagnosed illnesses and prescribed remedies.  By the fourth century every major city in Europe had a hospital.  One-fourth of healthcare in the world is run by the Catholic Church.

And contrary to popular opinion, the Church and the popes would elevate the status of women to levels unheard of.  It is the Church that gave women equal protection and status in marriage—holding men equally responsible and punishable for adultery and fornication.  Women became the founders and abbesses of self-governing religious orders and communities.  Pope Benedict XIV promoted the first two women professors in Western history to professorships: the physicist Laura Bassi and the mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. Women religious built and ran their own schools, convents, colleges, hospitals, hospices, and orphanages.  The American Church, in all its dimensions, is the product of religious women!  The Church has produced more famous women than any other institution.  The list of canonized women saints alone—at least 5,000--is a mark of this truth. 

The Church is made up of humans, not walking gods.  The Church has a long legacy of evil.  But the fact remains:  No group or institution in world history has done more for the advancement of human beings in the west than Catholic Christianity under its popes!  

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Universal Destination of Goods and the Preferential Option for the Poor

Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice

The principle of the universal destination of goods requires that the poor, the marginalized and in all cases those whose living conditions interfere with their proper growth should be the focus of particular concern.  To this end, the preferential option for the poor should be reaffirmed in all its force.  This is an option, or a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity, to which the whole tradition of the Church bears witness.  It affects the life of each Christian inasmuch as he or she seeks to imitate the life of Christ, but it applies equally to our social responsibilities and hence to our manner of living, and to the logical decisions to be made concerning the ownership and use of goods.  Today, furthermore, given the worldwide dimension which the social question has assumed, this love of preference for the poor, and the decisions which it inspires in us, cannot but embrace the immense multitudes of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without health care and, above all, those without hope for a better future….

Human misery is a clear sign of man’s natural condition of frailty and of his need for salvation.  Christ the Savior showed compassion in this regard, identifying himself with the “least” among men.  It is by what they have done for the poor that Jesus Christ will recognize his chosen ones.  When the poor have the good preached to them, it is a sign of Christ’s presence.

Jesus says: “You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”  He makes this statement not to contrast the attention due to him with service of the poor.  Christian realism, while appreciating on the one hand the praiseworthy efforts being made to defeat poverty, is conscious on the other hand regarding ideological positions and Messianistic beliefs that sustain the illusion that it is possible to eliminate the problem of poverty completely from this world.  This will happen only upon Christ’s return, when he will be with us once more, forever.  In the meantime, the poor remain entrusted to us and it is this responsibility upon which we shall be judged at the end of time.  “Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.

The Church’s love for the poor is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, by the poverty of Jesus and by his attention to the poor.  This love concerns material poverty and also the numerous forms of cultural and religious poverty.  The Church, since her origin and in spite of the failing of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense and liberation through numerous works of charity which remain indispensable always and everywhere.  Prompted by the Gospel injunction, “You have received without paying, give without pay” (Mt. 10:8), the Church teaches that one should assist one’s fellow man in his various needs and fill the human community with countless works of corporal and spiritual mercy.  Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God, even if the practice of charity is not of the problem of poverty.  In her teaching the Church constantly returns to this relationship between charity and justice: When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours.  More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.  The Council Fathers strongly recommended that this duty be fulfilled correctly, remembering that what is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.  Love for the poor is certainly incompatible with immoderate love of riches or their selfish use.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, # 182-184

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mysticism of Everyday Life


Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.

Have we ever once remained silent, though we wanted to defend ourselves, though we were treated unfairly?  Have we ever once forgiven, though we received no reward for it and people took it for granted?  Have we ever once obeyed, not because we had to or else we’d have had unpleasantness, but simply because of that mysterious, silent, unfathomable reality we call God and God’s will?  Have we ever once made a sacrifice, without thanks, without recognition, even without a feeling of satisfaction inside?  …Have we ever once made up our mind to do something purely on the basis of our conscience’s innermost judgment, from a place beyond where anyone can express it or describe it, a place where you are quite alone, and where you know you are making a decision that no one will take away from you and for which the responsibility will be yours, always and eternally?  Have we ever once tried to love God in a place where no wave of felt enthusiasm is carrying us along anymore, where we can no longer mix up ourselves and our own life impulse with God? [Have we loved God for simply being God as opposed to loving God for what we could get from Him?]  …Have we ever done our duty in a situation where it seems that we can do it only with a burning feeling…, when it seems that we are doing something terribly stupid for which no one is going to thank us?  Have we ever once been good to someone from whom no echo of gratitude or comprehension comes back, and neither were rewarded with the feeling of having been “selfless,” decent, or the like? [If the answer to the above questions is “yes” then we have experienced grace at work!]

Cf. Theological Investigations, 3: 86-90.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Church’s Call for Universal Healthcare and a Renewed Effort to Aid the Poor

Fr. John J. Pasquini, D.D., Th.D.

Most Catholics do not know their faith nor how they should vote.  This is primarily why there is in practicality “no Catholic vote.”  Ideally Catholics are called to vote according to the principle of subsidiarity and according to a hierarchy of moral values.  That is why Catholics are pro-life in terms of direct abortions versus indirect abortions (i.e., an ectopic pregnancy).  If we do not respect life at its origins it is harder to respect life at any stage—thus the rise of euthanasia and assisted suicide versus palliative care.

The great tragedy for Catholics, from Pope to parishioner to parish priest, is the lack of concern for the poor and those without healthcare.  Catholic priests deal with this issue every day, and that is no exaggeration.

In the year 2000 it was reported that 8.5 million children and 39.3 million American adults were without health insurance (U.S. Census Bureau).  As of 2015 the general consensus is that anywhere between 30 to 50 million Americans are without health insurance.
In the wealthiest nation the world has ever seen, this is not acceptable.  The providing of healthcare to all citizens in the United States is a basic requirement of a civilized society (CCC 2288).  Pope John Paul II in his encyclical letter Laborem Exercens reminded the nations of the world that healthcare should be easily available for people and that as far as possible it should be cheap or even free of charge” (19:5). 
It is not the role of the Church to say how healthcare is to be provided.  That is the role of enlightened politicians. However, it is very much the role of the Church to say that healthcare must be provided. 

The bishops of the United States powerfully remind us of our call as Christians when they state:  In a world characterized by growing prosperity for some and pervasive poverty for others, Catholic teaching proclaims that a basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are faring.  In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgment (Mt. 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor vulnerable first (USCCB, Social Development and World Peace).
How are our most vulnerable members without healthcare faring?  Not well!  It times for universal healthcare.

And what about the poor in our nation?  Our nation is one of the wealthiest on the earth, and yet we do not have to look beyond our borders to find the ravages of poverty.  There are homeless in the streets of our cities, destitute families in rural and urban areas, and neglected children.  In my very town of Vero Beach, Florida, considered to be among the richest cities in the United States, there are tent cities in the wooded areas where the poor struggle to survive. The causes of poverty are many, but they all call forth the compassion of the Church and society.

According to the statistics compiled by Feeding America for the United States in 2014 the following facts are known:  46.7 million Americans live in poverty (15.4 million children, 4.6 million seniors over 65).  And in terms of worrying about where your next meal may come from, 17. 4 million Americans live in so-called “food insecure households.” 

On his death bed, St. Vincent de Paul (1580-1660) was asked by a novice what was the best way to serve the poor.  He responded by telling the novice that the most important thing is to love them because loving them makes it possible for the needy to forgive those who give food to them.  St. John Chrysostom said this about ministry to the poor: Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life.  The goods we possess are theirs, not ours.” And Mother Teresa of Calcutta scolded us by saying,  “It is a shame that a person must die so that we may live as we wish!”

Jesus teaches us, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none.  And whoever has food should do likewise” (Lk. 3:11).  St. James reinforces this truth.  If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (Jas. 2:15-16).

Acts of charity for the poor are a good way to start living the Church’s social teaching.  Personal contact with those who need our help fulfills Christs command to love the poor most effectively.  But we are called to heal not only the symptoms of poverty and injustice but also their causes.  This requires participation in political and social processes to correct unjust laws and structures of injustice.

While the issue of abortion is still an irreconcilable difference between Democrats and Republicans, there is nothing that should be hindering the work on a better life for the poor and universal healthcare.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Building a Civilization of Love

Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice

Jesus teaches us that the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love.  Personal behavior is fully human when it is born of love, manifests love and is ordered to love.  The truth also applies in the social sphere: [People] must be deeply convinced witnesses of this, and they are to show by their lives how love is the only force that can lead to personal and social perfection, allowing society to make progress towards the good.

Love must be present in and permeate every social relationship.  This holds true especially for those who are responsible for the good of peoples.  They must earnestly cherish in themselves, and try to rouse in others, charity, the mistress and the queen of virtues.  For, the happy results we all long for must be chiefly brought about by the plenteous outpouring of charity; of the that true Christian charity which is the fulfilling of the whole Gospel law, which is always ready to sacrifice itself for the sake of others, and is man’s surest antidote against worldly pride and immoderate love of self.  This love may be called social charity or political charity and must embrace the entire human race.  Social love is the antithesis of egoism and individualism.  Without absolutizing social life, as happens with short-sighted perspectives limiting themselves to sociological interpretations, it must not be forgotten that the integral development of the person and social growth mutually influence each other.  Selfishness, therefore, is the most insidious enemy of an ordered society.  History shows how hearts are devastated when men and women are incapable of recognizing other values or other effective realities apart from material goods, the obsessive guest for which suffocates and blocks their ability to give of themselves.

In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life—political, economic and cultural—must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity.  If justice is in itself suitable for arbitration between people concerning the reciprocal distribution of objective goods in an equitable manner, love and only love is capable of restoring man to himself.  Human relationships cannot be governed solely according to the measure of justice.  Christians know that love is the reason for God’s entering into relationship with man.  And it is love which he awaits as man’s response.  Consequently, love is also the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings.  Love must thus enliven every sector of human life and extend to the international order.  Only a humanity in which there reigns the civilization of love will there be a place that is able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.  In this regard the magisterium highly recommends solidarity because it is capable of guaranteeing the common good and fostering integral human development: love makes one see in neighbor another self.

Only love can completely transform the human person.  Such a transformation does not mean eliminating the earthly dimension in a disembodied spirituality.  Those who think they can live the supernatural virtue of love without taking into account its corresponding natural foundations, which include duties of justice, deceive themselves.  Charity is the greatest social commandment.  It respects others and their rights.  It requires the practice of justice and it alone makes us capable of it.   Charity inspires a life of self-giving….  Nor can love find its full expression solely in the earthly dimension of human relationships and social relations, because it is in relation to God that it finds its full effectiveness. 

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 253-255.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why We Need to Pray

Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J.

If we don’t pray, we remain attached to earthly things, we become small like them, narrow like them, we get pressured by them, we sell ourselves to them—because we give our love and our heart to them.

[A soul without prayer recognizes] how null, how empty, and how weak it is, filled with nullities of its narrow existence, full of fear at the pain and suffering of the cross, full of petty pride and narrow self-seeking….  [So what must we do?]

We must pray!  Then we are far away from petty everyday that makes us small and narrow.  Then we draw near to God and become capable of touching our Creator and Lord. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).

[When we pray]  God makes the soul bright, enlightened, so that it can understand God’s will, God’s ways, so that it longs for a heart of faith, full of sturdy hope, full of love that never ends, so that it longs for a heart that is open and selfless and pure….  The Lord fills the soul with the power of grace, so that its deeds fulfill the desires and promises of its prayer, so that it becomes strong enough to accomplish all things and endure all things.  He gives us the Spirit which comes to help us in our weakness that reshapes our desires and consoles us.

[The one who prays becomes one in spirit with God.  When this is so we become love, joy, patience, kindness, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. That is why we need to pray.]

Sehnsucht nach dem geheimnisvollen Gott, 78-80 in Rahner, Spiritual Writings (New York: Orbis Books, 2004), 31-35.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hollywood and Politics

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Most actors are high school graduates with a few having some college experience.  Most actors are either mentored by drama coaches in workshops, conservatories, private film schools or local theater productions.  Some attend college with the desire of receiving a degree in drama or theater: most actors do not complete their college programs.  And in terms of music stars, the education level of these stars is even lower.

As far as the moral character of these celebrities, the vast majority have compromised themselves to acquire their celebrity.  While there are good and brilliant celebrities, the sad reality is too many have lost their moral compass in order to achieve fame. What celebrities will do on camera for fame is shocking.  Much of what is done on camera today would have been considered pornographic or sadistic in times past.  Yet these are the people who portray themselves as moral and intellectual paragons that bless us with their wisdom. 

These celebrities are worshipped by too many within the public.  These least educated in the important issues of life--from ethics to politics--have a disproportionate influence on our culture.  The support of a celebrity can move an election, despite the fact that these individuals are the least capable of speaking to the issues of the day.  Yet their preaching, their speaking in clich├ęs, their acting as if they were intellectual giants—truly a good job of acting—is drunk up, slopped up by the populace like Jim Jones’ cool aid! 

Of all the people to listen to for political and ethical advise, the people least qualified, the people most dangerous to the morals of a culture are often the ones that are followed as gods.  When will we wake up and understand that celebrities are just that—people who are to be appreciated for their art—when it is good art.  And celebrities should have the self-control to abuse their celebrity by portraying themselves as political scientists or moral ethicists. 

We must recognize that every citizen has the right to free speech, but this right must be viewed critically.  We must not let our feelings about celebrities determine our decision-making.  Celebrities, the least educated, the least informed, the least qualified, the least ethical have done more damage to our culture than perhaps any other group of individuals!  

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Importance of Human Solidarity

 CCC 1939-1942

The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of "friendship" or "social charity," is a direct demand of human and Christian brotherhood….

Solidarity is manifested in the first place by the distribution of goods and remuneration for work. It also presupposes the effort for a more just social order where tensions are better able to be reduced and conflicts more readily settled by negotiation.

Socio-economic problems can be resolved only with the help of all the forms of solidarity: solidarity of the poor among themselves, between rich and poor, of workers among themselves, between employers and employees in a business, solidarity among nations and peoples. International solidarity is a requirement of the moral order; world peace depends in part upon this.

The virtue of solidarity goes beyond material goods. In spreading the spiritual goods of the faith, the Church has promoted, and often opened new paths for, the development of temporal goods as well, and so throughout the centuries has the Lord's saying been verified: "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well":

For two thousand years this sentiment has lived and endured in the soul of the Church, impelling souls then and now to the heroic charity of monastic farmers, liberators of slaves, healers of the sick, and messengers of faith, civilization, and science to all generations and all peoples for the sake of creating the social conditions capable of offering to everyone possible a life worthy of man and of a Christian.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dorothy Day on Voluntary Poverty

Dr. Larry Chapp

For Dorothy Day, voluntary poverty is the only true path to sanctity because it alone teaches us to see in all things the beauty and glory of God in their essence, and not to view things as possible tools for my well-being, even if it is allowed to me to use them.  True and holy poverty allows us to be indifferent before the world in the sense of not viewing things first and foremost through the prism of my self-interest.  It teaches us rather to view things, even and perhaps especially very simple things in their essential beauty as manifestations of the profligacy of God’s gift of existence.  There is nothing that “belongs to me.”  There is nothing that is ultimately “mine” in an atomized and individualistic sense.  The spirit of grasping acquisition is the spirit of the machine, of control, of violence, of domination, of ugliness.  It is the instrumentalizing spirit of modernity where all is monetized and put into the service of consumptive excess. And such excess is justified on economic grounds, which further legitimates the tools of war, now deemed necessary in order to protect what is justifiably “mine” and “ours.”  And war is the ultimate symptom of the destitution of our spirit.

Poverty and Kenosis in Communio, Fall 2015, 393.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Ad Orientem to Versus Populum to Ad Orientem

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

The Mass instituted by Jesus, and celebrated by the Apostles and the Patristic Fathers—i.e., Fathers of the Church—was celebrated versus populum, facing the people.

The emerging Christian community had no unique architecture that it could call its own.  Rather, Christianity simply continued to use the temple, the synagogue, and the home for worship.  As Christianity spread into Greek cities and began to evangelize large groups of Gentiles, villas, particularly of the well-to-do, became important gathering places for Christians.  The “domestic church” or the “home church” was born.  Mass, the “Supper of the Lamb” was celebrated on the home’s dinner table, with the celebrant oriented versus populum, facing the people.

With the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD and the expulsion of Christians from the synagogue by the Jewish Council of Jamnia in 95 AD, Christianity was relegated to the home where the synagogue service and the temple service would be combined.
In terms of the Christian Scriptures, a canon was slowly developing.  The life and teaching of Christ was originally passed on in the form of oral traditions and with the approaching death of the first generation of Christians, the Christian community began to put to writing the oral traditions of Jesus’ words and actions in the form of “memoirs.”  By the fifth century, many of these “memoirs” would become the Christian Scriptures, the New Testament.
The house or domestic church continued to be the norm into the third century with a slight difference.  These homes or domestic churches were being renovated with the idea of Christian worship in mind.  By the end of the third century, many homes were being used exclusively for Christian worship

During the second and third century, clearly identifiable Christian music was being heard.  Uniquely Christian in text, tone, and lyrics, the music of these centuries was now deeply embedded into the ritual of the worship.  Prayer and music became intrinsically united in the worship of the assembly.  The whole community sang.  The time of special singers, cantors, and psalmists would be for a later period.
With time, a natural tendency to assure uniformity developed and with this development the Church’s traditions, teachings, and the appropriate manners of worship became codified.  Written Eucharistic prayers took shape, the “memoirs” of the apostles were beginning to take on the initial steps of becoming a canon of Scriptures, a Bible, and pastoral handbooks were beginning to be produced.
This was a period of time when wicker baskets and wooden bowls used in Eucharistic celebrations were being replaced by precious vessels especially fabricated for Eucharistic celebrations. 
The freedom acquired by Christians in Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 and Theodosius I’s De Fide Catholica in 380 would forever change the nature of Christian worship.  Christian worship moved out of homes and simple rooms, and moved into palaces and even abandoned law courts.  Simple renovated houses that could hold twenty-five, fifty, or even one hundred worshipers were no longer meeting the tremendous masses of peoples seeking to join in Christian worship.  Old palaces were being renovated and new buildings were being constructed as basilicas. 
The typical structure of church buildings consisted of a presbyterium—a place in the apse of the building for the throne of the bishop and benches for presbyters [priests]--a sanctuary—where the altar stood—a schola—a processional and Scriptural area set off by a pair of low walls—and a Senatoreum and Matroneum—areas set off by barriers used for the offertory procession and the reception of the Eucharist by the laity. Mass was celebrated versus populum.
The fourth and fifth century was marked with tremendous refinements in the liturgy of the Church.  Congregational singing and the use of specialists such as psalmists and cantors—leading chants, refrains, and hymns--were now a common part of the worship experience. While instruments were not a part of Church worship, vocal music echoed throughout Christian congregations into the cities and towns of the Roman Empire.
By the end of the fourth century, what we now call the Bible had been formed and approved by the Church.  And after the conversion of Constantinople, a remarkable growth in liturgical books emerged.  Liturgical books were greatly monitored for their orthodox theological content.
Wicker, pottery, and wood were continuing to be replaced by gold and silver vessels for Eucharistic celebrations. 
With freedom of worship, magnificent churches, music, and art became hallmarks of Christian worship.

The Eucharist reserved for the sick and needy, particularly in times of persecution, could now be moved out of the protective enclaves of homes to established Church buildings.  The Eucharist reserved for the ill and needy was now being placed more and more in Tabernacles situated to the right or left of the altar.

It is through the beginning use of Tabernacles to reserve the Eucharist for the needy that the Mass celebrated ad orientem began to develop—the priest not wanting to turn his back on the Tabernacle.  As Tabernacles flourished, the celebration of the Mass ad orientem also flourished.
The altar was placed on the Eastern wall with the Tabernacle to its right or left—the priest facing the East and facing the Tabernacle.

The next great jump in the Mass being celebrated ad orientem would occur with the rise of the Frankish empire and Charlemagne.  Charlemagne was the great defender of the Catholic Church in Rome.  His love for the Roman liturgy and most particularly his desire for a united empire, with a unified pattern of worship, led to the proliferation of the ad orientem Mass throughout Europe. 

By the time of the Protestant reformation, the Tridentine Mass had become the norm--Mass celebrated ad orientem.  The Tridentine missal, first published in 1570, in a sense codified the celebration of the Mass ad orientem—although celebrating the Mass versus populum was preserved in the Tridentine Missal as an alternative.

The next major change would occur with Vatican II.  The spirit of Vatican II desired to restore the Church to its early form of worship.  Thus it revived the Permanent Deaconate and revived the Mass versus populum, while still permitting the Mass ad orientem

Today we can enjoy—and should enjoy--the best of both liturgical celebrations of the Mass.  Each celebrates the same reality with a slightly different emphasis—ad orientem as “Calvary made present,” and versus populum as “Supper of the Lamb.”

Cf. Pasquini, Christian History (New York: American Star, 2011).

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Nuclear Proliferation and Anthropology

Fr. John J. Pasquini, Th.D.

Anthropology in many ways is destiny. 

There are those who have always had an idealistic version of the human person.  They view the human person as born pure and perfect.  What makes the person evil is the socializing that is associated with maturation.  This is a position often held by atheists and liberals. 

There are those who have always had a more pessimistic view of the human person.  In Christian teaching humans have a fallen nature.  Under this view the human person is born wounded and the process of socialization is what makes the human person respectable.  Any person who has ever taught elementary school children or has raised children fully knows that children learn from the consequences of their actions.  Through the maturation process people realize that doing what is generally accepted as good is better than doing evil. 

What does this anthropology have to do with nuclear weapons and their proliferation?  The idealists are obsessed with eliminating all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.  They are convinced that a better and more peaceful world, a more evolved world and peoples will be marked by a nuclear free world. 

The opposing view is that a nation without nuclear weapons will always be susceptible to annihilation.  A great nation like the United States without nuclear weapons could be theoretically annihilated by a tiny rogue nation seeking to advance its ideology.  Think of Korea or a nuclear Iran and then think of a nuclear-free United States.  Would that make you worried?

What does the future hold?  It is just a matter of time before all nations will have nuclear weapons.  This is inevitable.  The superpowers will only be able to hold off the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but in some time in the future the inevitable will come to fruition—a community of nations possessing nuclear weapons. 

Do we need to fear this? Perhaps.  Since the nuclear age we have not had a World War primarily due to the possibility of mutual self-destruction. If this is so for superpowers, the same can possibly be said of regional powers.  Regional powers are less likely to engage their neighbors in combat if mutual destruction is likely.  Will rogue nations be problematic?  Yes.  But their rebelliousness will come at a heavy price—their destruction. 

The human person has a fallen nature, one prone to self-centeredness, rebelliousness, and evil.  The proliferation of nuclear weapons can be postponed but never stopped.  One day the inevitable will come to fruition.  Will this be disastrous?  Maybe, maybe not!