Ratzinger: The Difficulties Confronting the Faith in Europe Today

The current issue reprints the 1989 speech by Cardinal Ratzinger: Difficulties Confronting the Faith in Europe Today (pdf).


David L. Schindler on the Contraceptives Mandate

The forthcoming issue of Communio (38.4) includes an editorial from editor David L. Schindler: The Repressive Logic of Liberal Rights: Religious Freedom, Contraceptives, and the “Phony” Argument of the New York Times. (pdf)

Vatican II Conference this week at the John Paul II Institute

A number of Communio authors and editors will participate in the conference, “‘Keeping the World Awake to God’: The Challenge of Vatican II” at the John Paul II Institute at the Catholic University of America starting Thursday evening of this week (Jan. 12-14). Communio is a co-sponsor of the conference. For conference  and registration information please see the John Paul II Institute page.

Thursday, Jan. 12

 7:00 p.m.  Carl Anderson, Opening Remarks

7:15-8:30  Francis Cardinal George: The Significance of Vatican II

8:30 Reception

Friday, Jan. 13

9:00-10:30 a.m.  The Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Contribution to Metaphysics
D.C. Schindler
Adrian J. Walker

Moderator:  Michael Gorman

11:00-12:30  The Catholicity of the Council
Rev. Roch Kereszty, O.Cist.
Rev. Antonio López, F.S.C.B.

Moderator:  Chad Pecknold

12:30-2:00  Lunch

2:00-3:30  Holiness, World, and the Meaning of Work
Giorgio Buccellati
William Portier

Moderator:  Rodney Howsare

4:00-5:30 John Paul II’s Reading of Vatican II
Rev. Jaroslaw Kupczak, O.P.

Moderator:   David L. Schindler

Saturday, Jan. 14

9:00-10:30 a.m.  Religious Freedom and American Culture
David L. Schindler
Gerard Bradley

Moderator:  John Garvey

11:00-12:30  Family and the Identity of the Person

David Crawford
Nicholas Healy

Moderator:  Joseph Atkinson

12:30-2:00  Lunch

2:00-3:30  Vatican II, the Body, and Christian Universalism
Rev. José Granados, dcjm
Margaret McCarthy 

Moderator:  Rev. Paolo Prosperi, F.S.C.B.

4:00-5:30 God, the Church, and Scientific Intelligibility
Larry Chapp
Michael Hanby

Moderator:  Andrew Sodergren

See conference page for details.

Introduction to “Ecclesiam Apostolicam”

The Fall, 2011 issue of Communio inaugurates a new four-year-long series devoted to the mystery of the Church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. “These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission. The Church does not possess them of herself; it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities.”

The present issue is devoted to the apostolicity of the Church. The Letter to the Ephesians describes the household of God as “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (2:20). Guided by the Spirit and awaiting the return of Christ, the Church continues to be taught, sanctified, and guided by the apostles through their successors—the college of bishops, of which the successor of Peter is the head. Receiving what has been handed on by the apostles, the entire Church is apostolic; she is sent into the world as a “servant of Christ and steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1).

Roch Kereszty, in “The Infallibility of the Church: A Marian Mystery,” situates the charism of infallibility in the context of the Church’s virginal and, ultimately, Marian nature. Kereszty shows how “the apostolic ministry including the Petrine office has been established for the sake of guarding and guiding the virginal Bride Church to full eschatological union with her Divine Bridegroom.”

Michelle K. Borras, in “The Desert of Solitude: Reflections on Apostleship in the Work of Madeleine Delbrêl,” shows how the French Catholic lay woman was apostolic in the double sense of the word: “a Christian who, in receiving the Word, allowed herself to be sent forth by and with it into the world, and who recognized that her ‘apostolate’ (a term she seldom used) could bear fruit only if it retained its organic connection to the hierarchical Church of the apostles and thereby remained a living cell of the ‘whole Christ,’ the ‘Christ-Church.’” In a word, Madeleine Delbrêl loved the world with a boundless love because she loved God above all.

Stratford and Léonie Caldecott, in “Divine Touch: A Meditation on the Laying on of Hands in the Church,” reflect on the sacramental depth of communicating life and commissioning through the laying on of hands. The hands have a particular function, “they are the organs with which we touch, receive, take, and make. . . . As such, they are made to express the love for which we ourselves are made, and which we so often fail to manifest. Christ’s hands, however, do not fail. He touches his apostles, he consecrates them and washes their feet, and this human-divine touch is passed on, without interruption, until it reaches the very priest who, right here, right now, is placing the eucharistic Lord gently in our hands and in our mouths so that we may be saved from death.”

Simeon Leiva-Merikakis, in “‘Are You Afraid of the Thief?’ A Cordial Approach to Lectio Divina,” introduces and exemplifies the practice of lectio divina through a meditation on Mark 3:13-15, the passage in Mark’s Gospel that describes the formal calling of the Twelve. The essay begins and ends with a reflection on St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who shows us that the content and goal of a contemplative reading of the Scriptures is an encounter with the living Christ Jesus who communicates the mysteries of his life and gradually transforms us into his very image.

John Behr, in “The Spirit and the Bride Say ‘Come’: The Eschatological Dimensions of the Liturgy,” weaves together the letters of Paul, the disciples’ encounter with the Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13–33), and an early Christian text by Melito of Sardis to shed light on the eschatological dimension of the liturgy. The liturgy is nothing less than the intersection of time and eternity—a transitus or passage that simultaneously brings us into the eternal Kingdom of God and incarnates the presence of God in the body of Christ, the temple of the Spirit.

Retrieving the Tradition returns to the theme of ecclesiam apostolicam with Hans Urs von Balthasar’s introductory essay, “Madeleine Delbrêl: The Joy of Believing.” Balthasar suggests that the innermost secret of Delbrêl’s missionary existence is unceasing prayer and a heart that never turned its gaze from God. “God is for her the miracle that is new every day, that she experiences as an incomprehensible gift, bequest, surrender, that she can only answer with the indivisible, twofold surrender of herself: to God in prayer, and to her fellow men inside or outside the Church.”

Balthasar’s essay is complemented by a selection of texts from Madeleine Delbrêl’s posthumous La joie de croire (1968): “The Promises of Christ to the Extremities of the Earth.”

Finally, Reinhold Schneider in “Pope Gregory the Great,” reflects on the grace of apostolic office and the renunciation required to bear witness to an eternal gift unfolding in time. “Like the apostle, Gregory knew that the end of all things was very near, but through the storm, through the crashing down of the last pillars of the old world, he perceived the one, quiet, unalterable command: to baptize and teach all peoples; to bind and to loose; to bear responsibility for the sheepfold unto eternity; to build up Jerusalem among the rain of earthly arrows.”


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Keeping the World Awake to God: Conference on Vatican II in January 2012

Communio is pleased to announce a forthcoming conference on the campus of The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, January 12-14, 2012. Sponsored by the Pontifical John Paul II Institute and co-sponsored by Communio, “‘Keeping the World Awake to God’: The Challenge of Vatican II” marks the 50th anniversary of the convocation of the Council. The program, participant list, and registration information may be found here.

Topics include “Vatican II and the Catholic Contribution to Metaphysics,” “The Catholicity of the Council,” “Holiness, World, and the Meaning of Work,” “Religious Freedom and American Culture,” “Family and the Identity of the Person,” and “God, the Church, and Scientific Intelligibility.”

Speakers include Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, Catholic University of America President John Garvey, Francis Cardinal George, Communio authors and editors David L. Schindler, Nicholas J. Healy Jr., D. C. Schindler, Adrian J. Walker, Giorgio Buccellati, Antonio Lopez, FSCB, Roch Kereszty, O. Cist., Margaret H. McCarthy, and others.

From the conference description:

The main purpose of the conference is thus to provide an authoritative grille de lecture for approaching the Council as a whole in its significance for the Tradition and in relation to the current “signs of the times.” The letter of the conciliar documents, taken as a whole, contains a hermeneutical center radiating outwards from the doctrine contained in Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium and illuminating the Council’s teaching on mission, inter-religious dialogue, modernity, religious freedom, and the like. . . . (read the complete text).

Michael Hanby: Human Making in a Sacramental Cosmos

From the Summer 2011 issue on “Work”:

Michael Hanby (bio). Homo Faber and/or Homo Adorans: On the Place of Human Making in a Sacramental Cosmos.

From the text:

Where there is no contemplation, there can be neither great art (save under the irrepressible form of suffering) nor great festivity, for without a contemplative openness to the mystery of being there can be no gratitude and joy in its gratuity. Where there is neither great art nor great festivity, there can be no “priority of man over things” and ultimately be no genuinely human and humane making, whether beautiful or useful. Where there is no priority of man over things, work ceases to be “for man”; man lives “for work,” and our instruments become our masters. . . .  Read the full text.

Michael Hanby is assistant professor of biotechnology and culture at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America.

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David L. Schindler. The Given as Gift: Creation and Disciplinary Abstraction in Science

From the Spring 2011 issue, on the theme of “Ascension and Pentecost”:

David L. Schindler. Creation and Disciplinary Abstraction in Science (pdf).

From the text:

The upshot is that abstractions in science are not and can never be indifferent to the reality of God or a universe under God. Each abstraction in science will imply, even if unconsciously, some conception of the unity or identity of the thing abstracted relative to God and to the universal community of beings. The God-world distinction as disclosed in the act of creation shapes the primitive nature of all distinctions, and hence all abstractions, in the cosmos. Indeed, every distinction and abstraction most basically implies a sense of the God-world relation. . . . (full text)

DAVID L. SCHINDLER (bio) is Provost and Gagnon Professor of Fundamental Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Also by this author:

Norris Clarke on Person, Being, and St. Thomas. (1993) | Religious Freedom, Truth, and American Liberalism: Another Look at John Courtney Murray. (1994) | Homelessness and the Modern Condition: The Family, Community, and the Global Economy. (2000) | Is Truth Ugly? Moralism and the Convertibility of Being and Love. (2000) | Creation and Nuptiality: A Reflection on Feminism in Light of Schmemann’s Liturgical Theology. (2001) | Toward a Culture of Life: The Eucharist, the ‘Restoration’ of Creation, and the ‘Worldy’ Task of the Laity. (2002) | Biotechnology and the Givenness of the Good: Posing Properly the Moral Question Regarding Human Dignity. (2004) |  The Dramatic Nature of Life: Liberal Societies and the Foundations of Human Dignity. (2006) | In memoriam: Patricia Buckley Bozell. (2008) | The Embodied Person as Gift and the Cultural Task in America: Status Quaestionis. (2008) | Editorial: President Obama, Notre Dame, and a Dialogue That Witnesses: A Question for Father Jenkins. (2009) | Living and Thinking Reality in Its Integrity: Originary Experience, God, and the Task of Education (2010) | The Anthropological Vision of Caritas in veritate in Light of Cultural and Economic Life in the United States.

The Feast of the Transfiguration

José Granados, dcjm, (bio) Embodied Light, Incarnate Image: The Mystery of Jesus Transfigured. (pdf, 2008).

From the text:

What is new and surprising in Christ is that in him we see not only a fraction of the past, but the ultimate origin from which everything comes; that he foreshadows not only a slice of the future, but the ultimate goal of the universe. In the life of the Son, time encounters its own truth by making visible the depths of eternity.

Now the glory of the one who eternally comes from the Father and eternally returns to him in love enters into the flesh, into the space where past and future, coming from and walking toward, memory and promise, are joined in the density of the present. We see then how Christ can fulfill the human experience of time beyond what is imaginable while faithfully preserving its structure. These reflections allow us to see in the Transfiguration a key to understanding the rhythm of salvation history. That the glory of Easter is anticipated on Mount Tabor is no exception, but rather a witness to Christ’s dominion over time, including the past and future. The second epistle of Peter tells us, indeed, that the Transfiguration validates the Old Testament in retrospect. From this point of view it is possible to see how the prophets and the just of the Old Testament were justified by the Spirit of Christ. We can glimpse also the meaning of Tertullian’s sentence, quoted in Gaudium et spes 22, in which he sees in the image of man a prefiguration of Christ’s image: “Thus that clay, already putting on the image of Christ who was to be in the flesh, was not only a work of God but also a token of him.” (full text)

More on the Transfiguration. More by José Granados.

Mark Sebanc. Tolkien: Lover of the Logos

From the Spring 1993 issue: Mark Sebanc, JRR Tolkien: Lover of the Logos (pdf).

From the text:

Tolkien’s is an exquisitely proleptic art that takes a pagan, pre-Christian universe and suffuses it discreetly with a sacramental holiness stemming implicitly from what Balthasar makes bold to call a Christian form. . . . . Like a colossus, Tolkien bestrides the abyss which separates the ancient and medieval worldviews from that of modern man, who has utterly lost sight of the Christ form as the primary means of access to the noumenal world. The power of the Word has been repudiated, and all around us now we see only its debased and slatternly distortions, hideous and mass-produced, like Tolkien’s Orcs. Tolkien’s art restores the incarnational, Christo-logical inclination of language. . . .  (full text).

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Jonah Lynch. Mirth and Freedom in The Magic Flute

From the Winter, 2006 issue: Jonah Lynch, Mirth and Freedom in The Magic Flute (pdf).

From the text:

Indeed no words can better be used to describe Mozart’s music than “sublime” and “natural.” Beethoven is heroic, tragic—although at the end, he too can be sublime, with the autumnal serenity of a warrior turned contemplative; Bach erects his marvelously ornate cathedrals of sound—and occasionally he too passes into a timeless realm which could be truly termed sublime, though rarely natural. But Mozart’s melodies carry something of the birth of an infant God, the remarkable union of opposite absolutes, total simplicity and infinite depth. Only here is the completely free and ever-surprising united to formal structural perfection. Mozart speaks with human words, as God spoke his Word through a birth, a life, and a death. Yet in those simple events lay the Incarnation, the eternal mission of the Son from the Father, suffering which destroys death, and transfiguration into deathless life. (full text)

Also by Jonah Lynch:  Music, Silence, and Technology