Matrimony of Desire and Lifestyle Ecumenism

“For they shall sow wind, and reap a whirlwind, there is no standing stalk in it, the bud shall yield no meal; and if it should yield, strangers shall eat it.” Osee (Hosea) 8:7

Once upon a time, a Feeneyite* writer — Charles Coulombe, I think — made some remark about Baptism of Desire. The remark went something like, “Have you ever heard of Matrimony of Desire? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Neither does Baptism of Desire.” In other words, neither implicit nor explicit desire for a sacrament realizes that sacrament.

Except that is what Pope Francis seems to think. The canon law requirements for sacramental matrimony don’t matter — that’s just legalism. The vast majority of marriages that would pass the canon law definition are actually null, while cohabitations are valid marriages. Why can’t we extend this type of rationalization to any type of relationship at all, heterosexual or not? It’s about grace, not hard and fast definitions, right?

I’ve seen this attitude called “lifestyle ecumenism.” It follows pretty logically from religious ecumenism, the type promoted by all Popes since St. John XXIII. Continue reading

Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Roman Style

Happy feast day to St. Anthony of Padua, my first patron saint! Nine years ago, I was in Rome, and I guess at least one local festival was postponed until the following Sunday, June 17. I remember it well. Reggie’s Latin class had gone to Ostia for the day, but I needed to head back to Rome to make it to Mass; Reggie’s schedule made virtually no allowance for Mass. I wanted to go to the Latin Mass at San Gregorio dei Muratori, literally a hole in the wall church in the Campo Marzio.

To make it to Mass on time, I had to skip out of Ostia before our tour even reached the site where St. Augustine and his mother, St. Monica, had their famous vision. The class was going to read St. Augustine’s account of the vision in his Confessions while standing at the very site where it occurred. And I left for Rome too late to make it to San Gregorio, or at least I foolishly missed my bus near the statue of Skanderbeg, and had to go to Mass at San Saba instead. 169

Skanderbeg. For St. Anthony, continue reading.

Continue reading

The Lack of Archeological Evidence for Israelite Monotheism

One of the “problems” with Biblical archeology is how little evidence we have of Israelite monotheism. I don’t know what the case is now, but the impression I got over the years was this: Archeologists couldn’t find much evidence that distinguished the population of Ancient Israel from the Canaanites. There was no clear break, no clear before and after. For the time period you’re interested in (ca. 1200-600 B.C), you find the same sort of religious paraphernalia (statues of deities, cult objects, etc.) that you would expect to find in a pagan Canaanite culture. Judging from the Bible, wouldn’t you expect to see a difference? The archeology doesn’t hold up the Scriptural account.

This used to bother me. Then I realized that, based on the Bible, you should *expect* to find pagan Canaanite artifacts throughout Israel during the time period in question. Continue reading

The More Famous Female Martyr-Philosopher of Alexandria

The Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment world need martyrs, so they’ve picked Hypatia. Hypatia was a pagan female philosopher (and sorceress, it sounds like) from Alexandria, Egypt, who was allegedly killed by a Christian mob. So, it’s supposed to be a textbook example of Christianity versus you-name-it: Science, Philosophy, Intellectual Freedom, Feminism, Paganism, etc.

The truth is murkier than that, as this series at the TOF Spot shows. From all the propaganda, you would think Christians celebrated a feast day of the Lynching of Hypatia. Funny, I never heard of her growing up. But I did hear a lot about St. Catherine of Alexandria, the Christian female philosopher from Alexandria who was martyred by the pagans. She’s the patron saint of philosophers. Did I mention she was a woman? And an intellectual? And martyred by pagans?

So, which is more indicative of the Church’s position? A brief episode in the saga of Alexandrian street violence, an episode that happened to involve Christians? Or 1600+ years of public veneration?


Joshua’s Last Words and the Papacy: Part I

In the Old Testament, many figures are types, or foreshadowings, of Christ. Some of these types are more familiar to Catholics than others. I think Joshua* is one of the lesser-known types for Catholics. It’s a shame, as there any number of obvious parallels:

–In Hebrew and Greek, the names Joshua and Jesus are the same. Jesus is the new Joshua.

–Joshua led the old Chosen People into the Promised Land after the death of Moses. Jesus leads the new Chosen People into Heaven after the death of the Mosaic Law. What Joshua is in the Old Testament, Jesus is in the New Testament.

–Joshua leads the Israelites through the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Christ was baptized in the Jordan, and Baptism opens the gates of Heaven to us.

Catholic, Protestant, and presumably (?) Orthodox scholars have assembled these parallels and others to boot. I propose a parallel that I’ve never seen called out elsewhere: Joshua’s last words foreshadow Christ’s institution of the Papacy. Continue reading

St. Norbert in the Driftless

As a New Liturgical Movement article reminds me, yesterday (June 6) was the feast day of St. Norbert of Xanten. St. Norbert is the patron saint of St. Norbert Parish in Roxbury, WI. The parish was founded by Fr. Adalbert Inama, a 19th-century missionary priest who is regarded as the Apostle of the Four Lakes Region.* Fr. Inama belonged to the Premonstratensian Order, also known as the Norbertines because they were founded by St. Norbert. So a Norbertine priest named the parish after the founder of his order. To add to the name game, Fr. Inama shared his Christian name with St. Adalbert, the first Archbishop of Magdeburg, a see that St. Norbert later held.

In addition to being one of the best-preserved historic churches in the Driftless Area, St. Norbert’s is also a hub for the Traditional Latin Mass, which is offered there on weekdays and on Sundays (click the parish link above for the schedule). The parish is served by the Society of Jesus Christ the Priest, which was founded in Spain (here’s the website of their founder). I think the missionary heritage at St. Norbert’s is heartening. St. Norbert held the see of St. Adalbert, the Apostle of the Slavs. His spiritual son Fr. Adalbert Inama came from Austria to serve the German-speaking Catholics of the Driftless Area. Now a Spanish order has taken the baton. Continue reading

The Empty Cross

I once listened to a Protestant radio show where the host was explaining why Protestants display a cross instead of a crucifix. The distinction is that a crucifix includes a corpus, an image of Our Lord’s Body. He said something like, “Because the crucifixion is over! It was once and for all! Christ is no longer on the cross — He is risen.”

This argument is preposterous. What he was saying was, “It is inappropriate to display artistic representations of past historical events.” If that is the case, why is it okay to represent the crucifixion in Holy Scripture, which is a work of literary art? All four Gospels have a Passion narrative. Why? It’s over. Why are we still talking about it? Christ is risen! But St. Paul said at I Cor. 2:2, “For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” Just as St. Paul’s preaching focused on the redemption Christ wrought for us on the Cross, so too does Catholic visual artwork focus on the Crucifixion.

In contrast, the Protestant radio host exposed himself as an irrational fool. If you belong to some heretical sect that is scared to portray Christ’s saving death on the Cross, get out of it and join the one true Church, which Christ founded and which still honors His Crucifixion.