Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bones of Jesus?

Short version:

"Amos Kloner, the first archeologist to examine the site, said the proposition doesn't hold water.
'They just want to get money for it," Mr. Kloner said. 'It's a joke.'"

--Canadian National Post

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Augustine's Handbook of Catholic Faith: Post #4, "Go out and love!"

Chapter V. Brief Answers to These Questions

In Ch. V Augustine eloquently states the Ultimate Goal of each person: Beauty. (A little more than a year ago, I posted about "the transcendental unity of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty here by the way.)

"When the mind has been imbued with the first elements of that faith which worketh by love, it endeavors by puritiy of life to attain unto sight, where the pure and perfect in heart know that unspeakable beauty, the full vision of which is supreme happiness."

This Vision of Beauty is what the Medievals often called The Beatific Vision. It is what we were made for. The old Baltimore Catechism says in response to the catechal question "Why did God make me?" "God made us to show forth His goodness and share with us His everlasting happiness in Heaven." The whole point of our existence is Happiness (not just feel-good-ism, but what Aristotle called Eudaimonia, the summum bonum, what a Saint might call the Filling of our Souls.

To clear up a misconception, it's not that we perform acts of Faith, Hope, and Charity *in order order to be rewarded* with happiness. Rather, such acts are--partly at least--*constitutive* of this state of total fulfillment called Eudaimonia which is had only in the Beatific Vision of God's very essence. I don't play *in order* to be happy so much as playing *just is* a certain kind of happiness. Likewise, loving *just is* a certain kind of happiness. The key is to be the kind of person who can *feel* the reality of loving, the joy of loving, who wants to go out and love the way they want to go out and play.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Augustine's Handbook of Catholic Faith 3

Augustine's handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love--the Enchiridion--is ostensibly written in response to the inquiry of one Laurentius. At first glance it's not exactly clear how Augustine's equation

Wisdom = Worship = Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love (see last post)

addresses Laurentius' hodge podge of questions:

"IV. The Questions Propounded by Laurentius"
1. What ought to be man's chief end in life.
2. What ought we chiefly to avoid in view of the various heresies.
3. To what extent is religion supported by reason.
4. What there is in reason that lends no support to faith when faith stands alone. [This is a very strangely worded question!]
5. What is the starting point and what is the goal of religion.
6. What is the sum of the whole body of doctrine.
7. What is the sure and proper foundation of the Catholic Faith.

I can just imagine Augustine getting this letter and saying "Oh, that's all!" We'll go into the details subsequently but I think it's worth a full post just to contemplate the bare fact that Augustine's Equation is intended to address all these questions. So if Augustine is correct in his approach, it seems that there is no aspect of the Catholic Faith which cannot be addressed through Faith, Hope, and Love. That fact alone is worthy of much reflection and practice.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Augustine's Handbook of Catholic Faith 2

Augustine encodes the trajectory of his reasoning in the titles of his first three sections. Here they are.

I. The Author [Augustine referring to himself] Desires the Gift of True Wisdom for Laurentius

II. The Fear of God [piety, that which pertains to right worship of God] is Man's True Wisdom

III. God is to be Worshiped Through Faith, Hope, and Love

Wisdom = Worship = Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love

Modern readers, especially those who came out of a sojourn in the Evangelical world will find it odd that Augustine conceives of Worship in a way that does not make immediate reference to praise songs and such. This is probably a useful corrective. No doubt the worship of God will involve such things but they are derived not basic. They are derived first from concrete acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Want to worship God? It might be easier out of Church than in it because our neighbor (think Parable of the Good Samaritan) is not always (or even frequently?) there in the pew. Go, step out in faith and love someone in need by sharing with them the hope you have in God. Just remember these words as you do.

James 2:15-17 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

[First Reflection]