God is—and the Christian faith adds: God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three and one. This is the very heart of Christianity, but it is so often shrouded in a silence born of perplexity. Has the Church perhaps gone one step too far here? Ought we not rather leave something so great and inaccessible as God in his inaccessibility? Can something like the Trinity have any real meaning for us? Well, it is certainly true that the proposition that “God is three and God is one” is and remains the expression of his otherness, which is infinitely greater than we and transcends all our thinking and our existence. But if this proposition had nothing to say to us, it would not have been revealed. And as a matter of fact, it could be clothed in human language only because it had already penetrated human thinking and living to some extent.
Joseph Ratzinger, The God of Jesus Christ: Meditations on the Triune God (trans. Brian McNeil; San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 29.
On Good Friday, I thought this quote from the Pope Emeritus’ book was fitting:
In all that we have said so far, it is clear that not only has a theological interpretation of the Cross has been given, together with an interpretation, based on the Cross, of the fundamental Christian sacraments and Christian worship, but also that existential dimension is involved: What does this mean for me? What does it mean for my path as a human being? The incarnate obedience of Christ is presented as an open space into which we are admitted and through which our lives find a new context. The mystery of the Cross does not simply confront us; rather, it draws us in and gives new value to our life.
This existential aspect of the new concept of worship and and sacrifice appears with particular clarity in the twelfth chapter of the Letter of the Romans: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren by the mercies of God, to present you bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [word-like] worship” (v. 1) ….
I’ve happened upon this book, quite by accident, thanks to the newly redesigned iPad app for Logos. It is included in the daily devotional section. I have made a habit of reading it, almost daily, for the past few weeks.
It is…deeply theological and not altogether different than what the current Pope is saying.
Cardinal Ratzinger offers selected passages from his profound spiritual and theological writings as meditations for each day of the year. He picked the title of this book from verse 8 in the third letter of St. John, which he also adapted for his coat of arms: “Co-Workers of the Truth.” Just as these words signify for St. John the participation of all the faithful in the service of the Gospel, which includes the faithful extending hospitality to all who come as messengers of faith, so too Ratzinger shows the importance of our uniting charity with truth to make possible the proclamation of the Gospel. Through his meditations here, he hopes to help awaken in each reader the courage and generosity to become coworkers with the Gospel, which is the truth of Jesus Christ.
“It will become small and will have to start pretty much all over again. It will no longer have use of the structures it built in its years of prosperity. The reduction in the number of faithful will lead to it losing an important part of its social privileges.” It will start off with small groups and movements and a minority that will make faith central to experience again. “It will be a more spiritual Church, and will not claim a political mandate flirting with the Right one minute and the Left the next. It will be poor and will become the Church of the destitute.”
“The papacy is a significant office in Christianity with a great deal of history and a great deal of responsibility. A number of popes over the years have been very significant in the development of theology and Catholic practices and beliefs,” she said. “What happens in the Catholic Church affects everyone. This is very surprising news.”
Found that in the local paper. It is in a real sense true, even for those who believe that they are somehow Catholic-free in their Christianity.
First, I can imagine a-many of a fundie congregation come Sunday morning mentioning this as a highlight of their sermon. It happens because they are focused on the Pope, believing him to be some sort of beast/false prophet/”antichrist.” Or, maybe they like St. Malarky’s prophecy about Petrus Romanus. Regardless, for many this news has brought about a heightened sense that the word is about to end for whatever reason — meaning that God and the Catholic Church are on the same time table, that what happens in Rome will affect Heaven in some way.
Second, this will only show them just how right they are. They will use Rome as a point of measurement. See, they’ll say to one another, the Pope knew just how bad the Catholic church really is and couldn’t deal with it, or some other straw man fallacy. Or, they’ll make a comment about the Pope being a quitter.
Anyway, the professor there is correct — what the Pope does does in fact have a pretty solid impact on the rest of Christianity, if even to raise the gossip quota and fear-mongering.
He stopped off in Aquila, Italy, and visited the tomb of an obscure medieval Pope named St. Celestine V (1215-1296). After a brief prayer, he left his pallium, the symbol of his own episcopal authority as Bishop of Rome, on top of Celestine’s tomb!
A few months ago, Cliff from Logos sent along severalpackagesrelated to Catholic Studies. As a new Protestan who proudly accepts the title of Catholic-lite, I was happy to receive these works due to their theological value as well as, in many cases, their critical value. From Boethius to Pope Benedict XVI, these packages include a wide range of (C)atholic teaching ranging from the beginning of the medieval spirituality to the present theological movements.
We in the more enlightened 21st century tend to view with apprehension anything coming out of the medieval period, even to the point of denying that Christian theological development and even Christian philosophy was alive and well during these so-called dark times. However, to do so would be to miss the great wealth of spirituality and deep theological insight produced by Hugh of St. Victor, St. John the Damascene, and Pope Gregory the Great. What is also essential about these authors and their works — these preachers and their sermons — is the value of learning how the Roman Catholic Church developed such elements as the papacy, such seedbeds as free will and determination, and how love was treated. The 34 volume set of The Medieval Preaching and Spirituality Collection beckons us to consider the great treasure trove that is medieval theological tradition.
Of course, there is something more too. I was able to receive as well the Encyclicals of the two most recent Popes, Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Fourteen and three, respectively, these letters show how the two popes covering most of our lifetimes have develop Catholic doctrine and practical theology in the face of post-modernism, the rise of the vitriolic class, the end of Communism, and all the while exploring what Vatican II means to twentieth and twenty-first century Catholics (and Christians on the whole, if we allows ourselves to willingly found common ground). Likewise, the Apostolic Constitutions, those exhortations of doctrine and piety confessed by these two Popes, provide deep insight into the modern Catholic (and Christian, see the parenthetical just above). These provide three decades worth of decisions, thought processes, and a sincere appreciation both for Catholic tradition (natural law, especially), and the modern human existence. Both of these sets include the English and the Latin, with the latter most helpful in keeping up your Latin reading (as well as reading it in the original language of production).
Below is are several pictures from one of Pope Benedict’s encyclicals:
Perhaps you will can live your Christian life without such works in your library. Others have, but we are given such a short space on this planet, and we must seek to enrich it continuously. These books will enrich and enliven your Christian life, even for the Protestants, because it connects you to the deep and reflective thought over a millennia long. And frankly, you should not count yourself truly living until you have read Boethius.
Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction – Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2005).
Deus Caritas Est was Pope Benedict’s first encyclical. Good stuff.
Peter the Roman is supposedly the last pope, the final one. What? You haven’t heard of this prophecy/conspiracy theory?
Yeah, it ends like this:
“In the extreme persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit [i.e., as bishop].
Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations:
and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills will be destroyed,
and the terrible judge will judge his people.
This was a huge thing when Pope Benedict was elected pope.
This is a bunk. But I wanted to be the first to put this out there. This is just another conspiracy theory like drones in the sky spying for your government. No, seriously, unlike drones, this is a nutty this is a nutty little thing providing a backdoor for Rome = Antichrist motif.
By the way, Rome is not the Beast, False Prophet, or so-called antichrist.
Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who took office in 2005 following the death of his predecessor, said on Monday that he will resign on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in six centuries.