Category Archives: Theology

Weinandy – Tilley: disputes between theologians or the Tradition?

Thumbnail image for Weinandy Tilley.jpg

When the average Catholic thinks of theological
disputation they quickly surmise that they can be tedious, if not irrelevant.
Connections are not made for the average Catholic between relevance of a theological truth or an idea to the spiritual life and the teaching of Truth and one’s salvation. Believe it or not, theology means something. Admittedly, I don’t blame people’s reluctance to enter into the fray of the
issues because they are complicated, convoluted and cause considerable
consternation between the interlocutors. But what else would you expect from
intelligent people? Theological matters are incredibly important for the life
of the Church particularly in the realm of protecting the deposit of faith from
charlatans. I, for one, love the controversy that’s stirred up because it gets
people talking and thinking about the issues posited by Catholic theologians.

Capuchin Father Thomas G. Weinandy (Dir. of Doctrine
Committee, USCCB) thinks Dr. Terrence W. Tilley (Fordham Univ. theologian &
chair of the Dept of Theology) is on the outer limits of what theological
reflection and research legitimately allows for. Tilley believes he and others
are recovering an older theological approach (method).

I for one think Weinandy
has the stronger argument.

Father Weinandy’s article is presented here Weinandy on
Tilley’s theological argument.pdf
Dr. Tilley’s address is found here Tilley CTSA
address 2009.pdf

NFP (Natural Family Planning): formation for a fertile life

Saint Joseph Seminary – Dunwoodie was the setting today for a clergy seminar on Natural Family Planning (NFP) sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York Family & Respect Life Offices, The Couple to Couple League International and with the generosity of others as well. Some 40 clergy types (priests, deacons and seminarians) attended. It was a blessing to have Dr Theresa Notare, Dr Kyle Beiter, Richard & Vicki Braun, Dr. Jack Burnham, Fr John Higgins, Andrew & Tracey Pappalrdo, and Erik & Anne Tozzi as presenters.

So what did I learn today?
YOU can control YOUR reproductive health care sensibly and morally without spending tons of money and selling your values. The point of the day was to introduce us to the most wholistic, safe form of family planning that there is today. This approach is pro-life, pro-woman, pro-faith, and pro-humanity. NFP is totally Catholic. It shows that it’s possible for a husband and wife to communicate and to collaborate with each other on all facets of life, especially the facet of sex and reproduction.

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Leaning on the Master

I frequently
stand in awe of people who, like Pope Benedict, can draw my attention to the
essentials of faith, reason and culture. His audience on Wednesday where he
speaks about St. Bernard is one of these instances because he shows me the
beauty of St. Bernard, the purpose of theology study, life with the saints, and why we have to suffer some things for the Kingdom. For example, the Pope
offers a corrective in my work as a seminarian.

St resting on Jesus' Chest.jpg

Here are a few germane sentences with emphasis added: In one place in the talk Pope says: “Faith is above all an
individual and intimate encounter with Jesus
; it means experiencing His
closeness, His friendship and His love.” He continues “St. Bernard, solidly
based on the Bible and on the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound
faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, by a profound relationship
with the Lord
, our reflections on the divine mysteries risk becoming a futile
intellectual exercise, and lose their credibility
. Theology takes us back to
the “science of the saints,” to their intuitions of the mysteries of
the living God, to their wisdom, gift of the Holy Spirit, which become the
point of reference for theological thought.”

And given that I think there’s much discussion
in a seminary work, sometimes too much discussion, I am leaning St. Bernard as
he says, “but perhaps He can be sought better and found more easily with
prayer than with discussion. We put an end here to the book, but not to the

(Pope Benedict XVI,
Wednesday General Audience, October 21, 2009) 

How tall are your doctrinal walls?

playground.jpgG. K. Chesterton once wrote, “Catholic doctrine
and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. We might
fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the
sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling
themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of
nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the
precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they
were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had
ceased.” Orthodoxy Ch. 9

Purgatory: Understanding the Catholic doctrine

Just this morning one of the assisting priests where I am living and I had a brief discussion about purgatory and the need to raise our awareness of praying for “those who have gone before marked by the sign of faith.” I don’t get to think much about purgatory but it’s been a funny thing: I’ve been thinking about the Catholic practice of praying for the souls in purgatory and need to keep in mind and heart the place the dead continue to have in our lives and in Church. I suspect that most of us observe All Souls Day once a year but is that enough? We probably don’t think of those who have died, our family, friends and even those unknown to us personally, as needing prayers for purification. Perhaps we think of our dead as already being with God face-to-face and therefore in no need of prayer. Affectively this line of thinking is understandable. But really, do we think that our deceased friends and family were that perfect in life that aren’t in need of prayer and sacrifice?

Also today I was surfing the usual Catholic news sites and I was astonished to see this video news item on Rome Reports talking about purgatory. Something is in the air! Since Divine Providence works in mysterious ways, I leave it to you to pray and think about the holy and not yet holy souls.
There is much unsound doctrine on the Church’s faith in purgatory. I bid you to do some personal work on knowing what the Church believes AND what it doesn’t believe. See this entry on purgatory.
This video clip on a museum on purgatory in Rome is very interesting.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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