Tag Archives: Revelation

Not doctrine, but power: recent tensions in the Church

We need perspective, we need a good review of what’s happening in the press regarding the state of Catholicism. At least I do. The ever-well spoken George Weigel takes on us on a brief journey….

The American mainstream media, reflecting deeper currents in American culture, typically treats “religion” as a private lifestyle choice: a personal option one may exercise to make sense out of life (and death) through certain rituals embodied in communities. That the “choice” in question has anything to do with adherence to the truth, as one is grasped and transformed by that truth; that those rituals embody religious truth in a unique way that links the believer to the very life of God; that those communities are formed by, and accountable to, truths that can be rationally explicated in a body of knowledge called “theology” — say what? To treat religion as a lifestyle choice leaves little room for the very concept of “truth,” unless it be the anorexic postmodern notion of “your truth” and “my truth” (which means that Khalid Sheikh Muhammad’s “truth” is just as much “truth” as Pope Benedict XVI’s). In the sandbox of self-absorption that is so much of postmodern culture, there is little or no room for the truth.

Perhaps we should take a hint from a recent Church Council on this matter: 

“Theology relies on the written Word of God, taken together with sacred Tradition, as on a permanent foundation. By this Word it is most firmly strengthened and constantly rejuvenated, as it searches out, under the light of faith, the full truth stored up in the mystery of Christ.” (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation)

Read the whole article here.

Georeg Weigel

“Don’t Know Much about Theology …”

National Review online

June 12, 2012

The promise made by Christ: error won’t prevail

I read a recent post by my friend and fellow blogger Webster Bull’s article “Richard III and the Contemporaneity of Christ” on the Il Sussidiario (the post was first published on Bull’s blog, Witness, a few weeks ago). Webster asks a great question: how do we know the Church has gotten Christ correct? That is, do we have confidence that the Church hasn’t given the faithful a wrong teaching about the person of Jesus and the Gospel?

Well the Church relies on use of natural reason and the coherence of Divine Revelation to authentically pass on knowledge of God’s plan of salvation. Theologians, priests, catechists and the like don’t define the tenets of the Faith; we hear the sound teaching of saints like Augustine, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Ratzinger, but they are not the ones who define what is to believed. Only the Church through the communio that exists between sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium, gives what is to be believed and how to live the Christian life. In divine revelation, the Lord told us, actually He promised us, that the Holy Spirit will preserve all that He (Jesus) preached and the historical reality we know as the Church: the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, that is, error will not destroy the Truth. This historical reality, this guided companionship, this sacrament, this icon is what is known as the Church. So what was truth in the 1st century is also true (with some development since the first days) in the 21st. Hence, the contemporaneity of Christ. Christ is not a past event, He is a present reality. This theological datum is expressed in the Plus, we Catholics believe that one piece of Scripture interprets another, and all of Scripture speaks of Christ and the plan of salvation; the same is true for the dogma of the faith.

In one of his letters, Saint Jerome said that he follows no one but Christ and those in communion with Him, that is, with the chair of Peter. So, I don’t think it is possible for the Church to teach anything but the truth of Christ that is free from ideology. But we also need to use our reason –in light of magisterial teaching– to determine if error could be taught by some theologian because we know that some theologians are their own magisterium and wedded to their opinion alone when it comes to dogma or doctrine.

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Catholics understanding the Book of Revelation and the Rapture

rapture.jpgThe rapture came and went…and this guy got caught up in it. Good for him. The rest of us will meander along…but in case you want to join the others in the rapture, the actual date is now October 21. So I am told.  But what time should people be ready? Harold Camping, founder of Family Radio and rapture prophet. Camping might be ready for the rapture as he’s now recovering from a stroke. The 89 year old prophet of doom-and-gloom-Christian-style alters his guaranteed prediction of Judgement Day every so often.

In case you’re interested, we’re having a 3 presentations on the Book of Revelation, the Catholic teaching on the belief of the Second Coming Christ and what the rapture means. Brother Leo Checkai, OP, is going to lead us through the theology and visions as found in the Revelation and giving a strategy to read and understand this famous and mysterious final book of the Bible. Come for the class at Saint Catherine of Siena Church at 6:30 on June 29, July 6 and 13. The church is located at 411 East 68th Street, NYC.

photo taken from In Caritate Non Ficta by Philip Gerard Johnson: this pic is a hoot….

Reading Revelation and the Cosmos: a participation in Divine Truth

Yesterday, Pope Benedict addressed members attending the Plenary meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Clementine Room at the Apostolic Palace. The tells us that faith and reason are not in opposition to each other, that we don’t make and sustain ourselves¬†and that our work is valuable in trying to understand human nature and our relationship with God.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to greet you, the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly, and I thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo for the words he has kindly addressed to me on your behalf.

In choosing the topic Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life, you seek to focus on an area of enquiry which elicits much interest. In fact, many of our contemporaries today wish to reflect upon the ultimate origin of beings, their cause and their end, and the meaning of human history and the universe.

In this context, questions concerning the relationship between science’s reading of the¬†world and the reading offered by Christian Revelation naturally arise. My predecessors Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II noted that there is no opposition between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences. Philosophy in its early stages had proposed images to explain the origin of the cosmos on the basis of one or more elements of the material world. This genesis was not seen as a creation, but rather a mutation or transformation; it involved a somewhat horizontal interpretation of the origin of the world. A decisive advance in understanding the origin of the cosmos was the consideration of being qua being and the concern of metaphysics with the most basic question of the first or transcendent origin of participated being. In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence.

To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously. Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3).


To “evolve” literally means “to unroll a scroll”, that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose “writing” and meaning, we “read” according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos.

Notwithstanding elements of the irrational, chaotic and the destructive in the long processes of change in the cosmos, matter as such is “legible”. It has an inbuilt “mathematics”. The human mind therefore can engage not only in a “cosmography” studying measurable phenomena but also in a “cosmology” discerning the visible inner logic of the cosmos. We may not at first be able to see the harmony both of the whole and of the relations of the individual parts, or their relationship to the whole. Yet, there always remains a broad range of intelligible events, and the process is rational in that it reveals an order of evident correspondences and undeniable finalities: in the inorganic world, between microstructure and macrostructure; in the organic and animal world, between structure and function; and in the spiritual world, between knowledge of the truth and the aspiration to freedom. Experimental and philosophical inquiry gradually discovers these orders; it perceives them working to maintain themselves in being, defending themselves against imbalances, and overcoming obstacles. And thanks to the natural sciences we have greatly increased our understanding of the uniqueness of humanity’s place in the cosmos.

The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that “every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not ‘produced’ by the parents – and also that it is immortal” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.

Distinguished Academicians, I wish to conclude by recalling the words addressed to you by my predecessor Pope John Paul II in November 2003: “scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful”.

Upon you and your families, and all those associated with the work of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom and peace.

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]yahoo.com.
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