Tag Archives: theologians

Ratzinger Prize given to 3

WOW! Imagine giving a prize in your own name! Well, if you are the Pope and an eminent theologian, you can (and will). This is cool, as “they” say. Vatican Radio announced today that the Pope has given the prize in theological studies in this thought. While 2 of the 3 are senior in age and wisdom, but don’t be fooled: all of them are top scholars and widely known; the youngest recipient has a lot more juice in him. Abbot Maximillian is the author of a brilliant book on Ratzinger’s theology, Joseph Ratzinger: Life in the Church and Living Theology (Ignatius Press 2007). 

The Rome Reports story is here. The Holy See’s story follows:

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The first three winners of the Ratzinger Prize were
announced on Tuesday in the Vatican Press Office. The prize was established
last year to promote theological studies on the writings of the Pope, and to
reward promising scholars. The prizes will be given out by Pope Benedict on
June 30th.

The Ratzinger Prize is a project of the Joseph
Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, which was funded by Pope Benedict
with the royalties he has received from his books.

The prizes and the
conferences the foundation sponsors focus on helping the truth, meaning and
beauty of Christianity in relation to today’s culture and society emerge.

Tuesday, the first three winners of the Ratzinger Prize were announced.

Read more ...

4 Pillars of the Catholic Faith

A question was asked of me about the building blocks of the Catholic faith. Is there such a thing? Do Catholics actually have a structure of belief? Well, yes, there are 4 essential building blocks of our life of faith. These 4 areas are the very same areas by which the Catechism of the Catholic is structured.

The 4 Pillars of the Catholic Faith:

-10 Commandments
-7 Sacraments
-The Lord’s Prayer (Christian prayer)

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Catholics believe in revealed
truth. Spirituality needs to be founded on truth otherwise you have nothing.
Hence creed, code & cult are essential aspects of Catholic Faith.

The study of faith needs two distinctions to understand what’s going with the army of words and ideas associated with theological reflection: fides quae and fides

Fides quae (“faith which”) is the faith which is held by
the Church through divine revelation or sacred tradition (it is what is considered to be objective, verifiable faith).

Fides qua
(“faith by which”) is the faith by which a person is moved to respond
to God. A person’s understanding of his or her personal relationship
to God is spoken of here; here we usually filter what hear of divine revelation; in some instances personal
revelation is located in this type of faith, e.g., the teachings of the saints would be a distinction of fides qua (we’ll say this is subjective faith, a faith known through concrete experience).

Theologically speaking, a theologian be able to
distinguish between fides quae and fides qua and to always maintain conformity
in study and work with fides quae. Only a few theologian have held a personal
faith that has been enlightened enough to illuminate fides quae. The task of
theology is gain a deeper understanding of faith; it is, as St Anselm said:
faith seeking understanding. Our study of theology is done on our knees; that
is, we study the fact of God and the allied theological sciences from a posture of adoration of
God first, in the sacred Liturgy and second, in personal prayer. 

The student of
theology takes his or her first presupposition from the position of “faith.” Faith is not a gift of God it is also the manner by which we look at
reality, it’s the “starting point for a new way -that is, a true way of
becoming aware of reality itself.” Through faith we have access to truth and through we live truth.  Without faith in the study of theology
we have mere religious studies.

Weinandy – Tilley: disputes between theologians or the Tradition?

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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

The Beauty of the Church

From outside she [the Church] looks like an establishment, like one organization among others. From within she is the medium, one might almost say the magic, whereby God is able to be all in all within his creation, without suppressing the creature he has made free.


(Hans Urs Von Balthasar, In the Fullness of Faith)

Blessed John Duns Scotus: A model for maintaining faith & reason

Pope Benedict XVI wrote a letter to the Archbishop of Cologne and those participating in the International Scientific Congress on the occasion of the seventh centenary of Blessed John Duns Scotus’ death. What relevance does a letter was written in October 2008 by the pope have for us today? Why remember Blessed John at all? Faith and reason working together in the heart of the Church!!! They are not in opposition to each other. Catholics are known to work intimately with faith and reason and Scotus is a prime example of the tradition. But you don’t need me to tell you that.

Read the pope:

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Rejoice, City of Cologne, which once welcomed within your walls John Duns Scotus, a most learned and devout man, who passed from this life to the heavenly Homeland on 8 November 1308; and, whose remains you preserve with great admiration and veneration.

Our Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, exalted him with lofty praise; we too would like to surround him with the praise he deserves and invoke his protection.

Thus the seventh centenary of his pious passing is now being celebrated, as is only right. And while articles and entire works in honour of Bl. John Duns Scotus are being published in various parts of the world and congresses are being held, including the solemn Congress currently being prepared that will take place in Cologne from 5 to 9 November 2008, we consider it a duty of our service in this circumstance to say a few words about this most illustrious man who so distinguished himself by contributing to the progress of the doctrine of the Church and of human science.

Indeed, combining piety with scientific research, in accordance with his invocation: “May the First Principle of things grant me to believe, to understand and to reveal what may please his majesty and may raise our minds to contemplate him”, with his refined brilliance he penetrated so deeply the secrets of natural and revealed truth, and found in them a doctrine which led him to be called Doctor Ordinis, Doctor Subtilis, and Doctor Marianus, becoming a teacher and guide of the Franciscan School, a light and example to the entire Christian People.

Thus we desire to remind scholars and everyone, believers and non-believers alike, of the path and method that Scotus followed in order to establish harmony between faith and reason, defining in this manner the nature of theology in order constantly to exalt action, influence, practice and love rather than pure speculation; in fulfilling this task he let himself be guided by the Magisterium of the Church and by a sound critical sense regarding growth in knowledge of the truth and was convinced that knowledge is valuable to the extent that it is applied in praxis.

Firmly anchored to the Catholic faith, Duns Scotus strove to understand, explain and defend the truth of the faith in the light of human reason. Thus he strove to do nothing other than show the consonance of all truths, natural and supernatural, that come from one and the same Source.

Alongside Sacred Scripture, divinely inspired, is the authority of the Church. Duns Scotus seems to follow St Augustine’s words: “I would not believe the Gospel, except that I [first] believe the Catholic Church”. In fact, our Doctor often gives a special emphasis to the supreme authority of the Successor of Peter. As the Blessed said: “Although the Pope cannot dispense with natural and divine law (given that his power is inferior to both), being the Successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, he still has the same authority as had Peter”.

Therefore, the Catholic Church whose invisible Head is Christ himself, who left as his Vicars the person of Blessed Peter and his Successors guided by the Spirit of truth, is the authentic custodian of the revealed deposit and the rule of faith. The Church is the firm and permanent criterion of the canonical dimension of Sacred Scripture. Indeed, she “established which books of the biblical canon were to be held authentic”.

Elsewhere he states that “the Scriptures were revealed in the same Spirit in which they were written, and in this way one must consider that the Catholic Church has presented them in that same Spirit with which the faith has been passed down, guided that is, by the Spirit of truth”.

After having proven with various arguments taken from theological reason, the very fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary was preserved from original sin, he was absolutely ready also to reject this conviction should it not be in harmony with the authority of the Church, saying: “We can with probability attribute to Mary all that has the greatest perfection, provided it is not opposed to the authority of the Church or the Scriptures”.

The primacy of the will sheds light on the fact that God is charity before all else. This charity, this love, Duns Scotus kept present when he sought to lead theology back to a single expression, that is to practical theology. According to his thought, since God “is formally love and formally charity”, with the greatest generosity he radiates his goodness and love beyond himself. And in reality, it is for love that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He predestined us in love to be his adoptive sons through Jesus Christ” (cf. Eph 1: 4-5).

A faithful disciple of St Francis of Assisi, Bl. John contemplated and preached assiduously the Incarnation and the saving Passion of the Son of God. However, the charity or love of Christ is expressed in a special way not only on Calvary, but also in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, without which “if not for being able to render supreme adoration unto God through the veneration of the same Sacrament every mercy would disappear in the Church”. This Sacrament moreover is a sacrament of unity and love; through it we are led to love one another mutually and to love God as a common good and to be loved at the same time by others.

And as this love, this charity, was the origin of all things, so too our eternal happiness will be in love and charity alone: “Eternal life is simply the desire as well as the will to love, blessed and perfect”.

Since at the beginning of our ministry we first of all preached love, which is God himself, we see with joy that the unique doctrine of this Blessed keeps a special place for this truth, which we consider principally worthy to be researched and taught in our time. Therefore, willingly complying with the request of our Venerable Brother Cardinal Joachim Meisner, of Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Cologne, we are sending this Apostolic Letter with which we desire to honour Bl. John Duns Scotus and invoke his heavenly intercession upon us. Lastly, to those who are taking part in any capacity in this International Congress and in other initiatives concerning this outstanding son of St Francis, we cordially impart our Apostolic Blessing.

Given in Rome, at St Peter’s on 28 October 2008, the fourth year of our Pontificate.


The epitaph at Blessed John’s grave is rather fun:

Scotland bore me,                      Scotia me genuit,

England received me,                 Anglia me suscepit,

France taught me,                      Gallia me docuit,

Cologne holds me.                     Colonia me tenet.


Can we think of advancing his cause for sainthood? Its taken too many years to get to “Blessed”!!!!

footnotes in the original, see vatican.va

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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