Tag Archives: theology

Schools of Theology: A 2012 Review

First Things editor RR Reno published his “A 2012 Ranking of Graduate Programs in Theology” yesterday, the annual romp through what’s out there for theological formation. A somewhat helpful review but it doesn’t really cover some important data. Nevertheless, it is good to see a review that advances a good perspective. What is that perspective? In my humble opinion: that in all things God may be glorified AND thinking with the Church.

The study of theology is not merely doing an academic program but it is truly a formation of the person so that he or she can be not only an excellent leader in theological investigation, spiritual formation, good pastoral practice but also work that one works out his or her own salvation.
  • The five areas a good school of theology needs to be attentive to: sacred Scripture, sacred Liturgy, patristic study, dogmatic study and ethics. I fully believe that Prosper of Aquataine is correct, and ought to orient all study of theology: legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi. In shorthand, the law of prayer is the law of belief.
I am happy that UND ranked high. I am interested to see how CUA will do in the year to come with the new dean Father Mark Morozowich. He’s got a lot of work to do. CUA is poised.

When Fig Leaves Sprout

Fig Tree by mumacas.jpgMy neighbor has several fig trees. His children are now in the process of wrapping them up for the winter –New England is not an agreeable place to raise fig trees all year.

The opening prayer for Mass today speaks of “the constant gladness of being devoted to you [that is, God]” because God is “the author of all that is good.” This gladness, this happiness, and good is always lived in posture of hope. Symbolically, in many ways the fig is a tangible sign of happiness and goodness. In the Bible the fig tree is posited as figure of these virtues. Variously the fig is interpreted as symbolic of the good, of peace, personal and national prosperity, safety, concern for the other, personal and national fulfillment, and probably the most important, the Promised Land.

Likely to be the most spoken of tree is the fig. Our first parents cover themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7), as a sweet and satisfying fruit is the fig (1 Kings 4:25) and if you need shade when you study the Word of God outside you would sit under a fig tree (John 1:48) or if you need a spring fruit for the table you would have figs (Hosea 9:10). So, it’s no surprise that the Lord uses the fig to illustrate a point in the synoptic gospels about being a disciple and of the Church.

Based on today’s Scripture readings, the poem “When Fig Leaves Sprout” by Minnesota composer William Beckstrand captures the sense of what we are about in the Christian life.


When fig leaves sprout, the summer’s near;
Just so, when sun and moon grow dim,
This earth and heav’n will pass and Christ
Will come and raise the dead with him.

This coming Christ, who
once for all
A sacrifice for sin’s dark stain
Has offered, will bring back to
life
All those who sleep, for doom or gain.

Secure with Jesus, Advocate
Who
pleads for us at God’s right hand,
We daily work to do God’s will,
And wait His
coming stern and grand.

Mediums and Christian Faith –incompatible?

Angels BiccideLorenzo.jpgSince today is the feast of the Guardian Angels there are some in the secular world, especially on TV, who are speaking on the feast trying to give an aire of respectability to an already firmly established belief in the existence of the Guardian Angels. However, so much in the public forum forget key points in Catholic teaching: the angels look, in glory, upon God’s face and sent by Him to man and woman in manner that is unseen by man. Angels help us, and are in pure contemplation of God; they obey God’s holy and uncontestable will.

The 12:30 interview of Phil Quinn of Guilford, CT by Teresa LaBarbera of WTNH today on the theme of “Guardian Angel Day” was grossly misguided and plainly gave false information to the public. Now, LaBarera and her WTNH team are not aiming at promoting Catholic teaching; she did, however, abscond with Catholic and Jewish teaching, manipulated it for their own purposes, and promoted many falsehoods. Let me be clear, mediums are consummate self-promoters; they are false teachers. Instead of consulting a validly ordained Catholic priest or even a rabbi, WTNH consulted a medium. How trite! How tempting! How irresistible for the weak of heart!

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The work of the Theologian to the Papal Household

The life of the Church is very interesting. Even such obscure things, seemingly that is, like that of the Papal Theologian, piques my wonder and awe at what is expected in our communal pursuit of Truth. And that’s what the Papal Theologian helps us to do: seek the face of God. Perhaps in your seeking Truth, Beauty and Goodness you are genuinely curious about how the Church works and the people behind the work being done?


GMMCottier.jpg

The Papal Theologian emeritus of the Papal Household, Georges Cardinal Cottier, OP, gave an interview to Jose Antonio Varela Vidal at Zenit (11 July 2012) about Blessed Pope John Paul II, with whom he worked intimately: “…he was a man of hope. When he said: ‘Do not be afraid,’ he certainly said it for the countries occupied by Communism, but he also said it because he saw that there was a certain decadence in the West. I would say he awakened the Church everywhere. Then, his love of life, this was fantastic and he witnessed this love of life in a life profoundly marked by illness, and young people understood him.”

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What is a theologian? What purpose does the work of a theologian have? To be “In the Communion of the Church”

The public has been bombarded with the media’s assessment of nuns, church, the sexual abuse crisis, fidelity to the Lord, and the like. In some ways the media looks at the life of the Church and picks out the obvious problems of coherence. No doubt we have matters of concern that we have to work to correct; the adage: “the Church always needs renewal” is very true today. We rely on the Holy Spirit and the good work of Pope Benedict. The other day I found this review of a document written by members of the International Theological Commission (ITC), a group of theologians organized by the Pope to advise him on certain questions of theological questions of importance. Even the Pope needs advice! The ITC group is made up of a diversity of peoples from around the world. The ones I know personally are fine men and women, credible witnesses of the Lord. The review of Theology Today that follows is written by Father Paul McPartlan in which he synthesizes the document giving us the broad view of the work of Catholic theologian. What he highlights sits in contradistinction to what we’ve heard about the recent work of Sr Margaret Farley and other theologians who see themselves in a different light. I prefer to put my money the ITC and not on “envelop pushing, agenda driven” theologians. You?


Following its examination, in Chapter One, of the fundamental nature of theology, as the rational exploration of that faith which is a response to the proclamation of the Word of God, and prior to its extended reflection, in Chapter Three, on significant aspects of the rationality of theology, the new International Theological Commission (ITC) text, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria, carefully considers the ecclesial context of theology in Chapter Two. “The ecclesiality of theology is a constitutive aspect of the theological task, because theology is based on faith, and faith itself is both personal and ecclesial”, it says, emphasising that “it is through the Church that theologians receive the object of their enquiry” (n.20). Theological enquiry is therefore properly conducted within the living and life-giving milieu of the leiturgia, martyria and diakonia of the Church (cf. n.7). In short, as the chapter’s title indicates, it is necessary for theologians to abide in the communion of the Church.

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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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