Today’s Gospel turns on an irony—it is a blind man, Bartimaeus, who becomes the first besides the apostles to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. And His healing is the last miracle Jesus performs before entering the holy city of Jerusalem for His last week on earth.
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The readings for this Sunday revolve around the theme of return from exile for God’s people. In the Old Testament, we read about God’s people Israel being exiled from their land because of their violations of their covenant with God. The great Isrealite prophets, however, predicted that God would bring his people back from the places they were exiled, just as he brought them out of Egypt by the hand of Moses long ago. This is often called the “New Exodus” theme in the prophets.
Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, author of Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope, speaks at Franciscan University of Steubenville as part of the Distinguished Speakers Series on March 20, 2012.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal at the Apostolic Signatura, celebrated the 2011 Baccalaureate mass at Franciscan University of Steubenville. In his homily, the Cardinal reflects on the conversion of St. Paul, the witness of love presented by St. Francis, and the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of the believers, letting us pour out springs of living water into a thirsting world. “Our Lord truly continues to meet us in the Church as he met Saul on the road to Damascus, and he gives us a mission in the world,” said the cardinal. “Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our souls by means of the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, and through the healing and strengthening of the grace of the Holy Spirit within us by means of the forgiveness of sins in the sacrament of penance, and the nourishment of the life of the Holy Spirit within our souls with the heavenly food of his true Body, Blood, soul and divinity in the sacrament of the holy Eucharist, our risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, is also truly with us.”
Dr. John Bergsma, biblical scholar and theologian at Franciscan University of Steubenville, shared his testimony at Franciscan University’s 2009 Defending the Faith Conference “Reasons for Hope.” Dr. Bergsma speaks of his experience of God’s grace acting in his life to produce a true converso, a turning-around from Calvinism to the fullness of the faith in Catholicism. “What I’m here to tell you about today is God grasping me and flipping me around,” said Bergsma, “to reveal a Catholicism that in a sense was always there, but I didn’t know it till it was revealed.” In a journey that includes his father’s friendship with Cardinal John O’Connor, his parents’ openness to life, and encounters with the fidelity of Catholic priests, Dr. Bergsma gives a highly personal and remarkably powerful witness to the love of God and the grace mediated through God’s faithful servants.
Kimberly Hahn, popular speaker and author of many books, gave the closing keynote talk entitled “Knowing God’s Will, Transforming Your Mind” at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s 2010 Defending the Faith Conference “Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind.” In her talk, Kimberly exhorted the audience to embrace the path to holiness and give themselves entirely over to Jesus Christ. “What has Jesus withheld from you? Nothing,” she said. “And he asks the same in return. We are to give all of ourselves to him…Don’t be conformed to this world. We don’t even know the ways we are conformed to this world! We don’t even know the ways in which we are influenced!…How do we even begin to change the way we think if we are immersed in our own culture? That comes from the transformation of our minds.”
George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of the two-part biography of Blessed John Paul II Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning, spoke on “The Achievement of John Paul II–A Retrospective” at Franciscan University of Steubenville as part of the Distinguished Speaker series in spring semester 2011. In this talk, Weigel examines the massive legacy of Pope John Paul II and highlights ten major contributions made by the late Holy Father to the Church and to the world. “The papacy was not a role John Paul II sought,” said Weigel, “but it is a role he fulfilled in a striking way for 26 and a half years and fulfilled as a continuation, as an expression of the defining commitment of his life, which was to be a Christian disciple.”
Dr. Scott Hahn, the Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, spoke to Franciscan University of Steubenville’s 2010 Defending the Faith Conference “Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind.” In his talk, “Should Catholics Have Assurance of Salvation?”, he explains the distinction between the belief that “once saved, always saved,” and the Catholic belief that followers of Christ may have the “assurance of hope.” “Despair is like an act of spiritual suicide,” explained Hahn. “You are never beyond the saving reach of God’s all-powerful mercy. His love and his capacity to save us is always greater than our capacity to sin, if only we turn and repent.”
Close study of the body of his writings suggest that, had Professor Ratzinger been left alone to pursue his scholarly interests and ambitions, his achievements would have rivaled or surpassed those of the greatest Catholic theologians of the last century.
Never before in the history of the Catholic Church has a world-class biblical theologian been elevated to the papacy. The election of Pope Benedict XVI, on April 19, 2005, brought to the Chair of St. Peter one of the world’s finest theological minds, a public intellectual long engaged in dialogue over the crucial issues of the modern period, especially the relationship between freedom and truth.
The former Joseph Ratzinger was a young academic theologian with a very bright future when, in 1977, he was chosen to be archbishop of the historic Bavarian diocese of Munich and Freising. At the time, he expressly identified a continuity between his scholarly work and his new service in the hierarchy of the Church, taking for his episcopal motto a biblical expression: “cooperators in the truth.”
Those interested in what Dr. Hahn has written about the Holy Spirit may read an online version of the revised and expanded chapter from First Comes Love (pp.152-174), including Sources and References (pp. 201-213).
The Church is our mother, and for that we should rejoice. Moreover, Jesus Christ has given us His own mother, Mary, to be our mother, too. Praise God for that—because if He has given us His mother as our own, He will surely deny us nothing! It almost seems an understatement to say He has not left us orphans. His gifts surely surpass all of mankind’s expectations for salvation.
Yet there is something penultimate in these gifts of motherhood. Great as they are, they point to a still greater gift that our Lord wants to give us. Like all the good things of creation and the people and events in the Bible, these instance of holy motherhood are real, and we experience them powerfully, but God intended them to direct us to something still greater, something more real, something heavenly, eternal, and divine. God intends for us to contemplate the biblical types and other creaturely images until we arrive at their uncreated origons. That, after all, is what creation is for, and that’s what revelation is for. It’s also what motherhood is for.
Read more at SalvationHistory.com, reprinted with the kind permission of Doubleday Random House.
Though rarely stated in these terms, the Christian vision of the Bible must be determined by Christ’s vision of the Bible.
Christian tradition has always seen a close relationship between the pages of Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ. Both are designated the Word of God because both participate in the mystery of God revealing himself and his will in human form. Scripture is the Word inspired; Christ is the Word incarnate. In the former, the divine Word is expressed in human language; in the latter, the divine Word is enfleshed in human nature. The two mysteries are interpenetrating and mutually illuminating.
The implications of this analogy may be drawn out in different ways. Most obviously, the doctrine of inspiration is akin to the doctrine of the incarnation because it entails a historical manifestation of the Word in a divine-and-human form. Further contemplation reveals that the inerrancy of Scripture is a parallel reflection of the sinlessness of Christ, for both are immune to the privations of truth and love which we call error. So too, on a hermeneutical level, the inspired Word must be read in a way that takes full account of its interconnectedness with the incarnate Word. This is to say that biblical exegesis must investigate the historical meaning of Scripture as well as its theological meaning, the two being properties of its human and divine dimensions respectively.
In this article, Dr. Hahn explores how the Gospel of John envisions Christ fulfillment of the Jerusalem Temple and its festivals through the sacraments celebrated by the power of the Spirit, especially the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist.
The significance of the Jerusalem Temple in John’s Gospel has been the subject of a large number of monographs in the last decade. As a result of this work, scholars now generally accept not only that the Temple is a central theme in the Fourth Gospel, but that John is advancing what might be characterized as a “Temple christology”—that is, John wishes to show how the Temple and its liturgy find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, especially in his death and resurrection.
However, if our interpretation of John stops with that scholarly consensus—that John portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of the Temple—we are left with an apparently disconcerting situation; for, since Christ is now ascended, our Temple must be gone. And if this is true, the Church’s situation would be not unlike that of Judaism after 70 A.D. and the destruction of the Temple. But John’s Temple Christology is not conceived so narrowly as to limit it to Christ’s immediate person and earthly ministry. Rather, the evangelist insists that Jesus’ ministry continues in and through the intermediaries of the Spirit and the apostles.
The Book of Daniel sheds a surprisingly contemporary light on political theology and Church-state issues.
Interest in political theology and the relationship between Church and state, and between religious faith and secular society have grown in recent years—in part in response to the challenge posed by militant expressions of Islam, the ongoing suffering of believers under atheist communist regimes, and the increasingly aggressive secularism of nations of the West. The theological issues being raised are as significant: What is the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the regimes of this world? How are believers to live in times and places when the expression of their faith is outlawed, discriminated against or discouraged? How should believers respond when the state commands the unconscionable?
Origen’s role in the Pelagian controversy that followed the Pauline renaissance of the late fourth century is given a sharp evaluation in terms of Augustine.
The late fourth century witnessed a kind of Pauline renaissance in which Augustine and Rufinus participated. Around 400, the commentaries on Paul of six notable men became available: Origen’s (through Rufinus), Jerome’s, Pelagius’s, the Ambrosiaster’s, Marius Victorinus’s, and Augustine’s. Origen enjoyed some of his greatest success after his death: he directly influenced both Jerome’s and Pelagius’s work on Paul. Thus Origen’s presence is felt in the writings of half of the men who found this new interest in Paul at the turn of the fifth century. Caroline Hammond Bammel convincingly argues that even Augustine had read Orien’s Commentary on Romans, but not before 407 when Melania the Elder, a friend of Rufinus, visited Augustine at Hippo.
Since the study of particular words or phrases in the Rule of St. Benedict is common for scholars, a word or phrase is often examined instead of the entire Rule itself. The terms oboedientia and oboedire will be discussed in light of the whole Rule of St. Benedict.
The study of particular words or phrases in the Rule of St. Benedict is a common enough exercise that scholars of the Rule have undertaken. For the most part, however, a word or phrase is examined in a particular sentence or paragraph of the Rule rather than in the Rule as a whole. This has been the case with the words oboedientia and oboedire. With good reason, scholars have focused on Benedict’s treatment of obedience in RB 5, De oboedientia, and RB 68, Si fratri impossibilia iniungantur. Of the thirty-four times in which oboedientia and oboedire appear in the Rule, however, only nine of these are in RB 5 and RB 68. What, then, of the remaining twenty-five instances? Does Benedict’s use of these words in the other instance differ from that in RB 5 and RB 68? Do these other instances add anything to the understanding of obedience drawn from RB 5 and RB 68?
Evidence indicates a date early in the 360’s for both ep. 9 and Contra Eunomium, the Trinitarian works of Basil of Caesarea.
It is commonly acknowledged that Basil of Caesarea’s thought about the Trinity changed at some point in the 360s. Naturally, the chronological ordering of Basil’s early theological works will reveal the nature of the change in his thought and account for the subsequent evaluation of it. Basil’s ep. 9 and Contra Eunomium are especially important here because they preserve a great deal of what Basil has to say about the Trinity. But according to the way in which most date these works, the change in his thought is not a gradual progression culminating in Nicene orthodoxy but Basil’s purposeful misrepresentation of his own position so as to hide his true thoughts in the interest of imperial and ecclesiastical politics.
A Franciscan University theologian reflects on his studies in the homeland of St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Francis of Assisi is a fascinating person to study, especially for those who aspire, as I do, to be “Franciscans”—followers of Jesus Christ who model themselves on St. Francis. But this past summer I learned that this 13th-century saint holds a curious attraction even for those who don’t see him primarily as a witness to faith and example of holiness.
In July, I joined a group of 15 college and university professors for a six-week seminar in Italy, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) on “St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century.”
International scholars explore God and the universe at a recent conference held at Franciscan University.
Is the universe just a random assemblage of particles devoid of any ultimate meaning, or does it reveal a grander design and purpose? The answer to this profound question has implications for every aspect of human life, from politics to biology to moral theology. If we are accidental tourists adrift in an unwelcome cosmos, we are left to live however we see fit. If, on the other hand, we are designed and created for a purpose, there is a basic human desire not only to understand that purpose but to order our lives toward it.
What then does the scientific study of the universe reveal about purpose and design? Can what we learn about the structure of the universe inform our understanding of God? It was questions such as these that drew a group of international scholars to Franciscan University to participate in the University’s first Science and Faith Conference, December 2-3, 2012.
In what ways are the Dead Sea Scrolls significant to the Catholic faith?
In the winter of 1946, three Arab shepherds were tending their flocks along the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. One was amusing himself by throwing rocks into the caves that dotted the limestone bluffs above the shoreline. He was startled, however, when a rock produced the sound of shattering pottery. Climbing the cliffs a few days later to investigate, the shepherd entered the cave to find broken pottery and intact clay jars. One jar contained three leather scrolls, including a complete copy of the Book of Isaiah in Hebrew from the second century BC—about a thousand years older than any other Hebrew copy of a biblical book. This was the beginning of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, perhaps the most important archeological find of the 20th century.
Thoughts inspired by a visit to a Cistercian Abbey.
One of the awful torments of modern life—indeed, it is one from whose aggressions no one is entirely safe—is noise. More and more, it fills the space that was once marked by that silence whose absence we seem increasingly not to notice.
Where does one go to escape the din? And if such places exist, how long can you stay? I found out last January when, invited by a Cistercian Abbey in Utah to give a retreat, I spent an entire week in the midst of silence. It was glorious.
A visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe prompts this theologian to ask, “Where are all the gringos?”
Apart from the apparition itself, which is as supernatural a sight as anything to be seen on planet Earth, perhaps the most striking feature about the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the fact that there appear to be only Hispanics and Latinos who actually go there. Vast numbers, to be sure, who present the most edifying spectacle of faith, particularly in the poverty and simplicity of its expression, shorn of every material blessing save that of the certainty of the hope that they are embraced by the arms of the Mother of God.
But where are all the gringos?
My wife and I, who recently returned from Mexico following an intense five-day pilgrimage to Guadalupe, have been asking ourselves that very question.
George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of the two part biography of Blessed John Paul II Witness to Hope and The End and the Beginning, spoke at Franciscan University of Steubenville as part of the Distinguished Speaker series in spring semester 2011. In this talk, ” The Achievement of John Paul II–A Retrospective”, Weigel examines the massive legacy of Pope John Paul II and highlights ten major contributions made by the late Holy Father to the Church and to the world. “The papacy was not a role John Paul II sought,” said Weigel, “but it is a role he fulfilled in a striking way for 26 and a half years and fulfilled as a continuation, as an expression of the defining commitment of his life, which was to be a Christian disciple.”
Dr. Scott Hahn, the Fr. Michael Scanlan Chair in Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization, spoke to Franciscan University of Steubenville’s 2010 Defending the Faith Conference “Be Transformed by the Renewal of Your Mind.” In his talk, “Should Catholics Have Assurance of Salvation?”, he explains the distinction between the belief that “once saved, always saved,” and the Catholic belief that followers of Christ may have the “assurance of hope.” “Despair is like an act of spiritual suicide,” explained Hahn. “You are never beyond the saving reach of God’s all-powerful mercy. His love and his capacity to save us is always greater than our capacity to sin, if only we turn and repent.”
This Sunday we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, a great saint and biblical character who led a very difficult life and ministry.
In hindsight, the conflict that led to his demise and death has a strangely modern ring to it: he was jailed by Herod Antipas for speaking out on marriage (Mark 6:17-18).
“The mass teaches … that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and a condemnable idolatry.” (from the Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 80)