Three Theologians Talk Annunciation

On the Feast of the Annunciation, Kyle Washut, Kent Lasnoski, and I had a round-table talk about the most famous treatment of the Annuncation, namely Bernard of Clairvaux’s Missus Est. Although we mostly stayed with the themes Bernard raises, we went on some fruitful tangents as well. All in all, I thought it was a great way to celebrate the day!

Here’s the video:

You can download an audio-only file by clicking here, or you can listen via this embedded player:

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Two theologians talk Newman on Mary

As Wyoming Catholic College has shifted temporarily to online classes, a lot of us are recording conversations to share with the students. Happily, that makes it easier to share with you! Recently Kyle Washut and I discussed John Henry Newman’s Letter to Pusey, of the best treatments anywhere if Catholic doctrine and devotion concerning Mary. Wyoming Catholic College posted the video as well as an audio-only version, and I’ve snagged the links.

Here is the video:

You can download the audio-only from this link, or listen to it here:

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From Melchizedek to Christ

On Facebook, my cousin tagged me in a post:

Okay, Bible people, help me out. Explain Melchizedek to me please. Why did Abraham pay him tithes? What’s the connection to Jesus?

Great question! The strange thing is, I have never seen anyone really lay out the answer. Of course, the Letter to the Hebrews meditates on Melchizedek, and commentators repeat what Hebrews says, but to my knowledge no one has connected all the dots.

Really to answer the question, I need to connect exactly five dots. Let’s go!

Continue reading “From Melchizedek to Christ”
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I’m now available on CD

Well, it isn’t my voice on the CD. Some years ago I wrote a poem, “Surgamus et aedificemus,” based on Nehemiah 2:18. Then my good friend Peter Kwasnewski set it to music, and eventually it was recorded by the Scottish choir Cantiones Sacrae for their CD that dropped this past December:

You can hear their performance of Surgamus and see the musical score here, at Peter Kwasniewski’s Youtube channel. For now, here’s the text from the CD booklet:

You can purchase the CD from England here, or if you want to save a few bucks just go to Peter’s website and donate $15, letting him know that you would like the CD. He’ll send you one.

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Hey, I know that guy….

The latest newsletter from the monks of Norcia, Italy, includes a list of everything the monks read aloud during their meals this past year. It is an interesting list in itself, but for this reader there is a pleasant surprise in the left-hand column:

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Conversations with a Protestant

Some time back, an evangelical pastor asked me if I would sit down with him to talk about the things that unite and divide Catholics and Protestants. He filmed the whole thing, and the first segment is now up on his Youtube channel, the 10-Minute Bible Hour.

The conversation came out fine. I didn’t prepare for at all: there was no script, and I was in the car on my way to the filming location five minutes away before I started trying to remember the usual topics and whether I have a response to them. So, I could have expressed some points more clearly, and often my interlocutor raised so many questions at once that I had to ignore this or that disagreement to address just one of them. And I don’t exactly have a Hollywood face. But all in all I think the video shows a Catholic mind at work, for people who may not have seen it before.

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What a metaphor really means

A high school textbook taught me the standard line: similes are comparisons, and metaphors are similes without the word “like” or “as”. So when I say, “Achilles was a lion,” I mean that Achilles was like a lion. I just don’t say “like”.

The absurdity bothered me to no end. How could anyone with ears think that “Achilles was a lion” sounds like “Achilles was like a lion”? Is the one sentence that much stronger just because it is one word shorter? On the other hand, how could I hope that anyone else heard the same difference that screamed at me? When you’re in high school, there are certain feelings you just don’t share, like your ambition for glory, or your romantic daydreams, or your ceaseless frustration over the textbook definition of “metaphor”.

Continue reading “What a metaphor really means”
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Friendship with God

Everyone knows that love is central to Christianity, but homilies and devotionals on love are typically cliche and hard to distinguish from secular exhortations to humanitarian justice. This summer I was given the challenge to talking about charity in an original way, a way that would somehow make the distinctions Catholics almost never make between themselves and the world at large.

So, of course, I just rehearsed St. Thomas Aquinas’s 700-year-old account. What is charity? In a nutshell, charity is friendship with God. You can find my lecture here.

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A novel conclusion from the CDF

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently published a response to a question about the liceity of hysterectomy in a very specific case.  Some responses to the new document have been decidedly negative, but there hasn’t been a lot of buzz about it. Recently, over at the Church Life Journal, thomistic theologian Taylor Patrick O’Neill offered his view that there is, in a way, no news, since “the principles governing this particular ruling are those which have governed previous rulings….” Noting that some worry that “the CDF has now endorsed direct sterilization,” O’Neill says that “a careful examination of the issue ought to be sufficient” to dissipate concerns.

I’m not so sure. I think the new CDF statement should be getting a lot more attention from moral theologians—or at the very least, it should have generated a lot of buzz. Let me explain. Continue reading “A novel conclusion from the CDF”

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The Message in the Calendar

Imagine that you opened the first door of your Advent calendar and found this secret message, put in the calendar long ago especially for you.  It would seem strange, would it not?  A message in a calendar?  But the Advent calendar tells a story that begins long, long ago—and it begins with a message in a calendar.

God does not use a calendar, because God does not use time.  He is eternal, which means that he does not live in seconds and minutes and hours and days and months and years.  But he wanted to give his life to men, who do live in time, so when he prepared a world for men the first thing he made was a calendar. Continue reading “The Message in the Calendar”

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