Summer 2014

Divorce and Remarriage in the Early Church

Henri Crouzel
God’s Gift of Life and Love: On Marriage and the Eucharist | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

God’s Gift of Life and Love: On Marriage and the Eucharist

John Paul II
Pastoral Care of Marriage: Affirming the Unity of Mercy and Truth | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

Pastoral Care of Marriage: Affirming the Unity of Mercy and Truth

Fabrizio Meroni
Gay Marriage, Public Reason, and the Common Good | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

Gay Marriage, Public Reason, and the Common Good

David S. Crawford
“What God Has Conjoined, Let No Man Put Asunder” | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

“What God Has Conjoined, Let No Man Put Asunder”

Adrian J. Walker
The Crisis of Marriage as a Crisis of Meaning: On the Sterility of the Modern Will | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

The Crisis of Marriage as a Crisis of Meaning: On the Sterility of the Modern Will

D.C. Schindler
The Merciful Gift of Indissolubility | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

The Merciful Gift of Indissolubility

Nicholas J. Healy , Jr.
Marriage’s Indissolubility: An Untenable Promise? | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

Marriage’s Indissolubility: An Untenable Promise?

Antonio López
The Sacramental Character of Faith | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

The Sacramental Character of Faith

José Granados
Marriage and the Family Within the Sacramentality of the Church | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

Marriage and the Family Within the Sacramentality of the Church

Cardinal Marc Ouellet
Marriage and the Family Between Anthropology and the Eucharist | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

Marriage and the Family Between Anthropology and the Eucharist

Cardinal Angelo Scola
Introduction: Marriage | Articles | Communio

Summer 2014

Introduction: Marriage

The Rod, The Root, and the Flower | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

The Rod, The Root, and the Flower

Coventry Patmore

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Why We Need Coventry Patmore | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

Why We Need Coventry Patmore

Stratford Caldecott
The Dispute Between Maximus the Confessor and Theodosius | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

The Dispute Between Maximus the Confessor and Theodosius

Maximus the Confessor

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Primacy of the Pope and the Unity of the People of God | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

The Primacy of the Pope and the Unity of the People of God

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

“If Philosophy Begins in Wonder”: Aquinas, Creation, and Wonder | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

“If Philosophy Begins in Wonder”: Aquinas, Creation, and Wonder

Randall B. Smith

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

“Faith Is Obvious”: The Apologetics of Creation | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

“Faith Is Obvious”: The Apologetics of Creation

Mary Taylor
On Reason’s Authority | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

On Reason’s Authority

D.C. Schindler

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Witness of the Martyrs in the Early Church | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

The Witness of the Martyrs in the Early Church

Paolo Prosperi
Introduction: Apologetics | Articles | Communio

Spring 2014

Introduction: Apologetics

Editor

Also in Retrieving the Tradition, we recall a classic example of witness: the trials and torture of St. Maximus the Confessor (580–662), in the “Dispute Between Maximus and Theodosius, Bishop of Caesarea Bithynia.” In 638, the emperor Heraclius, together with the Patriarch Sergius, produced a letter (Ekthesis) defending the idea that Jesus Christ had two natures but one will, a form of Monetheletism that they hoped would be acceptable both to Chalcedonians and to Monophysite (=“one nature”) followers in the empire. This document initially received widespread support, but resistance soon increased, led especially by the monks Sophronius and Maximus. Constans II became emperor in 641; and, in an effort to resolve continuing political unrest, he issued an imperial edict (Typos) in 648 which ordered that all discussion about the Monothelite doctrine must cease, and that all theological positions were to be as they were prior to the controversies. Maximus refused to accept Monotheletism as well as this edict, and was brought to a first trial in 655—following which he was sent into exile—and a final trial in 662.

We publish here the exchange between Maximus and Bishop Theodosius, who was sent by the emperor in 656 to persuade Maximus, while he was in exile, to accept the “compromise” of the Typos. The “Dispute” is a word-for-word account of the exchange that was probably written by Anastasius, the disciple of Maximus, along with Maximus, shortly after the events took place, in 656–57. In the exchange, Maximus insists again and again that he is not committed to his own teaching, but rather to the common teaching of the catholic Church. To Theodosius’s insistence that the Typos was demanding the “silencing of words” in order “that all might be at peace with each other,” Maximus responds by asking: “what believer accepts an arrangement which silences words that the God of all arranged to be spoken through the apostles and prophets and teacher?” Maximus continues: if, therefore, in examining innovative doctrines which have emerged in our times, “we find that they have resulted in this utmost evil, beware lest under the guise of peace we are found to be sick with apostasy, and preaching it, which the divine apostle said would come before the advent of
the Antichrist.”

In the face of the assertion against Maximus that “the laity [might] be harmed by too subtle words” in the continuing controversy over the Typos, Maximus replies: “On the contrary, each person is sanctified by the scrupulous confession of the faith, not through the abrogation of it, which is found in the Typos.” When it is objected to Maximus that the Typos “did not abrogate but ordered silence, in order that we might all enjoy peace,” Maximus responds: “The silencing of words is the abrogation of words: through the prophet the Holy Spirit says: ‘There are no speeches nor words of which their voices will not be heard.’ Therefore, the word that is not uttered in no way exists.” The final trial of Maximus ended with his tongue being ripped out, so that he could never speak again; and his right hand being cut off, so that he could never write again. Maximus died a few months later. His teaching was formally affirmed by the Church at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680–81.

Finally, in Why We Need . . . , we present Stratford Caldecott on Coventry Patmore. Caldecott explains why Patmore, a little known nineteenth-century English Victorian poet and essayist, represents “the best part of the Romantic movement,” while at the same time surpassing it: Patmore holds at the core of his thought that “nature’s innermost form is symbolic.” Combining this insight of Patmore with his great attentiveness to nature—in particular to the relationship between male and female—Caldecott suggests why Patmore “could be called—somewhat anachronistically, but no less rightly—the Poet of the Theology of the Body.”

We follow Caldecott’s article with excerpts from Coventry Patmore’s book of aphorisms and short poems, The Rod, the Root and the Flower. Patmore writes in the foreword that he wishes to discover and report “how the ‘loving hint’ of doctrine has ‘met the longing guess’ of the souls who have so believed in the Unseen that it has become visible and who have thenceforward found their existence to be no longer a sheath without a sword, a desire without fulfillment.”

—The Editors

Death by the Brain Criterion: A Response to Shewmon | Articles | Communio

Death by the Brain Criterion: A Response to Shewmon

Nicholas Tonti-Filippini

2. Defining Integration

In his critique, Alan Shewmon, asserts that I have not provided a definition of what integration means in this context.7  In the original article, I had written,

We can take from the doctrine proclaimed at the Council of Vienne that the ongoing causative effect of the soul is its informing the body. Therefore the type of integration which is relevant is a communication of information to all parts of the body that keeps the body united and functioning as a single whole.8

This would seem to be consistent with John Paul II's teaching that death is the separation of the soul from the body; that it consists in the total disintegration of the unitary and integrated whole that is the personal self; and that therefore what we are looking for is evidence or “clinical markers” that indicate the loss of the integrated and coordinated life of the person as a single living organism in which the soul forms and informs the matter to maintain the unity of the body. The relationship between soul and body is thus dynamic.

In defending John Paul II’s acceptance of determining death by the brain criterion, I proposed only that the loss of all brain function is a state of loss of dynamic unity of the body, not that the brain is the master organ, as Shewmon expresses it. As indicated above, the same claim can be made about loss of circulation. When the heart stops beating there is also a loss of integration, largely because vital organs such as the brain permanently cease to function soon after and the parts of the body have no means of communication if there is no circulation. The heart and the lungs perform an essential function in keeping the organs of the body alive, though the latter die at different rates when the heart stops beating.

The problem a faithful physician has in medically determining that death has occurred is that the soul is not observable. The doctrine, however, implies that the effects of the soul may be observable. When we observe the integrated functioning of the organic unity that is the human body, as a matter of faith we are confident that that body is formed by a human soul, and therefore that the human soul must be present. Though there is no event that marks the separation of the soul at death, what the physician observes is the disintegration of the body that results from that separation. Loss of a communicative relationship between the parts of the dynamic unity that is the body would indicate loss of the dynamic role of the soul.

Pope John Paul II, expressed this in the following way:

It is helpful to recall that the death of the person is a single event, consisting in the total disintegration of that unitary and integrated whole that is the personal self. It results from the separation of the life-principle (or soul) from the corporal reality of the person. The death of the person, understood in this primary sense, is an event which no scientific technique or empirical method can identify directly.
Yet human experience shows that once death occurs certain biological signs inevitably follow, which medicine has learnt to recognize with increasing precision. In this sense, the "criteria" for ascertaining death used by medicine today should not be understood as the technical-scientific determination of the exact moment of a person's death, but as a scientifically secure means of identifying the biological signs that a person has indeed died.9

John Paul II does not proclaim doctrinally the diagnosis of death by the brain criterion. His words are more cautious. He gives permission for health practitioners to adopt the neurological criterion:

the criterion adopted in more recent times for ascertaining the fact of death, namely the complete and irreversible cessation of all brain activity, if rigorously applied, does not seem to conflict with the essential elements of a sound anthropology. Therefore a health-worker professionally responsible for ascertaining death can use these criteria in each individual case as the basis for arriving at that degree of assurance in ethical judgement which moral teaching describes as "moral certainty". This moral certainty is considered the necessary and sufficient basis for an ethically correct course of action.10

It is, however, open to a faithful Catholic to challenge the medical empirical grounds on which the Pope based his judgement.

Nevertheless, one would reasonably expect that challenge to be based on accepting that the separation of the soul at death results in loss of integration and that the latter means a loss of dynamic unity in which not all the remaining parts of the body are unified through being interrelated to one another in a communicative sense (forming and informing). My concern with Shewmon’s position is not that he rejects Pope John Paul II’s permission for health professionals to use the brain criterion to determine death - it is open to him to challenge the empirical grounds for that permission - but that he does not accept the notion of integration that the Pope engaged which implies dynamic unity of the organism that is the life of the person. Shewmon’s notion of integration does not require that unity.

Shewmon’s key point is that his notion of integration is more in line with reality. However his distinction between life-constituting and life-sustaining types of integration is problematic.

A difficulty that I have with Alan Shewmon’s treatment of integration is that he seems to considerate it sufficient that some parts of the body remain related to other parts of the body for the body to be considered integrated. This is not unity of the body in the sense implied by the doctrine proclaimed at Vienne, a unity that is a result of the soul forming and informing the matter. He also criticizes me for thinking in terms of levels of integration. That may have been a misunderstanding in that I conceded that what he refers to as “integration” was an acceptable meaning of the word and that could be taken to imply different levels of integration. But for the purposes of understanding what integration must mean in the context of understanding the concept as a necessary element of being a living human person, his meaning will not do at all, because the concept must at least imply a dynamic intercommunicative unity between the parts. We take it that that dynamic unity, taking its form from the immortal soul, persists from the formation of the zygote until the soul separates from the body at death, even though in both Donum Vitae and Dignitas Personae the Congregation of the Faith is a little more circumspect about declaring that the zygote has a soul. It instead poses a question:

Certainly no experimental datum can be in itself sufficient to bring us to the recognition of a spiritual soul; nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?11

Shewmon devotes a great deal of space to his own theoretical analysis of integration, contrasting life-constituting and life-sustaining “types” as he expresses it and envisioning integration as being on two different axes. The analysis is novel and interesting but ungrounded. There is no anthropological starting point and no apparent basis in existing philosophical or theological perspectives within the Tradition.

To try find an answer to this question of death that is consistent with our Tradition or, at least, a development of the Tradition, we do need to work from the point of view of trying to understand theologically what happens at death and what it is to understand what an individual life is from the single cell zygote until death: we need to develop an anthropology that makes sense of what it is to have an immortal rational soul that forms and informs the matter so as to be the unity that is a human person, as we understand the latter to be from the doctrine proclaimed at the Council of Vienne, and renewed many times since. At Vienne the doctrine was not presented as a philosophical thesis but instead offered a theological starting point by being based upon John’s Gospel:

When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 31 Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him; 33 but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness--his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth--that you also may believe.12

Linked to this Gospel account in our Tradition is the teaching that

Jesus "descended into the lower parts of the earth. He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens." The Apostles' Creed confesses in the same article Christ's descent into hell and his Resurrection from the dead on the third day, because in his Passover it was precisely out of the depths of death that he made life spring forth.13

In summary, the Catechism expresses the teaching in the following words:

In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven's gates for the just who had gone before him.14

Also in developing this anthropological understanding, we must include the imago dei15 and the significance of being a person in the image of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, again from the time we are a zygote until death, and then in the continuity of being a body after resurrection.

Shewmon makes no apparent attempt to link his theories of integration to doctrine and Tradition or to any accepted philosophy.

His account leads to an oddity in his discussion of the notion that a person might consist of a “brain in a vat”. If this view is linked to his idea that the body could be considered to continue as a living person after the brain has died, then a person could be at the same time two persons – the isolated brain in a vat and the body left behind. There is something distinctly odd about a notion of integration that would allow for such a division which would contradict the essential unity of the human body. The possibility highlights the fact that Shewmon does not understand integration as implying the role of the soul in forming and informing the dynamic unity that is a human being.

I recall standing in an IVF clinic, a result of serving in a government role, and wondering about the precious content held within the tanks of liquid nitrogen. In the tanks there were literally hundreds of straws held in racks, each containing a human embryo, dried and frozen and held in a state of suspended animation. By the latter I mean that there was no growth and no biological activity of any kind. But as a matter of faith, I believed that each embryo instantiated a human soul and, because of that, each was the form and the reality of the adult he or she would become, if given the right environment in which he or she would be rehydrated and thawed and then transferred to a woman’s uterus. Each of those straws contained such an extraordinary reality. Each was just a cluster of cells, but at the same time so much more than just cells, because those clusters of cells were human lives. They already contained the form of that person. As a cluster of cells they were linked together as a single entity already pre-programmed to develop in a predictable fashion, given the right conditions.

At another time I chaired a government committee16 to develop ethical guidelines for the care of people in a post coma unresponsive state, (sometimes unfortunately referred to as a persistent vegetative state). It was brought home to me, by those caring for the patients I visited, that the unresponsiveness was just what we observed. What was happening within those individuals remained so much a mystery to us despite our brain scanning technologies. They had brain activity, but it was not connected to any observable expression of that activity. I also met some rare individuals who had survived several years in that state before recovering to a point that they could speak of their experiences.

I asked one young such man, (he had been over two years without showing any responsiveness), who came to the launch of the ethical guidelines, what he remembered of his experience. He said he recalled conversations being held about whether to continue nutrition and hydration delivered through a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy). He said that he was also aware of the love of his parents (his father, a general medical practitioner, and his mother, a nurse), and had confidence that they would protect him, as indeed that did.

There is, however, such a contrast between post-coma unresponsiveness which includes sleep-wake cycles, on the one hand, and, on the other, a person whose brain has completely died and the harsh reality of seeing the images of that patient’s contrast angiogram showing no blood supply to the brain. In the latter case one knows that on autopsy the brain would be found to be a liquid without structure or life, and that it is only technology that sustains a semblance of the dynamic unity possessed by both the frozen-dried embryo and the person in an unresponsive state. In fact, no such unity exists once there is complete absence of brain function because the systems that communicate between organs, the neural and endocrine systems, are missing a vital element. Circulation can be maintained, with assistance, but circulation without a brain is like a postal system, without mail. Circulation is the means of communication, it is not in itself communication. The dynamic unity that is a personal life has been lost. Shewmon’s insistence on circulation being a form of integration really misses the point that integration implies a dynamic intercommunicative unity. To be a unity in a meaningful sense the parts must be in actual communication with each other, not just be collocated with a system that could carry communications. The fact of the matter is that without the functions of the brain, the neural and endocrine systems have been profoundly interrupted. Circulation may be maintained, for a time, and thus the system for carrying communications, but the means of generating those communications is no longer present. There is thus no empirical evidence of the forming and informing that the doctrine refers to as the functions of the soul.in the unity that is the life of the person.


7. Shewmon, Op. Cit. p. 429.

8. “You Only Die Twice: St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, and the Concept of Death by the Brain Criterion,” Communio 38 (Fall 2011).

9. John Paul II, Op. Cit., n. 4.

10. Op. Cit., n. 5.

11. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum Vitae (1987) 5, I , 1.

12. John 19:30-35.

13. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 631. The doctrine from the Apostle’s Creed on the descent into Hell, as a doctrine based in Scripture, is complex. The Scriptural basis for the doctrine includes: Acts 3:15; Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 15:20; Heb 13:20; 1 Pet 3:18-19; Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13; 481 Cf. Ps 89:49; 1 Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26; Mt 27:52-53; 1 Pet 4:6; Jn 5:25; cf. Mt 12:40; Rom 10:7; Eph 4:9. Heb 2:14-15; Acts 3:15; and Rev 1:18. I am not a Scripture scholar and take what is in the Apostle’s Creed as a matter of faith.

14. CCC, n. 637.

15. Genesis 1.

16. Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Working Committee to Develop Ethical Guidelines for the Care of People in a Post Coma Unresponsive State or Minimally Responsive State, 2007–2009.

The Confession of the Casta Meretrix | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

The Confession of the Casta Meretrix

Jacques Servais
Content and Form: From Linguistics to Abstract Art | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

Content and Form: From Linguistics to Abstract Art

J. Jacob Tawney

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Eclipse of the Good in the Modern Rights Tradition | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

The Eclipse of the Good in the Modern Rights Tradition

Mark Shiffman

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Political Ambition and the Christian Life | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

Political Ambition and the Christian Life

Thomas W. Smith

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Confirmation: A Sacrament of Christian Initiation | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

Confirmation: A Sacrament of Christian Initiation

Cardinal Marc Ouellet

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Communion of Saints and the Vocation to Holiness | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

The Communion of Saints and the Vocation to Holiness

Marianne Schlosser

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

“Blessed Is She Who Believed”: Mary’s Faith and the Form of Christian Existence | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

“Blessed Is She Who Believed”: Mary’s Faith and the Form of Christian Existence

Antonio López
Introduction: Ecclesiam Sanctam | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

Introduction: Ecclesiam Sanctam

Editor
“Sacrosancta Ecclesia”: The Holy Church of Sinners | Articles | Communio

Winter 2013

"Sacrosancta Ecclesia": The Holy Church of Sinners

Roch Kereszty
Introduction: The Eucharist | Articles | Communio

Summer 1985

Introduction: The Eucharist

Hans Urs von Balthasar

We need not make any special mention of the remaining aspects of the celebration: reconciliation of the congregation through a confession of sins through the listening to the Word, through the offering of one's self, together with the gifts of bread and wine, through the inclusion in Christ's "surrender," and through the complete union with him during communion. Assuming these truths are not disputed, we may turn immediately to a few important questions which remain unanswered despite what has already been said.

First, we have refrained from using the term "sacrifice" and used "surrender" instead. One surely cannot proceed from the concept of sacrifice as attested to by all religious people who carry out sacrifices to their gods when, for instance, a human being (Iphigenia and others) is sacrificed in place of the people or when human beings sacrifice their lives (such as Roman heroes or soldiers in general) for the fatherland, and subsume all these under Christ's sacrifice. We cannot even proceed from the Old Testament food and animal sacrifices in order to draw nearer to the cross. This is expressly forbidden by the letter to the Hebrews. Furthermore, we cannot equate Jesus' self-surrender with a man's renunciation of an amenity or a good for moral (or other) reasons, even though it may benefit another human being. Jesus' "sacrifice" is entirely unique and cannot be equated with anything, not even with Mary's "sacrifice" under the cross, with that of the holy women or the apostles or other saints, and not even with the sacrifice of a St. Paul who can say: "It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his mystical body, the church" (Col. 1:24-25). In so far as these things are the suffering of Christ they lack nothing; they are complete and more than sufficient. It is only by cirtue of his grace that there remains a place for his mystical body, the Church, to participate in his suffering, since Christ and the Church are the "head" and "body" of Christ (the "body" owes its existence and everything else to the "head"). It is not forbidden to speak of the eucharistic sacrifice, but one must keep in mind the analogous nature of the term.

The Unity and the Multiplicity of Aspects in the Eucharist | Articles | Communio

Summer 1985

The Unity and the Multiplicity of Aspects in the Eucharist

Walter Kasper

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

“Do This in Remembrance of Me”: The Sacrifice of Christ and the Sacrifice of the Faithful | Articles | Communio

Summer 1985

“Do This in Remembrance of Me”: The Sacrifice of Christ and the Sacrifice of the Faithful

Peter Henrici

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Introduction: Sin and Forgiveness | Articles | Communio

Winter 1984

Introduction: Sin and Forgiveness

Introduction: Religious Education | Articles | Communio

Spring 1983

Introduction: Religious Education

The ‘Brief Formulas of Faith’ Question Again. Some Comments. | Articles | Communio

The ‘Brief Formulas of Faith’ Question Again. Some Comments.

Joseph Ratzinger

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Beyond Death | Articles | Communio

Beyond Death

Joseph Ratzinger

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Unity of the Church - Unity of Mankind. A Congress Report | Articles | Communio

Unity of the Church - Unity of Mankind. A Congress Report

Joseph Ratzinger

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Introduction: Caritas in veritate | Articles | Communio

Winter 2010

Introduction: Caritas in veritate

D. C. Schindler, in “Enriching the Good: Toward the Development of a Relational Anthropology,” argues that “a radically relational concept of the person, which Benedict calls for as a response to modern poverty, depends in part on a rich notion of the good that lies at the basis of all human relations.” Drawing on the Platonic tradition, Schindler shows that a genuinely transcendent notion of goodness can be affirmed only if we think of goodness not exclusively in terms of final causality but also in terms of efficient and formal causality.

The next article, although not explicitly concerned with Caritas in veritate, develops the kind of metaphysics envisioned by Pope Benedict when he writes: “Truth, and the love which it reveals, cannot be produced: they can only be received as a gift. . . . That which is prior to us and constitutes us—subsistent Love and Truth—shows us what goodness is” (n. 52). Stefan Oster, in “Thinking Love at the Heart of Things. The Metaphysics of Being as Love in the Work of Ferdinand Ulrich,” introduces and explores the thought of one of the most important Catholic philosophers of our time. According to Oster, “Ulrich’s philosophy draws its life from having received the gift of being as love gratis. Its roots, then, lie in an original experience of creatureliness, so that it is permeated with an expectation of the mysterious ‘ad-vent’ of being as gratuitous gift.”

Finally, the issue concludes with two articles that help to frame a forthcoming series on The Mystery of Church. Over the next four years, the international Communio will devote one issue each year to the mystery of Church as One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 811). Antonio Maria Sicari, in “The Vision of the Church in St. John of the Cross,” reflects on the ecclesiological dimension of the Carmelite Mystical Doctor. “The most famous and influential ascetical treatises,” Sicari suggests, “are not strictly speaking ascetical but rather intended to describe the way in which the Christian person becomes ecclesial and trinitarian.” Henrique Noronha Galvão, in “The Mystery of the Church in the Theology of Joseph Ratzinger,” traces the development of Ratzinger’s ecclesiology from doctoral dissertation through his reception of Lumen gentium. The unifying thread of Ratzinger’s ecclesiology is the affirmation that “at the very heart of who she is, the Church is the sacrament, the efficacious manifestation of the salvific design of God the Father, realized by his Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit and actualized by the celebration of the Eucharist.” 

—NJH

Introduction: Natural Law | Articles | Communio

Fall 2008

Introduction: Natural Law

In continuity with Schindler’s argument about the nonneutrality of the political order, Thomas Rourke’s “Fundamental Politics: What We Must Learn From the Social Thought of Benedict XVI” shows how for Benedict XVI “the state’s openness to God, far from leading to theocracy, is actually the only thing that enables the state to distinguish itself properly from the Church, and thus to resist the twin temptations of utopianism and totalitarianism.”

In “Homosexuality: The Semblance of Intimacy,” José Noriega reflects on the moral significance of intimacy, “which expresses the space that is generated within a person when he discovers the presence of another, which prompts him to receive the other and to promote the other’s good.” “Intimacy,” Noriega argues, “demands the acceptance . . . of the person in his entirety . . . [including] in his sexual identity.” By implicitly denying that sexual difference is a constitutive element of personal identity, homosexual acts instrumentalize the body and provide only a semblance of intimacy.

In honor of the memory of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who died in August of 2008, we include two essays by the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann. In “On Solzhenitsyn,” Schmemann suggests that Solzhenitsyn is the first great Russian writer of the Soviet period “precisely because he accepted the ‘Soviet’ as the inalienable fate of his art, as the chalice which he could not leave unemptied, as that experience which art is obliged to embody, reveal, and illumine with the light of truth.” In his review of The Gulag Archipelago, Schmemann extends this reflection by highlighting Solzhenitsyn’s profound understanding of the vocation of the artist in light of the unity of goodness, truth, and beauty. Although Solzhenitsyn wrote “almost exclusively of darkness and sin, of crime and suffering, there always comes from his writings a mysterious light. This light has a content—a very ancient and eternal one: faith, love, hope.”

In Notes and Comments William L. Portier offers a review essay on Fergus Kerr’s book Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians:From Neoscholasticism to Nuptial Mysticism (Blackwell Publishing, 2007). Portier situates Kerr’s book in the context of a growing Thomist resurgence whose central claim is that “Henri de Lubac, and by implication, Pope John Paul II, have ruptured and destabilized Catholic theology.” While welcoming Kerr’s contribution to the ongoing debate about nature and grace and about nuptial theology, Portier recalls the suggestion of David Schindler that any alternative proposal to de Lubac’s on the relation of nature and grace “must show how it can better account for the double burden presented by the Gospel, of an utterly gratuitous gift on God’s part coupled with the human person’s profound—non-arbitrary—desire for this gift.”

The final essay of the issue returns to the theme of natural law. In “Natural Law and Divine Law,” Rémi Brague argues that “[w]ithout an exterior point of reference, without someone who is capable of affirming, as God does in the first account of creation, that the human is ‘very good’ (Gn 1:31), we cannot know whether the existence on this earth of the species homo sapiens is or is not a good thing.”

—NJH

Introduction: Hope | Articles | Communio

Summer 2008

Introduction: Hope

In a slightly different direction, Roch Kereszty’s “Toward the Renewal of Theology and the Theologian” considers the state of theology itself and what the Church and the world can hope from it and from those to whom its care is entrusted. Starting from an analysis of what biblical studies, if they are to flourish, must cultivate and what they must dispense with from twentieth-century postconcilar theology, Kereszty then turns to the person of the theologian and his task of allowing his own subjectivity to be “snatched away from itself” and then, having been fitted into the subject of Christ, to “receive itself anew.”

Jean-Pierre Batut, writing in “Divine Goodness! Notes on the Goodness of the Father According to Origen,” reflects the earlier theme of the ever-greaterness of divine love in a discussion of Origen’s insistence on the filial character of the “likeness” to God that men, already made in the divine “image,” are to attempt to reach in Christian life. The dimension of charity borne by the filial relation to God the Father picks up where philosophical attempts to reach knowledge of God leave off, a limit which, as Batut notes, Origen identifies for perhaps the first time in the history of Christianity. The “final conflagration of the universe” will be a conflagration of charity, then, when the laws of creation and of the universe are revealed to be love and the glory of the goodness of God.

Finally, “Retrieving the Tradition” reprints Communio’s 1985 article, “On Hope,” by Joseph Ratzinger. This text, delivered upon the jubilee of the Roman Antonianum, draws in part on St. Bonaventure to relate the virtue of hope to poverty and the life of St. Francis. Ratzinger explains St. Paul’s use of “hyparxis” and “hypomene” in Hebrews to characterize the Christian hope that does not pass away as do worldly goods and hopes, and the article ends with a meditation from the future pope on the Tridentine Catechism’s linking of hope and the Our Father: “We know that there is someone who has the goodness and the power to give us anything, and it is to him that we stretch out our hands.”

—ER

Religious Liberty After Liberalism: Re-Thinking DH in an Age of Illiberal Liberalism | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Religious Liberty After Liberalism: Re-Thinking DH in an Age of Illiberal Liberalism

Patrick J. Deneen

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Liberalism, Religious Freedom, and the Common Good: The Totalitarian Logic of Self-Limitation | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Liberalism, Religious Freedom, and the Common Good: The Totalitarian Logic of Self-Limitation

D.C. Schindler

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Absolute Pluralism: How the Dictatorship of Relativism Dictates | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Absolute Pluralism: How the Dictatorship of Relativism Dictates

Michael Hanby

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

“All Things Counter, Original, Spare, Strange”: Liberal Society and Pluralism | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

“All Things Counter, Original, Spare, Strange”: Liberal Society and Pluralism

Frederick C. Bauerschmidt

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Church in History: Status Viatoris | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

The Church in History: Status Viatoris

Glenn W. Olsen

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Christian Culture and the Form of Human Existence | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Christian Culture and the Form of Human Existence

Antonio López

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Right and the Good, and the Place of Freedom of Religion in Human Rights | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

The Right and the Good, and the Place of Freedom of Religion in Human Rights

Paolo G. Carozza

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Pretention of Universality: Liberal Culture and Religious Freedom | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

The Pretention of Universality: Liberal Culture and Religious Freedom

Bishop Jean Laffitte

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Is Religious Liberty Possible in a Liberal Culture? | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Is Religious Liberty Possible in a Liberal Culture?

David S. Crawford

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Religious Freedom and Truth: The Contribution of Pope Benedict XVI | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Religious Freedom and Truth: The Contribution of Pope Benedict XVI

Nicholas J. Healy , Jr.

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Karol Wojtyła and DH: A Historical Perspective | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Karol Wojtyła and DH: A Historical Perspective

Andrzej Dobrzyński

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Dignitatis humanae: Origins and Unexpected Consequences | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Dignitatis humanae: Origins and Unexpected Consequences

George Weigel

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

America and Religious Freedom | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

America and Religious Freedom

Carl A. Anderson

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Religious Liberty and the Church’s Voice in Transforming Our Culture: An American Perspective | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Religious Liberty and the Church’s Voice in Transforming Our Culture: An American Perspective

Cardinal Donald Wuerl

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Nature and Scope of Religious Freedom in Our Contemporary Culture | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

The Nature and Scope of Religious Freedom in Our Contemporary Culture

Cardinal Angelo Scola

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity: An Interpretation of DH on the Right to Religious Liberty | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Freedom, Truth, and Human Dignity: An Interpretation of DH on the Right to Religious Liberty

David L. Schindler
Introduction: Dignitatis Humanae and the Rediscovery of Religious Freedom | Articles | Communio

Summer-Fall 2013

Introduction: Dignitatis Humanae and the Rediscovery of Religious Freedom

Editor
Introduction: Paternity | Articles | Communio

Summer 2009

Introduction: Paternity

Jean-Pierre Batut, in “Calling Fathers ‘Father’:Usurping the Name of God?” explores the profound difference between human fatherhood and divine fatherhood. A human father must have been originated in order to become an originator: human fatherhood is, definitively, the fatherhood of a son. As the Eternal Son, Jesus Christ reveals the mystery of a Father who is the Origin without origin. At the same time, the teaching of the Council of Nicaea (325) confirms that God is not first he who is without origin, but he who gives origin, in others words, the Father. As Father, God is the Source who gives rise to other sources (cf. Eph 3:14–16).

Tony Anatrella, in “Disappearing Fathers, Destabilized Families,” shows how the family is the basic reference point that allows for the psychological development and education of a child. “The problem of the absence of the father,” Anatrella argues, “cannot be dissociated from the more general problem of the disintegration of the traditional family that allows a child to flourish.” The neglect of the family’s responsibility for educating the child is bound up with a denial that the father and mother have distinct tasks in the procreation and upbringing of a child.

Anthony Fisher, in “HIV and Condoms Within Marriage,” addresses the difficult question of whether Catholic agencies and professionals should distribute or promote the use of condoms as a preventative strategy for HIV-discordant married couples. Drawing on the work of Elizabeth Anscombe and John Paul II, Fisher concludes that “condomized intercourse of HIV-discordant spouses is non-marital because it is not apt for generation (proles), for marital union (fides) or for spiritual communion (sacramentum).”

Retrieving the Tradition returns to the theme of “paternity” with a selection from Marie-Joseph le Guillou’s book The Mystery of the Father. Le Guillou’s point of departure is the solidarity between theological thought devoted to the mystery of the Trinity and philosophical thought devoted to being. For the Christian, “the first and last reason for the creative communication of being is seen as grounded in the inner-trinitarian communication of being and in the pure generosity that characterizes it.” One who is able to name the absolute personal source of everything in God and in God’s creation “will be kept from all temptation to situate himself over against the real is if he were himself that source, whether as individual or as spokesman for humanity, or as engineer of the world or of history.”

Finally, Notes and Comments closes the issue with Juan de Dios Larrú’s “John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and His Roman Triptych,” which traces the close connection between John Paul II’s catechesis on human love in the divine plan and the poem that he composed in Polish in 2002. Both texts converge on the fundamental unity of creation and redemption: each man is called into being through love, and simultaneously called to love in response to God’s gift of communion.

—NJH

Introduction: Money | Articles | Communio

Fall 2009

Introduction: Money

Wendell Berry, in “Inverting the Economic Order,” shows that “when everything has a price, and the price is made endlessly variable by an economy without a stable relation to necessity or to real goods, then everything is disconnected from history, knowledge, respect, and affection—from anything at all that might preserve it.” What is needed, Berry argues, is an economic order that puts nature first, the economies of land use second, the manufacturing economy third, and the consumer economy fourth.

Mark Shiffman, in “An Ethic of Attentiveness: The Rediscovery of Oikonomia,” suggests that Wendell Berry’s fiction represents a rediscovery of the wisdom of Aristotle, who understood the intrinsic relation between economics, ethics, and politics. Aristotelean “oikonomia recognizes limits to acquisition, since it takes its measure by the standard of self-sufficiency with a view to a good life, which means a life embodying virtue and friendship.” Shiffman complements Berry’s cultural analysis with an account of how the disintegration of economics from the norms of the healthy household and community stems from the nominalism and individualism of Hobbes’ political philosophy.

Nathan Schlueter, in “Healing the Hidden Wound: The Theology of the Body in Wendell Berry’s Remembering,” uncovers the parallels and hidden connections between John Paul II and Wendell Berry. Common to both authors is a vision of the goodness of creation and the vocation to love which is inscribed into the very language of the human body. For both authors marriage simultaneously embeds human love within a concrete community and opens human beings to the mystery of God and the hope for the redemption of all creation.

Retrieving the Tradition features a selection from Charles Péguy’s 1913 essay “On Money,” which contrasts the ancient and Christian understanding of the dignity of work with the bourgeois and post-Christian mind. Hans Urs von Balthasar sums up Péguy’s depiction of modernity: “Its characteristics are these: a view of man as a mere calculating intellect, Kantian formalism, Hegelian systematizing . . . psychology and sociology in place of philosophy, the loss of relationship with God, the loss of all real nourishing roots, the quantifying of all value, the triumph of mathematics and technology all along the line, the shallow optimistic ideology of progress, and money as the only real force in the world.”

Finally, Notes & Comments closes the issue with Michael Hanby’s “A New Reformation?” which reflects on the significance of the Vatican’s decision to create personal ordinariates to receive Anglicans en masse into the Catholic Church. For the first time since the Reformation there is “a concrete bridge whereby ‘separated brethren’ in the Western Church can return to full communion without simply renouncing the last five hundred years . . . without feeling as if assent to the fullness of the faith means denying that their traditions and the people who nurtured them in those traditions have been real vehicles of grace.”

—NJH

Introduction: The Entrance Into Jerusalem | Articles | Communio

Spring 2009

Introduction: The Entrance Into Jerusalem

David M. McCarthy, in “Scripture and Ethics: Bearings From Balthasar,” takes the theme of modernity and Christian humanism in a different direction: his article shows how modernity’s fragmentation takes form in moral theology and scriptural studies, which, he says, are characterized by a tendency to avoid theories of atonement, on the one hand, and attention to the Old Testament, on the other. McCarthy’s proposal takes Balthasar’s theo-drama and theological aesthetics as a way of correcting the “fragmentation of practical reason and the breaking up of the Bible into discrete texts,” by overcoming christologically the modern divorce between subject and object, and by approaching the times and places of Scripture on their own terms.

Rodrigo Polanco picks up the theme of the Incarnation sounded in our articles on the Entrance Into Jerusalem in an essay on the role that Irenaeus plays in the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar. In “Balthasar and Irenaeus: The Total Glorification of God and of Man in God,” Polanco shows how the theological centers of these two thinkers converge. Balthasar develops the thought of Irenaeus in part with the help of modern concepts—especially Goethe’s notion of Gestalt—and in relation to contemporary concerns, but according to Polanco he does so in a way that is surprisingly true to Irenaeus’ own self-understanding. The heart of the matter is a christological interpretation of the analogy of being as the ultimate answer to gnosticisms both ancient and modern: the Incarnation has implications for the meaning, not only of human nature, but of all nature and indeed of all time and space. And yet, in this mystery, God crosses the infinite abyss that separates him from the world without for all that eliminating the difference.

Martin Rhonheimer returns to the question of the relationship between the religious and the political in his “Response to David Crawford,” in which he replies to a critical assessment of an article of his that Crawford offered in the Fall 2007 issue of Communio. Rhonheimer argues that Crawford failed to realize that Rawls’ later work took a distance from the “pure liberal proceduralism” that some read as a “comprehensive doctrine” in his original Theory of Justice. The “second Rawls” presents public reason “as a way of reasoning about political values shared by free and equal citizens that does not trespass on citizens’ comprehensive doctrines, so long as those doctrines are consistent with a democratic polity.” Rhonheimer believes that such a notion of reason is the very one implied by the natural law tradition embraced by Catholic teaching, and claims that Crawford abandons this tradition insofar as his approach, by contrast, “is essentially theological, founded in a trinitarian-christological doctrine, and thus based on Christian revelation.” Crawford will answer Rhonheimer’s charges in an upcoming issue.

Finally, Notes and Comments closes the issue with Andrew Hofer’s “Amalek and the Early Christian Battle for Scriptural Interpretation,” which takes up again our opening theme of the relation between the Old and New Testaments. Hofer gives examples of three early authors, Marcion, the author of Barnabas, and Justin Martyr, to show how their commentaries on the battle with Amalek in Exodus 17 presuppose and argue for a christological reading of Israel’s scriptures.

—DCS

Introduction: “Keeping the World Awake to God” | Articles | Communio

Spring-Summer 2012

Introduction: “Keeping the World Awake to God”

D. C. Schindler, in “Ever Ancient, Ever New: Jesus Christ as the Concrete Analogy of Being,” asks the question, “How can an event in history, which as such is a free human act, be not only illustrative, but in some sense truly generative, of the meaning of being?” The premise of this question is the claim, drawn from Gaudium et spes (GS), that “Jesus Christ not only reveals man to himself, but, insofar as man recapitulates and in some sense fulfills the diverse dimensions of reality, he reveals the meaning of being simply.” Schindler explains that this question can only be answered when Jesus Christ is understood to be the concrete analogy of being, meaning that he gives to the relationship between being and beings a personal meaning. Viewed in this manner, that is, as an image of love, the actions of beings do not become a threat to being, but rather enhance their mutual unity.

Adrian J. Walker, in “The Original Best: The ‘Coextensiveness’ of Being and Love in Light of Gaudium et spes, 22,” offers a speculative retrieval of GS, 22’s famous declaration that Christ, in revealing the mystery of the Father and his love, fully reveals man to himself. Drawing on the work, among others, of Maximus the Confessor, Walker argues that Christ, as the telos of the divine plan ad extra, is the highest revelation, not only of the Father’s fontal generosity, but also of the original goodness of the creature. In revealing both God and man at their original best, Christ also reveals love—the quintessence of “original bestness”—to be the very meaning of being.

Roch Kereszty, in “Catholicity and the Mission of the Church,” explains that the council documents “have recovered the threefold interconnected meaning of  catholicity in the Fathers and St. Thomas: fullness, universality and authenticity.” Kereszty then draws on this meaning to treat the twofold foundation of the Church’s catholicity in the Triune God and human nature, the Church as universal sacrament of salvation, the Church’s relationship to the world, and finally in the eschatological consummation of the Church and the universe.

Antonio López, in “Vatican II’s Catholicity: A Christological Perspective on Truth, History, and the Human Person,” suggests that the key to the catholicity of the council is its Christology: “Christ embraces everyone (Col 3:11) because he is the truth of God and man in person, the destiny of man’s history.” Because the Incarnation took place at a particular, concrete moment in time, Jesus Christ, who indwells eternally in the Father, can also indwell in man, thus revealing himself as the fulfillment of history because he reveals the truth of God’s love. Applying this Christology, the council Fathers were then free to address history and man’s freedom not as “progress with no transcendent horizon” but instead as “a path in which God educates man to receive his Son and to receive the Spirit.”

Giorgio Buccellati, in “Holiness, World and the Meaning of Work: The Enfleshment of the Holy in a Mesopotamian Perspective,” claims that if Christian “revelation” is rooted in human experience, then approaching it through the eyes of even seemingly remote dimensions of that experience can be enlightening. All the more so if we approach the theme of the “world,” an “outsider” by definition, and seek to see what holiness means within a non-Christian context and how human agency is involved in it. Against the backdrop of a broken tradition that served as the cultural matrix of the Old Testament, namely Mesopotamia, Buccellati seeks to show how the outsider’s sensitivity for these themes can help us to gain an insight in some aspects of the lived Christian experience.

Introduction: Ecclesiam Apostolicam | Articles | Communio

Fall 2011

Introduction: Ecclesiam Apostolicam

Simeon Leiva-Merikakis, in “‘Are You Afraid of the Thief?’ A Cordial Approach to Lectio Divina,” introduces and exemplifies the practice of lectio divina through a meditation on Mark 3:13-15, the passage in Mark’s Gospel that describes the formal calling of the Twelve. The essay begins and ends with a reflection on St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who shows us that the content and goal of a contemplative reading of the Scriptures is an encounter with the living Christ Jesus who communicates the mysteries of his life and gradually transforms us into his very image.

John Behr, in “The Spirit and the Bride Say ‘Come’: The Eschatological Dimensions of the Liturgy,” weaves together the letters of Paul, the disciples’ encounter with the Risen Christ on the road to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13–33), and an early Christian text by Melito of Sardis to shed light on the eschatological dimension of the liturgy. The liturgy is nothing less than the intersection of time and eternity—a transitus or passage that simultaneously brings us into the eternal Kingdom of God and incarnates the presence of God in the body of Christ, the temple of the Spirit.

Retrieving the Tradition returns to the theme of ecclesiam apostolicam with Hans Urs von Balthasar’s introductory essay, “Madeleine Delbrêl: The Joy of Believing.” Balthasar suggests that the innermost secret of Delbrêl’s missionary existence is unceasing prayer and a heart that never turned its gaze from God. “God is for her the miracle that is new every day, that she experiences as an incomprehensible gift, bequest, surrender, that she can only answer with the indivisible, twofold surrender of herself: to God in prayer, and to her fellow men inside or outside the Church.” Balthasar’s essay is complemented by a selection of texts from Madeleine Delbrêl’s posthumous La joie de croire (1968): “The Promises of Christ to the Extremities of the Earth.”

Finally, Reinhold Schneider in “Pope Gregory the Great,” reflects on the grace of apostolic office and the renunciation required to bear witness to an eternal gift unfolding in time. “Like the apostle, Gregory knew that the end of all things was very near, but through the storm, through the crashing down of the last pillars of the old world, he perceived the one, quiet, unalterable command: to baptize and teach all peoples; to bind and to loose; to bear responsibility for the sheepfold unto eternity; to build up Jerusalem among the rain of earthly arrows.”                                           □
       
—NJH

Introduction: The Ascension and Pentecost | Articles | Communio

Spring 2011

Introduction: The Ascension and Pentecost

William L. Portier, in “Twentieth-Century Catholic Theology and the Triumph of Maurice Blondel,” situates Blondel’s thought in the context of key debates and developments within twentieth-century Catholic theology from the modernist crisis through John Paul II’s Fides et ratio. Chiefly through the writings of Henri de Lubac, Blondel’s thought exercised a subterranean influence on Catholic thought. In the words of de Lubac, Blondel’s thought was “the main impulse” for Latin theology’s “return to a more authentic tradition.”

According to Pope John Paul II, “at the root of Maurice Blondel’s philosophy, there is a sharp perception of the drama of the separation between faith and reason and the intrepid will to overcome this separation as contrary to the nature of things. The philosopher of Aix is thus an eminent representative of Christian philosophy.” [1] Oliva Blanchette, in “Why We Need Maurice Blondel,” presents Blondel’s enduring contribution to the Christian philosophy debate. Blanchette shows how Blondel “was a Catholic who needed philosophy, and a philosopher who needed Catholicism as a supernatural religion beyond the power of reason to investigate. He saw that it was necessary in philosophy to raise the question of a supernatural religion, even if it cannot be answered within the scope of philosophy or of reason alone.”

The issue continues with the publication, for the first time in English, of the introduction, “On the Need for a Philosophy of the Christian Spirit,” to Maurice Blondel’s important essay, The Philosophical Exigencies of Christian Religion. According to Blondel, “the proper and truly unique mark of Christianity is the coincidence of historical reality and of dogmatic truth.” Blondel contrasts the authentic Christian spirit with pragmatism: “William James cites as a dogma quite lacking in any philosophical interest, and hence absolutely indifferent in his view, the Trinity or again the Resurrection. But what a profound illusion that is! Through a really penetrating analysis of thought in ourselves and of the life of our spirit, we are led to discover that the very mystery of our intelligence has its origin in this supreme mystery of unity in Trinity, and that the history of the world, from the fiat lux all the way to the consummation of the heavenly City, is set in motion, is oriented by what Christian theology and philosophy have said of the creative design: omnia intendunt assimilari Deo. To bring all that out radically is therefore to tie nature and man back to their roots and to make them bear their true fruit, which is final union with God.”

The issue concludes with a letter from John Paul II commemorating the centenary of the publication of Maurice Blondel’s seminal book L’Action. According to John Paul II, “Blondel’s originality lies in the fact that he understands human action in all its dimensions, individual, social, moral, and religious, and that he shows us how these different aspects are intimately interconnected. It follows that, in acting, every human being unveils the powers of his being and of his interior life as a profound bond with his Creator.” Reflecting on the drama of human action, Blondel was able to rediscover the “marvelous harmony between nature and grace, between reason and faith.”                              □
        
—NJH

Introduction: Towards a Human Ecology: Person, Life, Nature | Articles | Communio

Winter 2011

Introduction: Towards a Human Ecology: Person, Life, Nature

Peter Casarella, in “‘The Proper Weight of Love’: What Can We Learn From Pope John Paul II’s The Jeweler’s Shop?” interprets the play as an artistic unfolding of the relationship between time and eternity. “The jeweler reveals that eternity encompasses the finitude of a life not just because of its expansiveness but because our lives owe their existence to a Source or Creator. The embrace of eternity as a personal reality of love is what we implicitly aim to discover when we focus on the weight or specific gravity of our lives.”

Adrian J. Walker, in “‘Original Wholeness’: (Living) Nature Between God and Technê,” reflects on Aristotle’s understanding of nature as the innate principle in and through which a body is the primary, original source of its parts’ “standing together.” Walker shows how the original wholeness of nature is an intra-worldly analogue to God’s self-communication: “The life of animate beings is a received self-constitution, a caused uncausedness, a derived originality. . . . God, in the very act of communicating himself, produces matter as the receiver of his gift and, at the same time, lets matter originally co-produce the gift it receives.”

D. C. Schindler, in “Analogia Naturae: What Does Inanimate Matter Contribute to the Meaning of Life?” uncovers an essential aspect of analogy, namely, the positivity of difference.Within a  properly analogical concept of nature, the lower level not only reflects the higher at a diminished grade, but, at the same time, adds something to the higher and so contributes something genuine to the meaning of nature. “The very ecstatic quality that material being contributes to the meaning of life,” Schindler argues, “it also receives back from life in a surprising, but fulfilling way. And all of this belongs to the profound exchange of being that constitutes the analogy of nature, which thus reveals the whole cosmos to be suffused with the meaning of gift.”

Edith Stein is best known as a martyr and a saint. In “Why Do We Need the Philosophy of Edith Stein?” Mette Lebech highlights an aspect of Stein’s life that has been neglected—her original and enduring contribution to philosophy. Lebech traces the itinerary of Stein’s life and writings from her days as a student of Husserl through her embrace of the Carmelite vocation. Faithful to philosophy’s ancient vocation to seek the things themselves, Stein “allows us to see that philosophy is not just a competition of worldviews issuing in a war of words.” Rather, “it is possible to discern what is true in different worldviews (those of classical and modern thought in particular) by criticizing them by means of one another. . . . Stein’s attempt at mediating between traditions thus contributes toward safeguarding the meaningfulness of philosophy and toward enabling us to trust in the meaningfulness of life.”

Finally, Joseph Ratzinger’s essay, “Difficulties Confronting the Faith in Europe Today,” first presented in 1989, returns to the theme of “human ecology.” After rehearsing some common objections to the Catholic faith based on the Church’s sexual morality and sacramental order, Ratzinger notes how these various objections are linked together: “They spring from one and the same vision of humanity within which there operates a particular notion of human freedom.”

Faced with this cultural situation, in order to express “the logic of the Faith in its integrity, the good sense and reasonableness of its view of reality and life,” Ratzinger emphasizes the importance of renewed theological reflection regarding i.) the doctrine of creation; ii.) the metaphysical dimension of Christology; and iii.) the eschatological meaning of the Kingdom of God.                       
        
—NJH

Introduction: Work | Articles | Communio

Summer 2011

Introduction: Work

J. Budziszewski, in “The Lower Is Not the More Solid,” poses the question, pertinent to our common life in the work of the economy, “What might it take for an adult population, and their rulers, to become virtuous—or at least to become more nearly virtuous than they are?” Drawing on the thought of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine, Budziszewski corrects several typical mistakes concerning virtue before showing how virtue is the only adequate foundation for our common life.

The discussion on work closes with Benedict XVI’s 2008 address to representatives of culture in Paris, on “The Origins of Western Theology and the Roots of European Culture.” In this address, the pope argues that the monastic quaerere Deum “remains the basis of any genuine human culture.” Directly relevant to our theme, the pope discusses how the Benedictine ora requires completion in a distinctive sense of labora.

In recent years the question of whether the cessation of brain activity is sufficient to determine the death of the human person has provoked sharp debate among Catholic moral philosophers and scientists. The editors of Communio hope to advance the discussion with two essays that present opposing views on this question of “brain death.” Both authors have been invited to reply in a future issue. Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, in “You Only Die Twice: Augustine, Aquinas, the Council of Vienne, and Death by the Brain Criterion,” argues in support of brain death as the criterion of death on the grounds that “the brain is essential for integration of the body and without it the parts of the body cease to be an integrated whole.” “Without the brain,” he continues, “the body loses its form, so to speak, as the parts cease to be an integrated dynamic unity.” Robert Spaemann, in “Is Brain Death the Death of a Human Person?” presents an extended argument against the new definition of death in terms of total loss of brain function. He challenges the hypothesis that the brain is the organ responsible for somatic integration. And, applying the principle in dubio pro vita, Spaemann proposes that “brain dead patients have to be correctly regarded as dying, hence living people in the state of irreversible brain failure.”

Finally, Retrieving the Tradition returns to the question of work with an essay by the Canadian philosopher George Grant (1918–1988) titled “In Defense of North America.” In this seminal chapter drawn from his well-known Technology and Empire, Grant reflects on the historical roots and meaning of America’s peculiar drive to technological mastery of human and non-human nature. Grant shows how the American experience was shaped by the encounter between the alien and yet conquerable land with Calvinist Protestantism availing itself of the new physical sciences. In the eyes of Grant, contemplation—Greek philosophical contemplation as well as the higher contemplation of God’s revelation in Christ— offers the best hope for thinking about the question of technology from outside technology’s own restless dynamism.                      □

—NJH

Introduction: Death | Articles | Communio

Fall 2012

Introduction: Death

David S. Crawford, in “The Gospel of Life and the Integrity of Death” discusses the contradiction in modern culture’s attitude toward death pointed out above by Ratzinger. The so-called death with dignity movement and the trend to treat aging as a disease are paradigms of the simultaneous tendencies to relativize and absolutize the importance of life. Crawford identifies the common roots of each of these seemingly opposed movements as modernity’s turn to mechanism. He goes on to contrast this attitude with the analogous Christian absolutization and relativization of life, according to which life needs to experience “something like death” in order to be a life founded in love. The technical attempts to dominate life and death, Crawford argues, are not wrong in their tendency to absolutize or relativize life; rather, these attempts go astray because they turn a proper absolutization and relativization upside down, fervently denying that there should ever be anything ‘death-like’ in love.

In “The Gift of the Dying Person,” Ruth Ashfield invites us to stop and consider the experience of those who are suffering and dying, and shows how in doing so we discover truths of the human condition that enrich and are necessary to our understanding of life. Drawing on the work of Dr. Cicely Saunders, founder of the modern hospice movement, and John Paul II, Ashfield explores a language of the suffering and dying body. In this exploration the dying person emerges as not only a witness to the dynamism of gift which lies at the heart of reality, but also as one who calls those who stay with him to true communion through genuine compassion.

Patricia Snow also explores the meaning of the body in terms of death, in “The Body and Christian Burial: The Question of Cremation.” Snow asks why cremation has again become an attractive option for many Christians, and explains that while the Church has relaxed its ban on cremation, the profound significance of funeral and burial is not to be passed over easily or quickly. “In the synthesis that was effected when the whole Christ rose from the dead,” Snow writes, “it was the supernatural affirmation of the body that was definitively new.” A casual attitude towards cremation or burial, she argues, betrays a culture-wide apathy to the mystery of the Incarnation, which effects “a marriage of flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, God and human race.”

Introduction: Liturgy and Culture | Articles | Communio

Winter 2012

Introduction: Liturgy and Culture

David W. Fagerberg, in “The Sacraments as Actions of the Mystical Body,” explains that while the liturgy and the sacraments often occupy two different academic spheres, their relationship is in fact mutually enlightening and indeed necessary. Their interplay is such that liturgy allows us to understand the sacraments as more than discrete instances in a man’s life. Together, sacraments make clear the fundamental theology of the Church’s mission: deification. “We join a liturgy already in progress,” Fagerberg writes; we are “coming to be connected into God’s own perichoresis.”

In “Apostolicity and the Eucharist,” Oliver Treanor investigates the implications of John Paul II’s connection of the term “apostolic” to the Eucharist. By so doing, he says, the Pope opened a challenging and innovative way of approaching the sacrament that constitutes the Church as Christ’s Body. Treanor explores how this approach elucidates the Church’s relationship to the Eucharist in terms of the Paschal Mystery as a manifestation of the Trinity, and how it might, consequently, shed fresh light on the nature of that communion which is presupposed by eucharistic sharing, and which underlies the Church’s pastoral mission as the universal sacrament of salvation.

Nicholas J. Healy’s “The Eucharist as the Form of Christian Life” reflects on the relationship between the eucharistic mystery and the daily life of the faithful. The Church’s faith in Christ’s “real presence”—including his hidden life of work in Nazareth—is eucharistic. “When he hands over the substance of his life to the Church,” Healy writes, “Christ communicates a form or way of life that can include or embrace every aspect of human existence, and ultimately, the entire material order of creation.”

Also in this issue, we present the first of a two-part article by Giorgio Buccellati: “Trinity spermatiké: The Veiled Perception of a Pagan World (Part I).” Buccellati builds on the assumption that the sense of God is ultimately trinitarian, even within polytheism. It is especially the apprehension of dynamism within the absolute that leads to a sense for what, in Christianity, emerges finally as the trinitarian dimension of God. The fact that this sense is distorted in a number of different directions does not lessen the significance of the spiritual desire that is evinced in a number of traditions ranging from the ancients to the moderns.
Continuing our theme of “Liturgy and Culture,” Paolo Prosperi, in his article “The Birth of Sources Chrétiennes and the Return to the Fathers,” recounts the founding of what is often known as nouvelle théologie, a theological renewal begun by a group of Jesuits at Fourvière at Lyons in the 1940s, led by, among others, Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Jean Daniélou. Prosperi highlights the group’s efforts to “return to the sources”—to recover the work of the Fathers of the Church. For the Jesuits at Fourvière, turning to the Fathers meant above all “asserting the unity between dogmatic theology and the living experience of the mystery of Christ and the Church; in brief, . . . the unity between life and thought.”

Introduction: Catholicity and Education | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

Introduction: Catholicity and Education

Introducing our theme of “Education” is Robert Spaemann’s “The Courage to Educate.” Originally published in 1978, the article presents questions about the state of education that are perhaps even more important for us to ponder now. “Why has it become necessary to point out something self-evident? Why has it become necessary to be courageous to educate?” Spaemann asks. He sketches an outline of what education really is—a formation of the human being—and then points out a number of ways this idea has been mistreated. It seems we no longer believe that education is about an affirmation of the future—in a word, that it is worth truly educating our children. He writes that “we must ask ourselves what resources we are actually living on, and the questions of how our children should live can only give impetus to do so. Many things that are being said publicly today can actually be said only by people who have no children or who have written off their children.”

In “The Universality of the University,” Jean-Luc Marion reflects on the fragmentation of the university and points out that not only is universality being lost, but also even specialization and any goods that come therein. “If professionalization and specialization . . . allowed an individual truly to know a genus of reality,” write Marion, “then they would already obtain much more than simple qualification: they would provide access to an experience of truth in action.” But not even this exists presently in our universities. Marion goes on to argue that the principle for true universality of the university is the ultimately unknowable transcendence of God.

D. C. Schindler responds to Marion in his article “On the Universality of the University.” His response first attempts to formulate what Marion presents as the principle that accounts for the universality of the university, namely, the self and God, both of which transcend our knowledge and so ought to be understood primarily in terms of love. Schindler proposes an alternative approach to what it calls the catholicity of the university, an approach inspired by John Paul II’s call in Fides et ratio for a “philosophy of being.”  The argument turns on an affirmation of the traditional metaphysical understanding of truth as ontological, and suggests that a recovery of the language of truth, thus understood, in the disciplines would help heal the fragmentation that besets the modern university.  This is because a recognition of the matter studied in the disciplines as concerned with truth—that is, a recognition that each discipline studies being under a particular aspect—brings to light their common rootedness in a reality that transcends their particularity without compromising what makes each unique. Schindler concludes with a comparison between this metaphysical approach to truth and the one presented by Marion, specifically in relation to the question of what sort of conversation each generates.

Faith and the Multiversity | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

Faith and the Multiversity

George Grant

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Absoluteness of Christianity and the Catholicity of the Church | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

The Absoluteness of Christianity and the Catholicity of the Church

Hans Urs von Balthasar

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Courage to Educate | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

The Courage to Educate

Robert Spaemann

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Becoming Catholic: John Henry Newman | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

Becoming Catholic: John Henry Newman

Olivier de Berranger

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Athens – Jersualem – Rome | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

Athens – Jersualem – Rome

Rémi Brague

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

“Your Reasonable Worship”: Catholic Communion as the True Life According to Reason | Articles | Communio

Spring 2013

“Your Reasonable Worship”: Catholic Communion as the True Life According to Reason

Adrian J. Walker

Grant’s account of technology as an ontological “package deal” helps us understand why we—committed Catholic intellectuals—have such difficulty actually convincing any modern non-believers that Catholicism is true. For, Grant suggests, we may (think we) think as Christians explicitly, but implicitly we largely think as technologists. The problem with what we say has its root in a problem with the logos of the Lebensform in which we say it.

Put another way, general reflections about the relationship between faith and reason, or academic engagements with this or that modern thinker, will lack any real power to convince (even ourselves) if they do not emanate from, and bear witness to, and become part of, the radiant integrity of a form of life that turns what we do with and in our bodies, in our immediate neighborhood, into a living proof that, in Christ, “all things stand together in being” (Col 1:17).

. . . . . . . . . .

To read this article in its entirety, please download the free PDF, buy this issue, or become a Communio subscriber!

Martyrdom and Christian morality | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

Martyrdom and Christian morality

Alvaro de Silva

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Reflections on Veritatis Splendor | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

Reflections on Veritatis Splendor

Francis Stafford

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The university as community: Community of what? | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

The university as community: Community of what?

Glenn W. Olsen

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Hans Urs von Balthasar and the continuing youthfulness of the Exercises | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

Hans Urs von Balthasar and the continuing youthfulness of the Exercises

Jacques Servais

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Form in Tragedy: Balthasar as correlational theologian Veritatis Splendor | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

Form in Tragedy: Balthasar as correlational theologian Veritatis Splendor

John R. Kevern

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The integrity of Christian moral activity: The First Letter of John and Veritatis Splendor | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

The integrity of Christian moral activity: The First Letter of John and Veritatis Splendor

Francis Martin

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Veritatis Splendor: An overview of the encyclical | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

Veritatis Splendor: An overview of the encyclical

William E. May

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Moral questions and evangelization today | Articles | Communio

Summer 1994

Moral questions and evangelization today

Livio Melina

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The “Truth about the Good”: Practical Reason, Philosophical Ethics, and Moral Theology | Articles | Communio

Fall 1999

The “Truth about the Good”: Practical Reason, Philosophical Ethics, and Moral Theology

Livio Melina

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Search for the Meaning of Life and Faith in the Revelation of Jesus Christ According to Fides et Ratio | Articles | Communio

Fall 1999

The Search for the Meaning of Life and Faith in the Revelation of Jesus Christ According to Fides et Ratio

Javier Prades

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Thinking Beyond the Reef: The Cross, Faith, and Reason in the Trinitarian Ontology of Klaus Hemmerle | Articles | Communio

Fall 1999

Thinking Beyond the Reef: The Cross, Faith, and Reason in the Trinitarian Ontology of Klaus Hemmerle

Bernhard Körner

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The One Who Went Unnamed: Maurice Blondel in the Encyclical Fides et Ratio | Articles | Communio

Fall 1999

The One Who Went Unnamed: Maurice Blondel in the Encyclical Fides et Ratio

Peter Henrici

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Faith and Reason: Then and Now | Articles | Communio

Fall 1999

Faith and Reason: Then and Now

Kenneth L. Schmitz

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Believing Thought as a Category in Russian Religious Philosophy | Articles | Communio

Fall 1999

Believing Thought as a Category in Russian Religious Philosophy

Robert Slesinski

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

A theological meditation on the liturgy of the Eucharist | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

A theological meditation on the liturgy of the Eucharist

Roch Kereszty

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The Oxford Declaration on Liturgy | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

The Oxford Declaration on Liturgy

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The structure of hope | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

The structure of hope

Gabriel Marcel

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Hope does not disappoint | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

Hope does not disappoint

Anton Strukelj

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The use of Scripture in the Catechism of the Catholic Church | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

The use of Scripture in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Kevin E. Miller William Kurz

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Communion, universality, and apocatastasis: Hope for all? | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

Communion, universality, and apocatastasis: Hope for all?

Jacques Servais

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Notes and reflections on the virtue of hope | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

Notes and reflections on the virtue of hope

Xavier Tilliette , SJ.

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

The signification of hope for the present time | Articles | Communio

Fall 1996

The signification of hope for the present time

Ignace Verhack

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

Digging for Buried Treasure: Origen’s Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture | Articles | Communio

Winter 1998

Digging for Buried Treasure: Origen’s Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture

Jody L. Vaccaro

This article can be found in the printed issue only.

For a Philosophy That Stems from Christ | Articles | Communio