Thursday 28 November 2013

The Gregorian Lonergan Conference 2013

The Gregorian Lonergan Conference "Revisiting Lonergan's Anthropology" began this afternoon, with registrations at 1600, the welcome by the Rector, P. Francois-Xavier Dumortier, SJ, and the keynote address by Fred Lawrence, "Lonergan's Quest for a Hermeneutics of Authenticity," followed by a drinks reception and dinner for the speakers at La Cabana, not far from the Greg, on via Mancini.

The Rector said that there were three reasons for the Conference: (1) it was the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, and Lonergan was an expert to the Canadian bishops (something I did not know); (2) it was the 60th anniversary of Lonergan's coming to teach at the Greg (he came in 1953); (3) it was an occasion to push Lonergan's thought further. He used a nice phrase: a theology that was rigorosa and vigorosa. Among other things, Dumortier also said that he had been a student of Fred Lawrence's at Boston College, 32 years ago.

Fred's answers to questions were particularly wonderful, perhaps in the way he combined intelligere with diligere, something he had himself been talking about. When someone asked him whether he saw a link between Lonergan and Rahner's mystagogy, he said: of course. And then: I really don't understand why people feel compelled to choose one theologian and reject the other. You can love them all. Lonergan loved referring to Rahner, and he once said to Fred: Geist in Welt is wonderful. Isn't it wonderful that he and I came to the same insights quite independently? And he loved Balthasar too. So: we need to have friends who can help us, we need to be friends rather than competitors.

A good gathering, the Conference. Met Bryan Lobo, finally. And Joao Vila-Cha, Francisco Galan and his wife Genevieve, Hillary Mooney, Tim Healy, SJ, Massimo Pampaloni, who teaches at the Oriental Institute, and of course Cloe Taddei-Ferretti. Jeremy Wilkins and his wife are here too. Chae Young Kim, Neil Ormerod, Catherine Clifford (Ottawa, specialized in ecclesiology and ecumenical dialogue), Joseph Ogbonnaya. Peter Fleet from England. And, someone I am seeing after many years, Matthew Lamb, who will be on tomorrow, with "Lonergan's Gregorian Years: Deepening his Anthropology."

Fred was sharing a story about Ratzinger. Fred was in Basel, attending Karl Barth's classes there. Barth (I did not know this) had been an observer at the Council - he later wrote Ad limina apostolorum. After the Council, he would do Dei Verbum one semester, and Calvin the next; Gaudium et Spes one semester, and Luther the next, and so on. Once he invited the young Ratzinger to field questions, which Ratzinger did in a wonderful way, without being defensive or anything. Fred said that, as the only Catholic in this very Protestant university, he felt proud of Ratzinger's performance. He also said that, in many ways, Pope Ratzinger had prepared the ground and made possible what Francis was doing today.

Sunday 17 November 2013

End time readings: Homily, 33 Sunday C

In the last week we have been already hearing about the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus tends to be mysterious and baffling. If someone says, here it is, there is it, do not pay attention: the kingdom of God is within you. And again: two women will be grinding corn, one will be taken, one will be left. And the disciples ask: Where, Lord? And he answers: where the body is, there the vultures gather.

The Day of the Lord is about the end, about our End. And what is our End? We used to learn in the old catechism, in the very first question: why did God make me? and the answer was memorable: to know him, to love him, to serve him, and to be happy with him forever. The End, our End, is God.

Our End is God revealed in Jesus. "Show us the Father and we will be satisfied," says Philip. And Jesus: "Philip, I have been with you so long, and still you ask? He who has seen me has seen the Father." And: Where I am going you cannot come yet. Once again Philip: where are you going? And Jesus: "I am the Way, the Truth, the Life."

Heaven is not a time. Heaven is not a place. The end of the world does not matter, because the End is now. "If anyone loves me and keeps my commandments, my Father and I will come and dwell in him." We taste little bits of heaven already in this life. And in the Eucharist we celebrate Jesus who has come, who will come, and who comes every day.

The End is Jesus. We pray that we might follow him and enjoy him with undivided heart.

Friday 15 November 2013

A Gospel History of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Stephens' Khristapurana?

Leonard Fernandes brought the following to my notice:
A Gospel History of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Or A Life of the Man of Sorrows. Stephen, Thomas. Published by Dean and Son ca. 1860's, London, 1860
The question: is this Thomas Stephens' Khristapurana?

Thursday 14 November 2013

Filipino-flavoured Oscars

The three Filipino entries to the Oscar Awards seem interesting: Transit, Metro Manila and Ilo Ilo.

Hannah Espia's Transit will be very real to so many of our Filipino friends here in the Holy Land. It is the story of Moises, a Filipino single-dad working as a caregiver in Herlzliya, Israel. Moises returns to his apartment in Tel Aviv to celebrate his son Joshua's fourth birthday, and discovers that the Israeli government is going to deport children of foreign workers. This is no mere story: such things have happened.

Metro Manila is a Filipino-British film set entirely in the Philippines. Directed by British filmmaker Sean Ellis, it is about a poor family that comes to the big city in search of a better life.

Then there is Singaporean entry to the Oscars, Ilo Ilo. The film is set in Singapore, and involves a Pinay caregiver-nanny Teresa who has to adopt a bipolar personality in dealing with the spoiled brat son Jiale, the pregnant mother Hwee Lang, and the unemployed father Teck.

Monday 11 November 2013

A thousand bells

Tony de Mello's story (in The Song of the Bird, I think) of the thousand bells: I don't quite remember the details, but it does come to mind when I read the Word and when the meaning leaps up and grabs me. I sit on the shore of the ocean and I try to hear the bells. And one day I hear them: a thousand of them. 

Useless servants

The intriguing gospel text for tomorrow, Tuesday, Week 32, Year I: after you have done all that you were supposed to do, say: We are useless servants. What might that mean? Helpful reading it in conjunction with other 'master-servant' texts in the gospels. There is the parable of the talents: to the servant who has multiplied his talents, from 5 to 10, the master says: Well done, good and faithful servant! (Not: useless servant) Enter into the joy of your master. (Mt 25:21) And to those who fed, gave drink, clothed, visited the least of the brethren, the Lord says: enter into the kingdom prepared for you by my Father. Here we seem to have not law, but excess. But perhaps there is also the note of motivation: why am I doing what I am doing? Do I have expectations - of praise, of a good word, of reward? Does my relationship to the Lord have overtones of a commercial transaction ("I was so good, and this is what God did to me")? God is free. I am free. I do because I do, because it is good to do. I am good because it is good to be good. Because it flows from love. 

Saturday 9 November 2013

Dormitories at Qumran

A view of the 'tower' at Khirbet Qumran
Qumran again: Vernet said, as I've heard him saying before about the ruins at Qumran: they've found a scriptorium, a refectory, about 16 mikvaioth or ritual baths, and so on, but they've never found a dormitory. What were their sleeping arrangements?

Good question, and perhaps a classic case of 'imposition of categories' onto a 'text.' Anyone who has lived in a small house in India or Africa will know that you don't have, and you don't have to have, often because you just don't have the space, a separate something called 'dormitory.' You eat, you clear up space, you sleep. At home in Wadala we did not sleep in the kitchen, but almost everywhere else! I would imagine the members of the yahad did the same. 

Friday 8 November 2013

Christological levels

The Qumran latrine field is outside the photo, to the right of where the group is

This is a photo from last year. Once again, the latrine field of Qumran is to the right, outside the photo, unfortunately
We had a very interesting 'comment' during our visit to Qumran yesterday. Vernet said he would raise 'a very human question': what were the Qumran toilet arrangements, keeping in mind the rather large number of members (80 to 120)? Unbelievably, even on this point some enterprising soul has carried out extensive scientific research, identifying an area about 300 m or more away from the 'monastery' as the defecation location, going so far as to identify (remains of?) peculiar bacteria (whose scientific names I naturally forget) in the soil....

And that brings to mind some implications of Lonergan's position that any reality must be analyzed on all its constituent levels. In simpler terms, any human reality will have human dimensions, but also 'psychic' (in the sense of what we share with animals), biological, chemical and physical (in the sense of sub-atomic?) dimensions. And if Christ is fully divine and fully human, it follows that Christology will also involve all five 'genera'.... There is no doubt that the reality of this Land entered into the schemes of recurrence that pertained to Jesus of Nazareth, that it entered, formed part of his dynamic human reality, and exited as it does for all human beings, that therefore this Land, this dust, this flora and fauna, these people, they are privileged to somehow share in physical and chemical realities that once might have formed part of the reality of Jesus. Though all this sounds so shitty, I can only say wow. I really ought to be calling this blog by a title that occurred to me during meditation this morning, but I can't quite bring myself to do it... I don't find it disrespectful in the least, but I can imagine any number of people thinking differently.

Phil McShane might be one who would understand. I wish I could find the places where he talks about this in his voluminous output. 

Tuesday 5 November 2013

All Saints Today

The saints tell us, remind us, that the best way of living is “for God” – the primacy of God.

Sanctity today, however, would ask: do we live with a dichotomy? Fuga mundi? Or did Jesus show us another way, a wonderfully different way, which Pope Francis is showing somehow? So the saeculum is brining us to another realization of the great mystery of a fascinating God, who we believe was revealed in Jesus Christ: a God who does not flee the world, and who does not think we have to flee the world in order to come to him. True, Jesus relativizes the world radically – see how he warns about the cares of this world – but he does not “flee the world.” He eats. He drinks. But he does not have a place to lay his head, and his kingdom is not of this world.

Invited and divided

Tuesday, Week 31, Year I

The parable that Jesus tells in Lk 14:15-24 about the invitees who do not turn up for the banquet, is very likely meant for the Chosen People. (KEKLEMENOI = the Called, related therefore to Ecclesia, I am supposing.) But also perhaps for people who are far too involved in the cares of this world. This is a familiar enough theme with Jesus: Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things.... and the seed that falls into the ground and is then choked by thorns, the worries and cares of this world. So we might think we are the new Israel, for are we not those who have accepted the invitation, or at least found ourselves somehow within? And still we might find ourselves sometimes, often, all the time with divided hearts, torn between God and the cares of this world. What might those "cares" be? What are my distractions? What are the many pulls on my heart? I ask for light to see, to know, and for an undivided heart. 

Saturday 2 November 2013

Hasty decisions and the importance of discernment

From the pope’s interview with the Jesuit:
“But I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”
This rings true for me.

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Rupnik, “E se l’evangelizzazione chiedesse una novità nella vita consacrata?” English summary