Mar 032015
 

Like many I was caught totally surprised by the naming of St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church. Although the same is true when Pope Benedict XVI named St. Hildegard of Bingen as a Doctor of the Church in 2012 along with St. John of Ávila. Still at least I was somewhat aware of the ones Pope Benedict XVI named. St. Gregory of Narek was a total unknown to me.

After the naming I started seeing grumbling threads about him not even being Catholic. I thought surely that can’t be right.

On February 21, Pope Francis announced his decision to make St. Gregory of Narek (950–1003) a Doctor of the Church. Once again, Pope Francis has caught us off guard and now many people are scrambling to figure out who St. Gregory was and what the implications of the new honor bestowed upon him are. One key question that is arising is: was St. Gregory a Catholic?

The short answer to this question seems to be no. He was a member of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is a non-Chalcedonian Church (sometimes referred to somewhat pejoratively as a Monophysite Church), because of its rejection of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

However, the relationship of the Armenian Apostolic Church to the Catholic Church is long and complicated. I would like to provide a brief overview to help us consider the implications of the new Armenian Doctor of the Church.

This excellent article at Catholic World Report gives a overview regarding the Armenian Catholic Church along with its reconciliation with the Catholic Church under Pope St. John Paul II in 1996. It also details information about St. Gregory of Narek and references to where he is quoted in the Catechism and the encyclical Redemptoris Mater.

An update to this post included this information:

Thanks to the comments of readers, I have learned that the 2005 martyrology included not only St. Gregory of Narek on February 27, but also two other Orthodox saints, the Russians St. Stephen of Perm (1340–1396) and St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314–1392).

The first article I had read about this was Mark Movesesian at First Things who pondered about this:

As far as I can make out, it’s this. When Rome receives part of an Eastern church into full communion, it accepts all of the Eastern church’s saints, as long as they did not explicitly contradict Catholic doctrine. So, when part of the Armenian Church united with Rome in the eighteenth century to form the Armenian-rite Catholic Church, Rome accepted the Armenian saints, including Gregory of Narek. He was, as it were, grandfathered in, and has been a Catholic saint ever since. That’s how, in light of his great contributions, he can be declared a Doctor of the Church today.

So now this makes much more sense to me regarding the process. This was first under the purview of the Vatican’s Congregation for Causes of Saints which made the recommendation to the Pope. How this came about would be interesting in and of itself.

What annoys me is that I had to piece together information from news sources to see what was going on. You would think the Vatican just might communicate some clue when a non-Catholic is named a Universal Doctor of the Church. That just possibly some people might be scratching their heads over this. Yes that even the infamous “teaching moment” that constantly evades Vatican communication could be invoked and that some background information might be provided. Hope springs eternal that the Vatican could ever get ahead of the curve.

Still mostly the press has almost totally ignored the naming of a new Doctor of the Church and is confining itself, as usual ,to unimportant stories about the Church.

Mar 022015
 

New York City, N.Y., Mar 1, 2015 / 04:23 pm (CNA).- A lot has changed in journalism since 1961, but not Msgr. Daniel S. Hamilton’s resolve to rebut the New York Times on its editorial opinions regarding matters of faith and morals.

The New York priest has submitted Letters to the Editor of the publication since 1961 and recently compiled them all in a self-published book entitled “Jousting with the New York Times 1961–2014: Worldviews in Radical Conflict.”

Why has he written so faithfully?

“Among various instruments contributing to and constituting the political process, newspapers with their editorials and Letters to the Editor are one way of keeping in focus the truths and freedoms we hold dear,” he writes in the book’s introduction. “People with a strong sense of responsibility should use the letters instrument liberally.”

And liberally use them he has. Msgr. Hamilton has written The Times over 300 letters; some have made it to print or online, though most have not. The pieces printed by The Times are signified in the book by including their publication date next to their headline. Source

Quite an interesting article, but I found this section surprising and not surprising.

As momentum in favor of “gay marriage” picked up in the United States from about 2008–2011, the New York Times published several editorials advocating for the redefinition of marriage. Msgr. Hamilton responded to every one, but none of his letters made it to print.

“I have always suspected, perhaps unfairly, that they use the column for advocacy, and not being, as they have always maintained themselves to be, a liberal, pluralistic newspaper which admits to all views,” he said.

It wasn’t only that none of his own letters made it to publication, but The Times did not publish any Letters to the Editor within that timeframe that were not in favor of “gay marriage.”

“My disappointment was not, as I said to them and to their public editor, that my letter was not printed, that’s not the point,” he said, “but no letter taking issue with the position of the editorial board on the same-sex issue was printed out.”

Feb 252015
 

I’ve seen some news here and there about a Vatican official suing a Catholic blogger.

I really like this post from Diane Korzeniewski at Te Deum laudamus. which succinctly gets to the point about why this is wrong and that this goes beyond any dispute between this priest and a blogger.

Father Rosica, drop this embarrassing threat of litigation – it is really making you look bad…. really bad.   What kind of priest, much less an official in the Vatican, uses litigation against a Catholic blogger over his reputation?  Reputation?

Without judging whether any part of what the blogger said is right or wrong, and whether I agree with how he chose to express his concerns or not, bearing patiently with injury, or long-suffering, is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. From a discernment stand point, I don’t see the Holy Spirit’s involvement in threats of litigation or lawsuits against bloggers. While you are concerned with your own reputation, what harm are you bringing to the reputation of the priesthood with litigation?

My headline is plucked from her last paragraph.

In related new Fr. Timothy Scott Removed as Basilian Spokesperson After Hurling Obscenity Toward Cardinal Burke which must be read to believe.

Feb 232015
 

So when I saw the headline that a new Doctor of the Church was named by Pope Francis and then that it was Saint Gregory of Narek, my first reaction was who? Never heard of him. Although the gaps in my knowledge are large and numerous.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has declared Armenian poet and monk, Saint Gregory of Narek, a Doctor of the Universal Church. Meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints on Saturday ahead of his departure for Aricca on Lenten retreat, the Pope confirmed the proposal put forward by the Plenary Session of the Congregation to confer the title of Doctor of the Universal Church on the 10th century saint.

St. Gregory of Narek is widely revered as one of the greatest figures of medieval Armenian religious thought and literature. Born in the city of Narek in about 950 A.D., St. Gregory came from a line of scholars and churchmen.

St. Gregory received his education under the guidance of his father, Bishop Khosrov, author of the earliest commentary on the Divine Liturgy, and from Anania Vartabed, abbess of Narek Monastery. He and his two brothers entered monastic life at an early age, and St. Gregory soon began to excel in music, astronomy, geometry, mathematics, literature, and theology.

He became a priest at the age of 25 and dedicated himself to God. He lived most of his life in the monastery of Narek, where he taught at the monastic school. St. Gregory began his writings with a commentary on the “Song of Songs,” which was commissioned by an Armenian prince. Despite his reservations that he was too young for the task, the commentary became famous for its clarity of thought and language and its excellence of theological presentation.

He also wrote a number of famous letters, sharagans, treasures, odes, melodies, and discourses. Many of his prayers are included in the Divine Liturgy celebrated each Sunday in Armenian Churches around the world.

St. Gregory’s masterpiece is considered to be his Book of Lamentations. Also known as Narek, it is comprised of 95 prayers, each of which is titled “Conversation with God from the depth of the heart.” A central theme is man’s separation from God, and his quest to reunite with Him. St. Gregory described the work this way: “Its letters like my body, its message like my soul.” He called his book an “encyclopedia of prayer for all nations.” It was his hope that it would serve as a guide to prayer for people all over the world. After the advent of movable type, the book was published in Marseille in 1673, and has been translated into at least 30 languages. Source

From Catholic Culture

St. Gregory’s prayers are still used in the liturgy of the Armenian Catholic Church. The monastery where he lived and worked survived for several hundred years, until it was destroyed in the Armenian holocaust.

So I wanted to learn more about this new Doctor of the Universal Church and to read his writings. Couldn’t really find anything on the U.S. version of Amazon or elsewhere in English. Hopefully somebody will rectify that eventually.

Mar 232014
 

The drug haul was unremarkable, but the destination raised eyebrows.

German weekly Bild am Sonntag reported Sunday that customs officials intercepted a cocaine shipment destined for the Vatican in January.

Officers at Leipzig airport found 340 grams — about 12 ounces — of the drug packed into 14 condoms inside a shipment of cushions coming from South America.

The paper says the package was simply addressed to the Vatican postal office, meaning any of the Catholic mini-state’s 800 residents could have picked it up.

Citing a German customs report, the paper adds that a sting operation arranged with Vatican police didn’t lure a possible recipient. The drugs would have a street value of several tens of thousands of euros (dollars).

Neither German customs nor the Vatican could be immediately reached for comment.

[Source]

An anonymous Vatican official did comment that obviously the recipient was not a faithful Catholic due to the drugs being wrapped in condoms.

Mar 232014
 

In anticipation of the 800th anniversary of Saint Francis of Assisi’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a group of young men from the Saint Anne’s chapter of Catholics in Action, in Gilbert, Arizona have decided to travel the thousand-year old Way of Saint James this Summer 2014, on a journey that spans over 500 miles across some of the most geographically beautiful landscapes in all of Spain. This documentary will record the experiences of these pilgrims, across 40 unforgettable days, in which they will face difficulties and personal struggles (i.e. physical and psychological stress). It narrates the story of men in search of the goal of our human existence: in search of the meaning of life, and the truth of who they are as men before God.

Grassroots Films, Inc is raising funds to create this documentary.

Nov 262013
 

Continuing the slow news day for Catholics:

Everyone knew the HHS Mandate was going to end up in the Supreme Court. Now it’s happening.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to the controversial Health and Human Services mandate which requires organizations to provide insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacient, and sterilization to employees.

The Obama administration appealed to the high court after the mandate got struck down by a federal appeals court in favor of Hobby Lobby, an Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts chain owned by a Christian family.

Now, don’t pretend to guess for one second that you know how the court will decide on this. We don’t. Nobody does. I can hope. I can pray that religious liberty is spared for a few more years. But I have no idea. Who knows what John Roberts will say. I mean, Roberts doesn’t even know what he’s going to say. Sometimes I don’t think he knows what he’s saying as he’s saying it.

God bless all those who have fought the mandate in court. Keep praying folks. It’s crunch time.

(Creative Minority Report)

Well whatever happens likely it will have nothing to do with the Constitution. I just have zero trust in the Supreme Court. Praying indeed.

Nov 182013
 

I just love the story about Pope Francis calling up a Traditional Catholic writer who had criticized him.

“Pope Francis told me that he was very close to me, having learned of my health condition, of my grave illness, and I clearly noticed his deep empathy, the attention for a person as such, beyond ideas and opinions, while I live through a time of trial and suffering.”

“I was astonished, amazed, above all moved: for me, as a Catholic, that which I was experiencing was one of the most beautiful experiences in my life. But I felt the duty to remind the Pope that I, together wih Gnocchi, had expressed specific criticisms regarding his work, while I renewed my total fidelity [to him] as a son of the Church. The Pope almost did not let me finish the sentence, saying that he had understood that those criticisms had been made with love, and how important it had been for him to receive them.” [These words] “comforted me greatly.”

Full Story

One thing about Pope Francis is that he is not a “Pope in a bubble” someone isolated from news and criticism. His humility really rings through here and inspires me. We have a culture now with a propensity towards thin skins. A prideful self-image must be defended at all costs. Self-esteem is more important than the self-awareness humility requires.

This is a Pope I believe who is willing to reevaluate and make changes as necessary. As evidence of this is that the Pope reportedly had “regretted” that the interview with Eugenio Scalfari being published in L’Osservatore Romano. The interview that Scalfari has not taped or even taken notes for.

Pope Francis’ recent interview with Eugenio Scalfari, the atheist founder of the Italian daily La Repubblica, has been removed from the Vatican website, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed today. (source)

Nov 112013
 

The easiest decision of my day was to preorder Brandon Vogt’s new book Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World for just $3.19 for the ebook version.

From Brandon’s site which has lots of information on his new book:

The book aims to reclaim Catholic social teaching and unveil it through the lives of the saints. It’s framed using the seven major themes of Catholic social teaching, as defined by the U.S. bishops, and for each theme I highlight two saints who especially embodied it.

The resulting book is a narrative packed with stories, from those saints and others in the sidebars, of people putting these teachings into action.

My hope is that the book imitates stained glass windows throughout the world, using the saints as conduits of light, allowing these brilliant social teachings to shine through them with new vividness, splendor, and truth.

Here’s the book’s outline:

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person
    • CH 1 – Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
    • CH 2 – St. Peter Claver
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation
    • CH 3 – St. Frances of Rome
    • CH 4 – Bl. Anne-Marie Javouhey
  • Rights and Responsibilities
    • CH 5 – St. Roque Gonzalez
    • CH 6 – St. Thomas More
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
    • CH 7 – Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
    • CH 8 – St. Vincent de Paul
  • Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
    • CH 9 – St. Benedict of Nursia
    • CH 10 – Servant of God Dorothy Day
  • Solidarity
    • CH 11 – St. Pope John Paul II
    • CH 12 – St. Damien of Molokai
  • Care for Creation
    • CH 13 – St. Giles
    • CH 14 – St. Isidore the Farmer