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An Answer to Augustinus Concerning Pope Francis


By Allan Gillis

A renowned Jewish “historian of ideas” and “raconteur” wrote the introduction for the publication of Joseph de Maistre’s “Considerations on France” by Cambridge University – translated by Richard A. Lebrun.

In it, Isaiah Berlin – trying to capture the essence of Maistre writes the following:
“Latin is the language which we must teach our children. Why? Because it is unclear. People argue against prejudice, against superstition. What is prejudice? It is merely the beliefs of the centuries, tested by experience. History is, after all, the only teacher we have, and politics is only experimental history. Here Maistre talks rather like Burke, who defended prejudice in exactly the same way. Prejudice is simply the kind of skin which humanity has acquired in the course of centuries , traditionally, which has been tested against many diverse situations , and to throw it away is to remain trembling and naked before the destructive forces of life. Latin is a language of an irregular kind. Latin is a language whose grammar is not rational. It embodies all kinds of prejudices, all kind of ancient superstitions, blind faith, unconscious experience, everything which science is against. That is why it is the language to which we must cling, for there are only two things which are ever good in the world – one is antiquity and the other is irrationality. Only the combination of these two creates a force sufficiently powerful to resist the corrosive influence of the critics, the askers of questions, the scientists. (!)

Step aside Scientist!   See the forest through the trees!  De Maistre had you guys figured out almost two hundred years ago!  He even advised the Russian Tzar to keep your ilch out of his empire…  sadly the Tzar didn’t listen.  “Ratio” must be subjected to “Fidei”.  …or revolution will roll on.

Berlin continues on behalf of Maistre:

“…but of all these Maistre hates scientists the most. They are the people who have the least capacity for understanding life, and for government…”.  He further warned the Tzar  …”in extremely solemn tones, not to commit the fatal blunder of allowing the arts and sciences to dominate the country”. He says: “Take the greatest nation that ever was, at any rate the greatest in the art of government , the Romans. They knew very well, that they would merely make fools of themselves as scientists. They hired Greeks because they knew they would merely be undignified if they tried to do the job themselves”. No great statesman , he [Maistre] says, from Suger to Richelieu, was ever a scientist, or knew anything about science. “There is something about science, about its dry, abstract, unconcrete nature, something about the fact that it is divorced from the crooked, the chaotic, the irrational texture of life with all its darkness, which makes scientists incapable of adapting themselves to the actual facts, and anyone who listens to them is automatically doomed.”  Take that you scientist – you!

I have this problem – which you try to convect as a petty dialectic between “liberals” and “conservatives”, clearly figured out  –  despite what you say.  The evidence is there for BOTH the “conservatives” and the “liberals”.   I shall hope in my heart that this pontificate shall pass quickly.  It is a real problem for the Catholic faithful. You on the other hand are throwing smoke-bombs to obfuscate the reality of the crisis – in what seems to be an effort to sound “reasonable” and find a “middle way”.  You are a clever man and you know better.  Shall we call a spade, a spade mon frere?  Francis’s pontificate IS a problem.  Admit it! – and join those of us who seek a solution to this crisis.  Speak and write to it!  Address the malady!

…and you know I’d die for you if God needed me to.

…or at least I would hope to have the courage to – as one who aspires to be a Catholic gentleman.


Aphorisms on The Church and the Individual I

  1. Only the church can create a true individual. The saint is the only true individual. The opposite of the true individual is the groupmind or herd.
  2. I do not know if I would be more disturbed by a world filled of atheists or a world full of unchurched “spiritual”/religious people. Who is more deranged? The dogmatic materialist who insists that he is a mere robot without a “Self” or consciousness and that is OK by him OR the man who denies the personal God and insists on a universe populated with invisible and powerful supernatural beings who powerfully influence our freedoms and who we do not fully understand?
  3. It is equally outrageous to claim that supernatural agents exist and that nothing exists except dead matter for as far as our instruments can see …i.e. as far as the last outpost in the vast reaches of the known universe.
  4. The known universe is very likely a tiny, tiny fraction of the whole universe and our universe is but a tiny fraction of the arbitrarily large number of other universes that very likely ‘exist’.
  5. What is my suffering compared to the vast size of the known universe-never mind the infinite reaches of the multiverse?
  6. To bear suffering with humility, dignity and patience is the mark of a great soul and individual. To over-medicate suffering, deny it, fetishize it, embrace it, etc are all typical responses of the herd. Only the true individual or the personal can overcome suffering and the personal is inimical to the herd. The individual, the subjective, the personal measures up to the universe as the personal contains a universe.
  7. The herd opposes the personal. If you flatter the herd, you will puff it up and it will eventually turn on you and trample you into dust. If you attempt to befriend the herd it will treat you as one of its own, i.e. with contempt and then ignore you and eventually destroy you and itself. If you drive the herd with whip and lash into verdant pastures, it will live, cease to be a danger to itself and others and you yourself may prosper from it.
  8. Religion is the whip that controls the herd but it is also the force that makes true individuality, dominant individuality possible. The essence of religiosity lies in rulership. Rulership of oneself and others. That is why the monarchies of the past almost universally allied themselves with religion but always feared it and tried to control it. Monarchies began to die off when the institution of the divine kinship began to lose its force in Europe due to the reformation and wars of religion.
  9. Religious and scientific awe is the only proper response to life. Religious awe without scientific awe is not properly religious and scientific awe without religious awe is not properly scientific.
  10. When a member of the herd gets separated from the pack she likely feels shock, fear and awe. She becomes aware of other minds, agents, predators of super-natural proportions out there that she must face alone. To banish her terrors she proclaims either that all the minds out there are beneficent gods or she proclaims loudly that there are no supernatural agents out there at all…and no minds out there with powers larger than her own prey-like mental capacities…. But she cannot convince even herself of this whistling in the dark gambit…so she desperately tries to run with the herd again in order to submerge her fears in the crowd and to elevate her denunciations via the law of numbers…but her efforts are futile as the herd is funneled by its predators into a headlong rush off the nearest cliff.
  11. Anti-religion atheists are incapable of sensing anything in religion but a crutch for frightened children but they fail to see that they fail to see, they do not know that they do not know. They are like frightened children themselves who are trying to self-soothe back to sleep after a momentary awakening from a bad dream they themselves induced.
  12. It is possible to be an atheist without being anti-religion. Look at Santayana or most of the great autocrats of the enlightenment. The modern brand of militant atheism which presumptuously claims the mantle of science is a pale and pathetic echo of the atheism of the enlightened autocrat.
  13. The ‘religious” person or worse yet the “spiritual but not religious” person is incapable of sensing anything in religion but a balm for their weaknesses and ‘failings”. In this they agree with the militant atheists as well as the reformation protestant reformers.
  14. The political ideology of the herd, inherited from the bloodbath that was the 20th century, is that the victim is holy. Members of a herd can only grasp the concept of victim or prey as that is the thing they are most familiar with. They cannot conceive of being anything like a predator. Like all prey they fear being separated from the herd and falling prey to a tiger or wolf or hunter etc The all-seeing eye of the predator is that which most frightens the herd animal. Their fears shape and constrain the bounds of thinkable thoughts. So falling prey to a predator is the thing most to be avoided and feared and thus it is the thing most hated and feared. Victims are therefore hated and feared by the herd. To either deify or denigrate the prey-not the predator, the victim-not the hunter-this is the herd’s answer to suffering.
  15. Being designated an official victim yields enormous benefits in the world of the herd so every group, no matter how wealthy and influential it might be, attempts to portray itself the victim.
  16. The fact that there really are victims of unspeakable crimes does not negate the fact that the criminals can hold their victims in thrall long after the criminal event itself when the victims embrace the ideology of victimhood.
  17. Nietsche, Kierkegard and Scheler all understood the ideology of resentment and victimhood. Resentiment is the condition which embraces the role of victimhood and then attacks anything of excellence that threatens its benumbed complacency. Fear and hatred of the excellent is the essence of the demonic. Nevertheless, although we see false victims all around us who seethe with resentment the fact remains that there are real victims of innumerable injustices and these deserve our sympathies. Nietzsche and Scheler should have read Dostoyevsky more carefully.
  18. The mark of the true individual is loving compassion for others. Love is not some wilting sigh, dripping with compassion. It is an aggressive assertion of the true, the good, the excellent and the valuable. It is the mark of the absolute individual. Love and aggression are intimately related creative states. Love requires aggression against the herd, the swine incapable of appreciating the pearls lying at their feet.
  19. The ultimate, the unconditioned or God places an obligation on, or within each individual and this obligation is identical with the unique destiny of that individual. It comes in the form of desire and love. Love is destiny. Aggression is love’s instrument for attaining to its destiny.
  20. The ‘personal’ or unique individuality is unconditioned and indeterminate in the sense that it is uncaused and undetermined. The personal cannot be a member of a series because it is utterly unique and un-repeatable. The personal is not reducible to a standard 4 dimensional spatio-temporal instantiation as it has no determinant boundaries-at least in the vertical dimension. Its depths cannot be sounded or measured. The interiority of the personal is essentially limitless and its depths unfathomable. Its outward-looking axis is also limitless as its desires and aims are boundless and infinite.
  21. Love/aggression is the source and the essence of the personal. Love is free, and when directed at another individual, its true aim, it is unbounded and indeterminant. If you ask the lover how much he loves his beloved he will answer that his love has no bounds. If you ask a parent how much he loves his child he will answer that his love knows no bounds. The personal’s mode of operation, love, dis-regards cause and effect and is directed to the utterly unique; i.e. another individual. The lover is passionately interested in and committed to this utterly unique, wonderful (in his eyes at least) and very likely fallible and flawed individual-no other individual will do. Once love strikes it can be fulfilled only with that other individual. That is why I always suspected that the final verses of the Book of Job, where his lost children and wife are replaced by new ones, were interpolations not intended by the original author. When you are in love with someone you cannot replace the beloved with another and find fulfillment—never mind justice. If I lose a child having another child will not heal the wound left in my heart at the loss of the original child. Love, therefore begins in the personal and unique and finds fulfillment in the personal and unique. It starts in freedom and ends in freedom.
  22. Proof that religious sacrifice was an attempt to grasp the power of the personal, lies in the fact that the victims who were sacrificed were universally the divine Kings. Awareness of the dignity inherent in personhood thankfully prevented spread of human sacrifice. Religion as awareness of the rulership inherent in the personal began to decline when animal sacrifice began to replace human sacrifice as the primary religious act. With animal sacrifice religion degenerated into attempts to propitiate the deities or attempts to see the future…i.e. magic.
  23. Christianity provided a solution to the problem of the degeneration of the religious consciousness in the antique world by bringing back sacrifice of the divine king.
  24. The theologies of the reformation began to polemicize against the idea that the central Christian ritual of the Eucharist was a sacrifice. Thus began the decline of Christianity in the West.
  25. It is unclear whether philosophy can replace the role of religion in revealing the essence of the personal as its conceptions of the personal are too puny.
  26. If sacrifice of the divine King can no longer give the individual access to the personal then religions will generate a new way to attain to the absolute individual, to the personal, but that new way has not yet been revealed.
  27. Apocalyptical ideologies within all the major world religions all point to visions of hybrid human/divine beings who partially model possibilities concerning the absolute individual but most of these visions border on jibberish so the only remaining alternative is some combination of religion and philosophy.
  28. This is as I see it a major task of the church in the current age: to develop a vision of the absolute individual by steering the culture through the Scylla of the seductive but dangerous excesses of the fevered religious imagination on the one hand, and the Charybdis of the dangerous excesses of the nihilistic mechanical materialist on the other hand which would suck the individual into an fathomless whirlpool of nothingness.


Full Conscious Participation

By Augustinus

A couple of years ago I and my then five year old daughter went to another town to the Sunday 10:30 mass because I had heard that it was a kid-friendly mass and because a friend of mine sang/played in the choir. When we lived near Boston my daughter and I would to go to Immaculate Conception Parish in Malden where there was a kid friendly mass at 9AM. They had a girls’ choir that sang at the front of the church and it was made up of girls between 4 and 14! They sang beautifully and my daughter loved singing with them. In addition when it came time for the homily the priest or a deacon would invite all the children to come up near the altar and sit down and then he would preach to them and to the congregation by telling simple but profound stories. To this day my daughter still remembers parts of the Gloria because she remembers how it was sung by the choir.

I was not aware until recently that there were special readings for so-called children’s masses. As far as I can tell the mass at this new church we were visiting did not use these rubrics. In any case I will describe the experience of the mass below with a special focus on how the parish facilitated “full, conscious, and active participation.”—something mandated by Vatican II.

My daughter and I sat near the front and center. I noticed that there were seats and places reserved for infirmed people and it soon turned out that people in wheelchairs arrived to take their places near the aisle seats and I was happy to see that. The church itself was beautiful. It was probably built 100 or so years ago as it retained some ornate decorations and paintings on the ceilings and walls. There was a beautiful baptismal font at the front right of the church and the tabernacle was just behind it. There were scenes from Mary’s and Christ’s life painted all round the altar and the altar itself was stone or marble and set in the center of a raised platform. The stations of the cross were elaborate bas relief sculptures set around the church. The stained glass windows looked old but beautiful. There were statues of the Virgin and Christ and a few saints. All in all a very beautiful church.

By the time mass was to begin the place was full…although I could not see all the way back to the rear. But there were definitely a lot of people and that was a happy sight as well. And they were families. Not just elderly people but families. This alone indicates some amount of active participation in this parish.

All of a sudden the ‘choir’ began a song. This was no ordinary choir. There were 2 guitars, a piano and several singers, mostly woman with beautiful voices. The song was pop, upbeat and with a catchy phrase. I have had many bad experiences with guitars at mass but this was tasteful and well done. The female voices elevated the quality of the song beyond pop.

The entrance procession was from the rear. A female acolyte carried the cross, then deacon, lectors and Eucharistic ministers and then the priest, all of them singing the song. When they reached the altar all went to their preassigned places, the priest and the deacon kissed the altar and then stood at their chairs off to the side. The song ceased and the priest began: “In the name of the Father…” then the greeting and then another song: the Gloria done in pop style. Again it was upbeat but it was tasteful and well done.

Next an acolyte held a missal for the priest who read the collect and all in the congregation then said Amen. This Amen and similar responses by the congregation is a sign of full, conscious and active participation by the laity according to the General Instruction. Then the priest and deacon sat and the whole congregation sat down to listen to the Word of God.

The readings were done at the ambo by a reader/lector. The people responded ‘Thanks be to God’ after each reading. A moment of silence was observed throughout the congregation after each reading. The responsorial psalm was sung by the choir with the people singling along the ‘refrain’.

After the psalm was sung the lector sat down and then the choir struck up an alleluia in preparation for the gospel reading. All the people sang along, again indicating participation. When it came time for the gospel reading the Deacon took the missal and held it over his head and processed across the front of the altar. I seem to remember him saying something like its time to listen to the word of God. ..but it was dignified. The book was treated with extraordinary reverence and I had not seen that at other masses.

Then came time for the Homily. The priest asked all the kids in the congregation to come forward and they all did including my daughter. The priest said a few words to the kids and then two ladies brought them down stairs where they were given arts and crafts things to do. When they brought the kids back after the homily it turns out my daughter had made a three leaf clover to signify the Trinity. And I thought that was good.

The homily was well done. The priest started with a joke but then taught basic Catholic dogma and reflected on the gospel reading.

After the Homily the Profession of Faith was said aloud by the entire congregation. I was glad it was not sung. My daughter likes me to pick her up when everyone recites the creed and she watches everyone speak the same words with awe. Again this recitation by all the people is a form of participation.

Next came the ‘Lord hear our prayer’ petitions or the universal prayer. The congregation has some special prayers for persons who had died etc

Next came the collection. This is my kid’s favorite part of the mass! She makes a big deal of putting the money into the basket correctly and she beams with pride once it is done.

During the collection I do not recall people bringing up the gifts to the altar but they may have. After the priest placed the bread and wine on the altar a server brought up a towel and water holder; the priest washed and dried his hands then looked over the congregation and said ‘Pray brothers and sisters that this our sacrifice…” We all replied Amen. Then “the priest invited us to lift up our hearts and we replied lifted up them up to the Lord etc . This again is participation. Then the priest said the Eucharistic prayer.

I noticed that during the Eucharistic prayer we adults were kneeling and praying intently. Although we were all quiet it seems to me that this was the point where participation reached its maximum at this mass. During the Institution narrative and later all in the congregation grew silent as we heard ‘This is my body given up for you’ etc

I myself can often sense the Lord’s presence at this point in the mass. We who are kneeling and listening to the words of consecration offer ourselves up to the Lord along with the Immaculate Victim Christ. This form of participation is consistent with article 48 of Sacrosanctum Consilium (SC):

“The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, they should learn also to offer themselves; through Christ the Mediator, they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.”

Full, active, conscious participation therefore reaches its peak when we offer ourselves along with Christ to the Father and this is participation in the paschal mystery.

Near the end of the Eucharistic prayer the priest and the Deacon raised the host and chalice and said in unison: ‘Through him with him and in him…’

After the Eucharistic prayer we all stood up for the Lord’s prayer. Many held hands. Offering each other the sign of peace came next and my daughter shakes hands with anyone she can—especially other kids. She makes everyone smile! (even me)

Next came the Lamb of God prayer. I love the Agnus Dei and wish it would be sung at this point in every mass. I watched intently as the priest broke the bread with Deacon standing by.

The other peak of participation was being nourished at the Lord’s table thereby entering into union with God. At this mass communion was given under both kinds. After I received the sacred host I also imbibed the cup offered to me and everyone by a server. Although the General Instruction states that all of the servers who help with communion services need to receive the hosts and the cup from the priest I do not believe that that is what happened. I think servers walked up to the altar and took a plate but I can’t be sure if I remember this phase correctly.

Communion took a relatively long time as most people received. The lines were long and I was delighted to see that. The choir sang two different songs-and the woman’s voices were beautiful.

After communion and the song ended the priest cleaned up the altar and then sat head bowed in silence. So did all of us. Then the priest stood up blessed us all and the deacon said the mass is ended go in peace to love and serve the Lord and then they both kissed the altar and the entire group of servers, acolytes, lectors and cross bearers processed out to the front of church where they then greeted parishioners leaving the mass.

Clearly in the modern rite there are many overt opportunities for full, conscious participation. So then why do I feel distracted at these masses? Although I love the modern rite mass I feel that I need to perform for others at the modern rite masses. I need to offer them a sign a peace. I need to sing along with them. I need to verbally recite the responses throughout the mass. I need to do all kinds of publicly observable things at a modern mass. That is not the case at the latin rite mass. While there are a couple of et cum spirito tuos…mostly I kneel and pray along with the priest at a Latin mass. When attending the Latin rite I feel as if I am doing full conscious participation as well—perhaps even more as there are more opportunities for silent prayer. All attention is focused on the altar of sacrifice—not the priests or the servers or the other people attending the mass as is the case in the modern rite. As for kid’s masses I am all for them but I think that it is much better for children to attend a solemn Latin Tridentine type mass….as children need to be exposed to awe and mystery rather than the other attendees at mass. Actually children need both—they need the awe and mystery of the Latin rite mass as well as the full active, conscious participation of the modern mass. I love both the modern rite and the Latin rite but I achieve full conscious participation in the rite only at the Latin mass as there are no distractions there. Nevertheless I need both forms. The division in the church between the modernists and the traditionalists feels reconciled within me.


Acknowledgement: This piece is excerpted and modified from a longer work by Augustinus submitted to St Joseph’s College in 2012




The Didache

By Augustinus


The Didache Eucharistic prayer is considered by most scholars to be one of the earliest accounts we have (along with 1 Corinthians 11:23) of a Eucharistic prayer. Thus an examination of the Didache allows us to begin to identify the elements of the Eucharistic prayer that were there right from the birth of Christianity. I am also interested in the theological issue at the center of the theology of the liturgy, the question of the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist. Many Catholic, Orthodox and protestant theologians have pointed out that references to the body and blood of Christ and his resurrection, i.e. the key elements of the Paschal mystery, are missing in the text of the Didache. I will argue however that we have reasons to believe that the users of this manual would have known the words of the paschal mystery/Institution narrative by heart and thus would have known where in the sequence to pronounce them during the ritual.

I will therefore examine the Didache Eucharistic prayers in order to throw some light on the following questions: What kind of sacrifice is the Eucharist? How did the early Christians understand the Eucharistic sacrifice? What can the Didache Eucharistic prayer tell us about the meaning of the Eucharist, the Eucharistic elements of bread and wine, the Paschal Mystery, about Jesus, and the Church?

I will first summarize the historical background of the text and then present a structural analysis of the order and the identity of the basic elements of the Eucharistic prayer. I will then examine what Christological themes can be identified in the Didache and end with an analysis of whether the authors/editors of the Didache considered the Eucharist a real sacrifice.

Historical Background

The Didache, or Teachings of the Twelve Apostles, has long been known to exist due to quotes and references found in the writings of church fathers. In 1873 Philotheos Bryennios, an Orthodox metropolitan of Nicomedia, discovered apparently complete copies of the text in a monastery at Constantinople.

The Didache as we now have it is a brief work, that is written in the form of a manual or ORDO. It appears to be meant to help presbyters carry out rituals correctly. The first half concerns the initiation rite of baptism and the second half concerns the Eucharist. Only the baptized were allowed to go through the catechumenate in order to be worthy to receive the Eucharist. The manual begins with moral instructions for the aspirant to baptism. It summarizes the “Two Ways” (the Way of Life and the Way of Death). It goes on to give instructions concerning prayer, fasting, and the baptism ritual itself. Then there is a turn towards instructions concerning the Eucharist. Interspersed throughout are guidelines for recognizing false prophets. False prophets did not know the difference between inner and outer mysteries. They did not keep secret the sacred words concerning the Eucharist and they did not understand that Christ was really present after the sacred words were pronounced. This was the message of Ignatius of Antioch as well. The Didache is believed to have come out of the Antochian or Palestinian/Syrian milieu. The Didache concludes with a Maranatha and eschatological warnings to be prepared for Christ’s immanent second coming.

Community Behind the Didache

Most scholars believe the Didache was composed and redacted between the years 50 and 110, perhaps in a rural community dependent to some extent on itinerant preachers/prophets and that nevertheless had access to the Antioch Christian communities. The writer appears to draw from the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke or at least from the same oral traditions that they drew from. There is a mention of a prohibition against eating food sacrificed to idols. That church decision was made at the Council of Jerusalem in AD 49.

Structural Analysis

Even though paragraphs 9, 10 and 14 are ostensibly about Eucharist there is no clearly defined Sanctus, Epiclesis, Institution Narrative, Anamnesis, or Offerings. There is a thanksgiving prayer, intercessions and perhaps a final Amen. In short, there appears to be elements that we today normally take to be the beginning of the Eucharist and elements that normally appear at the end of the Eucharist but all of the central elements appear to be missing.

In addition, the order of elements that are normally found within that center like ‘the breaking /blessing of the bread’ and the ‘blessing/drinking of the cup’ etc.,) are referred to in one or two instructional sentences. The presider is instructed to bless the cup before the bread.

I suggest that the missing central elements are not specified in the text itself because they were considered holy and to be kept secret. Thus the person using this ‘Order’ or church manual would have known an Institution Narrative by heart because those sentences were considered the core of the Christian mystery. That Institution Narrative would have been very close to St Paul’s summary in 1 Corinthians 11: 23:

… The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

In other words, I suggest that the community behind the Didache celebrated a Eucharist (not only an agape) and that it began with the thanksgiving prayer specified in the text (“First, about the cup…”. Then after an Institution Narrative/Anamnesis like 1 Corinthians 11: 23 was recited, the cup was blessed and passed around and then another thanksgiving prayer was recited (as specified in the text “And about the broken bread…”) in preparation for the breaking and blessing of the bread. After the bread was consumed in the communion rite a final thanksgiving was said as specified in the text along with intercessions (“Remember O Lord your church…) and then the final Amen.

There are several reasons to believe that a 1 Corinthians 11: 23 style Institution/anamnesis Narrative was recited in between the thanksgiving prayers.

First the eating of the bread and drinking of the wine was considered by the early Christians as core to their central mysteries (the cross and the resurrection). The core elements of the ancient mystery religions were reserved for initiates only. It was the same for the Christians. They reserved their most holy rituals for the initiated, the baptized. The Didache states this explicitly at the end of Chapter 9: “But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord has said, “Give not that which is holy to the dogs.” In Chapter 11 there is a reference to prophets who reveal and do not reveal the secrets reserved for the initiated: “And every prophet approved and found true, if he does anything as an outward mystery typical of the Church, and yet does not teach you to do all that he himself does, shall not be judged before you.” In his “Mass of the early Christians” (Aquilina, 2007) Mike Aquilina noted that the early church fathers always ordered the baptized not to repeat the Eucharistic prayers to the unbaptized. The unbaptized were always ordered out of the room when the Eucharistic prayers were to be said. This was the essence of the catechumenate. The first sections of the Didache contain instructions for catechumens-people aspiring to be baptized. Aquilina noted that scholars have dubbed this practice of the early Christians ‘the discipline of the secret”.

Additional evidence that the Didache community practiced/recited a full Eucharist with an Institution narrative/Anamnesis might be inferred from the material that alludes to theological themes in the text. First the text knows about the Lord’s Day (see chapter 14). That day (Sunday) was the day upon which Jesus rose from the dead. Thus, there is evidence of recognition of the resurrection. Jesus furthermore is called the “Son” and “Lord” several times throughout the text implying the recognition that Jesus was something more than a prophet or even a great prophet like Moses. There is also a recognition of the Trinity in chapter 7 which concerns the baptism ritual “Having first recited all these things, baptize in living water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” though some scholars claim that “of the Son and Holy Spirit” are later additions to the text.

The Eucharist as a Sacrifice

Finally, the community behind the Didache seemed to have assessed the Eucharist like many other early Christians as a ‘sacrifice’. In Chapter 14 there are instructions concerning the Eucharist as sacrifice and the order in which the elements occur: “And on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.” In other words a confession is accomplished first and then breaking the bread, then thanksgiving…so that the sacrifice will be pure. There is also evidence that the community knew that the Lord Jesus at the last supper referred to breaking of the bread/drinking the cup as a sacrifice as the text paraphrases Malachi 1: 11 to that effect: “For this is the same sacrifice spoken of by the Lord; In every place and at every time offer Me a pure sacrifice; For I am a great king, says the Lord, and My name is wonderful among the nations.” Finally in the thanksgiving prayer recited after the eating of the bread the presider prays ”You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. The bread and wine they had at this Eucharist was understood to have been turned into ‘bread from heaven” that gave them life eternal.



Aquilina, M. The Mass of the early Christians. Second Edition. Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Huntington Indiana, 2007

Baldovin, S. J., John F. Bread of Life, Cup of Salvation: Understanding the Mass. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003.

Jasper, R. C. D., and G. J. Cuming. Prayers of the Eucharist: Early and Reformed. 3rd ed. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1990.

LaVerdiere, S. S. S., Eugene. The Eucharist in the New Testament and the Early Church. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1996.

Metzger, Marcel. History of the Liturgy: The Major Stages. Trans. Madeleine Beaumont. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1997.

Milavec Aaron The Didache: Faith, Hope, & Life of the Earliest Christian Communities, 50-70 C.E.. Paulist Press, 2003.

Acknowledgement: This piece is excerpted and modified from a longer work by Augustinus submitted to St Joseph’s College in 2012


To reverse the crisis in the modern church you need a Marian renewal: On the Marian Ecclesiology of Hans Urs von Balthasar


By Augustinus


Introduction: Vatican II’s ambiguous legacy

Where ever Mary is venerated there you will see the Church’s enemies scatter. Perhaps that is why Marian devotions are so scoffed at by the modern world. Marian devotion is invariably associated with hard identity Catholicism. It is held in contempt by the modern world. It is considered a throw back to pre-enlightenment times–a sure mark of superstitious idiocy. The protestants point to it as a sign of corruption and idolatry and the scientists jeer at it (though they of course “respect” the rosary beads in the hands of a Buddhist…when the Buddhists do it its cool but when the catholics do it its idiocy). It seems to me that if we want to save the church in the modern era we need a revival of hard identity Catholicism –especially in the form of Marian devotions. There is excellent scriptural and theological support for the special veneration the Church shows Mary.

Ever since the Fathers of Vatican Council II decided to place their discussion of Mary, the Mother of God, in the 8th chapter of Lumen Gentium (LG), their document on ecclesiology,theological discussions of the significance of Mary in salvation history have linked that significance, to the nature and mission of her Son’s Church (Jelly 2000).  Although the Council Fathers made it clear that Mary could not be given the prerogatives and functions in the history of salvation that belong solely to her Son, the council Fathers did not specify how the Church’s Marian devotions, liturgies and dogmas, should be interpreted relative to the Marian ecclesiology sketched out in Lumen Gentium. The council Fathers endorsed the idea that Mary’s link to the Church consisted mostly in her being an exemplar of piety for, and Mother to the faithful (LG 65-66). Like Mary, the Church is a Mother to those seeking to give birth to love of Christ. In LG 66 we read “The Church indeed, contemplating her (Mary’s) hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother.”

Thus, the overall accent of the 8th chapter of LG tended to militate against maximalist interpretations of Mary’s role in salvation history as the exalted one of Co-redemptorix and Mediatrix. She was instead “… hailed as a pre-eminent and singular member of the Church, and as its type and excellent exemplar in faith and charity” (LG 54). As if to underline the downgrading of her status as co-redemptorix, the post-Vatican II reforms of the liturgy entailed a great reduction in Marian liturgical celebrations (Thompson 1989). Some Marian feast days were renamed to de-emphasize the role of Mary (the Annunciation of the Lord, the Presentation of the Lord). Other feasts such as the Immaculate Heart of Mary that had previously been obligatory were downgraded to optional status. Still other feasts were dropped entirely, such as The Holy Name of Mary and Our Lady of Ransom (Thompson 1989).

Although she was “Placed by the grace of God, as God’s Mother, next to her Son, and exalted above all angels and men…” (LG 66), Mary’s former titles of co-redemptorix and mediatrix, surely the object of most of the faithful’s devotions to her, were very tightly constrained by the council Fathers. The faithful were reminded in LG’s chapter 8 in no uncertain terms that Mary’s efforts at mediation between humankind and God flow solely from “…the superabundant merits of Christ, relies on his mediatorship, depends completely upon it, and draws from it its entire efficacy (LG 22, 60). Although Mary was exalted as “Queen of Heaven” (LG 59), she had no special privileges in heaven beyond the honor bestowed on her as one of the foremost disciples of Christ. Mary like every other human being was redeemed by Christ and was just another member of Christ’s Church.

But even these changes left some questions unanswered. If Mary is merely the foremost disciple of Christ, as the council Fathers seemed to argue in LG, why was it necessary for her to be born without original sin? Surely no other members of Christ’s Church were born without original sin. If she, like the Church, was mother to Christ and His disciples in the Church down through the ages, how could she be merely first among equals in her Son’s Church? Who would Mother her? If she was the “Woman clothed with Sun” (Rev 12) who crushes the serpent’s head, does that mean any member of Christ’s Church could crush the serpent’s head, even though scripture ascribes that role only to the woman clothed with the sun?

The desire of the council Fathers to “dialog” with Protestant churches and to treat Mary as a non-unique church member in need of redemption like everyone else, while suggestive, was not entirely successful (Balthasar/Ratzinger 1980/2007). How could she be both exalted above all other men and over all angels, and yet still be what the protestant churches required—just another sinful human being in need of redemption? How could she be ordinary and exalted at the same time? Chapter 8 of LG failed to answer that question satisfactorily in my judgment. The council Fathers themselves seemed to recognize this failing when they noted that the Council did not

“…have it in mind to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which the work of theologians has not yet fully clarified. Those opinions therefore may be lawfully retained which are propounded in Catholic schools concerning her, who occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and yet very close to us …” (LG 54).

Thus, it was left to subsequent theological debate and to the further inspirations of the Holy Spirit, to more precisely delineate, within the broad outlines established by the Council, the role of Mary in salvation history and in Church.

Enter Von Balthasar

One of the first theologians to address the doctrinal lacunae on Mary noted by the Council Fathers at Vatican II was Hans Urs von Balthasar. A Swiss theologian most well-known for his hundreds of books on philosophy, Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) also published studies of literature, aesthetics and theology. Perhaps his most famous work was his systematic theology “The Glory of the Lord”, the multi-volume theological aesthetics (Balthasar 1983). He was considered the most cultured man in Europe by none other than the great theologian Henri de Lubac (Ratzinger 1991), and this opinion was seconded by Joesph Ratzinger, now Pope emeritus Benedict XVI (Henrici 1991). He was not only fluent in multiple languages (ancient and modern) but he was also an accomplished pianist (Henrici 1991). He knew and loved all the works of Mozart but gave up the fame of a musical career for a vocation to the priesthood. He entered the Jesuits in 1929 but left the order in 1950. He co-founded a lay order (Community of St John) with the mystic Adreinne von Speyr (1902-1967), and let some of her mystical insights inform many of his theological works. In particular, Von Speyr’s mystical experiences most definitely informed much of Von Balthasar’s Marian speculations and devotions (Roten 1991).

Although von Balthasar did not participate in the Second Vatican Council, he took the work of the Council seriously, calling his theology a “kneeling theology”—obedient to the teaching authority of Mother Church (Henrici 1991). He, like many Council Fathers themselves, did not think that the Council had adequately addressed the theme of Mary. While he welcomed the linking up of Marian theology with ecclesiology, he thought that the council Fathers did not provide the full rationale for taking this step. Nor did they spell out what this step meant for our understanding of the Church itself. He attempted to address these lacunae in some of his most important theological works. In recognition of his many labors, He was made a cardinal by John Paul II in 1988, the year he also died.


Von Balthasar’s Marian ecclesiology

Balthasar had a very definite, if highly speculative, answer to the question as to what the Marian idea had to teach us about the Church. I will first state Balthasar’s general argument concerning Mary and the Church and then unpack that argument in the paragraphs to follow. The central set of concepts that Balthasar contributed (or he would say recovered) for a Marian ecclesiology is, in my view (see also Leahy 2002), the following (see pages 200-206 von Balthasar 1974/2007, and Balthasar/Ratzinger 1980/2007): Given that the Church has a Marian dimension, we must believe that the Church, at least in its Marian inner mystical core, is immaculate, without sin or stain, holy, pure, virginal and incorrupt. That is because Mary as the new Eve has become one flesh with Christ the new Adam. The Church in its truest reality is rooted in the Trinity, and as the mystical body of Christ, is one incorrupt, pure and holy flesh;–derived from the nuptial union of the new Adam (Christ) and the new Eve (Mary).

The primary biblical text that Balthasar refers to again and again in arguing this vision of the Marian Church is Ephesians 5: 25-27 “…just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Given that Christ made the Church His mystical body, the origin of the Church must be within God Himself and outside of time. The Church must pre-exist in the Trinity from before the foundations of the world (Balthasar/Ratzinger 1980/2007). The Church therefore is immaculate, holy and spotless because it finds it source in the Trinity itself. The “People of God” metaphor or the “Pilgrim Church” metaphors, therefore, cannot be the full story about the Church and if made the sole metaphors would reduce the Church to a mere sociologic entity (Balthasar 1972/2007). The Marian core of the Church is instead supernatural, spotless and without sin.

Balthasar says that the real Church, the true, holy, immaculate Church is composed partly of the communion of saints, that exists across all time epochs, visible on earth and invisible in heaven—an eschatological heavenly city, Jerusalem, spoken of by the Church Fathers and in the apocalypse. In addition, the church is the “woman clothed with the sun” (Rev 12) which is also the sign of this eschatological entity because she gives birth to the savior and she does battle with the serpent. In his forward to “Mary, the Church at the source” an ecclesiological treatise, he states: “The Woman of the Apocalypse (Rev 12) who bears the Savior in the pains of childbirth, is the indivisible unity of God’s entire community of salvation: Israel-Mary-Church.”

While Mary points to this supernatural, immaculate and incorrupt core of the Church, the visible Church is composed of several dimensions that derive their life from the mystical Marian dimension which is always primary for Balthasar (Leahy 2002). The eschatological sign of the woman clothed with the Sun who reigns as Queen in heaven is not the whole story. The heavenly city is only a part of the communion of saints, the invisible part. To get Balthasar’s full story we need to step back and look at Balthasar’s exposition on the various pillars or dimensions of the visible Church. After we have in view these various pillars of the Church we will be better able to see Balthasar’s Marian dimension of the Church in clear perspective.


The pillars of the Church

Balthasar cited Mary as the central pillar of the Church with Peter or the Petrine office as the earthly visible pillar and John the beloved disciple as a mediator between the visible and invisible pillars (Balthasar 1972/2007). To understand the Petrine and Johannine pillars we need to briefly recapitulate some of the Marian themes cited above.

Central to Von Balthasar’s Marian ecclesiology is the Vatican II endorsed notion of the Church as mystery, communion or sacrament (LG chapter I; Wood 2000, Trouve 1998). Interestingly Von Speyr cultivated a special devotion to the Marian mysteries, especially to Mary “Our Lady of the Mantle” (Rotin 1991), the Mother of Jesus shrouded in silence and sorrow, and standing at the foot of the Cross. One of Balthasar’s favorite metaphors for Mary’s role in the Church is that she covers the visible Church with her mantle promoting its hidden works of love, healing and redemption (Balthasar 1972/2007). The signal contribution of chapter 8 of LG for Balthasar was that it raised once again the memory of the Marian mystery as the central pillar of the Church’s life.

Before the Church Fathers restored the link between Mary and ecclesiology the practices of the faithful were realizing this fact in their daily popular devotions to her (Jelly 2000). In these popular devotions to Mary she was deemed immaculate, holy, spotless and supremely close to Jesus. She was treated as a co-redemptorix, along with her son Christ. In the modern era, when the Protestant churches were losing memory of this Marian supernatural purity and mysterion at the center of the Church, popular devotions to Mary were picking up among the Catholic and Orthodox faithful. Marian apparitions, the spread of the rosary, novenas, confraternities and cathedrals devoted to our Lady were all picking up from the middle ages right up to the dawn of the cataclysm of the 20th century. Both Balthasar and Von Speyr attached great spiritual and theological significance to these popular Marian devotions.

Balthasar also attached great theological significance to the spate of Marian apparitions that began to occur throughout the world after the colonization of the world by the European empires. For example, Mary appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 telling him to get the Bishop to build a church in her honor. As the world became one world and entered the modern age, Mary began to appear to other lowly and oppressed peoples, and she had a message for the Church and the modern age. She told Bernadette in 1858 at Lourdes “I am the immaculate conception”. Many more such apparitions were to follow and they were often associated with outpourings of Marian piety among the faithful.

For both von Balthasar and Von Speyr the apparitions meant that Christ wanted to communicate some of his mysteries via the popular devotions to Mary (Rotin 1991). Central to Mary’s message in these apparitions has been to recall that the Church, at its core was like Mary, immaculate, supernaturally incorrupt, holy, pure and spotless. Marian theology had to accommodate these “facts on the ground”. “To the extent to which immaculateness of Mary becomes confirmed…, it can become the original core of that church which remains virginal in relation to her Lord, even in wedded fruitfulness, and which has an all-embracing motherly role in relation to the Church’s paternal and official sphere and in relation to the people as a whole” (Balthasar 1974/2007, 210).

When Balthasar began his mature theological reflections on Marian doctrine after Vatican II, he had the bloody 20th century as background, Von Speyrs mystical experiences, the Marian apparitions and the ambiguous legacy of Vatican II’s reflections on Mary to work with. For Bathasar, Mary’s role in salvation history has to be linked up with the Vatican II idea of Church as sacrament and mystery (Leahy 2002). The triple mystery of Mary’s life as virgin, bride, and Mother is also the mystery of the Church. Like Mary the church is a virgin “spotless and without wrinkle”. She is the bride of Christ and therefore constitutes a nuptial mystery between Christ and His Church, where the two become one flesh. Finally, like Mary the Church is Mother. She gives birth to those reborn in the spirit, now capable of divine filiation.

But the Church in this world is not holy and incorrupt. If the supernatural reality is that the church is holy and incorrupt, its earthly members surely are not. For Balthasar we simply cannot rest knowing that the gates of hell will not prevail against the immaculate invisible Church. We men live in history and a bloodstained history at that. To be in the world but not of it we need the sacraments. For the sacraments we need an apostolic succession and a priesthood, and for these latter charisms and institutions we need a Petrine teaching office. This is the pillar that is counterposed to the Marian mystical core of the Church for Balthasar (Balthasar 1974/2007, 219).

The Marian dimension of the Church, however, comes before the Petrine dimension. This is a key point: If you put the Petrine dimension first and de-emphasize the Marian or the Johannine dimensions you will enhance tendencies for crisis in the church. Balthasar says “Mary as the handmaid of the Lord is in one sense placed on a level with everyone else in the Church…and yet she cannot be put completely on the same level as other believers because only she was Jesus’ physical mother and thus “pre-redeemed”….she is pre-redeemed so that she can give birth to the Redeemer…this is true already from the first moment of the incarnation…” (Balthasar 1980, 139-140), i.e. before the historical last supper and Christ’s crucifixion. Given that Mary’s yes/Fiat was the beginning of the incarnation and given that this was the moment of the birth of the Church itself, it follows (for Balthasar) that “the Church already existed from the time of the incarnation.” The immaculate Church existed before the 12 apostles were called and the Petrine office was instituted by Christ. “The realized idea of the Church comes at the beginning; everything subsequent, even ecclesiastical office with its sacred functions, is secondary…In Mary the Church is embodied even before being organized in Peter” (Balthasar 1980, 140). Thus the Marian element of the Church is prior to its Petrine element. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church put it: “Mary goes before us all in the holiness that is the Church’s mystery as “the bride without spot or wrinkle.” This is why the “Marian” dimension of the Church precedes the “Petrine” (CCC #773).

Von Balthasar added to this a dimension perhaps overlooked? A third pillar of the Church is the Johannine dimension derived from the beloved disciple, John. “In none of the gospels do the Marian and Petrine spheres touch directly. But John is intimately linked with both of them and understand this bond as something laid upon him” (Balthasar 1974/2007 241). The Johannine dimension of the Church plays a mediating role between Peter and Mary. Interestingly, the Marian mystical core of the Church is not given to the Petrine office for protection but is given over to the beloved disciple. At the foot of the cross in John 20, Jesus gives His Mother Mary to John the beloved disciple and he gives John, and in John, all of us, His mother Mary as Mother to all of us in Christ (Balthasar 1972/2007).

To fill out Balthasar’s rich conception of the pillars of the Church we only need briefly mention the Pauline and the Jacobite dimensions-despite their huge importance for the history of the Church. The Pauline dimension mediates the various charisms in the Church and is counterposed to the Jacobite/James, ‘Brother of the Lord’ dimension which mediates the ‘handing down of tradition’ dimension in the Church.

We have now reviewed the essentials of Balthasar’s rich conception of the Marian dimension of the Church. It interacts with the visible dimension of the Church via the Johannine and Petrine offices. If the Petrine dimension loses touch with the Marian the Church draws near to the danger of sinking into a mere sociological organization. If the Johannine dimension loses touch with the Petrine pillar it draws near to the danger of overly mystical excesses and hyper-spiritual Gnostic deviations. In addition if the Johannine dimension loses touch with the Petrine office the Petrine office will lose the ability to protect and serve the Marian dimension. If the Jacobite dimension is neglected the Church will unduly adapt to current circumstances rather than pass on what was given to it intact. If we neglect the Pauline dimension we will get a liturgy without spirit and with empty formalisms. Balthasar never clearly answers who implements the Johannine functions in the Church. He tends to say that these people are the hidden ones and the great doctors and saints of the church. Same with the other dimensions but they all invite further theological investigation.



            If we want to reverse the crisis hitting the Catholic church in the modern age we would do well to reinvigorate the Marian pillar of the church. Renewing the Marian dimension recalls the attention of the Church to the supernatural core of the Church. While the Church has never really lost touch with its central immaculate core there was some tendency after Vatican II to emphasize the ‘People of God” metaphor at the expense of the ‘mystical body of Christ’ metaphor and this in turn tended to treat the church as a mere sociologic organization that needed to be democratized and rationalized like any other organization (Ratzinger 2008). For Balthasar, when fathers of Vatican II recovered Mary’s links with ecclesiology they also provided the hints at a corrective against the over-literalizing of the ‘People of God’ motif laid out in other sections of Lumen Gentium. On the other hand all they provided were hints—not a complete theology of Mary and the Church. Indeed the language of chapter 8 of LG tended to treat Mary as merely another member, no matter how foremost, of the Church. Paul VI’s attempts to restore Mary’s mediatory titles in his 1974 exhortation (Paul VI 1974) did not completely address the need for a full Marian ecclesiology either. Balthasar’s effort to meet that need seem to me to be much more successful than earlier efforts.

Balthasar’s fundamental contribution in my view to Marian ecclesiology is that he teaches us to take the incarnation seriously. Just like the Cross, the incarnation has been a stumbling block to people both within and outside the Christian orbit since the days of Jesus himself. The ancient world could not believe that God could become a man. Neither did Jews believe this. Gods could possess human beings and human beings could become godlike but God did not stoop to become man. Flesh was bad and disgusting. Why would God honor it so? But He did, and Bathasar reminds us that certain consequences for Mariological doctrines follow from the central fact of the incarnation.

The flesh that God became was Marian. It depended on Mary’s Fiat. Once she said yes the incarnation began. She gave her flesh so that the Word could become flesh. Her Yes reversed the disobedience exhibited by Eve. Balthasar asks whether any of our Yes-es when we receive the Eucharist would have been possible without Mary’s ability to say Yes (Balthasar/Ratzinger 1980/2007). Before the other pillars of the Church were even aware of Jesus, the Marian pillar was busy at work—though hidden and obscure. Jesus came to self-reflection via reflection in Mary’s consciousness. He came to maturity under Mary and Joesph’s protection and tutelage. To take the incarnation seriously we must grapple with the status of Mary.

Mary cannot be just another creature in need of redemption. She cannot be God either. She is higher than the angels and she is unique among humans given her immaculate conception and glorious assumption into heaven. She is greater than any of the prophets—again because of the incarnation. Her status is therefore unique.

Perhaps the best metaphor or category that the Church theologians and Fathers have come up with to understand Mary is the New Eve. She is, along with Jesus, the first of a new creation. She is an entirely new category of human being. Her flesh is like Jesus’ resurrection body-divinized, -yet still human. She is not to be worshipped. God alone deserves that. But she like all other Mothers deserves veneration. Her status as first of the new creation also gives her powers. She has the ability via her connections to Jesus, to facilitate our re-birth into the new creation as new beings. Devotions and supplications to her, therefore, are legitimate.

As the first of the new creation Mary has a special role to play in the Church. She covers it with her mantle and keeps it spotless. She gives birth to the sons and daughters of the new Jerusalem. She crushes the serpent. Most importantly perhaps she communicates with the saints and doctors of the Church, those members of the Johannine community/pillar, that help the Petrine and other pillars of the Church guide the faithful through the bloodstained fields of history so that they arrive ultimately together at the heavenly Jerusalem.




Works cited


Balthasar, Hans Urs von.The Glory of the Lord: A Theological Aesthetics, translated by ErasmoLeiva-Merikaki. Edited by Joseph Fessio and John Riches. New York: Crossroad, 1983.


________. The Office of Peter and the Structure of the Church. Translated by Andrée

Emery. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1972/2007.


Balthasar, Hans Urs von and Joseph Ratzinger.Mary: The Church at the source.Translated by Adrian Walker.San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1980/2005.


Corinne Crammer, “One Sex or Two: Balthasar’s Theology of the Sexes.” In The

Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar. Edited by Edward T. Oakes

and David Moss, 93-112. Cambridge, UK: The Cambridge University Press,



Jelly, Frederick M. Mary and the Church.In: Peter Phan (Ed) The gift of the church. A textbook of ecclesiology in honor of Patrick Garfield, O.S.B. Collegeville, MN, The Liturgical Press, 2000, pps 435-458.


Henrici, Peter. “Hans Urs von Balthasar: A sketch of his life.” in Schindler, David L. (Editor). Hans Urs von Balthasar: His life and work. Communio Books, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1991, pps.7-45.


Leahy, Brendan. The Marian Profile in the Ecclesiology of Hans Urs von Balthasar.

New York: New City Press, 2002.


“Lumen Gentium” Dogmatic constitution on the church. (1964).


Paul VI, Pope. Apostolic Exhortation Marialiscultus. Vatican City: TypisPolyglottis,



Roten, Johann. The two halves of the moon: Marian anthropological dimensions in the common mission of Adrienne von Speyr and Hans Urs von Balthasar, in Schindler, David L. (Editor). Hans Urs von Balthasar: His life and work. Communio Books, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1991, pps.65-87.


Ratzinger Cardinal Joseph, Homily at the funeral of Hans Urs von Balthasar, in Schindler, David L. (Editor). Hans Urs von Balthasar: His life and work. Communio Books, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1991, pps 291-298.


Ratzinger, Joseph, Cardinal. Church, Ecumenism & Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology. San Francisco: Ignatius, 2008. Print.


Thomas A. Thompson. The Virgin Mary in the Liturgy, 1963-1988.Marian Studies 40

(1989), 81.


Trouve, M. L. (1998). The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II (Ecclesial Classics)

NY: Pauline Books & Media.

U.S. Catholic Church.Catechism of the Catholic Church. 2nded. New York: Image

Books/Doubleday, 2003.


Wood, Susan, K. The church as communion. In: Peter Phan (Ed) The gift of the church. A textbook of ecclesiology in honor of Patrick Garfield, O.S.B. Collegeville, MN, The Liturgical Press, 2000, pps 159-176.


Acknowledgement: This piece is excerpted and modified from a longer work by Augustinus submitted to St Joseph’s College in 2012


Our Purpose

This blog is dedicated to discussion of the crisis in the global Roman Catholic Church. While all agree that there is a crisis there is no agreement on how to respond to that crisis. Founded by three Catholic men who revere the Church and its mission; to hand on– intact, the inexhaustible riches of Christ, this blog will seek to explore responses to the crisis that are consistent with magisterial teaching and faithful to the traditions of the Church. To some extent the Church has always been in crisis but the crisis we face in the modern age is different. First, it is global –encompassing far more than the cultures rooted in the European west and the ancient Roman Empire. Second, the modern crisis occurs in the context of the rise and incomparable successes of the sciences which seem to call into question the veracity of fundamental church doctrines. Third, political cultures all around the world have adopted the legal doctrine or at least the popular mindset of “separation of church and state”, thus treating the Catholic Church like any other religious faction and consequently banishing all talk of God from the public square. Fourth, the global human community itself is facing unprecedented challenges on every front and is doing so – seemingly, without the clearly-articulated and singularly-principled leadership of the Church. Fifth and finally, Holy Mother Church is divided within itself with those divisions appearing as intractable – rooted as they are in ancient disputes about fundamental doctrine.

What can a blog like this do to address these extraordinary challenges confronting the Church in the modern age?  Only the Holy Spirit can answer that question.


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