Through Shadows and Images...

A Blog by Tom Gourlay

Category: Through Shadows and Images… (Page 1 of 3)

Book Review: God and Eros: The Ethos of the Nuptial Mystery, Colin Paterson and Conor Sweeney, eds.

Below is a review I wrote of a recently published book entitled God and Eros: The Ethos of the Nuptial Mystery, by Colin Paterson and Conor Sweeney, eds.

The review can be found in full at Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture

Gourlay, Thomas V. (2018) “Book Review: God and Eros: The Ethos of the Nuptial Mystery,” Claritas: Journal of Dialogue and Culture: Vol. 7 : No. 1 , Article 14.
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/claritas/vol7/iss1/14

“While God and Eros: The Ethos of the Nuptial Mystery was published around the same time as the two synods on marriage and the family (2014–2015) and seems to address many of the hot-button issues discussed at those meetings, the essays that comprise this volume were written well in advance of those synods. They reflect thinking that is both theologically rigorous and of profound pastoral sensitivity.

God and Eros is a collection of papers from the erstwhile John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne, Australia…” (Continue reading…)

The fact of the Incarnation

“The fact of the incarnation, this inconceivable Christian claim, has remained in history in its substance and entirety: a man who is God–who thus knows man–and whom man must follow if he is to have true knowledge of himself and all things. This initial experience has an unequivocal meaning: destiny has not left man alone. It is an event which was announced throughout the centuries and which reaches us even today. The real problem at hand is that man recognize this with love.”
– Luigi Giussani, ‘At the Origin of the Christian Claim’, 107.

Image: Nicholas Poussin, Nativité (c.1653)
Manage

 

Faith is always faith in the Unseen

This blessed Easter season always gives me pause, as we contemplate the deepest and most profound mysteries of our faith.

I was struck by a short posting by the Albacete Forum, which I now re-post here.

“We would be wrong to think that those who believe without seeing have greater faith than those who have seen. Faith is always faith in the Unseen; otherwise it would not be faith! Those who believed in Our Lord did not believe because they saw Him; after all, Mary Magdalen saw Him and at first she did not recognize Him! The disciples on their way to Emmaus saw Him, and they did not recognize Him at first either. It is not enough to see the Risen Lord in order to believe in Him. Something more is required: first, Our Lord has to reveal Himself, that is to say, He has to offer us the opportunity to recognize Him, better, He has to offer us the gift or grace of recognition. And second, we must have the interior dispositions that will allow us to accept this gift, and those interior dispositions are themselves a gift from God! The “advantage” of those who have not seen Him and believed must refer to something else; it cannot be a matter of greater faith… 

A revealing encounter with Our Lord Jesus Christ takes place through the mediation of something external to us, something which is the fruit of the faith of those who have faith. Those who come to believe in Him this way are “blessed,” or “fortunate,” more so than those who first saw Him, precisely because those who come later have at their disposal the testimony of the former ones. They have at their disposal the Tradition of believers, the Tradition of the Church, embodied in Sacred Scripture.”

– Lorenzo Albacete, Easter homily, April, 1993.

Book Review: Catholic Theology – by Tracey Rowland.

Below is a review I wrote of a recently published book entitled Catholic Theology by Tracey Rowland.

The review can be found in full at the Heythrop Journal

Catholic Theology. By Tracey Rowland. Pp. 256, London, T&T Clark, 2017, $20.89. ISBN 978-0567034380. Review by Thomas V. Gourlay

The latest offering from Australian theologian Tracey Rowland is sure to cause somewhat of a stir in theology faculty lounges. Her recent and somewhat boldly titled Catholic Theology is published as part of Bloomsbury’s Doing Theology series and pulls no punches, as she offers readers her take on the landscape of Catholic theology leading up to and since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Continue reading…

Book Review: Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins – Margaret Harper McCarthy, ed.

Below is a review I wrote of a recently published volume entitled Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins, edited by Margaret Harper McCarthy.

The review can be found in full at the Homiletic and Pastoral Review

Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce, and the Recovery of Origins. By Margaret Harper McCarthy, ed., Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017 (ISBN 978-0-8028-7205-0), viii + 316 pp., $34.00. Reviewed by Thomas V. Gourlay.

In listening to Catholic and Christian commentators engage in public debate about the nature and purposes of marriage in the contemporary context, one could easily be fooled into thinking that the only feature that distinguishes a Catholic/Christian view of marriage from popular revisionist views, is the insistence that marriage is only possible between one man and one woman. Such a collection of thoughts such as this, though, points to another fundamental and stark difference between the currently popular view of marriage, and the Catholic, and more broadly Christian, understanding of the institution, namely, its indissolubility…. continue reading

Book Review: Liturgy and Personality – Dietrich von Hildebrand

Below is a review I wrote for Dietrich von Hildebrand’s book Liturgy and Personality, which was recently retranslated and published by the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project. The review can be found in full at the Downside Review.

 

Liturgy and Personality. By Dietrich von Hildebrand. Steubenville, OH: Hildebrand Press, 2016. Pp. 160. US$17.99. ISBN 9781939773005.

First published in 1932 at the height of the Liturgical Movement, this new translation of philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand’s (1889–1977) classic Liturgy and Personality from the newly founded Hildebrand Press, with a new foreword by Bishop Robert Barron, offers contemporary readers an opportunity to encounter a profoundly contemplative and yet rigorous treatment of the liturgy’s transformative potential.
One time student of famed phenomenological originator Edmund Husserl, Dietrich
von Hildebrand’s conversion to the Catholic faith in 1914 resulted in a multitude of
works on the spiritual life from the unique perspective of phenomenological personalism. Liturgy and Personality is one of his earlier works in Christian spirituality but demonstrates mature thinking concerning the formative role of liturgy in the lives of believers, avoiding the polemics which often accompanied his later works as he sought to clarify various liturgical excesses which followed the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965)… continue reading

“A particular history…”

A particular history is the keystone of the Christian conception of man, of his morality, in his relationship with God, with life, and with the world. Our hope is in Christ, in that Presence that, however distracted and forgetful we be, we can no longer (not completely, anyway) remove from the earth of our heart because of the tradition through which He has reached us.

– Luigi Giussani

I read the text of the Christmas poster when it was released and, I must confess, did not think much of it at the time.

Having been exposed to this text again via an email from a friend I have spent some more time reflecting on it. For me, this particularity that Giussani mentions is the great scandal or stumbling block of the Christian faith.

Why then, why there?

Why not here, and now?

Giussani draws our attention to this tradition through which He (Jesus) has reached us, the Church. Giussani shakes us from falling back into that common conception of the Church as merely an institution or structure of purely human making, because if that is true then we really have no need for it. The Church then is not life giving, but rather a museum, interesting perhaps, but not essential. In fact, it is a particular history that in many respects, one would want to distance oneself from.

If however we see or experience the Church for what it truly is, an unbroken communion of persons united in the living person of Christ, and the Communion of the Trinity, we see and experience it as a living and breathing body. As a memory, not only of something that happened long ago, but a memory of something that continues to happen in my life, and in the world, despite, as Giussani says, my distractedness and forgetfulness (of which there is much!). The living tradition exists as a real and tangible reminder of Him whom we follow. It is the ongoing presence of Him whom we follow.

This particularity is, as previously mentioned, scandalous in many respects but it is also Christianity’s greatest strength – it is it’s only point of truth. Without the concrete particularity of His coming amongst us as a clump of blood in the womb of the Virgin of Nazareth; as a helpless child born in a stable; as a walking, talking, tortured and crucified man; without all this Jesus is merely abstract, merely an idea. Without him passing by, on the shore where John was Baptising; without Him being singled out by the Baptist as the ‘Lamb of God’; without John and Andrew following after him, and Him asking them what it is that they want – without this encounter there is no living tradition, no Church, no ongoing presence of Him who Is.

So yes, He was really and truly present then and there, in a particular way, but He really is present to us now in and through the Communion of Believers, the Church.

Love that Suffers Freedom

The current president of the Fraternity of the new ecclesial movement founded by Don Luigi Giussani is a man by the name of Fr Julian Carron. I have been fortunate enough to have spent some time reading his works over the last year or so and have particularly benefited from his recent book Disarming Beauty, which I would wholeheartedly recommend.

I have been reading and rereading sections from this book over the past few months and have been continually struck by one of the key themes offered in the book, that freedom is so essential to the human person. Carron proposes to the reader that the way to truth is through freedom, and that love must, in fact, suffer human freedom.

Carron’s words inspire much contemplation and prayer, but I have found that the truths which he hopes to introduce his readers to are perhaps more adequately communicated via the media of poetry and literature. His writing reminded me of the tale of Jayber Crow, so beautifully told by a favourite author of mine, Wendell Berry.

What follows is a quote from the novel, the internal monologue of the main protagonist as he experiences something of an epiphany. My hope is that if anyone reading this post has not yet read either of these books, Disarming Beauty, or Jayber Crow, that he or she would do so with immediacy.

Just as a good man would not coerce the love of his wife, God does not coerce the love of his human creatures, not for Himself or for the world or for one another. To allow that love to exist fully and freely, He must allow it not to exist at all. His love is suffering. It is our freedom and His sorrow. To love the world as much even as I could love it would be suffering also, for I would fail. And yet all the good I know is in this, that a man might so love this world that it would break his heart.

Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, 254

The Nature of Nature: Concerning the Efficacy of Natural Law Reasoning

I was fortunate enough to have had a paper accepted for publication over at New Blackfriars Review, a journal published out of New Blackfriars priory in Oxford.

The paper is based on a comment I stumbled across in reading some Cardinal Ratzinger, and develops a critique of New Natural Law reasoning I found in the writings of Prof. Tracey Rowland.

The paper touches on something that I have been thinking about a lot of late, that being the nature of nature – which I hope to be able to develop further on at a later date.

Below you will find the abstract. The paper can be read in full here.

The Nature of Nature: Concerning the Efficacy of Natural Law Reasoning

ABSTRACT:

Recourse to natural law reasoning has long been a part of how Catholics and Christians engage in debates about issues of public and private morality with people and communities of people who do not share the Catholic/Christian faith. But with the rise of modernity, the scientific revolution, and the relative success of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, many Catholics have begun to question traditional natural law reasoning. Some, including theorists like Germain Grisez, and John Finnis have sought to modify traditional natural law reasoning and continue to employ it within debates concerning public and private ethics, while others, acknowledging the radically altered conception of nature that followed the scientific revolution have thought to look for alternative modes of engagement. The following paper will seek to develop an argument against proponents of this altered version of natural law theory, what has come to be called New Natural Law theory, on the basis of the altered understanding of nature in the contemporary West, and the New Natural Law propensity to sideline the question of nature itself. The paper will then go on to advocate for an alternative and more confessional mode of engagement in public debate.

Continue reading: here.

Receiving the Gift: A Way of Life Open to Reality

This essay was previously presented at the National Billings Ovulation Method Teachers’ Weekend. The full text of this paper can be found at Homiletic and Pastoral Review, here.

A baby in utero at about 14 weeks. And, the Blessed Mother visits her relative, Elizabeth.

Receiving the Gift: A Way of Life Open to Reality

If the Christmas Season is about anything, it’s about the salvific nature of the human body, human flesh, the human condition as united to God’s divinely perfect nature in Christ. It is about saying “yes,” fiat, when God breaks into our lives, and it is about bearing new life when the Lord of all life draws near. Unfortunately, contemporary ways of thinking tend to reduce reality, including our own bodies, to merely mechanical things. I am my thoughts, or my mind. My body is not me, but instead something that I possess. It is as if all the material things around me, including my body, is merely dumb stuff which I can technologically manipulate at will to achieve the ends which I see fit. This is played out, for example in contemporary gender theory, which sees people as free to determine their gender, regardless of their biological sex. I am biologically a man, but in my mind, I choose to be, and therefore am a woman. Not only then do I chose to act or behave in ways which I see as being feminine, but I may even begin to take drugs or undergo some kind of surgery to bring about phenotypical or physically observable changes to my body…. Continue reading…

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén