Joseph A. Komonchak

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

By this author

Ted Hesburgh, S.J. UPDATED...

The headline in a piece in NCR Today:  "University presidents reflect on the life of Jesuit Fr. Ted Hesburgh". 

Irony? Freudian slip?

But now I see that he's been de-Jesuitized in the headline, and an apology issued.

Jesus in the wilderness. A video

In preparation for tomorrow's Gospel, and in hopeful support of our own forty days... Sent to me by a friend.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-6a25Yo2wE&feature=em-share_video_user

"Fasting is not enough"

Some things to consider doing for Lent:

Do something positive–not just giving up things (yet another attempt to lose weight!): (Augustine: “Fasting is not enough”). The money you save by what you give up should go to the poor.

getting in touch with people (relatives, friends)

a letter
a phone call
a visit

visiting the sick, the elderly, the lonely

repairing a broken relationship–take the initiative

asking for forgiveness
bestowing forgiveness

Augustine in Lent

 Early in 2008 I wrote to the editors of Commonweal to ask if during Lent I might send to the dotCommonweal blog daily excerpts from St. Augustine’s writings. They agreed, and many people were kind enough to thank me for them and interested enough to comment upon the texts. I don’t seem to have repeated this exercise in 2009 and 2010, but each of the years since 2011 I have returned to it and I intend to offer new excerpts this Lent, too.

Last year the editors asked that the excerpts not be published on dotCommonweal but appear rather on the main website of the magazine, under the title “Lenten Reflections.” I agreed to that and have also agreed to the same arrangement for the coming series, even though last year comments on the excerpts were disappointingly few and far between. It would appear that readers of the homepage are not as inclined to comment as are participants in dotCommonweal. But the editors tell me that the Lenten reflections have attracted a lot of people to the home page, and this is significant for the journal’s bottom line. We agreed, however, that there could be a weekly summary or collection of the excerpts, which I believe will appear on Fridays. In any case, if you are interested, you know where you can find them, and, please, feel free to comment. Otherwise I gain the impression that they’ve fallen, to use Hume’s phrase, “still-born from the press.”

Some people have asked me where I found the excerpts.

Archbishop Romero, martyrdom, and ecumenism

Pope Francis, early on, unblocked the cause for the canonization of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and it has recently been reported that theologians in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concluded unanimously that he is rightly regarded as a martyr for the faith.

Attics (or closets)

I’m reading Marylynne Robinson’s “Home” and found this lovely description, which may evoke memories in others, too, or make them think of their own attics now, or closets....

Christmas paradoxes

I sent this in five years ago, and some liked it, so forgive me if I send it again:

The Word of the Father, through whom time was made, became flesh and made his birthday in time, and he willed a single day for his human birth without whose divine permission no day rolls round. With the Father he precedes all the spaces of ages; born this day of a mother he inserted himself into the courses of the years.

The maker of man was made man [homo factus hominis factor] so that

the ruler of the stars might suck at breasts,

Emile Poulat: Prayer, the poor, and peace

Emile Poulat died last Saturday at the age of 94. I do not know how well he is known by U.S. Catholics, apart, that is, from those who have taken a more than average interest in the sociology of 20th-century Catholics. They know him for his many works on the encounter between the Catholic Church and modern culture and society, especially in France.

Ordained a priest in 1945, he joined the ranks of the “worker priests” who departed from traditional ways of exercising the ministry and went to share the lives and fortunes of workers in factories and on docks.

Another anniversary: Unitatis Redintegratio

Today is also the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Unitatis redintegratio, Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism. I’ll begin with a few personal anecdotes about relations between Catholics and Protestants in the 1940s and 1950s.

I grew up in Nanuet, a small town in New York State about twenty-five miles from Manhattan. I attended the small public grammar school where of the twenty-six in  my graduating class (1952) three were Jews, seven or eight were Catholics, and the rest were Protestants. We all got along very well. The atmosphere was generally Christian–this was before the Supreme Court banned prayer in public schools--and we learned and sang Christian hymns at Thanksgiving (“We Gather Together”) and a month later Christmas carols. (I do not know what the three Jews made of it.) My older sisters remember that in the public grammar school they had attended, the day opened with the common recitation of the Twenty-third Psalm, in the King James version, of course.

Fifty years ago: Lumen gentium

Tomorrow will be the fiftieth anniversary of the promulgation of Lumen gentium, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which by some standards can be said to be the most important document issued by the Council.

Everyone expected that the Council would attempt to redress the imbalance in ecclesiology caused by the premature closing of the First Vatican Council which prevented that body from issuing the full statement on the Church that had been planned. The only document produced on the Church defined the supreme jurisdictional primacy of the pope and the infallibility of certain exercises of his teaching role. This restricted focus guaranteed that subsequent ecclesiology would be skewed, and it contributed to what Fr. Yves Congar called “the incredible inflation” of the papal teaching role. Vatican II, it was hoped, would redress the balance, particularly by rehabilitating the role of bishops as something more than “legates of the pope.”