When the wind blows hard, it requires some effort…
But without wind, no problem…
Germans, Mexicans, Filipinos, and plenty of Americans taking each other’s pictures in such poses.
Seems unfair to the tower, which still does its duty: holding the bells aloft, to summon Christians to Mass in this magnificent Duomo next door.
St. Ranieri presides over the south trancept.
Pisa’s “Palazzo Blu” has a collection of interesting paintings like this one, artist unknown…
Which brings us to another town, further up the Arno…
The cloisters of Florence abound with paintings of St. Thomas Aquinas.
This last one adorns the wall of a cell in the Museo San Marco, where Fra Angelico produced the most breathtaking collection of paintings I have ever seen, for the spiritual benefit of his Dominican brothers.
One cell has this painting, which has inspired me for over twenty years. I never knew where the original was, until now…
The ghost that haunts Fra Angelico’s San Marco most intently, however, is Fra Geronimo Savanarola. He ruled as prior at the time of his arrest and execution in the Piazza della Signoria.
I will have more to say about Savanarola when I get home and have a real keyboard to work with. I think he is both less of a hero and less of a villain than his lovers and his haters make him out to be. He was, without a doubt, an eminently learned Thomist.
The thing he did that I find most charming: he appealed to an ecumenical council against the corrupt Borgia pope and proposed that Florence replace Rome as the Holy See.
(Savanarola wasn’t as kooky as you might think there; an earlier pope lived for a decade in Florence–and presided over an ecumenical council there– earlier in Savanarola’s 15th century.)
…I did not realize until I saw the statue in person that Michelangelo’s David holds a stone in his right hand–to use against Goliath, I suppose.
On the south side of the Arno, you can see this crucifix by the same artist.
In the infirmary, second floor of this old building at Fossanova Abbey. There’s a little chapel there now.
Fossanova is about an hour’s drive from Thomas’ birthplace in Roccasecca. Not exactly close, since he didn’t ride a horse and traveled exclusively on foot.
But considering that the man had walked some 9,000 miles in his life, had lived in Paris, and was in fact on his way to Lyons, France (on foot) when he fell deathly ill, the moment came remarkably close to Aquino, and the mountains he gazed upon in his youth.
When I visited Ars years ago, a saint who had previously intimidated me by his austerity of life (John Vianney) became human to me, when I saw the very confessional where he sat for hours on end, and the ramshackle little kitchen where he boiled his potatoes.
Now, a saint whose mind has intimidated me suddenly became more human, because I have seen the mountains where he grew up, and where he died.
The ridges of Lazio could move you to contemplate the Five Ways, to be sure. That’s just the beginning of what they can make you contemplate.
The ancient* abbey where St. Thomas studied as a boy looms above the sweet little city of Cassino.
* That is, re-built…
…ater being destroyed completely by US bombs in February, 1944.
St. Thomas prayed at the tombs of Saints Benedict and Scholastica, which are now in a chapel below the high altar of the basilica.
The young student from nearby Aquino may have read this very biography of St. Benedict…
And this textbook of science…
He probably walked through this doorway (now preserved in the abbey museum).
And trod these floor tiles.
…In his treatise on justice in the Summa, St. Thomas considers some questions about criminal trials, including how many witnesses are required to establish a fact.
In the third objection in II-II q70 art2, St. Thomas quotes a medieval canon which decrees that, to establish a fact against a Cardinal, sixty-four witnesses are required.
This is of particular interest, considering:
St. Thomas approves of the (practically insuperable) requirement, with this argument:
The rule protects the Roman Church [that is, the College of Cardinals], on account of its dignity: and this for three reasons. First because in that Church those men ought to be promoted whose sanctity makes their evidence of more weight than that of many witnesses. Secondly, because those who have to judge other men, often have many opponents on account of their justice, wherefore those who give evidence against them should not be believed indiscriminately, unless they be very numerous. Thirdly, because the condemnation of any one of them would detract in public opinion from the dignity and authority of that Church, a result which would be more fraught with danger than if one were to tolerate a sinner in that same Church, unless he were very notorious and manifest, so that a grave scandal would arise if he were tolerated.
A lot to consider here; I promise to come back and discuss this thoroughly when I get back home.
In the meantime, though, we can say for sure that the judge in Massachusetts will not have such a high threshold, when it comes to allowing testimony. (Plus, McC is no longer a Cardinal anyway, as of summer 2018.)
In this case, I believe it will actually benefit the Holy See in the long run, that the word of one accuser–with plenty of circumstantial evidence to support what he has to say–will be allowed against this particular accused criminal.
There are a lot of facts that need to come out, and getting them out will, in the end, help the Church.
If you can hang tight until March, you will be able to read about many of those facts in Ordained by a Predator. Good Lord willing, the book will see print then.
Today, some 1,978 years ago, our Lady finished her earthly pilgrimage, and the Lord took her to Himself. Mary went to heaven, body and soul.
Thirteen years ago today, this little weblog began. And right around three years ago, it became… controversial. Controversial, at least, in the eyes of the Catholic bishop of Richmond, Virginia.
In a couple weeks I will make a pilgrimage to visit some holy sites in Italy.
Good Lord willing, I will pray at the birthplace of St. Thomas Aquinas, his childhood school (which houses the tombs of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica), and also at the abbey where the Angelic Doctor died. Near there, they keep his skull in a reliquary, in the ancient cathedral of Priverno.
Also, good Lord willing, I will visit the duomo in Florence, where they keep relics of St. John the Baptist, the Apostles Andrew and Philip, and St. John Chrysostom. Near there is the Shrine of St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi. Also I will visit the tomb of St. Gemma Galgani and the grave of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton’s husband. (After he died, she embraced the Catholic faith.) I will return just in time for Becky Ianni’s talk in our speakers’ series.
I am trying to get the manuscript of my book Ordained by a Predator ready to send to a potential publisher before I leave.
As I edited my chapter on McCarrick’s career, I realized that I had two unanswered questions pertaining to the first diocese that he governed as a bishop, namely Metuchen NJ.
On December 5, 2005, McCarrick’s third successor in office in Metuchen, Bishop Paul Bootkoski, called the papal nuncio to tell him about two of McCarrick’s seminarian victims.
One of these victims had formally complained about McCarrick over a year earlier, in August of 2004. The other victim had first complained well over a decade before that. (The Vatican had actually received a report about this seminarian’s abuse in 1997.)
Why, then, did Bootkoski choose to communicate with the nuncio about this on December 5, 2005? Why that particular day?
It just so happens that, earlier that same day, the Vatican official in charge of bishops had told McCarrick that he would have to resign as Archbishop of Washington.
Did McCarrick call his old friend Bootkoski and tell him that there was no use trying to keep the matter secret from the Vatican anymore? That seems like the most reasonable explanation for Bootkoski calling the nuncio on that particular day.
A second Metuchen question:
When the Vatican released its McCarrick Report last fall, the Diocese of Metuchen issued a statement which claimed: “The first allegation against McCarrick was received by the diocese in 2004.”
In point of fact, McCarrick’s successor as bishop of Metuchen received his first complaint about McCarrick’s abuses no later than 1989. And before then, the Vocations Director of the diocese of Metuchen received complaints about McCarrick from seminarians while McCarrick was still in office as the bishop there (1981-1986).
How, then, can the diocese claim that the first allegation against McCarrick came in 2004?
A few days ago, I submitted these questions to the Office of the Bishop in Metuchen. I have not received any response yet, but I hope to get honest answers soon. After all, Bishop Checchio wrote in his letter about the McCarrick scandal: “We must forge forward, penning the future chapters of our Church’s history with integrity and transparency.” Seems like that means you answer the questions of a researcher trying to put together a fair historical record.
…All this moves me to reflect on two little passages from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which the Fathers of the Vatican II gave us. The first passage comes from Gaudium et Spes para. 37:
Sacred Scripture teaches the human family what the experience of the ages confirms: that while human progress is a great advantage to man, it brings with it a strong temptation. For when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests, and not to those of others.
Certainly this insight helps us understand corruption in government, generally speaking. It also helps us to understand corruption in the government of our Church.
What I have seen, in my experience as a priest, is a cadre in the hierarchy that has paid attention solely to their own interests, and not to those of others. Theodore McCarrick created a huge spiritual problem for all of us whose lives he touched. Instead of confronting that problem honestly and bravely, those who knew about the problem sought to hide it, to protect themselves from having to deal with it. Now that we all know about the problem, those same leaders try to pretend the problem is solved.
To be clear: the compromised individuals here include the pope himself, the pope’s closest advisors and co-workers, the ecclesiastical governing apparatus of Washington DC and New Jersey–which includes our own bishop here in the diocese of Richmond VA (an alumnus of McCarrick and Donald Wuerl’s chancery in Washington), the Metropolitan Archbishop of Baltimore (who knew about McCarrick long, long ago), and quite a few other prelates as well.
I see us mid-Atlantic Catholics stuck in a near-total malaise. The true spiritual mission of the Church cannot advance with any vitality under our current compromised leadership.
I entertain no delusions that the malaise will lift anytime soon. That, however, does not mean it’s all over–our life as Catholic Christians. It doesn’t mean that at all.
Here’s part of Gaudium et Spes 38:
For God’s Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. Thus He entered the world’s history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it. He Himself revealed to us that “God is love” and at the same time taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the world’s transformation. To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one.
Our Church can and will be Herself again, someday. It’s not hopeless. I, for one, am not giving up.
The blessed souls remain fixed forevermore on the good:
The damned souls remain fixed forevermore on evil:
The souls in purgatory do not change their wills, either:
The reason why we cannot change from good to evil, or vice versa, after death:
The Last Judgment:
The cosmos after the Last Judgment:
St. Thomas wrote many books. Among them, the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles have the most-monumental status.
St. Thomas did not live to complete the Summa Theologica. He died while working on Part III, and his student completed the task, using St. Thomas’ earlier writings.
St. Thomas did, however, write the entire Summa Contra Gentiles himself. Book IV is the final book of the SCG. So: we have reached the conclusion of the most-monumental work of St. Thomas that he himself also reached.
Praise the good Lord.
Reading Book IV aloud has done me enormous good. Hopefully it has done you some good, too, dear reader/listener.
Not sure when I will record more podcasts, or what they will include. Let me know if you have any thoughts.
In the last part of this chapter, St. Thomas presents two cosmological arguments about the impossibility of an endless cycle of life and death for human beings.
Contemporary cosmologists would no doubt consider St. Thomas’ scientific ideas quaint. But I think he actually achieves a more-profound insight.
St. Thomas includes the perceiving mind within his overall conception of the cosmos. The mind or soul, which can know and understand, exists as a greater being than any material thing in motion, including the earth, sun, and moon–whose motions relative to each other give rise to our conception of time passing.