Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fr. van der Peet's reflections

Fr. van der Peet wrote a reflection a couple of years ago to be made public upon his death. Br. Bob linked to it in the post below. You can read it here.

My sunset has come, but this same sun has risen for me in Jesus, Splendor of the Father and will never set again. In this radiance I hope to meet all my loved ones again without ever having to say “Good-bye.” In His light we will see light.

Follow-up on the B-52's

I'd like to write a post a serious defense of the inclusion of cuts by the B-52's on a blog about Classic Catholicism, which promotes Latin, good liturgy, the theology of the body, etc.

Unfortunately, I can't. There is no defense. It is pure nostalgia that causes me to remember this music with warmth and fondness. Those of you who are too young or too old cannot fathom what a breath of fresh air "Rock Lobster" was after listing to what seemed like interminable airings on FM radio of "Do You Feel Like I Do" and other "gems" from Peter Framptom Live. Or disco. Or Yes at its pretentious worst. Even Fleetwood Mac, was too slick to be a real relief.

New wave was fun. It wasn't dark like Punk. I had albums from the B-52's, the Cars, the Police (two albums! Why, I don't know. I didn't even like the Police that much. But, I was born in the 50s). I even had the Rolling Stone's "New Wave" album, "Some Girls." The only Rolling Stones album I had or would ever stoop to buy. I didn't have Elvis Costello--too serious. Or Devo--too weird. I didn't like Blondie that much, although some.

I remember when I was getting my M.A. at St. Paul Seminary dancing our hearts out to "Rock Lobster" in the basement of a friend's house.

It isn't like the B-52's had a great message. Their lifestyle certainly isn't something to emulate. But, they weren't cynical; they were just fun. It gives me the same general feeling as Stan Freberg. Silly, fun, not mean. And, it has a good beat and you can dance to it.
Some say she's from Mars.
Or one of the Seven Stars
That comes out at 3:30 in the morning.

Music as it should be....

The 70s weren't a complete waste of time!

When we were first married we owned a Plymouth Satellite!

(Maybe I should have a different blog for this kind of thing....)

Renewal of Catholic liberal education alert!

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Fr. Michael van der Peet, R.I.P.

My former spiritual director, and advisor to Mother Teresa, Fr. Michael van der Peet, S.C.J., died yesterday. I can't begin to express the greatness of this man, who was always so kind, thoughtful, concerned, humble. Here is the announcement from the Sacred Heart School of Theology web page:
The Sacred Heart School of Theology community mourns the passing of Fr. Michael van der Peet, SCJ. He died on April 21, 2010. He was 85.

Fr. Michael professed vows in 1946, was ordained in 1953, and shortly after ordination came to the United States to work with the SCJ U.S. Province, which was in need of seminary instructors. In 1970 he began full-time retreat ministry, and became a popular retreat director, especially with women's religious communities.

It was during a brief vacation to Rome in 1975 that he met Mother Theresa. They continued to have a close relationship until her death in 1997. Their friendship included regular correspondence, and retreats given to Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity. And it was because of that friendship that Fr. Michael was asked to go to Rome in 2002 to work on the commission that prepared Mother Teresa's cause for beatification. In 1999, at the age of 74, Fr. Michael went back to work, serving as a spiritual director at Sacred Heart School of Theology. He remained active in spiritual direction until he suffered a stroke in February, 2010.

Visitation will be Tuesday, April 27 at 7:00 p.m, and the Mass of the Christian Burial will be Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 11 a.m. Both will be held at Sacred Heart, 7335 S. Highway 100, Franklin, Wis. More information about Fr. Michael's life and funeral arrangements can be found at the Priests of Sacred Heart website.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Odd things about the Nova Vulgata

The Nova Vulgata is the official Latin text of the Bible. It was published in the 1970s after decades of work intended to make the Latin text correspond more closely to the current state of textual criticism than the original Vulgate of St. Jerome. It is used in the translation of the Liturgy.

In many places it is significantly different from St. Jerome's text. One of the most famous examples is the alteration of Ps. 43 (42), which is part of the prayers at the foot of the altar for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy. In St. Jerome, the line says, Et introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam, which means, "And I will approach the altar of God, who gives joy to my youth." The Neovulgate says, Et introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum laetitiae exsultationis meae, which means "I will go to the altar of God, to the God of joy of my exsultation."

There are, however, some oddities in the NV, some of which are holdovers from the Vulgate of St. Jerome. For instance, the use of christus in the Old Testament to mean "anointed." Psalm 2 says, Astiterunt reges terrae, et principes convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum et adversus christum eius. "The kings of the earth stand up, and the princes come together as one against the Lord and against his anointed." The word christum is used in both the NV and the Vulgate. This is not a Latin word, but rather a Greek one. Since Ps. 2 is translated from the Hebrew, rather than the Greek, it is not a transliteration. Of course, it makes the Christological interpretation of Ps. 2 more obvious.

Some of the oddities only occur in the version of the NV that appears in the Latin edition of the Liturgy of the Hours. For instance, in today's reading from Revelation, the NV of the office has Habent super se regem angelum abyssi, cui nomen Hebraice Abaddon et Graece nomen habet Apollyon, Latine habens nomen Exterminans. This is the same as St. Jerome's Vulgate. The NV on the Vatican web page doesn't have Latine habens nomen Exterminans. Nor does the Greek text of the Apocalypse.

My favorite example, though, is from Habakkuk 3. In English we have "Yet will I rejoice in the LORD and exult in my saving God." The Latin in the Vulgate was Ego autem in Domino gaudebo; et exsultabo in Deo Jesu meo. The word Jesu is the Greek tranliteration of the Hebrew word for "savior" The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew word for "savior." So, to use Jesu isn't to translate at all. The reason St. Jerome did this, of course, was to make the connection between the text of Habakkuk and Jesus. The NV on the Vatican web page has salvatore rather than Jesu, This is a translation of the Hebrew word which means "savior." In the Office, however, when the text of Habakkuk is used during morning prayer, the word Jesu is used.

Why do I bring all this up? First of all, it fascinates me. Second, it points to the fact that translation is always interpretation. And that interpretation can and often does take into consideration the overall theological and liturgical meaning of the biblical text. I don't think that is wrong. For instance, I think the translation of the Hebrew of Is. 7:14 with the Greek parthenos, "virgin" is justified, even though the Hebrew could literally mean "young woman" and in context probably referred to a woman that both the prophet and King Ahaz were familiar with. God has made it clear to us, through tradition, that there is more going on in the text than the literal concern of Isaiah or Ahaz at the time.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A bloody mess

No, British readers, I'm not cursing.

I just finished reading Rodney Stark's book on the crusades, God's Battalions, which contains graphic accounts of both battles and massacres. At the same time we are also reading the book of Revelation in the Office of Readings, which has all those angels blowing trumpets which lead to a bloodbath on earth and in the heavens. Finally, I was sent by a friend a paper he presented on the role that blood plays in our redemption, emphasizing that we tend to try to explain away all the language about being redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Our world is a bloody mess. There is so much violence, bloodshed, etc. Many of us in America have been shielded from direct contact with the blood in which we are drenched (except, of course, in the movies). I recall a friend of my telling me of the shock he experienced when he helped with the initial clean-up of the Murrah building and saw all the carnage first hand. It caused him emotional anguish for months, because he was not prepared for it. I have a feeling that most people in most ages would not have been shocked by such an experience because it would have been such a common sight. Part of this is due to the myth that we are more civilized now. Also, I think we believers are genuinely more sensitive to the dignity of the human person than we used to be. Also, we overreact to the injuries of childhood and seek to protect our children from the least injury and make such a big deal out of little scrapes and cuts.

Soldiers on the front lines in our age have seen it. Some people give the impression that things are worse now, more bloody. I don't think so. War has always been characterized by carnage, including the slaughter of the innocents. The difference is that it used to be we had to overrun a city and dispatch everyone individually. Now we can just drop a bomb. Carnage is carnage.

One of my (few) criticisms of Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton is that they rarely show the "good" side as engaging in massacres, pillaging, etc. The problem is, the history of war is such that even on the good side the soldiers and knights often (dare I say "always") step way beyond the bounds of just war and unleash a wave of relatively indiscriminate destruction. Stark was clear about that in his book which in a sense is a defense of the crusades. When we are considering war we ought to keep that truth in mind.

These are somewhat random thoughts, which I hope to somehow organize into a coherent reflection some time soon.