Council of Trent

The Council of Trent, blog 3, Scriptures, Sacraments, Original Sin and Justification

The Council wanted to address Justification, a key issue with the Lutherans, but first they needed to address the doctrine of Original Sin of Adam when he and Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden.  The Catholic position on these two important doctrinal issues both at the Councils of Trent and Vatican II were not as far apart as the polemicists on both sides would claim.  Quoting O’Malley, “St Paul in Romans 5 and First Corinthians 14 taught that through Adam’s ‘Fall’ sin and death came into the world.”  According to St Augustine, “Adam’s sin was transmitted from parents to children and affected all members of the human race.  Although Christ redeemed the world from sin, concupiscence (tendency to sin) remained even in the baptized.” […]

Council of Trent

Council of Trent, blog 2, The First Session Begins

Medieval popes were reluctant to call church councils, fearful they would infringe on the power of the papal office.  Pope Clement delayed endlessly when the Holy Roman German Emperor Charles V pushed for a church council, and his successor, Pope Paul III, cancelled several attempts to call a council for pressing political reasons, including Charles V’s war against the Lutheran Schmalkaldic League of German princes, whom he thought he force to attend if they were defeated in battle.  By the time the first session of the Council of Trent was called interest in a church council had waned, consequently only 29 bishops attended initially.  Attendance was never overwhelming.  The Council of Trent met in three sessions called by three popes from 1545-1563, the last session had fewr than 300 bishops, many from Italy, still a small percentage of the 2,900 European prelates.  The rulers of Europe also encouraged or forbade their bishops and abbots to attend, depending on the politics at the time, so the national mix of bishops differed in the three sessions. […]

Council of Trent

Council of Trent blog 1 Calling the Council

Was the Council of Trent a reactionary council?  This is a common perception, that the Council of Trent initiated the Catholic Counter-Reformation to defend the Catholic Church from the influences of the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther, and that the Vatican II Council was a rejection of Trent, steering the Catholic Church in a more liberal direction.  Father O’Malley’s history leads to a different conclusion, that the actual Council of Trent, as opposed to the later impressions of Trent, is really a progressive council that is a precursor to Vatican II.  Indeed, the documents of Vatican II and the subsequent Catholic Catechism both cite the Council of Trent extensively. […]

Philokalia Volume 1

Introduction to the Philokalia, the Love of the Beautiful

When the Russian pilgrim in the spiritual classic, “The Way of a Pilgrim,” hears the Scriptures being read that exhorts us to pray without ceasing.  He asks a monk in a monastery how he can pray without ceasing, and the simple answer is he can start on his path by each day praying more.  He selling all he has, giving it to the poor, to embark on a spiritual pilgrimage, trudging through the forests of Siberia.  His only possessions in his travel bag are the Holy Scriptures and the Philokalia, the treasured writings of the early Greek Church Fathers. […]

Biblical Interpretation

Interpretation of the Bible in the Church

Historically, the Catholic Church has defended itself from attacks, both real and imagined, from enemies of the faith, and this defensiveness also extended to Biblical studies. The twentieth century saw a relaxing of this defensiveness, culminating in the decree Dei Verbum pronounced by Vatican II, encouraging Catholic scholars to use more modern methods of interpreting the Scriptures, under the guidance of the Vatican office, the Pontifical Biblical Commission. […]


Seneca, Moral Epistles, Blog 1, Living Well, Dying Well

Seneca discusses our most precious possession, our possession that we can never really possess, that continually slips through our fingers, the loan we can never repay, the gift we waste through carelessness, the treasure we should not waste, our most precious possession, time.

Seneca asks, “What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. What years be behind us are in death’s hands?” Nothing in life is ours except time, while we postpone life speeds by, so let us live well, not wasting time. […]