June 9, 2020
“Many people simply cannot believe that there can be a large, leisurely center to life where God can be pondered” wrote the late Dr. Eugene Peterson. “They doubt they can enter realms of spirit where wonder and adoration have a place to develop, and where play and delight have time to flourish. Is all this possible in our fast-paced lives?”
That 1994 article by Eugene Peterson was ironically entitled “The Good-for-Nothing Sabbath.” It had a profound influence on the way I thought about not only Sunday, but rest and leisure in general. It also served as the one of the first critiques I read of the modern American concept of time that sees each Sunday and holiday as nothing but “a day off” in the service of returning to work.
Dr. Kent Lasnoski here at Wyoming Catholic College has spent a good deal of time considering and writing about the Sabbath. And his concerns have only been amplified by the enforced fast from Sunday Mass and the sacraments due to COVID-19. We may have formed or enhanced some bad habits.
May 19, 2020
“Right from the beginning liturgy and music have been closely related. Wherever people praise God, words alone do not suffice. Conversation with God transcends the boundaries of human speech; everywhere it has, according to its nature, called on music for help, on singing and on the voices of creation in the sound of the instruments. Not only man has a role in the praise of God. Worship is singing in unison with that which all things bespeak.”
That quotation is from Joseph Ratzinger’s essay, “The Image of the World and of Man in the Liturgy and Its Expression in Church Music,” an essay Wyoming Catholic College juniors recently read for the course “Music in the Western Tradition.”
On this podcast, their professor, Dr. Stanley Grove comments on that essay and the nature of music in worship.
April 14, 2020
About 100 years ago, Frank Morison, an English journalist, set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus by examining the facts. As a result Morison, the skeptic, came to believe that Jesus, the Son of God, crucified, dead, and buried, rose again to give eternal life. Morison’s book, Who Moved the Stone? is still in print today.
This being the Tuesday in the Octave of Easter, I thought of Morison’s experience as I listened to this week’s podcast—a conversation between Dr. Kent Lasnoski and Dr. Jeremy Holmes about faith and reason centering around Dei Filius, the dogmatic constitution of the First Vatican Council issued in 1870.
This document from the 19th century, we'll discover, speaks eloquently to our situation today.
April 9, 2020
St. Jerome famously said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Thus knowledge of the Scriptures is knowledge of Christ and the more we know Scriptures—assuming that our hearts are right—the more we will know Christ.
While reading through the Bible is of great value and scholarly study of the Bible is also of great value, the Medieval Masters developed a method of reading the Bible they called lectio divina—and it’s not just for monks in the Egyptian desert. It’s a mystical practice for all of us.
Dr. Baxter explains more addressing “How to Perform Scripture: Lectio Divina and Reading with the Heart” in this final session of “Into the Lenten Desert: Learning to Pray with the Medieval Masters” from Wyoming Catholic College.
April 6, 2020
Writing at TheCatholicThing, scholar David Bonagura, Jr. writes about Passion Sunday and the blessing and receiving of palms. It’s what we do, he says. Then he goes on, “But not this year. We will not be present to receive our palms, to hold them as the Gospel of Jesus’ triumphal ascent into Jerusalem is read, to make crosses out of them, to thread them through our crucifixes upon returning home. It is a Palm Sunday without palms.”
This year, Palm Sunday without palms will lead to Holy Thursday without our receiving the Eucharist, Good Friday without waiting on line to kneel and to kiss the crucified, and Easter without gathering in the dark to await the light and the resurrection. It is a strange and sad situation.
Here at Wyoming Catholic College, the sadness extends to the loss of our close-knit school community. Great gatherings for Easter brunches and Easter dinners will be limited to immediate family and groups of ten.
Last Friday, our academic dean, Prof. Kyle Washut spoke from his heart to the experience of our students, faculty, and staff. In doing so, he also, I suspect, speaks eloquently to you experience during this Holy Week. Here is what he had to say.
April 2, 2020
“The man who truly prayers,” wrote the fourth century monk Evagrios, “is the man who sees the place of God. This is what it means to be a theologian.”
This is lecture six in Wyoming Catholic College’s distance learning course “Into the Lenten Desert: Learning to Pray with the Medieval Masters” with Dr. Jason Baxter.
Following the example of St. Anthony, a steady stream of monks and hermits made their way into the Egyptian desert to seek God. Evagrios was among them, a so-called “desert father.”
In this lecture, Dr. Baxter looks at the writings of Evagrios and the sayings of the desert fathers in order to explain: “Praying with the Whole World: Evagrios and ‘Natural Contemplation.’”
March 26, 2020
It's been said that God created man in his own image and man kindly returned the favor.
While the Scripture tells us that God saves with his strong arm, most of us understand that this is metaphorical language. God has no arms, legs, hands, feet, eyes, or ears. We know God by analogy because God in His Being is beyond our comprehension. He remains a mystery.
The mystic wants to know God not merely by analogy, but to experience Him in His Being and thus in the darkness of mystery.
In this lecture, “Dionysius the Areopagite and The Darkness of God,” Dr. Baxter explores the mystical tradition of the via negativa.
March 24, 2020
Last week, Wyoming Catholic College students left campus, not for Outdoor Week, but for their homes to wait out COVID-19. As they traveled, our faculty—rather than recording podcasts—did a remarkable job in retooling their courses for distance rather than in-person teaching. Online classes began Monday, March 23.
As millions of Catholics worldwide look to Mary’s intercession in this time of crisis, in theology class our juniors are studying the doctrine of Mary, of the Theotokos, the God-Bearer by reading St. John Henry Newman’s letter to The Rev. E. B. Pusey.
On this extended podcast just in time for the Feast of the Annunciation, you’ll listen in on the class as Dean Kyle Washut and Dr. Jeremy Holmes discuss The Theotokos.
March 19, 2020
“And men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty waves of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars,” wrote St. Augustine of Hippo in his Confessions, “yet [they] pass over the mystery of themselves without a thought.”
In Confessions, Augustine explores how for years he passed over the mystery of his own self until he began actively exploring that mystery. Why do we behave as we do? What’s the appeal of sin? What’s the appeal of holiness? Why are we so restless? What is truth?
In this fourth lecture in the distance learning course "Into the Lenten Desert: Learning to Pray with the Medieval Masters," Dr. Baxter explores “Augustine’s Restless Heart and the Inward Turn: What Augustine Learned from the Pagans.”
March 12, 2020
“I have a divine sign…,” said Socrates in his Apology. “This began when I was a child. It is a voice, and whenever it speaks it turns me away from something I am about to do, but it never encourages me to do anything.”
Mysticism is hardly a Christians-only domain. And in fact the Medieval Masters learned a great deal from the Greek pagans, particularly Plato.
In this third lecture in the distance learning course “Into the Lenten Desert: Learning to Pray with the Medieval Masters,” “Pagans Grope Toward God: Piety and Prayer in Classical Antiquity,” Dr. Baxter explores the connections between Greek philosophy and mysticism and the Christian tradition in which we stand today.