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Here you can read part or all of the actual introductions to my books or a blurb about  it.

 

Pope Francis Series

Pope Francis: the Beginning of a New Era

Jesus and Pope Francis: Models for Living

A Study Guide for “Joy of the Gospel” by Pope Francis

“The Care of Our Common Home” by Pope Francis: A Study Guide

“The Joy of Love” by Pope Francis: Full Text, Commentaries, Implementation, and Study Guide

 

Leelanau Series

From Bohemia to Good Harbor: The Story of the Bufka Family

Good Harbor Michigan: The Story and the People 1850-1931

News from the neighborhood: Good Harbor Michigan 1875-1931

North Unity and Bohemian Settlement

 

Other books:

The Nicene Creed: A Reinterpretation

Saint Joseph’s Seminary: Personal and Historical Perspectives

Are Faith and Science Compatible by Jerome Klosowski..

The Rosary: Traditional and Alternative Mysteries

 

Pope Francis: the Beginning of a New Era

Pope Francis has amazed the world with his frankness and humility. He often refers to himself as a sinner and thus identifies with all people. “Francis has kindled a spiritual spark among not only Catholics but also other Christians, those of other faiths, and even nonbelievers.” [i] Many say he is a breath of fresh air while others challenge his leadership. One thing is sure about Pope Francis. He practices what he preaches. [ii]

One of the first comments I heard Pope Francis make was, “We have not yet begun to implement Vatican II.” Another was his rather famous comment, “Who am I to judge?” Finally he is urging all Catholics and Christians really to be guided by the “unruly freedom of the Holy Spirit.”

These are interesting and challenging comments. They have motivated me to write this book and suggest that Pope Francis marks the beginning of a new era in Christian and Catholic history.

In order to understand and appreciate this suggestion, I first of all take you on a brief history of the Christian Church. It is  from a decidedly Catholic point of view, but still Christian to the best of my ability.

Then I will take you through the  teaching of the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) and its aftermath, especially under the leadership of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

Finally I will explore the life and teachings of Pope Francis and why I believe he represents a dramatic change in the way the Catholic Church will function in the future. This will have untold benefits for all Christians and all of God’s creation.

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Jesus and Pope Francis: Models for Living

A priest friend remarked in a homily one time that we worship the messenger and forget his message. Those words stuck with me because that is exactly what has happened in the Christian churches for many centuries.

Jesus preached no doctrine, dogma, nor Creed. Yet we have enshrined all kinds of dogmas and doctrines which cannot be removed. Many Christians regard the Nicene Creed as fundamental to be a Christian, but the Creed was written in the fourth century after Jesus walked the earth and it consists mostly of theological statements that have little to do with Jesus’ message. See my book, The Nicene Creed, for more details.

For the first three centuries the way to live was important, not belief in doctrines or dogmas. Those first Christians were followers of “the way” in the footsteps of Jesus.

In the fourth century this changed when the Emperor Constantine made it legal to be a Christian in 313. Emperor Theodosius made it the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380. While some thought this to be a great triumph for Christianity, it was in fact a rejection of “the way” for imperial religion of domination and control.

Over the centuries various people tried to recover what was lost. And so we have the rise of monks and monasteries. People secluded themselves away from normal life in order to become better followers. In the thirteenth century Francis of Assisi took a different path by renouncing his wealthy life and lived with and cared for the poor because he saw this as the way of life Jesus urged him to follow.

In later centuries still we saw the rise of the Amish and Mennonites who to this day reject much modernism for a much simpler life style in the manner of Jesus.

Today for the first time in modern times we have a Pope who is teaching us to live a simpler life and is showing us how to do it by his example. In my book,  Pope Francis: the Beginning of a New Era, I contrasted the leadership of Pope Francis with his two predecessors and the entire history of the Christian Church. In this book I write about Jesus’ life and teaching and how Pope Francis exemplifies the way of Jesus in the 21st century.

Both Jesus and now Pope Francis are models for living. Hopefully I will be able to portray this in a meaningful way and you the reader will benefit from it. G. K. Chesterton once said, “Christianity is a great religion. Too bad it has never been tried.” Well, Pope Francis is definitely trying to make it a way of life once again rather than an adherence to a set of dogmas, doctrines, and creeds.

I have included some reflection questions in Chapter 2 to help the reader absorb the actions of Jesus and Pope Francis into his/her own life.

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A Study Guide for “Joy of the Gospel” by Pope Francis

This papal document is the easiest one I ever read in terms of the language and flow of the document. It has ordinary language about what it means to be a Christian in its very core. Pope Francis addressed this letter[1] not only to Catholic leaders but also to the Catholic laity.

Pope Francis wants us to understand that the joy we Christians have is meant to be shared, not in a dogmatic or orthodoxy kind of way, but by living the way Jesus did two millennia ago in befriending those not in power. Jesus’ entire life was centered on the poor, the oppressed, and every other category of people who were not in power. It did not matter if they were not Jews. He healed the Roman centurion’s trusted servant, even though he was of the despised Roman occupiers. He visited with a Samaritan woman, a practice that was forbidden by Jewish law.

Fr. Hans Küng[2] wrote this about Joy of the Gospel: “Church reform is forging ahead….Pope Francis not only intensifies his criticism of capitalism and the fact that money rules the world, but speaks out clearly in favor of church reform ‘at all levels.’ He specifically advocates structural reforms -- namely, decentralization toward local dioceses and communities, reform of the papal office, upgrading the laity and against excessive clericalism, in favor of a more effective presence of women in the church, above all in the decision-making bodies. And he comes out equally clearly in favor of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, especially with Judaism and Islam.” [iii]

John L. Allen, Jr.[3]  wrote, “At the big-picture level, Francis says he wants a more missionary and more merciful church, one less afraid of change than of ‘remaining shut up with structures which give us a false sense of security,’ ‘rules which make us harsh judges,’ and ‘habits which make us feel safe.’” [iv]

I encourage you to read the entire Exhortation. I am writing this little booklet for two reasons: I wish to make the main points of his letter available to more people but more importantly, to add questions and practical comments for you as an individual, or a parish staff person, or even a bishop. 

Joy of the Gospel is available in book form at booksellers on line and at stores. You can download it for free from the Vatican website at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.html

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“The Care of Our Common Home” by Pope Francis: A Study Guide

Pope Francis urges us to be aware of the “environmental degradation” that we humans are causing and take steps to reverse this dire situation. As he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation, Joy of the Gospel, he continues to address the world’s situation from a faith perspective and pastoral care rather than doctrinal orthodoxy.

Pope Francis weaves his major themes into this letter. These are care for the poor, a critique of the economic model in industrialized nations, and the extreme consumerism that seems to strangle many people.

If you are reading this in the comfort of your home, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Pope Francis is well aware of this  when he wrote in the letter:

Superficially, apart from a few obvious signs of pollution and deterioration, things do not look that serious, and the planet could continue as it is for some time. Such evasiveness serves as a licence to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. (#59)

The Appendix includes links to documents referenced in the letter or additional resources for the reader’s use. These are added by the author of this study guide.

I encourage you to read the entire encyclical letter. I am writing this little booklet for two reasons: I wish to make the main points of his letter available to more people but more importantly, to add questions and practical comments for you as an individual, or a parish staff person, or even a bishop. 

The Care of our Common Home (Laudato Si)is available on the Vatican website for downloading at.

http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

The Appendix and Works Cited include links. They are also on my website, Home page, Resources under thebook title.

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“The Joy of Love” by Pope Francis: Full Text, Commentaries, Implementation, and Study Guide

Preface by Norbert Bufka

 

Part I of this book has the full text of the letter of Pope Francis and Part II has Commentaries, efforts at implementation, and a Study Guide.

You may wish to start with the Commentaries and get an overall view of the letter from various perspectives. The advantage of this approach is that you will have sections or points to look for and make your own decision about what Pope Francis is saying.

Or you may wish to read the letter first and make your own conclusions as to what is most important. This will give you a head start before reading the commentaries and then can enter into mental dialog with them.

While the full text of Pope Francis’ letter follows, I have put the footnotes at the end rather than on each page to make for easier reading. Some of the notes are explanatory and so I have included them as footnotes as well. The numbering of the endnotes is the same as the original.

The next page starts the text. While the original document has been reported as 263 pages I can assure you it is all in the first 117 pages plu2 19 pages of endnotes in this book.

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From Bohemia to Good Harbor: The Story of the Bufka Family (2nd Edition)

This book is about the Bufka family and the Bufka farm in Leelanau County, Michigan. I am the last person born on that farm and have much attachment to it and the Bufka family even though I moved away from the farm and the area when I was in tenth grade in1956.

My purpose in writing this book is to remember, honor, and extol the good qualities and hard work of my Bufka ancestors. Where appropriate I have included aspects of our history that are not so honorable, but none are about people still living.

Quite often in books like this the family with the name is written about but others who married into the family are ignored. I have chosen to include Hotove, Nemeskal, and Souhrada families from the older generation on my father’s side and Schafer, Feider, and Storck from my mother’s family as part of the story. Also included are Kilwy and Dechow families. Their connections will be made clear in this book.

First names tend to be repeated in families. That’s true here also. Joseph was the name of the youngest son of Charles and Mary Bufka as well as the oldest son of Joseph and Agnes Bufka. For clarity I will always refer to the older Joseph as Joseph and the younger as Joe.

The Bufka family members were hardworking and mostly associated with jobs close to the earth and nature. This has generated a bond with the Bufka farm that is felt by many of the descendants of Charles and Mary Bufka, my grandparents, even by those who have moved away from the vicinity.

Another point I wish to make in this introduction is the Chicago connection. Most if not all the Bohemians that settled in the area known as North Unity and Bohemian Settlement in Leelanau County came from Chicago where there was a large Bohemian community. There were 11,900 Bohemians in 1870 with their numbers growing to 20,100 in 1880.[v] While this is not a staggering number and is dwarfed by the number of Germans in Chicago, it still represents a large number of Bohemians in that area. Many descendants of these early settlers in Leelanau returned to Chicago to visit and to work. Of course some relatives remained in Chicago and were a reason for an occasional visit. Not all of these are documented of course but the ones we know about more than suggest this strong Chicago connection.

(I also write in this introduction about other Bufka families in the United States and thank a number of people who helped me in one way or another.)

This second edition includes corrections of some errors, more data, and more pictures.

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Good Harbor Michigan: The Story and the People 1850-1931

When one looks at a map of the lower peninsula of Michigan it is easy to see the back of one’s left hand or the palm of one’s right hand. The thumb is pretty prominent jutting out into Lake Huron with Saginaw Bay separating it from the mainland. Then the middle of the hand comes to a gradual point at the Straits of Mackinac just like our hand does. It has therefore often been referred to as a “mitten”. On the left side of the mitten however is another little peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, kind of like the mitten has a hole in it. For many generations this peninsula has been called the Little Finger of Michigan. It is separated from the main part of Michigan by Grand Traverse Bay, which is intersected by Old Mission Peninsula. The “little finger” is called Leelanau, usually translated as “land of delight” or “delight of life”. The area is also called “God’s country”. Most people only take vacations for a few days or a week to God’s country but I was fortunate to have lived there. This pride in living in Leelanau is shared by all the descendants of the pioneers and by those who came later to reside there permanently.

This pride began early in Leelanau history. Rev. George Smith wrote a letter to the New York Tribune in March 1854 extolling the qualities of this area. In a geological report on the area in 1866, Alexander Winchell wrote in the preface,

“The following report has been drawn up for the purpose of directing attention to the most remarkable and desirable section of country in the Northwest. Emigrants and capitalists will equally find in it statements of facts which will both surprise and interest them. I have no fear of being charged with overdrawing the picture. I have only given facts, figures and vouchers. They speak for themselves. The details of the geology of the region have never before been worked out, and will prove of interest to a large class of readers. This region, like all of Northern Michigan, has heretofore been generally misrepresented.”

One would not expect such glowing language in a scientific report.

In the center of Leelanau along the water of Lake Michigan is an area known as Good Harbor. It is not a well defined area but one that roughly extends from the eastern tip of Little Traverse Lake on the west along Lake Michigan for several miles to the east and extends inland a few miles. It is on Good Harbor Bay which extends from Pyramid Point in the west to the Whaleback (originally called Mt. Carp) in the east. At the north end of County Road 651 a thriving village of Good Harbor developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century along the shore. But just as quickly as it developed it went out of existence after a fire destroyed the sawmill, the cornerstone of the village. Today one can see only a few pilings in the waters of Lake Michigan that indicate something was there. The pilings are the remains of a dock. With the lake level lower than usual in 2013, many of those pilings were visible. Much of the Good Harbor area is now part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The center of the village stood where the park visitor signs and restrooms are now located.

Good Harbor holds a dear spot in my heart because I was born and grew up there on a farm that was very much a part of Good Harbor. This book is about the area, its development, its people, its churches, its stores and businesses, its schools, and a glimpse at life in those years.

The book is full of endnotes for those who wish to read the sources of my information. I did not typically add a citation for dates of birth, marriage, and death because they are nearly all from public records available on Ancestry.com, my preferred choice for genealogical research, as well as other sites that are involved in the same kind of research. Also there are many public family trees on Ancestry.com that were helpful in obtaining these dates. In some cases I talked to descendants.

I quote extensively from original sources for two reasons. First I want to present the data accurately and secondly I wanted the reader to experience the flavor of writing at that time. Many items are very amusing, to say the least.

I used several criteria to determine what and who were in Good Harbor. First of all I used the Plat Map of 1881 to find names of homeowners in the area. I also used the names of the people buried in the four cemeteries located in what I consider Good Harbor. Since there was no defined village I took liberty with the boundaries of Good Harbor to include three sections east of Town Line Road and four sections south from Lake Michigan in Centerville Township. In Cleveland Township I used two sections west of Town Line Road and four south. Finally I used several sections in southern Leland Township. I admit this is rather arbitrary but I had to define the boundaries in some way. It was very difficult to find any information on some of the families listed on the plat map or in the cemeteries. If your ancestors are not included in this book and you thought they should be, I apologize in advance.

A companion book is News from the Neighborhood: Good Harbor Michigan 1875-1931.  Scroll down for its introduction.

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News from the neighborhood: Good Harbor Michigan 1875-1931

This book includes original source material about Good Harbor, Michigan from the Michigan State Gazeteer and Business Directory, Evening Record of Traverse City, and the Leelanau Enterprise.  The Gazeteer was an annual publication until about 1900 when it was published every two years. It included a listing of towns and villages in Michigan with a description of each. It also had a business directory which I am sure participants paid for.

I begin each year with information from the Gazeteer for that year followed by the news items in the Enterprise or Evening Record. Some years do not have a Gazeteer listing because there was no entry that year or the book was not published or I could not find it.

The Enterprise, on the other hand, is missing a number of entries because issues have been lost or destroyed. Also it is quite possible that Good Harbor did not have news in every issue. The issues are available on microfilm at many library locations, including Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City. Shauna Quick was very helpful to me in researching all these copies and providing me with the information. I am very grateful to her for her many hours of work. My wife, Sue, then typed these for me so I could manage them on the computer. To her also I will be forever grateful.

Misspelled words can be attributed to several causes. The original had the word misspelled or the scanner did not correctly read the image. Some errors are possibly due to the person who entered the data. Leelanaw is officially correct. It was incorrectly entered into the state books when the county was created in 1863 and was not corrected until the 1890’s.

It is also helpful to know that the news from Good Harbor was written by a correspondent from the area, not a reporter. With careful reading, one can notice the difference in writing style between the various correspondents and the editor of the newspaper. In very few cases do we have the name of the correspondent, but when available I included the name.

A few comments about the entries in the Gazeteer might be helpful. Good Harbor was first mentioned in 1875 as “A post office in Leelanaw county, 10 miles south of Leland and 24 southwest of Northport, the county seat.” In 1880 it was “17 southwest of Northport court house, with which it has a weekly mail by stage.” One reason for the difference in distance may have been the poor measurement but it could be that the longer distance was by land, the other by water. The most likely explanation is that the Good Harbor post office was first in Cleveland Township and that would, of course, be farther away.

I hope you find these entries as interesting as I do. It is fun reading the style of the newspaper accounts and even more exciting to find a note or two about a distant relative or friend. Enjoy!

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North Unity and Bohemian Settlement

In the little finger of Michigan called Leelanau there was an area called North Unity.  North Unity is referred to as an area that comprises what we call Pyramid Point,[vi]  a village,[vii]  and a township.[viii] To compound the confusion the North Unity post office was not in the village most of the time.

For this book I have decided that the North Unity area was located in the center of Cleveland Township, stretching from Good Harbor Bay in Lake Michigan inward about two miles. It lies mostly west of Little Traverse Lake.  Today there is scant evidence of its physical existence.

At the southern end of this area many Bohemians settled who had originally claimed North Unity as their home, but this area eventually became known as Bohemian Settlement with farms, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church and cemetery, and Greendale School (the “Bohemian School”).

In this book I attempt to recreate the story of North Unity and Bohemian Settlement as well as record the people who lived there in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The area at the intersection of M-22 and County Road 669 (Bohemian Road) came to be known as Shalda’s Corners because of the popular Shalda grocery store on the southwest corner. All the land around that was also owned by various Shalda descendants by the turn of the 20th century.

At the east end of Little Traverse Lake was a village called Good Harbor. While the history of Good Harbor is more known from original source material, there is little physical evidence of that village today although the area is still known as Good Harbor.

Good Harbor holds a dear spot in my heart because I was born and grew up there on a farm that was very much a part of Good Harbor. North Unity and Bohemian Settlement too are special because my family and I were members of that St. Joseph’s Church for many years.

Any historical account needs to be updated regularly when new data is found.  This book captures many loose ends about North Unity and ties them together. There are still some mysteries, so I ask the reader to share with me any missing pieces, especially original documents from the nineteenth century. As an historian it is remarkable how some seemingly useless information is a key to understanding something else.

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I owe a great big thanks to Andrew J. White who was researching various documents about North Unity at the time I started writing this book. He graciously shared with me the results of his research, an unpublished paper, “Searching for Paradise at North Unity: New Light on the History of the Port Oneida Rural Historic District”.

I used this as a starting point for writing this book and revised and expanded here on what Andrew has written, focusing in particular on the history of the families in the Bohemian (Czech) farming community surrounding St. Joseph's Catholic Church.  I knew many of the descendants of the Bohemian families who came to North Unity in 1855, and who still lived in the area and who still attended St. Joseph's, when I was growing up.

I also thank Tom Van Zoeren and Paul Dechow for narratives and pictures. Kimberly Mann at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is the one who introduced me to Andrew White.

Of course too I must also thank my wife, Sue, for her patience, editing and proofreading, and driving me to places to search records, such as the Leelanau Historical Society and Cleveland Township hall.

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The Nicene Creed: A Reinterpretation

Pope Francis wrote: “The Church is herself a missionary disciple; she needs to grow in her interpretation of the revealed word and in her understanding of truth. It is the task of exegetes and theologians to help the judgment of the Church to mature”.[ix]

The Creed was written with an understanding of our world of the fourth century CE. It is in the spirit of Pope Francis’ challenge that I dare to write a reinterpretation of the Nicene Creed.

In the beginning of the fourth century the Roman Empire had a crisis accompanied by fierce civil wars. The emperors tried to tie the peoples of their conquered lands into a single community and culture. To that end they arranged for games and celebrations and eventually searched for a single religious cult. They found it in Christianity.

Historical Background

After centuries of periodic persecutions of Christians, the Roman Emperor Constantine noted that the Christians had a network over the entire Empire on which the State could build. Unfortunately, the Christians were divided over some beliefs, which might lead to bloody confrontations in the future. So in 325 c.e. Constantine summoned the Christian leadership to Nicaea, a suburb of present-day Istanbul to resolve these issues.

Constantine invited all 1,800 bishops of the Roman Empire to attend but it is estimated that only 318 actually came. Constantine paid for travel and lodging of the bishops along with several priest and deacon advisors for each one. Only five of the 318 were from Latin speaking provinces and none from Britain. Notably the bishop of Rome did not attend although he had two legates present.

Dressed in all his imperial regalia Constantine presided [x] at the two month Council of Nicaea and signed off on the final wording of the document that is still known as the Nicene Creed.[xi] The Council of Nicaea[4] was thus an imperial council, not a church event, convened by the emperor.

The original creed was written in Greek, the language of the eastern Mediterranean where the council was seated. Its context is the entire tradition of Greek philosophical thought,  up to the then contemporary Neo-Platonism, which specifically searched for the essence of “being”[xii] and the Hebrew tradition. By this time the Hebrew scriptures were.either written in Greek or translated into Greek by seventy scholars and so called the Septuagint (LXX) and of course the Christian scriptures were all originally in Greek. 

In 381 Emperor Theodosius the Great assembled the second imperial council in Constantinople to amend the Creed which we use today. The last part of the Creed was added at this Council. This addition included creedal statements about the church, baptism, sin, and eternal life. The bishops of Rome, later also referred to as Popes, did not attend the first eight ecumenical councils, but their pronouncements have the full Church authority. In other words the authority of the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople came from the Emperor, not the Pope, as is widely believed and is still taught today by the Roman Catholic Church.

 

(Here in the book I write about the theological background to the Creed and make note of the many variations in Christian beliefs in the first three centuries.)

 

Creed as oath

To properly appreciate the Creed we must also be aware that its recitation constitutes a (blessed) oath (Latin: sacramentum)[5] in allegiance to an empire/kingdom and a culture.  It used to be "legally binding" and for more than 1,000 years (527 to 1612 CE) could not be contradicted without fear of execution.

The Creed was written under the duress of the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius for the sake of promoting the Empire with a united Christian religion.

The close identification of the Church with the Empire was eventually accomplished in 445 when Emperor Valentinian III transferred imperial authority to Pope Leo I  by appointing him “Caesar” of the Diocletian Constitution and transferring onto him the imperial  life-time  title of Pontifex Maximus[6]. The English title Pontiff comes from this Latin title.

Pope Leo asserted his imperial authority by claiming the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon acquired their validity only from his confirmation.

The sole remnant of the Roman Empire is still the Pope, but even recent popes have begun to rid the papacy of the imperial trappings acquired over the centuries. Pope Paul VI sold the triple crown, the  tiara, and used the money to help the poor. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI still projected the title of the emperors, Pontifex Maximus, and  wore the red shoes, exam

ples of imperial insignia and titles acquired over the centuries. They also exercised power more than any recent pope in keeping with the imperial status of Pontifex Maximus.

Pope Francis in turn no longer claims the title of Pontifex Maximus, wears his  own iron cross,  and

 “has simplified the Renaissance regalia of the papacy by abandoning fur-trimmed velvet capes, choosing to live in a two-room apartment instead of the Apostolic Palace, and replacing the papal Mercedes with a Ford Focus.

“Instead of the traditional red slip-ons, Francis wears ordinary black shoes. He declined to order a new set of fine tableware from Leone Limentani, the high-end Roman porcelain company that, since 1870, has supplied every Pope from Pius IX to Benedict XVI with crest-embossed table settings.” [xiii]

After Jesus’ ascension,  his followers met in homes and similar places for talks and discussions of Christ's teachings. People with names like Timothy, Paul, James and women named Phoebe and Junia led these discussions and blessed, broke and  shared the bread and the wine, the forerunner of the Mass. The Church was very much one of the common people.

With the Council of Nicea and the legalization and codification of Christianity, the budding hierarchy got a uniform code to teach and enforce.  The codification of Christianity and the development of the monarchical hierarchy has grown ever since then.  Understanding the original codification and what these Church leaders, often married with families, were trying to convey, is important and needs reinterpretation in today's society. 

A reinterpretation

As an essential part of the liturgy we need the Creed to make sense to us, so that we can continue to proactively profess the words in the affirmative every Sunday at mass. The language of the Creed is outdated and must be reinterpreted in light of God’s revelation in the world of science and cosmology since 325.

I wish to emphasize that the creed was not formulated by Jesus or his first or even second or third generation followers. It must be seen as the statement of the Roman Emperors of the 4th century since the Emperor called the councils and there was no well organized religious institution yet. As such it contains much imagery associated with that empire and its culture and world view.

The bishops at the Councils were educated people. Their words were understood in the context of the culture and cosmology at the time. The words were "true" as understood by their contemporaries. It is now for us to realize and admit that their understanding had been limited and can no longer underpin the "words" in the context of our time.

Metaphors, symbols, and images have the property of ambiguity and multiple meanings. For a document that has held up for nearly 1700 years we must at least admit that over that time meaning shifts occurred that now pose difficulties when the text is interpreted fundamentally. Critical text review, grammar and hermeneutics are important for interpretation.

It is especially difficult to reconcile the words with the present day understanding of the physical universe and natural sciences which have come into their own as basis of modern life. In this I point specifically to the theories of relativity, advances in physics, chemistry, biology, quantum mechanics, the data on our evolutionary background, space travel and the internet.

These now affect our concepts of God, the world, the nature of human beings and with them our ideas of state and law. Every phrase is analyzed in Greek and Latin in order to stimulate discussion and conversation rather than provide a definitive and final statement.

I hope that the reader will gain insight into the Creed which we Catholics and many other Christians recite regularly.

 

Note added in 2016: Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church met in May 2014, lifted the excommuications on each other’s religions imposed in 1054, and agreed to move toward a truly ecumenical council in 2015 in commemoration of the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

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Saint Joseph’s Seminary: Personal and Historical Perspectives

St. Joseph's Seminary was a boarding school for boys and young men who wished to become priests of the Roman Catholic Church for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This minor seminary was owned and operated by the Diocese.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) the traditional training in preparation for the Catholic priesthood was twelve years, including four years of high school and eight years of college. A minor seminary included the four years of high school and two years of college. A major seminary comprised two more years of college and four years of theology. Not all seminaries followed this pattern but St. Joseph’s was a minor seminary and followed this model. I was a student there from 1956-1961 when I graduated.

The Bulletin for St. Joseph’s Seminary for 1955 included this comment: “Only students who have the intention of preparing themselves for the priesthood and who give good hope of acquiring suitability for a priestly vocation were admitted and allowed to remain.”

Most of the students were from  the Diocese of Grand Rapids but students from the Saginaw and Lansing dioceses were encouraged to attend since those dioceses did not have a seminary. The Detroit Archdiocese had Sacred Heart Seminary, both a minor and major seminary. It still exists today for post high school students. A seminary for high school students is generally no longer part of a seminarian’s training.

St. Joseph's Seminary on Burton Street was originally built for about 100 students in 1919, but that number was exceeded in the 1920’s. In the 1940’s  the enrollment grew rapidly and surpassed 200 in 1955. This growth spurred major changes at the campus.

This book focuses on the period I lived there as a teenager in 1956-1961. Much of the information about the daily schedule, the Rule, curriculum, and other such practices in the seminary are taken mostly from a school Bulletin during the 1950’s and early 1960’s unless otherwise noted. I have also included the entire Rule of life for seminarians in Appendix A. Other original sources for information include the student newspaper which was published from 1922 to 1969, except for 1933-1938.

This book is primarily about St. Joseph’s Seminary as an institution but I have woven into it my personal story and memories as well as those of others.  It has been a joy for me to research and write this book as there are many wonderful memories of St. Joe’s and the guys I met there. Writing this book also helped me sort out the conflicting memories that came along with it.  If you were a student there, I hope reading this book does the same for you. If you weren’t, perhaps it will shed some light on what life in the Catholic Church was like prior to the 1960’s.

 

My classmate, Bob Lesinski, put together a presentation of life at St. Joe’s and published it on YouTube. Enjoy!

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUgOPVfqu1c

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7REV0ZhaN4&NR=1

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Are Faith and Science Compatible?

By Jerome Klosowski.

 

From the introduction:

I sprinkled (heavily) my opinion throughout this paper. Sometimes it is in close agreement with the Catechism of the Catholic Church and sometimes it is a bit diverse. It is important to note that this paper represents a point of view and not an official interpretation of Catholic Church doctrine, nor is it an anti-Catholic theology. It is also important to note that this work is not intended to slight or make fun of other view points and other religious traditions. If one believes in a great and wonderful God who made a clay sculpture and breathed life into it and then used a talking snake and magic fruit to convey messages, that is their faith and is fine for them. If their faith leads them to act out of love for others and their God, they will certainly get and deserve eternal happiness. Christ said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (see John 14:2) and he certainly suggests that there are many ways to get to those mansions, but all are done with a sense of love for their fellow beings.

 

I am a scientist (retired Senior Scientist of the Dow Corning Corp) and worked with the scientific method for as long as I can remember. Fundamental to the scientific method is the principle that one looks at a problem and then tries to find its root cause. Essentially attack the problem and not the symptoms. One then states the facts as one believes them and then continually tests those facts and changes the opinions as new evidence appears.  That approach is used throughout this book. It essentially says all truths are open to be challenged. If a truth cannot hold up to scrutiny, maybe it is not the truth.

End of quote from the introduction.

 

Questions and issues raised in this book are about creation and evolution, heaven, hell, and purgatory, birth control, abortion, in vitro fertilization, eugenics, euthanasia, cohabitation, and more. Jerry also shares a discernment process for resolving moral issues.

Jerry was born and raised a Catholic. He is a lay minister in the Diocese of Saginaw Michigan.

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The Rosary: Traditional and Alternative Mysteries

The word “rosary” refers to the string of beads used in praying 150 Hail Mary’s. The word also refers to the prayers actually recited, so that one does not need the actual string of beads to pray.

Beads were used by laypeople as early as the middle ages so that they could connect their prayers with the 150 Psalms prayed by the monks and other people committed to a religious life. Eventually the 150 Hail Mary’s were divided into groups of ten called decades and a doctrinal mystery was associated with each decade. An Our Father was added at the beginning and a Glory Be at the end of each decade.

The physical rosary consists of a crucifix and a short string of one large and three smaller beads fastened to a circle of five decades of beads. The bead for the Our Father at the beginning of each decade is usually larger to help the person keep track of the prayers being recited. But one does not need a physical rosary to pray it. One can use the ten fingers.

“According to some Catholic traditions, the Rosary was given to Saint Dominic in a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and it was then promoted by Alanus de Rupe.” The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7.

It became an official prayer of the Church in 1569. It had three sets of mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Pope John Paul II added another set of mysteries in 2002 called the Luminous Mysteries.

“The practice of meditation during the praying of the Hail Mary’s is attributed to Dominic of Prussia (1382–1460), a Carthusian monk,” but there is evidence this practice began earlier.  [xiv]

 

 

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Endnotes



[1] Technically this is an Apostolic Exhortation.

[2] Hans Küng (born March 19, 1928) is a Swiss Catholic priest, theologian, and author.

[3] John L. Allen, Jr. (born 1965) is an American journalist who worked for 16 years in Rome as a Vatican watcher, covering news about the Holy See and the Pope.

[4] Technically this was the First Council of Nicaea but the word First is generally omitted. The Second Council of Nicaea, the seventh ecumenical council of the Christian Church, was in 787.

[5] The first meaning of sacramentum was a sum of money deposited in pledge by two individuals involved in a suit. The money of the loser in the suit was applied to religious purposes. The second meaning was a military term for an oath of allegiance. It is interesting that the Church chose this word for our rituals called sacraments.

[6] Pontifex means bridge builder. Maximus means the greatest. This could certainly be an apt title for the leader of the entire Christian Church, but the Pope over many centuries was anything but the greatest bridge builder.



[i] Robert Draper, “Will the Pope Change the Vatican?”

[ii] “Pope Francis: the quiet man of Buenos Aires known for his humble tastes”.

[iii] Hans Kung, “Church reform at all levels”, NCROnline, December 2, 2013.

http://ncronline.org/news/vatican/church-reform-all-levels

[iv] John L. Allen, “Francis and a church that breathes with both lungs”, NCROnline, November 27, 2013.
http://ncronline.org/node/65121

[v] Immigration to the United States

[vi] Elvin L Sprague.  and Mrs. George N. Smith Sprague's history of Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties p. 332.

[vii] The Traverse Region, p230.

[viii][viii] ibid.

[ix] [42] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 12.

[x] Paul L. Maier, Eusebius, page 374.

[xi] “First council of Nicaea”, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea#Attendees

[xii] R. Baine Harris, “The Structure of Being: A Neoplatonic Approach”, Studies in Neo-Platonism, V. 4

[xiii] James Carroll, “Who Am I to Judge? A radical Pope’s first year”,The New Yorker, December 23, 2013.

[xiv] “History of the Rosary”.