Monday, March 10, 2008

Orthodox evangelization (Catholic and Jewish)

Along with my interest in Orthodox Judaism, I have a strong interest in Catholicism as well. In particular the work of Hans Urs von Bathalsar. One program that has a number of courses based on his work is the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. It offers some traditional, yet wonderful sounding classes--a few of which I have listed at the bottom of the post. However, very sadly there is nothing to listen to, nothing to download, except the academic catalogue, which describes the classes and the book list, which is interesting.

What I find so curious is that the John Paul II Institute makes a very explicit statement that one of its main points of its mission is evangelization:

"To develop a critical understanding of issues on marriage and family, biotechnology and ethics in light of Western/modern assumptions regarding the human person, as these bear on the nature and dignity of human life and the transcendental meaning of beauty, truth, and goodness, in a way that fosters a unity of theory and practice at the service of the Church’s 'new evangelization'"

Yet, it keeps its classes and its instruction to itself. What would be a better form of evangelization than sharing the insights and ideas from their program?

On the other hand there is is the unbelieveable Yeshiva University resource --, which I have written about before, that has thousands (over 14,000) of downloadable shiurim (lectures).

So if you ask me, YU is doing a far better job at evangelization than the John Paul II Institute.

Some John Paul II Institute classes:

JPI 922 - God, Giver of Life
This seminar examines the category of gift, a crucial concept for the thought of John Paul II. If gift is to be cogently adopted by any
theological and anthropological reflection without falling prey to postmodernity’s criticism, an adequate elucidation of God, the giver of life, is required to retrieve the ontological and Trinitarian roots of “gift.”

The seminar pursues its goal, on the one hand, by exploring what it means to state that the Holy Spirit is the Person thanks to whom God himself is Gift (Dominum et Vivificantem, n.10), and, on the other hand, by addressing the issue of the generative potency in God and its difference from and similarity to his creative power on the other. The ontological and theological elucidation of gift is done with the aid of prominent ancient and contemporary theological figures such as Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, von Balthasar, and John Paul II.

JPI 930 - The Trinitarian Meaning of Human Suffering
This course takes as its starting point John Paul II’s encyclicals Redemptor Hominis, Dives in Misericordia, and Dominum et Vivificantem, and the apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris. The course attempts to advance a theological understanding of the meaning of evil and suffering. This reflection is set against the backdrop of the examination in the contemporary situation of the meaning of suffering. Besides the work of John Paul II, the other main authors examined in the course are Plotinus, Aquinas, Hegel, von Balthasar, and E.Mounier.

JPI 941 - The Mysteries of Christ and the Meaning of Time and History
A correct understanding of Gaudium et Spes, 22, is crucial for developing the adequate anthropology John Paul II speaks of in his writings. The contemplation of Jesus Christ, who reveals the mystery of the Father and his love, allows us to see fully a new image of man. In this regard, it is important to notice that this section of the pastoral constitution refers to the whole of the life of Christ, from the Incarnation to the Death and Resurrection of the Lord. Christ “has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin,” and that in turn means: He has assumed also human time and a part of human history.

This course focuses on how a consideration of the life of Christ opens a new understanding of human time and history. A theological category will constitute the guideline of our discussion: the concept of “mystery,” deemed by Joseph Ratzinger to be the most fruitful term of twentieth century theology. The course will draw from the understanding of mystery in Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, as well as from the Christology of some modern theologians (such as W. Pannenberg, J. Ratzinger, K. Rahner, and H. U. von Balthasar), in order to see the fruitfulness of a Christology focused on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. The different mysteries of the life of Christ, understood in their interconnection and development as an exodus of love and as the very dynamic of Jesus’ self-giving (cf. Deus Caritas Est 7; 12), will reveal to us the
meaning of human history and the sense of time in human existence.

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