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Dr. Ed Peters Gives Hillenbrand Lecture on Indulgences
Dr. Ed Peters of Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit offers Liturgical Institute students and faculty a lecture entitled “A Modern Guide to Indulgences: Rediscovering This Often Misinterpreted Teaching." On May 2, 2013, the Liturgical Institute hosted a Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture with Dr. Edward Peters, a specialist in canon law who holds the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Peters’ lecture was entitled “A Modern Guide to Indulgences: Rediscovering This Often Misinterpreted Teaching,” and sought to bring common understanding to the notion of indulgences since Pope Paul VI’s fundamental reform of indulgences in 1967.
Dr. Peters began his lecture with a laugh from those in attendance for noting that all in attendance were eligible for a partial indulgence because Specific Grant number 6 of Enchiridion Indulgentiarum “grants a partial indulgence to those who study Christian doctrine.”
Peters centered his talk on the foundation of canon law, especially section 992 and six other canons which draw heavily on Pope Paul VI’s apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctinra. An indulgence, he noted, “is the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful gains under certain conditions by the assistance of the Church which as minister of redemption dispenses and applies authoritatively the treasury of the satisfaction of Christ and the saints” (1983 cic 992).
Dr. Peters went on to investigate each phrase of the definition, emphasizing clearly those ideas which are frequently misunderstood. First, he was clear to distinguish between “remission” and “forgiveness,” noting that remission remits the “liability of punishment” by drawing “more deeply on the infinite merits of Jesus Christ.” Forgiveness, on the other hand, comes only from God “who generally uses the sacraments that Christ left to his Church to achieve that reconciliation.”
Peters was careful to emphasize that though indulgences are given by the assistance of the Church under certain conditions, ultimately, the Church draws indulgences from the merits of Jesus Christ. “When Christ took on the task of Savior,” he said, “it so far exceeded the Father’s demands that he won in the Father’s eyes an inexhaustible treasury of merit and mercy that could be drawn upon ceaselessly without diminishment.”
The remainder of his lecture discussed the two major areas of reform instituted by Pope Paul VI. First, Peters discussed the nature of plenary and partial indulgences, highlighting Paul VI’s understanding of the wide differentiation of acts undertaken for indulgences. Some indulgenced acts are more significant than others, and “the worth of an indulgence should recognize this fact.” He then examined Paul VI’s innovation of developing General and Specific Grants, which allow indulgences to be woven into the “very fabric of a Christian’s daily life.” These include donation of goods or services, every occasion of charity and rendering a public sign of the Faith. For Paul VI, he said, growth in holiness was “not simply to be a project to be included among others...but to be our very path through life.”
We thank Dr. Edward Peters for his generosity, his fine talk and an opportunity to gain an indulgence!
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Fr. Robert Barron Offers Thoughts on 2 Samuel and Sacrifice in the Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture Series
Noted promoter of the New Evanglization and newly-appointed Rector/President of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary gives Liturgical Institute students a preview of the findings in his forthcoming book on 2 Samuel.
During its summer 2012 session, The Liturgical Institute welcomed The Very Reverend Robert E. Barron to offer a talk in the Institute’s Hillenbrand Distinguished Lecture series. Giving his first public address after being named President/Rector of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, the noted proponent of the new evangelization provided insights from his research for an upcoming book on the Second Book of Samuel.
Entitled “David Dancing Before the Ark: The Liturgical Theology Implicit in 2 Samuel 6,” Fr. Barron’s lecture addressed the role of King David as a new Adam, “leader of a properly defended Eden.” More than a king, Barron argued, Adam had also been a priest who, walking in easy fellowship with God, was naturally in the stance of adoration. Yet after the Fall, the world suffered a “suspension of right praise as a consequence of a failure in priesthood.”
In second Samuel, Barron argued that David becomes a priest because he presides over a “liturgical kingdom,” and so Samuel chose 30,000 men to recover the Ark of the Covenant and return it to Jerusalem that he might center his liturgical empire around right praise. Barron then turned his attention to the “sacrificial history and attitude of Israel presided over by the one who is not only King but priest as well.” Only in relationship to Adam can David’s dancing before the Ark be properly understood, Barron claimed, since Adam “danced in unison with the Lord,” while a sinful people felt “out of step with God.”
David therefore danced before the Ark as an image of “humanity dancing with the Lord, recovering the effortless harmony of Eden.” Fr. Barron then noted that the “gestures and movements of the priests in the Jerusalem Temple were intended to mimic, in a stylized way, the exuberant dance of King David. And since the ritual moves of the Byzantine and Catholic Mass trace their origins to the Temple,” one could conclude that the “processions, gestures, and bows of Christian priests today participate in the priesthood of the king who wore the ephod as he danced before the Ark.”
Before the talk, Liturgical Institute director Fr. Douglas Martis gave Fr. Barron a historic photo of Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand, for whom the lecture series is named, and to whom Barron looks as a role model for his own time as Rector. Many thanks to Fr. Barron for sharing the fruits of his labors with us.