I'm back from the Nova et Vetera Conference in Denver. It was fantastic! Dr. Tim Gray and the gentlemen at the Augustine Institute did a wonderful job organizing the event. I eagerly look forward to next year's conference.
I was invited by Father Gary Selin, who was so gracious and hospitable. I had a wonderful time with him on Sunday morning. Morning prayer. Holy Mass (ad orientem!). IHOP. A visit to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Denver. Hours of edifying devotional discussions ranging from rubrics of the extraordinary form, devotional literature (he gave me quite list of books to read), celibacy and continence, indulgences, Latin, Thomism, Scripture...you name it. Father Selin is a fantastic priest. If you're in Denver, seek him out.
The conference itself focused on Dr. Gary Anderson's recent book Sin: A History, which is an investigation into the ancient Jewish and Christians notions of sin, primarily the language of "debt" in the Old and New Testaments. Anderson has produced a slam dunk account of how Second Temple Judaism understood sin in terms of debt and repayment. This understanding also justifies the ubiquitous language of "debt" and "redemption" in the New Testament and Fathers (and especially in the writings of Saint Anselm).
The conference began with Holy Mass celebrated by His Excellency Archbishop Chaput of Denver. Father Charles Morerod, O.P from Rome provided an introduction. I especially enjoyed getting to know Father Morerod, as he was once a member of ARCIC (Anglican—Roman Catholic International Commission).
Reinhard Hütter from Duke spoke, as did Tim Gray of the Augustine Institute. Edward Sri gave an excellent talk about the debt and "release" language of the Luke-Acts in the context of Christ's Jubilee fulfillment. I also enjoyed Father Romanus Cessario's presentation on indulgences and the debt of sin. Father Cessario is provocative, as always. Father Thomas Joseph White, O.P. provided a thoughtful presentation on the relationship of Christ's priesthood to the Church. Dr. Matthew Levering, Dr. Jared Holmes of Wisconsin Catholic and Jared Staudt of the Augustine Institute presented, and the conference was wrapped up by a brilliant conclusion by Dr. Bruce Marshall of Southern Methodist University.
Personally, I was thrilled to finally meet Matthew Levering, someone whom I have longed admired from a distance.
Most precious to me was seeing Bishop James Conley again. As many of you know, then-Msgr. Conley was very instrumental in my conversion to the Catholic Faith when he met with me in Rome in 2006. To see him again (now wearing his mitre) was a great joy. I'm forever grateful to him - sanctissimum sacerdotem Christi et patrem mihi.
A special thank-you to the Archibold's for hosting me in their home.
Let me also add that Denver is a fantastic archdiocese. I was constantly impressed by the seminary there. May God continue to bless Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Conley as they lead the flock of Christ in Colorado.
Please visit the website of the Augustine Institute to learn more about their apostolate and the Nova et Vetera Journal.