Tuesday, 9 October 2012

First Visit to Vienna

This past Wednesday we had a feast day where we celebrated:

The Holy Name of Mary "Maria Namen Feier"

 it is one of the greatest feasts in Austria celebrating Mary’s strong intersession at a time of need in Austria especially the defeat of the Ottomans and leaving of the soviet troupes after World War II.

The feast day used to be in the Canadian liturgical calendar, but was taken out as there was too many Marian feast days at this time of the year.  Austria kept it.  So, us Catholic faithful headed off to Austria to celebrate.  Cardinal Christoph Schonborn was speaking at the Cathedral, but that was going to be a 3 hour mass in German, so we took the kids to the noon mass at St. Stephens.  The entire city is built around this cathedral.  It is the centre and all the roads in the inner city converge at the cathedral.  The pictures below do not do justice to the magnificence of the structure.  I love how the medieval mind pursued beauty and put the time and money in to make the house of God beautiful.  I love how when you enter everything there draws you to your knees to pray.  I love that they understand that no building could be too beautiful to be home to the Holy Eucharist.  

After mass we walked around and found a courtyard for lunch.  Vienna really isn't set up for kids in the inner core.  It is mass convergence of  cafes to sit and drink coffee and eat desserts and to shop.  My young kids weren't too interested in that aspect of enjoying Vienna.  Alas.  However, we found a few fun places to explore.

Here is a fellow student Jana from Czech Republic, carrying Kate to mass.

Snack outside of the Cathedral.

St. Stephen's Cathedral.

Kate waiting for mass to start.

Mary, Mother of God statue.

This is the tabernacle where they place the Eucharist that wasn't consumed.  If you look carefully you'll see the red lit candle signifying that the Eucharist is present.

Cool carvings in the Cathedral everywhere.

Tristan lighting a candle for Jaxyn Flunder.

St. Stephen's from the outside.


We had to get daddy in at least one picture so this seemed like a good place.

The never-ending streets of stores and cafes.

Walking towards the Hofburg palace.

Lunch in the courtyard.

My little Benedict getting a bit tired.

Until they saw the cool stairs.  Then they all had energy to run to the top and down again.

A favourite statue and fountain of Becca's.

Supper at the end of a long day.  Wiener snitzel and pizza.

A video of the inside of St. Stephen's.

The street performer the kids loved.

Kenton's Reading List September:
The following is a list of books I'm reading for classes or personally for those of you whom are interested.
Plato: Apology
Plato: Crito
Plato: Meno
Plato: Alcibiades
From Aristotle to Darwin and Back by Etienne Gilson (Ignatius Press)
Voyage to Venus by CS Lewis
Captain's Fury by Jim Butcher (brilliant fantasy series!)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Gospel Matthew, Mark, Luke
St. Thomas Aquinas Lenten Lectures on the Sacraments, 10 Commandments, and Faith

Biffert Sermon From the Mount (of grapes as wine flows from the taps here) (as by request):
There are many things I've learned thus far in my classes, but this one seems to stand out a lot for me.  We were comparing Aristotle and Descarte in regards to their understanding of being.  Through this insight I've decided, contrary to popular Christian scholar belief, that God did not use evolution in the Darwinian sense as a tool of creation but created all species in their final form.  Let me explain.  Aristotle believed, and rightly so, that all living beings are made up of two forms: accidental and substantial. Accidental forms are the material part of us that changes: ie: hair colour, height, size, weight (for most of us) and so forth.  The substantial forms of living beings are their essence - that which makes them them.  A horse is a horse not a worm.  Humans are humans and not plants.  Humans have a human essence and worms have a worm essence.  Now this is the key: substantial forms don't change.  I'm always human.  A worm is always a worm.  We call this species.  However, in Darwinian evolution we see the doing away with substantial forms (species) in that the substantial forms are evolving from one species into another - in other words all living beings are just accidental forms - changing masses of material.  If this is the case, there is no essence to distinguish me from a worm as that worm may eventually be me.  All living beings are just one big species.  The result is the survival of the fittest.  The strong survive.  If I have to step on a worm to survive - I will and it shouldn't matter as we are all just accidental forms in flux.  If I have to step on someone else to survive, or kill a baby in the womb it shouldn't matter as we are just conglomerates of matter evolving and changing and our only end is survival.  Thus, as you can see, Darwinian evolution is not compatible with orthodox Christian belief.  Now, unfortunately, the word evolution is often used to refer to adaptation within a species and other forms that evolution may take - these may be compatible and even true.  But evolution in the classical sense?... well, in my simple mind, I did not come from a monkey.  The human species was created and has always remained a human species.

Over and out.
Kenton E.

We had a request to have the kids talk about their experiences.  Here is our attempt.  Benedict, I must admit is stink'n cute!


  1. How wonderful to see the entire Biffert family living the life in Vienna! Great lessons to be learned! How richly Blessed you all are to be experiencing life in abundance! Thank you for sharing the pics and videos. The Flunders have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Jaxyn is thrilled to see his candle lit!

    P.S. And I thought my reading list was exhaustive!

  2. Philosophically and theologically your theory on evolution seems sound. However, do you find that there is substantive scientific evidence to support this theory?

    1. I don't know much about the scientific evidence. I do know however that if something is true then the philosophy, theology and science will be in unity. If not, then one or the other isn't true. I did learn in some course that there is discovered a jumping gene that can create major adaptations within a species. However, I don't know if there is conclusive evidence to prove that one species actually turns into a different species.

  3. I think that there could have been strong philosophical and theological arguments made for geocentrism. However, once all the scientific data was in, it was proven to be false. That is why, I think, we need to ensure the scientific data is consistent with philosophical and theological speculation.

    1. Huh.. interesting.... I've actually heard the opposite. I've heard that geocentrism has not been proven false and that there are still huge debates happening around this subject. Check out http://www.catholicintl.com/. We've been having this discussion here at the Institute and it looks like this guy has yet to be beat in a debate regarding geocentrism. He authored the book 'Why Galileo was wrong' which looks like a very interesting read.

    2. To argue that the earth is the center of the solar system is, I think, an embarassment to Catholics. St. Agustine had a something to say about this sort of thing.

      39. Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”67

    3. I totally agree with St. Augustine. Of course. I'm not saying that I agree with Geocentrism, but from my limited understanding, the case isn't closed yet. In fact, there are a lot of learned folks re-looking at the evidence. I plan to do the same when I get some time. I wouldn't be so quick to jump to the conclusion that these scientists are just using scripture to back up a science they can't prove. I think it is quite the opposite. These scientists are Catholic apologists and there is discussion about the overwhelming possibilities within physics and this topic that this may be the next way of evangelism we see. Don't be so quick to dismiss. I'm at least going to hear out both sides.

  4. Thank you for posting the updates, pics and videos!!! We miss you all and think and pray for you constantly! Looks like you are having a wonderful adventure! xo the Bakers

  5. Some benefits of travel:

    1 - It makes you feel relaxed.

    2 - It helps you learn a new language.

    3 - It also helps you see new places.