Saturday, May 31, 2008

Litany of the Sacred Heart

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, have mercy on us.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.

Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.

God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, one God, Have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Formed by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mother, Have mercy on us. Heart of Jesus, Substantially united to the Word of God, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Of Infinite Majesty, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Holy Temple of God, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Tabernacle of the Most High, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, House of God and Gate of Heaven, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Burning Furnace of charity, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Vessel of Justice and love, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Full of goodness and love, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Abyss of all virtues, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Most worthy of all praises, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, In Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Have mercy on us. Heart of Jesus, In Whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Divinity, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, in Whom the Father is well pleased, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Of Whose fullness we have all received, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Desire of the everlasting hills, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Patient and abounding in mercy, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Rich unto all who call upon Thee, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Fountain of life and holiness, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Atonement for our sins, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Filled with reproaches, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Bruised for our offenses, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Made obedient unto death, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Pierced with a lance, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Source of all consolation, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Our Life and Resurrection, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Our Peace and Reconciliation, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Victim for our sins, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Salvation of those who hope in Thee, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Hope of those who die in Thee, Have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, Delight of all the Saints, Have mercy on us.

Lamb of God Who takest away the sins of the world,

Spare us, O Lord.

Lamb of God Who takest away the sins of the world,

Graciously hear us, O Lord.

Lamb of God Who takest away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart,

Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray.

Almighty and eternal God, look upon the Heart of Thine most-beloved Son, and upon the praises and satisfaction He offers Thee in the name of sinners; and appeased by worthy homage, pardon those who implore Thy mercy, in Thy Great Goodness in the name of the same Jesus Christ Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

"The symbol and express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ . . ."

This is from Leo XIII on the Sacred Heart. Pius XII offers this quote in his marvelous encyclical Haurietis Aquas.

You should really read the whole thing, so here are some tidbits to pique your interest:

Moreover there are those who consider a devotion of this kind as primarily demanding penance, expiation and the other virtues which they call "passive," meaning thereby that they produce no external results. Hence they do not think it suitable to re-enkindle the spirit of piety in modern times. Rather, this should aim at open and vigorous action, at the triumph of the Catholic faith, at a strong defense of Christian morals. Christian morality today, as everyone knows, is easily contaminated by the sophistries of those who are indifferent to any form of religion, and who, discarding all distinctions between truth and falsehood, whether in thought or in practice, accept even the most ignoble corruptions of materialistic atheism, or as they call it, secularism.

Since our divine Redeemer as our lawful and perfect Mediator, out of His ardent love for us, restored complete harmony between the duties and obligations of the human race and the rights of God, He is therefore responsible for the existence of that wonderful reconciliation of divine justice and divine mercy which constitutes the sublime mystery of our salvation. On this point the Angelic Doctor wisely comments: "That man should be delivered by Christ's Passion was in keeping with both His mercy and His justice. With His justice, because by His Passion Christ made satisfaction for the sins of the human race, and so man was set free by Christ's justice; and with His mercy, for since man of himself could not satisfy for the sin of all human nature, God gave him His Son to satisfy for him. And this came of a more copious mercy than if he had forgiven sins without satisfaction: Hence St. Paul says: 'God, who is rich in mercy, by reason of His very great love wherewith He has loved us even when we were dead by reason of our sins, brought us to life together with Christ.'"

But St. Augustine, in a special manner, notices the connections that exist between the sentiments of the Incarnate Word and their purpose, man's redemption. "These affections of human infirmity, even as the human body itself and death, the Lord Jesus put on not out of necessity, but freely out of compassion so that He might transform in Himself His Body, which is the Church of which He deigned to be the Head, that is, His members who are among the faithful and the saints, so that if any of them in the trials of this life should be saddened and afflicted they should not therefore think that they are deprived of His grace. Nor should they consider this sorrow a sin, but a sign of human weakness. Like a choir singing in harmony with the note that has been sounded, so should His Body learn from its Head."

Thus, from something corporeal such as the Heart of Jesus Christ with its natural meaning, it is both lawful and fitting for us, supported by Christian faith, to mount not only to its love as perceived by the senses but also higher, to a consideration and adoration of the infused heavenly love; and finally, by a movement of the soul at once sweet and sublime, to reflection on, and adoration of, the divine love of the Word Incarnate. We do so since, in accordance with the faith by which we believe that both natures -- the human and the divine -- are united in the Person of Christ, we can grasp in our minds those most intimate ties which unite the love of feeling of the physical Heart of Jesus with that twofold spiritual love, namely, the human and the divine love. For these loves must be spoken of not only as existing side by side in the adorable Person of the divine Redeemer but also as being linked together by a natural bond insofar as the human love, including that of the feelings, is subject to the divine and, in due proportion, provides us with an image of the latter. We do not pretend, however, that we must contemplate and adore in the Heart of Jesus what is called the formal image, that is to say, the perfect and absolute symbol of His divine love, for no created image is capable of adequately expressing the essence of this love. But a Christian in paying honor along with the Church to the Heart of Jesus is adoring the symbol and, as it were, the visible sign of the divine charity which went so far as to love intensely, through the Heart of the Word made Flesh, the human race stained with so many sins.

And so we can easily understand that the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, of its very nature, is a worship of the love with which God, through Jesus, loved us, and at the same time, an exercise of our own love by which we are related to God and to other men. Or to express it in another way, devotion of this kind is directed towards the love of God for us in order to adore it, give thanks for it, and live so as to imitate it; it has this in view, as the end to be attained, that we bring that love by which we are bound to God to the rest of men to perfect fulfillment by carrying out daily more eagerly the new commandment which the divine Master gave to His Apostles as a sacred legacy when He said: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you. . .This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you." And this commandment is really new and Christ's own, for as Aquinas says, "It is, in brief, the difference between the New and the Old Testament, for as Jeremias says, 'I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel.' But that commandment which in the Old Testament was based on fear and reverential love was referring to the New Testament; hence, this commandment was in the old Law not really belonging to it, but as a preparation for the new Law."

Cor Iesu Sacratissimum, miserere nobis.

Meant to do this last night but just never got around to it.

Happy belated Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! For those who are unfamiliar, this was a devotion founded upon the revelations by Christ to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The main thrust was the boundless love of the Son for all mankind in spite of all our sins and failings. The devotion was a valuable weapon against Jansenist tendencies and was highly promoted by the great orthodox Jesuits of old.

It's here that we are taught the First Friday devotion. Christ gave St. Margaret certain promises associated with this devotion:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

2. I will give peace in their families.

3. I will console them in all their troubles.

4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.

5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.

6. Sinners shall find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.

9. I will bless those places wherein the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.

10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my Heart.

12. In the excess of the mercy of my Heart, I promise you that my all powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the First Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my Heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Litany of Heresies #5

Claiming that the distinction between mortal and venial sins was a “pre-Vatican II” idea.

The distinction between mortal and venial sins has been taught since the Apostles.[1]

The teaching has remained constant ever since.[2] It has also been stated by the Council of Trent:

Whence it is gathered that all the mortal sins, of which, after a diligent examination of themselves, they are conscious, must needs be by penitents enumerated in confession, even though those sins be most hidden, and committed only against the two last precepts of the decalogue,--sins which sometimes wound the soul more grievously, and are more dangerous, than those which are committed outwardly. For venial sins, whereby we are not excluded from the grace of God, and into which we fall more frequently, although they be rightly and profitably, and without any presumption declared in confession, as the custom of pious persons demonstrates, yet may they be omitted without guilt, and be expiated by many other remedies. But, whereas all mortal sins, even those of thought, render men children of wrath, and enemies of God, it is necessary to seek also for the pardon of them all from God, with an open and modest confession.[3]

[1] 1 John 5:17.
[2] Tertullian, De Anima §35; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letters 51:20; St. Jerome, Against Jovinian 2:30; Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor §69-70; Catechism of the Catholic Church 1854.
[3] Council of Trent, Session XIV, Chapter V, On Confession.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Unholy Crap, redux.

What the hell is going on with the Sesame Street Masses? When did it become en vogue to have Mr. PotatoHead show up for Re-presenting the Sacrifice of Calvary?

In the name of all that's holy, this is one of the creepiest things I think I've ever seen. What was the deal with all the animals? Was anyone else expecting to see Nicolas Cage or that guy from The Equalizer getting torched in the Wicker Man? This whole thing reeked of some sort of weird pagan bull-excrement.

At about the 10 minute mark, they start wailing about all the things that make Jesus sad. In an odd twist, they neglected to mention sacrilege of this sort.

May God preserve us from neo-modernist heretics hell-bent on destroying His Church.

Litany of Heresies #4

Claiming that the sole arbiter of sin is one’s conscience and that no one else can claim that a person has sinned in a particular action, whether it be a neighbor, the priest, the Church, or the Pope.

Dissent having been legitimized according to the prior section, it follows that sin only arises from a violation of one’s own conscience. After all, the logical extension of permissible dissent is that all Church teachings are open to debate. The primacy of conscience above all else is a very imperfect picture of the applicable doctrine on this subject. A conscience must be properly formed by the teachings of the Church. The Second Vatican Council demands nothing less:

In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself.[1]

Of course, for this to be possible, it must be fully within the Church’s authority to declare a person’s actions as sinful.

Please consider also that the Spiritual Works of Mercy, which have a lineage stretching at least from the Angelic Doctor[2] to the modern Catechism,[3] include the act of Admonishing the Sinner. The very act of admonishment presupposes that the party in question be able to declare the offending individual as behaving sinfully.

Even if the above is stressed and emphasized, it is rendered meaningless due to the legitimization of dissent, as any teachings which are “inconvenient” may be shelved in favor of the individual’s personal preference in an action. We are then left with the conundrum of how a person can claim, in good conscience, to legitimately dissent from that very teaching which is to form his/her conscience in the first place.

[1] Id., Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty) §14. See also Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World) §27; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2447.
[2] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 32, Article 2.
[3] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1783-1785.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ok, Show of Hands

Who thinks the Shroud of Turin is the real deal?

A Colorado physics prof has convinced the labs at Oxford to re-visit the issue of the Shroud's age.

St. Ignatius of Loyola has a quote that's pretty applicable to the opposing sides here:

For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who disbelieve, no amount of proof is sufficient.

Litany of Heresies #3

Claiming that dissent from Church doctrine is acceptable in some circumstances, without mentioning what any of these alleged circumstances might be.

Such a statement is prohibited in Church law by virtue of Canon 750:

A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them.

Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

There are no exceptions here. This, and other provisions of Canon Law[1] were specifically inserted in order to reject the sort of “Cafeteria Catholicism” that you decried in your address to the candidates and catechumens at the Rite of Election. Rejection of the teachings of the Church or the Holy Father is not an option, running afoul of both the above canonical provisions, countless infallible statements of anathema throughout the ages, and the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.[2] The instructors neglected to discuss the portions of our RCIA materials that explicitly discussed the need for obedience, choosing instead to say that dissent in some situations (left nameless) does not offend the Church. Those members of the class who had read the materials departed from that session with no idea of what to believe on this topic. This is a recipe for complete confusion as many are left with the impression that certain aspects of doctrine and dogma are "optional."

[1] Cf. Pope John Paul II, Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem.
[2] Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution of the Church) §25.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Catholic Social Justice and the Free Market, Part V

Closing out our discussion on this topic, I wanted to look at some of the more recent magisterial items on the topic and maybe get a better idea of how subsidiarity got to be the stepchild when it comes to social justice discussions and a bit on how deformed notions of solidarity have taken hold.

I've seen lots of folks try to pin this stuff on Blessed Pope John XXIII. I am not quite sure where this comes from. He deals heavily with social justice topics in Mater et Magistra and Pacem in Terris, but it's not like there's anything really wacky (on this issue, at least) in either document.

I think that the door got nudged open with the closing document of Vatican II, a not-so-little ditty called Gaudium et Spes aka The Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World. Quite a mouthful, yes? Anyways, you have some lines in G&S that start pushing man and man's development in ways that would allow later folks to get a bit carried away (trying to be charitable here). For example, consider this statement:

According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.

And then contrast it with the first sentence of JPII's first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis:

The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the center of the universe and of history.

What with Jesus being the center of the universe and history, it would seem much more appropriate to say that all things on earth should be related to God as their center and crown. Moreover, G&S mentions subsidiarity a grand total of once and without any real elaboration. There are some other elements that go into this same equation, but I'm trying to be brief(er). My point is that you have a point of emphasis on man rather than God. This has the unfortunate tendency of starting down the slippery slope of the temporal being exalted over the supernatural. On top of that, you've got this huge emphasis on what I feel is the easy side of the equation, solidarity. Even the secular humanists will buy into this. Subsidiarity has been pushed into the background, though.

Then comes Populorum Progressio and things start to get a little weird.

When Paul VI discusses social justice, he seems to fall into the same rut as G&S. He seems to pay some lip service to subsidiarity (actually quoting from John XXIII in the process):

Hence programs are necessary in order "to encourage, stimulate, coordinate, suplement and integrate" the activity of individuals and of intermediary bodies. It pertains to the public authorities to choose, even to lay down the objectives to be pursued, the ends to be achieved, and the means for attaining these, and it is for them to stimulate all the forces engaged in this common activity. But let them take care to associate private initiative and intermediary bodies with this work. They will thus avoid the danger of complete collectivization or of arbitrary planning, which, by denying liberty, would prevent the exercise of the fundamental rights of the human person.

He makes the further point, though, that "However, local and individual undertakings are no longer enough. The present situation of the world demands concerted action based on a clear vision of all economic, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects."

First, the encyclical does not delve much into those "spiritual aspects." They are back-burnered. The rest of the sentence results in comments like:

This international collaboration on a world-wide scale requires institutions that will prepare, coordinate and direct it, until finally there is established an order of justice which is universally recognized. With all Our heart, We encourage these organizations which have undertaken this collaboration for the development of the peoples of the world, and Our wish is that they grow in prestige and authority.

It's easy to see how subsidiarity gets thrown out with the bathwater with comments like this, which I think are illustrative of the encyclical as a whole. I don't want it to seem like I'm piling on Pope Paul here, but this is the same guy who said that the United Nations was "the last, best hope of mankind." It's enough to give you the willies.

Anyways, these are the sorts of things that you hear when folks are looking for authorities to back up their twisted views on social justice.

JPII and Benedict XVI went a ways to restoring subsidiarity to the mainstream of Church thought. Of course, this means that they largely ignored by those looking to push agendas. For JPII, a lot (but not all) of this was a natural outgrowth of his battle with communism. Anyways, he did a much better job of addressing solidarity and subsidiarity in proper order:

The State must contribute to the achievement of these goals both directly and indirectly. Indirectly and according to the principle of subsidiarity, by creating favourable conditions for the free exercise of economic activity, which will lead to abundant opportunities for employment and sources of wealth. Directly and according to the principle of solidarity, by defending the weakest, by placing certain limits on the autonomy of the parties who determine working conditions, and by ensuring in every case the necessary minimum support for the unemployed worker.

In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called "Welfare State". This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the "Social Assistance State". Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.

Centesimus Annus

As was ably pointed out by Haskovec below, Pope Benedict has picked up this ball in his own pontificate:

The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person – every person – needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.

Deus Caritas Est

The idea of man-centric thinking seems also to be squarely in Pope Benedict's cross-hairs:

If progress, in order to be progress, needs moral growth on the part of humanity, then the reason behind action and capacity for action is likewise urgently in need of integration through reason's openness to the saving forces of faith, to the differentiation between good and evil. Only thus does reason become truly human. It becomes human only if it is capable of directing the will along the right path, and it is capable of this only if it looks beyond itself. Otherwise, man's situation, in view of the imbalance between his material capacity and the lack of judgement in his heart, becomes a threat for him and for creation. Thus where freedom is concerned, we must remember that human freedom always requires a convergence of various freedoms. Yet this convergence cannot succeed unless it is determined by a common intrinsic criterion of measurement, which is the foundation and goal of our freedom. Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.

Spe Salvi

The points made by these recent papal pronouncements returns us to the core issues of this series:

1. Man is responsible for his fellow man.
2. God is the source of this obligation. We love our fellow man because we love God Who created him.
3. This does not mean paternalism or economic domination by the state.
4. Temporal stuff is inferior to supernatural stuff.
5. In an extension of #2, God must be the source of all that we do on this scale to avoid exploitation or neglect of the supernatural in dealing with persons.

So that's what I got. Hope you enjoyed the series. If so, thank you. If not, please comment on what I got wrong.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Litany of Heresies #2

Heresy #2

Denying the inerrancy of Scripture and the status of the Gospels as historical documents.

Trying to argue or suggest error in the contents of Holy Scripture has also been infallibly condemned by the Church. The position taken by instructors that, for example, the accounts of Christ’s childhood are merely “stories” and should not be regarded as having actually happened is well outside the boundaries of orthodox doctrine.

The Second Vatican Council itself has confirmed the inerrancy of Scripture and the historical accuracy of the Gospels:

Those divinely revealed realities which are contained and presented in Sacred Scripture have been committed to writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For holy mother Church, relying on the belief of the Apostles (see John 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:19-20, 3:15-16), holds that the books of both the Old and New Testaments in their entirety, with all their parts, are sacred and canonical because written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. In composing the sacred books, God chose men and while employed by Him (2) they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted.

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation. Therefore "all Scripture is divinely inspired and has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind" (2 Tim. 3:16-17, Greek text).[1]

Holy Mother Church has firmly and with absolute constancy held, and continues to hold, that the four Gospels just named, whose historical character the Church unhesitatingly asserts, faithfully hand on what Jesus Christ, while living among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation until the day He was taken up into heaven (see Acts 1:1).[2]

I am aware that there are those who would twist the above words, especially the “for the sake of our salvation” language of the second paragraph, in an attempt to restrict the inerrancy of Scripture to only those matters touching faith and morals. This position is equally untenable in light of the remainder of Dei Verbum and other teachings of the Magisterium. The Council of Trent declared that:

It also clearly perceives that these truths and rules are contained in the written books and in the unwritten traditions, which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ Himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down to us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand.

Following, then, the examples of the orthodox Fathers, it receives and venerates with a feeling of piety and reverence all the books both of the Old and New Testaments, since one God is the author of both; also the traditions, whether they relate to faith or to morals, as having been dictated either orally by Christ or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church in unbroken succession.[3]

This teaching was echoed by the First Vatican Council:

Now this supernatural revelation, according to the belief of the universal Church, as declared by the sacred Council of Trent, is contained in written books and unwritten traditions, which were received by the apostles from the lips of Christ himself, or came to the apostles by the dictation of the Holy Spirit, and were passed on as it were from hand to hand until they reached us.

The complete books of the old and the new Testament with all their parts, as they are listed in the decree of the said Council and as they are found in the old Latin Vulgate edition, are to be received as sacred and canonical.

These books the Church holds to be sacred and canonical not because she subsequently approved them by her authority after they had been composed by unaided human skill, nor simply because they contain revelation without error, but because, being written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they have God as their author, and were as such committed to the Church.[4]

Moreover, the First Vatican Council also declares that it is impermissible to interpret Scriptures contrary to the unanimous consent of the Church Fathers,[5] none of whom regarded Scriptural error as a possibility. In addition, the clear teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium and the various Holy Offices on this point are equally unassailable.[6] To teach otherwise is to malign the Church.

[1] Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) §11.
[2] Id. at §19.
[3] Council of Trent, Session IV, Concerning the Canonical Scriptures.
[4] First Vatican Council, Session III, Chapter 2, On Revelation.
[5] Id.
[6] Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors §7; Pope Pius X, Motu Proprio Praestantia Scripturae; Pope Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus §21; Pope Pius XII, Humanis Generis §22; Cf. Pope Leo XIII, Providentissimus Deus; Pope Pius XII, Divino Afflante Spiritu. See also Decree of the Holy Office approved by Pope Pius X, Lamentabili Sane §11; Holy Office Monitum Concerning the Historical Truth of Sacred Scripture, Acta Apostolica Sedis 53-507; Pontifical Bible Commission, The Historicity of the Gospels, Part II, §3; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Profession of Faith §11.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My Favorite Mahonyism

"It has taken the shortage of priestly and religious vocations to awaken in us an appreciation of a broadly based shared ministry and a realization that it is in the nature of the Church as the Body of Christ to be endowed with many gifts, ministries and offices. What some refer to as a "vocations crisis" is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God’s deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of gifts and energy in the Body of Christ."

The full quote is here. Anyways, I just wanted to show that my reservations regarding Cardinal Mahony aren't just conjured up from nothing. I'll post a liturgy video at some point to flesh out my prior "Woodstock" comment.

Finally Figured Out How to Filter Ads

At least, I think I did.

If anybody sees any other sedevacantist stuff pop up in the ad list, please let me know.

Cardinal de Hoyos on the Normalization of the Traditional Mass

I had posted on this earlier, but now we have the video to watch. Let's hope this is a sign of things to come.

The Litany of Heresies

As I'm a guy who aims to please, I will be posting excerpts from my letter to the bishop referenced in this post. These will just be a brief restatement of the heretical idea being taught by the folks in question to converting Catholics along with a rebuttal and citations. This is being done per request, but if anyone wants further elaboration on how the topic was presented in the RCIA group or whatever, just let me know.

Heresy #1.
The claim that infant baptism is a regrettable practice as it deprives the infant of the memory and emotional sentiment of the occasion. The practice is regarded as founded upon “legalism.” The corollary to this belief is the denial of the regenerative and efficacious aspects of baptism. This includes denying that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders confer an indelible mark upon the soul of the recipient.

The above statements are contrary to de fide dogmas of the Catholic faith. This was infallibly and irreformably settled at the Seventh Session of the Council of Trent:

If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema.[1]

If any one saith, that no one is to be baptized save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death; let him be anathema.[2]

If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be bapized in the faith alone of the Church; let him be anathema.[3]

If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.[4]

The matter was disposed of even earlier by the Council of Florence:

With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians.[5]

As to indelible marks upon the soul, Trent again provides the definitive response:

If any one saith, that, in . . . Baptism there is not imprinted in the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible Sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.[6]

The statements by the above Councils are grounded squarely in the teachings of the Church Fathers[7] all the up to the modern times and our previous Holy Father John Paul II.[8]

I also mention at this point that I am not desiring, nor even contemplating, arguments based upon the existence of the Limbus Infantum. It has been stated by RCIA instructors that the practice of infant baptism arose subsequent to the Apostles and from concern that unbaptized children would be damned. Regardless of one’s position on the existence of Limbo, the earliest patristic sources do not mention it as a concern in their writings.[9] The attempt to cast the beliefs in such a holy practice as a mere by-product of a “primitive” time is abhorrent.

[1] Council of Trent, Session VII, On Baptism, Canon V.
[2] Id. at Canon XII.
[3] Id. at Canon XIII.
[4] Id. at Canon XIV.
[5] Council of Florence, Session XI, Multa Sanctorum Patrum (Bull of Union with the Copts). See also Session VIII, Bull of Union with the Armenians.
[6] Council of Trent, Session VII, On the Sacraments in General, Canon IX. Cf. Session V, On Original Sin.
[7] St. Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 21:16; St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Catechesis in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21. Cf. St. Augustine, Forgiveness, Sin, and the Baptism of Infants.
[8] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Infant Baptism, approved by His Holiness on October 20, 1980; Catechism of the Catholic Church 1250-1274.
[9] See St. Hippolytus, n. 8, supra.; St, Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:22:4 and Fragment 34.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cook wins.

Some measure of taste still exists in this nation.

Because it's one of the most pressing issues facing America today . . .

I feel I have to weigh in.

There's no way any sane person would vote for David Archuleta over David Cook if the measure has anything to do with actually being a professional, non-Broadway singer.

The judges are all hypocrites. Every other performer who has ever been on this show has been chastised at one point about "taking risks," "pushing the envelope," and basically not doing the same type song over and over.

Archuleta has done nothing but "Imagine"-esque crap all season. The one or so times he hasn't done that, he's forgotten the words and otherwise sucked.

Cook's problems have been related to picking crap songs or to deciding to mumble/growl through songs rather than actually singing them.

Voting for David Archuleta is a vote to hasten the death of Western Civilization as we know it. Music has pretty much been garbage since the late 80s/early 90s anyway. Why contribute to the problem?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cardinal Mahony Prohibits Liberal Bishop from LA

Umm. What?

Are we talking about Cardinal Roger Mahony?

These are the sorts of stories that make me check under my bed at night for alien pods. For those who may not have heard of Cardinal Mahony before, he is (in)famous for sanctioning liturgies that make Woodstock seem reverent by comparison. He's also the same guy who was blasted by Mother Angelica of EWTN for basically promoting heresy, then retaliated against her by moving to have her forced out of control of the network. This is all recorded in her biography by Raymond Arroyo. It would probably be fair to say he's one of the biggest mistakes of JPII's pontificate and an embarassment to the American episcopacy.

To show I'm not an unfair guy, though, I give him props when they are due. Like here.

This Bishop Robinson guy that Cardinal Mahony has kicked to the curb wishes for the Church "to reexamine Catholic teachings on extramarital sex, women priests, homosexuality, and papal power." He's already been blasted by the Australian bishops conference and seems pretty heretical from the sources out there. Hell, if he's too liberal for Mahony, he might as well be the second coming of Arius. I keed, I keed. You can read more about it over at Catholic News Agency or with some good commentary from the American Papist.

Anyways, congrats to Cardinal Mahony for standing up to these sorts of folks and making a move to safeguard orthodoxy among his flock.

Catholic Social Justice and the Free Market, Part IV A

I neglected this in my previous post because I think it deserves a place of its own. St. Clement of Alexandria wrote a great little treatise called Who is the Rich Man That Shall be Saved? on this topic of property and using it responsibly. It is a great piece of work, probably one of my favorites, and should be read by anyone who has an interest in this topic. Below are some snippets:

So also let not the man that has been invested with worldly wealth proclaim himself excluded at the outset from the Saviour's lists, provided he is a believer and one who contemplates the greatness of God's philanthropy; nor let him, on the other hand, expect to grasp the crowns of immortality without struggle and effort, continuing untrained, and without contest. But let him go and put himself under the Word as his trainer, and Christ the President of the contest; and for his prescribed food and drink let him have the New Testament of the Lord; and for exercises, the commandments; and for elegance and ornament, the fair dispositions, love, faith, hope, knowledge of the truth, gentleness, meekness, pity, gravity: so that, when by the last trumpet the signal shall be given for the race and departure hence, as from the stadium of life, he may with a good conscience present himself victorious before the Judge who confers the rewards, confessedly worthy of the Fatherland on high, to which he returns with crowns and the acclamations of angels.

So that (the expression) rich men that shall with difficulty enter into the kingdom, is to be apprehended in a scholarly way, not awkwardly, or rustically, or carnally. For if the expression is used thus, salvation does not depend on external things, whether they be many or few, small or great, or illustrious or obscure, or esteemed or disesteemed; but on the virtue of the soul, on faith, hope, and love, and brotherliness, and knowledge, and meekness, and humility, and truth, the reward of which is salvation. For it is not on account of comeliness of body that any one shall live, or, on the other hand, perish. But he who uses the body given to him chastely and according to God, shall live; and he that destroys the temple of God shall be destroyed. An ugly man can be profligate, and a good-looking man temperate. Neither strength and great size of body makes alive, nor does any of the members destroy. But the soul which uses them provides the cause for each. Bear then, it is said, when struck on the face; Matthew 5:39 a man strong and in good health can obey. And again, a man who is feeble may transgress from refractoriness of temper. So also a poor and destitute man may be found intoxicated with lusts; and a man rich in worldly goods temperate, poor in indulgences, trustworthy, intelligent, pure, chastened.

But if one chooses to continue and to sin perpetually in pleasures, and values indulgence here above eternal life, and turns away from the Saviour, who gives forgiveness; let him no more blame either God, or riches, or his having fallen, but his own soul, which voluntarily perishes. But to him who directs his eye to salvation and desires it, and asks with boldness and vehemence for its bestowal, the good Father who is in heaven will give the true purification and the changeless life. To whom, by His Son Jesus Christ, the Lord of the living and dead, and by the Holy Spirit, be glory, honor, power, eternal majesty, both now and ever, from generation to generation, and from eternity to eternity. Amen.

Catholic Social Justice and the Free Market, Part IV

In continuing our examination of how Catholic concepts of social justice mesh (or conflict) with typical free market ideas, I thought it might be worthwhile to examine the Early Church Fathers for their ideas on the subject. You hear a lot from both sides of the fence on how the Fathers viewed these things. Guys like Mr. Woods, whose article gave birth to this series, mentions at one point that there were no mass demonstrations against poverty in the Middle Ages as an example of how the Church has not historically supported interventionist policies for assisting the poor. While I suppose this may be true, you don’t see much talk of cloning back then either. Economic conditions, like bioethics, have changed more than a bit since then. I get what Mr. Woods is trying to say. It’s sort of a “the poor you will always have with ye” argument. I don’t think it takes into account the historical lineage of both solidarity and subsidiarity that we have been talking about in this series of posts.

Disclaimer: I know that it’s tough to give a blanket version of what “the Fathers” thought on most topics. My goal here is just to show that both solidarity and subsidiarity have a foundation in the early centuries of Christianity, making it a difficult thing to ignore either of them.

Let’s begin with this notion of solidarity. A few of the Fathers really do look on wealth with the eyes of St. Peter and “the love of money being the root of all evil” (something we have to view as hyperbole, unless we wish to figure that the Richard Specks of the world kill for money). Here, for example, is St. Cyprian of Carthage writing in the mid-third century:

Wealth must be avoided as an enemy; must be fled from as a robber; must be dreaded by its possessors as a sword and as poison.

But how can they follow Christ, who are held back by the chain of their wealth? Or how can they seek heaven, and climb to sublime and lofty heights, who are weighed down by earthly desires? They think that they possess, when they are rather possessed; as slaves of their profit, and not lords with respect to their own money, but rather the bond-slaves of their money.

On the Lapsed

Pretty strong words here from Cyprian. He’s pretty clear that wealth is not necessarily a bad thing, but why burden your soul with something that may serve as an occasion of sin? Seems like being a rich guy ain’t easy either. To paraphrase Spider-Man, with great wealth, comes great responsibility. One might ask how great a responsibility it is.

Feed him that dies of hunger; for whenever thou canst save a man by feeding him, if thou hast not fed him, thou hast slain him.

St. Ambrose De Offic. (Quoted in Canon Pasce, dist. 86).

Aquinas also quotes this bit from Ambrose in the Summa when discussing the use and merits of leisure.

Anyways, Ambrose’s point is perhaps as succinct a definition of solidarity as you are liable to find. If all really are responsible for all as John Paul II has stated, then the idea of having slain the hungry man by withholding food that you could have provided logically follows. As to the why solidarity is the case:

When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of charity, we are paying a debt of justice.

Pope St. Gregory the Great, Pastoral Rule

Here we see that the needs of the poor are not something that we are obliged to give merely out of charity or humanistic altruism. There is actually a debt of justice, which means that they are due these things regardless of our desire to be charitable, as justice does not demand an exercise of charity but rather of prudence in recognizing the existence and limits of the obligation due to the other. And for what it’s worth, your excuses really don’t matter all that much, according to St. John Chrysostom:

And what is the specious plea of the many? I have children, one says, and I am afraid lest I myself be reduced to the extremity of hunger and want, lest I should stand in need of others. I am ashamed to beg. For that reason therefore do you cause others to beg? I cannot, you say, endure hunger. For that reason do you expose others to hunger? Do you know what a dreadful thing it is to beg, how dreadful to be perishing by hunger? Spare also your brethren! Are you ashamed, tell me, to be hungry, and are you not ashamed to rob? Are you afraid to perish by hunger, and not afraid to destroy others? And yet to be hungry is neither a disgrace nor a crime; but to cast others into such a state brings not only disgrace, but extreme punishment.

10th Homily on 1 Thessalonians

So where does that leave subsidiarity? Let’s keep in mind that subsidiarity isn’t about whether the duties of solidarity exist. It’s about the “how” of fulfilling those duties. Folks who try to present an opposition between these principles either aren’t paying attention or are pushing an agenda that is very much not Catholic.

St. John Chrysostom actually provides a lot of material on this point. This first bit is from a small book called "On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom” which is a compilation of his sermons addressing this topic. On page 43:

Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich man's gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone?

Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combine both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold from the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion; a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first - and then they will joyfully share their wealth.

I wish the editor of this book would have provided a specific reference to this quote, as it is very striking and says much of what Pius XI was arguing in Quadragesimo Anno. Basically, the Tony Montanas of the world are going to be rich and screw over the poor regardless of the government or the legalities of a situation. The well-meaning rich will wind up bitter. The poor run the risk of ingratitude. This is a marvelous recipe for class warfare and Marxist cultivation. This idea of the participation of the poor in this who process is something that many pushing massive governmental intervention for the alleviation of poverty often neglect. It’s not just warnings about the rise of the welfare state. It’s the idea that the poor may forget their own obligations in this matter. Chrysostom also addresses this in the same homily on 1 Thessalonians:

Let us therefore, both poor and rich, cease from taking the property of others. For my present discourse is not only to the rich, but to the poor also. For they too rob those who are poorer than themselves. And artisans who are better off, and more powerful, outsell the poorer and more distressed, tradesmen outsell tradesmen, and so all who are engaged in the market-place. So that I wish from every side to take away injustice.

A joyful sharing of wealth would be the heart of subsidiarity. That sounds good. How can it be accomplished? You don’t see a whole lot of folks being responsible for their neighbor out there. For Chrysostom, it’s the change of hearts that’s needed, which I think almost necessarily means the preaching of the Gospel so as to head-off any feelings of “poor people are inferior and must be dictated to” paternalism.

Consider also Chrysostom’s 32nd Homily on 1 Corinthians:

There would be no poverty, no unbounded wealth if there were love, but only the good parts that come from each. From the one we should reap its abundance, and from the other its freedom from care and should neither have to undergo the anxieties of riches nor the dread of poverty.

Ah, that dread of property thing again. Cyprian started us off with that principle and Chrysostom has brought us right back there again. Love is a great antidote for this problem. Not love of money, which St. Peter warns against, but rather love of others. Sure, having more money makes it easier to love money, but having greater love makes it even more difficult, I think, to see money as anything more than the unliving thing that it is.

Again, from St. John Chrysostom:

It is not as absolutely bringing an accusation against those who are wealthy that I say all this; nor as praising the poor without reference to circumstances: for neither is wealth an evil, but the having made a bad use of wealth; nor is poverty a virtue, but the having made a virtuous use of poverty. That rich man who was in the time of Lazarus was punished, not because he was rich, but because he was cruel and inhuman. And that poor man who rested in the bosom of Abraham was praised, not because he was poor, but because he had borne his poverty with thankfulness.

Homily Against Publishing the Errors of the Brethren

Nutshelling all this, we’ve got the idea that property is Ok, something that I think Mr. Woods and I both agree on. However, this responsibility to use property in the correct way is not something that will be especially nourished by a totally unfettered free market. This is borne out from QA and the above quotes I think. Without that change of hearts, people will continue to be fine with treating other people as commodities. Is the proper method of alleviating this some sort of government intervention? Certainly not at a high level, this would be both temporally and spiritually harmful for poor and rich alike. Subsidiarity must be respected if the problems Chrysostom envisioned are to be minimized.

Friday, May 16, 2008

More on the Emergent Church

Kristen Scharold over at First Things has taken up the topic in a book review of Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck.

I'll probably read this book as I find the whole EM movement to be quite fascinating. Where I'm from, Pentecostalism is the fastest growing denomination by far. I have many friends and co-workers who are Pentecostals, so I feel I know something about them. To me, the EM is basically the contrarian liberal twin of Pentecostalism. Where Pentecostals seek to obliterate traditional Christian perspectives on authority, revelation, theology, etc. via claims of direct mystical experiences and "words" from God, the EM aims for the same deconstructionist goals by simply turning its back on these things and making a start from scratch with almost no revelations or theology at all.

This is also why I cannot see the EM as simply a fad. The idea of such a blank slate is far too attractive to be written off that way. When folks see a blank slate on something that should logically govern every aspect of their lives, they are going to look for ways to impose their own ideas on that slate in order to justify what they are actually wanting to do, be it good or bad. The EM does so by essentially claiming ignorance and pushing instead towards a model of "simplicity," as I've heard some members say. What could be more simple than just doing things my own way?

Two awesome web sites.

How did I miss these before now?

The Spirit of Vatican 2 blog.

The Society of St. Leo I blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Protestant Minister in Harlem discusses the Trinity of Hell and Purgatory

To quote the sage Keanu Reeves:


First off, if you don't know who James David Manning is, he's become somewhat famous lately for supporting Hillary Clinton and absolutely blasting Barack Obama. He's even talked about his momma, for crying out loud. Now, he's passing on God's word that Obama and Jeremiah Wright are in a homosexual relationship and that Oprah is a closeted lesbian and that the three of them comprise "the Trinity of Hell." Here's the video.

Anyways, I know that having this sort of guy supporting Catholic doctrine probably isn't the best publicity in the world, but it does demonstrate the scattering of Protestant doctrine. His web site admits that Martin Luther was "ignorant" about purgatory, while the Catholic Church has maintained this doctrine.

Think about the ramifications for some typical (but not necessarily universal) Protestant beliefs. Once you buy into purgatory, you have bought into the idea that works matter. The idea that we ourselves are not sanctified, but are rather regarded as holy due to the imputed righteousness of Christ to our dung-heap selves, goes out the window. If you have indulgences, you have a ministerial authority who may grant them. If you have indulgences, you have a communion of saints who may suffer and directly work towards the purification of others through their own actions. It's a huge freaking row of dominos here, people, and I don't know if Mr. Manning realizes how far it goes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Protestants Abandoning Sola Scriptura

Can only be a good thing, right? Especially when the main complaint in this article by Bob DeWaay is that said abandonment is leading them into the Church. Thanks to Dave Hartline at The Catholic Report for the link. A few comments on the article:

I think Mr. DeWaay is absolutely correct in his criticisms of guys like Schuller and Warren, though for different reasons. How many of the Gospel writers or Church Fathers would have reflected on the horror of sin and said that it was really just a big self-esteem problem? Yet, as DeWaay quotes from Schuller, that's exactly the approach that these kinds of thinkers are taking. Their theologies (if one can even call them that) are completely dependent on folks and their feelings, as though suffering is not part of Christianity. Does anybody think that "taking up the Cross" sounds like something fun and that this entire earthly pilgrimage is going to be all roses and rainbows? Sects such as this are more of a self-help movement than anything else.

Wagner's take on things is just as bad, as it leads to the denial of most Truth altogether. It indeed takes an authority to proclaim Truth. When there is no objective principle of authority, we are led back to subjective feelings and experiences. These cannot be markers for Truth, as they have no objective Truth of themselves.

Ah, the Emergent Church. Has anybody been able to figure out what this movement even is? All my research and experience with those involved in it has led to a conclusion that it is a formless body of searching souls who have gravitated around a charismatic pastor-type who has nothing to offer but, yes, it's that word again, feelings. DeWaay is right when he says that the mantra is "we don't know." All they seem to know is that God loves them (so they got that going for them) and that, if you're a nice person, you go to heaven (sounds familiar). Completely dead in the realm of theology. Utter deconstruction of Christian belief. Total confusion. But they throw a really nice party.

It isn't until we get to the last couple of paragraphs that I really begin to part ways with Mr. DeWaay. He essentially claims that acesticism is nowhere in the Bible. All that stuff about prayer, fasting, denying oneself, and not being of this world was just for laughs, I suppose. Seriously, though, this is where the rubber begins meeting the road, as Mr. DeWaay demonstrates the problem with his position without meaning to.

We see a lot of quotes from Scripture in his article. Not one snippet provides any support for WHY the Reformation view of Scripture as "the formal principle" is actually true. From my experience, the Protestants who return to the Church rather than falling into the novelties already mentioned did so because they discovered that sola scriptura is nowhere in the Bible itself. Nor can the canon itself be discerned from Scripture alone. The breakdown in logic is what returns people to Rome. DeWaay ultimately fails because, while he provides excellent arguments for the problems with stuff like the Emergent Church, he does nothing to address the issue he is supposedly most concerned about: Protestants becoming Catholic.

A few other items:

1. "If the Bible is insufficient in regard to the spiritual practices that we need in order to become sanctified, where do we find them?"

Try 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and all those things that flow from it.

2. "If it is impossible to grow in grace without solitude, why are we not informed of this fact by the Biblical writers?"

Where did the Biblical writers tell us that everything needed to grow in grace is in the Bible?

3. "This danger was shown by the early desert fathers, some of whom came under demonic torment in their solitude."

So now the Fathers are reliable? Extreme aceticism, like that of the Desert Fathers, is not for everyone. However, the fact that it is a path to extraordinary holiness for those called to such a life is clear from their own accounts. The demonic attacks they suffered were because of Satan's frustration at being unable to tempt them. Once the world and the flesh are excised, one can expect the Devil to increase his efforts dramatically.

4. The comparison of Catholicism to Eastern meditative practices is lame. Eastern practices seek annihilation of the self, rather than sanctification of the self. Such practices in the East tend towards the heresy of quietism. Using Merton as an example is grasping at straws. Merton's later writings when he became enamored of these practices skirt a very thin line and probably shouldn't be read by Catholics at all.

5. The close-out has DeWaay shifting gears back away from all his concrete examples to refocus on Catholicism, which bears no resemblance to the movements he has been arguing against. It is good that God did not leave us orphans, or in the unfortunate shape of Christians in the first four centuries of the Faith who had no Bible at all. Living without any "formal principle" whatsoever must have been quite the struggle.

Or maybe He left us His Flesh and Blood (John 6), the Keeper of the Keys (Matthew 16:18), and a Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) to strengthen and sustain our spiritual lives.

To avoid any misunderstandings: About me, the stuff I think, and why I think it.

Considering that I’ve now received indications that folks may be taking me for a sedevacantist or an SSPX parishioner, I figure it’s time for me to add a few personal notes here.

I am a cradle Catholic, born to a Catholic mother (who was a convert) and a Southern Baptist father. My sister was also raised Catholic, and I think it significant that she, my mother, and I were the only Catholics in the entire family tree. The rest of the clan on both sides were Baptist, with very few exceptions. Our entire geography was also 99.9% Protestant, mostly Baptists and Pentecostals.

I grew up under the spiritual tutelage of an old Irish priest who these days would probably be labeled as “hardcore.” Though he was transferred out of our parish when I was in junior high, he remains a good friend and the holiest man I have ever known. He thoroughly catechized the youth of our parish, knowing that our Protestant friends would target us for conversion (which they did, of course). He was also a huge fan of St. Augustine and quoted from his works at every opportunity.

Being in the area where I was, it was not a shocking thing to be told by other kids that they couldn’t be your friend because you were Catholic or find your name on prayer petitions for “lost souls” circulated among your peers. That’s just how some idiots roll. This sort of environment either led you away from the Church or firmly established in your mind how beautiful She is and how She should be defended at every turn.

I went to college at Notre Dame, and yes, I am a huge football fan, and yes, Ann Arbor is the Seat of the Anti-Christ. It was kind of a shocking experience. For the first time, I was around folks who grew up Catholic in predominantly Catholic areas. I also realized that some of my professors were total whackjobs. No, I never had McBrien for any classes. Catholicism was a bit more lax there, with many less concerned with the actual Faith and more worried about being activists for causes that, quite frankly, made me nervous. Pax Christi immediately comes to mind. I was able to write off some of the less orthodox things I heard in class from students as the natural rebellion of college. I must defend my Catholic professors, as the ones I had, did seem quite orthodox. The non-Catholic ones spent most of their time trying to squash the Faith, which was very disconcerting.

Once I got out, I went to law school at LSU. I also got married to a lovely non-denominational Protestant girl. After passing through something of an anti-Catholic phase, she began inquiring about Eastern Orthodoxy. This was a grand experience for both of us really, as it drove home to me something the elders of my old home parish had always said about the marvels of the Traditional liturgy. Up to that point, I had never attended one. My wife was quite taken with the liturgy of the East (as was I), but the theological holes in Orthodoxy soon became evident as she began talking to the priest about conversion. She then looked to swim the Tiber and join the True Church.

The particular church we were attending was very large. We thought such a setting would be good for our children (we had 2 at the time; we now have 3). My wife began RCIA there with a couple of dozen other people. The RCIA was led by a team of laypersons and a deacon. The priest would occasionally present material. I should have known something was wrong at the first class, when he started dropping references to Teilhard de Chardin. For the folks who don’t know who Teilhard is, his work has been under condemnation since the 60s. I have friends who admire his work greatly, but it cannot be doubted that his stuff has led to a resurgence of many heretical views in the Church. For me, I think the Vatican's warning about his stuff is dead-on.

It was pretty much all downhill from there. Every week, it was a new heresy. That takes talent, especially when you consider how long we went to these classes. At some point, I’ll probably post them all here. Anyways, when I privately asked the teachers why they were saying these things, they informed me that their doctrines came from Vatican II. This was impossible, I responded. I had read all 16 documents from VII a couple of times, yet nowhere did I find, for example, that only certain parts of Scripture were inerrant. Imagine my surprise when they quoted the Dogmatic Constitution on Revelation back to me in support of their beliefs. Very disconcerting.

So I re-read VII. When I had initially done so, I had never detected anything that really raised red flags. Sure, there were some funny phrases like “subsists in,” but I just sort of breezed over those parts. This time around, though, I had been made aware of language that was being cited to mean something that the Church could not mean, as it would amount to the over-turning of established teachings. It was a weird experience. Suddenly, I was having to check the footnotes to be clear on what exactly given passages might mean, as it certainly was not what was being promoted in RCIA. I had heard for years that VII’s problems were in its implementation. For the first time, I saw that many problems were in the documents themselves. Note: I have said nothing about their being heretical.

These discoveries began an ongoing project of researching the history and events of VII. It seems to me a concrete historical fact that the Council was plagued by a group of organized parties whose main goal at the Council was the overthrow of traditional Church teaching. This is not some sort of pondering about who was on the grassy knoll. Every book I have read on the subject confirms this as true. For those who want to learn more on the topic, check the following resources:

1. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber by Fr. Ralph Wiltgen
2. Iota Unum by Romano Amerio
3. What Happened in Rome? by Gary MacEoin
4. The Ecumenical Revolution by Robert McAffee Brown
5. Vatican Council II: The New Direction by Oscar Cullman
6. Paul Blanshard at Vatican II by Paul Blanshard

Only one of these books (Iota Unum) could be regarded as a “traditionalist” work. Numbers 3-6 are all quite enthusiastic and hopeful about the chances for Catholicism to reject its dogmas. MacEoin and Blanshard were lay reporters in Rome for the Council. Brown and Cullman were probably the most famous of the Protestant observers there. Fr. Wiltgen’s book is probably the most objective account and has been cited by Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, a contributor for Catholic Answers and EWTN, as the best history of the Council. In other words, shooting the messengers here isn’t going to work. These works represent pretty much the entire spectrum of opinions on the Council, and they all agree that the Council was hijacked by a progressivist agenda. Some think this was a good thing, and others do not. All agree that it happened.

What was the result of this? The result was that the documents of VII have ambiguous phrases deliberately inserted into their texts for the purpose of being “re-interpreted” to suit the needs of the liberals after the Council had closed. Ever since these ambiguities were aired and exploited in the public, confusion has reigned.

I welcome any historical resource that denies the veracity of my synopsis.

My wife very nearly did not convert, thanks to these people. The priest was part of the problem. We contacted the bishop. He did nothing but suggest to the parish priest that we be quiet and stop causing trouble. The missus resolved to convert anyway, and we left the parish immediately after that.

So if you’re wondering about my views on things related to this, here they are:

1. I do not think that VII was heretical. I do think that the texts are riddled with problematic phrases that must be read carefully and in light of pre-conciliar teachings. This is due to the above-mentioned events at the Council itself. Both Blessed John XXIII and Paul VI said that VII contains no new teachings or dogmatic definitions. That means whatever was right before then, remains right today.

2. Just to be clear, Pope Benedict is the pope.

3. The Traditional Latin Mass and the Divine Liturgies of the East are objectively superior to the Pauline Mass. I attend a Pauline Mass every Sunday, but I think it’s ridiculous even to attempt a comparison between liturgies that have their origins with Apostles, Fathers of the Church, and great saints over centuries of organic development and a “fabricated liturgy” (Pope Benedict’s words, not mine) that was drawn up by a commission whose members admitted having the objective of stripping away from the Mass as much of its Catholic character as possible.

4. I wish to believe as the Church believes. If I say anything wrong, please let me know. To this point, I’m pretty sure I haven’t said anything that contradicts established doctrine (including VII).

5. I enjoy books of all sorts, especially comic books. I watch cartoons, Heroes, Lost, American Idol, Survivor, Big Brother, Shark, Dexter (on CBS), and some stuff on EWTN. I love movies. Music has pretty much sucked since the 80s left town, so there’s not much to say there.

Hope that helps clear stuff up.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Subsists In, Imperfect Communion, and Loads of Crap

Below, I expressed the opinion that the background idea for many modern ecumenical efforts was actually a huge, steaming load of crap.

Naturally, some people have taken offense to this and emailed some objections to this idea. Most of these objections revolve around two linguistic vagaries of Vatican II.

The first is the famous bit from Lumen Gentium that "This Church (the one founded by Christ) constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure."

What exactly does it mean for the Church of Christ to "subsist in" the Catholic Church? Doesn't this mean that it subsists elsewhere as well? This is the line that has been run for decades. It seems to completely contradict the comments I orginally posted from Pius XII and Leo XIII, as it does not identify the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. If "Church of Christ" does not equal "Catholic Church," then the "super-church" is the only other real option if we are not to descend into relativism or atheism (which are probably the same things, really).

First, let's look at some other items from Vatican II:

"The Catholic Church, since it was founded by Christ our Lord to bear salvation to all men and thus is obliged to preach the Gospel, considers it one of its duties to announce the Good News of salvation also with the help of the media of social communication and to instruct men in their proper use."

Inter Mirifica

"The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites."

Orientalium Ecclesiarum

Oh. Well, I guess that maybe Vatican II does say that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recently attempted to put a stake in the heart of contrary interpretations in this document. In a nutshell:

"Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church."

Second, I've gotten some comments on the fact that Protestants are regarded as being in "imperfect communion" with the Church due to our common baptism. See Unitatis Redintegratio. A few things here:

A. You don't know if a Protestant has a valid baptism as many groups are only baptizing in the name of Jesus rather than that of the entire Trinity. Such baptisms are invalid. We can't even be sure that some Catholics are getting validly baptized these days.

B. Nowhere in VII does it suggest that "imperfect communion" is somehow salvific.

C. There is nothing to suggest that "imperfect communion" is anything more than a nice way of saying "heretic" or "schismatic."

D. If B or C are somehow wrong, then the Church has taught error for the last 2000 years, as it would mean that heretical beliefs are inconsequential, which necessarily entails that God does not care about the Truth concerning Himself. We might as well all be heretics at this point.

Imperfect communion is sort of like being a little bit pregnant. Sound and fury but signifying nothing of substance.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Catholic Social Justice and the Free Market, Part III

When we last left off in our discussion of Thomas Woods article on this subject, the question was do the opinions expressed in Pope Pius XI's encyclical Quadragesimo Anno necessitate high-level government redistribution of income? I responded that it did not. Here's why I think that.

As Mr. Woods correctly points out, there has long been a strong defense of private property rights throughout Church teaching. It is an often forgotten point of Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum. Considering the Church's historical role as communism's greatest and most implacable foe, this is understandable.

What has happened in the last 40 years or so is that a certain aspect of the Church's teaching, namely, solidarity, has swallowed up and completely buried its sister principle, subsidiarity. If you don't think this is a realistic portrayal of things, check the index to the Church's Compendium of Social Doctrine. Solidarity has around 81 references. Subsidiarity has 15, and at least 3 of those are also references for solidarity. This is imbalance due to the infiltration of Marxist ideas into the Church as I mentioned previously in this series of posts.

I'm not really going to discuss solidarity, as we currently get preaching and public statements about solidarity out of our collective wazoos. In a nutshell, it "is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good. That is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.” (Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis).

Subsidiarity, on the other hand, is described in QA with the following terms:

"Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them."

The Compendium of Social Doctrine expands on this:

"The principle of subsidiarity protects people from abuses by higher-level social authority and calls on these same authorities to help individuals and intermediate groups to fulfil their duties. This principle is imperative because every person, family and intermediate group has something original to offer to the community. Experience shows that the denial of subsidiarity, or its limitation in the name of an alleged democratization or equality of all members of society, limits and sometimes even destroys the spirit of freedom and initiative."

Basically, social justice problems should be taken care of on the most local level of authority possible.

It is easy to understand these points and why they are so important. One only need look at the current status of American schools to see precisely the effects that top-down monopolization of resources can have. Sure, providing a free education to everyone was a very noble aspiration. Unfortunately, as the system has become increasingly federalized, quality has gone into the crapper. I suggest that those in favor of a similar solution for health care problems take note of this.

Anyways, when you take the combined teachings in defense of private property and the need for subsidiarity, it's pretty difficult (for me, at least) to envision Church doctrine as promoting the sort of forced redistribution that seems to be emphasized by so many Church leaders and laity these days. The Compendium itself cautions against the formation of the "Welfare State"

Frankly, I think we like to ignore subsidiarity. God forbid that we actually be taken to task for solving these issues at the local level. It's much easier to pass the buck down the road to Washington (or wherever) and expect them to take care of our problems. Why should we folks be expected to (gasp!) exercise virtue ourselves?

Anyways, that's my shpiel for this. Next time, we'll take a step back to see what the Early Church Fathers had to say on the subject and then we'll close out with a review of some modern papal pronouncements in light of the rest of the discussion.

Archbishop of Kansas City Shows Testicular Fortitude

As reported by Catholic World News, Archbishop Joseph Naumann has told Governor Kathleen Sebelius to refrain from receiving the Eucharist following her veto of a law that would have mandated that abortionists inform women about the procedure's effects and its alternatives (yes, truly a radical and shocking regulation on physicians).

The governor's decision was described by Archbishop Naumann as sending a "spiritually lethal message."

This is a marvelous gesture by His Excellency. I give it till tomorrow before the governor decides to play martyr and yammer on about what her "conscience" told her to do. Unfortunately, it is evident that her conscience has been deadened by sin. Her move endorses the policies of Herod and is in direct defiance of the Church.

And let's be perfectly clear about why the Archbishop did this. She's endangering her soul by receiving the Eucharist in her current condition. Nobody wants this lady committing sacrilege by going to Communion in a state of sin. She's also endangering the spiritual well-being of others via public scandal. Of course, that the Archbishop's judgment is an act of utmost love will be lost on anyone in the mainstream media.

Now, it's a good bet that two things will happen. First, she's going to make a publicity stunt out of being refused Holy Communion. Second, she's probably going to find some whack-job priest who will ignore his vows of obedience and give her Christ anyway. If that happens, they should both be excommed immediately. Let's hope the nation's other bishops are paying attention.