Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

For the Greater Glory of God.

It's the motto of the Society of Jesus, aka the Jesuits, who are the spiritual children of the saint we honor today. St. Ignatius Loyola was a soldier whose leg was shattered by a cannonball during combat. During his recovery, the only books available to him were biographies of Christ and the saints. Having a lot of time on his hands to reflect on his own sinfulness in light of these holy models, especially that of The Master, he began a remarkable journey of conversion that climaxed with a vision of the Blessed Mother and the Child Jesus. In the aftermath of this mystical experience, he wrote his classic Spiritual Exercises, which have become a staple of Catholic spiritual life. It's difficult to put the Spiritual Exercises into words, except to say that you will come to a definite realization of how bad a sinner you are and what precise things are obstacles to your spiritual advancement. Do not attempt this without a spiritual director, by the way.

After a brief segue to the Holy Land, from which he was rather harshly kicked out, Ignatius began to attract a number of companions. These, of course, would be the founding member of the Company (later the Society) of Jesus. Initially wanting to go to the Holy Land and live a life mirroring that of Christ, they would instead become famous for taking the "fourth vow" of obedience to the Pope. The Jesuits would be the backbone of the Counter-Deformation movement, immovable foes to Protestants and worldly monarchs, and a cradle for saints ranging from Francis Xavier to Peter Canisius to Robert Bellarmine.

Here's my favorite bit about St. Ignatius. After he was ordained, he spent the next year and a half preparing to offer his first Mass. That's how seriously he took the Eucharist.

Here we are, 450 years after this great man's death, and the company he founded is in something of an upheaval. Jesuits have become known more for theological wackiness than orthodoxy. Sure, you've got some good ones: Mitch Pacwa, John Hardon, Vincent Micelli, and so forth. Let's be honest, though. John Paul II actually suspended the election of the Superior General in the early 80s out of his concerns. More recently, Cardinal Rode and Pope Benedict have specifically reminded the Society of their obligations to the Church and the papacy. Such reminders are born from an uneasiness with the heterodox direction many of St. Ignatius's sons have taken. Let us pray for them and ask that God restore them to their former glory.

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for us and your spiritual children.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Feast of the Golden-Worded

Today is the feast for one of our lesser known Doctors of the Church. St. Peter Chrysologus was the bishop of Ravenna back in the early to mid-5th century. He was a good friend of Pope Leo the Great. When the Monophysite heresy broke out into full ferocity, he was actually condemned by a synod in Constantinople for failing to back the heretics. This was a few years before the Council of Chalcedon.

His nickname, Chrysologus, meaning "golden-worded," was given as a tribute for his marvelous sermons, over a hundred of which are still around these days.

Here's one remark that was sent in response to Eutyches, the chief of the Monophysite dissenters, who was looking for Peter to back him against the orthodoxy of Pope Leo. Perhaps Fr. McBrien could take note:

We exhort you, honorable brother, to listen obediently to what was written by the blessed pope of the city of Rome, for Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it.

St. Peter Chrysologus, pray for us.

Theological Prostitutes Speak Out on Humanae Vitae

The first is Fr. Richard McBrien, who is an embarassment to the Church and to the University of Notre Dame. His article in The Tidings basically lacks anything in the neighborhood of honesty or reason, and instead focuses on his view that the resulting dissent in the Church regarding contraception is some sort of proof that the Magisterium got this one wrong.

"On the birth control issue," the column pointed out, "the Pope's present position does not seem to reflect the consensus of the Church, and static fills the air. The encyclical is at odds with the conclusions of the overwhelming majority of the Pope's own commission of experts, the public resolutions of the Third World Lay Congress in Rome, the majority of Catholic moral theologians, the consciences of many Catholic married couples, and the pastoral and theological judgments of the large majority of non-Catholic Christian churches which participate in the life of the Body of Christ and in his Spirit."

Note the numerous errors in just this one snippet. First, he conveniently ignores the previous 1900 years of "static-free" assent and constant affirmation of this teaching. Somehow, I suppose, we have evolved beyond the ignorant and oppressive morality of our Fathers. This is a pretty indefensible stance he's taking without publicly announcing his Modernism (which, yes, I know he's essentially done a billion times, but just bear with me).

Second, this idea of popular opinion being the gauge for Truth is entirely heretical. At the time of Nicea I, 80% of the world's bishops were Arian. It took centuries to flush this poison out of our ecclesiastical system. Or we could just examine the opinion of all the parties he lists above from 60 years ago and see what they say. Tell us, oh wise McBrien, was the Holy Spirit lying then by keeping the static out, or is He lying now by allowing such static?

Similarly asinine statements have been uttered courtesy of the National Catholic Reporter. While appealing to popular opinion, the article basically outright rejects anything amounting to an infallible magisterium:

After all, he (Paul VI) reasoned, how could the Holy Spirit have allowed the church to be wrong for so many years on an issue of such importance? His decision, in the end, was more indicative of church hierarchical dysfunction -- the institution’s inability to look at matters, particularly sexuality, in light of new understandings and insights -- than it was seemingly of any movement of the Holy Spirit.

This is followed with the remarkable statement that:

The surveys have confirmed Rome’s worst fears, causing at times even more thunderous condemnations that have failed to win many converts.

So it seems that Truth can go out the window, just as long as we rope in some converts. It would be so great to have a bigger market share by succumbing to relativism! After all, it's just too dang hard to actually believe in something. Give me the house built on shifting sands any day.

If you'd like an article untainted by heretical ideas, check Mary Eberstadt's shpiel over at First Things. It is a thorough vetting of the entire topic.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Famous Brits clamoring for the TLM

Damien Thompson continues keeping us in the know:

As the Catholic Herald reveals this week, leading Catholics including Lord Alton of Liverpool, Bianca Jagger and Dom Antony Sutch have signed a petition asking the bishops of England and Wales to provide more Latin Sunday Masses in the extraordinary form (Tridentine rite).

Hey, it worked for Agatha Christie, so why not?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Famous Quotes On Contraception

See if you can guess who said the following:

1. The abandonment of the reproductive function is the common feature of all sexual perversions. We actually describe a sexual activity as perverse if it has given up the aim of reproduction and pursues the attainment of pleasure as an aim independent of it.

2. Contraceptive methods are like putting a premium on vice. They make men and women reckless. Nature is relentless and will have full revenge for any such violation of her laws…If contraceptive methods become the order of the day nothing but moral degradation can be the result. As it is, man has sufficiently degraded woman for his lust, and contraception, no matter how well-meaning the advocates many be, will still further degrade her.

3. Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. [Genesis 38:9, 10].This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, Yes a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates; and, when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime to produce semen and excite the woman, and to frustrate her at that very moment ... He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him...

4. Besides [Onan] ... preferred his semen to putrify on the ground, rather than to beget a son in his brother's name....It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. ...Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, (contraception) then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime. Onan was guilty of a similar crime, by defiling the earth with his seed, ....

5. Onan, though he consented to marry the widow, yet to the great abuse of his own body, of the wife he had married, ... he refused to raise up seed unto his brother. Those sins that dishonour the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile actions. Observe, the thing which he did displeased the Lord--And it is to be feared, thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.

See, what most folks don't know is that every Christian on the planet agreed that contraception was sinful for the first 1900 years or so after Christ. No heresy or schism was sufficient to break this unified belief until 1930 at the Seventh Lambeth Conference. Yep, leave it to the Anglicans. Even then, it was approved of in limited circumstances only. Of course, once it got its foot in the door, there was no stopping the race to the moral bottom here.

Give up on those quotes above? Here are the answers.

1. Sigmund Freud

2. Gandhi (thanks to Amanda from my sophomore core class at Notre Dame for these quotes, even though I've lost the primary references)

3. Martin Luther

4. John Calvin

5. John Wesley

Thanks to David McDonald for those last three.

And for those of you who laughed at Paul VI's concerns about the government taking over contraceptive decisions, guess who said this:

It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind...Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

Why that's none other than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, heralded by many as one of the greatest jurists ever to sit on the Supreme Court. Think about that and the legacy of Margaret Sanger, a well-known eugenicist who promoted "racial hygiene" and "racial regeneration" by specifically targeting black citizens for birth control and abortion. Think about such views when modern politicians bask in 100% ratings from her spawn at Planned Parenthood. Yep, it's a brave, new world folks, and we really don't seem to care.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Miraculous Cure for a Florida Baptist = Sainthood for Blessed Karl?

The Florida Catholic is on the scene:

Blessed Karl of Austria, also known as Charles I, Emperor of Austria, was the last of the Habsburg monarchs. He died in 1922. Known for a life of holiness and advocacy for peace, he was beatified in Rome in 2004.

Thousands of miles away in the Kissimmee area of central Florida, a woman, in her mid-50s, who received a diagnosis of breast cancer began what seemed an endless cycle of hospitalization and treatment. The cancer had metastasized to her liver and bones. Medical opinion deemed the disease terminal. She was bedridden. Nothing more could be done. Nothing more on earth, that is.

Soon, a network of prayer began, asking for heavenly intercession through Blessed Karl. One miracle has been attributed to him by the Vatican since his death, clearing the way for his beatification. A second miracle must be confirmed before he can be canonized.

Bottom line- she's recovered and none of the docs can figure out the how or why. I wonder if she'll be converting after this. Regardless, let's pray for the cause of Blessed Karl and hope that more people will come to know about him and the holy life he led.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Humanae Vitae Q&A

My attempt to imagine an exchange between the ill-informed joe and Pope Paul.

So just what's the deal here, Pope? Do you just not "get it"? Didn't you even consider the difficulties posed by large families?

The changes which have taken place are in fact noteworthy and of varied kinds. In the first place, there is the rapid demographic development. Fear is shown by many that world population is growing more rapidly than the available resources, with growing distress to many families and developing countries, so that the temptation for authorities to counter this danger with radical measures is great. Moreover, working and lodging conditions, as well as increased exigencies both in the economic field and in that of education, often make the proper education of a larger number of children difficult today. A change is also seen both in the manner of considering the person of woman and her place in society, and in the value to be attributed to conjugal love in marriage, and also in the appreciation to be made of the meaning of conjugal acts in relation to that love.

So on what basis did you make his decision? Shouldn't you have paid attention that commission's report?

The work of these experts, as well as the successive judgments and counsels spontaneously forwarded by or expressly requested from a good number of our brothers in the episcopate, have permitted us to measure more exactly all the aspects of this complex matter. Hence with all our heart we express to each of them our lively gratitude.

The conclusions at which the commission arrived could not, nevertheless, be considered by us as definitive, nor dispense us from a personal examination of this serious question; and this also because, within the commission itself, no full concordance of judgments concerning the moral norms to be proposed had been reached, and above all because certain criteria of solutions had emerged which departed from the moral teaching on marriage proposed with constant firmness by the teaching authority of the Church.

Therefore, having attentively sifted the documentation laid before us, after mature reflection and assiduous prayers, we now intend, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to us by Christ, to give our reply to these grave questions.

Just tell me, Pope Paul, what the hell were you thinking?

Marriage is not, then, the effect of chance or the product of evolution of unconscious natural forces; it is the wise institution of the Creator to realize in mankind His design of love. By means of the reciprocal personal gift of self, proper and exclusive to them, husband and wife tend towards the communion of their beings in view of mutual personal perfection, to collaborate with God in the generation and education of new lives.

Then, this love is total, that is to say, it is a very special form of personal friendship, in which husband and wife generously share everything, without undue reservations or selfish calculations. Whoever truly loves his marriage partner loves not only for what he receives, but for the partner's self, rejoicing that he can enrich his partner with the gift of himself. Again, this love is faithful and exclusive until death. Thus in fact do bride and groom conceive it to be on the day when they freely and in full awareness assume the duty of the marriage bond. A fidelity, this, which can sometimes be difficult, but is always possible, always noble and meritorious, as no one can deny. The example of so many married persons down through the centuries shows, not only that fidelity is according to the nature of marriage, but also that it is a source of profound and lasting happiness.

And finally this love is fecund for it is not exhausted by the communion between husband and wife, but is destined to continue, raising up new lives. "Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents."

Where did you get that last crap from?

II Vat. Council, Pastoral const. Gaudium et Spes, No. 50.

Vatican II? Really? Oh, ok. Please continue.

These acts, by which husband and wife are united in chaste intimacy, and by means of which human life is transmitted, are, as the Council recalled, "noble and worthy," and they do not cease to be lawful if, for causes independent of the will of husband and wife, they are foreseen to be infecund, since they always remain ordained towards expressing and consolidating their union. In fact, as experience bears witness, not every conjugal act is followed by a new life. God has wisely disposed natural laws and rhythms of fecundity which, of themselves, cause a separation in the succession of births. Nonetheless the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by their constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act (quilibet matrimonii usus) must remain open to the transmission of life.

That teaching, often set forth by the magisterium, is founded upon the inseparable connection, willed by God and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning. Indeed, by its intimate structure, the conjugal act, while most closely uniting husband and wife, capacitates them for the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and of woman. By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination towards man's most high calling to parenthood. We believe that the men of our day are particularly capable of seeing the deeply reasonable and human character of this fundamental principle.

But wait. There's all sort of problems that folks might have if they opt for big families. Isn't it just better to contracept and avoid all those potentially negative consequences?

To justify conjugal acts made intentionally infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom; that is, to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life.

You don't really believe that, though. Look, the Church says that this Natural Family Planning what-not is Ok. That's the same thing! You just don't like pills and don't want people having sex!

If, then, there are serious motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier.

The Church is coherent with herself when she considers recourse to the infecund periods to be licit, while at the same time condemning, as being always illicit, the use of means directly contrary to fecundation, even if such use is inspired by reasons which may appear honest and serious. In reality, there are essential differences between the two cases; in the former, the married couple make legitimate use of a natural disposition; in the latter, they impede the development of natural processes. It is true that, in the one and the other case, the married couple are concordant in the positive will of avoiding children for plausible reasons, seeking the certainty that offspring will not arrive; but it is also true that only in the former case are they able to renounce the use of marriage in the fecund periods when, for just motives, procreation is not desirable, while making use of it during infecund periods to manifest their affection and to safeguard their mutual fidelity. By so doing, they give proof of a truly and integrally honest love.

So wait a minute. You're saying that the end of something can be rendered bad simply by the means used to achieve that end? Hmmm. Look, Your Holiness, can't you just cut us some slack on this one?

It can be foreseen that this teaching will perhaps not be easily received by all: Too numerous are those voices -- amplified by the modern means of propaganda -- which are contrary to the voice of the Church. To tell the truth, the Church is not surprised to be made, like her divine Founder, a "sign of contradiction", yet she does not because of this cease to proclaim with humble firmness the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical. Of such laws the Church was not the author, nor consequently can she be their arbiter; she is only their depositary and their interpreter, without ever being able to declare to be licit that which is not so by reason of its intimate and unchangeable opposition to the true good of man.

But we're in the mood! How is a couple supposed to make a marriage or shacking up work if they can't do it with impunity?

The honest practice of regulation of birth demands first of all that husband and wife acquire and possess solid convictions concerning the true values of life and of the family, and that they tend towards securing perfect self-mastery. To dominate instinct by means of one's reason and free will undoubtedly requires ascetical practices, so that the affective manifestations of conjugal life may observe the correct order, in particular with regard to the observance of periodic continence. Yet this discipline which is proper to the purity of married couples, far from harming conjugal love, rather confers on it a higher human value. It demands continual effort yet, thanks to its beneficent influence, husband and wife fully develop their personalities, being enriched with spiritual values. Such discipline bestows upon family life fruits of serenity and peace, and facilitates the solution of other problems; it favors attention for one's partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love; and deepens their sense of responsibility. By its means, parents acquire the capacity of having a deeper and more efficacious influence in the education of their offspring; little children and youths grow up with a just appraisal of human values, and in the serene and harmonious development of their spiritual and sensitive faculties.

Ahem. Excuse me? Asceticism? Self-denial? That's just crazy talk. After all, what's the worst that could happen if contraception becomes the cultural norm?

Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men -- especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point -- have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion.

Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be most efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.

Really? What are the odds of all that happening?

Oh wait. . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Humanae Vitae- Forty Years Later

I had previously mentioned that Mysterium Fidei was like setting off a stick of theological dynamite. If I was to stick with the principle of that analogy, I can only compare Humanae Vitae to a global thermonuclear warfare. It was that bad.

For those who don't know, the topic of contraception was already a big deal during Vatican II. John XXIII had actually convened a commission of theologians, scientists, and other experts to study the matter. Paul VI would later expand this commission but also take conciliar discussion of the issue off the table and reserve a decision on the matter to the authority of the Holy See. The commission came back with the recommendation that the Church's stance on birth control be modified. This got leaked to the press, and folks everywhere were ecstatic over the idea of (a) sexual license without regard for child-bearing and (b) the Catholic Church caving to secuar pressures.

The problem with all this was that they forgot that the gates of hell shall never triumph over the indefectible Faith preserved by the Successor of Peter. So it sucked to be a member of this mob when Paul VI had the temerity to reiterate the constant and infallible Christian teaching that contraception is immoral. The liberal rage that followed the promulgation of Humanae Vitae can only be described as Satanic in its intensity. The entire world was swept with a chorus of voices shrieking "Non serviam!" with all the zeal that their embrace of heresy could muster. Entire groups of bishops publicly defied the Holy Father's decision. Famous theologians like Karl Rahner, Bernard Haering, and Charles Curran accused Paul VI of betraying the "collegiality" promoted at Vatican II. Even cardinals weren't afraid of blasting the Holy See's upholding of orthodoxy. Speaking of orthodoxy, it's ironic that the Patriarch of Constantinople fully supported the Pope here and that now the Easterners are starting to fall prey to the seduction of illict birth control.

Pope Paul was shell-shocked by this hostile response. His dreams of being well-liked ended that summer of 68. In the aftermath of the encyclical, he would take almost no steps at all to enforce it. Dissent was basically legitimized by his inaction, and it continues to this day as self-proclaimed Catholics will invoke the word "conscience" in an attempt to justify their sins. Shame.

If you are looking for a good resource on this topic, I recommend Notre Dame professor Ralph McInerny's book What Went Wrong With Vatican II? Don't let the title fool you. It's all about the Humanae Vitae blow-up. As I post on this over the next few days, I am going to follow Prof. McInerny's example by reminding everyone of a little ditty from Vatican II found in Lumen Gentium # 25:

This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.

Let's ignore for a moment the fact that Humanae Vitae is clearly infallible by virtue of its principles being taught with absolute consistency for the last 2000 years. Let's also ignore that there are some very good arguments (that we'll examine later) for it being infallible as an ex cathedra statement. Just by examining the statement above from (gasp!) Vatican II, on what legitimate basis do the heretics of yesteryear and modern times justify their dissent?

The answer, of course, is that there is no legitimate basis.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pope Paul's Great Stand for the Blessed Mother

I've mentioned here before about how Pope Paul got rooked into a bunch of the Vatican II shenanigans out of naivete and a misguided desire for people to like him. However, even he had his limits on compromise.

For example, a previous post discussed Mysterium Fidei and how it completely ticked off the conciliar liberals. Robert McAfee Brown, a Protestant observer at the Council, tells it this way in his book The Ecumenical Revolution:

On the eve of the fourth session, he issued an encyclical on the Eucharist, Mysterium Fidei, that seemed to most interpreters to be at best a backward-looking document and at worst a repudiation of many of the creative insights of the already-promulgated constitution on the sacred liturgy.

Here we see a perfect example of conciliar ambiguity leading prominent someones to think that there had been some sort of doctrinal shift. Another such example occurred after the liberals had managed to squash a separate proposed document on the Blessed Mother. Discussion of her would instead be included as a chapter in Lumen Gentium, the constitution on the Church. As the discussion on the Blessed Mother became more heated, the topic was raised about her being regarded as Mother of the Church. Naturally, the liberals had kittens over the very thought of such a thing. The title was taken off the table as "inappropriate."

Apparently, Pope Paul had a very strong devotion to the Mother of God and would have nothing of this attempt to degrade her glorified status. In his closing speech of the third session, he remembered that he was the Vicar of Christ and declared Mary to be Mother of the Church on his own authority. The liberals hit the roof. Brown describes the scene:

It seemed for a while as though either the conservatives had gotten through to Paul, convinced him that the council was getting out of hand, and persuaded him to recapture control after the fashion of pre-Vatican II popes, or that Paul himself had reached a similar decision. The resulting gloom lasted many months, and there were those who, seeing this as a portent of things to come, predicted that the final session would end in disaster, with nineteenth century papalism regnant and collegiality a dead letter.

Of course, this did not happen. Brown credited the fact that "many Catholics (and non-Catholics as well) raised their voices in warning that this was not the way to move forward creatively. Seldom has there been such open and healthy criticism in the Catholic press as after session three."

Woopty-doo. So in the name of moving forward "creatively," Catholics were willing to jeopardize the Faith.

Paul VI made several other timely interventions in the Council's proceedings, ranging from the corrective note preserving Lumen Gentium from heresy to multiple revisions to Unitatis Redintegratio to recognizing "Mediatrix" as a proper title for the Blessed Mother. These would ultimately prove insufficient to stop the post-conciliar pandemonium and the treachery of the liberals in the Vatican II aftermath. Things would be bad for the next few years. In July of 1968, though, all hell would break loose.

Anglican Liberal calls Conservative Push "Demonic"

Oh, those wacky liberals, proving once again that they will tolerate anything except orthodoxy. Here we have an Espicopalian "bishop", John Chane of Washington, telling the Times:

"I think it's really very, very dangerous and I think it's demonic ... the Episcopal Church has been demonised. It has been a punching bag and I'm sick of being a punching bag as a Bishop and I'm sick of my church, my province being a punching bag. Do we deserve criticism, absolutely. No question about it."

Yeah, but John, why do you deserve the criticism? The Times doesn't really shed any light on whether he has considered this question with any depth. My guess is that he has not, judging from this quote, at least:

Chane, whose diocese covers the American capital, said: "I think it's really very dangerous when someone stands up and says, 'I have the way and I have the truth and I know how to interpret holy scripture and you are following what is the right way.'

This remark comes off as quite stupid for a couple of reasons. First, isn't this precisely what the liberals are doing? Ms. Schori has informed us that those resisting women bishops are misogynists with a poor understanding of Church history. Isn't she saying that she and her ilk know the "way" and that all the misogynists are wrong? Aren't you making the same claim, Mr. Chane, by calling those people's ideas "demonic"? You know better than them, right?

Second, Mr. Chane's comments would completely repudiate the idea of the office of bishop in the first place. What exactly do bishops do, if not teach? To teach, one must make some sort of claim to a superior judgement on what is being taught. Mr. Chane seems to deny this.

Third, Mr. Chane dives headfirst into the well of relativism without appearing to care one whit about the consequences. If you can't say that you have the way, there's nothing to stop the breakaway bishops from striking off to find someone who does.

It's guys like Chane that make sure the Anglicans aren't demonized. People are too busy laughing to get to that point.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St. Mary Magdalene

I'm really not going to delve much into all the controversy on this. Dan Brown has done much more to slander this holy woman than anyone who may have or still does believe that she was a prostitute. Here's what we do know. We know that she had a pretty rough life. Anyone who had seven demons in them would. We know that she stayed with the Master until His death on the Cross and that she was there at the new beginning of His Resurrection.

We also know that there's no chance in hell that she and Christ were married or that any of this other gnostic, Pagels/Brown-spawned garbage is true.

Here's the real lesson that Mary Magdalene has for us these days. We have issues with sexual penitence. The fact that Mary had seven demons in her doesn't faze us at all. Oh, but if the notion of her being a prostitute comes up, everybody is outraged. Let's be honest. She wasn't Immaculately Conceived. She deserved perdition just as much as the rest of us for whatever sins she did commit and made it to heaven through the gift of God's grace. Some seem to think that the penitent prostitute is somehow of a lower order of the blessed in heaven than the penitent thief or the penitent liar or whoever. Of course, the opposite is true. Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the greater (or something like that). We simply do not like the idea of this sort of sinner repenting, reforming their lives, and handing themselves over to God. That particular sin is just TOO bad, think some. The idea gives people the willies, so they blast the idea that Mary ever could have been involved with such a naughty thing as prostitution. She never could have done THAT and made it to heaven, right? How wonderful that Christ thinks otherwise.

St. Mary Magdalene, pray for us.

Still Catching Up on Forgotten Saints

This one is actually another Doctor of the Church, though few have ever heard of him. Despite his obscurity in modern times, St. Lawrence of Brindisi was a genius by any measure. He mastered at least ten languages and was considered a brilliant theologian by everyone who knew of him. Sadly, I am unaware of any readily available (or even rare) compilation of his works, despite the fact that a twelve volume set was assembled by his Capuchin brethren. It's a shame that Catholics do not have better access to treasures such as these. But I digress.

Lawrence got to be really famous by preaching conversion among the Jews of his day. This was critical for him, and he had great success. He was so comfortable in Jewish settings and spoke the various Semitic languages so well that a lot of them actually thought he must have been a Jew himself. This is very telling with regards to another famous Churchman who I have mentioned here previously.

Lawrence was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Blessed John XXIII back in 1959. I would quote from the relevant encyclical, but the Vatican web site only has it available in Latin and my Latin sucks. How strange, though, that this Pope who is regarded as such a radical ecumenist would elevate a saint so devoted to the conversion of others to such a high station. I think it says a lot about Blessed John that he took such an action. In this age where you have Christians of all sorts who are content to leave Jews ignorant of the wonders of Christ, St. Lawrence provides an example of true charity, the sincere willing of the ultimate good (God Himself) for his fellow man.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us!

The Seraphic Doctor

St. Bonaventure's Feast Day was July 15. Like a moron, I missed it.

In the haste of my life, I forgot to honor yet another of God's glorified elect. This time, instead of the guy who saved Western Civilization, it was the guy who is probably one of the ten or so greatest theologians of the post-patristic age. Some would probably say of all time. He's a Doctor of the Church, more commonly known as the Seraphic Doctor. He's not a Dominican (being a Franciscan and all), but hey, nobody's perfect.

He was a contemporary and friend of St. Thomas Aquinas, but their thinking was very different. Where Thomas was grounded almost entirely in the thought of Aristotle, Bonaventure took on the concepts of Platonism, mostly as found in Augustine. His is a very mystical theology, rooted more in the heart than the intellect. I recently bought a copy of his own "summa," known as The Breviloquium. I'll post thoughts as I work my way through it.

Needless to say, in an era where so many theologians are little more than whores (see Pope Benedict's comments), we should seek Bonaventure's intercession that those entrusted with theological instruction and research should remember that they should act in service of God's Church, rather than their own egos.

And although this Doctor, St. Bonaventure, be glorious and most celebrated in the Catholic Church, and be greatly respendant in Heaven, where he is crowned with that crown, which God witholds for those who love Him, and although no human thing is lacking to him, who enjoys the good things with Christ, which neither the eye sees, nor the heart expects; nevertheless the charity of Christ and a burning affection of a certain devotion, by which for him We have been perpetually consumed from nearly Our first years, urges Us to consider how to rather propagate and explain his sanctity and to a greater extent his doctrine, as much as We are able with the help of the Lord. Indeed We are moved, that there is a part, of Our seraphic Religion, in holy communion with him, in which We have been educated and versed for many years, and for whom as a for a most worthy mother, We should manifest every honor of piety and gratitude of heart; but much more do the glory of God, the pastoral office which We bear, the so many labors undertaken by this most holy man on behalf of the Church of God, and his so many illustrious merits urge Us, so conjoined as they are with the Roman Church, in whose broadest ranks and Senate he sat with the highest praise. Finally the utility of the universal Church moves Us, which can be always more and more richly captivated by the erudition of such a Doctor, especially when the ambushes and the diabolical machinations of heretics, by which they oppose most vehemently in this sad age that sacred theology, which is called Scholastic, admonish Us greatly, that We should retain, explain, and propagate this same theology, as something which nothing can be more fruitful for the Church of God.

Pope Sixtus V, Triumphantis Hierusalem

St. Bonaventure, pray for us!

Ora et Labora

Pray and work. That's the motto of the Order of St. Benedict. These are the guys who basically saved Western Civilization after the fall of Rome. Oh sure, the Empire endured over in Constantinople, and Byzantine society flourished, but Europe had basically been left to the barbarians.

I mention this because I neglected to post on the Feast of St. Benedict which was on July 11. It is not a good thing to forget stuff like that. Considering that the monasteries that were the product of Benedict's spiritual fruitfulness preserved the whole of Europe for generations, we should be quite thankful that God gave us such a man. Even more than that, though, God has chosen to glorify this hero in His heavenly presence. It seems only just that, here on Earth, we should glorify him and the work he did for God's Church.

Keeping in mind that Benedict wrote his famous Rule for layfolk rather than clergy, I point out this very simple nugget, found in the Rule's Prologue:

To thee, therefore, my speech is now directed, who, giving up thine own will, takest up the strong and most excellent arms of obedience, to do battle for Christ the Lord, the true King.
In the first place, beg of Him by most earnest prayer, that He perfect whatever good thou dost begin, in order that He who hath been pleased to count us in the number of His children, need never be grieved at our evil deeds. For we ought at all times so to serve Him with the good things which He hath given us, that He may not, like an angry father, disinherit his children, nor, like a dread lord, enraged at our evil deeds, hand us over to everlasting punishment as most wicked servants, who would not follow Him to glory.

What has always struck me by this passage is that it immediately takes what we normal conceive as the peaceful and uneventful life of the monastary and casts it in the mold of warfare. not just any warfare either, but rather a war with the highest stakes possible. This continues throughout its contents, as Benedict constantly reminds us that every day life is nothing short of a conflict between good and evil, with us as the combatants.

You can read the rest of the Rule here, at the Order's web site. Would that we all had the internal constitution to incorporate it into our own lives.

Holy Father Benedict, pray for us.

Jews Saved by Pius XII

According to Zenit, a group of Jews will be meeting with Pope Benedict to express their thanks for the Church's saving their lives during the Holocaust.

The Pave the Way foundation is bringing the group to visit the German Pontiff on June 18. It is just one initiative the foundation has undertaken to clear up misunderstandings about the Church and its role during the Holocaust.Another initiative is a September symposium on the papacy of Pope Pius XII.The Pave the Way foundation partnered with TV News Agency Rome Reports to videotape eye witness testimony. They uncovered secret activities of the Pope and members of the papal household to save the lives of Jews during the war.

Did anybody invite Cornwell and Wills? Will Foxman have the guts to even acknowledge this event's existence? Of course not. Slander is so much easier. For some wild reason, I don't see these guys having the courage to admit to shoddy scholarship, intellectual dishonesty, calumny, lies, and so forth. But hey, the truth is being told by those directly affected by it, so we can be happy about that and continue to pray for Pius XII's cause.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Ultimate Goal of Ecumenism

Ecumenical work, the Pope continued, involves not merely an exchange of ideas but, more importantly, an exchange of gifts. Ultimately, he insisted, the effort "points toward a common celebration of the Eucharist, which Christ entrusted to his apostles as the sacrament of the Church's unity par excellence."

That's right. If it's not headed towards the full communion of the Eucharist, it's not going anywhere. That means no heresy, no schism. To be less blunt is to be disrespectful of other beliefs and a traitor to Christ.

Patting ourselves on the back for agreeing that God is a Trinity is sound and fury signifying nothing. It doesn't matter how many times we buy the world a Coke and sing kumbaya, until the major differences are frankly discussed, it is all worthless. And of course, the only real resolution is what the Pope is emphasizing in the CWN article. One Eucharist for One Flock under One Shepherd.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rowan: The Gaffe That Keeps on Giving

I really do pity this man. I pray for him. He just can't win for losing. He gives this whole shpiel about Christian-Muslim relations. Most of it is ecumenical kumbaya-isms that would typically be ignored and passed on with a shrug. Not this time, though. He gives the whole shpiel and the Daily Mail prints this as the headline:

Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims'

Yep. So just pile this on top of his "sharia as law" flak from a while ago. He could have just left this part out completely. But noooooo. He just had to say it.

He also said the Christian belief in the Trinity - that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost at the same time - 'is difficult, sometimes offensive, to Muslims'.

Trinitarian doctrine conflicts with the Islamic view that there is just one all-powerful God.

Dr Williams added: 'It is all the more important for the sake of open and careful dialogue that we try to clarify what we do and do not mean by it, and so I trust that what follows will be read in this spirit.'

Rowan, we all know this. Guess what? Muslim doctrine is offensive to Christians! Yes! Denying that Christ is God is repugnant! The Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith. Guess what? Muslims hate it! So just why are we so worried about their "offended" feelings? This whole subplot in your shpiel just makes you look even more wobbly and less concerned about defending Christianity. Just leave it alone already!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Damien Thompson Refutes the Lies and Damn Lies

And he doesn't even need a lame headline to do it.

Benedict is Encouraging Anglican Converts pretty much says it all.

Here's the basic point that folks are ignoring:

The Pope is supporting moves by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to construct a model whereby a group of rebel conservative Anglicans, the Traditional Anglican Communion, can be received en masse and occupy their own structures inside the Roman Catholic Church. This model – which is being constructed in secret – could serve as a blueprint for mainstream Anglicans wanting to convert as a group.

The very fact that it's the CDF that negotiates this stuff is significant. They want the folks coming in to actually be Catholic, rather than Anglicans just looking for a place with an all-male episcopate. This is a good thing, I think.

For those wondering about some old Ratzinger/Kaspar history on this very topic, Thompson walks us down memory lane:

Always remember: it was Cardinal Ratzinger who sent a personal message of support to conservative Anglicans meeting in Dallas in 2003, thereby horrifying Kasper – who, as a professional ecumenist, probably is unsympathetic to Anglo-Catholics rocking the boat. But he, thank God, is soon to retire.

Some of the comments on this article's site are wary of the Pope's actions in all this. My question is just what the hell else is he supposed to do? Pretend like none of this is happening? There is historic precedent for this sort of action. For example Eastern Catholics were allowed to maintain their liturgical traditions and theological perspectives so long as they were not heretical. Most of them still use the non-Filioque creed. No big deal.

The Successor of Peter cannot act in any other way but to try and receive these poor shipwrecked souls into the Church.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lies and Damn Lies

The British press just can't help themselves from lying about the Church. Under the title of "Pope Rides to Rowan's Rescue," The Independent wrote the following piece of bad comedy:

In his first public comments on the Lambeth Conference, Pope Benedict XVI has warned Anglican leaders that they must find a "mature" and faithful way of avoiding "schism". On top of this the Pope has:

* Sent three cardinals to the conference in Canterbury, including one of his top aides from the Vatican, to act as personal intermediaries between the two churches;
* Let it be known that he does not support the defection of conservative Anglicans to the Roman Catholic Church;
* Given behind-the-scenes support to the Archbishop of Canterbury's attempts to hold together the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican Church, including at face-to-face meetings in Rome.

What do all these bulleted points have in common? That they aren't true. Not even remotely.

Even better:

In a demonstration of the strength of relations between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, Pope Benedict has sent Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, and the man who appoints all the bishops in Africa and Asia, to Lambeth from Rome.

He has also sent the theological heavyweight Cardinal Walter Casper who is said to be the "key man" in forging ever-closer relations between the churches.

BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! I don't know which part of this is funnier. Is it (a) that Pope Benedict, who has a history of dumping on Kaspar's major initiatives (see Joint Declaration with Lutherans), would entrust anything this important to him, or (b), that Kaspar is a "theological heavyweight"? Really folks. Who did you find to give you this "key man" quote? Was this the breaking news at the Vatican barbershop?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

San Francisco, CA has Officially Condemned the Church

St. Francis is probably not all that happy that a city named after him is choosing to take such a course of action.

The title of this post is not an exaggeration. From WorldNetDaily:

A San Francisco city and county board resolution that officially labeled the Catholic church's moral teachings on homosexuality as "insulting to all San Franciscans," "hateful," "defamatory," "insensitive" and "ignorant" will be challenged tomorrow in court for violating the Constitution's prohibition of government hostility toward religion.

Resolution 168-08, passed unanimously by the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors two years ago, also accused the Vatican of being a "foreign country" meddling with and attempting to "negatively influence (San Francisco's) existing and established customs."

It said of the church's teaching on homosexuality, "Such hateful and discriminatory rhetoric is both insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors."

Of course, this is all the Church's fault for actually taking a stance against sin. How dare She presume such authority?

The anti-Catholic diatribe had been challenged in U.S. District Court on similar grounds, but District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ruled in favor of the city, saying, in essence, the church started it.

She wrote in her decision, "The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith provoked this debate, indeed may have invited entanglement" for instructing Catholic politicians on how to vote. This court does not find that our case law requires political bodies to remain silent in the face of provocation."

For the folks who actually want to defend this exercise in jackassery by the City Board, granting certain other messes in the jurisprudence about incorporation and what constitutes someone making a law, explain to me how a teacher wearing a crucifix or a copy of the Ten Commandments on a wall or lawn can be claimed as a violation of the First Amendment, while formal action taken by the vote of a governing body is not.

This is the sort of thing that makes you wonder how far we might be from open persecution. Taken at face value, this would make the Church a hate group, engaged in hate speech, not to mention classifying Catholics as subversives under the direction of a foreign power.

Somebody get Thomas Nast on the phone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Apparently, I don't like women and don't understand Church history.

I don't think women should be bishops, after all. Let's be thankful that the Katherine Schori is making the rounds in the Telegraph to inform me about myself in such ways. Of course, Schori has always been vocal about how she and her ilk are smarter, more sophisticated, and more conscientious than us idiot Catholics. Who can forget her ambitious exploration into unheard of depths of insulting in her 2006 NYT Magazine interview?

How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?
About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?
No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.


Anyways, she's back again to let us know that we are all mean and hateful and dumb for not wanting women bishops. She tells the Telegraph:

"I think there's a whole range of reasons why people aren't comfortable with the idea.
"It's personal antipathy, and it's a misunderstanding of leadership in the early church. The early church had women in leadership roles."

Oh, I get it. They had leadership roles, so they must have been bishops. I have a car, so it must be a Hummer. Who can refute such gloriously constructed logic?

Let's examine the list of folks who also fall under this list of misongynist idiots:

Jesus Christ

St. Paul

St. Irenaeus

St. Hippolytus

St. John Chrysostom

And of course, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI (and that's just recently). Yes, all notorious woman-haters and real morons to boot. We really have no idea how fortunate we are to have geniuses like Schori to explain to us the real meaning of Church history that has lain utterly dormant and concealed lo these past two millenia.

My favorite part of this whole shpiel:

"There is a great deal of anxiety around the Communion and the world. People are faced with a range of changes and a pace of change that is unknown in human history. But all will be well."

That's right, folks. Be calm. All is well.

Dietrich von Hildebrand on the Traditional Mass

If you don't know who Dietrich von Hildebrand is, I feel bad for you. He is basically the benchmark for 20th century Catholic philosopher awesomeness. His work defending the Faith is fantastic from top to bottom. Ever heard of Theology of the Body? Guess what? The premises for just about everything that JPII says on the subject is based on von Hildebrand's work on marriage and purity. His analysis of hope for Vatican II in Trojan Horse in the City of God is brilliant, while his palpable sadness for the post-conciliar Church in The Devastated Vineyard is moving. Read all his stuff as soon as you can.

For the time being, check out this essay on the Traditional Mass, courtesy of the Latin Mass Society. Thanks to Dave Hartline at the Catholic Report for pointing this out to all of us via Rich Leonardi's commentary on his blog.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rowan's Regrets

Damien Thompson has provided some great insights on the collapse of the Anglican communion. Just wanted to point everyone here his way, as his latest effort is an analysis of Rowan's endeavors to redefine "going wobbly" for the current generation.

The immense damage done to the Archbishop of Canterbury during Monday night's debate on women priests is still sinking in. Dr Rowan Williams had not intended to speak, but he was so alarmed by the lack of provision for traditionalists in the code of practice that he appealed to Synod members to reject it. They ignored him.

It was as if a Prime Minister, having quietly supported a piece of legislation in the Commons, suddenly lost his nerve, appealed to the House to change its mind, and was then rebuffed. Even Gordon Brown has yet to chalk up that sort of disaster.

Well said.

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Offense Against God vs. Half a Million Dollars

That's basically what our buddy Dan is weighing in his current role as a houseguest on the CBS show Big Brother.

Dan is a Catholic school teacher. When I first noted this during the weekend premiere, I reflexively thought, "Please don't do anything to make us papists look bad." He pretty much torpedoed that about five minutes later.

I'm paraphrasing, but the quote went something like this:

I know there are some things I'm going to have to do in here that are contrary to my Faith, but when I get out, I'll go to Confession and take care of that.

Oof. I hope that he was joking when he said that. Personally, I don't think that bluff and misdirection in a game like Big Brother is any different from what you see in poker or Game of Thrones. However, if you think it's a sin that demands confession, you are, in fact, committing a sin because you are convinced that your actions are an offense against God and have decided to do them anyway. This is garden variety rebellion of the Non Serviam sort. So we've got a fellow claiming that he will ignore his determination that he's sinning in order to win money. This is bad. It's even worse that he's doing it while flaunting the Sacrament of Confession.

Dan, remember what you are.

More Than a Feeling . . .

When most of you saw the title of this post, your first thought was probably this:

Last weekend, I was playing RockBand with a group of friends, and this song began playing. As I used the bass guitar in a rather futile effort to fend off the endless descent of the various colored bars, I began to reflect, nay, drift away, into a sea of ruminations spurred by the lyrical stylings of Boston. In keeping with the Church's long tradition of taking the profane and using it for religious purposes, I offer the following post.

Modernity has attempted to define love as a spontaneous emotional response, often lustful in nature. In other words, merely a feeling. This is most ably illustrated by the memorable exchange between Harry and Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber:

Lloyd: The first time I set eyes on Mary Swanson, I just got that old fashioned romantic feeling where I'd do anything to bone her.
Harry: That's a special feeling, Lloyd.

Of course, this view of love is absolutely incompatible with Catholic thought. As Tom Scholz tells us as he remembers Mary Ann, it is more than a feeling. What do we mean by this? We'll just assume that Tom agrees with the Church and regards love as an act of the will, specifically the act of willing the good of another. Consider the words of Aquinas in his discussion of the love of God:

An act of love always tends towards two things; to the good that one wills, and to the person for whom one wills it: since to love a person is to wish that person good. Hence, inasmuch as we love ourselves, we wish ourselves good; and, so far as possible, union with that good. So love is called the unitive force, even in God, yet without implying composition; for the good that He wills for Himself, is no other than Himself, Who is good by His essence, as above shown. And by the fact that anyone loves another, he wills good to that other. Thus he puts the other, as it were, in the place of himself; and regards the good done to him as done to himself. So far love is a binding force, since it aggregates another to ourselves, and refers his good to our own. And then again the divine love is a binding force, inasmuch as God wills good to others; yet it implies no composition in God.

Summa Theologica, 1st Part, Question 20, Article 1, Response to Objection 3.

There are all sorts of goodies that can be unpacked from this (and Aquinas does so for the most part). There's this idea of love as something that is willed, rather than as the sort of purely emotional/anatomical response mentioned by Lloyd. Emotions are fleeting and transient. One feels good then bad, happy then melancholy, excited then bored. Love is more than that. It is conscious and has in mind for the other only what is best for them.

This is why concern for another's soul is the highest mark of love, because you are not only willing good for that person, but the highest good possible, namely, God Himself. Lloyd is merely concerned with himself as he is really only concerned about acquiring pleasure (in a rather distorted and debased view of that good) for himself.

He has loved us first and he continues to do so; we too, then, can respond with love. God does not demand of us a feeling which we ourselves are incapable of producing. He loves us, he makes us see and experience his love, and since he has “loved us first”, love can also blossom as a response within us.

In the gradual unfolding of this encounter, it is clearly revealed that love is not merely a sentiment. Sentiments come and go. A sentiment can be a marvellous first spark, but it is not the fullness of love. Earlier we spoke of the process of purification and maturation by which eros comes fully into its own, becomes love in the full meaning of the word.

Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est

Ah, the purification of eros. This is the movement from Lloyd to Tom Scholz. In Lloyd's world, "(E)ros, reduced to pure “sex”, has become a commodity, a mere “thing” to be bought and sold, or rather, man himself becomes a commodity. This is hardly man's great “yes” to the body. On the contrary, he now considers his body and his sexuality as the purely material part of himself, to be used and exploited at will. Nor does he see it as an arena for the exercise of his freedom, but as a mere object that he attempts, as he pleases, to make both enjoyable and harmless. Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere. The apparent exaltation of the body can quickly turn into a hatred of bodiliness."

One arrives in the world of Tom Scholz by acknowledging that "(E)ven if eros is at first mainly covetous and ascending, a fascination for the great promise of happiness, in drawing near to the other, it is less and less concerned with itself, increasingly seeks the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the beloved, bestows itself and wants to “be there for” the other. The element of agape thus enters into this love, for otherwise eros is impoverished and even loses its own nature."

This isn't to say that such a movement is inevitable. Far from it. One may choose to remain enslaved in Lloyd-ish debasement. This is worse than simply choosing a lesser good over a higher one. It is actually a sin against the other by maintaining them as an object of erotic satisfaction rather than as a person. It can be even worse than that. Consider:

Fundamentally, “love” is a single reality, but with different dimensions; at different times, one or other dimension may emerge more clearly. Yet when the two dimensions are totally cut off from one another, the result is a caricature or at least an impoverished form of love.

Pope Benedict doesn't make the connection, but it has always seemed to me that wallowing in this sort of caricature of love is almost a form of blasphemy against the God Who is Love. At the very least, it pushes into idolatry by exalting a false love above that love which God wills for us and through us.

Anyways, read the rest of the encyclical, and you'll see what I (and Tom Scholz) mean. And thus ends my RockBand-spawned ramblings.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nun Caught Participating in Heretical Gathering is Punished

From the National Catholic Reporter:

The archdiocese of St. Louis authorized the video recording of a Catholic women’s ordination ceremony that took place in a synagogue last November. It then used the video, along with photographs apparently taken from the video, as evidence to punish a Catholic nun who attended the liturgy, according to several people familiar with the case.


Sister of Charity Louise Lears was forced out of all church ministerial roles and banned from receiving sacraments within the archdiocese by an edict of St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke announced June 26.

Tragic that it came to this, but more than appropriate.

However, several people familiar with the documents, prepared by the archdiocese that made up the case against her, strongly criticized what they called the “surveillance” video-taping.

#1 Big deal.
#2 I guess this makes her heresy ok, then, right?

“It was a surveillance video. That’s exactly what it was,” said Sean Collins, a co-pastoral associate of Lears at St. Cronan Parish until he resigned July 2nd, in part, he said, to speak about what he says has been a grave injustice taken against Lears.

What about the injustice done to Christ when a woman consecrated to Him commits spiritual adultery by supporting heretics?

Here's what we've come to. Folks are more worried about how evidence of heresy was gathered due to some sort of mythical "right" of the heretic, rather than the fact that this woman broke a solemn oath to Christ and decided to support the actions of a group of heretics. A hint about justice for these people. Justice is rendering to someone what they are due. Think about that the next time you throw around words like "injustice" in situations like this one.

Litany of Heresies #10

Claiming that, until Vatican II, the Church's teaching regarded the sole purpose of marriage as having children. There was no concept of the relationship of husband and wife beyond that.

The error in the above topic is actually two-fold. First, it is incorrect to say that the Church ascribed no purpose to marriage other than procreation until calling of the Second Vatican Council. The writings of the Fathers demonstrate this. Tertullian wrote the following to his wife:

How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? . . . How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.[1]

St. Theophilus of Antioch stated that:

God created Adam and Eve in order that they might have the greatest possible love for each other, reflecting the mystery of divine Unity. . .[2]

The idea of mutual help and spousal well-being was therefore present in the Church’s teaching from the earliest days. These are not isolated teachings, left untouched until the time of Vatican II, though. Papal statements re-affirmed this concept consistently prior to the Council.

Prior to Vatican II , Pope Leo XIII wrote:

Secondly, the mutual duties of husband and wife have been defined, and their several rights accurately established. They are bound, namely, to have such feelings for one another as to cherish always very great mutual love, to be ever faithful to their marriage vow, and to give one another an unfailing and unselfish help. The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For "the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. . . Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things."[3]

Pope Pius XI continued this defense of the unitive aspect of marriage:

For matrimonial faith demands that husband and wife be joined in an especially holy and pure love, not as adulterers love each other, but as Christ loved the Church. This precept the Apostle laid down when he said: "Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church," that Church which of a truth He embraced with a boundless love not for the sake of His own advantage, but seeking only the good of His Spouse. The love, then, of which We are speaking is not that based on the passing lust of the moment nor does it consist in pleasing words only, but in the deep attachment of the heart which is expressed in action, since love is proved by deeds.[26] This outward expression of love in the home demands not only mutual help but must go further; must have as its primary purpose that man and wife help each other day by day in forming and perfecting themselves in the interior life, so that through their partnership in life they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in true love toward God and their neighbor, on which indeed "dependeth the whole Law and the Prophets." For all men of every condition, in whatever honorable walk of life they may be, can and ought to imitate that most perfect example of holiness placed before man by God, namely Christ Our Lord, and by God's grace to arrive at the summit of perfection, as is proved by the example set us of many saints.[4]

The above clearly shows that procreation was not the sole marital interest prior to Vatican II. It also provides a context for the second error regarding the Church’s teaching on marriage. This error is the statement that Vatican II somehow changed the Church’s traditional teaching on the proper ordering of marital values. In other words, the mutual support of spouses now holds a spot of primacy above that of procreation and the proper rearing of children. This is contrary to fact.

Disregarding for a moment the consent of the Fathers on this issue, as well as the teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium,[5] consider the words of the Council itself:

. . . [T]he institution of matrimony itself and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children, and find in them their ultimate crown. . .[6]

Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents. The God Himself Who said, "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18) and "Who made man from the beginning male and female" (Matt. 19:4), wishing to share with man a certain special participation in His own creative work, blessed male and female, saying: "Increase and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). Hence, while not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the Creator and the Savior. Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family day by day.

Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love.[7]

This certainly does not bespeak of some sort of new teaching in the realm of marital relationships. Continuing the Council’s discussion on the issue, Pope John Paul II wrote:

The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God's creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively to live a fully human life.[8]

That the Church’s position has not changed becomes more clear when one notes the cited authority in the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding fecundity.[9] The Catechism cites to the entirety of Pope Pius XI’s encyclical Casti Connubii, which re-affirms the primacy of procreation and child-rearing.

[1] Tertullian, Ad Uxorem, Chapter VIII.
[2] Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autolyc 2:28. See also St. John Chrysostom, On Marriage.
[3] Pope Leo XIII, Arcanum §11.
[4] Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii §23. See also §7; Pope Pius XII, Allocution to Mid-wives.
[5] See notes 58-59, supra.
[6] Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) §48.
[7] Id. at §50. See also Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae §43.
[8] Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio §36.
[9] Catechism of the Catholic Church 2366.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Reformation Lemmings

This is getting ridiculous. It's clear to anyone who looks around that the real fruit of the Reformation is the seemingly endless schisms and novel theology that is rampant in modern Protestantism. Check your yellow pages for church listings if you dispute this, noting the large number of pages devoted to the various sects.

Well apparently, the Presbyterian Church of the USA, not to be outdone by the Anglicans recent plunge off the cliff into doctrinal chaos, have decided to eliminate their proscriptions against fornication and adultery, not to mention perhaps setting the stage for similar action regarding the prohibitions on homosexuality. From EWTN:

Reaction continues to the decisions of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), which took place between June 21 and June 28. The assembly nullified proscriptions against sexual behavior outside of marriage and called for a vote to delete the church’s constitutional standard requiring fidelity in marriage and chastity in singleness. It also initiated a process that could remove mention of the Bible’s prohibition against homosexuality form the Heidelberg Catechism.

Not sure how I missed this from last month, but oh well.

The moves are seen by some as an attempt to clear a path for the eventual ordination of practicing homosexuals to the church offices of deacon, elder, or minister.

Great freaking idea, guys. It's done wonders for the Anglican communion. And taking a course straight from the Anglican playbook, they've decided to try and hold any dissenting congregations hostage by threatening to strip them of their property.

Further, the assembly authorized the creation of a $2 million legal fund to litigate against churches which seek to transfer to other Reformed denominations while retaining their property.

Some aren't going gently into the good night, though.

“The PCUSA has jettisoned the solid rock of Biblical authority and morals and is now floundering in the sea of cultural relativity. In desperation, it lays claim to the property of congregations that love the Word of God more than denominational loyalty,” the Presbyterian Lay Committee said.

Or you could skip to the end and go with what the Anglicans are already figuring out, namely "what the martyr Cyprian, the witness of the ancient tradition of the Church, affirmed: 'there is one God and one Christ; There is one Church and one founded on Peter by the word of the Lord.' That is what the great Doctor of the Church Ambrose also preached: 'Where Peter is, there is the Church. Where the Church is, there is no death but life eternal.' Finally Jerome very wisely taught: 'The welfare of the Church depends on the dignity of the papacy. If we do not give the pope sovereign and independent power, there will be as many schisms in the Church as there are priests.'"

Pope Benedict XV, In Hac Tanta

Litany of Heresies #9

Claiming that the Catholic Church referenced in the Creed somehow refers to “all the churches.”

Initially, the absurdity of this claim is clear. Considering that the Apostles’ Creed is often dated from the first or second century and the Nicene Creed was formally promulgated in 325 (and later modified in 381), it is utterly impossible for these statements of the faith to have any reference whatsoever to sects which arose over a millennium later.

Not only is the above proposition impossible by virtue of historical fact, any attempt to conceive of the Creed’s articles differently than what was meant by the early Church is formally condemned:

[The proposition is condemned that] The chief articles of the Apostles' Creed did not have the same sense for the Christians of the first ages as they have for the Christians of our time.[1]

To assert that Catholics reciting the Creed can somehow profess faith in “other churches” also introduces another internal inconsistency. How can a Catholic profess to believe in the faith of a non-Catholic church? It is impossible, for it is only the Catholic Church and no other which, “sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation”[2] and provides the “the fullness of Christ's salvific mystery.”[3] Therefore, proclaiming belief in any church which professes beliefs opposed to that of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is to de facto reject what the Church teaches about itself. As such, the instruction on this point was incorrect.

[1] Decree of the Holy Office approved by Pope Pius X, Lamentabili Sane §62.
[2] Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution of the Church) §14.
[3] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus §16.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Patriarch Bartholomew Rejects "Dual Unity"

Looks like the question from this post has been mooted. The Ecumenical Partriarchate web site is pretty clear:

With respect to the recently published articles reporting that allegedly His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew believes that it is possible for the Greek Catholics (Uniates) to have a “double union”, in other words, full communion with Rome as well as with Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate refutes this inaccurate statement and affirms it was never made. The Ecumenical Patriarchate repeats its position that full union in faith is a prerequisite for sacramental communion.

So even if Cardinal Husar had proposed such a deal, it clearly isn't going anywhere. I hate the enduring schism, but a fake unity would be a mockery of Christ.