Wednesday, July 31, 2013

While We're Discussing Papal Soundbites

I did want to emphasize this section of the recent interview that didn't get so much attention:

There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. 

Weird how that was slipped in there, and yet, nobody in the press has even mentioned it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Re: The Recent Papal News Stories

Holy smokes. Lots of news about the Pope recently. In a nutshell, the news media thinks this is Pope Francis:


That's about the sum of it. They are cultivating this image at all costs, and since they pretty much lack credibility on religious issues anyway, there's nothing for them to lose. If you haven't heard, the big story is that the Holy Father was answering questions on a plane ride. The exchange went as follows:

QUESTION: I would like to ask permission to pose a rather delicate question. Another image that went around the world is that of Monsignor Ricca and the news about his personal life. I would like to know, your Holiness, what will be done about this question. How should one deal with this question and how does your Holiness wish to deal with the whole question of the gay lobby?

FRANCIS: Regarding the matter of Monsignor Ricca, I did what Canon Law required and did the required investigation. And from the investigation, we did not find anything corresponding to the accusations against him. We found none of that. That is the answer. But I would like to add one more thing to this: I see that so many times in the Church, apart from this case and also in this case, one looks for the “sins of youth,” for example, is it not thus?, And then these things are published. These things are not crimes. The crimes are something else: child abuse is a crime. But sins, if a person, or secular priest or a nun, has committed a sin and then that person experienced conversion, the Lord forgives and when the Lord forgives, the Lord forgets and this is very important for our lives. When we go to confession and we truly say “I have sinned in this matter,” the Lord forgets and we do not have the right to not forget because we run the risk that the Lord will not forget our sins, eh? This is a danger. This is what is important: a theology of sin. So many times I think of St. Peter: he committed one of the worst sins denying Christ. And with this sin they made him Pope. We must think about fact often.


But returning to your question more concretely: in this case [Ricca] I did the required investigation and we found nothing. That is the first question. Then you spoke of the gay lobby. Agh… so much is written about the gay lobby. I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word gay. They say there are some gay people here. I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. They are bad. If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person? The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully but says, wait a moment, how does it say, it says, these persons must never be marginalized and “they must be integrated into society.”



The problem is not that one has this tendency; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter. There is another problem, another one: the problem is to form a lobby of those who have this tendency, a lobby of the greedy people, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of Masons, so many lobbies. This is the most serious problem for me. And thank you so much for doing this question. Thank you very much!


Now, in that entire three paragraph answer, what do you think drew all the reporting?

"Pope Francis reverses Church policy on homosexuals!"

This is ridiculous stuff, as any cursory review of the Pope's comments will make clear. We reported on the Msgr Ricca issue a while back. If the Pope has said anything, it's that there is a gay lobby, but there's no proof that Msgr. Ricca is part of it, even if he did have some past indiscretions. Hell, the Lavender Mafia might have burned Ricca themselves if they thought they wouldn't be able to manipulate him.

However, it does highlight a problem with Popes making comments that lack clarity. This was tried with Pope Benedict on more than one occasion as well, his comment on homosexual condom use probably being the most notable example. This is nothing new, but in the era of the utterly malicious, 24-hour news cycle media, it is imperative to keep in mind. Let me provide an older example.

This guy is Pope Honorius I.


He once wrote the following lines to Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople:

"Wherefore we acknowledge one Will of our Lord Jesus Christ, for evidently it was our nature and not the sin in it which was assumed by the Godhead, that is to say, the nature which was created before sin, not the nature which was vitiated by sin."

"He's a Monothelite!" became the battle cry of those who would deny the authority of the Holy See, from Dollinger to Romanides. Pope John IV defended Honorius's comments by explaining them in orthodox fashion. Pope Agatho was clear that the Apostolic See had never taught heresy. None of this matters, really. The damage was done, and it continues to this day.

Likewise for Pope Francis. I'm not advising that the Pope just never say anything. After all, his primary role is that of teacher. He has got to be prepared to have his words twisted and consequently must speak in the most cautious and unequivocal way possible. Sort of like how he did back in 2010 when speaking about homosexual marriage:

“Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Yeah, let's see the media distort that. Sounds like a hell of a lot of judgment there to me.

Anyways, this all brings up another, less-reported, and far more significant story involving the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. I'm linking to Fr. Zuhlsdorf's account to mitigate accusations that we are somehow hostile to Pope Francis. The quick version is that there are some alleged internal divisions within the Friars that somehow center around their widespread use of the Traditional Mass. The response of the Holy See was initially to send in an Apostolic Visitation. Now, it has been to suppress the TLM for all the Friars unless they have special permission.

This is what Summorum Pontificum said about the matter:

Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or "community" celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues.

So this decision by Pope Francis looks to be an actual reversal of policy. Many people, Fr. Zuhlsdorf included, seem to be writing this off as an internal matter for the Friars and indicative of nothing else. After all, surely it must have been an enormous problem, with scores (if not hundreds) of the Friars crying out for liberation from the oppression of their order offering old liturgy.

Well, according to Tancred's report, the complaint was made by six of the Friars 800 members. Six.

As to the notion that this doesn't affect the Church at large, I must disagree. Concerns about the liturgy were already being expressed when he was elected., but frankly, I don't think the Holy Father is hostile to the TLM. I really don't think it's even on his radar or that he saw this as being a big deal. It was probably presented to him as an efficient way to resolve the issues. 

But it is a big deal. First, it basically suggests that the TLM is part of the problem and that there is something wrong with it or with those who offer it. When something had to be done, ditching the TLM was the course of action. Second, it sets a precedent that there are circumstances for restricting the Traditional Mass that aren't really contemplated by the current governing legislation. This type of stuff lends itself to the proliferation of such reasons, and pretty soon, we're back to the way things were 30 years ago. 

As usual, there is tolerance and openness and dialogue for anything and everything. Except stuff like the TLM.

Anyways, if I may engage in my own speculation, I think this says little about Pope Francis except to confirm earlier theories that his priorities are elsewhere. We thought and hoped they would be on Curial reform. Even that hasn't happened yet. We have the Commission of 8, but that's it, and nobody knows what they'll be doing. Nobody has been disciplined. Nobody has been kicked out. I very much hope that the papal office and its obligations haven't overwhelmed this critical necessity. 

Finally, if I make an observation wherein I do agree with Fr. Zuhlsdorf, here is another pope from history:



This is Benedict IX. St. Peter Damian called him "demon from hell in the disguise of a priest." He was that bad. Even if we edit out the worst of the rumors (which are pretty damn bad), he was the worst pope of all time, engaging in everything from fornication to simony.

What would we do with a guy like this on the Throne of Peter these days? What kind of field day would the 24-hour news cycle have with these kinds of stories. People's faith would be utterly shattered. We've got it easy right now. If this is the worst thing Pope Francis ever does, thank God for it. He's the Pope. Don't be a wuss and let stuff like this bother you. 

Deal with it. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Judgment



Recently, I've noticed that the old saying of "Only God can judge me/us" has regained its popularity. It was originally a big deal thanks to 2Pac, but I'm hearing it a lot these days now.

In reflecting on this, something has occurred to me. People who like repeating this proverb either:

1. Don't seem to really care much about what God's judgment is or will be

OR

2. Seem 100% confident that God's judgment conforms 100% with their own.

Just an observation.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy Anniversary To Humanae Vitae

It's been 45 years since Paul VI became the most hated man in the world simply by re-stating what Christians had been saying for 2000 years. In case you somehow missed in that time:



To recollect, I submit these two entries from our past efforts, both of which demonstrate the prophetic powers of Holy Mother Church in predicting exactly what would happen if humanity embraced the contraceptive mentality promoted by the culture of death:


And of course, our reflection on the ancillary horrors wrought by the pill that nobody pays attention to because they might actually have to consider halting their reliance on it.

The cruelty people exhibit(ed) toward the Holy Father for what should have been a simple and non-controversial item is/was inexcusable. May God have mercy on them. Paul VI was basically shattered by the experience. If you want a good synopsis of what happened, I'd suggest Ralph McInerny's What Went Wrong With Vatican II?

Rorate has a good In Memoriam of the Holy Father's accomplishment, which I reproduce below:

Pope Paul VI is described by most historians as a kind of tragic figure, trying to control the whirlwind of events surrounding him, but unable to do much. It is probably because of this, because it seemed that Montini often bent to the opinions of the world, because it seemed that he frequently accepted the fabricated notions and texts which committees of false sages delivered to him (with very small modifications), that the moments in which he did not bend shine so clearly with the simple brightness of Peter. The Nota Prævia to Lumen Gentium, the vigorous defense of the traditional Eucharistic doctrines (in Mysterium Fidei) and of the teachings on Indulgences (in Indulgentiarum Doctrina), the Credo of the People of God are pillars which remain standing in a crumbling edifice, signs of supernatural protection. 

Indeed. Rest in peace, Holy Father. When you were right, you were so very right.



No Popery In Health Care!

I got emailed this post from Creative Minority Report and it's worth everyone's time to peruse.

The context of the post is the reality that current actions by state and federal government are reducing access to health care for the poor. Whatever you thought Obamacare (or your local StateCare managed Medicaid program) was going to do, this is the reality. Catholic providers are, by and large, the only entities stepping in to fill this gap because nobody wants to take care of a population that costs a lot of money (because they are usually very unhealthy) and doesn't pay very well. This influx of Catholic stuff into health care has a lot of folks disturbed because it would mean not being able to get all their abortion, contraception, and sterilization. What a tragedy!

Anyways, the CMR post links to a couple of articles. One is from Texas and describes the threats of an political group to file a lawsuit to unravel an agreement for a Catholic health system to manage a public hospital:

A national nonprofit that advocates for church-state separation is challenging an agreement involving the public Central Health hospital district, the University of Texas and the Catholic Church-affiliated Seton Healthcare Family.

Three lawyers with Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a letter to Central Health board members and UT President Bill Powers saying that a Central Health-Seton master agreement is unconstitutional because of religious restrictions on some Seton hospital services, such as sterilizations. They asked that the agreement be reworked or scrapped.

The far better article is this one from the Seattle Times. Even better than that is this one, also from the Times, which clearly reflects the disturbed peace of secularists:

Why are the leaders in this state — the governor, the Legislature — generally letting religious folks call the shots with our health care?

I seriously doubt the publicly backed UW Medical Centers will start allowing religious rules to control medical treatment — this is still Seattle, after all. All hell would break loose.

But Catholic health services now run publicly backed hospitals and clinics from Vancouver to San Juan Island. So taxpayer money already is paying for bishop-guided medicine. All without a peep from the state about the rights of patients to get the legal care they need, not just whatever care the bishops consider moral.

“It’s insane that a state where conservative Catholics probably number around 5 percent, that we are allowing conservative Catholic principles to take over our health-care system,” says Monica Harrington, of Seattle, who runs a website called Catholic Watch devoted to this issue.

It ought to be the other way around. To get public funding, religious hospitals ought to be urged to abide by the public’s health-care principles as much as possible. Not us by theirs.

We’d never let the schools be ruled by a church, no matter how well-meaning. With our health care we’re halfway there.

Did you notice the next to last paragraph? To get public funding, which is code for Medicare and Medicaid, Catholic hospitals should surrender to the public's principles. Of course, this would mean sacrificing the Church's principles in return.

These aren't isolated sentiments. We're hearing it from legislators here in Louisiana. Make no mistake folks, you're going to hear this more and more as Catholic entities fill the access gap for the poor. We're going to be asked to turn our hospitals into Synagogues of Sanger to help the undesirables not breed so much. Not to mention that this access gap is a great excuse to move to single payer. The more Catholic hospitals keep the gap manageable, the more difficult it is to argue for a single payer, which is a political goal for many. Then you'll really see Catholic hospitals getting pinched under the rationale expressed above. No public money if you don't bow to Caesar's whims.

Don't think it can't happen here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lumen Fidei, The Highlights (Part 2)

Continuing with our review of Pope Francis's first encylical:

Paul rejects the attitude of those who would consider themselves justified before God on the basis of their own works. Such people, even when they obey the commandments and do good works, are centred on themselves; they fail to realize that goodness comes from God. Those who live this way, who want to be the source of their own righteousness, find that the latter is soon depleted and that they are unable even to keep the law. They become closed in on themselves and isolated from the Lord and from others; their lives become futile and their works barren, like a tree far from water. Saint Augustine tells us in his usual concise and striking way: "Ab eo qui fecit te, noli deficere nec ad te", "Do not turn away from the one who made you, even to turn towards yourself".[15] Once I think that by turning away from God I will find myself, my life begins to fall apart (cf. Lk 15:11-24). The beginning of salvation is openness to something prior to ourselves, to a primordial gift that affirms life and sustains it in being.

What a wonderful passage. I honestly think that this message needs to be preached from every rooftop. Pelagianism is the most widespread heresy in the Church today. Yes, even moreso than Modernism. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that our current issues with Modernism are just a symptom of the Pelagian disease. People think that being nice gets them to heaven. Most people will admit that they sin if you press them. However, that same person will be quick to tell you about all the good stuff that they do and that all that good stuff basically exempts them from damnation.

In other words, as Pope Francis makes clear in the above, they look to themselves as the source of what's good.

In this way, the life of the believer becomes an ecclesial existence, a life lived in the Church.

And we know what the Holy Father thinks about those who try to live without the Church.

Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed. For "how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?" (Rom 10:14).

So faith isn't dictated by individual choices. It comes from hearing. Which means that whatever the pagans, et al are doing isn't faith because what we get from faith is fixed and not a servant to the subjective. Nor is it something that would have come from Buddha or Mohammed, unless someone wants to speculate that St. Paul here is talking about someone other than Christian missionaries.

Read in this light, the prophetic text leads to one conclusion: we need knowledge, we need truth, because without these we cannot stand firm, we cannot move forward. Faith without truth does not save, it does not provide a sure footing.

Read that last bit again. Without truth, there is no saving faith. Which naturally means that false faiths don't save.

Today more than ever, we need to be reminded of this bond between faith and truth, given the crisis of truth in our age. In contemporary culture, we often tend to consider the only real truth to be that of technology: truth is what we succeed in building and measuring by our scientific know-how, truth is what works and what makes life easier and more comfortable. Nowadays this appears as the only truth that is certain, the only truth that can be shared, the only truth that can serve as a basis for discussion or for common undertakings. Yet at the other end of the scale we are willing to allow for subjective truths of the individual, which consist in fidelity to his or her deepest convictions, yet these are truths valid only for that individual and not capable of being proposed to others in an effort to serve the common good. But Truth itself, the truth which would comprehensively explain our life as individuals and in society, is regarded with suspicion. Surely this kind of truth — we hear it said — is what was claimed by the great totalitarian movements of the last century, a truth that imposed its own world view in order to crush the actual lives of individuals. In the end, what we are left with is relativism, in which the question of universal truth — and ultimately this means the question of God — is no longer relevant. It would be logical, from this point of view, to attempt to sever the bond between religion and truth, because it seems to lie at the root of fanaticism, which proves oppressive for anyone who does not share the same beliefs. In this regard, though, we can speak of a massive amnesia in our contemporary world. The question of truth is really a question of memory, deep memory, for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path.

The underlined is my own emphasis. People will believe just about anything these days unless it's associated with God. Then, all of a sudden, nobody wants to pay attention. This includes Christian denominations who empty faith of its content and just want to talk about "loving Jesus" without any idea of who Jesus is. They shun doctrines and embrace sentimentality because they are afraid of Truth and the possibility that it might disagree with them. Better to assume some sort of vacuous "I'm ok; you're ok as long as you don't try to convince me of anything" posture.

Indeed, most people nowadays would not consider love as related in any way to truth. Love is seen as an experience associated with the world of fleeting emotions, no longer with truth.

Apparently, the Pope is a Boston fan.

In the Fourth Gospel, the truth which faith attains is the revelation of the Father in the Son, in his flesh and in his earthly deeds, a truth which can be defined as the "light-filled life" of Jesus.[24] This means that faith-knowledge does not direct our gaze to a purely inward truth. The truth which faith discloses to us is a truth centred on an encounter with Christ, on the contemplation of his life and on the awareness of his presence. Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of the Apostles’ oculata fides — a faith which sees! — in the presence of the body of the Risen Lord.[25] With their own eyes they saw the risen Jesus and they believed; in a word, they were able to peer into the depths of what they were seeing and to confess their faith in the Son of God, seated at the right hand of the Father.

I've seen some people criticize the Pope's use of the term faith-knowledge. I think such people are missing the big picture. Faith has become a pretty meaningless term these days. Like love/charity, it has become watered down into something it isn't. As we mentioned previously, this was the big deal with Dominus Iesus. It took faith out of the realm of just mere religious belief (as does this encyclical) and centered back on its status as a supernatural virtue. This virtue entails the intellectual assent to certain propositions, hence knowledge. This is important because so many no longer consider faith as being connected to knowing.

Of Enoch "it was attested that he had pleased God" (Heb 11:5), something impossible apart from faith, for "whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him" (Heb 11:6). We can see from this that the path of religious man passes through the acknowledgment of a God who cares for us and is not impossible to find. What other reward can God give to those who seek him, if not to let himself be found? ... Because faith is a way, it also has to do with the lives of those men and women who, though not believers, nonetheless desire to believe and continue to seek. To the extent that they are sincerely open to love and set out with whatever light they can find, they are already, even without knowing it, on the path leading to faith.

This part deserves mention simply because it dares to mention Hebrews 11:6, a passage that so many find repugnant. "Without faith, it is impossible to please God."

Theology also shares in the ecclesial form of faith; its light is the light of the believing subject which is the Church. This implies, on the one hand, that theology must be at the service of the faith of Christians, that it must work humbly to protect and deepen the faith of everyone, especially ordinary believers. On the other hand, because it draws its life from faith, theology cannot consider the magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him as something extrinsic, a limitation of its freedom, but rather as one of its internal, constitutive dimensions, for the magisterium ensures our contact with the primordial source and thus provides the certainty of attaining to the word of Christ in all its integrity.

That sound you just heard was the collective gag reflex of thousands of theologians trying to keep themselves from vomiting. The last thing they want to hear about is the papal magisterium and how significant it is to the strengthening of faith.

The structure of baptism, its form as a rebirth in which we receive a new name and a new life, helps us to appreciate the meaning and importance of infant baptism. Children are not capable of accepting the faith by a free act, nor are they yet able to profess that faith on their own; therefore the faith is professed by their parents and godparents in their name. Since faith is a reality lived within the community of the Church, part of a common "We", children can be supported by others, their parents and godparents, and welcomed into their faith, which is the faith of the Church; this is symbolized by the candle which the child’s father lights from the paschal candle. The structure of baptism, then, demonstrates the critical importance of cooperation between Church and family in passing on the faith. Parents are called, as Saint Augustine once said, not only to bring children into the world but also to bring them to God, so that through baptism they can be reborn as children of God and receive the gift of faith.[38] Thus, along with life, children are given a fundamental orientation and assured of a good future; this orientation will be further strengthened in the sacrament of Confirmation with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

I wanted to mention this just because it mentions infant baptism and that faith is something that goes hand-in-hand with the sacrament.

Faith is also one because it is directed to the one Lord, to the life of Jesus, to the concrete history which he shares with us. Saint Irenaeus of Lyons made this clear in his struggle against Gnosticism. The Gnostics held that there are two kinds of faith: a crude, imperfect faith suited to the masses, which remained at the level of Jesus’ flesh and the contemplation of his mysteries; and a deeper, perfect faith reserved to a small circle of initiates who were intellectually capable of rising above the flesh of Jesus towards the mysteries of the unknown divinity. In opposition to this claim, which even today exerts a certain attraction and has its followers, Saint Irenaeus insisted that there is but one faith, for it is grounded in the concrete event of the incarnation and can never transcend the flesh and history of Christ, inasmuch as God willed to reveal himself fully in that flesh. For this reason, he says, there is no difference in the faith of "those able to discourse of it at length" and "those who speak but little", between the greater and the less: the first cannot increase the faith, nor the second diminish it.

This has always been one of the great joys of the Church. Whether someone has a doctorate in theology or is just an ignorant peasant, neither of their conditions puts a limit on their faith. If they are humble enough to accept what is true, that's what matters. The Pope is very correct in diagnosing the neo-Gnostic current in the Church. You can see this among "traditionalists" or "charismatics" all claiming to have some kind of direct line to God and is getting all kinds of inside-the-beltway information from God. This is how you get folks like the Palmarians or folks deciding they can judge the First See or 

Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are interconnected, to deny one of them, even of those that seem least important, is tantamount to distorting the whole. Each period of history can find this or that point of faith easier or harder to accept: hence the need for vigilance in ensuring that the deposit of faith is passed on in its entirety (cf. 1 Tim 6:20) and that all aspects of the profession of faith are duly emphasized. Indeed, inasmuch as the unity of faith is the unity of the Church, to subtract something from the faith is to subtract something from the veracity of communion. The Fathers described faith as a body, the body of truth composed of various members, by analogy with the body of Christ and its prolongation in the Church.[42] The integrity of the faith was also tied to the image of the Church as a virgin and her fidelity in love for Christ her spouse; harming the faith means harming communion with the Lord.[43] The unity of faith, then, is the unity of a living body; this was clearly brought out by Blessed John Henry Newman when he listed among the characteristic notes for distinguishing the continuity of doctrine over time its power to assimilate everything that it meets in the various settings in which it becomes present and in the diverse cultures which it encounters,[44] purifying all things and bringing them to their finest expression. Faith is thus shown to be universal, catholic, because its light expands in order to illumine the entire cosmos and all of history.

Two things here. First, the Pope again draws us back to the objectivity of faith. We don't get to just whip out our own version of what's true or decide that we're only bound by these couple of items, whilst rejecting those others. In fact, he's clear that ditching one article of the faith is enough to screw up the whole thing. Second, faith unifies the Church. Regardless of culture or geography, we are Catholic because of this faith. There isn't an American Catholicism, an African Catholicism, or an Indian Catholicism. There is just the One, Holy, and Apostolic Catholicism.

Faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. Without a love which is trustworthy, nothing could truly keep men and women united. Human unity would be conceivable only on the basis of utility, on a calculus of conflicting interests or on fear, but not on the goodness of living together, not on the joy which the mere presence of others can give.

Ah, utilitarianism! That wonderful substitute for real morality that we've concocted in order to convince ourselves that the simple act of dehumanizing others really makes us good persons.

The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith.

So much for the hopes that this Holy Father was so humble that he'd junk the idea of marriage.

At the heart of biblical faith is God’s love, his concrete concern for every person, and his plan of salvation which embraces all of humanity and all creation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Without insight into these realities, there is no criterion for discerning what makes human life precious and unique. Man loses his place in the universe, he is cast adrift in nature, either renouncing his proper moral responsibility or else presuming to be a sort of absolute judge, endowed with an unlimited power to manipulate the world around him.

Neither of these is an appealing option, yet they are what we choose so consistently. Why do we hate ourselves so much?

Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good.

Compare this to anything Fr. Jenkins said or anything the president said when he was honored at Notre Dame. Try to find how they might even remotely mesh together. This soft echo of the Social Kingship of Christ is something I very much hope that the Holy Father builds on this in his future writings.

If we remove faith in God from our cities, mutual trust would be weakened, we would remain united only by fear and our stability would be threatened. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read that "God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them" (Heb 11:16). Here the expression "is not ashamed" is associated with public acknowledgment. The intention is to say that God, by his concrete actions, makes a public avowal that he is present in our midst and that he desires to solidify every human relationship. Could it be the case, instead, that we are the ones who are ashamed to call God our God? That we are the ones who fail to confess him as such in our public life, who fail to propose the grandeur of the life in common which he makes possible? Faith illumines life and society. If it possesses a creative light for each new moment of history, it is because it sets every event in relationship to the origin and destiny of all things in the Father.

I'd say that it's not that we're ashamed to call God our God. We're horrified by the concept. After all, if we admit that God is God, then we kind of eliminate ourselves from playing that role, which is what we've all wanted since Adam and Eve first went astray.

I wish Pope Francis would have elaborated some here. For example, it isn't just that God "desires" human relationships and public acknowledgement. He has a right to these things. We were purchased at a great price. He is our Creator. We owe Him these things, and He has the right to expect them from us.

Christians know that suffering cannot be eliminated, yet it can have meaning and become an act of love and entrustment into the hands of God who does not abandon us; in this way it can serve as a moment of growth in faith and love.

Don't tell the liberation theologians. They probably haven't gotten done vomiting from the last section about the Magisterium.

Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.

For now, it's just through a glass darkly.

In the parable of the sower, Saint Luke has left us these words of the Lord about the "good soil": "These are the ones who when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance" (Lk 8:15). In the context of Luke’s Gospel, this mention of an honest and good heart which hears and keeps the word is an implicit portrayal of the faith of the Virgin Mary. The evangelist himself speaks of Mary’s memory, how she treasured in her heart all that she had heard and seen, so that the word could bear fruit in her life. The Mother of the Lord is the perfect icon of faith; as Saint Elizabeth would say: "Blessed is she who believed" (Lk 1:45).

This was a new take and a very beautiful one at that. Pope Francis has already consecrated his pontificate to Our Lady, so we can probably expect more of this sort of thing. Which is pretty awesome.

In Mary, the Daughter of Zion, is fulfilled the long history of faith of the Old Testament, with its account of so many faithful women, beginning with Sarah: women who, alongside the patriarchs, were those in whom God’s promise was fulfilled and new life flowered. In the fullness of time, God’s word was spoken to Mary and she received that word into her heart, her entire being, so that in her womb it could take flesh and be born as light for humanity. Saint Justin Martyr, in his dialogue with Trypho, uses a striking expression; he tells us that Mary, receiving the message of the angel, conceived "faith and joy".[49] In the Mother of Jesus, faith demonstrated its fruitfulness; when our own spiritual lives bear fruit we become filled with joy, which is the clearest sign of faith’s grandeur. In her own life Mary completed the pilgrimage of faith, following in the footsteps of her Son.[50] In her the faith journey of the Old Testament was thus taken up into the following of Christ, transformed by him and entering into the gaze of the incarnate Son of God.

We focus a lot on the Blessed Mother's purity, holiness, love, and so forth. Faith is often forgotten. Capping all this off with a meditation on Our Mother's faith and the role it played in her life was perfect.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another Nun Gang Raped In India

The persecution there continues. As does the silence from media sources. This story comes from VI.


Italian news programme TgCom24 has reported a terrible new rape case in India, involving a 28 year old Catholic nun. The woman was raped for a week by a group her cousin belonged to in Orissa. Archbishop John Barwa strongly condemned the incident and said he hoped the guilty parties would be brought to justice and that the law would take its course.

The night mare lasted from 5-11 July. The nun, who is finishing college in Chennai, was lured into the trap by her cousin: she was told her mother had fallen very ill and the group’s members offered to accompany her to her mother’s village so she could visit her.

Instead, the girl was taken to an unidentified location and raped for an entire week. She miraculously managed to escape her abductors and pressed charges.

Kyrie Eleison.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A New Internet Resource For Catholics

Lately, I've been exposed to some very harsh claims relating to both this blog and anyone who might agree with it. For example, apparently, this blog has been attacking Pope Francis (and a few other nameless popes). Not sure how I missed that, but it must have happened because I read it on the internet.

Ignoring for a moment that such accusations are lies/calumny, I also noticed that a popular Catholic radio program recently broadcast a program that was more than a bit slanted in its take on people who, say, like attending the Traditional Mass.

I'm not sure why negativity, and even falsehood, have become so popular lately, but it was a good way to find the following resource.

Faithful Answers is a new apologetics site. I don't know all the parties involved, but it has Fr. Chad Ripperberger, Fr. Michael Rodriguez, and Ryan Grant, all of whom are wonderful examples of Catholic thinking on subjects ranging from dogmatic theology to morality to economics. The material I've read there so far is solid stuff, and I heartily recommend it to our readers. If you are looking for Catholic resources and are put off by the tone in which they are presented, either by way of fuzziness or antagonism, this new effort could be the place to help you out.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Re: The Canonizations

Because I keep getting asked, I'll say a bit on the recent announcement that Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II are to be canonized.

I've discussed John Paul II's pontificate in some detail here. I stand by the thoughts expressed in that post. While I understand the reservations and concerns of many about this situation, I just can't get past the feeling that there's just way more important stuff out there. Ultimately, the more scandalous acts of his reign are unknown to the bulk of the Catholic faithful. It's sort of like the massive mortifications of St. Francis. Nobody knows about these things. Nobody cares. If they did know, they'd probably be scandalized and question his sanity (not to mention his sainthood). I've seen regular Mass-goers make such comments about Padre Pio after learning more about him. I may be way off-base, but since nobody else cares, including Pope Francis, I can't bring myself to care either. If the Holy Father feels this is right, who am I to argue?

As a general rule, I don't like the current rush to canonize what seems like everyone (unless you're Pius XII, I guess). Maybe that's why I can't muster up more than a historical interest in this announcement. Even if we limit the list to popes, it seems odd to have open causes for canonization for every dead pope for the last several decades. Blessed John XXIII didn't even require a second miracle. Paul VI? JPI? Are they more worthy of such an honor than the stalwart figure of Pius XI? Or Benedict XV, who fought so long and hard for peace and whose neglected advice perhaps could have averted WWII? Or Leo XIII, perhaps the greatest teacher to have borne the Petrine Ministry over the last four centuries? Or Pius VII, oppressed by Napoleon yet offered him forgiveness and comfort in the Emperor's final days? As far as I know, there aren't any open causes for these guys.

Maybe it's the modern ignorance and disdain for history that makes us demand "Subito!" in these matters. I don't get it, but it seems like part of the Church's job to remind people of those kinds of things. I certainly don't see the harm in waiting.

My opinions matter none in these things, and I'm left reminding those so worried about this of that ancient and venerable rule: The first see is judged by no one.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Lumen Fidei, The Highlights

I've received feedback indicated that my reviews of papal documents would be better served by hitting the high points rather than sifting through the whole thing, so that's what I'm going to be doing this time around.

Let me preface all this by making it clear that I'm not going to engage in the speculation that's kind of rampant about which-pope-wrote-which-parts. Pope Francis's name is on it, so as far as I'm concerned, he owns it.

Even just hitting the highlights, Lumen Fidei is not short. Granted, it's also not a monster like Caritas in Veritate or some of JPII's mammoth-sized writings. We'll do our best to boil it down, though.

Here are the points that I liked the most, with some comments as to why they struck me as being significant.

In modernity, that light [of faith] might have been considered sufficient for societies of old, but was felt to be of no use for new times, for a humanity come of age, proud of its rationality and anxious to explore the future in novel ways. Faith thus appeared to some as an illusory light, preventing mankind from boldly setting out in quest of knowledge. The young Nietzsche encouraged his sister Elisabeth to take risks, to tread "new paths… with all the uncertainty of one who must find his own way", adding that "this is where humanity’s paths part: if you want peace of soul and happiness, then believe, but if you want to be a follower of truth, then seek". Belief would be incompatible with seeking. From this starting point Nietzsche was to develop his critique of Christianity for diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of novelty and adventure. Faith would thus be the illusion of light, an illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its future.

I almost wish there would have been a whole section on atheists and Nietzsche. The latter is the only real honest example of the former anyway. This is the modern caricature of faith, though. It's the remnant of our time as primitives and has to be dustbinned in our more enlightened age if we are ever to be all we can be.

In the process, faith came to be associated with darkness. There were those who tried to save faith by making room for it alongside the light of reason. Such room would open up wherever the light of reason could not penetrate, wherever certainty was no longer possible. Faith was thus understood either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation, but not something which could be proposed to others as an objective and shared light which points the way. Slowly but surely, however, it would become evident that the light of autonomous reason is not enough to illumine the future; ultimately the future remains shadowy and fraught with fear of the unknown. As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.

Here is the first example we see in the encyclical of faith being an objective reality as opposed to a subjective belief. This is a recurrent theme, which makes a lot of the criticisms of the encyclical weird because they claim it isn't mentioned enough. Other than re-typing it over and over, I'm not sure what more Pope Francis could have done.

More than that, he describes faith as superior to all the other pursuits one might engage. He is also very explicit that, without faith, the alternative is moral chaos. Sure, you can find folks who have some discernment of the natural law, but there's only so far you can go with a darkened intellect and weakened will.

The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence.

Every aspect. We'll come back to this later.

At this point, the encyclical hits the rewind button and begins to trace the development of faith from the Old Testament to the current age.

As a response to a word which preceded it, Abraham’s faith would always be an act of remembrance. Yet this remembrance is not fixed on past events but, as the memory of a promise, it becomes capable of opening up the future, shedding light on the path to be taken. We see how faith, as remembrance of the future, memoria futuri, is thus closely bound up with hope.

Considering the modern error of conflating faith and hope, I really wish there would have been some more material here to flesh out how they are bound up.

Gothic architecture gave clear expression to this: in the great cathedrals light comes down from heaven by passing through windows depicting the history of salvation. God’s light comes to us through the account of his self-revelation, and thus becomes capable of illuminating our passage through time by recalling his gifts and demonstrating how he fulfils his promises.

I will be remembering this passage for all eternity. With all the portrayals of Pope Francis as a guy who hates the beautiful things of the Church, throwing in a passage that praises Gothic architecture and the role it plays in forming the faith of the worshiper is very, very nice to see.

Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out: "Put your trust in me!" Faith, tied as it is to conversion, is the opposite of idolatry; it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in a personal encounter. Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history. Faith consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God’s call. Herein lies the paradox: by constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the dissolution imposed upon us by idols.

Now we come to the first remark that, in my opinion, sets this encyclical apart from a lot of the recent stuff we've seen come out of Rome. The overall tone of this document is very critical of false religions. Here, the Holy Father is talking about idolatry and polytheism as distinctly negative items. Belief in these things isn't faith, a salvific alternative, or even a reasonable substitute. They are just plain bad.

Regardless of anything else that that the Pope might have written, this (and the subsequent comments like it) is one of the most pressing messages that must be proclaimed to the world. Faith isn't just believing in some kind of deity or having some kind of vague religious sense. St. Pius X warned against this kind of stuff in Pascendi. Cardinal Ratzinger and Blessed John Paul II distinguished faith and religious belief clearly in Dominus Iesus, which said:

Faith, therefore, as “a gift of God” and as “a supernatural virtue infused by him”, involves a dual adherence: to God who reveals and to the truth which he reveals, out of the trust which one has in him who speaks. Thus, “we must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. If faith is the acceptance in grace of revealed truth, which “makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently”, then belief, in the other religions, is that sum of experience and thought that constitutes the human treasury of wisdom and religious aspiration, which man in his search for truth has conceived and acted upon in his relationship to God and the Absolute.

This distinction is not always borne in mind in current theological reflection. Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance.

Lumen Fidei keeps hammering this point by mentioning the supernatural origins of faith three times and taking a decidedly negative view of other religions. Of course, we haven't seen the outcry that DI garnered because that will expose a side of Pope Francis that the media doesn't want to show.

More to come....

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

St. John Fisher On Secular Hypocrisy




We'd mentioned previously the commonplace secular hypocrisy wherein we are subjected to criticisms of the Church's use of precious metals, beautiful buildings, and works of art in Her worship of God. This scorn is heaped all while secularists spend their funds on the exaltation of themselves, their temporal rulers, or just famous people that they admire.

St. John Fisher noticed this same problem back in his day and commented upon it thusly:

These men now among us seem to reprove the life and doings of the clergy, but after such a sort as they endeavour to bring them into contempt and hatred of the laity. And so finding fault with other men's manners, whom they have no authority to correct, they omit and forget their own, which is far worse and much more out of order than the other. But if the truth were known, you will find that they hunger and thirst after the riches and possessions of the clergy rather than after the amendment of their own faults and abuses.

His last point is very well-taken considering the current position of the Church in places like Italy but also in America, too. There are more than a few people who would be thrilled to see the Church's tax exempt status revoked. If the government continues its current trends, Catholic clergy will be forced to become more outspoken. That kind of outspokenness will result in increasing calls for just this sort of revocation. What it really comes down to, though, is a desire to take what is God's and bend it to secular profit.

Henry built an empire that way. No reason why other governments can't do the same.

Just In Case You Think Stuff In Egypt Has Changed

It looks pretty much like Christians are still in the same boat.

Christians Attacked in Wake of Egyptian Government Upheaval

Parish Looted and Burnt to the Ground by Islamic Fundamentalists

It's the same old song. Whoever wins, we lose.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Defenders Of The Church



St. Michael and St. Joseph are basically viewed as the Church's champions against the wiles of Satan. Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict recently showed up to consecrate the Vatican to both of them. That this is a big deal is, I think, obvious given the fact that Benedict showed up.

Per Zenit, here is the relevant excerpt from the Holy Father's comments:

There are several artistic works in the Vatican Gardens; however, this one, which is added today, assumes a place of particular importance, be it for its location, be it for the meaning it expresses. In fact, it’s not only a celebratory work, but an invitation to reflection and prayer, which is well inserted in the Year of Faith. Michael – which means: “Who is like unto God?” – is the champion of God’s primacy, of His transcendence and power. Michael fights to re-establish divine justice; he defends the People of God from its enemies and above all of the enemy par excellence, the devil. And Saint Michael triumphs because it is God who acts in him. This sculpture, then, reminds us that evil has been vanquished, the accuser is unmasked, his head is crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Blood of Christ. Even if the devil always tries to scratch the Archangel’s face and man’s face, God is stronger; the victory is His and His salvation is offered to every man. We are not alone in life’s journey and trials; we are accompanied and sustained by the Angels of God who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us surmount so many dangers, to be able to fly high in regard to those realities that can weigh down our life or drag us down. On consecrating Vatican City State to Saint Michael the Archangel, we ask him to defend us from the Evil One and to cast him outside.

Dear brothers and sisters, we consecrate Vatican City State also to Saint Joseph, the custodian of Jesus, the custodian of the Holy Family. May his presence make us stronger and more courageous in making space for God in our life to overcome evil always with good. We ask him to guard us, to take care of us, so that the life of grace will grow every day more in each of us.

This isn't a new thing for the Pope. He previously had his entire pontificate consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima.

Considering all of the shenanigans going on in the Vatican for the last several decades, this is something sorely needed. It's good to see Pope Francis not only reminding people of these powerful agents of God, but also choosing to entrust them directly with protecting our patrimony.



Monday, July 8, 2013

Umm...Yeah

Bestiality brothels are 'spreading through Germany' warns campaigner as abusers turn to sex with animals as 'lifestyle choice'

Not sure what to say about that. Sometimes the slippery slope isn't even a slope. It's a sheer cliff heading straight into the abyss.

Wonder when we'll see this in America.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Bank Is Back In The News

And we're really starting to get an idea of how difficult the reform project is going to be. Right back in the thing of things is the Institute for Works of Religion, aka The Vatican Bank. Pope Francis had just gotten through installing some oversight. Now, per Sandro, the director general and vice-director have resigned.

On top of that, you've got trouble popping up for Monsignor Ricca, who had just been appointed to one of the Bank's top positions.

Last June 15 Jorge Mario Bergoglio appointed Monsignor Battista Ricca, 57, "prelate" of the IOR precisely in order to place a highly trusted person in a key role within the Institute. With statutory power to access the proceedings and documents and to participate in the meetings both of the cardinalate commission of oversight and of the supervisory board of the Vatican "bank."

That's a lot of authority, so anything that is going to get this guy in trouble and lead to a revocation of his appointment (which Sandro looks to happen) has to be a big deal and based on pretty good evidence. So what could cause such problems?

After rendering service over the span of a decade in Congo, in Algeria, in Colombia, and in Switzerland, at the end of 1999 he found himself working in Uruguay with the nuncio Janusz Bolonek, from Poland, now a pontifical representative in Bulgaria. But he remained with him for little more than a year. In 2001, Ricca was transferred to the nunciature of Trinidad and Tobago, after which he was called to the Vatican.

The black hole in Ricca's personal history is the year he spent in Uruguay, in Montevideo, on the northern bank of the Rio de la Plata, across from Buenos Aires.

What provoked the rupture with the nuncio Bolonek and his sudden transfer can be summarized in two expressions used by those who confidentially examined his case in Uruguay: “pink power” and “conducta escandalosa.”

Pope Francis was entirely unaware of this precedent when he appointed Ricca prelate of the IOR. 

So yeah, it's back to that other stuff that nobody wants to talk about.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Hail Satan!"

This was the chant emanating from the abortion activist crowd in Austin, per the Washington Times:


Pro-choice protesters shouted, “Hail Satan!” as an attempt to drown out pro-lifers’ rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

A Texas blogger, Adam Cahm, captured the scene on video: “It’s been a very interesting day at the Texas State Capitol. … LetTexasSpeak has been doing a live broadcast from the rotunda where women have been sharing their abortion related testimonies. The pro-abortion crowd has responded with repeated chants of ‘hail Satan.’ 

There is video, too, in case anybody is doubting this. I must commend the activists in question for being honest enough to admit something that we have often noted here.

Abortion is Satanic. May God have mercy on these people's poor, deluded souls.

With all the talk about this issue being framed as a matter of liberty and freedom, I'm forced to recall the maxim of that most famous of Satanists, Aleister Crowley. "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."






If you want a real commentary on how sick our world is, consider this. Aleister Crowley, often referred to as the "wickedest man in the world," thought abortion was basically the same as murder. Yet we have crowds of our fellow citizens, who no doubt consider themselves enlightened and upright and moral people, gathering together to facilitate this crime that even Mr. Crowley, The Great Beast, was uncomfortable with it.

I'm sure the Founders, on this wonderful day of independence, would be proud. 

Kyrie Eleison.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Memorial Service Held For Thousands Slain In Oregon

A picture of one of the fallen:



Yep, it's a memorial service for thousands of bees that died in an Oregon parking lot. 

Look, I'll be the first to say that I was a little angry when I read about this. I've posted several times that I have a thing for bees. If one of my hives died off, I'd be sad. Maybe shed a tear. Really.

A memorial service, though? Sometimes I wonder how far folks will go in attributing to animals the sorts of rights that belong properly to humans. I don't know. Just weird stuff.

New Pope Saints. Maybe?

It's been rumored for a while that JPII's second miracle was in the bag. According to Rocco Palma, it's not just him, but John XXIII as well.


This isn't just a big deal because we'd be looking at two new saints, which is always significant. Historically, this is an extraordinary bit of news. Consider that there is only one canonized pope of the last century, namely, St. Pius X. Before that, you're going all the way back to St. Pius V to find one.

Once you get out of the patristic age, it just doesn't happen a lot.

History-making type stuff.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

About Today's Readings

I'll just reproduce a bit of the First Reading here.

The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar; at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of heaven. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the LORD’s presence. As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.

Genesis 19:23-28

The sad thing is that God could visit a Divine Chastisement upon a city, a country, or the whole world these days, and nobody would even acknowledge it for what it was. That's how hard-hearted we are. It would just be a "tragedy" or a "calamity." Nobody would think of it as punishment for two reasons:

1. God would never do such a thing (ignore whatever you know from Scripture, Saints, Fathers, Doctors, and Magisterium).

2. We're way better than those folks back then. What could we have possibly done wrong that would mean being punished?

Number 2, of course, is an outgrowth of the notions of "soft universalism" that we mentioned in our review of Will Many Be Saved? Not only does nobody deserve eternal punishment, we can't even stomach the idea of temporal punishment anymore. We're too good for that, and God better recognize that fact or else He's just a big meanie.

What a childish, immature people we are.