Martin Luther Commemorative Stamp to be issued by Vatican this year
Francis, similar stamps will soon be issued
commemorating the persecution of the Catholic Church
by Diocletian, Commodus, Domitian,
Trajan and Hadrian as well. We will
keep you ...
And they watched Him whether He would heal
on the Sabbath days; that they might accuse
Him. And He said to the man who had the
Stand up in the midst. And He saith to them: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy? But they held their
peace. And looking round about on them with anger” (Saint Mark 3.2-4)
you ask indignantly. “Jesus? Angry?”
“Surely this is another incorrect instance that really ‘does not accord with the logic of the Gospel’ and cannot, therefore be true! Who uttered this blasphemy? ”
The answer, of course, is Saint Mark. “But”, I reply, “I have never heard the Bible, Sacred Scripture, understood as a treatise on logic!”
Is there a “Logic of the Gospel”?
Is there a “logic of the Gospel”, we ask? One that supersedes, and so validates or invalidates statements in (the words of) the Gospel? In order to really get at what is written in the Gospel and uttered by Christ, must I invoke Hypothetical Syllogisms, simple Modus Ponens, or De Morgan’s theorem in determining their logical consistency and their place in a Truth Table? I have difficulty with the following: how then shall I explain to Peter that and therefore (Q.E.D): Christ could not possibly have meant what He seems to have very clearly, simply, and
I must respectfully disagree with Francis, Bishop of Rome, that the Four Gospels are logical treatises bound to laws inherent in propositional logic rather than the Laws of God enunciated by His Son and the Prophets in Sacred Scripture.
Indeed, one of the vexing issues that, in broad circles, “do not accord with the logic of the Gospel” is in today’s reading: Jesus became angry! It does not “fit” the progressive (and fictitious) notion that Jesus — and His Father, for that matter — never become angry! In fact, they are never offended! They are totally understanding and accepting of our idiocy, even our blasphemy! After all, you have seen the real Jesus in velvet art, pop culture, and in the rudifacient “children’s homilies” at Mass by Deacon Dick:
|“See Jesus come. See Jesus hug the Pharisees. See Jesus affirming the Sadducees. See Jesus smile. See Jesus apologize for inconveniencing and upsetting the Roman soldiers. Oh … that Cross- thing? He is unhappy because we have not hugged each other enough today.”|
I hate to break it you and to offend your feminized sensitivities — and proclivities — but Jesus was a man. Not Mr. Rogers, not Mrs. Doubtfire, and definitely not a wimp. He was beaten, scourged, mocked, crowned with thorns, and crucified — that is not the stuff of wimps. Or delicate men.
And, yes — He occasionally became angry!
It is recorded in and testified to in all four Gospels-that-are-not-textbooks-on-logic.
We believe it!
because you have arrived at a satisfactory truth-variable
through logic — but because God said so — in
Holy Scripture. And because it is what the Holy Catholic
Church authentically teaches and has taught for
2000 years. Because it makes sense! And because Christ
was True God and True Man!
The Bible is not a Truth Table. It is the Living Word of God. It is Truth, just as Christ is Truth Himself (Saint John 14.6) — and most annoying to some, a truth at which you will never arrive through propositional logic.
Boston Catholic Journal
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There are many “hard sayings” in Holy Scripture.
In other words, there are many parables and other verses that are uncomfortable to listen to … they are likely to make us fidget in our seats because we know that they well may apply to us.
You will recognize them at once:
· They do not assure us of our salvation
· They do not canonize us before we are dead.
“Third Rail verses” in Holy Scripture are verses to be avoided at all costs: they are fatal to the one touching upon them much as the third rail in an American subway system exceeds 1000 volts and will electrocute you instantly. Such verses, of course, precede Third-Rail Homilies — to be avoided for the same reasons..
A “third-rail” homily would begin with, let us say, Saint Paul’s address to the Philippians: “With fear and trembling work out your salvation” 1 — to mention nothing of the numerous admonitions from our Blessed Lord that do not merely “suggest”, but clearly warn us in no uncertain terms of eschatological realities that we may find both appalling and unacceptable — while being undeniably true.
They, too, are in the category of the “third rail”: touch upon them and you are dead. Speak of them and you may receive a call from your bishop to “tone down the rhetoric” and subsequently restore the cash flow.
Three of the Four Last Things
Death, Judgment, and Hell ( … but not Heaven). Few wish to hear of the first three. Your pastor knows this. To preach about or to dwell upon such verses is likely to cause “discomfort” — perhaps even “outrage” — and consequently diminish the congregation. They will go elsewhere, and find another parish and another priest who will assure them of their salvation (despite what Christ says), their invincible goodness, and their being “The lights of the world” and “The salt of the earth”. Such parishes and priests abound.
Any hint that Heaven may be closed to some, if not many, is mocked as “pre-Vatican II nonsense” — in spite of Christ’s telling us so:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and
the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those
who enter by it are many” (Saint Matthew 7.13).
Likewise, the notion that
“the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads
to life, and those who find it are few” (Saint Matthew 7.14)
These are but two of many, many, third-rail verses found in all four Gospels and many of the Epistles (Letters).
“Surely”, we console ourselves, “a good, merciful, and forgiving God would not allow such things to happen!”
To which we reply: Why, then, did He say them?
We do not seek God, but a heaven with a god to our liking and made in our image. This is another way of saying “We ourselves will be our own gods — for we are more merciful, more loving, more forgiving, more just, than the God we find in Sacred Scripture. We will not bend our knee before that God, but our own god. Ourselves! We will find or make priests and churches that “affirm us”, comfort us, and tells us that our illusions are realities or that reality is just an illusion.
This is further to say that we will continue to maintain the illusions and fabrications that comfort us, but cannot possibly save us — rather than defer to “hard sayings” which are enunciated to the end of saving us and bringing us to genuine happiness (Heaven).
Other factors enter into this obstinate refusal to accept the “hard sayings”, and we point to them with the deepest sorrow: these “hard sayings” do not simply involve us — they involve those we have loved — who have died.
Some of them, perhaps most of them did not accept these “hard sayings” either. Some of them led extraordinarily sinful lives, heedless of God and man. Some were little more than evil. Many simply did not believe, or would not relinquish what they perceived to be their freedom to do as they wish, or simply scorned religion altogether. But we loved them — and love always invests us in the being of another. Hence our pain.
All or None
Nevertheless a choice was placed before them, as it is placed before us now: to accept the “hard sayings” as earnestly as we accept the more comforting ones. We cannot choose which teachings of Christ we will accept any more than we can choose what we wish to be real or true. We must accept all of them or none of them. God does not tamper with our freedom, nor interfere with our choices. We are free to accept or reject, but in either case our choice is total. We cannot accept or reject the part without accepting or rejecting the whole, for the parts are integral constituents of the whole.
Much more to the point, the terms are not of our own making — they have been divinely instituted. Salvation is not a referendum any more than Heaven is a democracy. The means of attaining it have been clearly defined by Christ — as well as the means of losing it. The choice is yours alone.
“Lest they also come into this place of torments”
To return to the discussion of those we love and who have died, here we encounter the most painful legacy imaginable: our realization that the road they chose was the one that was“broad and easy” … To imagine them in torment everlasting is beyond our ability to comprehend without verging on despair.
“How wicked of you”, you tell me, “to compound the grief of those in bereavement! Have they not suffered enough by the loss of one loved?”
No. It is not wicked. It is painful beyond words.It is sorrowful beyond description. None of us may presume salvation, for to do so is to presume upon God’s mercy, itself a mortal sin! Indeed, I identify more with the departed than the surviving. I have no assurance of salvation for I refuse to presume on God’s mercy and may yet myself be accounted among the lost — even as Saint Paul himself feared. (1 Corinthians 9.26) Should I fear less?
There are indeed those who go to Hell — and likely many (or Christ is a liar). We must allow this realization to motivate us with all the more urgency to bring those still with us to Christ, lest they, too, choose “the road that is broad and easy” and add to our sorrow greater sorrow still.
This was the whole point of the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man: the rich man in Hell implores Abraham“send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house, for I have five brethren, that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torments.” (Saint Luke 16. 27-28)
Can we do less?
We call our children out of a burning house — suffer burns and torment to save them — but when they verge on a lake of fire that is the second death 1 from which there is no return ... we say nothing.
We do not call them back. We do not rush in horror to bring them back! Our love for them slumbers before the frowning face of society ... that no longer has any room for our God ... or His children.
Pay attention to the third rail! Ignore it to your peril.
This applies equally to priest and pew alike.
And when you chose your “comfort zone”, you would do well to consider its “duration”.
Boston Catholic Journal
Comments? Write us: firstname.lastname@example.org
the Salvation of Souls
is unlikely that the vast,
indeed, the overwhelming majority of today’s Catholics
have not so much as heard of this phrase as old as the
Church itself; certainty, not in English — and with
greater certainty still, not from the pulpit. The very
concept of “the salvation of the soul” appears
to be non grata in homiletics for quite nearly
50 years (corresponding, unsurprisingly, to the implementation
of Vatican II) — despite the fact that the imperative
itself is clearly and unambiguously codified as the
supremus lex (the supreme law) in Canon Law (1752):
It is nothing less than the sole reason for the Incarnation … the Suffering, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection … of Christ: the salvation of souls!
Christ as Savior; Christ as Redeemer, cannot be understood apart from this most fundamental and utterly simple concept: He came to save souls — not to heal bodies (although He did), not to rectify injustices, not to rehabilitate politics, not to instruct us on economics, and certainly not save the environment.
He came with only two purposes that are really one:
To do the will of the Father
And the will of the Father is this: to save souls for all eternity in Heaven (and in so doing, to deliver them from Hell).
It is really that simple; in fact, so simple that it eludes us in our pretensions to sophistication, and our preferences for sophistry.
For 2000 years the mission of the Church (and its
raison d’etre , the very reason for its being) could
be summed up in two words instantiating that same beautiful
simplicity: “Salus animarum — the Salvation
of souls”. Through Christ in the Sacraments
this is its sole mission.
No other Mandate
The Church has no other mandate from Christ. Even healing the sick, raising the dead, delivering men from demonic possession, and all that He taught in the Sermon on the Mount were means only to the principle end: the salvation of the soul. Christ Himself emphatically asks:
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (St. Matthew 16.26).
The purpose of all that He said and did was always eschatological, that is to say, pertaining to the Four Last Things:
Everything else pales in significance. Two come once only, and two are at once everlasting.
To pretend that we really do not fully understand what Christ was talking about, and which He proclaimed in the clearest terms, is just that: pretension. We know very well what Christ said and did — but to our own devious and often deviant ends, we assume an air of erudite perplexity concerning them:
“Despite what He appears to say; indeed actually says — this is what He really means …” What follows seldom has anything to do with what He means. And we recognize it.
Our own interpretation merely accords with what we wish He had said, for this would provide us with excuses for our sins or alternatives for His extremely unsettling pronouncements. We go from the reality of: “If only He had said …” to the fiction: “This is what He really means … because I am much more comfortable with this interpretation — which, rather coincidentally, allows me to continue in sin.” In short, it is nothing more than wishful thinking, because they cannot both be true.
However contradictory to what Jesus and His Apostles really said and taught, we choose to believe another narrative, however factitious; a simulacrum that borrows the vocabulary of the real but with connotations utterly incongruous with it. It is disingenuous, a sham. There is a pathos of similitude but the depiction is counterfeit. We have not entered the mythical: we have fabricated it. Shamelessly. It pleases us … and this is the first clue that it is deceptive. We have both an aversion and an affinity for the truth. It is the patrimony of our broken heritage from the beginning. We ineluctably desire the true, but when it indicts us we demur from it; unable to accommodate both we resort to dissimilation, to a semblance of the real that is, despite our collusion with pretensions, a defection from it. Hence our penchant for comfortable and spurious “interpretations”.
For all our carefully fabricated allusions to what Christ really said and meant, we know the truth — because He is the Truth Who does not deceive nor can be deceived. We are not pleased with all He said, especially concerning things that frighten us because they describe us … and convict us — and we know it!
Despite this, we insist that so many vitally important things that Jesus clearly uttered are nevertheless not true — because they are not “inclusive” and do not accord with our delicate post-modern sensitivities that any real deity would surely ascribe to. That some, perhaps many, are left in “outer darkness", excluded from Heaven because of their depravity and perversion, their penchant for sin and their obstinate predilection for evil, is unacceptable to our presently enlightened humanity. The list of our objections would be too long to enumerate and ultimately too tedious. Let us be satisfied with a few:
Not everyone goes to Heaven (St. Matthew 7:14)
People — indeed, many people — go to Hell (St. Matthew 7:14)
Hell is a real place of punishment, torment, and eternal suffering beyond our comprehension. It is the abode of the devil and demons. It is eternal and eternally devoid of any hope. (St. Matthew 5.29-10; Luke 16:19-31, 13.42; 25.41; St. Mark 9:42-44 etc.)
No one “goes to the Father” — enters Heaven — except though Christ (St. John 14:6)
If you deny Him before men on earth, He will deny you before His Father in Heaven (Matthew 10:33)
Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (St. Matthew 7:21)
Not any and every religion will bring you to Heaven (St. John 6.26-70)
Being a “nice person” does not suffice to bring you to Heaven or exempt you from Hell (St. Matthew 5.20; St. Mark 16.15-16)
Such pernicious nonsense has no place in our mythologized concept of God. We will have Heaven … “dammit" ... but on our terms — despite what Jesus Christ says … much to our consternation, and quite likely to our damnation. We prefer other interpretations; more comfortable and convenient exegeses ... and sadly they abound.
For my part, fool that I am, I will take Christ at His word. In fact, I stake my life on it.
Boston Catholic Journal
Comments? Write us: email@example.com
Friday January 20th In the Year of Grace 2107
Season after Epiphany
In the same place, in the catacombs, the
martyr St. Sebastian. He was commander of the first cohort,
under the emperor Diocletian, but for professing Christianity he was
bound to a tree in the centre of a vast field, shot with arrows by the
soldiers, and beaten with clubs until he expired.
And elsewhere in divers places, many other holy martyrs, confessors,
and holy virgins.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Why the Martyrs Matter
New Edition (free)
Pope Saint Pius X
“I shall spare myself
neither care nor labor nor vigils for the salvation of souls”