A Sober Reflection on "Laudato si"
an Encyclical Defective in Authority
We are “Totally Faithful to the Sacred Deposit of Faith (Depositum Fidei) entrusted to the Holy See in Rome” that existed in perpetuity from Saint Peter. This is the Deposit of the Faith for nearly 2000 years, and Christ promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church built upon Saint Peter. We cannot exist outside the Body of Christ of whom Christ Himself is the Head (1Corinthians 2.12, 12.27; Colossians 1.18, etc.). To all authentic Church teaching embodied in the Deposit of Faith we are unalterably faithful.
Sadly, not all the popes of Holy Mother the Church have been holy; indeed, Pope Honorius was anathematized in 680 Anno Domini, condemned as a heretic and excommunicated — forty years after his death! We need only look at the Borgia Pope Alexander VI of such ignominy. In more modern times we have whom we believe to be the much mistaken Pope John XXIII who convened the Second Vatican Council and whose prescient last words were: “Stop the Council!”
We now find current popes canonizing virtually all their immediate predecessors — which appears scandalous (yes, we understand that God alone knows) and, in his present encyclical, Laudato si" we find our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, issuing encyclicals on the environment and economics!
We do not consider these issues to be within either Francis's competency or divinely invested power, nor are we able to reconcile them with the Petrine Office which has been entrusted to him, except very broadly and only tangentially. When Christ said to Saint Peter, "Feed my sheep." (Saint John 21.17) We do not believe He had in mind "the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest" (Laudato si, 13) or "the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet" (16). Yes, as Saint James is clear (St. James 2.16), we have a very real individual responsibility for providing for those in need.
But it is imperative to understand that Christ also recognized a greater and more pressing need still:
"Amen, amen I say to you, you seek me, not
because you have seen miracles, but because you did
eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not
for the meat which perisheth, but for that which
endureth unto life everlasting, which the Son of man
will give you." (Saint John 6.26-28). It
was in this regard that Christ told Saint
Peter to "Feed My sheep."
It was a spiritual command …
not an economic mandate.
Laudato si (interestingly, one of the very few papal encyclicals not written in Latin ...)
If the Pope pontificates on economics we must ask ourselves, can an economist pontificate on the Papacy?
"Of course not", you say, "The province of expertise embodied in an economist does not qualify him as a theologian. It's not his job description. He may have opinions on the matter but that is all they are: "opinions." By the same reasoning, neither can a pope pontificate on economics. It's not his job description. His job description is spiritual: proclaiming the Gospel, retaining the Deposit of the Faith, leading the Church faithfully in the ways of Christ, and saving souls. In fact, his Master very clearly states, to avoid all confusion, that His Kingdom is not of this world." ("Regnum Meum non est de hoc mundo." (Saint John 18.36)
An economist's job description, on the other hand, is explicitly temporal and material: to research and analyze economic issues; it precisely pertains to the world, matter, money, and financial assets. Pope Francis, by contrast, has an individual right, as do all men, to an opinion on economic issues — but even as Pontiff he possesses no authority in them since he has no credentials for them.
To better understand the incongruity, let us ask: "Would you go to Warren Buffet for spiritual advice on moral matters?" And, conversely, "Would you go the pope for economic advice concerning your retirement options?" Really? It is a matter of competency and invested authority. Would you attend a seminar featuring Warren Buffett on the topic of "saving your soul and going to Heaven"? Would you go to one featuring Pope Francis on "efficiently organizing your work strategy and finances"? You would cock your head in bewilderment and politely decline both. Say it is not so! Or do we have a deal for you on ocean-front property in Nebraska!
“The Church is crumbling because the Vatican, the Papacy, the Curia, and conservative bishops and priests have lost touch with changes in the 21st Century world.”
“Go, therefore and teach all nations; baptizing them in the
Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
— Christ’s very
last words in the Gospel of Matthew (28.19 … last chapter, last verse).
How often have we heard this criticism leveled at the Church — that has (unlike numberless political systems and countless social “revolutions” that have been tossed into Trotsky’s famous “dustbin of history” — before Communism ended up there in less than a century) endured for over 2000 years.
The truth of the matter is quite to the contrary: it is precisely because the Church has resisted the prevailing and passing social trends and political doctrines of history — and remained faithful to the Depositum Fidei — the Sacred Deposit of the Faith — that She has prevailed. The doctrines and dogma by which the Church has been articulated through the prompting of the Holy Ghost remain immutable. They are unchanging because they cannot be changed. And they cannot be changed because Sacred Scripture itself cannot be changed, together with the Sacred Tradition around which it is understood and exercises its mandate to,
The Church appears to be presently unraveling precisely because — since it began questioning its very raison d'être at Vatican II — it has made enormous and perfidious efforts to accommodate a world that hates it and hates its teachings and the Christ Who made His New Covenant with it.
Do you really imagine that the Church would suddenly flourish if it is contemptuous of and unfaithful to its spiritual (not worldly) mandate and decides to have (presuming it can; and it cannot) transsexual “female” priestesses, adulterous “marriages”, same-sex marriages, abortions-on-demand, human cloning, human transspecial cloning, while abrogating every moral proscription concerning every aspect of human behavior, claiming that all is acceptable to a non-judgmental God (all dogs and clones go to Heaven) proclaimed by secularists — who largely claim that they do not believe in a God (not of their own making and whose attributes are their own)? Do you really think that it would win the adulation of the world? Such a Godless “church” well may. But it would no longer be the Holy Catholic Church. It would not even be a good counterfeit. It would be the world; a world appropriately cross-dressed as a 'church". It would not have the mark of Baptism, but the mark of the beast. It would the abrogation of the Church, or better yet, the transmutation of the Church into the world. In a word, it would be a pointless state of affairs.
Since the Second Vatican Council we have, to an astonishing extent, forgotten who we are, and what our mandate is, as a Church: not a social service agency, not an NGO, not a steward of the earth's climate, not an arbiter of wealth and its distribution 1, and certainly not as masters of ourselves. We have lost our focus, if not our entire vision.
One no longer hears of the complete Church: the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans, here on earth), the Church Suffering (Ecclesia Penitens, in Purgatory) and the Church Triumphant (Ecclesia Triumphans, in Heaven). They are one inseparable Church. Each exists with the other and prays for the other, and hence we have a clear understanding of the Communion of Saints (Communio Sanctorum) and an even clearer understanding of the efficacy of intercessory prayer. Catholics had always understood this prior to Vatican II. Since then, however, our understanding of the Church has been truncated, diminished, incomplete. Our focus has become on the present with little or no real thought of realities in parallel worlds that are are, paradoxically, the same world to the Catholic. This is, or for two thousand years was, the sole province of the Church Militant whose primary obligation was to tirelessly seek the salvation of one's immortal soul; to know, to love, and to serve God in this life that one may be happy with Him forever in Heaven, and to strive, as "a good soldier of Christ", 4 against all sin and every temptation we encounter through the blandishments of "the world, the flesh, and the devil".
Everything else is ancillary, secondary, and of incalculably less worth. 2 As such it is ever at enmity with the world which capitalizes upon men for purely social, sexual, and political ends that find their short-lived fulfillment in the here and now. It is why the Church on Earth is called (or at least was called, for 2000 years) the Church Militant — Catholics on earth who, availing themselves of the Sacraments of the Church, perpetually struggle against, and fight the great spiritual battle with sin as the greatest affront to God through the instigation of the evil one and for the salvation of their immortal souls, against an implacable enemy: Saint Paul is clear on this when he wrote to the Ephesians (6.12) that, "our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places."
This, then, is our vocation: the call to nothing less than holiness ... not fairness; to God ... and not the world, as Saint John warns us:
|"Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that does the will of God, abides for ever." (1 St. John 2.15-17)|
Liberals — we will not say “progressives” as they prefer to think themselves, and, after all, “a rose by any other name …” — both ecclesiastic and lay — nevertheless demand this transmutation of the Church as a point of “justice”. Considered carefully, however, a world of such “justice” is a world of insanity, a hellish world beyond the most grotesque vision of today’s darling academic sibyls. We know it! But it is not “correct” to state it … is it? We can, after all, call a rose by any other name … however ghastly its fumes that we insist on calling “fragrance”. As long as cadaverine looks like water, we will call it so, but live not a day if we imbibe it. But because it looks like water we will demand it be treated like water. Much like justice. No?
The Holy Catholic Church will remain all three — Holy, Catholic, and a Church — until the end of time. Why? Because Christ promised it. Can you adduce a better argument? The physical edifice may (indeed, already has) become mean and mediocre like the meager Faith of many of Her blighted children. She may become smaller in number, but for that reason She will be all the more fervent in holiness. That is okay. Parasitic thistles — that grow for a season and die and never re-emerge — are planted among the wheat that also dies but grows again, and manifold, season after season, — these thistles, yes, seem to overwhelm it, so vast is their number. But they have not reached the Threshing Floor where the chaff is separated from the wheat, although it is certain that they will. They must grow to feed the fire that cannot be quenched, while the wheat must grow to feed the Faithful.
The very gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church — do you really fear that Caesar with his debauched children will pull down her walls — from without … or within?
Boston Catholic Journal
1 "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (St Matthew 22.21)
2 "For what doth it profit a
man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?
(St. Matthew 16.26)
3 "Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence." (St. John 18.36)
4 "Labor as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 2.3)
5 "Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!" (St. Matthew 7.13)
“I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them whom Thou hast given Me” (St. John 17:9)
The corruption — on every conceivable level — of the world and in the world — especially in the West (often, and accurately, referred to as the “Post-Christian world”) — is nothing less than staggering. In the last 50 years (since Vatican II) we have encountered unprecedented levels of what can only be called malignant decadence — spiritual, moral, and social. It takes ones breath away.
We have lost God, and as a consequence we have lost not only ourselves, but our very identity often painfully acquired over the last 2000 years. We no longer recognize who we are and what we are. “Progress” and “the perverse” have become synonymous. We have become — for all the wrong reasons — self-loathing: detesting ourselves and the patrimony of a Catholic culture through which our very identity both as individuals and nations had been articulated.
Many hate the Church and a significant element within the Church hates the Church, remaining within Her as a cancer in its host. Western Christian culture is repudiated, ridiculed, and contemned as anachronistic, imperialistic, homophobic, racist, and misogynistic.
Repudiating the true God as inimical to our passions and perversions, we have made our own gods, and they are many — in fact, as many as we are ourselves. Women are taught — indoctrinated really — to hate men and everything they deemed “patriarchal”. Everything that pertains to our loins, or more accurately, the loins of others — especially of the same gender — has supplanted, displaced, and superseded the numinous, anything authentically divine, and most especially, the holy. The very terms have been relegated to the periphery of polite discourse, when not entirely expurgated from it.
The world has fled God into the illusion of a utopian garden that is a desiccated dessert. It is populated by fictions and the rim of the horizon of our desires is the pretension that there is an end called satisfaction instead of an endlessly recursive vanishing point.
We find few paradigms of holiness in this City of Man — sadly, not even among many of our priests, and, sad to say, even fewer among our bishops. To what, then, shall we strive to attain in this increasingly lonely place we call life without Christ? What vision are we presented, and to what end are we called?
Mother Teresa, in an interview some years ago, explained the obvious. Rational persuasion, logical coherence, even the most impassioned homily will not bring a person to conversion, to Christ, and therefore o the Church. One thing only is capable of this monumental task: example; the example of holiness that we encounter in others that becomes the impetus to emulation: we want to be like them. And they are like Christ.
We are sadly lacking in example as Catholics. How often do we feel compelled to say to ourselves, “I want to be like her, like him!” when we observe an act, some instance, of holiness that overwhelms us in its simplicity? What examples, what paradigms, do we confront in our lives in Christ that compel us to holiness? We must not confuse the exemplary with the popular, nor must we confuse it with carefully orchestrated events intended to inspire us. The exemplary is unrehearsed and has no concomitant agendum that is concealed within it. It is utterly spontaneous! And therefore, we sense, utterly genuine.
What figures in our lives as Catholics attain to this extraordinary state of the exemplary that motivates men and women to imitation? To what are we exposed that motivates us not to the common and ordinary, but to the uncommon and exemplary? What do we see before us that calls us beyond ourselves and beyond the gray and geometric sterility of the world to what lies beyond it? Where is the differentiation between the Church and the world, the common and the extraordinary, the profane and the sacred? Let us be truthful and acknowledge the obvious: the world has permeated the Church to such an extent that we can no longer coherently differentiate the two except upon the most tenuous of distinctions. Increasingly the agenda of the Church is the agenda of the world. This is not the leaven Christ spoke of. It is the leaven of the world.
First, let us understand this with complete clarity: we cannot attain to sanctity apart from the Church and Her Sacraments. We cannot become holy schismatics, that is to say, apart from the Church which is the Body of Christ. However sterile we have found it since the spurious and self-promoting euphoria of Vatican II … however trampled the Vineyard and however littered with discarded and never-to-be-revised Roman Missals, Religious habits, Chapel Veils, Priestly collars, Roman Cassocks, kneelers … even the centrality of the Eucharistic Presence of Christ, and an understanding of the Mass as a Sacrifice; however grotesquely crippled and contorted the buildings we call our “Churches” have become — more redolent of civic auditoriums than Sanctuaries, there … there … abides the Living God, hidden in Tabernacles we often do not see and only find with much difficulty. He is there! However much we shunt Him aside as both an ecumenical and chronological embarrassment, all the litter of what has been discarded cannot conceal Him from us. He beckons us, and even under the most humiliating circumstances, we can look upon Him Who ever looks upon us.
Apart from the Church, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, and the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass … we can do nothing, become nothing, worthy of the Most Precious Blood poured out for us upon that Altar. To be holy we must be part of the Church for the Church, as we have said, is the Body of Christ, and He Who is the Head of the Body is God Himself. Christ Jesus. God Alone is Holy — and it is He Who participates His holiness to us that we may be, in the most clear way possible, what we were created to be; what we essentially are, despite the filth of sin that covers it, obscures it, and defaces it: the imago Dei, the image of God Himself!
In this wasteland barren of spires and empty of cloisters, ugly, squat, geometric and concrete, Bauhaus pretensions emerged from the rubble of “clustered” demolished churches (Churches without anyone left to worship in them — one of the many “successes” of Vatican II). They are no longer grand structures striving to equal the soaring Faith of men and women in heights contiguous to Heaven itself … but stooped, square, economical structures that could as well be mortuaries (or athletic facilities, commercial structures, municipal offices — “functional” things that could, in an instant, reflexively duplicate any of the above in need.
Indeed, we no longer have “churches” as such — but in some paroxysm of needless novelty we now have “Faith Communities” — only parenthetically “Catholic” lest they offend broad ecumenical sensitivities, for are there not other “Faith Communities” distinct from, if often antithetical, even inimical, to the Catholic Faith? By a "Church" we immediately understand something quite different from a "Mosque", a "Synagogue" , a "Temple", or a "Kingdom Hall". Understood as a "Faith Community", a Catholic Church is no different from any of these. In an age of unbridled ecumenism are they any less “Faith Communities” than our own, we implicitly, even necessarily ask, not just minimizing but marginalizing the unique mission and commission of the Church established by Christ upon Saint Peter? If they were established by Muhammed, or Lao Tzu, or Martin Luther, are not such “Faith Communities” equally acceptable to God in the sweeping logic of ecumenism? If indeed they are, then the crucifixion of Christ on the Cross is emptied of all value and meaning. He died for no reason if every "Faith Community" is the way to salvation. His death was not necessary in the economy of salvation: hence He died needlessly ... even gratuitously. This, of course, is a scandal to the very Gospel He Himself proclaimed. "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Me." 12 But in the malformed logic of ecumenism, even if other "Faith Communities" despise the Triune God of Catholics and hold to other gods, are they not equal expressions of man’s faith and legitimate venues of salvation? In the “correct” atmosphere of post-Vatican II theology, would we dare to assert that they are not? “All roads lead to Rome” … that lead away from Rome — and every paradigm of the holy, however contradictory, is deemed legitimate and authentic, and the end of each is the same: Heaven and salvation. Saint, heretic, infidel and atheist alike go to God. The Catholic Church has no corner on salvation. She is now simply one among many, and Christ erred in proclaiming Himself, "the way, and the truth, and the life", and deceived us in insisting that, "No man cometh to the Father, but by Me."
We are so damnably democratic … We must “spread our tent pegs”, we are told, to be inclusive of all, even if God is not. The strange thing, however, about “spreading our tent pegs” is that the wider, the more inclusive, the more “horizontal”, they become, the lower the apex of the tent. We achieve the horizontal at the expense of the vertical. We sacrifice the magnificent height to accommodate the factious width. Ask any camper. Even happy ones. Eventually the fabric rips and the structure collapses. Most often in the rain. And in great ruin. The “stitching” did not, could not, hold this multiplicity of opposing forces however benevolent or brainless our intentions.
Accompanying this ecumenical impulse was, necessarily, theological ambiguity. How, otherwise, hope to bring hoped-for consensus out of conflicting doctrines? It is this ambiguity that afflicts pulpit and podium alike in nominally Catholic institutions. In matters of Faith, morals, and doctrine, it is rather like equivocating on geometric postulates or axioms; or in mathematics holding in abeyance quantitative relationships that are otherwise held to necessarily obtain between integers. Much like Dostoyevsky we reach a point where we declare,
“To me that 2+2=4 is sheer insolence. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.” (Notes from Underground)
This is largely the state
of Catholic theology, and, eo ipso, Catholic
homiletics. We are no longer — I
repeat: no longer (for once, and
for a very long time we were … prior to Vatican II)
— certain of just what Holy
Mother the Church teaches, given this priest or that
theologian and whether it was Wednesday or Thursday.
“Officially” She teaches “this”, but depending on the
audience She — or better yet, and
to be fair, Her spokesman in the person of a priest,
nun, sister, bishop, pope, or theologian
— proposes, or at least appears to suggest the
contrary — or openly rebels
against it! For the average Catholic layman or laywoman,
they: the bishop, the priest, the Religious, are the
consecrated symbols of utter fidelity to the Church, and for
that reason it is a scandalous state of affairs.
—as they had been
fervently lived for 2000 years prior to the insipid,
diffident, confused and eclectic — and at times even
implicitly pantheistic — impulses and subsequent teachings
that emerged from Vatican II, an unnecessary Council which
effectively and efficiently tore down the edifice of
Catholicism as distinct, distinguishable, and unique? As
a way of life? In other words, lacking visible paradigms
of sanctity, how do we go about living lives of holiness
amid the detritus of so much we once considered sacred and
that now litters the ecclesiastical landscape of the
Modern Church or the American Church or the
European Church — all of which are conflatable into one
ecclesiastical body that appears to articulate itself as
distinct from the Roman Catholic Church? In
practical terms it is an increasingly autonomous
body. We see this most strikingly today in Germany.
This is an obvious
paradigm from another and past generation. It once
was true, but if we are remorselessly candid, it is no
longer so. How often do we go to Mass and leave no more
enlightened or fervid than when we had entered? Much of what
was distinctively and historically Catholic is no longer
there. “God loves you. The weather is great. You are all
going to Heaven (and your dog, too). Be nice. Shalom. Go in
peace.” If we are honest we cannot leave fast enough.
... now called the Rite of
Reconciliation practiced face to face in a room with
well-appointed and comfortable chairs strangely reminiscent
of a psychotherapist’s office? The bulletin indicates that
it is only available 45 minutes per week or
“by appointment” … as with a “therapist”. Frankly, this is
not much of an option, especially since the evisceration of
the concept of Mortal Sin (a term no longer in use because
no longer applicable) and the paucity of “real” sinners like
you and me.
Good luck finding one at
all, let alone one who knows and will give you the
mind of the Church — rather than currently prevailing
spiritual trends. Once again, we effectively encounter,
“God loves you. The weather is great. You are
going to Heaven (and your dog, too). Be nice. Shalom. Go in
The “Seers”, beginning June 24, 1981 — youngsters then, adults now, some 34 years later — surely have an answer somewhere in the thousands of appearances of the “Gospa” (Mary). 1 Make expensive travel arrangements through them to visit Medjugore (including hotels, meals, and even meeting with one of the “Seers” themselves) and watch your rosary turn into gold! You will hear much of the pronouncements of Vatican II validated by the Mother of God Herself, such as:
“Before God all the faiths are identical. God governs them like a king in his kingdom.” All sufferings are equal in hell; and Mirjana quotes the Gospa as telling her that people begin feeling comfortable in hell. … When the Madonna is asked about the title, “Mediatrix of all graces,” she replies, “I do not dispose of all graces.” 2
Perhaps the “Gospa” will reveal the way of holiness to you, although her track record over the past three decades (and thousands of “appearances”) has been uniformly dismal in the way of predictions and has led to open schism with the local bishop who insists (with the Church) that the “Gospa” and her six now-not-so-little-confederates are not authentic (yes, despite the organized parish visits, in direct disobedience to the Church, with your local priest you can make a “pilgrimage” to a site condemned as spurious by Rome.)
Personal Sanctity — Apart from any organized approach to holiness though the Mass (and the incredibly bad music that is a perpetual distraction from it), or Confession (barely extant), or sound Spiritual Direction (almost universally absent) there is one venue, and one alone that is open to you in these sterile, confused, contradictory, and tepid times in which the Church appears as clear and distinct as a Microsoft hologram: the commitment to personal sanctity guided by the Lives of the Saints, rather than disaffected theologians. “You are surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses”, we are told 3 who have gone before you and have arrived at genuine sanctity, at complete and indissoluble union with God in Heaven. Let them — by their words and by their example — be our teachers who had taught and guided the Church for two millennia.
Personal Sanctity requires effort. You must come to know the mind of the Church and authentic Catholic doctrine and dogma. That is to say, you must be catechized. “But I went to CCD!” you protest. “And what did you learn?” I will ask. “Why did God create you?” And you will have no answer. In a word, you learned nothing despite the expensive, glossy textbooks your parents had to pay for, and which were far, far, more pictorial than substantial. They were … trendy. Empty. Worthless. And even back then, you knew it. Indeed, your CCD teacher knew as much about the Faith as you did. Catechesis has not been an important agendum to your local bishop; even while it should be the most preeminent as that upon which all things subsequent depend.
Immerse yourself in authentic Catholic doctrine — and assiduously avoid anything else, even with (or without) an Imprimatur and/or Nihil Obstat that post-dates 1950.The Imprimatur and/or Nihil Obstat are no longer any guarantee that what you read is consistent with the mind and historical teachings of the Church. Once they were legitimate stamps of approval as consistent with the Magisterium of the Church, but they have long ceased to be so. Open the first few pages of any ostensibly Catholic book and look for the date of the first printing. This will tell you much in the way of their authenticity and reliability as instruments appropriate for the formation of a Catholic Conscience. If it precedes 1950, politely put it down despite the rave reviews of any nominally Catholic source, to say nothing of any secular source.
In a famous line from the movie “The Exorcist” (based on fact) by William Peter Blatty, the elderly Father Merrin warns the much younger Father Karras who is suffering a crisis of Faith that, “He is a liar, the demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien. And powerful. So don't listen, remember that, do not listen.”
By and large, Catholic literature dealing with matters of Faith, Morals, Doctrine, and Dogma — either as pamphlets or scholarly tomes had been, prior to 1950, carefully vetted by competent and faithful Catholic theologians, priests, or bishops. They are credible sources and remain so, although many have fallen out of print — not from desuetude but as inconsistent with present and “popular” Catholic thought, often percolated through Rogerian psychology.
The famous library at Alexandria 4 in classical antiquity was burned by the Muslims in 642 in an effort to destroy any book incompatible with the Quran.” Modern” Catholic theology and literature has engaged in a similar enterprise. Many of the greatest books in Catholic literature are now only available on-line or through small publishing houses committed to preserving genuine Catholic teaching.
Apart from this treasury of 2000 years of Catholic teaching we are left with incomplete, contradictory, and confusing doctrines, not of the Church, but of dissident and disaffected theologians, priests, and would-be “priestesses” who, in today's “inclusive” seminaries are the instructors (the role models?) of what few candidates to the priesthood we have left following their decimation by homosexual clerics. Richard McBrien, Hans Kung, and Teilhard de Chardin — all voluble and nominally Catholic writers — two were collarless priests — are among the most eminent examples of this theological dissidence, confusion, fiction, and heresy. In their writings we are presented with a mixture of some truth (to entice us) and many lies (to confuse us) reminiscent of the stratagems of the demon in Blatty’s, The Exorcist. Where is a Catholic to go to re-acquire an authentic Catholic identity consistent with the Church and the Saints for 2000 years?
Many of us have them. We cleave to them as to invaluable possessions, for they introduced us to an awareness of the holy and of places other than Earth; to a belief in things more profound than venal democratic institutions and more enduring than perverse social issues. They opened the vista to things eternal and resplendent in glory, to things holy that the world could not possibly sully and debase because of the ontological distance that separated them, a distance as great as sanctity from sin. They are in carefully kept albums from a time of innocence, and inscribed in the Family Bible placed beside a statue of Mary the Mother of God. They are indelibly impressed in our memories; our First Holy Communions, May Processions, the Baptisms of our children, and on the memorial cards of those we love and who now live, please God, in a place called Paradise, forever beyond this jaded Earth.
A soul at a time, beginning with our own.
Let us look at a few fundamental concepts with which we ought to familiarize ourselves if we are committed to persevere to Personal Sanctity. Once we have acquired these we have the tools through which to articulate our own lives, whatever our vocation in life, to accord with the mind of Christ and the mind of the Church in matters dealing with the Faith, the Faith that has been faithfully transmitted to us through the Deposit of Faith, for what we are striving toward is nothing less than Exemplary Holiness which itself is nothing more than Personal Sanctity.
to Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the
Christ Himself promised us that the very Gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church. And yes, the Church, as we limply excuse ourselves, is “made up of sinners.” But it is also made up of saints. That is our universal vocation: to be nothing less than saints, whatever our earthly vocation. But we are not saints yet. As Saint Francis famously said, “Let us begin. For up to now we have done nothing.” Do not be afraid of sanctity. It is the very character of the image in which you have been created.
Whatever the Church now suffers on earth it has suffered before, if not on so vast a scale. And that is precisely why your call to sanctity is so vital. You must pursue the sanctity that the Church at present appears to have lost, or spurns as too onerous … too “otherworldly” in this Age of Man. You must be the sign of contradiction that is the Sign of the Cross, and Him Who was crucified upon it for you. You must be in the world but not of the world, for Saint John warns us,
"Love not the world, nor the things which are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and the concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life, which is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof: but he that doth the will of God, abideth for ever." 11
Spurn the world — and the empty love and praise of the world! Keep all that is holy before you and this day begin to dwell already in the Mansion prepared for you by Christ before the foundation of the world.
Boston Catholic Journal
3 Hebrews 12.1
4 “In AD 642, Alexandria was captured by the Muslim army of Amr ibn al `Aas. Several later Arabic sources describe the library's destruction by the order of Caliph Omar. Bar-Hebraeus, writing in the 13th century, quotes Omar as saying to Yaḥyā al-Naḥwī: "If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them." Later scholars are skeptical of these stories, given the range of time that had passed before they were written down and the political motivations of the various writers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Alexandria
5 I Cor. 11.29
6 St. Luke 1.48
7 St. John 19.26
8 Philippians 2.12, 2 Cor. 13.15.
9 St. Mat. 7.13
10 Acts 5.29
11 1 John 2.15-17
12 St. John 14.6
Note: An invaluable source for historically authentic Catholic teaching including the writings of the Church Fathers can be found at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/ and http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/
Baltimore Catechism — universally used by
the Catholic Church until it was discontinued following
Vatican II can be found (and downloaded as a PDF) at:
. It presents a clear, concise, and readily
understandable presentation of our Holy Catholic
Faith. We encourage you to explore it.
On the third day of April 1969 the temporally elusive concept of "forever" was finally and definitively quantified by Pope Paul VI — much to the perplexity of historians and physicists — as 399 years, or to be precise, 399 years, 9 months, and 11 days. On that day Pope Paul tampered with time and eternity by expurgating or otherwise expunging the ancient Latin rite of the Mass and replacing it, by a tour de force, with his Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, otherwise known as the Novus Ordo, or The New Mass. "Forever", it appears, has a terminus after all ... and does not mean ... well ... forever.
From a purely philosophical point of view, this
quantification of the term "forever" poses significant — even
insuperable — problems in any discussion concerning the nature
of temporal discourse. Let us look at a few instances.
If "forever" does not mean uninterrupted continuity without end, then "never" does not mean at no time, either in the past, the present or the future. What is more, "now" does not mean at this moment or at this present time, nor does "before" mean preceding or anteceding the present; nor do we understand by "past" what had preceded the present which, like "now", no longer means at this moment, and which, reciprocally no longer corresponds to the "present" or "now". Got it?
Now let us add the following into the mix to reveal further temporal permutations which no longer connote, or mean, what we had erstwhile understood them to be in the temporal ordering of any state of affairs:
FOREVER / never
NOW / before or after
PRESENT / past, future, soon
EARLY / late
OLD / new
MODERN / ancient
FIRST / last, second, third, etc. (i.e. a series) — also, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade, century, millennium, etc.
ETERNAL / temporal /
As we see, quite a bit follows from "forever" no longer being understood as forever but rather, as 399 years at which time "forever" expires. We must understand that "forever" subsumes all the temporal categories and inflections under it, all of which are determinate and finite extensions of time relative only to "forever" (for all time and into eternity) which had erstwhile been understood as indefinite and indeterminate — as so many parts, or segments, if you will, of a greater concept (forever) that is indeterminate by definition. In a word, if "forever" is arbitrarily determined as a finite quantum, all that it subsumed beneath it and understood relative to it is also susceptible to arbitrary determination and we can no longer coherently enter into temporal discourse of any kind that presumes to bind any state of affairs to a determinate referent in time. A week, or month, for example, is only what we arbitrarily understand it to be according to our purpose at hand.
The implications of "implicitly" redefining the temporal concept of "forever" are enormous. Think of it. They pertain, according to the canons of reason, not only to the simplest geometric concept of a line ("A line has only one dimension: length. It continues forever in two directions.") , but to the trajectory, and ultimately, the destiny of the human soul according to the most fundamental notions of Christian doctrine: the eternity of God and the immortality of the soul.
If you have other ideas, write us. But first read something about "forever", as we had always understood it, prior to the Second Vatican Council:
"From the very first, upon Our elevation to the chief Apostleship, We gladly turned our mind and energies and directed all out thoughts to those matters which concerned the preservation of a pure liturgy, and We strove with God's help, by every means in our power, to accomplish this purpose. For, besides other decrees of the sacred Council of Trent, there were stipulations for Us to revise and re-edit the sacred books: the Catechism, the Missal and the Breviary. With the Catechism published for the instruction of the faithful, by God's help, and the Breviary thoroughly revised for the worthy praise of God, in order that the Missal and Breviary may be in perfect harmony, as fitting and proper — for it is most becoming that there be in the Church only one appropriate manner of reciting the Psalms and only one rite for the celebration of Mass — We deemed it necessary to give our immediate attention to what still remained to be done, viz, the re-editing of the Missal as soon as possible.
Hence, We decided to entrust this work to learned men of our selection. They very carefully collated all their work with the ancient codices in Our Vatican Library and with reliable, preserved or emended codices from elsewhere. Besides this, these men consulted the works of ancient and approved authors concerning the same sacred rites; and thus they have restored the Missal itself to the original form and rite of the holy Fathers. When this work has been gone over numerous times and further emended, after serious study and reflection, We commanded that the finished product be printed and published as soon as possible, so that all might enjoy the fruits of this labor; and thus, priests would know which prayers to use and which rites and ceremonies they were required to observe from now on in the celebration of Masses.
Let all everywhere adopt and observe what has been handed down by the Holy Roman Church, the Mother and Teacher of the other churches, and let Masses not be sung or read according to any other formula than that of this Missal published by Us. This ordinance applies henceforth, now, and forever, throughout all the provinces of the Christian world, to all patriarchs, cathedral churches, collegiate and parish churches, be they secular or religious, both of men and of women — even of military orders — and of churches or chapels without a specific congregation in which conventual Masses are sung aloud in choir or read privately in accord with the rites and customs of the Roman Church. This Missal is to be used by all churches, even by those which in their authorization are made exempt, whether by Apostolic indult, custom, or privilege, or even if by oath or official confirmation of the Holy See, or have their rights and faculties guaranteed to them by any other manner whatsoever.
This new rite alone is to be used unless approval of the practice of saying Mass differently was given at the very time of the institution and confirmation of the church by Apostolic See at least 200 years ago, or unless there has prevailed a custom of a similar kind which has been continuously followed for a period of not less than 200 years, in which most cases We in no wise rescind their above-mentioned prerogative or custom. However, if this Missal, which we have seen fit to publish, be more agreeable to these latter, We grant them permission to celebrate Mass according to its rite, provided they have the consent of their bishop or prelate or of their whole Chapter, everything else to the contrary notwithstanding.
All other of the churches referred to above, however, are hereby denied the use of other missals, which are to be discontinued entirely and absolutely; whereas, by this present Constitution, which will be valid henceforth, now, and forever, We order and enjoin that nothing must be added to Our recently published Missal, nothing omitted from it, nor anything whatsoever be changed within it under the penalty of Our displeasure.
We specifically command each and every patriarch, administrator, and all other persons or whatever ecclesiastical dignity they may be, be they even cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, or possessed of any other rank or pre-eminence, and We order them in virtue of holy obedience to chant or to read the Mass according to the rite and manner and norm herewith laid down by Us and, hereafter, to discontinue and completely discard all other rubrics and rites of other missals, however ancient, which they have customarily followed; and they must not in celebrating Mass presume to introduce any ceremonies or recite any prayers other than those contained in this Missal.
Furthermore, by these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used. Nor are superiors, administrators, canons, chaplains, and other secular priests, or religious, of whatever title designated, obliged to celebrate the Mass otherwise than as enjoined by Us. We likewise declare and ordain that no one whosoever is forced or coerced to alter this Missal, and that this present document cannot be revoked or modified, but remain always valid and retain its full force notwithstanding the previous constitutions and decrees of the Holy See, as well as any general or special constitutions or edicts of provincial or synodal councils, and notwithstanding the practice and custom of the aforesaid churches, established by long and immemorial prescription — except, however, if more than two hundred years' standing.
It is Our will, therefore, and by the same authority, We decree that, after We publish this constitution and the edition of the Missal, the priests of the Roman Curia are, after thirty days, obliged to chant or read the Mass according to it; all others south of the Alps, after three months; and those beyond the Alps either within six months or whenever the Missal is available for sale. Wherefore, in order that the Missal be preserved incorrupt throughout the whole world and kept free of flaws and errors, the penalty for nonobservance for printers, whether mediately or immediately subject to Our dominion, and that of the Holy Roman Church, will be the forfeiting of their books and a fine of one hundred gold ducats, payable ipso facto to the Apostolic Treasury. Further, as for those located in other parts of the world, the penalty is excommunication latae sententiae, and such other penalties as may in Our judgment be imposed; and We decree by this law that they must not dare or presume either to print or to publish or to sell, or in any way to accept books of this nature without Our approval and consent, or without the express consent of the Apostolic Commissaries of those places, who will be appointed by Us. Said printer must receive a standard Missal and agree faithfully with it and in no wise vary from the Roman Missal of the large type (secundum magnum impressionem).
Accordingly, since it would be difficult for this present pronouncement to be sent to all parts of the Christian world and simultaneously come to light everywhere, We direct that it be, as usual, posted and published at the doors of the Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles, also at the Apostolic Chancery, and on the street at Campo Flora; furthermore, We direct that printed copies of this same edict signed by a notary public and made official by an ecclesiastical dignitary possess the same indubitable validity everywhere and in every nation, as if Our manuscript were shown there. Therefore, no one whosoever is permitted to alter this notice of Our permission, statute, ordinance, command, precept, grant, indult, declaration, will, decree, and prohibition. Should anyone dare to contravene it, know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul."
Given at St. Peter's in the year of the Lord's Incarnation, 1570, on the 14th of July of the Fifth year of Our Pontificate.
Boston Catholic Journal
Matter is the substance of the senses. It is apprehensible. We touch it, feel it, manipulate it, make things of it, and even destroy it (yes, I know the principle of “the conservation of matter”, but you get the point.) It is tactile, sensuous, and often pleasing to the eye, the touch, and our other senses. It alternately excites us and repels us. It is what we see when we open our eyes, what we feel when we touch anything.
is the only world we know. Every other “possible
world” has receded before the incursion of the senses and the
accompanying demand for instantaneity: pleasure now,
satisfaction now, information now,
fulfillment now — and on a broader level, peace
now, justice now and equality
now. We have all heard the political and social mantra
that first came to us from the tumultuous and purple-hazed 60’s
by now, and we even know its cadence. The “cause” matters not,
for the response has by now become childishly reflexive:
“What do we want?” (insert whatever here) “When
do we want it? Now!”
Again. And again. And again, as though repeatedly demanding what we want like a spoiled child will produce it … because it worked when we were children. Our parents taught us by example, by collapsing before the incorrectitude of the negative “No!” We always got what we wanted.
And so did our parents.
Do you want anything — however absurd? Then agitate, demand, and never take “no” as an answer, however unimpeachable the authority. Not even from God. Not even from His Church which we hold to be both the the Bride and the Body Christ. We want to “feel” justified, be “affirmed” in our childishness, and have our way if “the other” is unwilling — however clear, however ontologically defining the principles upon which and in which it exists in se —and if we are denied our desires, then we will legislate them, find some obscure or unbalanced “academic” to "authenticate" us, a celebrity “in solidarity” with our petulance to publicize us, and a venal politician to “empower” us … until our desires become our laws — which is to say, until our senses grasp, seize, what they lust for.
Politics is the venue of power, not mind. Hollywood is the venue of entertainment, not reality which, despite the protestations of the senses, is only discernible through the mind and that impetuously inconvenient faculty called reason that we abhor because it defies us.
We do not want
reason. We do not want mind. We want sensation
— the stimulation and the satisfaction of the senses! What have
we to do with inflexible reason? With God? With things less
than rhapsodic, with lasting concepts … even purported everlasting
realities … with the deliverances of anything devoid of tactility,
before the contempt of the court of immediacy that governs the
We ourselves are composed of matter — we recognize this even if we have forgotten that it is only half the equation of our being human, for the other half is spirit … the immaterial soul which is not apprehensible by the senses, only by the mind, a concept perhaps best expressed by the German noun, “Geist” that alternately denotes, “the mind”, “the psyche”, “spirit”, “soul”, and even “ghost”.
We are profoundly more than our appetites. Just as God is profoundly more than “feeling good about oneself.” Eternity extends before us — and we know it, but we treat it as we treat time: passing, changing, mutable, pliable to our desires. And for a while it is so.
But we know that it will not always be so. We sense “ending”. We intuit that there is a terminus to our being in time and that something must lie beyond it — even if it is the skeptic's cold, sterile, embalmed "nothing" that we nevertheless irresistibly perceive as something in what we persist in describing as "nothingness". Because we are permeated with time and insensible (and this is not the same as “inapprehensible”) to the eternal, we even perceive “nothingness” — despite our insistence that it is otherwise — as somehow perduring. It is a tentative state of utter suspension — even while we declare that nothing is suspended. It is a kind of eternal obit that will declare, somehow inscribe, even monumentally testify to our being long after it has ceased and presumably never to be read.
When we lost God — whenever that might have been — we lost our raison d'être. We do not know it because we refuse to confront it and we do not confront it because we have not known God, or once having known Him have repudiated Him, even denied Him, in favor of our own temporal desires which, like their objects in space and time, will surely pass. Only God remains. History testifies to this.
Desistite, et agnoscite me Deum: "Be still and know that I am God!"
Our restlessness is both an invitation by God and the testimony to our blindness apart from Him.
Boston Catholic Journal
|If you listen to no other homily on being a Catholic and your obligation to love God and your neighbor ... listen to this: The Law of Love by Venerable Servant of God Fulton Sheen|
Tuesday October 6th in the year of Grace 2015
Season after Pentecost
Response: Thanks be to God.
Why the Martyrs Matter