Saturday, April 30, 2005

Calumny and Detraction

I think this is too important to get lost in the comments section, so I'm reposting it as a blog entry.

To clarify, here is the relevant CCC section:
2475 Christ's disciples have "put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."274 By "putting away falsehood," they are to "put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander."275

2476 False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness.276 When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused.277 They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions.

2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.280

2479 Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one's neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.

2480 Every word or attitude is forbidden which by flattery, adulation, or complaisance encourages and confirms another in malicious acts and perverse conduct. Adulation is a grave fault if it makes one an accomplice in another's vices or grave sins. Neither the desire to be of service nor friendship justifies duplicitous speech. Adulation is a venial sin when it only seeks to be agreeable, to avoid evil, to meet a need, or to obtain legitimate advantages.

The qualifications of calumny and detraction, of which members of this blog stand accused, are "unjust injury", "without objectively valid reason", and "by remarks contrary to the truth". One does not own a good reputation that they have not earned through their good action. No one on this blog has spoken one untrue word, or needlessly libeled another's actions. Our words have been written for the objective purpose of shining the light of Truth on these individuals' actions in the hope that they will repent and be returned to good standing in God's family, the Church. The secondary reason is that by the removal of said persons from such position of authority, they will not continue or in the future cause scandal to the Body of Christ. Now that it is apparent that the owner of the board has committed the sin of complaisance by allowing malicious acts to be perpetrated against former board members without correction, it seems that the secondary reason of exposing this issue is impossible. Nevertheless, we desire to avoid the scandal of the Body of Christ.

The book of the banned.

If you don't understand what this is, consider yourself lucky.

Pointless- Incapable of participating in debate without getting far too emotionally involved. Mormons came to debate, and I got letters from her roommate saying that it was affecting her health, although I question whether a "roommate" could have figured the board and the pm out so quickly. Always good for a letter over our heads, which we said time and again was bannable. Unanimous decision of the admins.

Fruity- Ditto on most of that. Always good for sending screenshots over our heads, again, we always said all along that was bannable. Theorized many times that a "trad takeover" was in the works and simply took up an inordinate amount of precious time. I don’t remember the vote, probably 2 to 1.

and Gloom - This poster claimed he had "events from his past which made him impolite". Uh huh. Whatever. Durring the Terry Schaivo drama, this poster put up a public poll, the topic of which was whether another board member should be killed. No vote taken, I banned him myself.

Mr. Vortex, the Flying Pig- This person refused to follow the guidance of the Admins on where topics should be posted. Consistently. During those times when he did post things in the proper place, he manipulated one admin into allowing outrageous and stupid topics. Considering how sensitive traditionalism is as a topic on a board for converts, this person made moderating those topics almost impossible by insisting that a program designed to prevent those topics interfering with conversions was “censorship” perpetrated against him by nefarious trad conspirators. Banned. 3 to 1 decision of the Admins.

Mr Mirror. What can I say except we were not the only Catholic board who banned this guy. 12,000+ posts, the vast majority of which contained the very same phrase, over and over. He accused all traditional Catholics of being sedevacantists, which rendered him simply unfit to participate in debate against such people. This necessitated removing him from any such debates. When I attempted this, he became belligerent and disobeyed most of the orders given to him by all of the admins. We always said that repeated rule-breaking would result in banning. It did. 2 Admins voting yea, one abstaining.

S – This person became incensed that any of his posts would ever be moved from one forum to another. He would actually verbally abuse admins just for moving his posts, including outright insults. He also kept multiple user accounts, but apparently he was being grandfathered-in on this violation. In any case, a person who proves themselves to be so volatile and cannot accept even thread-moving has no place posting on a ministry-oriented board. (Also, it was this incident which spawned the very tough rules about listening to admins and being patient about moved posts)

Kreeftfan - This one was ideological. This poster was obsessed with sex, and books could be written about the freudian implications of his posts. He was scandalous in the extreme, despite being polite to the point of meekness. He committed no egregious offenses during the months I administered, but we discussed his career and decided, as a group, that he was a huge impediment to conversion. 2 yea, one abstaining.

Bagdhad/Mexico – This person had been admitted by previous administrations into lofty areas and was privy to deep discussions of sensitive and advanced Catholic topics. This was despite the fact that he was convinced that God enjoys killing his pet cats. Uncatechized is the polite way to put it. Obviously, it was not appropriate for him to be anywhere except a forum about “Catholic basics” and anyone with so little grasp of basic Christian principles needed close watch. When we disciplined him for inappropriate material posted, we were treated to a hate campaign including the colorful phrase “nazi assholes” to describe the admins. Banned, obviously. 2 to 1.

(e) – The poet. Most of his work was cute and kind of funny, but when he started posting things which sounded like numerology in the Basic forum, that was too much. When confronted, he suggested a hiatus. I agreed.

The financial expert- This guy apparently has used board space to sell insurance or something for a long time. He’s also got a problem with the Roman Rite and a chip on his shoulder. I banned him for refusing to submit to moderation. It was a split decision among the admins, 1 to 1 with 1 abstaining, but a person who posts inappropriate topics in inappropriate fora just to prove that Admins can’t control him is more trouble than he is worth, and ALL of the admins agreed that was his program. So I banned him. 1 to 1 with one abstaining.

The Couple – These two were and I suppose are legendary. They were always in trouble on the board for something and never gave the administration a moment of peace, long since before I got there. That was strike one. Being cafeteria Catholics, and very visible ones who were always standing next to the dead body, was strike two. Being discovered trying to convince people to dissent from the Church and sin in private messages was strike three. I didn’t figure SR wanted his bandwidth used, literally for years, by people intent on keeping others from converting fully into the Church. Banned, obviously. Unanimous.

The Ambassador – The ambassador personally didn’t do anything wrong before he was banned. He was found to be in close association (apparently) with a banned person (from years back) whom I was under orders to protect the board from. We had seen people’s accounts used by this banned person before, and so there was a de facto policy in place that anyone whose account might be hijacked by the banned person was expected to cut ties with him. Then they could be re-instated. The Ambassador, however, didn’t even give us the chance to explain. Within hours of deactivating his account, he had threatened legal action (Legal Action!) against the DCF if he didn’t get immediately reinstated. Banned. 2 yes with one abstaining.

The Servant – Unanimous decision of the admins to ban for passing along privileged information to banned individuals.

The Dragon – Banned for letting banned members (from years back) use his account. Unanimous decision.

Charismatic73 – This person meant well, but was frequently unintelligible, and had a habit of accosting new male converts with her prophetic knowledge that they would become priests. When disciplined, she mounted massive retaliatory campaigns which inevitable got nasty. Unanimous to ban.

The Hacker – An IT professional who associated closely with banned individuals (from years back). Also apparently messed around with the board, as in “hacked in”. All the admins were unanimous to ban, but we disagreed on whether it should be immediate or whether we should wait due to fear of retaliation.

The Rabbi – This guy posted excerpts from Judaism nearly every day. He treated the board as his own Jewish blog space. I was given the task of explaining to him that he needed to find another outlet. For my touble, I got a petulant and childish response, and he left. Not banned.

That’s about it. If anyone remembers another one I was involved in, please remind me. I think the rest belong to other Admins. The point of posting this is to show that these bannings (as SC said MANY times) were the result of discussion by the admins for real offenses and problems. The fact that the previous administration had let things become very lax is the reason the house had to be cleaned up. Now you know. If you look, the people above run the gamut: Protestants, Liberal Catholics, Very Conservative Catholic, Eastern Rite, Jewish etc. None of this was personal, although I admit I disliked a couple of them very, very much and was glad to see them go - however, I disliked other people (you know who you are) even more but never bothered them because they didn't cause problems.

That ought to clear that up.


What does it mean when someone says to you "my conscience is clear"? Does it mean that they don't feel bad anymore about what they've done? That's what I think it means to a lot of people. But is that a proper, Catholic response? Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote the following in a letter to the Duke of Norfolk (ref'd in the article I cite at the bottom):
Conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him Who, both in nature and grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.

George Cardinal Pell cites this in an article in this month's First Things. Cdl. Pell goes on to state that this description of the conscience as something objective and extrinsic goes against the modern understanding of it, "and this sits uncomfortably with those who see conscience as a sign of freedom, and freedom as the right to reject what is unpalatable."

So, is your conscience clear when you have justified to yourself your position on something, or is it "clear" when it is in harmony with the Church? Any thoughts?

(see George Cardinal Pell, "The Inconvenient Conscience", First Things May 2005.)

Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1) Epistle Reading:

From: 1 Peter 3:15-17

Undeserved Suffering is a Blessing
[15] But in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to
make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is
in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; [16] and keep your
conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your
good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. [17] For it is better
to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing

I think this says it all.

Traditionalist or Catholic? One in the Same (Part 1)

Since the post-conciliar Church, the label "traditionalist" has been somewhat of a widely disliked application amongst the school of modern thought that the Second Vatican Council so aptly pursued. Catholics today who identify themselves as "traditionalists" are likely those who are viewed as "outsiders" or "rebellious" against where the modern Roman Catholic Church is today and the changes that have been made since the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. When a person holds to the sacred word and tradition bequeathed from generation to generation and flawlessly executed throughout the centuries, in these times they would be affixed with the label: traditionalist. The traditionalist tends to see things in black and white, not in shades of grey. The traditionalist is not afraid to be outspoken on Church teaching and practice their faith with an uncompromising belief in the authentic teachings of Holy Mother Church. But, amazingly enough, those same people just 40 years earlier would have earned a completely seperate title; one that was befitting of their religious beliefs: Catholic.

Well certainly, if I have briefly defined a "traditionalist," then I must also define it's antipodean: the modernist.
What does the modernist believe? That is certainly one of the most difficult questions to answer since it is the parity in theological beliefs that defines modernism; simply put- many modernists do not know what they believe. Modernism embraces moral and theological relativism, while opening heretical doors for the denial of the objective value of traditional beliefs as well as regarding some dogmatic proclamations of the Church as symbolic rather than literally true (dogma.) Modernism, be it political or religious, roots itself in ideaology and actualizes itself through social reforms. Modernism, in essence, takes the religious teachings of the Church and dilutes them down so as to be practiced by individual interpretation or "religious experience."

Today, standing literally at the threshold of the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council (8 Dec. 1965), one of the most striking and puzzling affects it's wake has been the literal saturation of Vatican II amongst the faithful. If one were to ask the average Catholic attending a Sunday "celebration" in anytown, America whether or not Vatican II was a positive benefit to the Church, he or she would more than likely immediately say yes and look awkwardly at the person who asked the question. Sunday after Sunday, pulpit after pulpit, we hear priests and bishops refer to Vatican II as a "great gift to the Church." If one merely suggests that the Second Vatican Council was anything BUT a gift to the Church, they are immediately rebuked as heretics, poorly misinformed or grossly out of touch with the times. Since the Church has begun carrying out it's administrative functions through the corrective lenses of Vatican II, many radical changes have taken place within the Church, but also much division has occured; the division at the core being modernism versus traditionalism.

Part II coming soon..................

Friday, April 29, 2005

Are you Mr. Shiftlet?

Self-righteousness is a perilous thing. Flannery O'Connor's "The Life You Save May Be Your Own" is a case study in the darkness to which sin can plunge a man, particularly the sin of thinking yourself more righteous than others. Bear with me as I describe sections of the story, examining Mr. Shiftlet, the main character--at the end, I will return to ponder whether we can really learn anything from his story.

He seemed to be a young man but he had a look of composed dissatisfaction as if he understood life thoroughly.

Mr. Shiftlet is dissatisfied because he thinks he understands life thoroughly. We often run across people with an air of cynicism, of "dissatisfaction"--those who think they know everything. Here, Miss O'Connor has described that perfectly. And she proceeds to show exactly what happens when someone whose solipsistic view of reality prevents him from considering others, comes across something he wants.

"Are you married or are you single?" the old woman asked.

There was a long silence. "Lady," he asked finally, "where would you find you an innocent woman today'? I wouldn't have any of this trash I could just pick up."

So, Mr. Shiftlet is above being married to "trash he could just pick up." He sets himself above others, yet again.

Mr. Shiftlet's eye in the darkness was focused on a part of the automobile bumper that glittered in the distance. "Lady," he said, jerking his short arm up as if he could point with it to her house and yard and pump, "there ain't a broken thing on this plantation that I couldn't fix for you, one‑arm jackleg or not. I'm a man," he said with a sullen dignity, "even if I ain't a whole one. I got," he said, tapping his knuckles on the floor to emphasize the immensity of what he was going to say, "a moral intelligence!" and his face pierced out of the darkness into a shaft of doorlight and he stared at her as if he were astonished himself at this impossible truth.

This passage seems to me to be the heart of the entire short story. Mr. Shiftlet declares himself to have a "moral intelligence". His self-regard is almost palpable: with a "sullen dignity" and astonishment, he declares his great talents and wisdom. It's a pity that his "moral intelligence" doesn't allow him to make moral decisions.

On Saturday the three of them drove into town in the car that the paint had barely dried on and Mr. Shiftlet and Lucynell were married in the Ordinary's office while the old woman witnessed. As they came out of the courthouse, Mr. Shiftlet began twisting his neck in his collar. He looked morose and bitter as if he had been insulted while someone held him. "That didn't satisfy me none," he said. "That was just something a woman in an office did, nothing but paper work and blood tests. What do they know about my blood? If they was to take my heart and cut it out," he said, "they wouldn't know a thing about me. It didn't satisfy me at all."

"It satisfied the law," the old woman said sharply.

'The law," Mr. Shiftlet said and spit. "It's the law that don't satisfy me."

Now, the law doesn't satisfy poor Mr. Shiftlet. He sets himself above other men, those who would make laws. But he gives no justification for setting such a high standard.

"Give it to her when she wakes up," Mr. Shiftlet said. "I'll pay for it now."

The boy bent over her and stared at the long pink‑gold hair and the half‑shut sleeping eyes. Then he looked up and stared at Mr. Shiftlet. "She looks like an angel of Gawd," he murmured.

"Hitch‑hiker," Mr. Shiftlet explained. "I can't wait. I got to make Tuscaloosa."

At this point, whatever sympathy I had for Mr. Shiftlet completely evaporated. Was marrying Lucynell the younger just a vehicle for getting the car? Or did his qualms about the "law" give way into conviction that they weren't married? Regardless, he left a deaf, nearly mute woman alone in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, asleep. The callousness is astounding, but perhaps not so much so when you consider all of his other statements of "moral intelligence" and self-congratulations.

"Son," Mr. Shiftlet said, "I see you want a ride."

The boy didn't say he did or he didn't but he opened the door of the car and got in, and Mr. Shiftlet started driving again. The child held the suitcase on his lap and folded his arms on top of it. He turned his head and looked out the window away from Mr. Shiftlet. Mr. Shiftlet felt oppressed. "Son," he said after a minute, "I got the best old mother in the world so I reckon you only got the second best."

The boy gave him a quick dark glance and then turned his face back out the window.

"It's nothing so sweet," Mr. Shiftlet continued, "as a boy's mother. She taught him his first prayers at her knee, she give him love when no other would, she told him what was right and what wasn't, and she seen that he done the right thing. Son," he said, "I never rued a day in my life like the one I rued when I left that old mother of mine."

The boy shifted in his seat but he didn't look at Mr. Shiftlet. He unfolded his arms and put one hand on the door handle.

"My mother was a angel of Gawd," Mr. Shiftlet said in a very strained voice. "He took her from heaven and giver to me and I left her." His eyes were instantly clouded over with a mist of tears. The car was barely moving.

The boy turned angrily in the seat. "You go to the devil!" he cried. "My old woman is a flea bag and yours is a stinking pole cat!" and with that he flung the door open and jumped out with his suitcase into the ditch.

Mr. Shiftlet was so shocked that for about a hundred feet he drove along slowly with the door stiff open. A cloud, the exact color of the boy's hat and shaped like a turnip, had descended over the sun, and another, worse looking, crouched behind the car. Mr. Shiftlet felt that the rottenness of the world was about to engulf him. He raised his arm and let it fall again to his breast. "Oh Lord!" he prayed. "Break forth and wash the slime from this earth!"

This last section of the story almost makes you think Mr. Shiftlet has a heart. He stops and picks up a hitchhiker--is it because he's feeling guilty for reducing Lucynell to a hitchhiker just a few miles back? The boy he picks up must serve as a sort of reality-check--as he reacts violently to Mr. Shiftlet's platitudes, hurtling himself into out of the slowly moving car to get away. Is the boy, as some critics suggest, an instrument of Mr. Shiftlet's coming redemption? Mr. Shiftlet is profoundly shocked by the boy's actions, but is it the rottenness of the world, or his own rottenness, that engulfs him? We can only wonder if that shock led to a change in his heart.

So, stepping back from the story, and into reality, are we like Mr. Shiftlet? His primary fault, as I see it, is his self-righteousness. When things go wrong, like the marriage, or the hitchhiker, he immediately blames it on external things, like the "law" or like the "rottenness of the world." Not once does it occur to him, at least not that we can tell, that he might be at fault. When we behave in this way, as we often do, it is the duty of our brothers and sisters in the Church to admonish and attempt to correct us, as Bekah mentioned in a post just today. We're often blind to our own faults, particularly when we are as self-righteous as Mr. Shiftlet. Others must show us how we err, and likewise we must be willing to accept such correction.

All have sinned; all fall short of the glory of God. In the character of Mr. Shiftlet, we glance in a mirror back at ourselves, if perhaps a bit darker. It is this gift of reflecting the fallen world and the consequent hope of redemption from Christ, at which Miss O'Connor was so deft.

Join our reading group on Yahoo....

Bekah, St. Iggy, Dropper, and I have started a reading group over on Yahoo. Here's a link to join. As soon as we get organized, we're going to start going through a series of classic Catholic works, and some Scripture study as well. The more the merrier...

Matthew 18

Interesting thing happened today. Got banned from a message board and all I'd done was post a link to a new Catholic group I'm working on.

I am human. I'm going to sin. Being Catholic does not make me perfect. Being Catholic is a recognition that I am not perfect. But, when it happens, I have two choices. The me-centered approach or the God-centered approach.

The me-centered approach involves my trying to relieve my guilt by justifying my sin. I might even develop a theory of my martyrdom, or that I am the center of a conspiracy out to get me. A sin against any individuals in such a conspiracy would certainly be justified, wouldn't it? They sinned against me first, didn't they?

The God-centered approach requires the submission of our will to realign it with God's will. It seeks out God's cure for guilt, through the sacrament of reconciliation. It enables us to step out of our own skin and realize that even if there is a conspiracy out to get me, that no matter what I do it must be justifiable before God, the judge, and not before my own self.

It is sometimes a difficult thing to make these choices for ourselves. But, oddly, Scripture requires more from each Christian. We are to hold each other accountable, especially when they have chosen the me-centered option for dealing with their guilt. This can be quite uncomfortable at times. And even Scripture recognizes that it can end badly, for we are also given provision for that case.

Matthew 18:15-17
If your brother sins, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that 'every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.

Yesterday, another member of this blog decided to enlighten the members of that message board so that they could make their own decision whether the individuals should be treated as "a Gentile or a tax collector." The response, remaining unrepentant, was to ban him, albeit legitimately. At that, I felt it was my turn to shake the dust off my feet and abandon the individuals to their own folly, and only posted a note that I was leaving with a link to my new group. I suppose I was banned for the company I keep. I have chosen that company carefully.

For those who are also members of that board who were unable to view the message my compatriot sent, it can be found here.

The lives we save may be our own...

If you all have not read Flannery O'Connor's classic short story "The Life You Save May Be Your Own", now would be a good time... Here's the text. It won't take you long, I promise.

Later on this afternoon or tonight, when I have the time, I have quite a few observations to make about this story and its meaning for us today. In the meantime, see if you can identify with any of the characters...

Catholic culture

We've touched on this subject in a couple of posts and again in the comment boxes, but without really defining what we mean by it. Is it a rejection of American culture? Is it a sifting of American culture to uncover what is good and interpreting it in the light of the Beatitudes? Is it pomp and processions?

Is it one of those things where one might legitimately say: "I can't define it, but I know what it is when I see it?"

Is it possible that we are so far removed from authentic Catholic culture that we can only rediscover it by jettisoning all the trappings of our modern culture and starting over from scratch? Or can our culture be "baptized" the same way that the ancient Christians (supposedly) incorporated pagan festivals into the public liturgy of the Church?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Catholic neurologist on the Terri Schiavo case

The Terri Schiavo Case: A Catholic Neurologist's Perspective

I wasn't going to blog again today, but I saw this article linked from Seattle Catholic and felt compelled to post it here. It is a very helpful article, especially for those who might have been scandalized by Fr. Cekada's recent comments in The Remnant.

Lunacy on the Web, Part Deux

You have to watch this to believe it. Did you know that we all should be having "Holy Ghost" enemas?

Lunacy on the Web part 1

We've all discovered just how...interesting...encounters on the internet can be. Here's the beginning of an ongoing series exposing irony, lunacy, or just downright idiocy on the internet.

Found on Yahoo groups.

This list is for the sole purpose of
exposing the truth about the false
satanic books called bibles. All posts
are welcome but don't feel bad if we
use scripture to show how satanic and
the Catholic influence of your fake
bible. This list will exault the Lord
Jesus Christ and his Holy words found
only in the King James Bible. In
exposing the fake bibles you may make
any and all remarks but keep it clean
and no profanity or you will get the
boot. Feel free to ridicule the fake
bibles or ask questions. Enjoy the
On has got to wonder just where exactly these folks think the KJB came from!

The last step

My wife and I were never really advocates of homeschooling. If you asked her why we started homeschooling our children she would probably tell you that we were forced into it. Last year, we sent our daughter to a private Catholic preschool, three days a week for three hours a day. We expected to send her to kindergarten at the same school the following year. Then the school decided to drop their half-day kindergarten program. It seems that most of the kids in their half-day program were being sent to "after-care" once the school day ended. We couldn't see sending our daughter to school for 35 hours a week after she had spent a whole year going only 9 hours a week. The neighborhood schools -- public and parochial -- simply weren't an option (and none of them was offering a half-day program anyway). So that's how we wound up homeschooling, more or less (I've left out some unimportant details).

Since we've started homeschooling, our decision has been confirmed by the experiences of friends and acquaintances with their children's schools. We hear the horror stories and thank God that we decided to homeschool. But it makes me wonder: What does it take for other parents to take that last step? The news is full of stories of parents up in arms because of something that happened to their children at school. What does it take? Bullying? Physical injury? Explicit sex education?

I'm not trying to cast aspersions on the educational choices people make for their children. It strikes me that perhaps parents remain beholden to this particular institution because they don't think that they have an alternative. There's no doubt that homeschooling parents have to make a lot of sacrifices. But it seems to me that parents are willing to make sacrifices for their children in other areas -- so that they can play organized sports, for example. Why not in this area?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Lay leaders in the Church?

I'd be interested in hearing (reading? LOL) others' thoughts on the subject of lay leadership in the Church. I'm not talking about the most obvious (and obnoxious) kind of lay leadership, in which a parish (or, ahem, "community") is being run by a layperson, but the more subtle kind, in which laypeople arrogate for themselves the authority that, in normal times, is the provenance of those in holy Orders. For example, while Catholic Answers' "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics" seemed to be a commendable effort, I found it somewhat disturbing that it was produced by laymen. Likewise, a very prominent Catholic apologist has a blog in which he doles out advice on various issues related to Canon Law and moral theology although he is neither a canonist nor a moral theologian, let alone a priest. This makes me uncomfortable.

Surprisingly, such "lay leaders" as I have described are not found exclusively in the mainstream Church, but also in the traditional movement.

I'm not a "clericalist" by any stretch of the imagination, but something about investing the laity with such authority strikes me as un-traditional.

Ephesians 5

Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them,
for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." 3
4 Watch carefully then how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise,
making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.
Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.


What's so scary about the traditional Mass?

On Sunday, May 29, 2005, the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, PA will be host to its first traditional Mass in probably 35 years. I mentioned this fact to a friend of mine (who is also my confirmation sponsor), knowing him to be a devout Catholic, and he immediately clammed up! Undaunted, I tried to explain that we were trying to get as many people as possible to turn out, and he responded, "Well, you won't see me there," and muttered something about how purists really ought to prefer the Mass in Aramaic. When we parted ways I felt like we had just had an argument.

I don't like to take issue with other people's personal preferences, but at the same time I can't understand why a Catholic would totally reject the liturgical patrimony of the Church. Is the traditional Mass so frightening that one can't attend one even to support a priest celebrating his first Mass (which is the occasion of the Mass at the Cathedral)?

There are a lot of things I feel I could add here, but somehow I just don't have the words for them.


Over the years (and decades and centuries), there has been a ton of writings put out by the Catholic Church. There's always something that somebody has not read before, sometimes has not even heard of before. In this day and age, and in our very busy lives, some of us seldom find the time to read things.

I have heard before of the papal encyclical Mortalium animos (Pius XI, 06 January 1928) , but just recently had the opportunity to read through it. Needless to say, some things are easier to read than others. Reading Mortalium reminded me of reading some of Herman Hesse's essays in German (paragraph-long sentences with multiple subordinate clauses that just get confusing). However, what truly amazing is how clear formal, intricate, and complicated writing can sometimes be.

Here are some excerpts:
"[9][...]For the teaching authority of the Church, which in the divine wisdom was constituted on earth in order that revealed doctrines might remain intact for ever, and that they might be brought with ease and security to the knowledge of men, and which is daily exercised through the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops who are in communion with him, has also the office of defining, when it sees fit, any truth with solemn rites and decrees, whenever this is necessary either to oppose the errors or the attacks of heretics, or more clearly and in greater detail to stamp the minds of the faithful with the articles of sacred doctrine which have been explained. But in the use of this extraordinary teaching authority no newly invented matter is brought in, nor is anything new added to the number of those truths which are at least implicitly contained in the deposit of Revelation, divinely handed down to the Church: only those which are made clear which perhaps may still seem obscure to some, or that which some have previously called into question is declared to be of faith.

"[10.] So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: "The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly." (De Cath. Ecclesiae unitate, 6). The same holy Martyr with good reason marveled exceedingly that anyone could believe that "this unity in the Church which arises from a divine foundation, and which is knit together by heavenly sacraments, could be rent and torn asunder by the force of contrary wills." (Ibid). For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, (I Cor. 12: 12.) compacted and fitly joined together, (Eph. 4: 16.) it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head. (Cf. Eph. 5: 30; 1: 22.)

"[11.] Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, "the Mother and mistress of all Christ's faithful"? (Conc. Lateran IV, c. 5). Let them hear Lactantius crying out: "The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind." (Divin. Instit. 4, 30. 11-12. )

"[13] You, Venerable Brethren, understand how much this question is in Our mind, and We desire that Our children should also know, not only those who belong to the Catholic community, but also those who are separated from Us: if these latter humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity."

Let's look at what the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) has to say:

"[3.] It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects already mentioned, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as a means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.

"[8.] In certain special circumstances, such as in prayer services 'for unity' and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effetive means of petitioning for the grace of unity, and they are a genuine expression of the ties which even now bind Catholics to their separated brethren."


REAL, TRUE Ecumenism means bringing everyone into the One Faith, One Church created and established by Christ --- the Catholic Church. It does not at all mean that it becomes necessary for the Catholic Church to water down her own teachings in order to make things "more palatable", in order to make it "easier" for non-Catholics (and, indeed, Catholic modernists and relativists as well) to accept. It does not make sense --- and I submit that it's SINFUL --- for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to twist the Truth (or downright ignore it) in order to convert heretics and heathens, for what good is it to bring someone into the Church under false pretenses? What good is it to bring people to part of the Truth and not the Full Truth?

In Pursuit of Holiness

My husband has been struggling with greed. Not the extravagant kind that is obvious to all. No, this is the subtle kind. The kind which says, "I don't want much, just a little bit more, so I can provide for my family." The kind which says, "Let me win the lottery. Not the million dollar jackpot, just one of the smaller $10,000 prizes." The kind which says, "God, make me self-suficient, so I don't have to rely on you." I know this kind of greed. I've faced the very same beast. How in the world can God grant such a prayer?

Yesterday, my husband came home and announced a new strategy. Every time he gets the "I wants" he's going to think about something he is grateful for instead. Now thre's a prayer God will answer. And so, yesterday when his alternator began failing 20 miles into a 45 mile commute, he was grateful to make it within a block of his workplace before the car completely died. He is grateful that his employer just signed a deal with the auto shop next door and is able to get his auto work done at a company discount.

We may never be successful in the world's eyes. We may always live within a breath of financial ruin. But, with a new attitude, we can face our worries with smiles and joy. We can be sure of a Father in Heaven who cares for even the lilies and the sparrows. How much more does He care for us?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


I can only imagine how pro-Traditionalists felt at the announcement of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's election to the papacy. Personally, I was relieved at the announcement --- not so much relieved that Ratzinger was elected so much as relieved that it wasn't a Tettamanzi or a Daneels. There is --- at least for a little while --- some hope that Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) now holds the office which can stop the liberalism which has slowly crept into the Church and taken root.

As a Traditional Cathlolic, I hold hope that His Holiness will regularize the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX). I might even be so bold as to hold hope that Bp. Bernard Fellay, the Society's Superior General, will be elevated to Cardinal. But I realize that such things do not, and will not, happen overnight.

For years now, it seems that Ratzinger has been seen by all as an arch-conservative in the Church. It seems that many have forgotten that Ratzinger was not a liberal during the Second Vatican Council, rather, he was a progressive in the German faction that essentially hijacked the Council (cf. The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, Fr. Ralph Witgen, 1967). How is that one can be a progressive at one point and then be seen as arch-conservative the next? Simply enough, our understanding of what constitutes liberalism and conservatism has changed. If memory serves correctly, Ratzinger explained that over the years, he had not become more conservative, rather, the Church had become more liberal. Think about that for a moment... Does Ratzinger say that he is a conservative? Not at all. His comment suggests that he is ever the liberal and in addition to that implication, the Church has become even more so liberal.

Is there anything to suggest that the Pope will move the Church towards pre-Vatican 2 days? Away from Liberalism? Towards Traditionalism? Away from Indifferentism? Towards Catholicism?

Imagine, if you will, a line onto which the words Liberal and Conservative are attached to the left and right poles, respectively. A bisecting point is marked Moderate. In my mind, the Second Vatican Council most definitely moved the Church into the "modern era" and perhaps intended to place the Church on the bisecting point of our imaginary line. This might have been the point on which Ratzinger himself stood at the time as well. But would that make Ratzinger a moderate? No. Because a "moderate" position is still to the LEFT of where the Church originally stood. In any case, it would appear that the implementation of documents of Vatican 2 by priests and bishops alike took the Church even beyond the point of the "moderate" position and closer to the left end of our imagined line. Did Ratzinger envision this? I'm not sure. But let's get back to one of our earlier questions --- How is Ratzinger a conservative? In my mind, he's a "conservative" because he promotes the imagine that he wants to move the Church closer to the center where he envisioned her being in the first place? ...and moving things to the RIGHT is a conservative position. Will he actually take the Church BACK to where she was prior to Vatican 2? I doubt it --- unless he has had some epiphany that Vatican 2 was just flat out wrong and I don't think he's going to commit to that. I believe he wants to see the council implemented the way it was intended. Moving the Church from left to center still leaves the Church in a "compromised" position of being "not conservative" and certainly not "traditional".

Liberals are upset that BXVI is too conservative. Traditionalists are upset that BXVI is not conservative enough. One might logically conclude that "conservatives" are just peachy with the status quo. And if BXVI really believes his own statements on Ecumenism, it makes me wonder just why "conservatives" might be happy. The current status quo is NOT a good place for the Church to find itself.

Only time will tell if everyone's conception of BXVI's "conservativism" is true. Making things right with the SSPX would be a step in the right direction. I think it would be funny if he were to do that, just to see's reaction... maybe they'd recant their implied references to sedevacantism.

But hear me and hear me well on this....

In order to go back to Traditionalism...
In order for the FSSP's raison d'etre to make sense...
In order to regularize the SSPX...

...the Church would need to rethink its current position on Ecumenism. Ecumenism and Traditionalism do not mix. One cannot be both "Ecumenical" and "Traditional Catholic", because to be "ecumenical" according to the current stance of the Church is to compromise on everything to which Traditionalism is attached.

Oh the irony!

Just came across this page in a search for a quote from our new patron:
The headline:
Sola Scriptura: The Bible alone is enough!

Apostolic Fathers used scripture as the primary defense against false doctrine.

So, if the "Bible alone" is enough, why are they appealing to the Early Church Fathers?

What's missing from this picture?

Missing Stained Glass
Originally uploaded by Cardinal Fang.
I lost a long post I had written about this when I hit a wrong button...but maybe I'll take a different tack:

I came across this travesty when I was touring Canterbury Cathedral in England this past summer. You'll notice that some of the beautiful medieval stained glass is missing. It was shot out, according to my tour guide, during the Reformation by Cromwell's troops. Most pictures of saints were destroyed, leaving mostly "Bible stories."

Why would Cromwell's troops do such a thing? It has all to do with a deficient view of the Ten Commandments, not reading them in the light of Christ as well as reading them too literalistically. It's the combination of the two that produced an iconoclastic movement that destroyed much of England's Catholic art heritage.

I'll come back tomorrow and elaborate, but what do you all think about those two factors that I mentioned?

(Oh yeah, and we can register at Flikr and thereby post images to the blog...)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Changes to come

As a new Catholic, it is hard to look at the Church and realize that there are changes coming our way.

Everyone I am sure has heard the news stories of how Pope Benedict XVI wants to bring back orthodoxy to the Church. What amazes me is that so many people in the U.S., and around the world, are opposed to this. Have we really strayed that far away from orthodoxy that it now seems like a foreign concept to us? Or is the liberalism that has crept into the Church like a Pandora's box that BXVI must now find a way to close? I guess we must trust in the fact that the Church can not err in the matter of doctrines and morals. And that the changes brought about by Vatican II are mostly disciplinary in nature. So, there is hope that these disciplines can be changed, once again, to the orthodox and traditional ways of our Church forefathers.

As a new Catholic, I look forward to the end of Novus Ordo and the revitalization of the traditional Latin Mass. Although I have never been to one, the descriptions that others have shared with me are drawing me to it. I hope and pray that this once again becomes the standard of the Roman Rite.

As for the timing of the changes, let them come as they may. I am not the Pope (thank God!) and am not in a position to make disciplinary decisions. So, I leave that to the Vatican.

God Bless


As I stand here...cold...cold to the bones...traffic flies by...people with no cares in the world...people suffering...people to rich for words...people so poor no ones knows their pain. Oh is these you have called to Yourself...and yet they have been deceived. Made to beleive a child is not a child. A baby not a baby. The ultimate deception. They now see each other as mere respect and dignity given to themselves or others. Young women...many of them with boyrfriends/husbands coming along...they walk in...some crying...some head held high as though what they are about to do is something lofty and noble. Many plug their ears as I cry out to them..."Please, just take this information, look at all your options, please, don't do this." Some men look at me wistfully, but the women hurry them along. I see it in their eyes. Flesh of their flesh..and blood of their blood. One who has been convceived through a passionate love for their be torn away from them before they even know this little one.
And then, there are those who drag the woman in...despite her tears..despite her intense pleadings. Her spirit broken, she submits to this torture of the body and mind. I see our Lord on the cross, " Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do."
While I am standing here I yell at the Evil One. I feel the opression around this place and I tell him he shall be defeated. There is One who has come and He will come again and cast you down into your deserved place.
As soon as I say this, a man comes over to me. He is unresponsive. I am pleading with him...begging him...he does not even blink. He says thank you and walks off. Dear God, do you know what his t-shirt said?? " WE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED!" Oh, but you will be deafeated. I pray to God to send me one baby today. Just one. If I have to, in order to save this one, I will adopt it myself.
I am getting discouraged and thinking about leaving. Demons hover about as during this time of quiet, I know it is not quiet. That little spark of life is being torn out of it's own mother's womb, with her full consent. She leaves with an empty belly and an empty heart. Oh God, allow this precious ones into Heaven. May their sufferings be united with the sufferings of their Lord Jesus.
All of a sudden, a young african american girl drives up to me. She has just come out of the clinic...she is very beautiful..maybe 18 or 19 years old. She looks sad beyond words...full of heartache. She says she had the sonogram but did not go through with the abortion. I talk to her for as long as I can before the security guard moves me along. I pray she goes to the White Rose Center. There they will help her. I pray for this little girl right now. Blessed Mother, be a mother to her now.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Remnant

We are privileged these days to witness a profound truth being played out before our very eyes. The glaring witness of two current events emphatically display Christ's warning, "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

Over the last few weeks, we have watched the world's press dote over JPII's legacy. In the usual demonstration of hypocrisy, the media lauded the political achievements of the Pope while ignoring or excusing as old-fashioned those privimitve teachings about upholding the Sacrament of marriage or the sanctity of human life. The media outlets clung to false hope that the next pope would not be so hopelessly traditional, but would be awakened to truth as determined through the court of public opinion. They've neglected to understand that Truth does not change and the Church is not an institution of this world.

And so, with humor, faithful Catholics observe the hyperventilation of the mainstream media as Cardinal Ratzinger, undoubtedly the media's most feared candidate for the papacy, is announced as Benedict XVI, the successor to the throne of Peter. Again the world proves that to obey God is to be Catholic, as no other institution is more passionately hated, more virulently derided, or more deliberately ignored, as the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church.

Our Cardinals, for which the faithful have fervently prayed, were empowered by the Holy Spirit to avoid the temptation of popularity with the world in order to maintain truth. Political correctness may earn rewards of favor in this world, perhaps even temporal happiness and success, but spiritual correctness reaps eternal rewards in the next life and the favor of the Almighty.

An interesting contrast has played itself out in the lives of these bloggers over the same few weeks. We have seen how even those who claim to pursue Christ can be deluded by the voice of popularity. With some sadness, we have had to choose the path of the remnant, well trodden by the Saints who have walked it before us: Noah, Lot, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the Apostles. Who, having said farewell to family and friends, chose to leave what they knew, despite derision and contempt, for the unknown that God had in store for them. We have walked this path ourselves before, having to leave family and friends and to face open ridicule and attack as we follow the pillar of truth to the Catholic Church. Because our earthly life is a pilgrimmage, we will be forced to walk this path many times over the course of our lives. St. Peter knew this path. He exhorted his flock:
Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander; like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk so that through it you may grow into salvation, for you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it says in Scripture: "Behold, I am laying a stone in Zion, a cornerstone, chosen and precious and whoever believes in it shall not be put to shame." Therefore, its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone," and "A stone that will make people stumble, and a rock that will make them fall." They stumble by disobeying the word, as is their destiny. (1 Peter 2:1-8)

Like St. Peter, we encourage our fellow Catholics to follow Him, not counting the cost. We may never discover the pleasure of earthly popularity, but we will rest in the peace of a clear conscience. I pray, we will never lose our focus on our goal, and all our lives we will continue to strain for what lies ahead of us. That we will all gain what the Lord promised through the prophet Zephaniah,
But I will leave as a remnant in your midst, a people humble and lowly, Who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord: the remnant of Israel. They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; Nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue; They shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them. Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have not further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals. I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace. Yes, at that time I will deal with all who oppress you: I will save the lame, and assemble the outcasts; I will give them praise and renown in all the earth, when I bring about their restoration. At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; For I will give you renown and praise among all the peoples of the earth, When I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:12-20)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Vineyard of God

In the wake of the nonsense that has occurred in the last week, check that, the last month of my life, I reflect on many things with the installation of our new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It is with great joy & many hopes that I, along with many others, believe that we have a true warrior for God now firmly ensconced in the Seat of Peter.

For the first time in my life, I have witnessed the transfer of the keys of Peter from Pope John Paul II to Pope Benedict XVI. It is a truly awe-inspiring, nerve-wracking process that overwhelmed my soul from the moment I heard of John Paul's death. I reflect upon the importance of my life as God's servant and whether or not I am truly open to fulfilling that calling, as we are all called to some vocation. I reflect deeply upon the Conclave and what it must have been like to be one of the 117 voting Cardinals entering the Sistine Chapel knowing that one of you is not coming back out a Cardinal. Then I put myself in Cardinal Ratzinger's shoes, sitting there and having all the fingers pointing at me saying: "you're the guy." I believe I got a dim intimation as to how the "Room of Tears" got it's name. How terrifying that must have been, no matter how well Cardinal Ratzinger may have prepared himself for the possibility of being called to the Papacy; there is just no way one could aptly prepare themselves for such a task. I look to that in my life and ask myself, what is God calling me to do and what am I going to say to God? But I suppose the broad question would be: "What is God calling us to do," and what are we going to say to God? I thought Pope Benedict's first words to the faithful were very, very apropos: "The Cardinals have chosen me, a simple servant in the vineyard of God, to be the next Pope." We should all strive to be 'simple servants' of God. We all walk in the vineyard of God; what exactly are we doing there?

Another reflection that the new Pope has had on me is rejuvenating that feeling of hope. Hope in many things, but most of all, hope for Christ's Church. I need not go into a long dissertation of the concerns that many of the orthodox faithful have had and do have for the Church. Having become a student of the Second Vatican Council, I pray incessantly for the necessary corrections since 1965. 2005 marks the 40th anniversary of Vatican II and it is with great hope and prayer that I trust Pope Benedict will begin to finally correct the errors of the Council and begin to finally reign in the abuses in the New Mass. I, personally also have huge hopes that we will finally see the liberation of the Tridentine Mass and the reconciliation with the groups who hold dear to it. I believe it's finally time, as Cardinal Ratzinger says to "return the Mass back to Heaven." In my private thoughts and prayers, I can only hope for what exactly that means.

My most emotionally rooted reflection came not from Pope John Paul's death, but that his death marks the closing of a chapter in my life and the opening of a new one. Change is not always a comfortable thing and is rarely wanted, but I am growing more aware as the days go by that each day brings with it change.

It is clear to me that the mass media absolutely hates Pope Benedict and their true colors of anti-Christian agenda are shining through. With the passing of Pope John Paul II, the media reluctantly held back the hounds against attacking the Pope, but a few of them got their jabs in. I find it amusing how the media just does not get it with regards to the Church. It seemed like we were inundated, ad nauseum with some "Vatican expert" in the days following Pope John Paul's death talking about how the Church is going to have to re-think it's stance on this or on that. What the American media so obviously fails to realize is that the Catholic Church is not a democracy and the Vatican certainly does not take popularity polls to determine it's course of Administrative actions. I found it very apropos and fitting that after days on end of being told by both lay and clergy what the Church must do, God sends us Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. There is no doubt that the media went into convulsions over this.

With the election of Pope Benedict, we heard the media saying things like:

1. Pope Benedict will set the progress of the modern Church back 50 years! To which I say- Let us all hope so! I say let's go back to 1962 and start fresh!

2. Pope Benedict will not listen to the modern voices that have been successfully governing the Church under Pope John Paul II! To which I say, let us hope not! Modernism and modern thought is what got us in the colossal mess that the Church is in. Unforunately for us, the dire warnings of several popes have sadly failed to take root in the Church. Need I remind us of the warning of the "Burning Passion," Pope St. Pius X gave about modernism? "Modernism," Pope Pius said, "is the synthesis of all heresies!" Yes, I say it's very much time that we stop drinking from the wellspring of modern thought. Let us examine the fruits of modern thought: vocations have fallen through the floor, Mass attendance has dropped by 78% since 1969 (USA Today, 1992), more and more priests are having doubts about the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. What that statement should really read above is that 'Pope Benedict will not tolerate heretics-be them lay faithful, priests, bishops or cardinals.' Especially in the West, America has for too many years thumbed it's nose at the Magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and paid lip service to it's Supreme Pontiff. Those days, I pray are over. With Pope Benedict at the helm, we are very likely to see excommunications come down, for many people. If they do come down, the excommunicated should thank Pope Benedict, not decry him. The good shepard's first move when he caught up with a sheep that ran astray was to break it's legs and then nurture it back by carrying it around his neck. In the end, the sheep would never think of running astray. The Pope must be the good shepard at times and I think everyone, no matter what side they may be on regarding Pope Benedict, knows that he is special shepherd, something much different.

As Pope John Paul II said on many occasions: "we live in a culture of death." Never is that more apparent than right now, and right now, God has sent us a warrior. A seasoned Holy General in the battle for souls. A true warrior in this Immortal Combat.*


*Taken from Father John Corapi's series on "Immortal Combat"

Why do we do apologetics?

I've been dealing with a situation over the past week that has caused me to reflect upon why we, who engage in defending our Faith, do what we do. I thought that everyone was in it for the same reason I am: to help those who misunderstand and malign us to see the Truth.

However, I've come into conflict with a senior apologist over some moral issues. And this has shown me that some of us are in this thing just to win arguments. Winning an argument is only a valid motivation when you are on the right side. So, we must all have a strong grounding in morality before we ever step foot into a debate. As we begin this blog, let's all try to remember that and correct each other if we cross the line between defending our Faith against all comers, and defending our opinions and positions against better evidence.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Welcome Home

Something happened on March 12, 2005. A massacre occurred among the community of believers in Milwaukee, known as the Living Church of God. This event received national media attention. For the sensitive, it should provoke deep theological questions. How can this happen? How can a church which is seeking after God breed a disaster like this? Is there something about this community which made it the subject of attack? Could it happen in other churches? Perhaps these questions can be resolved by examining the teachings of this community.

The Living Church of God is one of a number of small daughter communities which were founded by a man named Armstrong in the last century. Through extensive Bible study, this man became convicted of certain teachings he believed were true. Foundational, perhaps, was his belief that Sunday worship was a man made institution, begun by the Catholic Church. By investigating the Bible, he became convinced that the Sabbath must continue to be kept, as well as Biblical Holy Days, but Sunday, Christmas, and Easter should not be kept. He also teaches that God the Father and God the Son are persons, but the Holy Spirit is not. The Trinity is also an invention of the Catholic Church, therefore man made doctrine. Armstrong founds his church as entirely separate from the Catholic Church and all Protestant Churches. He claims he has arrived at these truths by studying the Bible alone through the leading of the Holy Spirit. A modern day would-be reformer.

This investigation, far from answering the original questions, stirs up many others. The sorts of questions I began pondering several years ago. They caused me to find answers in a most unexpected place. What is it about the premise of “Bible alone through the leading of the Holy Spirit” that causes such a vast disparity of theological opinion? Can the Holy Spirit lead individuals to truth that is “right for them” but is contradictory to other individuals? How can I know which truth is True? Better yet, how can I know that what I believe is True?

I knew my answers must be contained in Scripture; that is, of course, where I began my exploration. I prayed as I read, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to know the real Truth.” Certain Scriptures that I had never really noticed before began to leap out at me, demanding to be heard. I read John 17, which taught me that Christ had prayed for unity, because THAT was proof of who He really Is. Proof to the world! A sign of Truth! To me, that is important. Can the world identify the Truth of Jesus through the unity of His people today?

Then, I confronted the gift of the keys to the kingdom of heaven, in Matthew 16. What in the world was this? My Baptist churches had never acknowledged them at all. A Lutheran pastor I talked to claimed it was the power of Christians to forgive or not to forgive offenses against us. But, this didn’t make sense to me. Christ taught that we would be forgiven as we forgive others. So, Christ either gave an unusable gift, gave us a means to damn ourselves, or is schizophrenic. None of these conclusions are acceptable, so the Lutheran pastor must be wrong. In conjunction with the problem of this passage of Scripture, I was wrestling with Christ’s promise that the Gates of Hell would never prevail against His Church. So that means that the Church He began would exist through all time.

So far, I had identified three marks by which I could identify the Truth, or at least identify where the Truth was taught. 1) Unity, 2)holding the power of the keys (whatever they are), and 3) existing through all time. But, throughout this process, I had the warnings of Proverbs ringing in my ears: “Lean not on your own understanding” and, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”. So, there must be an answer which does not require my intellectual understanding to be true, but is as obvious as a “beacon on a hill”. This means that I should stop looking for the church which matches my beliefs, but find the church God founded, which holds the Truth. Up until this point, I had no idea where my search would lead me. I wanted to know the Truth, so I could be confident in my belief and in my witness to others. The Holy Spirit is promised to us to lead us into ALL Truth, not just some of it, and I wanted it all.

From my self-identified marks of Truth, #1 and 3 seemed inherently contradictory. How could the Church be unified and also exist for all time, when the historical record indicates that the true Gospel was rediscovered in the 16th century with the reformation of the apostate Catholic Church? This dilemma produced a severe headache which lasted for two weeks, until I discovered John 6, and immediately understood the teaching of Christ that communion would be real flesh and real Spirit. A meaning which all of Christ’s followers found incredibly difficult to accept, which caused many to forsake him, but the Apostles who reasoned that they had no one left to turn to. The meaning of this passage was crystal clear, and so was the solution to my dilemma. The answers to all my questions lay in a source I had never even considered: the Catholic Church. Everything fit.

The Catholic Church is the oldest Christian Church, reaching all the way back to the Apostles. It alone has the capability of fulfilling the requirement of existing through all time. The Catholic Church had at least three doctrines that I knew had never changed, which all other Christian denominations had: the Eucharist, birth control, and Baptism. The fact that all other Christian churches had changed their teachings on these topics (some or all) proves by process of elimination that they were not in union with their own founders, much less Christ, through all time. And finally, the Catholic Church provided an explanation of the keys which was Biblical and reasonable, found in Isaiah 22:21-22, authority.

At this point, the Catholic Church had identified itself as the “beacon on the hill”, and before I continued my research, I followed the wisdom of the Proverbs and submitted to my Lord’s Body, the Church. After that, I listened to the reasoning and explanations about other doctrines that were strange and contradictory to me. I knew that either everything was true, or else Our Lord is a liar, and the Gates of Hell prevailed, and He was not God because the sign of His Divinity is Unity. There was no other choice. My husband was at first reluctant to return to the Church. I’ve never received a clear concrete answer why. But shortly after we entered the Church, he told me that he finally felt he was worshiping God again, and that he’d never felt that way as a Baptist.

We are all joyfully Catholic now, and I thought that this 1st anniversary of our reception into the Church was the perfect time to reflect on this journey, and share it. Every day I grow in fondness for the Church, and I marvel at the vastness of my growth in understanding of Who God is and the theological mysteries that wiser souls than I have contemplated for 2000 years. I am so grateful for their guidance and wisdom, and feel stimulated intellectually as well as spiritually, like never before. In the Catholic Church, I can truly “love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength,” as a complete person created in the image and likeness of God, redeemed by His Blood unto the good creature He intended.

I pray for those like Armstrong and his followers who were deceived by their own understanding, and misunderstanding of the Catholic Church. I pray that God has Mercy on the souls of those who have died because of this. I fear that such a crime is beyond comprehension, but that in God’s way, He brings good as people are forced to ponder questions they might not ever have confronted on their own.