Monthly Archives: November 2010
I am not a mother (neither a woman, come to that), so I can’t really tell.
Still, I can imagine. I can imagine that I am a mother in the bliss of newly found maternity, a joy without equals.
But then I imagine that when the child is just a few days old, I am informed by a very reliable person that this child is going to undergo great suffering and a painful death. How would it feel? A short time later, I must leave my home in the middle of the night, precipitously fleeing those who want to murder the child. Some years of relative tranquillity go by (during which, though, I have never forgotten the fateful words of Simeon) and one day, I discover that through a misunderstanding my twelve years old child is missing, somewhere in a great city far away from me. Then I return to where I last have seen him, every hour a nightmare and slow death; looking for him without success, for days.
Further years go by, until the now ancient words of the old man in the temple take meaning and form. My own and only child is – after being whipped almost to unconsciousness – made to carry the instrument of his own torture and stumble under his weight. Enough? No, not enough. I see my child savagely nailed to the cross, undergoing a slow and painful death in front of my very eyes. I see him dying, then have to endure the excruciating pain of having the cold dead body of my own child in my arms and to suffer his deposition on a tomb.
I am not a mother and I can’t really know how it would feel. But I can certainly try, and it takes my breath away. Most mothers would prefer to die and call themselves happy, rather than to have to endure all this.
At the same time I think of the challenges and problems of my life, problems I sometime tend to, well, rather make worse than they really are and when I compare my problems with those of Mary, I am helped to understand that perhaps my sufferings are not so unbearable after all, and that She who has suffered so much sees my problems and sorrows – even if infinitely less burdensome than hers – with great love and compassion anyway.
At the same time, I know that She is, in virtue of Her Son and in virtue of Her Sorrows, my (and our) Mother too. A mother to whom I can always open my heart in love and confidence, certain of being heard and loved; and a mother whose sorrows naturally sadden me. It is therefore fitting, every now and then, to dedicate ourselves to another Catholic devotion of the past unlikely to ever be mentioned by the friendly, smiling, joke-cracking and oh so nice progressive priest near you.
The Seven Sorrow of Mary is a traditional Catholic devotion by which the faithful briefly meditate (whilst praying or with a short introductory reflection, as in the Rosary) on those fateful seven moments in Mary’s life.
As already explained on a different occasion, the aim (and a main tenet of Catholicism at the same time ) is to unite ourselves to Mary’s and Jesus’ sufferance and at the same time to draw strenght and inspiration to bear the trials that we ourselves have to endure.
It isn’t really realistic to think that grave tests will be taken away from us. We are never going to be given tests we can’t endure, but most of us are going to be tested in some way or other, so don’t bet your pint. The best think to do is to try to grow our spiritual life by lovingly uniting ourselves to Mary’s and Jesus’ sufferance in order to be spared them if this is God’s will, and to be able to endure them and make them bear fruits if, alas, things have been appointed otherwise.
If you follow this link you’ll find a beautiful rendition of the first sorrow this devotion, with prayers and big images to help you stay focused. From there, you’ll be able to click your way to the following ones.
When you have followed the devotions to the end, please stop a moment and bask in the knowledge that once again, in the privacy of your home, a little part of the extremely rich and at times almost forgotten world of Catholic devotions has come back.
The truth (very well-known to Padre Pio, to Saint Therese and to countless others) is that Christ did not make Christianity easy and plainly said so. He made very clear that we, redeemed by His cross at the price of suffering, shame and death must be ready, whenever asked, to pay whatever suffering, shame and death He in His wisdom will want to allot to us. We are saved by His Cross, but on the condition of being willing to carry, whenever asked, the cross that He will pose on our shoulder. He took the Cross first, we take it from Him in the measure inscrutably chosen by Him. He loved us carrying the Cross, we love Him by carrying His cross in the measure requested from us. Our love for the Lord is not only in enjoying His gifts, but also in sharing His sufferance. We can’t take the pleasant part and just pretend that the unpleasant one will disappear or that it has never existed. If you love, you suffer with the beloved. No amount of self-delusion will take the chalice – lovingly prepared for us, so that we may lovingly share His sufferance – away from us.
Jesus said: “If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me”. He didn’t say “If any man will follow me, let him express whatever wish he has and believe in it and I will invariably deliver his wildest dreams”. And what he said, he said publicly, emphatically directing his attention to the general public around him. This is clearly a public warning that even with Redemption paid for us and Salvation in our reach, it won’t be a walk in the park just because we wish it.
This was, once, common Catholic knowledge. The suffering of saintly lives was stressed and honoured. Suffering was constantly remembered in daily prayers (“…. to thee do we send our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears”); the Passion was known to every faithful, literate or not, in minute details through the Stations of the Cross; the Seven Sorrows of Mary had the clear aim of uniting ourselves with Mary’s and Christ’s suffering, and so on. In a word, the reality of suffering was not just wished away and subsequently ignored, but was embraced as a way to grow, and an extremely efficient one at that. Not much of this has remained today. Today, you go to a Mass with a liberal priest and he is even ashamed to remind his audience that yes, they’ll have to give back the spoon one day.
It is better to say the one or other charitable word to the people around us who might happen to regurgitate erroneous concepts, than to have them utterly crushed when the test, invariably, arrives.
In these times of “Christianity by hearsay” it is all too frequent to find people whose concept of Christianity is rooted in deep error; or better said, in ignorance leading to error. We see them around us all the time in form of friends, acquaintances and colleagues. This post is devoted to saying a couple of words on the concepts of “taking up the Cross”.
It is a sad reality of our day that either vaguely “new age” ideas or analogous “prosperity Gospel” concepts find their way to the minds of Catholics through popular books. Which is no surprise if you consider that upon entering every “Waterstone’s” in London you will be confronted with a “gay and lesbian” section but the “Christianity” section will be underdeveloped, mainly filled with popular let-us-make-things-easy-for-ourselves, so-called “self-help” book and a sad joke as far as Catholicism is concerned.
The casual client browsing through a modern bookstore’s shelves will not easily find books who properly explain the Catholic view of “taking up the cross”. Rather, they will easily find books that subscribe either to one of the many “law of attraction” variations or to some variant of the so-called “prosperity Gospel”. Both of them (particularly the former) have a fundamental concept in common: that God is willing to make your sojourn on earth pretty much of a paradise, if you but allow him to do it. Here we see the clear desire to expunge the uncomfortable news and focus only on the good part. Unfortunately for us, it doesn’t work in this way.
Firstly, the idea that God wants everyone to be healthy and prosperous (and prosperous, and prosperous to boot; and did I mention prosperous?) is in marked contrast with the most obvious experience of the human condition, filled with people who were extremely saintly without ever being healthy, let alone prosperous. Saint Padre Pio or St. Therese of Lisieux come to mind, but you’ll certainly have many other examples. Therefore, this theory implies that these saintly people had it all wrong and – what is worse – just couldn’t see how wrong they were so that they could help others. Ah, they reason, if only padre Pio had come to the conclusion that he only had to attract health! How many people he would have been able to help, and a saintly man like him would have been given the most wonderful clinical record ever, just for the asking! Alas, these people should read a bit about Padre Pio, or St. Therese. If they did, they would know what bearing the cross means.
Secondly, the theory is an obvious post hoc, ergo propter hoc logical fallacy. Let us say that one thousand people dream of becoming, one day, a billion-dollar-heavy TV presenter and producer. They all try with the same passion, positive energy and unrelenting optimism. They are all equally persuaded that they will succeed. In time, nine hundred and ninety-nine fail to achieve the objective and their lives go along different rails, in which by the way they may find their true happiness. The one-thousandth is a lady called Oprah Winfrey who, after the fact, starts to subscribe to the idea that the simple fact that she wanted to be extremely successful and accepted this as a given started a chain of events which then led her to the “attracted” result of becoming a billionaire. This is the same as the one winning the jackpot at the lottery maintaining that he did so because he drunk skinny caramel latte at Starbuck’s every second Tuesday of the months ending with “er”.
Of course this doesn’t mean that we must go around expecting disgraces, or even wishing them. It is good to have a fundamentally healthy outlook on life and joy, and enthusiasm and faith in the Lord will – if this is God’s will, and with the assistence of our Guardian Angels and of all those in Heaven we will ask to help us – clear a great deal of obstacles from our way and open the way to all the graces God will deem fit to bestow on us (the one or the other might, by her effort and the grace of God, even become a billion-dollar-heavy Tv presenter and producer….). But this doesn’t mean becoming a Pollyanna, or rationalising every problem a posteriori by saying ourselves that in some strange way – and unknown to us?! – we must, truly must have attracted that truck coming straight against our bonnet….
END OF PART ONE…..
Beautiful blog post from the “Reluctant Sinner”.
Its author clearly does not put into question the orthodoxy of the Holy Father; nor does he believe that the Pontiff wanted to start a debate or change things in matters of contraception in any way. But he clearly points out to the fact that the words of “clarification” from the Pontiff (as reported by the never-so-very-safe Lombardi) add fuel to the controversy rather than putting an end to it.
The simple fact is that whilst even the new “explanations” as reported by Father Lombardi do not change anything in the Catholic teaching (or in the Pope’s thinking, come to that) about the matter, this bad habit of reporting single phrases without a context is not doing anyone (particularly the Holy Father, let alone the many confused Catholics) any favour.
The words were carelessly chosen first in the choice of the homosexual/condom scenario to explain that even an evil man can gradually, slowly develop first signs of moral awakening. Yes he can, but if the concept is expressed in this way it will be misunderstood. Then came the extraordinary initiative of the Osservatore Romano to break ranks and publish excerpts of the interview without context or comment, which made things much worse anyway and unleashed the mastiffs of the secular press. Thirdly came the “explanation”, which – whilst not unorthodox in the least – is still such that the untrained secular journalist could, perhaps even in good faith, think that the Holy Father really meant that the female prostitute is justified in using the condom.
It is now, I respectfully dare say, necessary that a carefully worded statement is issued – not by Lombardi but by the Pope himself – clearly saying what is what. This should be done not in order to explain to well-instructed Catholics what they already know, but in order to put some order among the ranks of the not-so-well informed Catholics (the vast majority, nowadays) who could easily be misled from what they think and read that he would have said.
The problem is, in its root, of Vatican making. No doubt about that.
Time to clear the mess once and for all, I think.
This repeats what I have already written about the “Osservatore Romano”. With rather more incisive words.
Interestingly, Voris also says that the blunder might not be due to teenager-like desire of being a modern/hip/cool, but that it might have been the result of a desire to weaken the Faith. Basically, either utter incompetence or utter bad faith.
One must not agree but, seen the precedents with the Beatles and Homer Simpson, the suspicion is not unjustified.
Strong stuff on the whole. Well Done, Mr. Voris!
Condomgate continues to rage and, if it was necessary, shows with increasing evidence the damage made to the Catholic cause by the careless example chosen by the Holy Father.
As I have (easily) predicted in the past, the discussion is now – among cafeteria catholics and all those who don’t want to accept Church teaching whenever it doesn’t suit them – about the Pope not having justified the use of condoms in certain circumstances, but having justified it anyway or, in some other version, being wrong in not doing it. In both cases, dissent is rearing its ugly head. This is a serious matter because we are not talking of individual weakness here, but of rebellion. Rebellion is the realm of Satan and his minions. A Catholic must accept the teaching and when he sees himself unable to understand it he must pray that he may get the right understanding. If he fails, he must pray more. Submission to the Church is first, understanding of it is second. Credo quia intellegam, non intellego ut credam.
With the basis of reasoning clear, let us examine the condom question again. I have often repeated that a sinful behaviour doesn’t justify particular modalities to carry the sinful activity. It doesn’t, because the activity is unjustified. This must be the cornerstone of every reasoning in the matter.
A killer is not justified in his killing his victims in a less cruel way. A violent husband is not justified in punching his wife whilst wearing boxing gloves. A sodomite is not justified in wearing a condom whilst committing sodomy. Therefore, it can’t be said “Pope Okays use of condom by sodomy” any more than it could be said “Pope Okays use of boxing gloves in beating wife”. This must be clear because these are simple facts (and rather basic facts) of Catholic moral teaching.
Now, the army of “understanding” journos goes on saying “oh well, what about the case of husband and wife? Should the Church not give her assent to the use of a condom by a husband with AIDS to protect his wife’s health by an intercourse we know is going to happen?”. This is as logical as to ask: “Should the Church not give her assent to the use of boxing gloves to protect his wife’s health by an attack we know is going to happen?”.
The answer to this is: the husband with AIDS must refrain from intercourse exactly as the violent husband must refrain from beating his wife. That the use of boxing gloves might be, from the part of a husband, a first step & Co, & Co. doesn’t change an iota in the answer to the questions.
This is where the profoundly secular thinking of the “compassionate” troops clearly shows up. In their reasoning we find the complicity with sin so typical of the anti-Christian world. Wrong behaviour is simply seen as inevitable. People are, in fact, not even asked to avoid it because I can’t credibly say to a violent husband that he is supposed not to beat his wife whilst endorsing his use of boxing gloves.
The simple truth (a truth with necessitates of a Christian prospective to be properly understood) is that not having sex is not more impossible than not beating one’s wife. Whilst there might be difference in the degree of difficulty to achieve this (some people have a very strong sex drive) there is no doubting the fact that none of the two are impossible to achieve.
The lawmakers all the world over reason the same way. They don’t give to imprisoned child rapists sheep and hens so that they have something to rape whilst in jail; nor do they give to the jailed violent husband some substitute animal in order for him to perform his necessary bodily function of being violent. They both land in a jail with no way to give in to their tendencies and – unsurprisingly – they don’t die.
Similarly, even in the changing world of criminal law felonies remain forbidden even when due to compulsion and the compulsion may diminish the severity of the punishment , but can never exclude it. You can’t decriminalise violent drunken behaviour because one is a drunkard, or child rape because one acted “compulsively”. Simple common sense.
Also, lawmakers never say “let us find authorised ways of practising child raping or bestiality, because they are going to happen anyway”. That’s not how it works. Moral imperatives don’t tolerate justified way of violating them because when you accept the justification, you are destroying the moral imperative. No raping. No domestic violence. No bestiality. No sodomy. No infection of your spouse. These are the only acceptable answers.
Sex is not unavoidable. Sodomy, as exceptionally pervert, is even less unavoidable. Hundreds of millions of people live in chastity every day and he who thinks that the army of singles – even in the most corrupted Western countries – is composed of people who just need to have sex has a very skewed perception of the real world outside of the film industry.
We live in a world where progressive (often: homosexual, or lesbian, or promiscuous) journalists tell us that sex is something that just must happen. Bollocks. Every village of Christian Europe, everywhere, in all centuries past, tells a very different story. Not in the sense that people were saints, but that celibacy was something accepted and lived in a way simply unacceptable (because inconvenient) to the modern thinking by a great number of people.
The argument “but they are going to do it anyway so let us find ways to limit the damage” smacks of saying “but rapes through african militias are going to happen anyway so let us find ways to have the girl raped in a more gentle way”.
He who says that shows that he hasn’t a great problem with rape, after all.
As we all know, heterodoxy lurks from all corners. We find it among bishops (look at the United Kingdom, and seek no further); among priests (the last “strange” homily was from that Jesuit from Wimbledon saying on the lines of “hell is a way of saying that we shouldn’t shortchange ourselves with second class choices”); we find it among politicians a’ la Nancy Pelosi and – obviously – we find it among journalists a’ la BBC.
Now how would a progressive, heterodox journalist describe the notorious excerpt? “A change in Church teaching” would be a way; a “softening” would be another; a third one might be a show of “compassion”. Let us see why this is wrong.
1) Church Teaching doesn’t change. Circumstances are always changing, but moral categories never change. We live and die in a world confronting us with exactly the same moral choices of St. Thomas Aquinas’ time. If this wasn’t the case, we’d need a new Gospel and a new Christ. We need no new Gospel and no new Christ; the Truth has been transmitted to us and it is valid for all times and for all (ever changing) circumstances.
Right is right even if no one is right and wrong is wrong even if everyone is wrong. There is no way on the planet the use of a condom should be considered any differently in 2010 than in Humanae Vitae’s time (sodomy had already been invented; sexually transmitted diseases too) or, come to that, in Romans’ times. We are dealing with moral categories here, not with technological advancements.
2) The one with the “softening” is also funny. It implies that the Church’s teaching about the use of condom is, well, wrong somehow. That it should be “improved”. Poor little sodomites, to whom the Church, which tells them not to commit sodomy in the first place, also makes it impossible to enjoy sodomy in the proper way…..how cruel is that! Don’t ya feel for them, mate? Such a thinking can earn one some kudos in a homo bar or in a BBC studio, but is certainly not Christian. The Church says hard words when she is confronted with harsh situations, with hardened sinners, with abominations, with serious danger to one’s soul. Not only is this the charitable thing to do, but it is the most practical advice. Condoms will never eliminate the risk of infection, chastity will. Condoms will never be conducive to eternal salvation, chastity will. There’ s nothing hard in telling the truth, and nothing to be softened. Truth will make you free and will, possibly, lead you to a long and healthy life instead of a painful agony of spiritual and physical self-destruction.
3) Third one is the one with the compassion. To allow a sodomite to commit such an abomination would be “compassionate”; to suggest the best way to multiply the number of his unspeakably lurid (in all senses) acts would be “compassionate”; to satisfy the desire of the sinner to sin with as few conscience pangs as possible would be “compassionate”.
What has become of us. When the moral instance gives way to the consideration for the comfort of the sinner, we have a clear case of false compassion. When not the sinner as human being is being helped, but the sinner is helped on his way to sin, we have false compassion. When “compassion” is not seen as eliminating the sin from the sinner, but the danger from the sin, we have false compassion. When the physical health of the sinner (through the use of condoms) is considered more important than his spiritual health (through chastity), we have false compassion.
Really. What has become of us.
We are now informed of the following statement from our beloved Lombardi:
I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,” Lombardi said. “He told me no.. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.
This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point, Lombardi said…
Now from this we learn as follows:
1) What here is all about is: the taking of responsibility towards human life. A chap went around totally not caring whether he would kill himself and many others in the process, but in what might be the first step towards taking responsibility he continues to do what is evil, but at least avoids killing an undetermined number of people.
2) If this is true of a man, it must be true of a woman too as it is not the case that a male prostitute at risk of aids would kill an army of homos, but a female prostitute at risk of aids wouldn’t kill an army of heteros. Makes sense.
3) What the Pope (or Lombardi, come to that) still hasn’t said is:
a) that the use of condom is endorsed or justified in any way;
b) that there is a general principle by which the Church says that whenever you are going to put someone in danger, you may use a condom;
c) that Church teaching has been modified in any way.
I am, therefore, at a loss to understand the following:
1) why the fact that the example would apply also to a female prostitute should change anything of what the Pope wanted to say.
2) On which ground this new distinction should be seen as “compassionate” toward the person using the condom. The Church is still saying that the sinner has not to sin. This is compassionate!
Let us make no mistake here: the Church is still saying to the homosexual what She has been saying from the start: repent, and sin no more. To say anything else like: “use a condom, because now I am compassionate” would be to become accessory of the sodomite’s sin.
Let us say it once again: the moral law is not concerned about suggesting ways by which sinning can be made less harmful. The church doesn’t say “if you really, really have to have an abortion, at least avoid using dangerous poisons”. The Church doesn’t say “if you really, really have to have premarital sex, at least be sexually faithful to your girlfriend”, & Co. What the Church does is saying an emphatic “no” to sodomy, to abortion, and to premarital sex.
That as a matter of fact the prostitute sodomite in question might start using condoms as a consequence of a first awakening to the value of human life doesn’t make his use of condom justified. Not in the least. Sodomy is not justified and the Church doesn’t suggest “justified” or “endorsed” ways to deal with what is not justified.
P.s. the continued discussion only enlightens how inappropriate the example was.
I have already written here about the strange tendencies now seemingly dominating within the Osservatore Romano with the less than opportune observations about the Blues Brothers (not so bad), Homer Simpson being a Catholic (much worse) and similar failed attempts at being modern, humorous and “hip”. Those who have read Iota Unum already know that the Osservatore is not new to making a mess of things, but the recent trend seems to have the new quality of wanting to make a mess of things.
It would now seem – from the blog “In the Light of the Law” – that the Osservatore Romano has made another wilful and premeditated blunder in that it has published the excerpt of the book on his own, in violation of an agreement among various media outlet to launch the book on the same day all over the world and providing not only the excerpt but a number of people ready to comment about the same.
Now, the author of the blog I have linked to maintains that the mess has basically originated from the Osservatore Romano publishing the excerpt without any commentary. I disagree on this as if the wording had been better in the first place, no media storm would have resulted. Still, it is clear that if the excerpt had been published on the same day as several commentaries (hopefully, from people who know what they write) about what the themes of the book are (and with some guidance as to some aspects of catholic teaching which might be obscure to many) the possibility of misunderstanding would have been greatly reduced and the anti-Catholic press wouldn’t have had a field day.
If what reported in the blog is true, it would appear that the teenager-like cheek of the OR is worsening to a full fifteen-years-old open rebellion phase. Someone at the OR loves being a protagonist much, much more than he should. This would not be appropriate for any newspaper, but is particularly grave in the case of this one.
I have the impression that I am not the only one wishing that normal service may be resumed as soon as possible.
After the storm of the past days (promptly ceased after the secular press has discovered that they just got it wrong, but without giving the fact any relevance anywhere near to the screaming with which the “change in Church’s position” was announced) it might be good to say two words about lesser evil and double effect.
The idea of the “lesser evil” is the concept that if one evil is a given, than it is justified to act in a way that the evil is at least minimised. The concept is not a religious, but a political one. The examples are too numerous and too much of a day-to-day occurrence to bother giving them. Diplomacy is made of just that.
Christianity, though, doesn’t think in this way, because morals and politics operate on different planes. In morals, the question cannot be seen in terms of “if you must do evil, at least do the lesser evil”. The moral approach to evil can only be “don’t do evil”. As I have said yesterday, evil will at times be tolerated, but this doesn’t mean that the evil is justified or endorsed in any way.
Catholicism doesn’t know any “lesser evil” doctrine. When Christianity says that you shouldn’t kill, it means exactly this. Discussions about the endorsed way to kill a man are not part of Catholic moral teaching. To use Ronald Reagan’s immortal words: it is not about explaining how to do it, it is about explaining not to do it*.
Catholicism does know, however, the doctrine of the double effect, that I have briefly mentioned yesterday. I suggest that you make yourself acquainted with it, because in the next months or years you’re going to be unnerved by those “Christians by hearsay” who want to teach you about Catholicism and inform you that you are out of date because “The Pope has changed his teaching about condoms”. I feel my adrenaline level rising already.
You can find a nice (and beautifully short) explanation here. When you have read it, you’ll see that this is much different from the case where evil is chosen in the first place and you are dealing with the modalities of the evil. There are no justified modalities of committing evil (I mean here excluding the unavoidable evil coming from the double effect), because the evil act is not justified in the first place.
Let us elaborate on yesterday’s example of the mexican gang member. The Church can’t possibly say “where a Mexican gang member really wants to execute a member of a rival gang, it is justified to kill him with a pistol shot rather than raping and torturing him savagely before finishing him”. This can’t be said because the murdering of the man is not justified. Still, it is undeniable that the torture and rape of the man are further evil acts compared to the murder seen in isolation. Therefore, if the Mexican gang member decides to at least have some respect for the humanity of the rival and murder him with a shot in the head without first raping and torturing him, this “can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants”.
In this case, not even the BBC would say that the Pope has “endorsed in limited cases the shooting in the head”. The teaching is exactly the same and neither torture nor murder are endorsed. Only, it is very rare that redemption simply explodes within a man’s consciousness; rather, there will be in most cases a progressive process of awakening. The male prostitute will, possibly, start using a condom, thus avoiding adding a potential massacre to the sodomy.
Why, then, all the mess? Because the matter of double effect and lesser evil cannot be simply implied by quoting a couple of sentences in a book without causing a great stir in people accustomed to a more brutal and simplified (particularly if journalists) way of thinking. It might be that the book in his entirety is such that no wrong impression is caused, but there can be no doubt that if you mention homos and condoms after the interviewer has asked whether the Church is, then, “not opposed in principle to the use of condoms” you are clearly looking for trouble.
What I am angry at the press for is not that the statement might have misled them, but that:
1) they don’t bother to ask the Vatican first, and
2) no one seems to notice that Catholic moral teaching just doesn’t change.
I mean, if a Muslim tells me that he has heard that the Pope has changed the Church’s position about condoms I can still understand the poor chap. Less so if he is a Catholic (of sort). Much less so if he is a journalist. But if they are Catholic journalists, then we are really in a bad shape.
*A short prayer for the Gipper is in order here, I think…
Let us make no mistake, this was an own goal. A perfectly useless and perfectly avoidable one. One which puts into question the ability of the Pontiff to defend Catholic teaching in a way not capable of manipulation by the secular media. This is a falling back to the days of John Paul II, when Catholic doctrine was not overtly contradicted – of course not – but badly represented in a way which made manipulation easy and widely spread. Read the words of the Pontiff again and you’ll see that whilst not contradicting Catholic teaching in the matter, his words open the way for misunderstanding and manipulation. He didn’t “change the rules”, at all. But his careless wording will allow superficial people to think so and the press to report so.
Last time I looked, the use of condoms was not morally justified. It is not justified because it is artificial contraception. Let us look at this again, what does the Church says about the use of condoms? That it is not morally justified. Oh, and we also know that it is not morally justified. We also know that if it is not morally justified no Pope can ever make it morally justified, because the Pope is not the maker of the rules, merely their custodian.
Ah well, we have this down then.
Now, let us all be aware of simple facts of life: that the Church knows that people are sinful. Whilst never justifying sin, the Church has always acted in a way meant to use common sense and sound judgment. The Church has always – when circumstances so required – accepted facts of life as a lesser evil. But she has always been attentive to say that this does not make the evil justified. The Church has, in fact, no system allowing the faithful to “choose the lesser evil”, even when she herself accepts (not justifies) the fact of life that evil will happen. A Catholic may never choose evil, and that’s that. It is evil to commit sodomy, and it is evil to use a condom. The Church can’t take the sodomy out of the equation and say “if you really couldn’t stay away from another person’s backside, then you may use a condom“. The Church says that you don’t commit sodomy, period.
The Papal States allowed prostitution. Prostitution was, in fact, rather an industry in Rome before reunification. But this doesn’t mean that the Church considered going with a prostitute “justified”, nor that it thought that it was justifiable in some circumstances, nor that she said that if you go with a prostitute, then you may use a condom.
The same for condoms. In Fascist Italy the use of condoms was a criminal offence in general, but it was allowed inside of brothels and the Church never said a word against this, obviously tolerating a lesser evil. But this didn’t mean that the Church said that it was in any way justifiable to use a condom, or that fornication is justifiable in those circumstances where you really have blue balls and are on your way to better yourself. The Church merely recognised the existence of a fact of life (original sin; leading to lust; leading to prostitution) and dealt with it the best she could. She certainly didn’t provide any justification for sinful behaviour. One must stay away from the brothel, period.
She also never said that for a prostitute to use condoms might have indicated an awakening of her better moral nature. This is simply naive and misleading. The prostitute uses the condom to avoid pregnancy and diseases, as everyone else. Whatever awakening there might be in the single circumstance, any speculation about the fact that she might express this by using condoms only suggests in the less attentive that a prostitute is justified in using condoms.
The fact that a sin happens doesn’t mean that it is fine for it to happen. The fact that by committing a certain sin a worse sin can be avoided doesn’t make the sin fine. The more or less adventurous considerations as to the motives with which a person commits a sin don’t justify the sin, either.
A mexican drug cartel member in the very first, extremely vague step of his redemption may start torturing enemies in a less cruel way before killing them, but this doesn’t mean that he is allowed to torture and kill them.
After the careless words of the Pope, the entire world will now start saying that the Pontiff considers the use of condoms justified in certain circumstances. This is simply how the world goes and it is very naive to think that it may happen any other way.
Not only must a Pope never tamper with doctrine, but he must never be perceived as to be doing it. Never ever. It is his duty, whenever he explains the position of the Church in certain circumstances, to do so in such a way that no misunderstanding are possible and no Catholics confused. But this is exactly what has happened this morning, with Classic FM (5 million listeners every day) clearly giving the message that the Pope has modified the Church’s position.
When the press thinks they can say that, it is a clear sign that a Pope has communicated in a very poor way.
The Pope’s statements will confuse honest Catholics and will provide an infinite amount of excuses (not only about condoms) to lukewarm Catholics concerning everything that it difficult to accept to them. This was absolutely avoidable and seriously undermines the Pope’s efforts to fight aids in the right way.
Truly beautiful contribution (on the Archdiocese of Washington’s internet site) of Msgr. Charles Pope. The contribution comes in two forms: the excerpt from the funeral sermon held by himself and the very insightful, crystal-clear reflections posted on the Internet site of the Archdiocese.
I allow myself to suggest that you listen to the sermon first. It is nothing shocking for those accustomed to this blog but certainly unusually clear for those who are not. For people not even accustomed to darken the doors of a church on Sundays – and told all the time that “their heart is in the right place” and therefore everything is fine – it must be outright shocking.
Msgr. Pope delivers truth in copious quantity and without any meaningful dilution. I will mention here only some of the many brilliant statements he makes:
[..] the usual approach at funerals has been to be “nice” and if sin, or purgatory, or judgment (or, God forbid, Hell), are mentioned at all it should be subtle, so subtle as to barely be noticed. Vague attestations of ”we at the parish will surely pray for Joe’s happy repose and for you the family.” Somewhere the doctrine of purgatory is lurking in the saying but only a trained theologian could really see it.
I had tried the more subtle approach for years. It didn’t really work and no one really took it seriously, if they even understood what I was “getting at.”
I think prophecy needs to be clear, strong and unambiguous. I get a much better result that way. I can surely attest to the fact that more have returned to Mass on a regular basis as a result of strong words than ever happened in the years when the usual reaction to my ministration was, “Oh Father, you’re such a dear. What a heart-warming and consoling message!
I have over 50 funerals a year. And for most of them the Church is packed with people I will only see once, or perhaps not until the next family funeral. I cannot wait for a “less delicate” time
Preaching is about saving before it is about consoling
A lot of times powerful preaching takes people through a cycle of: mad, to sad, to glad.
I think we have long enough tried the “nice guy” preaching that is extolled by many, as the model. But all through these past 40 years with that model largely operative, Mass attendance has steadily dropped.
Fr. Bill Casey defines superficial preaching as: “watered-down, filled with generalities and abstractions, devoid of doctrinal content and moral teaching, more akin to pop-psychology than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not scriptural, it does not move, it does not inspire, it generates no enthusiasm for Jesus Christ, his Church or the Gospel and it has got to change”.
The fact is, I think there is a general hunger for a return to vivid and strong preaching. I think this is more common among younger people, many of whom have had enough of polite but abstract sermons that preach ideas more than unvarnished Catholic and Biblical truth.
Mgr. Pope hits the bull’s head so many times that there’s no space for the darts left. Not only does he get the nature of the problem (as, I am sure, many others do), but he has the nerve to speak it out, and to do so when the majority of lukewarm priests with oversized political antennae would not dare to do it. He reports (and chastises) the thinking of colleagues of him who say that they wouldn’t be able to get away with talking as he does.
Get…. what?! Since when has a priest been ordained to reflect about what he can “get away with”? Since when has a priest seen it as his job to avoid saying what his parishioners don’t want to hear? What kind of priesthood is this? These questions seem to escape Mgr. Pope’s colleagues: you picture them smiling and saying “aahhh, I could not do that…”
If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle? In the modern age what we see is that many shepherds (often Bishops or Archbishops) are very well aware that their trumpet is barely audible. But you know what? They just don’t care! They’d never allow the Truth to come in the way of their popularity among the crowds, making them acceptable to vast cohorts of, often, non-Catholics or even non-Christians.
What a difference between Mgr. Pope and many of our shepherds.
I wish he were Archbishop of Westminster.
To please all of you Italophiles, today a bit of healthy Italian literature that is also a useful plunge into the Christian view of the world when the world was able to think – and act – Christian.
In Dante’s Inferno, Canto XXVIII deals with fraudulent people of various kind, like thieves, fraud specialists, people who used rhetorical ability to deceive others and people who spread discord and divisions. They are all placed in the eight Circle – further divided according to their particular sin – and are all punished (according to the contrappasso or contrapasso dear to medieval times) in a manner which has either a strong analogy to their sin or is, as it were, the contrary of it.
Now let us please remember that Dante didn’t know anything of “political correctness”. He would have probably been very amused at knowing what it is and would have considered the entire exercise in political correctness not only uncharitable, but outright unchristian in so far as it helps the spreading of error and heresy. In addition, please consider that “hate crime” as it is seen today did not have any big relevance in the Italian society of the beginning of the XIV century (nor of the XXI’s, Deo Gratias) and that the culture of self-victimhood, semi-permanent complaint and professional claim of being “discriminated against” wouldn’t have made any impression other than of amusement.
Basically, Dante lived in a Christian society and was, like many others, sincerely interested in its preservation and in the defence of its values.
This is why our probably most beloved poet of all times did something which, if made today, would make every politician’s, diplomatician’s, writer’s or poet’s hair stand on end. Which is the more remarkable because he was all four of these at one time or another and never was his work seen as being detrimental to, say, his diplomatic activity. Still, what he did would, today, attract accusations of hate crime, calls for boycott of his poetry, (obviously) calls for his execution and most certainly no invitation to afternoon tea from “call me Dave” Cameron. What did he do, then? He did something that should be a rather easy call (without falling into the sin of presumption of course; but an easy call nevertheless) in a Christian society.
He put Mohammed in Hell.
Mohammed is seen as a divisive figure, sowing strife and discord among the people (among his own, I infer, as well as among Christians and Infidels). Accordingly, he is condemned to being constantly torn open, “divided” in his own limbs. Dante and Virgilio behold his open chest, in Dante’s typical process of eternal repetition of the same punishment. The same destiny is reserved to his relative Ali whose punishment consists, perhaps even more impressively, in having his face completely open from end to end. All considered, rather strong stuff.
It is amusing to think, today, the astonishment of the Divino Poeta (as he is affectionately called in Italy) at being told that he is “uncharitable”, “judgmental”, or “divisive” himself. In Dante’s society and personal Weltanschauung – both solidly rooted in Christianity – charity could never have been confused with convenient lies, silence in front of scandal would have been considered being accessory to another’s sin and defence of Truth would never have been considered divisive, or spreading “hate”.
The simple fact is that he would have been right on all accounts then; and that – as the Truth doesn’t change – he would be right on all accounts now.
Therefore, we must seriously ask ourselves what is wrong with us, and when are we going to wake up.
This press release from the FSSP informs about the start of the FSSP activities in Brussels. This event is important not only for his symbolic meaning (Brussels is one of the hotspots of the liberal disease that has been ailing the Church for so long and is only now gradually being eradicated), but because it clearly shows what a difference a good bishop makes.
The FSSP will celebrate the Tridentine Mass both in Brussels (beautiful church, judging from the photo) and where they are already based, Namur. In both places, sung Mass every Sunday (9am in Brussels, 11:15 in Namur). Further low masses in both places, Monday-Thursday in Namur, Friday-Saturday in Brussels (unless I am mistaken, but I think I take the gist).
Together, Brussels and Namur (around 44 miles distant) will offer to a vast urban population – and to all those who can drive and afford the fuel – not one but two beautifully made weekly Tridentine celebrations.
This is what happens when the (new) Bishop is sincerely concerned about the spiritual welfare of those wishing to attend in the Extraordinary Form. The contrast with his more than questionable predecessor, Daneels, could not be more striking.
Better days ahead.
It would appear that soon the Vatican is going to give us more details as to how the UK Ordinariate is supposed to work and be organised. I can imagine that savage speculations are going to mount in the next days (or weeks) as to who will lead it, how it will be funded, what provision might be offered to those Anglican clergy thinking of conversion but also mindful of a family to feed, etc.
Personally, I hope that the following will happen:
1) The British hierarchy is going to be kept out of the entire affair. If the Holy Father lets them in from the door, orthodoxy will soon go out of the window. I hope that the Ordinariate will be not only factually autonomous from the Bishops (bar a technical cooperation where unavoidable; it is not that they have to ignore each other’s existence), but that they will also be seen as such.
2) I so much wish (though I am sure that I will be disappointed) that the Ordinariate could be led by a person of undoubted, uncompromising orthodoxy. One able to explain to everyone (to the press; to the Anglicans thinking about conversion; to the other British Catholics who might see in a staunchly orthodox Ordinariate a good alternative to a Novus Ordo Mass) that the Ordinariates are not the Anglican version of the Catholic Church, but the Only Church organised in a slightly different way.
From what I have read up to now, none of the so-called Anglican bishops who have announced their intention to convert is up to the task. From what I could see to date, it is fair to be afraid that they would stress how “Anglican” the new outfit is, not how Catholic; how little things would change for the Anglican converts, not how much; what a continuity there would be between the heretical shop they leave and the authentical one they enter, not what a radical change this represents. My impression up to now (as seen on this very blog) is rather that they would accuse of being “uncharitable” or even “unchristian” everyone pointing out to the obvious shortcomings (nay: cowardice; nay: utter bad faith) of such an approach.
I see a clear danger that what could be created here is a body largely constituted of people who think that their cultural specificity authorises them to be at variance with the Church; a body seeing itself as composed of Catholics who have the right to be different in their Catholicism (just to make some example: in thinking that it is fully OK to be an Anglican; or in thinking themselves Catholics because they believe in the existence of Transubstantiation in an Anglican Mass) rather than in the way their Catholicism is organised.
A bit of healthy cynicism will make us aware that conversion to Catholicism can be wished because one desires the Truth or because one has a sacrilegious desire to continue to believe in the same old lies, but without bishopettes around.
The person appointed to lead the UK Ordinariate will have to make this very clear; he will have to be a champion of orthodoxy for the entire British Catholicism. If this is not the case, the risk for the Ordinariate to fail spectacularly and to be remembered as a source of strife rather than reconciliation will be very real.
I’d like to say a word about one of the consequences of the “Spirit of Vatican – II”-wave centering the Mass experience on the “feelings” rather than on the rather hard job of promoting Catholic orthodoxy, namely its emasculation expressed as both childishness and effeminacy. I’m afraid that the trend has been encouraged by the increased number of priests of dubious virility – or worse; or much worse – allowed to become priests after V II.
Those of you who have the privilege of being able to attend a Tridentine Mass will immediately understand what I am saying. At a Tridentine Mass you have sober, measured, dignified gestures, repeated in the same way again and again. A sense of serious business, of momentous proceedings. Solemnity, dignity, gravitas at all times.
The priest is a figure of authority. He clearly leads, the faithful follow. The entire matter is – I can’t find a better word – rather military in the precision of every gesture. Whatever emotions the priests has, he keeps to himself. It truly is not about emotions.
Compare this with the Novus Ordo as practiced in the friendly progressive parish church near you.
1) The priest is not a figure of authority. He doesn’t even want to. He makes the impression that, given the choice, he’d rather be an aunt distributing chocolate and biscuits.
2) The new hymns are of two types: the extremely childish and the worryingly effeminate ones. All of them seriously embarrassing stuff.
3) The readings are frequently read – particularly by women – in a highly emotionally charged, smug, patronising voice, as if little children had to be thought the importance of not telling lies to mommy.
4) The exercise is repeated during the prayer intentions. Politically charged “I can’t believe how good we are”-undertones will easily sneak in.
5) The sign of peace is an outburst of easy emotionalism at which, once again, mainly women excel. “Peaaace beee with youuuuuuu!”. Yes, ma’am.
6) At times, the altar “girls” (oh well…) literally surround the priest during consecration. The visual message couldn’t be clearer.
7) The “extraordinary ministers” are, in my impression, mainly women.
8 ) Don’t get me started on the bringing of the gifts to the altar. Might be interesting for children under Four. No, make it Three.
9) The homilies tend to focus on emotional aspects: “feel the love” instead of “obey the rules”. They have no admonishment to give, merely encouragements. They do not demand, but suggest.
10) At the end of Mass, the priest is at the door with his best smile for everyone. You think a Tupperware party might just have gone to an end. But he has such a nice smile. Aren’t we a jolly good parish.
All this makes of your typical Novus Ordo atmosphere something between the kindergarten and the self-awareness group. I still remember a church in Central London I entered to go to confession. There was a Mass still going on and a statue of Mary was being carried in procession within the church. The most sugary of hymns was being sung and the extremely effeminate priest was asking everyone to …….. wave white handkerchiefs at the statue of Mary whilst singing along at it.
You could have cut the embarrassment of the males with a knife. I mean, for a woman this might well seem a stupid exercise; but to ask a man for that is to go against everything he is. I didn’t wave, but I did remember. I’d love to be able to tell you that the priest might have been blissfully unaware of the childishness and effeminacy of all this. I doubt it.
In conclusion: on the one hand we have a clearly masculine and adult exercise, executed with sober and military precision by what were, in the absolutely vast majority, clearly heterosexual men.
On the other hand we have an emotional fest taking over and expressing itself in childish or effeminate, but always ridiculous ways; ways tolerated or positively encouraged by priests in serious need to man up, when we are lucky.
Then we complain that poorly instructed teenagers – grown up with “feel the love” platitudes and not even told that Sunday Mass obligation must be taken seriously – stop attending Mass.
This on Unity and Truth (you can jump to 0:35 if you want to skip the adv) is one of the best Voris videos and it seems to me that it is particularly fitting in our present situation, when the Ordinariate is exposing us to the risk of a watered down (or, in the worst case, outright rebellious) “version” of Catholicism meant not to “hurt” those Anglicans disappointed with the course of their so-called church but, it would appear, extremely sensitive in being told that a) they are wrong and b) if they want to convert they’ll have to come to term with this.
I found these sentences particularly beautiful:
Unity must be around the Truth and the Truth must be the grounding for Charity. Those who unite around the lie are neither truthful nor charitable.
The way to counter an error is with the Truth. To do so is an act of charity. And when the Truth is at the centre that means our Blessed Lord is at the centre. And that is Who unifies us.
“To speak falsely or in an unclear manner – regardless of your intention – opens the door for spiritual collapse of the faithful. This is untruthful, certainly not charitable and absolutely nothing to have to do with Unity. You can’t talk about being charitable or having unity if you first don’t speak the Truth” (emphasis mine)
Truth is Truth, and Lie is Lie. There’s no escaping this simple concept.
The idea that one may convert without changing his mind (and clearly saying so) about who has been right all the time and who has been wrong all the time is a self-deception, useful only if one wants to seriously harm one’s soul.
Browsing around the net I already in the past found this theologian, Ronald L. Conte, to be one of the very good ones.
Besides strict orthodoxy, the man has the rare gift of expressing himself in an extremely clear and concise way; never becoming boring or convoluted but always sticking to the point and bringing it to his readers with great clarity. He is a bit like the GAU-8 Avenger of Catholic doctrine, aiming straight at error and secular folly.
I stumbled upon an article of him about homosexuality which – as it seems to me – goes straight to the heart of the problem without sweetening of the pill, but also without apocalyptic visions of collective destruction.
His approach is – again, as it seems to me – highly sensible. He looks at the most frequent questions arising in these disturbing times and gives to all of them a straight, but never uncharitable answer. His words are far more pungent than the more subtle, but still extremely clear Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the pastoral care of homosexual persons; he goes beyond the Vatican document by addressing the problem of homosexual clergy (in those very months addressed by the new Pope Benedict in the sense expressed by him) and he clearly addresses the issue of the different degrees of sexual sins (something actually clear to every Southern European from the cradle, but apparently less clearly perceived in colder climates). His radical words seem to me to echo St. Pius X’s very clear stance (though in a slightly different context) in Horrendum Illud Scelus.
At the same time, Conte’s approach is – again, following that mercifully supple approach so typical of traditional Southern European Catholic understanding – not such that he leaves the homosexual – even the one still struggling with his problem – without hope. Only final impenitence is what will lead him to Hell. Prayer, and hope, and a serious struggle are the way. This should be repeated to every rebellious homo, perhaps hiding under the excuse that he “cannot change”. Firstly he can, and secondly he is supposed to try anyway.
We want to hope and pray that many of those who today claim a right to abomination as if it were a “human right” will end up, in time, seeing the light. Unfortunately, they are not helped much by a society which condones abominations as if it were something normal or even just. In the end, full awareness of the extent of the problem is the key to an approach which, to be crowned with success, must be so radical as to be, literally, life changing.
If I had been asked as an adolescent which one among homosexuality, bestiality, child rape, incest or euthanasia would one day have been considered normal by an awful lot of people, I’d have laughed out loud. The absurdity of that!
Thirty years later, homosexuality has been delivered to secular mainstream consciousness as a “choice”. Euthanasia might well be on its way. Bestiality and incest might well follow (just wait that the perverts discover their “human rights”, how “oppressed” they are and that they are denied the “freedom” to marry their brother, or sister) and probably only child rape will (if the child is very small; otherwise Tatchell & Co. are already waiting to get their hands at them) have to remain in the realm of the abominations. In the new world, abomination will probably be saying the truth out loud; or not driving a Prius.
It is therefore always refreshing when someone writes in a way which lets your humble correspondent ask himself: “this is what has always been considered common sense and common knowledge in the past; how on earth have we come to the point that one has to expressly point out to this?”.
Please join me in a prayer for the unrepentant homosexual of the world (that they may see the truth) and for those who begin to understand the scale of the problem but are still too weak to either see the truth in all its tragic reality or to radically change (that they may find the strenght to win their battle, or at least persevere until the end in fighting it).
Please look at this Guardian article. It deals with the rather shocking episode of a hospital in which, through massive failing at all levels (and, more importantly, failing to correct what was clearly going wrong), more than one thousand people “died of preventable causes”.
Now this is an NHS hospital and public health care is one of the pets of the secular left anywhere from Cuba to London. This might be the reason why the tone of the article is so, well, clinical. So calm. So absolutely dry.
Notice that there is no generalisation here, no process to entire institutions. The existence of the NHS is not called into question. The morality of doctors or nurses as a body is not criticised. It is about making things better, isn’t it…
Also please notice that the scandal here is multi-faceted, as it appears that executives of the relevant NHS were subsequently hired in very well paid quango jobs, of which Labour seemed to have an inexhaustible, ever-expanding reserve. Therefore we have all the ingredients here: a) obvious mistakes on the ground; b) people in the know who have no guts to open their mouth; c) controllers who fail to control; d) when the scandal erupts, hierarchies who protect those who are involved and move them to other, comfortable positions. The similarities with the (homosexual) pedophile priest scandal are therefore remarkable, the biggest difference being that the number of the dead is vastly superior in the case of the hospital.
What is very different, is how the leftist press reacts. The savage attack not only to single priests, but to the priesthood as profession has no parallel here. We see no attacks to the profession of medical doctor, or nurse. Very strange, because in the case of the Staffordshire enquiry the failings to report the conditions of the hospital seem to have been generalised. Many knew, no one has spoken, people continued to just die.
In addition, it is clear here that there was a clear failing of control mechanisms on a grand scale, for several years. Look, I must have heard this already. Then why there is no condemnation of the NHS system in its entirety at least vaguely comparable to the lynching of the Vatican? If single cases of bad behaviour and failed oversight are enough to question, say, priest celibacy, why should a massacre of such proportions not be enough to question, say, the existence of a publicly funded healthcare system in the UK?
This the more so, as this expensive giant seems to have contracted all the … diseases of your typical big organisation: big cost, inefficiency, failing oversight, no accountability, inability to admit mistakes, protection of its members no matter what.
In the case of the (homosexual) paedophile priest scandal, many lefties had no problems in accusing the Pope of covering it all. In the case of the Mid-Staffordshire enquire (up to 1200 dead more), the Labour government at the top remained blessedly exempt from demands of PM resignation.
There are many parallels between this scandal and the failings within the Church to properly protect children, put adequate protection mechanisms in place, deal with problems swiftly and efficiently. There are even more parallels in the tendency (typical of every organisation, let us not forget this) to cover failings, avoid scandals, protect and “recycle” some who have paid a higher price and were possibly asked to offer themselves as scapegoats (or perhaps were just better connected). Finally, there are parallels in the ethical questions that it opens about entire categories, when generalised failings are seen by everyone but no one reacts.
What is surprising (or perhaps not, as we talk about secular lefties here) is that for the NHS an entirely different approach is used than the one used against the Church.
1200 children prematurely dead in five years in Catholic schools because of massive failings systematically undetected.
Imagine that, and what would happen.
After today’s announcement of five bishops of the Anglican church, that they will cease every function within the Anglican church at the end of the year and join the Ordinariate when such one is created I am supposed, I think, to be satisfied and see the future of the Ordinariate with some optimism.
Then why I am not?
I am not because it seems to me that, so to speak, the new blood coming within the church is – at least judging from the still scarce information – not really good.
Let us take this interview to the BBC of Mr. Burnham, one of the five swimmers.
If you listen from 0:25 onward, it appears very clearly to me that Mr. Burnham announces his conversion to the Only Church, but still doesn’t have the slightest problem in continuing to consider the Anglican so-called church “part of the one universal Church going back to the time of Jesus”. His problem is not with the Anglicans NOT being part of the Church. His problem is that in recent times the so-called cofE has started “making his own rules”. The several centuries from Edward VI to 1992 don’t seem to be a problem, the very legitimacy of the so-called church of England a given. It is only when the so-called coE started with the novel ideas of priestesses & Co. that he was forced to choose between the “two Churches” and he decided for the “older body” (clearly meaning, make no mistakes, that both “bodies” are “Catholic churches”).
Furthermore, he sees his conversion as a way “for the churches to move closer together”.
Pardon me, Mr. Burnham, but a Catholic cannot, absolutely cannot see “two churches coming together”. There is only the One Church – which is right – and an ecclesial community – which is wrong – and no other decision than the one to leave the wrong community and join the Only Church.
All this talking of the “two churches”, of continuing to see Anglicanism as a part of the Church, of wishing a union between two supposed churches is the explicit confirmation of what many had feared: that the new “converts” do not bring any Catholic orthodoxy with them, but rather introduce an element of heresy within the organisation they want to join.
It would have been very easy and very beautiful and very orthodox for Mr. Burnham to say that the events of the last decades have started in him a painful but necessary process of discernment; that at the end of this process he has come to the conclusion that the Only Church is.. the Only Church; that he has come to recognise where is the truth and where is the error; and that he hopes that many other faithful still within the Anglican so-called church would reach, in time, the same conclusion.
Nothing of the sort. Not one word. From one who is publicly announcing his conversion. On the contrary, explicit legitimation of a heretical body as “church”.
If the UK Ordinariate is going to work along these lines I wish it a painful death, from the heart.
This is not conversion; this is invasion.
Here you’ll find Michael Voris’ take on the recent Mid-term elections. Apart from the very likeable, more directly political observations about Americans and Liberalism, I’d like to point out to some messages which I find extremely pertinent.
1) Voris maintains that Catholic churchgoers are, in their majority, Republicans. This is a very interesting assertion. I’d love to hear from US blog readers whether they agree with Voris’ take.
2) There is a link between the change that has occurred with the election and what is happening within the Church: liberals are kicked out whilst the conservative element irresistibly marches toward the restoration of sanity. I fully agree with this statement; it seems to me that the undercurrent is the same here, and that it does not limit itself to the Catholic world.
3) An additional bold statement is that Catholics in the pews get to vote about the restoration of orthodoxy. Not in the traditional, ballot-like way of course but in the more subtle, slower but rather effective way of choosing where to worship (and whose collection plate to frequent) or where to send the children to school. Such a practice would not be very successful in countries like Italy and Germany – where fund distribution is organised differently – but I can see it having much more bite in countries like the US, relying on private contributions for the upkeep of their religious personnel and structures.
4) Last important point to my eyes: the warning that the US hierarchy, still largely dominated by convenient cowardice about the Church teaching and the conversion of souls, must now choose whether to change course and embrace orthodoxy or be “swept away”. I fail to see where the sweeping would come from if the Pope continues to appoint half-liberal bishops to appease the local clerical communities; but there can be no doubt that what sweeping the Pope will not do, the demographics will in time do for him.
Enjoy the video!
Once upon a time, Fridays were days of abstinence, that is: days on which no meat could be eaten. The practice has now been largely restricted to the Fridays of Lent, but a conservative Catholic – as you, dear reader, hopefully are or are slowly becoming – could do no wrong in thinking of reintroducing these time-honoured practices for himself even in the absence of an obligation.
In the end, many of us want – to put it bluntly and without fake gentleness – the Church to come back to what it was before Vatican II. Then we can, a bit at a time, also try to let it be so in our own private existence. If the Catholics in the pew start to walk the walk, in time the vatican will decide that at this point it is better to talk the talk…..
You can read here the longish take of the Catholic Encyclopedia on abstinence and fasting. Abstinence is not really difficult and not really a sacrifice. I have found that for me (a single, and very forgetful since I can remember) the biggest challenge is to remember that it is Friday before I eat my lunch. “How can you forget what day it is?” You may ask. Well I can do it very well and I can’t even count the times I have been answered “tomorrow is Saturday” at work…. :(. Apart from that, it is not really difficult, mainly requiring (probably, only for singles) nothing more than a minimum of planning in your fridge administration (after Friday comes the weekend, where you might eat out rather often; therefore a Tuesday or Wednesday meat purchase should be weighted against the probability of eating it within Thursday or it might stay in your fridge for a while, which is sub-optimal to say the least). As in almost everything, if we persevere until we have acquired a habit, the habit will take care of us.
We are called to deny ourselves, take up the cross, and follow Christ. Abstinence is a small, rather easy, but frequent way to do this. It is another little brick with which we build the edifice of our salvation. It will greatly contribute to keep us away from gluttony (ah! Gluttony!! When was last time you heard this word mentioned?! Nowadays it must be McDonald’s fault, isn’t it?), help us to better remember our Lord’s sacrifice and, as a bonus, will probably keep us in better shape.
I have frequently noticed that one of the biggest differences between Catholicism (properly understood) and Protestant ecclesial communities is that whilst the latter may tend to some sort of easy “emotionalism”, the (traditional) Catholic path gives a great importance to habits, to the small little things one does regularly. These little practices may not seem such a big deal taken individually, but when considered in their entirety they become a solid railway upon which we base our journey to salvation. From the litanies to crossing oneself when walking past a church, from praying the Rosary (very important, this!) to the devotions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; from the novenas to the use of holy water, all these seemingly not life-changing small activities contribute to the building of our spiritual edifice.
Gutta cavat lapidem. Even a small gesture, repeated faithfuly again and again, can go a long way to keep us away from serious trouble and will, on that fateful day of the redde rationem, have a great weight on the right side of the scale.
If you are not doing it already, you may want to seriously consider to reintroduce Friday abstinence in your life. Perhaps you might want to give it a try tomorrow?
If we had asked Padre Pio about the opportunity of abolishing the abstinence on Fridays, I wonder whether he would have remained calm. If we had told him that all these things are meaningless relics of the past, as in reality only our oh so emotionally charged relationship with Jesus is all that count, I think he most certainly wouldn’t have.
It might be good to give it a try for a while. It was good enough for Pius XII’s Church. Really, it can’t be bad for Benedict XVI’s one.
I tend not to have too many hopes in the collective future, as years and experiences have made me rather disillusioned. I also tend not to salute a “new era” every time that a new face (or a new skin colour) is elected in some important office, persuaded as I am that democracies can’t work in a radically different way than they do now, otherwise they’d just be doing it now. Thirdly and lastly, I always thought that it was not in order to end an expression with a preposition; but hey, people get elected to President of the United States with that, and who am I to object.
Having said all that I can’t avoid the delicious impression that yesterday’s mid-term elections represent a turning of the tide; that a great offensive in defence of Christian values has now officially started to make itself heard in the ballot box and in the next decades will spread all over the Western world.
I am trying to digest some facts, and present them to you in no particular order.
1) The marijuana proposition in California has been defeated; so soundly in fact, that it will be fun to see in what other states it will be defeated in 2012. I see in this a clear signal that the electorate has boundaries. Even – would you believe it – in California, the State who gave humanity Nancy Pelosi and Judge Walker.
2) Catholic activism starts to bite. Catholic Vote Action has endorsed nine candidates; seven were elected, some of them with rather spectacular victories (check out the boot for the founder of “Catholic in Alliance for the Common Good”, kicked out by a candidate supported by… real Catholics). Many other Catholics entered the House and Thomas Peters maintains that they are now, incredibile dictu, the majority in the Congress. This is, if not a legislative – abortion legislation is state matter, AFAIK – a cultural shift of great importance; may it still be that many of them are cafeteria Catholics, the number of really pro-life Representatives is most certainly on the rise. Ten or twenty years of this, and an awful lot can be achieved.
3) It would appear that six US States now have both houses with a Pro-Life majority. This can have truly major consequences. Let us hope that the walk follows the talk.
4) The fight against judicial activism trying to demolish the very basis of Christian society takes a rather aggressive form. In Iowa, three judges of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling in favour of homo couples have been unceremoniously kicked out. I do not think many States have laws similar to those in Iowa, but the message is loud and clear anyway.
5) The soon-to-be speaker of the House, Boehner, is a Catholic and the first Republican Catholic to such an office. This is another sign of the times: when a mickey mouse Catholic a’ la Pelosi is replaced by a person unable to refrain his emotions at a pro-life rally – and second of twelve sons – you know something’s happening…
This is, of course, only the beginning. The way is very long and many other battles will have to be fought, and some of them lost.
But today, I sense that something is changing. That the American voters have said “enough”, and the echo will not fail to resound in the benches of the judiciary besides among the rank of the elected politicians.
Today, we might be at the beginning of real change not only the other side of the Pond but, in time, all over the Western civilisation.
I have written already about the beautiful site of “The Age of Mary”. Among (many) other things, the site is notable for the best narration of the Fatima events I have been able to find on the Internet up to now. I would like to spend some words about this astonishing series of historical documented facts.
Let us first say very clearly that, no matter how impressive the miracles and apparitions, as a Catholic you are not obliged to believe anything of the entire story. As in every private apparition, no belief is required of the faithful; not even in the cases publicly endorsed by the Church as worthy of belief. I would be the last one to accuse a Catholic of being a lesser one because he doesn’t believe in the Fatima apparitions.
But please allow me to say why I am one of those who do. Some of the arguments can, no doubt, be applied to other apparitions (think of Lourdes).
1) The apparitions involved children. It is apparent how a child tends to change and inflate whatever exciting event has happened to him; nay, whatever event he is requested to repeat time and again. Nothing of the sort has happened here. Infinite times the children have been requested to tell the story; infinite times they have repeated it in exactly the same way. Hundreds of sceptical and atheist enquirers eager to expose the “plot” have never succeeded in finding contradictions, exaggerations, changes of descriptions, discrepancies of whatever sort. This is not normal, and doesn’t happen just because one child (or three) happens to be uncommonly fond of precision.
2) The apparitions involved children who were, without exception, illiterate. They couldn’t have written down a story, or an agreed version, to give coherence to their claims.
3) The apparitions established a clear hierarchy – at least in the eyes of the people – among the children. Only one girl, Lucia, speaks to Mary; the older of the two siblings, Francisco, doesn’t hear her, nor does he ever pretend to do so; but his younger sister, Jacinta, hears Mary’s every word. Come on, this is a recipe for strife, we are talking here of children between seven and ten! Nothing of the sort ever happened. No rivalries, no jealousies, no attempts to make oneself important as their notoriety grows, no fights for leadership, no races to get attention. This is not normal by any adult standard, let alone by a childish one.
4) The apparitions trigger a change in the children’s behaviour. A real, observable and lasting one. They start praying for long periods at a time, when before they used to cheat on their daily rosary obligations; they start to offer all their suffering to God with a zeal and simplicity you would find in a living saint, and only after a long and conscious effort; they start practicing such harsh penances that their relatives are worried. One child can, perhaps, fall in love for a short time with his own pious dispositions; another may indulge, every now and then, in an excess of zeal; but this was three children, out of three claiming to have seen Mary, completely changing their tune and starting to behave in what can only be called an extraordinary way. Try this with your nephews and see how it goes.
5) The plain simplicity of the entire story. A poor village in the middle of Portugal. Simple, illiterate children from simple and rather poor (though not destitute) families. Monotonous conversations of Lucia with Mary; just as monotonous responses of Mary to the children. There is no glitz here, no splendour, no poetry. A planned tale would have been intriguing, the events fascinating, the words spectacularly catching, unforgettable. Nothing of the sort happens here. Plain questions, plain answers, no concessions to the theatrical.
6) Orthodoxy. Several times both the angel and Mary speak to the children; they transmit a quantity of information. None of it is less than absolutely orthodox. Try to invent that as a group of three seven-to-ten-years-old children, and good luck to you. This of the orthodoxy is, to me, actually the first criterium of every claim of apparition. This is why I, like many others, despise the Medjugorje affair so much.
7) Public character. One of the unique features of the Fatima apparition is the utter public character of the entire matter. Never before had Marian apparitions been announced, and punctually delivered, in front of a plurality of people. Granted, not everyone could perceive the various phenomena; but enough of them could as to make the event a truly public display of miraculous activity. We do not know why not all were able to enjoy the extraordinary phenomena more than we know why Francisco was not allowed to hear, or Jacinta to speak. But this is what happened all along, with various people affected in various way, and a multitude of them affected forever.
8 ) Memory. Some of the apparitions contained longish conversations; all of them went above what a child can usually remember. Prayers are repeated to them a couple of times and their content is etched in their memory forever. Never they say that they can’t remember what was said, never they have hesitations. Still, at times they forget the implications (for example, they don’t reflect that Lucia won’t be killed, because Mary forecast a long life to her; but that Mary says so, they never forget), showing to be in normal “child mode” most of the times, in another stunning contrast to their behaviour related to the apparitions. These children are stunningly normal in their being children, and extraordinary in whatever pertains to the apparition.
Fatima is, truly, unique even among the Marian apparitions considered worthy of faith. It richly deserves the central place it has rapidly gained in the heart of Catholics. Not even 100 years after the events, you’ll rarely hear a Rosary recited without the “Fatima prayer”.
I invite you to read the entire story from the beautifully made Internet site (intelligently divided for you in easy-to-digest tidbits) and become aware of the unique nature of the extraordinary events in Fatima. Your belief in Fatima, once acquired, will make it so much easier for you to start what the Blessed Virgin so often recommended to the children: daily recitation of the Rosary.
I stumbled upon another Rosary site. Well, not only a Rosary site, really. This is a kind of one-stop-shop for many of the needs of the modern Cyber-Catholic. Modestly, there is no emphasis about who are the authors of this site but by clicking around it would appear that it is the brainchild of an association called Auxilium Christianorum. Massive kudos to them.
The site is divided in sections.
There is a Rosary section which very focused on the actual way of praying the rosary. Half a dozen of different traditions and methods of Rosary praying are described in detail. The influence of Simon of Montfort is particularly evident. The entire Rosary section is entirely built upon the pre-Conciliar Rosary structure. The “luminous” mysteries are completely ignored and whilst not less than eleven Papal encyclicals are reported, JP II’s Rosarium Virginis Mariae is spectacularly absent. I begin to think that there may be a message behind that, but I’m not sure which 😉 .
Basically, the entire section is vastly Vatican II-free, and so much better for it. Still, who has written this is well endowed with common sense, and very modern in approach. The “helpful suggestions” include to pray simplified versions of the rosary if one hasn’t time or is too lazy for the full five decades with all the trimming; to not neglect, in case, also to pray the rosary whilst driving (very easy, this, and can be done vocally; in the end a lot of people talk by driving all the time); or, as regards the new-ish and not uncontroversial fashion of wearing a rosary, to not have a problem in wearing is, but by taking it out to use it, in a bold public display of Catholicism. Also please note that these people are traditionalists, but not sedevacantists. The beautiful audio version in Latin (one of the many versions of the Rosary of this excellent site) is recited by none other than… Pope John Paul II! Still no “luminous” mysteries, though…. .
A second section of the site is dedicated to the “Little Office of the Blessed Virgin”, a simplified version of the Divine Office for the use of the laity. This version seems to be further simplifies inasmuch as the first two hours (matins and lauds) are supposed to change daily, which here seems to have been substituted for a standard version. Still, the material is considerable, well presented and available in both English and Latin. This is an excellent resource for all those who want to try to see whether the little office is a devotion for them, and the latin text is a welcome addition.
The third section is very modestly (and inappropriately, I would add) called Catholic Calendar, but it is so much more than that. It is a complete Catholic Almanac with a wealth of resources: saint of the day, daily reading of the Mass; daily reading from the rule of St. Benedict; Martirology; daily reading from the Imitation of Christ; daily reading from the “secret of Mary” (link to full version available); a beautiful “saint picture of the day” with reflections (today, 1st November, it seems to be from Gustave Dore’s “Paradise” after Dante, it is very beautiful), and a lesson of the Catechism of.. Trent (today, All Saints, unavailable and with other reflections instead). This is a source of massive Catholic wisdom and prayer, changing every day and made conveniently available within the same site.
The following section is the “Total Consecration to Mary” after the fashion of Simon of Montfort. The devotion and procedure for the consecration are explained in detail.
The last section is, like a jewel on the crown, the most complete and best presented description of the Fatima apparitions (and more: see Immaculate Heart of Mary part) I have ever read. The material is vast, but still very easy to read. Like all the others, this section too is extremely orthodox and you won’t find any trace of modern imbecility a’ la Vincent Nichols here. Statements like “War, disease, and natural disasters are punishments for sin” are prominently and unapologetically displayed. This site deals with Truth, not with popularity.
Summa summarum, this site deserves to become one of your standard Catholic links from today. Everything here is accurate, from the theology to the attention to practical matters to the very accurate (and I would say: professional) layout and presentation. It is joy to use and explore.
I look forward to many happy (and some less happy, but prayerful) hours in the company of this beautiful site.
A prayer for those who have created such beauty is more than in order.
The American Papist has an interesting article about the NYT’s prediction of the Catholic vote in the coming Mid-Term elections. It would appear that – among the electorate generically defining itself as “Catholic” – the swing from the Democrats to the Republican is a barely believable 34 percent.
Beside reading such forecasts cum grano salis (it’s only a forecast; Obama was an oh so fashionable candidate two years ago; Catholics have already rather liked Republicans in the past, with George W Bush being the most recent example), we must consider that such a swing is unprecedented. Might it well be that the decline in popularity of Obama has few precedents, too, the fact still remain that when it has become clear and it has been insistently repeated that this President is nothing to do with Christian values, Christians have begun abandoning him in drove. Which drives me nicely to my point.
It is undeniable that the American Bishops, as a body, do not do enough to protect Catholic values among their sheep. Still, there are a handful of courageous Bishops who are never afraid of an “unpopular” headline and the general climate is much, much more Catholic than in the UK.
Take Archbishop Chaput for example, or the future Cardinal Burke before he moved to Rome, or the sadly soon-to-retire Bruskewitz. They are/were all people who can make national headlines; people willing to stir the placid waters of political correctness and rampant secularism by throwing the one or other Catholic stone in the stinking pond of secularist anti-Christian values.
I cannot imagine that this hasn’t made a difference. Not a 34-point difference for sure, but a difference in the cultural climate in which Catholic are called to operate and, importantly, vote. In two words, people are starting to open their eyes and in time, even a handful of brave Bishops will not fail to awaken a growing number of up to now not properly informed or soundly asleep Catholics.
This is, clearly, not what is happening in England and Wales, where the Bishops are the best allies of the secular leftist society and they either actively helped Labour to push its secular agenda (say: “sex education” for children; so-called “homo marriages”; neglect of proper Catholic teaching in Catholic schools; nice jobs given to Labour MPs in need of a perk) or gave an opposition which was not strong enough and determined not to offend anyone (say: adoption agencies). All this whilst Summorum Pontificum is eagerly boycotted, and Anglicanorum Coetibus at best ignored.
The situation in the US shows us that when good shepherds start doing their job, sheep start following them. It must be so, then once the Catholic message is insistently repeated, there is no way Catholics can – giving them sufficient space to come to term with uneasy truths never told to them before – avoid being affected by it. The beauty of Catholicism is that by its very nature every sustained, repeated call to orthodoxy will always fall on attentive ears, then in Catholicism’s case there is no need to define what “orthodoxy” is, merely to know that it exists and that it demands observance. This is a much easier exercise than to, say, define “Tea Party ideals” or “Republican values”.
If our Bishops started doing their job instead of limiting themselves to be automatic distributors of platitudes and convenient soundbites, things would start changing in Blighty too. Not today and not tomorrow of course; but in time, the effect would be felt.
Today, Cameron is scared senseless from a couple of hundred thousand homosexuals who don’t even vote for him. Let him confront, say, one million angry Catholics and see how he’ll react. Methinks, he’ll become a fan of the Tridentine Mass and tell us that he has always felt that way.
The Hierarchy of E&W betrays his sheep every day. None of them, not one, is worthy of his office. What is happening in the US exposes once more all their inadequacy, incompetence, corruption or very simply loss of faith.
Let us hope that this disgraceful generation of bad shepherds will soon be reformed or, rather less unrealistically, removed. Up to that point, we can only look at the US and sigh.