Sunday, December 20, 2009

Historical Honesty Defeats Blind Political Correctness


His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI once again baffles the enemies of the truth by boldly declaring the heroic virtues of the Venerable Pope Pius XII by coupling that unpopular declaration with the same and more popular declaration regarding the Venerable Pope John Paul II.



Viva Benedict XVI who is hereby further showing his own heroism! He is a true, fearless and shrewd servant of the Truth.



Thursday, December 17, 2009

A New Motu Proprio on the Diaconate


Two days ago, the Holy Father made public the Motu Proprio "Omnium in mentem" clarifying the nature and role of the ordained Deacon in relation to the Priest and Bishop. You can find it in Latin at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/apost_letters/documents/hf_ben-xvi_apl_20091026_codex-iuris-canonici_lt.html.






Zenit has it in Italian and Spanish. So far I do not find the English.




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wisdom of Masculine Celibate Clergy


The world needs celibate male priests for several reasons, one of which is the public witness to the need for and to the possibility of Christian chastity, self-control and generosity.




The celibate priest, being a man, can identify with other men. It is helpful for men to know that the priests are like them, with the same struggles and weaknesses, and can thus provide a compassionate perspective and encouragement in their quest for holiness.




Celibacy also fortifies the priest in counselling married couples with a necessary objectivity. The celibate commands more authority in correcting abuse, not being susceptible to the same faults, himself being unmarried.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Die Because I Don't Die


I live without living in me
and thus I hope,
for I die because I don't die.

1. I no longer live in me,
and without God I cannot live;
since I would be left without Him and without me;
this "living" what would it be?
It would be a thousand deaths to me,
since I hope for my own life,
dying because I don't die.

2. This life which I live is a denial of living,
and is thus a continual dying
until I live with you.
Hear, my God, what I say,
that I no longer want this life,
for I die because I don't die.

3. Being absent from you,
what life can I have,
except suffer death,
never seeing the greater?
I am sorry for myself,
that per chance I continue,
for I die because I don't die.

4. Even a fish that comes out of water
does not lack relief,
for in the death that is suffers,
in the end that death helps it.
What death might there be which would equal
my sorrowful living,
since if I live more I die more?

5. When I think of relieving myself
looking at You in the Sacrament,
it gives me more emotion
not to be able to enjoy you;
it is all for greater regret,
to not see you as I want,
and I die because I don't die.

6. And if I take joy, Lord,
in the hope of seeing you,
my pain is doubled;
living in such distress
and hoping as I hope,
I die because I don't die.

7. Withdraw me from this death,
my God, and give me life;
do not keep me bound
in this so strong a bond;
look that I am in pain to see you,
and my ill is so complete,
that I die because I don't die.

8. I shall already weep my death
and I'll lament my life
in so far as it is
held back by my sins.
O my God!, When will it be
when I shall truly say:
I already live because I don't die?




Muero Porque no Muero, Saint John of the Cross (Feast 14 December)
The translation is my own.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Making a Case for Manly Beards


"The friars shall wear the beard, after the example of Christ most holy and of all our first saints, since it is something manly, severe, despised and austere."


-- Rule and Constitutions of the Franciscans of the Primitive Observance, #65

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Maria, sine labe originale concepta!


Today, the Immaculate Conception, we praise God and glorify our Lady for the Lord's double anticipation in anticipating His own Passion and death and in anticipating her conception in dispensing her from the Adam's sinful heritage.

The Lord God, in creating Mary at her Immaculate Conception, today, purified her before he created her, by the Blood which He did not yet have from her, to shed for her.

Gloria Deo in Maria Immaculata!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Answering the Skeptic

Ein Narr fragt mehr, als sieben Weise beantworten konnen.

(The fool [questions] more than seven wise [men] can answer.)

In this German proverb you will find the most reasonable argument against skepticism, viz., the skeptic questions for the sake of questioning; skepticism is a type of intellectually aimless sophistry. It can never be satisfied because it does not seek answers but only questions.

So, the skeptic is a glutton for questions.

The agnostic asks no questions.

And the athiest has the wrong answer!

Christ is the Truth. Each will be satisfied only in Christ God.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New study on effects of pornography reveals ‘a quiet family killer,’ researcher says

Ars Gratia Artis

ARS GRATIA ARTIS is the motto for MGM studios on it's emblem surrounding the roaring lion at the beginning of it's old movies which I often view on TCM channel. It can be translated literally to mean "Grace is the art of art." Which means that grace (i.e. refinement, intelligence, modesty, subtlety, piety and every other noble thing and good manner) is the greatest expression of human creativity. That movies and every form of art should be up building; entertainment should first of all build character. It should always make the viewer a better person!

Mary, the "gratia plena" (full of grace), is the greatest creation of the eternal Artist. So, even in the deepest sense, in the supernatural sense, ars gratia artis: in Maria. May our contemporary artists all remember Holy Mary, the fullness of grace, holy femeninity, divine direction, the value of virginity and holy motherhood and the God child in their work. Then they will remember and truly serve the genuine good of the people they influence by their works.

I present this as an alternate meaning to the originally intended meaning of "art for art's sake", a concept that emphasizes the autonomous value of art and regards preoccupations with morality, utility, realism and didacticism as irrelevant or inimical to artistic quality. It was the guiding principle of the AESTHETIC MOVEMENT. And it is false! Beauty is essentially related to truth and to humanity. My translation is therefore the more appropriate and should supplant the earlier and anarchic understanding of the arts which ruins the arts themselves in ruining man.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Relax!


If you haven't been poisoned...

If you haven't stopped breathing...

If you aren't bleeding profusely...



...it can wait!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Lifetime Sermon Program


Given the plethora of readings in the Novus Ordo lectionary there is a dual temptation to the preacher of either avoiding most of the readings altogether or giving in to generic redundancy of religious cliches or scattered preaching without any clear direction, especially over the course of years of preaching.

I suggest the preacher begin by preaching six years on the Gospel texts (beginning in your diaconal year), writing out your homilies and saving them on hard copy (i.e. paper!), creating with them a filing system with one file per Sunday/Holy Day. Use a spiral notebook for daily homilies (noting the date and the liturgical day for each daily entry).

All homilies should be based on the scripture heavily using The Baltimore Catechism and Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma as the catechetical foundation of all your preaching, for clarity and brevity's sake! The number one flaw in all Catholic contemporary instruction is vague verbosity!!!

If you need additional quotes and examples go to The Catechism of the Council of Trent, A Catholic Catechism (John Hardon, S.J.), The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The 1983 Code of Canon Law and the Liturgical Books themselves (especially pre-1962). An annotated Catholic Bible (e.g. Navarra) is also invaluable for a synopsis of the Fathers' commentaries on the scriptures. Saint Thomas Aquinas' Catena Aurea and his commentaries on the Pauline Corpus, etc. are also very helpful.

Having read and used the above works for over ten years, what I now most often use to get a quick clear meaning of the text is an Italian annotated bible by Archbishop Antonio Martini first published in 1778 of which there are many used editions available from the late 19th century. Mine is an 1896 Napoli edition. There is also a similar work I have seen in Spanish but I do not know the author.

The six initial years of catechetical preaching from the liturgical Gospel texts will give you a solid preaching base which is an invaluable personal resource you may use in all future sermon preparation.

Next, in Advent of your seventh year of preaching (when you have completed the initial six years on the Gospels) begin the four year preaching cycle below. In twelve years you will have systematically preached three times on all the readings of the Mass (including the Psalms and the sanctoral cycle) and an additional time on the three year Sunday cycle (which now makes three times for the Sunday cycle). This four year preaching cycle is thorough and minimizes repetition.


Four Year Sermon Program


Sundays                                                                         Weekdays

I
. Gospel                                                                          Gospel

II
. 1st Reading (Old Testament)                                     1st Reading (Year 1)

III
. 2nd Reading (Epistle)                                               1st Reading (Year 2)

IV. Psalm                                                                         Psalm/Sanctoral

Using this method you will focus on one reading in turn at every Mass and go deeper and deeper in your appreciation of the Word of God. You will also be able to use the old homilies as quick preparation for future sermons when the cycle repeats itself, adding new anecdotes and adjusting as necessary. Finally, you might even prayerfully study each of the books of the scripture during the same period that the texts from that book are being read at Mass, for further reflection.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Health Care 101: Contraception is Not Healthy


The real underlying and taboo issue in the present health care debate is contraception!

Contraception should not be provided to anyone by anyone because it is not health care at all but a cover up for sexual immorality. Instead, Natural Family Planning instruction should be provided for every adult citizen and contraception should be against the law along with every type of fornication, adultery, sodomy, prostitution, incest and rape.

Contraception is bad for your health. It is not true medicine because medicine is for the sick and not for the healthy. If one that is healthy should take a remedy the remedy alters the patient's health, i.e. makes him unhealthy. Healthy young people are by nature potentially fertile. To alter the nature of that healthy fertility in any way is to damage the health of that person. And to distort the procreative act with a condom is dirty. The only real solution to irresponsible procreation is chastity and Natural Family Planning. Contraception is not the answer. Abortion is not the answer. Education and self-discipline are the only true solution. No medicine can remedy the need for human responsibility and upright behavior.

What we need is to recognize the limits of science and technology. Nature and morality are the limits of science. It is objective morality which determines the legitimate limits of technology and not technology which determines morality. We need to empower our women and youth with education in virtue and cease to corrupt them with contraceptive poison and dirty devices for immorality. We must promote and defend virginal integrity above all! Natural Family Planning does just that.

The college scene with it's men and women in close quarters to live and to sleep together is a set up for self-destruction. It is the systematic corruption of our youth and therefore of our future families. We make our youth live as if there were no right and wrong and therefore as if God were not. The surest way to eliminate God from the minds and hearts of men and women is to corrupt them with immoral behavior. That is most unhealthy for the individual and for marriage and for the entire society. All stability is thereby undermined. No. Contraception is not helpful or healthy for anyone, it should not be allowed never mind paid for by upright citizens. We do support however public funding of Natural Family Planning for our schools and all health care facilities to help cure our sick nation with the only truly healthy behavior--chaste.

In this regard please read The Nightingale Pledge below, the oath of nurses upon graduation from nursing school, a pledge to promote good health and to do no harm. And at the same link you will find the Hippocratic Oath which is the age old oath for doctors which explicitely forbids any type of abortion (including "the morning after pill" and "Plan B" extra strong abortifacient pills).

http://www.countryjoe.com/nightingale/pledge.htm

By far the greatest preventable health problem in America today is sexual immorality of every form which comes from our official and individual rejection of God Jesus Christ. (cf. Romans 1)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Is the Church Open? Is there a Place in Your Church to Light a Candle?


These were the questions from a caller just now to this Newark, New Jesey parish.


The answer to both was yes!
--"We have candles all over the church, wherever you like; and we have perpetual adoration with 24/7 access to the whole church (after hours through the side door by ringing the bell [go to http://www.saintlucy.net/ for more information]).
Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsEwRlir3ng for a video presentation.


Alas, that such questions should even have to be asked!

Thus is the state of the Church. Thus the state of the world!

Self-Domination


The traditional Christian use of self inflicted physical mortification is not physically much different from or even more uncomfortable than any type of modern physical training for physical self development, dieting, exercise, etc. Who would not instinctively slap himself in order to stay awake at the car wheel! It is simply self discipline in order to be able to better apply oneself.

The purpose of the discipline is the Christian novelty: to serve the Lord! The purpose is God. It is spiritual. And the source is His love. Each man needs to become lord (king) of himself to have the freedom to be useful for God.

It is good to consider this truth on the Solemnity of Christ the King. Every man must rule himself in order to serve God. That is what is meant by Saint Paul's passage on athletics.

Do you not know that those who run in a race, all indeed run, but one receives the prize? So run as to obtain it. And everyone in a contest abstains from all things--and they indeed to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. I, therefore, so run as not without a purpose; I so fight as not beating the air; but I chastise my body and bring it into subjection, lest perhaps after preaching to others I myself should be rejected. 1Cor. 9:24-27

Every man needs to dominate himself. Some do it simply for themselves, others for the world, for glory, etc. We, however, dominate ourselves in the Lord and for the Lord, to stand blameless before Him, our Life; to be a king in Christ the King. And, really, no man can achieve authentic self-domination except by the mercy and the power of Jesus Christ Crucified. He is the only strong Man. His Cross is the source of strength, self-domination in living the Truth in Goodness unto death!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Corporal Mortification

The Italian Journalist Andrea Tornielle, in his new book, Santo Subito, reveals the late Holy Father's habitual use of the cilice to keep him conscious of the Cross . Blessed Mother Teresa also used and promoted the use of the cilice and the discipline. Here we have the most prominent extraordinary persons of our sensual age, revered for their extraordinary holiness and compassion, mortifying the flesh in the traditional Catholic manner under the counsel of their confessors. This makes it clear that the Da Vinci Code mentality needs to reassess its stigma of corporal mortification as some obscurantist practice of an inhuman superstitious occult sect.


http://www.cilice.co.uk/ (cilice catalogue)

A Kernel of Pope Benedict's Encyclicals is in Pascal


"Not only do we not know God except through Jesus Christ, but we do not know ourselves except through Jesus Christ; we do not know life, death, except through Jesus Christ. Outside of Jesus Christ we do not know what our life is nor what our death is, nor what God is nor what we ourselves are.

"Thus, without the Scriptures, which only have Jesus Christ as their aim, we do not know anything at all, and we do not see anything but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in our own nature." Pensees, Edition de Michel Le Guern, 396

And I add (to complete this thought with Benedict's constant emphasis on experience)...

To know Christ one must love Him, and to love Him one must follow Him.
Now compare the Pensees quote above to Caritas in Veritate, 78 "Without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understand who he is...'Apart from me [says the Lord] you can do nothing' (Jn 15:5) and...'I am with you always, to the close of the age' (Mt 28:20). Or again from the beginning of the encyclical

Man does not develop through his own powers, nor can development
simply be handed to him. In the course of history, it was often maintained that the creation of institutions was sufficient to guarantee the fulfillment of humanity's right to development. Unfortunately, too much confidence was place in those institutions, as if they were able to deliver the desired objective automatically. In reality, institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone. Moreover, such development requires a transcendent vision of the person, it needs God: without him, development is either denied, or entrusted exclusively to man, who falls into the trap of thinking he can bring about his own salvation, and ends up promoting a dehumanized form of development. Only through an encounter with God are we able to see in the other something more than just another creature, to recognize the divine image in the other, thus truly coming to discover him or her and to mature in a love that 'becomes concern and car for the other.' (Caritas in Veritate, 11)

World Cinema (Classic and New)


For decades I have been searching almost in vain for ready, easy (and preferably free) access to the greatest films in the world (ideally in the original language [perhaps with optional Spanish or English subtitles]) and I must say that even with the Internet and our present state of "globalization" we in the USA have not progressed at all in this area. Why can't our theaters, our cable companies, our video rentals or our websites provide us with some access to the wealth of cinematographic creations the world over? I envision and long for the day when every home has a dozen foreign equivalents to our Turner Classic Movies channel. It is all too rare for our cable movie channels to show a foreign film.

For example, I should like to watch the two top 2009 Cannes Festival winners:

"Das weisse Band" http://www.dasweisseband.x-verleih.de/ and

"Un Prophete". http://www.un-prophete-lefilm.com/

As far as I can tell they are not available here at all in any venue!!! (Nor are the winners of previous years or of the myriad film festivals every year throughout the world: e.g. the Middle East and the Far East) Why is that? This is not Russia! I suppose even there they have access to great foreign films throughout the country.

If someone could tap this untapped area of the media for us it seems to me that it could easily become the biggest movie industry in the country (given the excellent quality of much of the foreign film industry and given the largely foreign makeup of our own people here). Maybe it's a job for Google: e.g. Googlemovies.com. If that should happen we could all replace the television with the computer and America would broaden its artistic horizon to include the world. Of course, there would have to be some way to warn against (and preferably censor) the ubiquitous pornography on the screen.

In this regard I must say there has been some small progress from Ignatius Press which sells a limited line of fine videos from around the world and EWTN which now has EWTN CINEMA Saturday nights at 8PM. The most recent film I'm seeing there (Part 2 tonight) is "San Giuseppe Moscati": a superb drama of an extraordinary life. http://pisgahview.net/?p=4396

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Sedes Sapientiae


The first reading of today's Mass (Wisdom 7:22b-8:1) speaks of the qualities of Wisdom. Mary is the Seat of Wisdom: in her alone among mere mortals you will find every perfect quality of Wisdom, Wisdom is perfectly hers, perhaps this is also why in literature wisdom is personified as She and as a sort of Spouse of God. I would transpose Mary's name in the passage as follows.

"For in [Mary] is the spirit of understanding: holy, one, manifold, subtile, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile. For [Mary] is more active than all active things: and reacheth everywhere by reason of her purity. For she is a vapor of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God: and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her. For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God's majesty, and the image of his goodness.

"And being but one, [Mary] can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls. [Mary] maketh the friends of God and prophets. For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with [Our Lady]. For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the order of the stars: being compared with the light, she is found before it. For after this cometh night, but no evil can overcome [Mary].

You can also substitute "the Church" for "Mary" or "Wisdom" in this passage.  Our Lady is a perfect image of the Church, the Spouse of God.

[Mary] reacheth therefore from end to end mightily, and ordereth all things sweetly..."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Show That You Care


A thought for the day.



People don't care what you know until they know that you care.








P.S. This thought comes from a poster I saw this morning in a local hospital which read "People don't care how much we know until we show how much we care."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Marriage Sermon

Marriage Gen. 2:18-24, Jn 2:1-12 (Cana)

"...[A]nd the two become one flesh." (v. 24b) The "one flesh" union is what we celebrate today: the union of a man and a woman, made by the Creator (God), faithful, fruitful and "for good" (permanent).

M. and F., God unites you as you unite to each other in Him, in Jesus Christ our Blessed Lord. It is spiritual. The difference between Church marriage and all other union is the spiritual reality: God unites you, which means you are really united, deeply, from the inside, and from above. (Apparently the same as any romantic union but really this is different, it is true because it is supernatural and not just natural: like the Incarnation [not just man but true God], like the Eucharist [no longer bread but the Flesh and Blood of God], like the baptized believer versus the non-believer, and again like the person in the state of sanctifying grace versus one in mortal sin.) God, in you, makes this different.

You unite sacramentally by Christ who was at the Wedding Feast of Cana, and since then sanctifies every marriage of those who marry in Him. As expressed in the title of Fulton Sheen's book on marriage It Takes Three to Get Married. (There are four relationships in holy marriage: 1) M. (baptized) with Christ, 2) F. (baptized) with Christ, 3) M. and F. with each other, and 4) M. and F. together with Christ.)

This holy union (on earth today) was made by God (from the beginning of creation) for the sincere, transparent relations of the woman and the man, for the complete commitment (giving of self) in persevering union ("getting along;" together, "working [all] things out") and for the continuation and civilizing of the human species (generously accepting the God-given children and undertaking to civilize, i.e. Christianize, them by raising them to follow Christ). Holy marriage is the principle school of mutual respect, forgiveness, self-denial, selfless service and sincere prayer. God willed that this should be the context of the bringing of new life into the world: the openness to which is so essential to the joy, the excitement and, indeed, the sacrifice of married life. (N.B. Love/Life double inseparable meaning of the holy marital act).

We know, though, that in human relations and in the family egotism and sin must constantly be overcome for the reign of Christ's peace; that, as the years pass the love must mature, otherwise it will become sterile and even bad (like bad wine: vinegar), which is spiritually poor, gives no joy, is unpleasant and even harmful.

For love to mature it needs to reach the love of Jesus, it needs to find and accept the Cross, because love needs God!, and He loves us through the Cross (cf. Deus Caritas Est). So, we too are to love Him through the Cross. "And the wine having run short, the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine.'" (Jn.2:3) And Christ gives the best wine (at the end!) Commit yourself, M and N., to Him. Love Christ and love the Cross (and "the Cup") with frequent repentance, (go frequently [monthly] to Confession => forgiveness; e.g. Charlton Heston's testimony to the journalist who, at his golden jubilee asked the secret for his fidelity in Hollywood: "three words: 'I was wrong'" [repentance is the school of forgiveness {receive mercy to give mercy}]), family Mass (receive the mystery of the Redemption) on the Lord's day (even daily); and worthily receive Holy Communion (eat God in the Flesh!) there. Everything depends on Him, on His love, on His forgiveness, He does the miracle of the wine (providing every good thing) for those who have Him in their marriage. Please notice one more significant element here, that Christ does the miracle for marriage because His Mother noticed the need and asked Him to act.

M. and F., have a true devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary, she notices the need of the couple at Cana and gets Our Lord to perform the miracle for them. She always obtains from God what is needed for the faithful marriage--the sweetness, the peace, the joy and the selfless love and endless generosity symbolized by the gallons and gallons of the best wine. Pray the daily family Rosary for her constant care for your home.

M. and F., your hearts, your love, your marriage, made by God Himself, becomes, in this way, the fountain of God's life and love in the world, starting with your Christian/Catholic home founded here today in this Church with your blessed vows.

American Anti-Catholic Penchant


Archbishop Timothy Dolan's excellent article on Anti-Catholicism as America's favorite pass time was rejected by The New York Times. The Archbishop posted the censored article on his blog at the archdiocesan website and pasted below.

Anti-Catholicism

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.
FOUL BALL!
By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!
Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.
It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”
If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:
  • On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community.According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”
Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.
  • On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
  • Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.
  • Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.
True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.
I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness forALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?
The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.
I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.
Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Daylight Savings Time's Anti-Christian Bias

Speaking of time...

Have you ever wondered why the time change should be on The Lord's Day and thereby disrupt the Christian observance thereof? Invariably, every year many Christians miss the Sunday observance because of the early Sunday morning time change, which first hits us (at least those of us who are not hooked on American mass media) when we show up late in the Spring and early in the Fall for Sunday worship (and I'm not sure which is more disconcerting).

It would be much fairer to have the time change for Saturday rather than Sunday morning. Even Monday (or any day of the week) would be preferable, i.e. it would be preferable that people be confused on a work day than on the day of worship. Or perhaps a federal holiday might be convenient for the hour changes (when people rest presumably not for worship).

This inconvenient choice for the hour changes is a subtle yet significant instance of the government systematically (whether intended or not) confusing worshipers. It can and therefore should be changed.

Furthermore, this brings up the broader topic of a government's audacity in presuming to change the hour at all. It is not necessary. There are many nations which do not do it. We should rather adapt our schedules (work hours, breaks, vacations, etc.) to the seasons, not our clocks. Politicians should not pretend to have authority over the sun by tinkering with our clocks and even less with our Christian worship.

Friday, October 30, 2009

There is No Time But the Present


"Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation." --Jesus Christ

That is the urgency of the Gospel. God is calling now, calling you to follow Him! Do not delay.

The truth is that all that exists is now. Now is the only reality. All else is hypothesis. The past is gone and the future is always not yet. The present is profoundly real, and for man, with the capacity to genuinely love, it is glorious. Therefore...

There is no time but the present.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Bills









The Mexican government has just issued a limited edition of it's 200 peso note with the image of the patroness of America you see here.

Viva Mexico Catolico!

Viva la Virgen Maria Santisima de Guadalupe!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion


I offer here a simple reflection on the present prevailing abuse of "ministers" which confuses the proper nature and function of the priest in the administration of the Sacraments, especially of the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is good to consider the nature and role of the priest during this year of the priesthood. Bear in mind that my perspective comes from twenty five years of parish ministry in the northeast (including daily parish Masses during my yearly vacations in sundry parts of the country and the world).

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (emhc's) are not necessary in the parish liturgies of the United States to distribute Holy Communion. It is an artificial necessity produced by

1. needless use of the "cup" at Mass;

2. the ubiquitous communion line (which, along with "communion in the hand," considerably makes the distribution of the host more tedious and time-consuming for the priests and for the communicants [N.B. Kneeling reception at the communion rail is much more expeditious for the priest(s) distributing {because the communicant waits for him} and much more leisurely and devout {much less like "fast food"} for the communicant, who can remain in kneeling prayerful adoration for a few moments as the priest(s) go(es) down the rail.]);

3. the slothful neglect of the priests of the parish who should come out during communion time to help in the distribution when necessary; and

4. the tabernacle too far removed from the sanctuary.


The Catholic logic and true sacramental and sacerdotal perspective is that every parish should regret having to use emhc's and, therefore, use them as little as possible and ever less.

Every emhc should likewise regret having to handle the Most Sacred Host, the touching of which is proper only to the ordained clergy!

And every priest should himself regret and limit, as much as possible, by his sacramental zeal and work, this irregular situation.



Below is the relevant quote from the Vatican on this abuse and the need for immediate correction. The full text of the document is at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/laity/documents/rc_con_interdic_doc_15081997_en.html







Article 8 from the INSTRUCTION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINEDFAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST (LIBRERIA EDITRICE VATICANA, VATICAN CITY 1997)

The Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion



The non-ordained faithful already collaborate with the sacred ministers in diverse pastoral situations since "This wonderful gift of the Eucharist, which is the greatest gift of all, demands that such an important mystery should be increasingly better known and its saving power more fully shared".(95)



Such liturgical service is a response to the objective needs of the faithful especially those of the sick and to those liturgical assemblies in which there are particularly large numbers of the faithful who wish to receive Holy Communion.



§ 1. The canonical discipline concerning extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion must be correctly applied so as to avoid generating confusion. The same discipline establishes that the ordinary minister of Holy Communion is the Bishop, the Priest and the the Deacon.(96)



Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are those instituted as acolytes and the faithful so deputed in accordance with Canon 230, § 3.(97)

A non-ordained member of the faithful, in cases of true necessity, may be deputed by the diocesan bishop, using the appropriate form of blessing for these situation, to act as an extraordinary minister to distribute Holy Communion outside of liturgical celebrations ad actum vel ad tempus or for a more stable period. In exceptional cases or in un foreseen circumstances, the priest presiding at the liturgy may authorize such ad actum.(98)

§ 2. Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion.(99) They may also exercise this function at eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion. (100)

This function is supplementary and extraordinary (101) and must be exercised in accordance with the norm of law. It is thus useful for the diocesan bishop to issue particular norms concerning extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion which, in complete harmony with the universal law of the Church, should regulate the exercise of this function in his diocese. Such norms should provide, amongst other things, for matters such as the instruction in eucharistic doctrine of those chosen to be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the meaning of the service they provide, the rubrics to be observed, the reverence to be shown for such an august Sacrament and instruction concerning the discipline on admission to Holy Communion.



To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches:



— extraordinary ministers receiving Holy Communion apart from the other faithful as though concelebrants;



— association with the renewal of promises made by priests at the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, as well as other categories of faithful who renew religious vows or receive a mandate as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion;



— the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at Mass thus arbitrarily extending the concept of "a great number of the faithful".


(95) Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Premiss of the Instruction Immensae caritatis (29 January 1973), AAS 65 (1973), p. 264.
(96) Cf. C.I.C., can. 910, § 1; cf. John Paul II, Letter Dominicae coenae (24 February 1980), n. 11; AAS 72 (1980), p. 142.
(97) Cf. C.I.C., can. 910, § 2.
(98) Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction Immensae caritatis (29 January 1973), AAS 65 (1973), p. 264, n. 1; Missale Romanum, Appendix: Ritus ad deputandum ministrum S. Communionis ad actum distribuendae; Pontificale Romanum, De institutione lectorum et acolythorum.
(99) Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of The Code of Canon Law, Response (1 June 1998), AAS 80 (1988), p. 1373.
(100) Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments, Instruction Immensae caritatis (29 January 1973), n. 1; AAS 65 (1973), p. 264; Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Instruction Inestimabile donum (3 April 1980), n. 10: AAS 72 (1980), p. 336.
(101) Can. 230, § 2 and § 3 C.I.C., affirms that the liturgical services can be assigned to non-ordained faithful only "ex temporanea deputatione" or for supply.

For more on the topic of liturgical abuses please go to
http://catholicactionuk.blogspot.com/2008/05/liturgical-abuses.html

As you see, the proper perspective here is restrictive and requiring the greatest care to safeguard the exclusivity of the priestly function so as to show the uniqueness of the priestly nature and dignity.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pope Makes it Easier for Anglicans to Convert


Tue Oct 20 12:31:38 UTC 2009
By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters)
- Pope Benedict on Tuesday took a major step to make it easier for disaffected Anglicans who feel their Church has become too liberal to convert to Roman Catholicism.

The move comes after years of discontent in some sectors of the 77-million-strong worldwide Anglican community over the ordination of women priests and homosexual bishops.

While both sides stressed the step would not affect dialogue between the two Churches, it was clear it was taken because of the growing number of Anglicans who want to leave their Church.

The Vatican said the Pope had approved a document known as an "Apostolic Constitution" to accept Anglicans who want to join Catholicism, either individually or in groups, while maintaining some of their own traditions.

It marks perhaps the clearest and boldest institutional step by the Vatican to welcome disaffected Anglicans into the fold since King Henry VIII broke with Rome and set himself up at the head of the new Church of England in 1534.

The new structure allows for the appointment of leaders, usually bishops who will come from the ranks of unmarried former Anglican priests, to oversee communities of former Anglicans who become Catholics and recognize the pope as their leader."

In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church," the Vatican said.

MANY REQUESTS
It said the decision was taken to respond "to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion."

The most prominent recent Anglican convert to Catholicism was former British prime minister Tony Blair, who joined after leaving office in 2007.

The new regulations, due to come into effect soon, will not affect the Catholic Church's ban on its own priests marrying. But they will continue the age-old practice of allowing a married Anglican priest who converts to remain married.

Anglicans will find it easier than before to join the Catholic Church because they will be able to use a standard benchmark of rules and obligations for conversion.

Men who want to become priests and come from an Anglican background will study together with Catholic seminarians even if they are destined to eventually administer to former Anglicans.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, told a news conference in London that he did not see the Vatican move as "an act of aggression" or vote of no confidence, but part of a routine relationship between the two churches.

Both Vatican and Anglican officials stressed that both churches would continue dialogue aimed at eventual reunion."

This is not a comment on the life of the Anglican Communion. This is a response to people who came forward," said Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

Vatican and Anglican officials were coy when asked about the number of potential converts."
We will have to wait and see how many people put their hands up and say they are interested," said Nichols, describing the pope's response as "courageous and generous."

Traditional Bishops Appointed to the Congregatio Pro Episcopis


Vatican City, Oct 23, 2009 / 05:06 pm (CNA).

- Former Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke has been appointed to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, it was announced last Saturday.

The congregation is responsible for giving recommendations to the Pope on who should be a candidate to serve as a Catholic bishop. The 61-year-old prelate could have a significant impact on the composition of the future leadership of the Catholic Church, since the appointment lasts for five years and can be renewed until he turns 80.

Archbishop Burke is also prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, which is often called the “Vatican's Supreme Court.”

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia and also a former Archbishop of St. Louis, is another member of the Congregation of Bishops. A total of five Americans have been members of the office.

Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was also appointed to the Congregation of Bishops this past Saturday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Christianity is Essential for Civilization


"The civilization of the world is Christian civilization; the more frankly Christian it is, so much is it more true, more lasting and more productive of precious fruit; the more it withdraws from the Christian ideal, so much the feebler is it, to the great detriment of society... (The Judgement of the Nations, Dawson p. 97)

"...Without justice the state is nothing but organized robbery and the law of nations nothing but the law of the destruction of the weak." (Ibid., p. 100)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why We Prefer the Traditional Mass


Here is the second half of the homily delivered by Bishop Fernando Rifan at the ushering in of the Year of the Priesthood on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, 19 June 2009, Saint Jean Baptiste, New York City, in which he explains the reasons traditionalists love and prefer the traditional form of the Mass.

...But the most important demonstration of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Holy Eucharist. “Jesus . . . having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end." (John 13:1)

Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the companion of our exile, by His real presence: “Come to Me, all you that labour and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” (Matthew 11:28) He is our friend, our brother, our Father, our consolation in our life.

Jesus in Holy Communion is the food of our souls and, by this food, we live in Him and He in us: “He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:57) So, in the Holy Communion, we enter into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And this Sacred Heart is open, like we pray in the Preface of this Mass, “ut apértum Cor divínæ largitátis sacrárium, torréntes nobis fúnderet miseratiónis et grátiæ, et quod amóre nostri flagráre numquam déstitit, piis esset réquies et pœnítentibus patéret salútis refúgium” (“from His opened Heart, the sacred Treasury of divine bounty, streams of mercy and grace might pour out upon us; a resting place of peace for the devout and a refuge of salvation to the penitent”).

And more! Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is a Victim perpetually offered for us. This is the miracle of the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He renews continually in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, although unbloody, the same offering which He made on Calvary.

In the Holy Sacrifice, Jesus is both priest and victim, offering Himself by the hands of His ministers.

Because of all that, the Eucharist is something so great, so magnificent, so wonderful that it is worth the highest respect, the greatest sense of the sacred, the best demonstration of our worship and adoration.

As Pope John Paul II said in his Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, the Eucharist is something so great that it cannot be made the object of ambiguities, liberties, creativities, adaptations, reductions and instrumentalizations.1

Because of all that, we conserve the traditional liturgical form of the Holy Mass.

And let us put the question: Why do we love, preserve, conserve and prefer the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the so called Traditional Mass?

Would it be only because we are nostalgic or sentimentally attached to the past forms of the liturgy? Would it be because we deny the power of the Pope to modify and promulgate liturgical law? Would it be because we consider the new Mass, Paul VI’s Mass, invalid, heterodox, sinful, sacrilegious or not Catholic? Not at all! We are Catholic, of course.

It is not for these bad and mistaken reasons, but for a question of better and more precise expression of our Faith in the Eurcharistic dogmas: for safety; for protection against abuse; for the good of the whole Church, for contribution to the liturgical crisis’ reform; for wealth and solemnity of rites; for better precision and rigidity of rubrics, giving no space to manipulations as complained the Pope John Paul II; for the sense of sacredness; for the greater wealth and precision of the prayers’ formulas; for reverence, for personal and ritual humility; for elevation and nobility of ceremonies; for respect, beauty, good taste, piety, sacred language, tradition and legitimate right recognized by the Church’s Supreme Authority, and in perfect communion with the Holy Father, that is, with the Church. We love the old form of the Roman Rite, as a treasure of the Catholic Liturgy.

My dear brethren, how we are happy being Catholics! Every day, in our Church, it is Christmas, because Jesus born on the altar. Every day in our Church it is Good Friday, because Jesus renews his passion on the altar. Every day it is Easter, because Jesus, in the altar, is alive, resurrected, as He is in Heaven. Really, we are very rich!

St. Augustine said: God, even being almighty, the most powerful, cannot or could not give more; even being the wisest, did not know how to give more; even being (the) richest, did not have more to give than Himself in the Eucharist.

As the Eucharist is the summit and the center of the Church, and the greatest demonstration of the love of God, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, present in the Eucharist, must be the summit, the center of our lives forever. Amen.

-------------------
1. “The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No. 10). “It must be lamented that, especially in the years following the post-conciliar liturgical reform, as a result of a misguided sense of creativity and adaptation there have been a number of abuses which have been a source of suffering for many.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No. 52). “The mystery of the Eucharist­ . . . does not allow for reduction or exploitation.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, No. 61 (emphasis in original)).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jesus intuitus eum, dilexit eum...




"Jesus, looking at him, loved him." Mk 10:21 (28th Sunday Ordinary Time: B)

God beholds thee individually, whoever thou art. He "calls thee by thy name." He sees thee, and understands thee, as He made thee. He knows what is in thee, all thy own peculiar feelings and thoughts, thy dispositions and likings, thy strength and they weakness. He views thee in thy day of rejoicing, and thy day of sorrow. He sympathizes in thy hopes and thy temptations. He interests Himself in all thy anxieties and remembrances, all the very hairs of thy head and the cubits of thy stature. He compasses thee round and bears thee in His arms; He takes thee up and sets thee down. He notes thy very countenance, whether smiling or in tears, whether healthful or sickly. He looks tenderly upon thy hands and thy feet; He hearest thy voice, the beating of thy heart, and thy very breathing. Thou dost not love thyself better than He loves thee. Thou canst not shrink from pain more that He dislikes thy bearing it; and if He puts it on thee, it is as thou wilt put it on thyself, if thou art wise, for a greater good afterwards. Thou art not only His creature (though for the very sparrows He has a care, and pitied the "much cattle" of Nineveh), thou art man redeemed and sanctified, His adopted son, favoured with a portion of that glory and blessedness which flows from Him everlastingly unto the Only-begotten. Thou art chosen to be His, even above thy fellows who dwell in the East and South. Thou wast one of those for whom Christ offered up His last prayer, and sealed it with His precious blood. What a thought is this, a thought almost too great for our faith! Scarce can we refrain from acting Sarah's part, when we bring it before us, so as to "laugh" from amazement and perplexity. What is man, what are we, what am I, that the Son of God should be so mindful of me? What am I, that He should have raised me from almost a devil's nature to that of an Angel's? that He should have changed my soul's original constitution, new-made me, who from my youth up have been a transgressor, and should Himself dwell personally in this very heart of mine, making me His temple? What am I, that God the Holy Ghost should enter into me, and draw up my thoughts heavenward "with plaints unutterable?"

These are the meditations which come upon the Christian to console him, while he is with Christ upon the holy mount. And, when he descends to his daily duties, they are still his inward strength, though he is not allowed to tell the vision to those around him. They make his countenance to shone, make him cheerful, collected, serene, and firm in the midst of all temptation, persecution, or bereavement. And with such thoughts before us, how base and miserable does the world appear in all its pursuits and doctrines! How truly miserable does it seem to seek good from the creature; to covet station, wealth, or credit; to chose for ourselves, in fancy, this or that mode of life; to affect the manners and fashions of the great; to spend our time in follies; to be discontented, quarrelsome, jealous or envious, censorious or resentful; fond of unprofitable talk, and eager for the news of the day; busy about public matter which concern us not; hot in the cause of this or that interest or party; or set upon gain; or devoted to the increase of barren knowledge! And at the end of our days, when flesh and heart fail, what will be our consolation, though we have made ourselves rich, or have served an office, or been the first man among our equals, or have depressed a rival, or managed things our own way, or have settled splendidly, or have been intimate with the great, or have fared sumptuously, or have gained a name! Say, even if we obtain that which last longest, a place in history, yet, after all, what ashes shall we have eaten for bread! And, in that awful hour, when death is in sight, will He, whose eye is now so loving towards us, and whose hand falls on us so gently, will He acknowledge us any more? or, if He still speaks, will His voice have any power to stir us? rather will it not repel us, as it did Judas, by the very tenderness with which it would invite us to Him?

Newman, "A Particular Providence as Revealed in the Gospel" from Parochial and Plains Sermons, Ignatius Press 1997  pp. 562-564

Heterosexual Monogamy


"...[F]rom the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female'... (Mk. 10:2-16)

This cosmological reference to Genesis (from last Sunday's novus ordo Mass [27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, B]) is Christ's own proof for the condemnation of divorce (and the adultery implicit therein), which is also a striking and timely condemnation of the immorality of man with man and woman with woman.

Why are sexual sins wrong? How do we know they are wrong? Because they go against the way God made marriage "from the beginning of creation!:" the union of one man and one woman, exclusive and permanent and for children.

Marriage is the only proper context for human genital contact. God made it so! It is no human invention! Marriage is the wonderful creation of God, it is the school of self donation, the best sign of His holy love. God is love, that is why sex must be holy!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Benefits of Frequent Confession


In Gospel of the '62 Mass of today (18th Sunday after Pentecost) Christ forgives the sins of the lame man.




In Mystici Corporis, 88 Pope Pius XII countered the error of those who discouraged the practice of frequent confession and highlighted the benefits of devotional confessions.




The same result follows from the opinions of those who assert that little importance should be given to the frequent confession of venial sins. Far more important, they say, is that general confession which the Spouse of Christ, surrounded by her children in the Lord, makes each day by the mouth of the priest as he approaches the altar of God. As you well know, Venerable Brethren, it is true that venial sins may be expiated in many ways which are to be highly commended. But to ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue, We will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, should be earnestly advocated.
By it
[1] genuine self-knowledge is increased,
[2] Christian humility grows,
[3] bad habits are corrected,
[4] spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted,
[5] the conscience is purified,
[5] the will strengthened,
[6] a salutary self-control is attained, and
[7] grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself.
Let those, therefore, among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ratzinger's Rejected Thesis Finally Published, With New Preface



Here is an article, bringing us up to date on the publishing of the Opera Omnia of Josef Ratzinger, which includes Pope Benedict's preface to the second published volume of the collected works. It comes from Sandro Magister at http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/?eng=y





A Newly Published Work by Ratzinger the Theologian. From 54 Years Ago, But Always Relevant
It is his doctoral thesis on Saint Bonaventure and the theology of history. With the backdrop of the Joachim of Fiore''s vision of a new and completely "spiritual" Church. The complete text of the preface written recently by the pope by Sandro Magister
ROME, September 18, 2009 – The publication in German of Joseph Ratzinger's "opera omnia" is moving forward fast. The first of the sixteen volumes planned came out less than a year ago. The second was presented to its author on Sunday, September 13, at Castel Gandolfo (see photo). A third will come out in November.
Interest in the first volume – properly speaking, the eleventh volume in the general outline – was increased by the author's desire to republish first his writings on the liturgy, which in the preface he calls "the central activity of my life."The interest of this second volume lies, instead, in the fact that it finally brings to the printing press a text by Ratzinger that until now had never been published in its entirety: the thesis that he presented in 1955 in order to be allowed teach theology in the German universities.After his first studies on Saint Augustine, it was suggested to the young theologian Ratzinger that he research the most Augustinian of the medieval theologians, the Franciscan Saint Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, and in particular his ideas concerning divine revelation and the theology of history.
Ratzinger dug deep in his research. And he discovered that in Bonaventure, there is a strong connection with the vision of Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan who had prophesied the imminent advent of a third age after those of the Father and the Son, an age of the Spirit, with a renewed and entirely "spiritual" Church, poor, reconciled with Greeks and Jews, in a world restored to peace.
One of the examiners, professor Michael Schmaus, didn't like the thesis. But Ratzinger avoided rejection by representing only the second part of his text, which had not received any objections. In later years, he resolved to produce a new and updated publication of the entire thesis, but was unable to do so. As cardinal, he resolved to work on it in his retirement. But then he was elected pope, and the project was inevitably scrapped.
Republished now in its original and complete version, the thesis seems to have been superseded here and there by later studies. Ratzinger realizes that. But he maintains that "the question of the essence of Revelation, which is the theme of the book, still has urgency today, perhaps even more so than in the past."
In reading his preface to this second volume of the "opera omnia" – reproduced further below – it can be grasped that Benedict XVI still sees as relevant the challenge that Bonaventure had to confront as superior general of the Franciscan order: the "dramatic tension between the 'realists', who wanted to make use of the legacy of Saint Francis according to the concrete possibilities of the life of the order as it had been handed down, and the 'spiritualists', who instead focused on the radical novelty of a new historical period.
"Henri De Lubac, one of the greatest Catholic theologians of the twentieth century, dedicated an imposing two-volume essay to what he called "the intellectual posterity of Joachim of Fiore."In the judgment of De Lubac, Joachim's vision – the friar "endowed with prophetic spirit" whom Dante placed in Paradise – has spanned the centuries and continues to influence a large portion of today's culture, including Catholic culture: a culture that dreams of "a new Church in which love must replace the law."The exact opposite of that "Caritas in Veritate" which provides the title for Benedict XVI's latest encyclical, and informs his entire magisterium.
__________
Preface to the second volume of my writings
by Joseph Ratzinger
After the publication of my writings on the liturgy, there now follows in the general edition of my works a book with the theological studies on the great Franciscan and doctor of the Church Bonaventure Fidanza. From the beginning, it was evident that this work would also contain my studies on the holy doctor's concept of Revelation, conducted from 1953-1955 together with the interpretation of his theology of history, but unpublished before now.In order to complete this work, the manuscript needed to be revised and corrected according to modern editorial standards, something that I did not feel capable of doing. Professor Marianne Schlosser, who has an extensive knowledge of medieval theology and of the works of Saint Bonaventure in particular, graciously offered to undertake this necessary and certainly not easy work. For this I must thank her from the bottom of my heart. Discussing the project, we immediately agreed that no attempt should be made to revise the book's content and bring the research up to date. More than half a century after the writing of the text, in practice this would have meant writing a new book. Moreover, I wanted this to be an "historical" edition, which would offer in its original condition a text elaborated a long time ago, leaving to research the possibility of finding value in it still today. The editorial work is the subject of the introduction by Professor Schlosser, who together with her coworkers has invested a great deal of time and effort in the production of an historical edition of the text, confiding in the fact that theologically and historically, it was worthwhile to make it available to all in its entirety. In the second part of the book, "The Theology of History in St. Bonaventure" is presented again as it was published in 1959. The essays that follow it are taken, with few exceptions, from the study of the interpretation of Revelation and of the theology of history. In some cases, they have been adapted to make them self-contained texts, with slight modifications according to the context.I had to give up temporarily the idea of updating the manuscript and presenting it as a book for the public, as well as the project of a scholarly commentary on the "Hexameron," because the work of being an expert adviser at the council and the requirements of my teaching position were so demanding as to make medieval research unthinkable. In the postconciliar period, the changed theological situation and the new situation in the German university absorbed me so completely that I delayed the work on Bonaventure until after my retirement. In the meantime, the Lord has led me along a different path, so the book is now being published in its present form. I hope that others will take on the task of commenting on the "Hexameron."
At first, the presentation of the theme of this work might seem surprising, and in fact it is. After my thesis on the conception of the Church in Saint Augustine, my teacher Gottlieb Söhngen suggested to me that I dedicate myself to the Middle Ages, and in particular to the figure of Saint Bonaventure, who was the most significant representative of the Augustinian movement in medieval theology.As for the content, I had to face the second important question addressed by fundamental theology, meaning the theme of Revelation. At that time, in particular because of the famous work by Oscar Cullmann "Christus und die Zeit [Christ and time] (Zürich, 1946), the theme of salvation history, especially its relationship with the metaphysical, had become the focal point of theological interest. If neo-Scholastic theology essentially understood Revelation as the divine transmission of mysteries, which remain inaccessible to the human mind, today Revelation is considered as God's manifestation of himself in an historical action, and salvation history is seen as a central element of Revelation. My task was to try to discover how Bonaventure understood Revelation, and if for him there was anything like an idea of "salvation history."
It was a difficult task. Medieval theology does not provide any treatises "de Revelatione," on Revelation, as is the case with modern theology. Moreover, I immediately demonstrated that medieval theology also does not have any term for expressing, from the perspective of content, our modern concept of Revelation. The word "revelatio," which is common in neo-Scholastic and medieval theology, does not mean, as has been demonstrated, the same thing in medieval and modern theology. For this reason, I had to seek the answers to my framing of the problem in other forms of language and thought, and even modify this framing with respect to my first approach of Bonaventure's works. In the first place, difficult research had to be done on his language. I had to set aside our concepts in order to understand what Bonaventure meant by Revelation. In any case, it has been demonstrated that the conceptual content of Revelation was adapted to a great number of concepts: "revelatio," "manifestatio," "doctrina," "fides," and so forth. Only a vision of the entire scope of these concepts and their usage brings an understanding of the idea of Revelation in Bonaventure.
The fact that medieval theology had no concept of "salvation history" in the current sense of the term was clear from the beginning. Nonetheless, two indications demonstrate that the problem of revelation as an historical journey was present in Bonaventure.In the first place, Revelation was was presented as the dual figure of the Old and New Testament, which posed the question of the harmony between the unity of truth and the diversity of historical mediation, raised since the patristic era and then addressed again by the medieval theologians.
To this classic form of the problem of the relationship between history and truth, which Bonaventure shared with the theology of his time and addressed in his own way, he also adds the novelty of his historical point of view, in which history, which is the unfolding of the divine work, becomes a dramatic challenge.Joachim of Fiore (died 1202) had taught about a Trinitarian rhythm in history. The age of the Father (Old Testament) and the age of the Son (New Testament, Church) had to be followed by an age of the Holy Spirit, in which observance of the Sermon on the Mount would produce a spirit of poverty, reconciliation between Greeks and Latins, reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and a time of peace. Through a combination of symbolic numbers, the erudite abbot had predicted the beginning of a new age in 1260. Around 1240, the Franciscan movement ran across these writings, which had an electric effect on many: had this age not begun, perhaps, with Saint Francis of Assisi? For this reason, a dramatic tension was created within the Order between the "realists," who wanted to make use of the legacy of Saint Francis according to the concrete possibilities of the life of the Order as it had been handed down, and the "spiritualists," who instead focused on the radical novelty of a new historical period.
As minister general of the Order, Bonaventure had to confront the enormous challenge of this tension, which for him was not an academic question, but a concrete problem of his post as the seventh successor of Saint Francis. In this sense, history was suddenly tangible as reality, and as such had to be faced with real action and theological reflection. In my studies, I tried to explain the manner in which Bonaventure approached this challenge and made the connection between salvation history and Revelation.I had not read the text since 1962. So it was exciting for me to reread it after such a long time. It is clear that the framing of the problem and the language of the book were influenced by the situation in the 1950's. Especially in the case of linguistic studies, the technical means that we have now did not exist. For this reason, the work has its limits, and it is evidently influenced by the historical period in which it was conceived. Nonetheless, in rereading it I got the impression that its answers are well-founded, although it has been superseded in many of its details, and that it still has something to say today. Above all I realized that the question of the essence of Revelation and the fact of posing it again, which is the theme of the book, still have urgency today, perhaps even more so than in the past.At the end of this preface, I would like to thank, in addition to Professor Schlosser, the bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who by founding the Institut Papst Benedikt XVI has made the publication of this work possible, and actively followed the editing of my writings. I also thank the collaborators of the Institute, Professor Rudolf Voderholzer, Christian Schaller, Franz-Xaver Heibl, and Gabriel Weiten. Last but not least I thank the publishing house Herder, which worked on the publication of this book with its characteristic accuracy.
I dedicate the work to my brother Georg for his eighty-fifth birthday, thankful for a lifelong communion of thought and activity.Rome, solemnity of the Ascension of Christ, 2009.
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The summaries of the first three volumes of the "opera omnia" by Joseph Ratzinger," on the website of the publisher Herder:
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