Thursday, April 19, 2012
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published a letter on religious freedom with special attention to the 1) HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs; 2) State immigration laws; 3) Altering Church structure and governance; 4) Christian students on college campuses; 5) Catholic foster care and adoption services; 6) Discrimination against church congregations; and 7) Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Find it here.
Also, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has issued a Doctrinal Assessment (and overhaul) of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious leadership, which for years has been notorious for its radical opposition to church authority and discipline and Catholic doctrine in faith and morals.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
In the light of Calvary, what is the difference between Judas Iscariot and Saint Peter? The first difference is in the will. Judas' sin was deliberate and obstinate--he was bent on betrayal. But Peter denied the Lord spontaneously, he was bent on fidelity and fell from it through weakness. So we could say that Peter fell from grace while Judas' sin was no fall at all, he was deliberately bad ("...Satan entered into him." Jn. 13:27). He betrays because he wants to betray. He fulfills his constant intention.
Peter, on the other hand, does fall. He falls from his fidelity, denying the Lord repeatedly--thrice. The spirit is willing by the flesh is weak. He was faithful and became unfaithful.
Judas is bad through malice and Peter is weak through frailty. There is a difference. The difference is in the habitual intention. The sin is the same but the disposition is different. To get better at the difference consider Saint John, the icon of innocence among the apostles at the Last Supper.
Saint John is the only one who does not abandon (betray) the Lord on Calvary. Peter (and the other nine Apostles who abandoned the Lord) is neither Judas nor John, as most of us are neither Judas' nor Saint Johns but fall somewhere in between these extremes of total depravity and total goodness. The solution is honesty, repentance, prayer and penance, and, above all worthy communion, communion with God! "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him." Jn. 6:57 The ultimate difference between Peter and Judas is sincere piety and true repentance.
The lesson of Saint Peter is that the human will is insufficient for holiness, it is necessary (distinguishes Peter from Judas), but not enough. It needs to be coupled with devotion and intelligence and intelligent action. Only the heart of God is the sufficient source of goodness in man. Peter needs to get closer to Christ! Like Saint John, every apostle of the Lord needs to lay his head on the heart of Jesus: "the disciple Jesus loved was reclining at Jesus' bosom." Jn. 13:23 "If you abide in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Jn. 8:33 Every apostle, every disciple of the Lord needs to aspire to the perfect devotion of Saint John, the will is not enough. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
Pope Benedict in Spe Salvi makes this point when he speaks of the logic of Purgatory. He says that most people are neither completely bad nor completely good. Most of us want to be good and need much purification to attain that desired perfection.
"45. ...There can be people who have totally destroyed their desire for truth and readiness to love, people for whom everything has become a lie, people who have lived for hatred and have suppressed all love within themselves. This is a terrifying thought, but alarming profiles of this type can be seen in certain figures of our own history. In such people all would be beyond remedy and the destruction of good would be irrevocable: this is what we mean by the word Hell. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033-1037) On the other hand there can be people who are utterly pure, completely permeated by God, and thus fully open to their neighbors--people for whom communion with God even now gives direction to their entire being and whose journey towards God only brings to fulfillment what they already are. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1023-1029)
"46. Yet we know from experience that neither case is normal in human life. For the great majority of people--we may suppose--there remains in the depths of their being an ultimate interior openness to truth, to love, to God. In the concrete choices of life, however, it is covered over by ever new compromises with evil--much filth covers purity, but the thirst for purity remains and it still constantly re-emerges from all that is base and remains present in the soul...
"48. ...We all work out our salvation 'with fear and trembling' (Phil 2:12)..."