Monday, January 28, 2013

The Universal and Common Doctor: 28 January

Saint Thomas Aquinas was the first person, after the four great Western Fathers, declared a Doctor of the Church, in 1567.

"Doctors" are honored with this title on account of their brilliant exposition and skilful defense of Catholic doctrine.

Most modern theologians today who even mention Saint Thomas usually do so in the context of a need to go beyond his doctrine.  The general erroneous assumption is that we have studied, assimilated and implemented his teaching.  Why don't the same theologians say the same about the doctrine of other doctors of the Church?  This is a theme that is, to my mind, worn out and boring.  It would be more interesting and beneficial to promote Thomism, as the Church has consistently done with the doctrine of all of her doctors.  By definition it is especially the doctrine of the Doctors that is to be studied profitably for salvation.  Why all the redundant warnings of caution?  You get the sense that many modern theologians regret that Thomas is a doctor at all.

Of course we should study other thinkers; but first study the clear doctrine of those thinkers who best elucidate the Gospel; and first among them is Saint Thomas.  And, sorry to say, I know of no seminary in the world that bases its theological training on the study of the Summa Theologica so that it is patently false to assume that Catholics (even priests) have a firm grounding in the teaching of Saint Thomas.

The four Western greats are Saint Ambrose, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome and Saint Gregory the Great, declared doctors in 1295 by Pope Boniface VIII.  I have yet to hear anyone caution studying them too much!

So, go ahead, study Thomas with out fear.  Study Thomas boldly.  Promote Thomism unapologetically.  Study him even in Lingua Latina, if you dare, and encourage others to do so!

Viva Thomas!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Be a Positive Monkey

You have heard of "the three monkeys" or at least seen the picture of them with their respective captions: "see no evil", "hear no evil", "speak no evil."  I have often considered that we need a forth monkey: "do no evil."

But, in light of the year of faith and today's epistle on this feast of Saints Timothy and Titus, in which Saint Paul tells Timothy to stir up the grace of God in himself: "Stir up the grace of God which is in thee by the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of prudence.  Do not, therefore, be ashamed of testimony for our Lord, nor of me, his prisoner, but enter into my sufferings for the gospel through the power of God." 2 Tim. 1:6-9 (viz. Get God moving in you!  Get God to move you!) we should add a new set of monkeys.

Look for God.
Listen to God.
Speak to God.

...and a fourth positive monkey:
Get God to do good things in you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pope Benedict's Latin Twitter Account

Yesterday the Pope began to tweet in Lingua Latina. Here is the link:

It seems to me that Twitter is a huge waste of time for most people, but, since many people waste time there, it may be a good place for evangelization.

The comments, though, on the Vatican Twitter in English, which I only read just now for the first time--vulgar and blasphemous--are in great need of censorship!

I'll try to add the Latin Account to my sidebar blogs.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Heightened Serenity at Papal Audience

Have you noticed that the Wednesday Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI are less pep-rally like and more and more like an enormous classroom: less euphoria and more recollection and interiority?  That is because at the end of the main discourse, the priest presenters have stopped introducing the particular groups present at the audience.  When the omission first happened a few months ago I thought it was a mistake or a glitch of some sort in the program (perhaps someone had not done his job).  But it has been consistently omitted since.  The priest presenting each language group no longer indicates the various groups present.  The Holy Father himself alone takes the prerogative to mention the individual groups when he addresses each language group.

This greater gravitas at the general audiences has been a mark of the Benedictine Papacy.  Already for a few years the frantic cheering had been far reduced in preference of an elegant song to serenade the Holy Father and entertain the entire audience while making one's presence known.  Now, that element also better tailored.  Bravo!  One should go to the Holy Father to hear him, and with the utmost reverence, and not to make a spectacle before him!  Granted, these are minor details, but good manners consist in paying attention to the particulars of decorum.

One other significant addition to the Papal Audience: there is an additional language included: Arabic!  That innovation came shortly after the Holy Father's September visit to Lebanon and two months before the approval of the new 800 martyr saints to Islam.  How mellifluous the fluency of the Semitic tongue in the weekly Audience!  And how appropriate!  It is presently the only ancient language used there, besides the Pater noster and the final benediction in Latin!

For an added element of universality and gravitas I would suggest that more Latin might be used: at least the scripture reading be presented in Latin, while the Holy Father might continue to give his greeting to the various groups in their particular language.  Or, even better, the Holy Father could perhaps just give his address in Latin and eliminate the Babel of languages all together while announcing the Vatican radio channel for the simultaneous translations, but that would eliminate the iconic significance of our Arabic addressee, and the others'.  O.K., how about the main address being in Latin instead of the more pedestrian and nationalistic Italian?  Shouldn't general audiences predominantly use the most general language of the Church: her official language?  Most of the worldwide listeners would understand Latin as well or even better than they do the Italian.  Might even get more people interested in listening to the entire live broadcast.  It would be practically the only weekly class in the world conducted in the language of the Church.  Just a thought.

It is no accident that these improvements coincide with the Year of Faith: the Arabic was added on the vigil of the Jubilee of the Second Vatican Council (10th October) to begin the Holy Year.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Answering the Large Family Critics

Awesome shirt by for parents of large families available at

The shirt says

"Before you even ask..."

Yes, these are all my children and they're awesome!
Yes, we have television; we just don't need it!
No, this is not some sort of daycare; it's 24/7!
Why should we fix it if it's not broke?
Yes, we know where they come from...God.
We had planned on two, my spouse just can't count.
Yes, we've heard of birth control; no birth and no control.
You should enjoy our large family; our kids will be paying your social security.
We didn't plan the first few, why start now?
Are we done!?! We're just getting started! on the front and scripture quotes on the back.

I would add a few more rebuttals.

No I don't know how many people there are in the world! In my home we always have room for one more!
Yes, it is hard.  Raising one is at least as hard!  Life is hard!
Yes, I do have my hands full, it is better than having them empty.
We are not trying to have the boy/the girl, we are content that the child should simply be human, not a dog or cat, etc.
You ever thought of having your tongue tied?
I may be crazy, but childbearing/rearing is the sanest thing I do.
We are attempting to add to the polite population.
Television, yes; condoms, no!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

If You Are Not Part of the Solution You Are Part of the Problem

That is a colloquial way to summarize today's first reading 1 John 2:22-28 in which Saint John says that anyone who denies Jesus Christ denies God the Father too because Jesus Christ and the Father are one: the one and only living and true God.  The denier is a liar: the antichrist!

That is part of what the Lord meant when He said "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." Mt. 12:30

N.B.  Recall the two standards of The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.  There are only two armies (two sides, two camps, two companies): one belongs to Christ and the other to Satan.  There is no third way!  That is why Christ calls Himself "the Way" (and the Truth and the Life).  ("I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me."  John 14:6)

You must ensure that you are fighting under the flag of Christ!  Everyone must belong to Christ's company!

(Father John Hardon, S.J. Archives has a superb outline of this in it's outline of the spiritual exercises).

Indifferentism is a serious sin against faith: "Indifferentism is the error of those who hold that one religion is as good as another and that all religions are equally true and pleasing to God, or that one is free to accept or reject any or all religions."  Baltimore Catechism, Q. 205  Go to achurchforstarvingartists for an evangelical take on the modern fashion of indifferentism and the fundamental error implicit in all the religious leaders hanging out with each other (as in the cover image of the book above).  Remember that Christ transfigured himself upon the mountain with Moses and Elijah: He shone, radiant like the sun; they vanished!  Matthew 17:1-8  "'Arise, and do not be afraid.'  But lifting up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only."

Below I quote from a miniature hand-made New Year's card which a Sister of the Missionaries of Charity gave to me yesterday at 12:50 AM (after saying midnight Mass for them).  The battle language is striking: "the grace to live with a fighting spirit!"--With the Spirit of the living God, who fights, armed with innocence, involvement, transparency, gentleness and every sweetness: the veritable infant!  The Prince of Peace!  But very much a Prince!  He stands for something!  He stands for everything!  He stands for everything because He stands for One Thing: God!

Happy New Year
Year of Faith
And Joy and

Let us ask Our Lady
for the grace to live
during this New Year
with a fighting Spirit,
as if it were the
last that God was
going to give us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Origin of New Year's Day 1 January

Why is January 1st New Year's Day and not, say, the winter solstice or the vernal equinox?  Good question!

The simple answer is that this day was established by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar (the Julian Calendar) in the year 46 BC and was adopted and decreed for the entire Christian world by Pope Gregory XIII (the present Gregorian Calendar) in the year 1582 AD.  Having said that, we are still left with the question why Julius Caesar (or the calendar which he used) chose their first of the month and did not rather align it with the winter solstice, for example.

An earlier Roman calendar (before the Julian) actually began the year with the vernal equinox, the date for which Julius set at 25 March (which, because of inaccuracy of the Roman calendar, ends up being our 21 March).

It is an interesting fact that the day of the Incarnation for the Christian world is the 25 of March, the exact day of the vernal equinox established by the Julian Calendar and the actual New Year's Day of the more ancient Roman calendar, and that the numeration of the years in our present calendar has the Incarnation of Christ our Lord as the reference point: viz. B.C. and A.D.  Given all of this it remains indisputable that New Year's Day is a Christmas celebration in the present day calendar established by the Pope.  It is the Octave Day of Christmas: the day of the Circumcision and naming of the Lord "Jesus" according to Sacred Scripture. (N.B.  The Gospel for today's New Year's Day Mass: Luke 2:21 "And when eight days were fulfilled for his circumcision, his name was called Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.")

P.S. As I mentioned in a previous post about the Bethlehem Star in Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narratives it is surprising that Pope Benedict does not even address the question of the dates related to Christmas in that book (though he does mention the question of the year of the Incarnation as the reference point for our calendar).

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