Saturday, May 28, 2016

Corpus Christi: Priests to Say Mass Daily and Churches Should Remain Open During the Day for Adoration


Can. 897 The most August sacrament is the Most Holy Eucharist in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered, and received and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated through the ages is the summit and source of all worship and Christian life, which signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the body of Christ. Indeed, the other sacraments and all the ecclesiastical works of the apostolate are closely connected with the Most Holy Eucharist and ordered to it.

Can. 898 The Christian faithful are to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in highest honor, taking an active part in the celebration of the most august sacrifice, receiving this sacrament most devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with the highest adoration. In explaining the doctrine about this sacrament, pastors of souls are to teach the faithful diligently about this obligation.


Can. 900 §1. The minister who is able to confect the sacrament of the Eucharist in the person of Christ is a validly ordained priest alone.

§2. A priest not impeded by canon law celebrates the Eucharist licitly; the provisions of the following canons are to be observed.

Can. 901 A priest is free to apply the Mass for anyone, living or dead.

Can. 902 Unless the welfare of the Christian faithful requires or suggests otherwise, priests can concelebrate the Eucharist. They are completely free to celebrate the Eucharist individually, however, but not while a concelebration is taking place in the same church or oratory.

Can. 903 A priest is to be permitted to celebrate even if the rector of the church does not know him, provided that either he presents a letter of introduction from his ordinary or superior, issued at least within the year, or it can be judged prudently that he is not impeded from celebrating.

Can. 904 Remembering always that in the mystery of the eucharistic sacrifice the work of redemption is exercised continually, priests are to celebrate frequently; indeed, daily celebration is recommended earnestly since, even if the faithful cannot be present, it is the act of Christ and the Church in which priests fulfill their principal function.

Can. 905 §1. A priest is not permitted to celebrate the Eucharist more than once a day except in cases where the law permits him to celebrate or concelebrate more than once on the same day.

§2. If there is a shortage of priests, the local ordinary can allow priests to celebrate twice a day for a just cause, or if pastoral necessity requires it, even three times on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

Can. 937 Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, the church in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is to be open to the faithful for at least some hours every day so that they can pray before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Friday, May 27, 2016

How Much Time is God Worth?

EWTN: Cool 2B Catholic

The above is a short practical video on "the plan of life."
On getting organized, taking God seriously.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Liturgical Charades Continue at the Highest Levels of US Dioceses/Seminaries

Yesterday I stopped by a "private" Mass of a dozen or so silver jubilarian priests on the day of their anniversary in the major [regional] seminary of this prominent and reputedly conservative north eastern diocese of the USA.

The  "homilist" (who happens to be the diocese' executive director of priest personnel [in charge of assignments for the hundreds of priests in the diocese]) says that instead of him giving the homily he and the main celebrant of that con-celebrated mass (who happens to be the rector of that seminary) decided (presumably with the collusion of another of the jubilarians who is a decades long member and associate professor of that same seminary faculty) that each of the jubilarians (them included) should give a short spontaneous reflection on his past twenty five years as a priest.

So, the "homilist" from the pulpit gave his short reflection on his unworthiness and God's reiterated kindness and mercy in putting up with him despite his failures in joy, piety and availability to which he is called as a priest. Then, the presiding main celebrant follows suit, seated on his cathedra. The faculty member priest followed suit from his place. And, likewise, each of the jubilarians (with the exception of two or three who abstained), gave, from his place in the pews around the altar, an informal assessment of his twenty-five years. It was such a banal exercise of psychological naval-gazing that I thought the only element that was lacking from the tragically comical scene, as one after another tried in a few short minutes to say how joyful and grateful and happy he was to be here, was that they should have held hands during that type of emotive sharing session!

It reminded me of the awful non-formation of my seminary days at that same seminary decades ago. (N.B. I left that seminary and went to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland, where I had more freedom to be unabashedly Catholic, and from there graduated). What is unbelievable is that the same failed ideas at "do-it-yourself", bastardized liturgies are still the fashion of the day: one of the "fruits" of "the Ordinary Form" - Novus Ordo. What is even more unbelievable than the leaders pulling this type of stunt on their confreres, at that venerable stage and moment of priestly life, is the fact that the confreres all tolerated it!!! Someone should have clearly said right then and there that such an exercise is completely out of place in the liturgy and that, if they must do that, it should be saved for the restaurant afterwards. Just one more reason against con-celebration (you are then a less captive audience and you can just get up and leave when things get out of hand).

Is it any wonder our young traditional priest candidates are scared or chased away, and the ones who remain and become priests are so malformed and disoriented in so many ways. Perverted liturgy is an image of perverse ministers!

Some may say, "what's wrong with that?", "they are all priests and have faculties to preach at Mass." Answer: There are at least three reasonable objections: 1) priests are to preach from the pulpit [not from their chairs: an honor reserved to bishops] and 2) they are to preach the Catholic faith, not themselves and 3) casual spontaneity is out of place in the liturgy.

Etenim si incertam vocem det tuba quis parabit se ad bellum? 1 Cor:14:8.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Law of Undulation: Troughs and Peaks

My dear Wormwood (a devil apprentice),

So you 'have great hopes that the patient's religious phase is dying away', have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Subgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?
Humans are amphibians-- half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy's determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation-- the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life-- his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself-- creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in,, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.
And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs-- to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot 'tempt' to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.
But of course the troughs afford opportunities to our side also. Next week I will give you some hints on how to exploit them,

You affectionate uncle

The Screwtape Letters Chapter 8

Cf. Pope Benedict on Hope in Despair, Spe Salvi, 43.
In him who was crucified, the denial of false images of God is taken to an extreme. God now reveals his true face in the figure of the sufferer who shares man's God-forsaken condition by taking it upon himself. This innocent sufferer has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh[33]. There is justice[34]. There is an “undoing” of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright. For this reason, faith in the Last Judgement is first and foremost hope—the need for which was made abundantly clear in the upheavals of recent centuries. I am convinced that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favour of faith in eternal life.

The Totally Free Man is a Wretched Slave

"Those who understand freedom as the radically arbitrary license to do just what they want and to have their own way are living in a lie, for by his very nature man is part of a shared existence and his freedom is shared freedom. His very nature contains direction and norm, and becoming inwardly one with this direction and norm is what freedom is all about. A false autonomy thus leads to slavery,...the swineherd [of 'the prodigal son'] is the expression of man's most extreme alienation and destitution [the pig being an unclean animal for the Jews]. The totally free man has become a wretched slave."
Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict XVI, 204.

True freedom is shared freedom.

"Libertas" comes from "liber" = son! Relationship, correspondence, cooperation, responsibility to the others, in God.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

No One is Watching Pope Francis "Live/On Demand!" It should be in Latin!

Tuning-in to the weekly YouTube Vatican Channel Angelus I noticed a stark contrast between the tens of thousands of people (tourists) in Saint Peter's and Saint Pius' squares to listen to the weekly Angelus address of His Holiness Pope Francis and the number of views of the live/on-demand feed on the Vatican Channel: 157 as of this moment!

157 visitors from the whole world (who went to the video, no guarantee they understood Italian or listened more than a few seconds)? There are not even two hundred Italian speakers in the world who care to see and here the Pope from their pocket phones, etc. online to follow the words of our Chief Shepherd? That seems to be is a staggering failure. It compels one to ask whether the people who show up are there not for the message but for the sensation.

If he said the general address in Latin he would certainly get better ratings, though the crowds present, largely Italian speaking, would perhaps not be just as large, thought one might suspect that many of the "Roman" religious are, like the Pope Himself, not Italian at all. The Latin would have a much larger breadth.

P.S. Pope Francis' elimination of the Christian greeting: "Laudetur Jesus Christus" (in preference for the banal "buongiorno" also deprives him and everyone of the graces associated with that (no longer indulgenced, though mentioned, in the 1968 Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, 79) good work.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Pope Francis' Humility

I don't know whether His Holiness Pope Francis is humble or not, who am I to judge? God alone sees him on the inside.

What is clear, however, is that his special charism is to showcase humility and poverty, essential Christian virtues; and his display of poverty and humility have disarmed the enemies of the Church. They love him specifically because of those two virtues which he so strongly emphasizes and promotes, especially for the Church Herself (as Christ Himself did).

May it be a lesson for us all. Triumphalism costs dearly.
While evangelical poverty prospers.

Qui maior est vestrum erit minister vester.
Qui autem se exaltaverit humiliabitur et qui se humiliaverit exaltabitur. Mattew 23:11

Fecit potentiam in brachio suo dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes. Luke 1:52

Cf. Humility is the door to God.

N.B. "Aristotle's 'magnanimous' man of  the Nicomachaean Ethics, very like Nietzsche's Übermensch." Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, Friedrich Nietzsche, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 200.

Cf. The Centrality of humility in Ratzinger/Benedict XVI and Saint Thomas Aquinas;
Pope Francis' Magisterium Explained.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New Spanish Translation of the Roman Missal for use in Mexico and USA

The 2015 Publication of the Third Typical Edition of the Roman Missal in Spanish, Approved for Mexico and USA (USCCB approval) is already being published in Spain by Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC), 55.00 €, plus shipping.

That text is exactly text to be published later this year in the US, except for the addition of local US feasts (which should not at all affect the Sundays and Holy Days of obligation Masses).

I just ordered three and the shipping was 45.00 € for the three. That comes to around $80.00 per Missal. Not bad. Order it from Mexico and it will cost you around $300.

Edición típica para México según la tercera edición típica latina, aprobada por la Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano y reconocida por la Congregación para el Culto Divino y la Disciplina de los Sacramentos.

Texto unificado en lengua española del Ordinario de la misa.

P.S. The new Lectionaries I understand are also now available. Now what the Church sorely needs is an approved Spanish hymnal with a serious censoring of the heretical, pagan and otherwise ambiguous texts set to music found in the popular Spanish hymnals and missalettes throughout the country. They should all require a Nihil Obstat by a an doctrinal expert and an Imprimatur by the respective bishops. The "latinos" could also use a healthy dose of Latin in the liturgy!

In my parish the choir last Sunday was singing of the spirit in the elements of nature! The week before they sang a song to the praise of motherhood with just one concluding reference to God (as if an afterthought) and no reference to the Mother Church, the Blessed Mother, Holiness, the Saints, ect., total paganism! I am working on changing that. Flor y Canto is filled with that type poetic nonsense.

P.S.S. Update (Friday, May 20th): Just received the new Missals (in just three days from Madrid!). They are very nice altar Missals but, like the old Spanish Missals, missing most of the musical notation. However, this edition does include the Latin Mass appendix, which was suppressed in the new English edition.

Humility in Philosophy (and Science) is The Door to God

“According to Scheler, the formal attributes of the divine are known immediately, but not so the positive attributes of God. Only in the measure that man lives by the spirit and not by the belly can he know that God is Spirit, that He is Creator, Omniscience, All-Goodness, Mercy; only in love enlightened by revelation can he know that He is Person. We must be guarded by humility and awe if we are to arrive at the knowledge of the Creator, all-mighty and all-good, for awe makes us see the secret of things and their depth, preserving horizon and perspective in the world of values; without it, the universe is flat. Akin to the sense of shame, to modesty, which is at once hiding and unfolding, the manifestation of beauty by its very veiling, awe—modesty become spirit—clothes our mind with dignity by confessing its imperfection. In awe we are suddenly aware that our nature is tremendously inadequate for the knowledge of the highest, and is yet called to it; we are aware that the infinite appears in the midst of our finitude and poverty. Hand in hand with awe goes humility. The proud man, bound to himself, lives in a darkened, desert world and walks toward hell, which is want of love; the humble, however, has an open soul—humility, the way of the lover, breaks the walls around the ego and readies the soul to give itself and serve.
Walls are Crumbling, John Österreicher, New York: Devin-Adair, 1953, 168 (Cf. Max Scheler, Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik, p. 24.).

One who believes may not be presumptuous; on the contrary, truth leads to humility, since believers know that, rather than ourselves possessing truth, it is truth which embraces and possesses us. Far from making us inflexible, the security of faith sets us on a journey; it enables witness and dialogue with all. Lumen Fidei, 34

Approximately 20 years [after his ordination], Augustine wrote a book called the Retractations, in which he critically reviewed all the works he had thus far written, adding corrections wherever he had in the meantime learned something new.
With regard to the ideal of perfection in his homilies on the Sermon on the Mount, he noted: "In the meantime, I have understood that one alone is truly perfect and that the words of the Sermon on the Mount are totally fulfilled in one alone: Jesus Christ himself.

"The whole Church, on the other hand -- all of us, including the Apostles -- must pray every day: forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" (cf. Retract. I 19, 1-3).

Augustine had learned a further degree of humility -- not only the humility of integrating his great thought into the humble faith of the Church, not only the humility of translating his great knowledge into the simplicity of announcement, but also the humility of recognizing that he himself and the entire pilgrim Church needed and continually need the merciful goodness of a God who forgives every day.
And we, he added, liken ourselves to Christ, the only Perfect One, to the greatest possible extent when we become, like him, people of mercy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mahler's Resurrection (Auferstehung) Symphony No. 2

Another master work to enjoy during this Octave of Pentecost!
Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Palestrina Pentecost for the Octave

Brothel Evangelization

The Two Debtors: Luke 7:36

I went to a strip club

A while back I was asked by a group of pastor’s wives to go with them to strip clubs.

That sentence alone sounds strange. But hang with me.

At first I was a little hesitant. And not for reasons you might think.

I love people. Especially ones who are broken; it’s part of my calling. But, given what I’ve walked through, I know how fragile broken people can be.

And I know how insensitive the church can be.

And I was uneasy.

But, these weren’t just any pastors wives.

They had a vision.

One that longed to love on women that society had thrown aside.

It reminded me a lot of Jesus.

So, I jumped on it.

Their plan was to visit these clubs once a month to deliver a meal and gift baskets. I joined them the first night and I’ll be honest, I had NO IDEA what to expect.

Now, I had my fair share of time (back in the day) in bars and such, but I’d never been to a strip club. I was totally unaware of what I was walking into.

We arrived and the bouncer ushered us back into the dressing room where we introduced ourselves and began distributing the gifts and food.

I was shocked by what I saw.

And I’ll tell you why:

I was raised to believe that no good comes from places like that. Which is probably true on many levels. (I wouldn’t suggest making it your go-to for date nights)

But, I was filled (as were many Christian kids) with fear about “places like that”. That “those people” were heathens and doing all kinds of sinful, shameful things.

Which, again, is true of strip clubs.

And bars.

And many other places.

Even churches.

But, these girls – these lovely, girls – were so…..normal.

As I talked with one in particular, she reminded me of any young mom I’d talk to in the school pick up line.

Minus the fact that she didn’t have much clothing on – I tried not to focus on that.

(Oh dear God, she’s talking about strippers in a Christian blog and talking about them being half naked. We should not EVEN be thinking such things! First, my sweet friend, it’s okay to laugh. Like seriously, it’s OKAY. The fact that 4 pastors wives and their pregnant friend even went into a strip club is kinda funny. If you’re going to walk with Jesus, you’re going to find yourself in some pretty awkward situations. And if you don’t have a sense of humor, you’re toast. Like seriously. So, I give you full permission to go ahead and laugh at the mental picture)
They showed pictures of their children, talked of pregnancy (I was pregnant at the time) chatted about trying to get back in shape after having a baby, etc. It was SO NORMAL.

But, as we talked, and I looked into their eyes, I saw women – young, broken women. Who had stories, probably much like mine or yours.

We didn’t stay long. They had a shift to work, and we didn’t want to overstay our welcome.

But, as we left, they thanked us.

More than once.

As I drove home, I totally fell apart in my car.

Not because I felt sorry for them. Not because I thought I was so much better than they were. Not because I pitied their circumstance.

I cried because my heart was broken .

One thing the Lord continues to do in my heart, is humble it. Like over and over. Countless times, I think I’m going in to minister to some lowly soul and then I walk out, completely undone because the condition of my own heart was exposed.

I wept before God asking for His forgiveness in the way I had viewed women in that profession.

Because, people – that could have been me.

It could have been any of us.

Had my journey taken a few different turns, I very well could have been on the receiving end of that encounter.


I had my baby shortly after that visit and didn’t get to go back for the monthly visits to see the women.

But, I stayed in contact with one of the women organizing it and every so often, I ask her how it’s going.

They have been visiting them for a year now and received permission to leave a prayer box where the women could leave prayer requests.

The first few times they collected the box it had silly things written in it.

But they continued to leave it there.

Over the following weeks and months (as they continued to love on these women), the prayer requests got real.

Real situations

Real hurt

Real needs

Last time my friend and I got together, I asked about the strip clubs and this is what she said:

Her eyes always, always fill with tears when we talk about it because God is SO in love with these precious women.

She said, “The women are starting to reach out more. I’ve been texting with one and getting to connect with her a bit deeper”

We talked a bit more and she turned to me and said something that I am still rattled by.

“You know what one of them said to me last time?”


“She said that she was so glad we come to visit them because we’re not like the other churches”

I said, “what did she mean by that?”

She said, “Apparently other churches send them hate mail. ALL THE TIME”

I’m sure my face turned three shades of white.

Complete shock and disbelief gripped me.

We both looked at eachother and about fell into a pool of tears right there.

People – church – WHAT ARE WE DOING?!

Did we forget (or do we just sing it songs) that Jesus was a friend of sinners?

Did we forget that it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance?

Did we forget that it is ONLY the blood of Jesus that makes us holy?

That ALL OF OUR GOOD BIBLE LOVING STUFF is like filthy rags without Him?

Jesus was UNAFRAID of walking in love to the least of the least.

Like the scum of the scum.

He walked right in, sat down and ate with sinners.

Gross, ugly sinners.

And the religious HATED HIM FOR IT.

A few years ago, I met with another pastor’s wife across the country who shared with me a similar ministry, although after months of developing relationships with the dancers, they asked the owners a crazy question.

They asked to hold a Bible study.


Just for the dancers.

Surprisingly, they were given a yes.

(Something about it building morale in the employees, but whatever. It was a yes!)

So, they started leading a Bible study in the club.

But, something was missing.

And those ministering knew it.

The women they were ministering to needed to be led by a man – not because these women were incapable, but because of the damaged, skewed image they had of men. They needed to see a man who was safe – they needed a man who knew Jesus.

This woman’s husband (who was a pastor) stepped up and took on the challenge. And, for months the dancers wouldn’t even look him in the eye.

But he kept showing up….

Soon, one by one, the women met Jesus through this pastor’s humble, gentle leadership.

There were prayer sessions.

Women were set free.

And many went on to lead, healthy restored lives.

All because this group of women and this pastor were unafraid to go where God was leading them.

I’m not suggesting that we all have this calling.

I am not the Holy Spirit.

What I AM saying to you is that if Jesus were here, walking among us, wouldn’t it be just like him to walk into the most un-Christlike place (strip club or whatever) and completely freak the religious folk out?

Just a thought.

He loved then.

He loves now.

But, he can only reach as far as you and I are willing to go.



Blogger: N.B. Saint Loius de Montfort would often go and preach in the brothels, even with an occasional brawl. Apparently a good fighter. Many conversions.

The testimony above could be a page out of Pope Francis' mission of mercy book.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Augustine's Epistemology: Humilitas

Caritas, Humilitas et Pax
Source of Sapientia
Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Ratzinger proposes humility as the source of Augustine's epistemology, as distinct from the Manicheans and the Platonists: The humilitas fidei: Mater ecclesia; salus populi.

That is the foundational principle of truth for him, starting with the Incarnation of the Logos, the humility of the Incarnation which calls for the humility of faith; and the authority of the Church is it's minister, effecting the salvation of the peoples (the masses of which will not be erudite, but need the obedience of faith, because, in the end, health of the soul is measured not by knowledge but by love).

Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis!

Cf. Ratizinger's Augustine Thesis (1951) in Obras Completas I, 43-47; Augustine's Philosophy, Angel Vega in Obras de San Agustín II, 45-46; Letter 118 ad Dioscoro in Obras de San Agustín VIII, 869 (Chapter III:17), 853ff (Chapter III:21ff.). In a certain way you could say that the entire Letter to Dioscorus (which critiques the ancient philosophers' epistemologies) is a treatise on humility, beginning with the humility to learn only what one ought to learn and for the purpose of ultimate beatitude. ("Don't worry about not being able to answer every little question if you know how to respond to those who ask for your skill in certain matters in which you are unskilled that you know that a man can be blessed without it.")

I find this intriguing because it opens up an area of philosophy which is necessary to any intellectual discipline: intellectual humility and its complementarity with the truth, i.e. part of the having of truth is the recognition of the dependency of that possession (it was received) and the limitations involved in it and the relationship with other truths.

N.B. The conclusion of my Ph.L. thesis (Magnanimity in Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas-CUA) was that the difference between Aristotle and Thomas' magnanimity was humility.

Looks like humility plays a key part in the thought of the Pope Emeritus, whose very life has been and continues to be an eloquent and historical testimony to this truth, as was Saint Bonaventure's, Saint Augustine's, and that of Christ Himself. The humility of the magnanimous! To the list, of course, we must also add Saint Thomas, the universal and common Doctor!

Pope Pius XI noted that in order to obtain the incomparable light of the Holy Spirit, St. Thomas "often abstained from all food, spent whole nights in watching and prayer; repeatedly impelled by piety, he placed his head against the tabernacle of the august Sacrament, and he turned his eyes searchingly to the image of Jesus crucified; as he confessed to his friend, St. Bonaventure, whatever he learned he had learned chiefly from that book" (Studiorum Ducem, 311-312).

Veni Sancte Spiritus! (Gotta love the Pentecost octave!)

P.S. Saint Hildegard of Bingen was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

Authenticity in the Truth

I cannot keep quiet that which I deem to be the truth; I would be neither just nor honest.

τό γε δὴ μὴ λέγειν οὕτως οἰόμενον ἔχειν τἀληθές: οὐ γὰρ ἂν νόμιμον οὐδ᾽ ὅσιον ἂν εἴη

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Perennial Philosophy

Agostino Steuco, OSA

Angel Custodio Vega, OSA, in his book on the Philosophy of Saint Augustine, shows that the term "philosophia perennis" to name the Christian purification and integration of pagan philosophy into a synthesis of unending vitality, begun by Saint Augustine and perfected to the highest degree by Saint Thomas Aquinas, following the same norms and plan of Augustine, was coined by a certain 15th/16th century augustinian: Agustín Steuco.

It appears that Seuco's De perenni philosophia (Google book) was a work much hated by the Protestents.

Wikipedia Father Seuco's polemical and exegetical works had attracted the notice of Pope Paul III, and in 1538 the pope made Steuco bishop of Chisamo on the island of Crete, and librarian of the papal collection of manuscripts and printed works in the Vatican. While he never visited his bishopric in Crete, Steuco did actively fulfill his role as Vatican Librarian until his death in 1548.

While in Rome he authored Old Testament annotations on the Psalms and Job, again relying heavily upon Hebrew sources to help annotate and correct the texts. Also from this period dates a major work entitled the De perenni philosophia, dedicated to Paul III, in which he attempted to show that many of the ideas expounded by the sages, poets, and philosophers from classical antiquity were in essential harmony with the central tenets of the Catholic faith. This work has a slight polemical edge to it, as Steuco crafted a number of his arguments to lend support to several theological positions that had recently come under question in Italy by reformers and critics of the traditional Catholic faith.

Italian Wiki gives a sample list of the ancient authors he treats: e.g. Orfeo , Thales , Pythagoras , Parmenides , Plato , Aristotle , Plutarch, Numenius , the Neoplatonists , the jew Philo , and works like the Chaldean Oracles , the Sibylline Oracles , the hermetic treatises and theosophical fragments.

P.S. Father Vega also mentions Saint Thomas' title of alter Augustinus, to refer to Thomas' completion of the project begun by Augustine of an perennial philosophy. Joseph Ratzinger has repeatedly said in this regard that our present age is in need of another Saint Thomas--alter Thomas--to sift through and purify and appropriate all of the philosophical giants since the enlightenment with the constant and sure measure of the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ.

P.S.S. The Calvanist International recommends Father Seuco's book!

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Truest Philosophy and the Humility of God

At the end of the first book he wrote after his conversion (Contra Academicos) Saint Augustine says that man without the incarnation would be lost in the darkness of various philosophical errors.

Philosophy is saved by the Incarnation

Today, therefore, we see practically no philosophers unless they be either Cynics or Peripatetics or Platonists. The only reason we have the Cynics is that such people find their pleasure in a certain liberty and even licence in life. But as to that which concerns erudition, doctrine, and morals, all of which help the soul, acute and clever men have not been lacking who have taught in their disputations that Aristotle and Plato in such wise agree with one another, which those who are unskilled or examine the matter cursorily think that they disagree; and after many generations and many conflicts there is strained out at last, I should say, one discipline of the most true philosophy. 

Theirs was not a philosophy of this world, which our sacred philosophy rightly detests, but of another, intelligible, world, to the subtlety of reason of which it would never have been able to call back the souls blinded by the multifarious errors of darkness and lost to the heights by the filth of the body, had not the supreme God, descending with a certain clemency for the masses, bent and submitted the authority of his divine intellect even to the human body itself, so that souls, stimulated not only by his precepts but also by his works, might return to themselves and once again see their fatherland.
(My translation based, in part on this one: Contra Academicos 19:42)

Itaque nunc philosophos non fere videmus, nisi aut Cynicos aut Peripateticos aut Platonicos: et Cynicos quidem, quia eos vitae quaedam delectat libertas atque licentia. Quod autem ad eruditionem doctrinamque attinet, et mores quibus consulitur animae, quia non defuerunt acutissimi et solertissimi viri, qui docerent disputationibus suis Aristotelem ac Platonem ita sibi concinere, ut imperitis minusque attentis dissentire videantur; multis quidem saeculis multisque contentionibus, sed tamen eliquata est, ut opinor, una verissimae philosophiae disciplina. Non enim est ista huius mundi philosophia, quam sacra nostra meritissime detestantur, sed alterius intellegibilis; cui animas multiformibus erroris tenebris caecatas, et altissimis a corpore sordibus oblitas, nunquam ista ratio subtilissima revocaret, nisi summus Deus populari quadam clementia divini intellectus auctoritatem usque ad ipsum corpus humanum declinaret, atque submitteret; cuius non solum praeceptis, sed etiam factis excitatae animae redire in semetipsas, et resipiscere patriam, etiam sine disputationum concertatione potuissent.


The things that are, are; and those which are not, are not; and this holds not only here among us, but among all men. Minos, 361 B

Σωκράτης: οὐκοῦν, ὡς κατὰ πάντων εἰπεῖν, τὰ ὄντα νομίζεται εἶναι, οὐ τὰ μὴ ὄντα, καὶπαρ᾽ ἡμῖν καὶ παρὰ τοῖς ἄλλοις ἅπασιν.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Knowledge leads to Faith in God, and Faith in God Yields Knowledge of the World

Saint Augustine goes from his infantile Christianity to his radical and liberal teenage pursuit of truth which first involves him with the Manichean sect throughout the decade of his twenties. He then leaves that intellectually dissatisfying materialism for a short hiatus in Academic Skepticism which leaves him groping for the transcendent which he found in Plato, the Platonists and faith in God, which then enables him to accept and understand the Catholic faith (Jesus Christ: the Logos Incarnate) and thereby the deepest meaning and good order of the world and the cosmos.

Augustine arrives at the knowledge of God by philosophy and he arrives at knowledge of the world by faith.

He only bridges his skepticism of external reality (phenomena) by faith, the humility of faith and the acceptance of it's concomitant authority.

Cf. Joseph Ratzinger, Augustine Thesis (1951) in Obras Completas, I, Madrid: BAC, 2014, 33-34.

Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis.
Ibid, 46; Cf. De Magistro, 11:37

N.B. The Augustinianum has a Master's program in Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI Studies!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Honesty in Truth

It is important to tell the truth, especially when discusssing the truth.

τολμητέον γὰρ οὖν τό γε ἀληθὲς εἰπεῖν, ἄλλως τε καὶ περὶ ἀληθείας λέγοντα

Phaedrus 247c

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Most Passionate Ancient Philosopher: Saint Augustine

6th Century Lateran Portrait

If a philosopher is one who loves wisdom, there is no one among the ancients or the moderns who can more rightly be called a philosopher than Saint Augustine, because in him the passion for the truth is something overflowing and uncommon.

Neither Plato nor Aristotle, nor any of the wise men of Greece or Rome have left us as ardent and emotional pages on the truth as Saint Augustine.

If his heart moans and sighs, it is never for the temporal and perishable goods of this world, but rather on account of the darkness that envelops him and the vain struggles which he has to undergo to arrive at the truth, when he succeeds in reaching it. From the time he reads the Hortentius, Augustine is the errant knight in love with the truth, who carries the harpoon of love and pain planted in his chest, which he will never be able to tear out of himself even if he should attempt it in despair.

The character of source, of light, of life, of intellection and of love which Saint Augustine gives to the truth and to philosophy is unique to him, unknown to antiquity and to many succeeding centuries.

The philosophy of the intelligence and of the heart of which Pascal occasionally speaks has deep roots in Saint Augustine. For Saint Augustine philosophy is something vital and human, it is an exercise of the whole man in that which he has which is most noble and most elevated.

...All of his incoercible yearnings of happiness and of good, all of his enthusiasms and raptures for ultimate beauty, all of his loving and fiery impetuses, all of his dreams and hopes of glory and honors are gradually reduced and concentrated into this supreme and fascinating ideal until it forms for him the only object of his loves and the principle and center of all his interior life...

In this sense we have to say that the holy Bishop of Hippo is more modern that the most modern philosophers.

Obras de San Agustín, II, "Introducción a la Filosofía de San Augustín," Angel Vega, Madrid: BAC, 1946, 13-14, 14 n1.
Cf. Confessions book III, chapter 4, nn. 7-8.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Pope Francis' Magisterium Explained

Jorge Bergoglio Jesuit Scholastic

Accenting the Positive

It is unfortunate that, to many people, "leading a good life" means "keeping away from sin." Actually, "keeping from sin" is only one side of the coin of virtue. It is necessary, but it is not enough. Perhaps this negative view of religion as a series of "Thou shalt nots" explains the cheerlessness in the spiritual lives of some well-intentioned souls. To keep away from sin is an essential beginning, but love for God and neighbor calls for far more than this.

There are, for example, the corporal works of mercy. They are called "corporal" from the Latin word "corpus," meaning "body," because they pertain to our neighbor's physical and temporal welfare. As gleaned from the Bible, they are seven in number:

1) to feed the hungry;
2) to give drink to the thirsty;
3) to clothe the naked;
4) to visit the imprisoned;
5) to shelter the homeless [to harbor the foreigner];
6) to visit the sick;
7) to bury the dead.

In his description of the last judgment (Matt 25:34-40), our Lord Jesus Christ makes our performance of these corporal works of mercy the test of our love for himself:

"Amen I say to you, as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for me."

The Faith Explained, Leo J. Trese, Princeton: Scepter, 2001, 201.

Consider also the great positive demands of the interior life. The "keeping away from sin" is the first stage: the purgative way. But there are two other ways that follow in the spiritual life which are the illuminative and the unitive ways.

I. The purgative way is the way of beginners. There are four means for achieving it:

-the prayer of beginners
-penance, to atone for the past
-mortification, to safeguard the future
-warfare against capital sins
-the warfare against temptation

All the while practicing the theological and the moral virtues. The Spiritual Life, Adolfe Tanquerey, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1930, 309.

II. The illuminative way is the state of souls more advanced in the spiritual life. There are four means of achieving it:

-affective prayer, the distinctive prayer of the illuminative way
-moral virtues
-theological virtues
-struggle against the new offenses of the enemy  461

III. The unitive way is the habitual and intimate union with God, through Jesus Christ. It is God's gratuitous action in the soul of the one who is proficient in the purgative and illuminative way. There are three forms of the unitive way.

-the simple or active unitive way
-the mystic or passive unitive way
-extraordinary mystical phenomena 607

Cf. Each of the elements in the above outline represents a chapter in The Spiritual Life.

A divided heart is always an unhappy heart.
A divided heart is always ineffective life--it never produces a real goodness.
The reason missionaries are happy is because their hearts are wholly dedicated to souls.
We know unhappy bankers, unhappy millionaires, unhappy beauty queens, unhappy kings--but there has never been known an unhappy missionary. (From an anonymous 50's magazine clipping).

Temperance, etc. (by way of example, one of the cardinal [moral] virtues referenced above)

Never give your opinion if you're not asked for it, even though you may think it is the best one.
The Way, Josemaría Escrivá, 674.

It's true that he was a sinner. But don't pass so final a judgment. Have pity in your heart and don't forget that he may yet be an Augustine, while you remain just another mediocrity. 675

All the things of this world are no more than dirt. Place them in a heap under your feet and you'll be so much nearer to heaven. 676

Gold, silver, jewels: dirt, piles of manure.
Delights, sensual pleasures, satisfactions of the appetites: like a beast, like a mule, like a hog, like a cock, like a bull...
Honors, distinctions, titles: things of air, puffs of pride, lies, nothingness. 677

Gluttony is an ugly vice. Don't you feel a bit amused and even a bit disgusted when you see a group of distinguished gentlemen, seated solemnly around a table, stuffing fatty foods into their digestive tubes with an air of ritual, as if the whole thing were an end in itself? 679

Don't talk about food at the table. That's a lack of refinement unworthy of you. Speak about noble things--of the mind, of the soul--and you'll have dignified this duty. 680

The day you leave the table without having made some small mortification, you will have eaten like a pagan. 681

Ordinarily you eat more than you need. And the natural result, a heavy fullness and discomfort, benumbs your mind and renders you unfit to savor supernatural treasures.
What a fine virtue temperance is, even by earthly standards. 682

I see you, christian gentleman (that's what you say you are), kissing an image, muttering some vocal prayer, crying out against those who attack the Church of God, even frequenting the holy sacraments.
But I don't see you making a sacrifice, nor avoiding certain conversation of a worldly nature (I could with justice have used another adjective), nor being generous toward those in need (including that same Church of God!), nor putting up with a failing in one of your brothers, nor checking your pride for the sake of the common good, nor getting rid of that tight cloak of selfishness, many other things!
Yes, I see you...But I don't see you...And yet, you say you are a christian gentleman!. What a poor idea you have of Christ! 683

So your talents, your personality, your qualities are being wasted. So you're not allowed to take full advantage of them.
Meditate well on these words of a spiritual writer: "The incense offered to God is not wasted. Our Lord is more honored by the immolation of your talents than by their vain use." 684

Relativism's false premise: no absolute Truth

πῶς γάρ φίλεδύναιτο ἄν τις ἀρχόμενος ἀπὸ δόξης ψευδοῦς ἐπί τι τῆς ἀληθείας καὶ μικρὸν μέρος ἀφικόμενος κτήσασθαι φρόνησιν;
How impossible it is, friend, to achieve real understanding in an approach to any part of the total area of what is true (τῆς ἀληθείας) , however small, if one begins from a false opinion.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Book for Mother's Day: Treasury of Women Saints

The Stories of Over 200 Women, Including Mothers, Prophets, and Interior Women of the Spirit

Translocation of the Tomb of Saint Jerome

Sistine Chapel Saint Mary Major
Built over the 12th century Nativity Chapel

The Roman Martyrology for tomorrow (today's Prime) says the 9th of May is the day that Saint Jerome was moved [12th century] from Bethlehem to Saint Mary Major in Rome, to rest beside the relics of the Crib of our Lord there [in the confessio crypt under the blessed sacrament altar of that basilica's 16th century "Sistine Chapel" {the chapel also of the tomb's of Pope Saint Pius V and Pope Sixtus V himself}]. The relics of the crib were subsequently moved from the Sistine Chapel (by Blessed Pope Pius IX) to their present place in the confessio under the papal altar, though it appears unclear whether the relics of Saint Jerome stayed in the side chapel or were also moved to the crib's present place in the confessio under the main altar of the basilica. What is more, Wikipedia says that both the city of Nepi and the Escorial claim to have the head of Saint Jerome.

There is also commemorated at Rome the translation of the body of the holy Priest Jerome, Doctor of the Church, from Bethlehem of Juda [Church of Saint Catherine] into the cathedral church of Saint Mary-by-the-Manger, (commonly called St Mary the Greater.)
--Roman Martyrology

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Amoris Fictilia

That would be a more appropriate title for the infamous Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Lætitia, which, under a guise of love denies the truth of objective evil. What is loving about calling evil good? It is a fanciful fickle fiction.

"The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts--such as fornication--that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil... 1755

"...There are acts which, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it." 1756

...[S]ed in omnibus exhibeamus nosmetipsos sicut Dei ministros, in multa patientia, in tribulationibus, in necessitatibus, in angustiis, in plagis, in carceribus, in seditionibus, in laboribus, in vigiliis, in ieiuniis, in castitate, in scientia, in longanimitate, in suavitate, in Spiritu Sancto, in caritate non ficta, in verbo veritatis, in virtute Dei, per arma iustitiae a dextris et sinistris; per gloriam, et ignobilitatem; per infamiam et bonam famam: ut seductores, et veraces; sicut qui ignoti, et cogniti: quasi morientes, et ecce vivimus: ut castigati, et non mortificati:
quasi tristes, semper autem gaudentes: sicut egentes, multos autem locupletantes: tamquam nihil habentes, et omnia possidentes.
II Corinthios 6:4-6 Biblia Sacra Vulgata

The error of chapter 8 of the apostolic exhortation is the same error of the flower children "free love" generation which has become the present day fashion. "Let us all just love one another." But, the problem with that notion is that lust (the opposite of love) incessantly vies with love! Today fornication is so commonplace that it is hard to find anyone who will dare censure it, in or out of church! Adultery, despite all of the social mayhem it causes, is socially accepted! Not to mention sodomy. But, "who am I to judge?"

Well, if the Catholic priest were to stop judging, then the world would be entirely bereft of the forgiveness of sins. Every valid Confession is a weighty act of judgement on the part of the priest, in the Person of Jesus Christ, for mercy. The judgment of moral acts is integral to the sacrament, and it is the judgment of God regarding the depravity of human acts; and God, with the Blood of Christ and upon the express repentance (and purpose of amendment) of the penitent, through the judging priest, absolves.
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