Friday, March 31, 2017

Anti-Romanism Revisited

"According to Ratzinger, two periods resemble ours...that of Modernism, and the age spanning the Enlightment and the Great Revolution of the West, referred to in German cultural history as that of the Rococo.

"Ratzinger makes the connexion with the world of Modernism briefly enough. The crisis of Modernism 'never really came to a head, but was interrupted by the measures taken by Pius X and by the change in the intellectual situation after the First World War. The crisis of the present is but the long-deferred resumption of what began in those days.' (Faith and the Future, 92) He lingers much longer over the comparison with the Rokokozeit. That age resembled ours, he alleges, in its systematic preference for rationality over against tradition, and also in its curious mélange of exaggerations with genuinely fruitful beginnings. That age too had its eminently desirable liturgical movement, and its honourable effort to vindicate the just place within Catholic consciousness of the local church in all its particularity. Yet both became extreme, finishing in such highly ambiguous phenomena as the 1786 (Tuscan) Synod of Pistoia, or the career of the Saxon ecclesiastic Ignaz Heinrich von Wessenberg (1774-1860). Between the two of them, they would have reduced the Catholic liturgy to a Calvinist austerity, abolished all extra-liturgical devotions and expressions of piety, decreed the monastic and mendicant orders out of existence, and erected their respective churches into a law unto themselves, all animated by what Balthasar has called der anti-römische Affekt."
Aidan Nichols, OP, The Thought of Benedict XVI, New York: T&T Clark, 2005.

"The Enlightenment had its liturgical movement, the aim of which was to simplify the liturgy and restore it to its original basic structure. Excesses in the cult of relics and of the saints were to be removed, and, above all, the vernacular, with congregational singing and participation, was to be introduced. The Enlightenment witnessed also an episcopal movement which wanted to stress the importance of the bishops over against the one-sided centralization of Rome. This movement had democratic elements, as when Wessenberg, the vicar general of Constance, demanded the setting up of provincial synods. Reading his works one imagines one is reading a progressive of the year 1969. The abolition of celibacy was demanded, the sacraments were to be administered only in the vernacular, and no promises were to be required concerning the religious education of the children of a mixed marriage--and so on." Ratzinger, Faith and the Future, Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1971, 93-94.

It is in this book that Ratzinger famously predicted that the Church in the year 2000 would be smaller but stronger. Cf. Ibid., 101-106.

Austin Farrer: C.S. Lewis' Minister

One of the few great Anglican literary figures of the 20th century, who never become Catholic, was an outstanding scholar and preacher who administered the last sacraments to that other Anglican-Catholic who did not convert: C.S. Lewis. J.J.R. Tolkien, was another close friend.

I came upon him when reading the following.

"Ratzinger's homilies and meditations on [the liturgical] seasons are, I find, comparable in the English homiletic tradition to those of the Anglican Austin Farrer, who died as Warden of Keble College, Oxford: hard thinking, in which are embedded bright, crystalline images, This makes them stimulus for contemplation as well as for reflection."
Aidan Nichols, OP, The Thought of Benedict XVI, New York: T&T Clark, 2005, 203.

P.S. Among other scholarly contributions to philosophy and theology, "He presented his own solution to the Synoptic Problem, the so-called Farrer hypothesis in a short essay entitled 'On dispensing with Q'. Q was the hypothetical source of those parts of Luke's and Matthew's gospel which are not in Mark but which are pretty much identical. He argued against the possibility of reconstructing Q noting that while it might have been impossible to reconstruct Mark from the other gospels had it been lost, Mark had not been lost. 'I have a copy of it on my desk.'"

Wikipedia, cited March 31, 2017.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pope Benedict XIV(1740-1758), the Other Pope Benedict Scholar

Allegory of  1754 Papal Declaration of  
Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of New Spain 

Pope Benedict XIV (Prosepero Lorenzo Lambertini) was conversant in the highest intellectual circles of his day, including on-going correspondence with the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. To him Voltaire dedicated his play Mohamet (1736) thus:"Au chef de la véritable religion un écrit contre le fondateur d'une religion fausse et barbare."

"To the chief of the true religion, a work against the founder of a false and barbarous religion."

Voltaire, on another occasion wrote this epitaph for him

Lambertinus hic est, Romæ decus, et pater orbis
Qui mundum scriptis docuit, virtutibus ornat.

This is Lambertini, the pride of Rome, the father of the world,
who teaches that world by his writings and honours by his virtues.

"...Great as a man, a scholar, an administrator, and a priest, his claim to immortality rests principally on his admirable ecclesiastical writings." Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

A worthy predecessor to our beloved Pope Emeritus!

P.S. Did you know that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI will be 90 years old, God willing, on April 16 (born on Holy Saturday 1927). and, Pope Francis, who is 80 will turn 81 in December (December 17, 1936)? May God bless and save us through his chief Vicars on earth!

P.S.S. QUOD PROVINCIALE (On Christians Using Mohammedan Names), Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV promulgated on 1 August 1754.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Soldiers of Christ and Traditional Confirmations

A Traditional Priestly Silver Jubilee

"A young priest thinks he is a saint and probably isn't. A middle-age priest doesn't think he is a saint and probably isn't. An old priest doesn't think he is a saint and probably is."

On Diets and Fasting

This morning, as I made my bed (consciously before breakfast!) I thought of the difference between a fast and a diet in quite philosophical terms. Fasting is different from dieting in the formal and the final cause, i.e. what made you want to do it in the first place and what is the end result you want to achieve with doing it. God! With fasting the source and the summit is God! It is an act of worship, in comes from God and is aimed at Him.

Now, I would add to Maguire's insights below that fasting is the larger reality, and it may certainly include diet within it, as long as the end purpose is God and not the flesh. We should want the good effects of dieting, namely to be totally healthy and alert and energetic (knowing we will never achieve it on this side of the grave, especially as the years go by!), but all in the service of the Lord, taking up His cross and hungering for Him. That seems to be in line with the words of the bishop in her article, directing our fasting to adoration, etc.

As a matter of fact, I would say that your diet itself can be a perfect fast! It matters why you are doing it, the formal cause and the final cause. For the Lord of the body and of the soul!

What is more, even the good of our souls which we seek, we seek that good also as an act of love and adoration of the Lord, because we love Him, because he always first loves us!

A fast is greater than a mere diet, just an alms is greater than philanthropy, and prayer is greater than yoga! Fasting, alms and prayer are acts of God and of reparation for sins!

Sunday, March 26, 2017 
How to Make Fasting Not a Diet 

What did Jesus do prepare for his public ministry? He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days. It was not a diet. That might sound crass but it’s tempting to look at spiritual fasting as a convenient opportunity to also go on a diet. 

Dieting is about your body and health and fasting is about your soul. It has the power to defeat evil, strengthen our prayers, and draw us closer to God. When we fast, we follow the example of Jesus who utilized the power of fasting before going public. 

Separate Dieting from Fasting 

Even if we are convinced of the value of fasting, how can we be sure that our motivation to fast doesn’t get mixed in with dieting? The fact that weight loss could result from a fast doesn’t have to rob it of its spiritual power. 

This is how I keep fasting out of the realm of dieting. Diets don’t require losing the satisfaction of the food. As a matter of fact, making a tasty meal is encouraged when dieting. When I’m fasting, I make eating about survival and not about enjoyment. 

To fast, I eat what I don’t prefer. I sometimes use a high protein bread to fast, but for me, the point is going hungry for a time and also not getting enjoyment out of my food. For instance, not putting dressing on a salad or eating a plain hard-boiled egg and a piece of bread gives me sustenance but not much satisfaction. 

The point is to define your motivation and then identify how your fast will be different from a diet. I once heard a priest speaking about fasting say that in the Bible, fasting always referred to food. He said it’s fine to give up other things, but doing without food in some way, is the expectation of fasting in Scripture. 

Fasting is one of the three pillars of Lent along with prayer, and almsgiving, but only fasting requires physical discipline and endurance. We feel the personal sacrifice in our body, just as Jesus felt his Passion. 

Examples in Scripture 

Jesus said in Matthew 6:16: “When you fast...” not “If you fast...” The first Christians fasted (Acts 13:2-3; 14:23) but it was nothing new. Moses and Elijah had done the same. Fasting and putting on sackcloth saved the city of Nineveh from destruction in the book of Jonah. King David said, "I humble myself through fasting” (Psalm 35:13). 

Kings and presidents once called on their entire country to fast. President John Adams proclaimed a day of fast and abstinence in 1798 when France threatened war. War was avoided. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of fasting in August of 1864 during the Civil War. The tide turned. 

"Prayer is good with fasting and alms, more than to store up treasures of gold" (Tobit 12:8). 

"Know ye that the Lord will hear your prayers, if you continue with perseverance in fastings and prayers in the sight of the Lord" (Judith 4:11). 

"But this kind [of demon] can be cast out in no other way except by prayer and fasting" (Mark 9:29).

Remove Obstacles 

During Lent a couple years ago, Archbishop William Gob of Singapore, called on all of Singapore’s 200,000 Catholics to fast each Friday on bread and water to promote the New Evangelization. “For prayer to be effective, it must be accompanied by fasting,” he wrote. “We learn this from Jesus, our model in evangelization, by looking at how he prepared his ministry, going into the wilderness where he fasted for 40 days.” 

Archbishop Gob emphasized that adding fasting to “devout and fervent prayers” is the only way to defeat the "hostile secularism" that is undermining society. He also credited fasting with removing obstacles while cleansing us from sin. 

But for it to bear fruit, Archbishop Gob said fasting should be a source to open our hearts to God and show mercy and charity to others. He recommended doing it in union with others to benefit from encouragement and mutual support and to pray and read Scripture together. He also suggested using mealtimes to pray or go to Eucharistic adoration.

Cf. Catholic Regulations for Lenten Fast and Abstinence, Old and New; and
Ember Days.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ratzinger's Initial (Positive) Assessment of Vatican II Call for Liturgical Reform: October 1964

The Problem of Divine Worship

This may have seemed to the outsider the least important problem. He might have been tempted to see in it a kind of estheticism, a hobby for specialists and historians. But for the Church, divine worship is a matter of life and death. If it is no longer possible to bring the faithful to worship God, and in such a way that they themselves perform this worship, then the Church has failed in its task and can no longer justify its existence. But it was on precisely this point that a profound crisis occurred in the life of the Church. Its roots reach far back. In the late Middle Ages, awareness of the real essence of Christian worship increasingly vanished. Great importance was attached to externals, and these choked out essentials.

The essence of the ancient Christian liturgy in the texts was no longer visible in the overgrowth of pious additions. Luther‘s protest against the Catholic Church therefore involved a very basic protest against Catholic liturgy, which he denounced as idolatrous. He supplanted it with a simplified devotion concentrated on God‘s Word. This is not the place to discuss the loss of substance that accompanied this amputation. Without doubt vital members were removed along with diseased ones (as is often frankly stated by Protestant theologians today). But we want to study here the internal Catholic development. The Catholic reaction to Luther‘s attack took place at Trent. The reaction was on the whole inadequate, even if it did eliminate the worst abuses and make possible a certain measure of rebirth. Trent was content to do two things:

(a) To set forth integral Catholic doctrine, now (at least in regard to the idea of sacrifice) presented in purer form. But Trent did not sufficiently consider the Reformation‘s genuine problems of conscience, nor did it realize how problematic were the notions of adoration and sacrifice - the two main difficulties of late medieval eucharistie doctrine.

(b)The overgrowth of liturgical non-essentials was cut back and strict measures taken to prevent a recurrence of this.

The main measure was to centralize all liturgical authority in the Sacred Congregation of Rites, the post-concilliar organ for implementation of the liturgical ideas of Trent. This measure, however, proved to be two-edged. New overgrowths were in fact prevented, but the fate of liturgy in the West was now in the hands of a strictly centralized and purely bureaucratic authority. This authority completely lacked historical perspective; it viewed the liturgy solely in terms of ceremonial rubrics, treating it as a kind of problem of proper court etiquette for sacred matters. This resulted in the complete archaizing of the liturgy, which now passed from the stage of living history, became embalmed in the status quo and was ultimately doomed to internal decay.The liturgy had become a rigid, fixed and firmly encrusted system; the more out of touch with genuine piety, the more attention was paid to its prescribed forms. We can see this if we remember that none of the saints of the Catholic Reformation drew their spirituality from the liturgy. Ignatius of Loyola, Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross developed their religious life solely from personal encounter with God and from individual experience of the Church, quite apart from the liturgy and any deep involvement with it.

The baroque era adjusted to this situation by superimposing a kind of para-liturgy on the archaized actual liturgy. Accompanied by the splendor of orchestral performance, the baroque high Mass became a kind of sacred opera in which the chants of the priest functioned as a kind of periodic recitative. The entire performance seemed to aim at a kind of festive lifting of the heart, enhanced by the beauty of a celebration appealing to the eye and ear. On ordinary days, when such display was not possible, the Mass was frequently covered over with devotions more attractive to the popular mentality. Even Leo XIII recommended that the rosary be recited during Mass in the month of October. In practice this meant that while the priest was busy with his archaic liturgy, the people were busy with their devotions to Mary. They were united with the priest only by being in the same church with him and by consigning themselves to the sacred power of the eucharistic sacrifice. Perhaps the clearest example of the coexistence of archaic liturgy and living para-liturgy was the old form of celebration of Holy Saturday. In the morning the liturgical ceremony commemorating the resurrection was celebrated in virtually empty churches. The ceremony had no significance at all for the congregation. In the evening the people had their commemoration of the resurrection, with all the splendor of baroque delight in ceremony and display. Between the two ceremonies came a long day of silent remembrance of the stillness of Chrisťs tomb. Little did it matter that the official liturgy in its ivory tower had begun hours ago to intone the Alleluia.

With the end of the baroque period, the force of the baroque para-liturgy also went into decline, although in some regions it remained very much alive. The endeavors of the Sacred Congregation of Rites to preserve old forms had obviously resulted in the total impoverishment of the liturgy. If the Church‘s worship was once again to become worship of God in the fullest sense - i.e., for all the faithful - then it had to get away from fixed forms. The wall of Latinity had to be breached if the liturgy were again to function either as proclamation or as invitation to prayer. Experiments in "de-Latinization" by smaller groups or through the use of interpreters soon proved insufficient. It was now clear that behind the protective skin of Latin lay hidden something that even the surgery performed at Trent had failed to remove. The simplicity of the liturgy was still overgrown with superfluous accretions of purely historical value. It was now clear, for example, that the selection of biblical texts had frozen at a certain point and hardly met the needs of preaching. The next step was to recognize that the necessary revamping could not take place simply through purely stylistic modifications, but also required a new theology of divine worship. Otherwise the renewal would be no more than superficial. To put it briefly, the task only half finished at Trent had to be tackled afresh and brought to a more dynamic completion.

This also meant that the problems which Luther and the reformers had seen in the liturgy had to be dealt with once again. Not the least of these was their objection to the rigidity and uniformity already evident then in the ceremonies. The point was not, of course, for the Catholic Church to somehow work toward the positions of the Reformation. As we have already said, the amputation performed by the reformers could not supply any model for Catholic liturgical reform.

But the questions the reformers raised could well serve to spur a return to the ancient Christian heritage. It seemed well worthwhile to honor the positive seriousness of these questions and to see the possibilities they opened up as a help in our own effort for renewal. Both sides have much to learn from one another, and in the work of the liturgical movement this had already in fact happened.

If we view the Council‘s initiatives for liturgical reform in their historical context, then we may well consider them a basic reversal. The value of the reform will of course substantially depend on the post-conciliar commission of Cardinal Lercaro and what it is able to achieve. The problems and hopes of liturgical reform anticipate some of the crucial problems and hopes of ecclesiastical reform in general. Will it be possible to bring contemporary man into new contact with the Church, and through the Church into new contact with God? Will it be possible to minimize centralism without losing unity? Will it be possible to make divine worship the starting point for a new understanding among Christians? These three questions represent three hopes, all bound up with liturgical reform, and all in line with the basic intentions of the recent Council.

Ratzinger, Joseph: Theological Highlights of Vatican II. Paulist Press, 2009, s. 129-134.

The De-secularization of the Church: Joseph Ratzinger

The New Pagans and the Church

A 1958 Lecture by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI). Translated by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.
("Hochland" 51 [1958/59] 1-11)

According to religious statistics, old Europe is still a part of the earth that is almost completely Christian. But there is hardly another case in which everyone knows as well as they do here that the statistic is false: This so-called Christian Europe for almost four hundred years has become the birthplace of a new paganism, which is growing steadily in the heart of the Church, and threatens to undermine her from within. The outward shape of the modern Church is determined essentially by the fact that, in a totally new way, she has become the Church of pagans, and is constantly becoming even more so. She is no longer, as she once was, a Church composed of pagans who have become Christians, but a Church of pagans, who still call themselves Christians, but actually have become pagans. Paganism resides today in the Church herself, and precisely that is the characteristic of the Church of our day, and that of the new paganism, so that it is a matter of a paganism in the Church, and of a Church in whose heart paganism is living.

Therefore, in this connection, one should not speak about the paganism, which in eastern atheism has already become a strong enemy against the Church, and as a new anti-christian power opposes the community of believers. Yet, when concerning this movement, one should not forget that it has its peculiarity in the fact that it is a new paganism, and therefore, a paganism that was born in the Church, and has borrowed from her the essential elements that definitely determine its outward form and its power. One should speak rather about the much more characteristic phenomenon of our time, which determines the real attack against the Christian, from the paganism within the Church herself, from the “desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be” (Mk 13:14).

The fact that today, even given an optimistic evaluation, certainly more than half of the Catholics (here we are considering only our Church) no longer “practice” their faith, should not be explained clearly in the sense that this large number of non-practicing Catholics should simply be called pagans. It is still evident that they no longer simply embrace the faith of the Church, but that they make a very subjective choice from the creed of the Church in order to shape their own world view. And there can be no doubt that most of them, from the Christian point of view, should really no longer be called believers, but that they follow, more or less, a secular philosophy. They do indeed affirm the moral responsibility of man, but it is based on, and limited by, purely rational considerations. The ethics of N. Hartmanns, K. Jaspers, and M. Heidegger, for example, defend the more or less known convictions of many morally upright men, but they are in no sense Christians. The well-known little book published by the List-Verlag (a German publishing house—Editor’s note) entitled, What Do You Think About Christianity? can open the eyes of anyone, who has allowed himself to be deceived by the Christian façade of our contemporary public image, to the realization of how far and wide such purely rational and irreligious morality has spread. Therefore, the modern man today, when he meets someone else anywhere, can assume with some certainty that he has a baptismal certificate, but not that he has a Christian frame of mind. Therefore, he must presume as the normal state of affairs the lack of faith of his neighbor. This fact has two important consequences: On the one hand, it includes a fundamental change in the structure of the Church; and, on the other hand, it has produced an essential change of consciousness on the side of the still-believing Christians. These two phenomena will be clarified in greater detail in this lecture.

When the Church had her beginning, it rested on the spiritual decision of the individual person to believe, on the act of conversion. If one at the beginning had hoped that a community of saints would be built here on earth out of the converts, “a Church without spot or wrinkle,” then in the midst of difficulties, one must come more and more to the realization that also the convert, the Christian, remains a sinner, and that even the greatest sins could possibly take place in the Christian community. In four hundred years of conflict with “heretics” [Cathari!] the Church has had abundant knowledge about this. But if, accordingly, the Christian was not a morally perfect person, and in this sense the community of the saints always remained imperfect, still there was a fundamental agreement according to which Christians were distinguished from non-Christians, namely, faith in the grace of God which was revealed in Christ.

The Church was a community of believers, of men who had adopted a definite spiritual choice, and because of that, they distinguished themselves from all those who refused to make this choice. In the common possession of this decision, and its conviction, the true and living community of the faithful was founded, and also its certainty; and because of this, as the community of those in the state of grace, they knew that they were separated from those who closed themselves off from grace. Already in the Middle Ages, this was changed by the fact that the Church and the world were identical, and so to be a Christian fundamentally no longer meant that a person made his own decision about the faith, but it was already a political-cultural presupposition. A man contented himself with the thought that God had chosen this part of the world for himself; the Christian’s self-consciousness was at the same time a political-cultural awareness of being among the elect: God had chosen this Western world. Today, this outward identity of Church and world has remained; but the conviction that in this, that is, in the unchosen belonging to the Church, also that a certain divine favor, a heavenly redemption lies hidden, has disappeared.

The Church is like the world, a datum of our specifically Western existence, and indeed, like the definite world to which we belong, a very contingent reality. Almost no one believes seriously that eternal salvation can depend on this very contingent, cultural and political reality that we call the “Church.” For the Westerner, the Church is, for the most part, nothing more than a very accidental part of the world; through her externally remaining identity with the world, she has lost the seriousness of her claim. So it is understandable that, today, often the question will be asked very urgently whether or not the Church should again be turned into a community of conviction, in order to confer on her again her great gravity. That would mean that she rigidly abandons the still present worldly positions, in order to get rid of an apparent possession, which shows itself to be more and more dangerous, because it stands in the way of the truth.

For some time now, this question has been eagerly discussed especially in France, where the decline of a Christian conviction has progressed more than it has among us, and so the contrast between appearance and reality is felt to be much stronger. But naturally the problem is the same among us. There, the supporters of a more strict direction stand in opposition to those of a more accommodating position. The former emphasize the necessity of, once again, giving their full weight to the Sacraments, “unless one wants to fall further into the de-Christianization of Europe. It is no longer possible to continue to give the Sacraments to the persons who want to receive them only on the basis of social convention, and thoughtless tradition, and for whom the Sacraments are only empty rituals.”1 Opposed to that, the supporters of a more accommodating position emphasize that one should not extinguish the glowing wick, that the request for the Sacraments [e.g., Matrimony, Baptism, Confirmation or First Communion; Burial of the Dead!] manifests even now a certain connection with the Church; one should not refuse these things to anyone, unless one wants to risk a damage that would be very hard to repair. The supporters of the strict direction show themselves here as attorneys for the community, while those of the accommodating approach come forth as advocates for the individual: they claim that the individual has a right to the Sacraments. In contrast, the supporters of the strict direction raise this objection: “If we want to bring the country back to Christianity, then it will happen only through the witness of small, zealous communities. In many places, it is probably necessary to begin all over again. Is it bad if a few individuals are rejected, but the future will be saved? Are we not a missionary country? Accordingly, why do we not use missionary methods? Now these require, first of all, strong communities, who then show themselves capable of receiving individual members.”2

Finally, this discussion became so vehement that the French episcopate saw that it was necessary to intervene. So on April 3, 1951, they published a “Directory for the Administration of the Sacraments,” that in general takes a middle position. For example, with regard to Baptism, it determines that fundamentally it should be conferred on the children of non-practicing parents, if they ask for it. So it is not right simply to consider the parents to be apostates; their request for Baptism allows one at least to assume that they still have a certain kernel of religious conviction. “If, however, the prior children have not been raised in a Christian way, one can only confer Baptism, if the obligation is accepted at the proper time to send the child to be baptized to the catechism classes, and also the older children, inasmuch as this is possible.”3 Some dioceses require a written commitment, and there is a special form for this.4 The Directory then says in particular: “Nuns, and members of Catholic Action, should be notified that they should not, in order to confer such Baptisms in all circumstances, exercise excessive pressure, which could give the impression of a lack of propriety.”5 This one example of Baptism shows that the Directory, in general, takes a very compassionate, or rather, a mild approach. Especially, it refuses to declare that non-practicing Catholics are simply apostates, and that means in praxis: they are not considered to be pagans, and they prefer, on the contrary, to pass judgment on each individual case.

However, this approach is not essentially different from what is still commonly done in our country. The Directory puts in the place of a pure sacramentalism, once again, an attitude of faith. Among us, one still encounters—and not only among nuns—the attitude that it would be a good thing if someone with finesse and cunning brings it about that the water of Baptism can be poured over a child. One cannot rest until the identity of “Church” and “world” is complete. In doing this, a person not only gives away the Sacraments, but he also cheapens them, and makes them worthless. The Directory expresses very clearly that the situation is completely different: Certainly in the Sacraments, God offers his salvation to all mankind; certainly he invites all generously to come to his banquet, and the Church has the task of handing on this invitation, this open gesture of offering a place at God’s table; but the fact still remains that God does not need man, but man needs God. Men are not doing a favor for the Church, or the pastor, when they still receive the Sacraments, but the Sacrament is the favor which God confers on men. Therefore, it is not a matter of making the Sacraments difficult or easy to receive, but it has to do with having the conviction according to which a man knows and receives the grace of the Sacraments as a grace. This primacy of conviction, of faith in place of mere sacramentalism, is the very important teaching that stands behind the reasonable and prudent determinations of the French Directory. In the long run, the Church cannot avoid the need to get rid of, part by part, the appearance of her identity with the world, and once again to become what she is: the community of the faithful. Actually, her missionary power can only increase through such external losses. Only when she ceases to be a cheap, foregone conclusion, only when she begins again to show herself as she really is, will she be able to reach the ear of the new pagans with her good news, since until now they have been subject to the illusion that they were not real pagans. Certainly such a withdrawal of external positions will involve a loss of valuable advantages, which doubtless exist because of the contemporary entanglement of the Church with civil society. This has to do with a process which is going to take place either with, or without, the approval of the Church, and concerning which she must take a stand {the attempt to preserve the Middle Ages is foolish and would be not only tactically, but also factually, wrong}. Certainly, on the other hand, this process should not be forced in an improper manner, but it will be very important to maintain that spirit of prudent moderation that is found in an ideal way in the French Directory.

All in all, in this necessary process of the de-secularization of the Church, one must keep three levels fully separated: the level of the sacramental, the level of the proclamation of the faith, and the level of the personal, human relationship between the faithful and the non-faithful. On the sacramental level, which formerly was protected by the arcana, or rule, of secrecy, is the truly inner essence of the Church. It must be freed from a certain simple confusion with the world, which gives either the impression of something magical, or reduces the sacraments to the level of being mere ceremonies {Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Burial}. It must, once again, become clear that Sacraments without faith are meaningless, and the Church here will have to abandon gradually and with great care, a type of activity, which ultimately includes a form of self-deception, and deception of others. In this matter, the more the Church brings about a self-limitation, the distinction of what is really Christian and, if necessary, becomes a small flock, to this extent will she be able, in a realistic way, to reach the second level, that is, to see clearly that her duty is the proclamation of the Gospel. If the Sacrament is the place where the Church distinguishes itself, and must distinguish itself from the non-church, then the word is the method and way with which she carries on the open invitation to the divine banquet. Still, here one should not forget that there are two kinds of preaching: the ordinary preaching, which is a part of the Sunday liturgy, and the missionary preaching, which can be accomplished in a course of fasting and missionary sermons. The ordinary preaching, or the word proclaimed in the liturgy, can and should be relatively short, because it should not really announce new things, because its purpose is to dig deeper into the mystery of the faith, which has already, fundamentally, been accepted and affirmed. Missionary preaching should not deal with mere attitudes and individual points, but much more fundamentally present an outline of the faith, or the essential parts of it, in a way that the modern man can understand it. But here the matter to be covered cannot be spread out as far as it should be; to the extent that people cannot be reached through the word in this way, pastoral letters and public information can and should be used as much as possible. Given these considerations, there should never be an attempt to administer a sacrament over a radio program, but it is suitable for missionary preaching.6 On the level of personal relations, finally, it would be very wrong, out of the self-limitation of the Church, which is required for her sacramental activity, to want to derive a sequestering of the faithful Christian over against his unbelieving fellow men. Naturally, among the faithful gradually something like the brotherhood of communicants should once again be established who, because of their common participation in the Lord’s Table in their private life, feel and know that they are bound together. This is so that in times of need, they can count on each other, and they know they really are a family community. This family community, which the Protestants have, and which attracts many people to them, can and should be sought, more and more, among the true receivers of the Sacraments.7 This should have no sectarian seclusion as its result, but the Catholic should be able to be a happy man among men—a fellow man where he cannot be a fellow Christian. And I mean that in his relations with his unbelieving neighbors, he must, above all, be a human being; therefore, he should not irritate them with constant preaching and attempts to convert them. In a friendly way, he will be offering him a missionary service by giving him a religious article, when he is sick to suggest the possibility of calling a priest, or even to bring a priest to see him. He should not be just a preacher, but also in a friendly and simple way, a fellow human being who cares for others.

In a summary fashion as the result of this first series of thoughts, we have established this point: The Church, first of all, has undergone a structural change from a small flock to a world Church, and since the Middle Ages in the West, she has more or less been identified with the world. Today, this identity is only an appearance, which hides the true essence of the Church and the world, and to some extent hinders the Church in her necessary missionary activity. And so, either sooner or later, with or contrary to the will of the Church, according to the inner structural change, she will become externally a little flock. The Church must take into account this fact—that in the administration of the Sacraments, she proceeds more cautiously, that in her preaching, she makes a distinction between missionary preaching, and preaching to the faithful. The individual Christian will strive more earnestly for a brotherhood of Christians, and, at the same time, try to show his fellow humanity, with unbelieving fellow men around him, in a truly human and deeply Christian way.

Next to this sketchy structural change of the Church, it is also necessary to note a change of consciousness among the faithful, which is a result of the fact of the increasing paganism within the Church. For the modern Christian, it has become unthinkable that Christianity, and in particular the Catholic Church, should be the only way of salvation; therefore, the absoluteness of the Church, and with that, also the strict seriousness of her missionary claim, and, in fact, all of her demands, have become really questionable. Ignatius of Loyola requires the one making the spiritual exercises, in the meditation on the Incarnation, consider how the Trinitarian God sees that all men are falling into hell.8 Francis Xavier could tell the believing Mohammedans that all their piety was useless because they, whether pious or godless, whether criminals or virtuous persons, in any event were going to hell, because they did not belong to the only Church that makes a person pleasing to God.9

Today, our humanity prevents us from holding such views. We cannot believe that the man next to us, who is an upright, charitable, and good man, will end up going to hell because he is not a practicing Catholic. The idea that all “good” men will be saved today, for the normal Christian, is just as self-evident as formerly was the conviction of the opposite. Indeed, since Bellarmine, who was one of the first to give consideration to this humanitarian desire, the theologians in many different ways have striven to explain how this saving of all “upright” persons ultimately is a salvation through the Church, but these constructions were somewhat too ingenious for them to make, and leave behind much of an impression.10 Practically, the admission remained that “good men” “go to heaven,” therefore, that one can be saved by morality alone; surely, this applies first of all, and is conceded to the unbelievers, while the faithful are constantly burdened with the strict system of Church requirements.

So being somewhat confused by this, the believer asks himself: Why can those outside the Church have it so easy, when it is made so difficult for us? He begins to think and to feel that the faith is a burden, and not a grace. In any event, he still has the impression that, ultimately, there are two ways to be saved: through the merely subjectively measured morality for those outside the Church, and for Church members. And he cannot have the feeling that he has inherited the better part; in any event, his faithfulness is grievously burdened by the establishment of a way to salvation alongside that of the Church. It is obvious that the missionary zeal of the Church has suffered grievously under this internal uncertainty.

I am trying, as an answer to this difficult question which troubles many Christians today, to point out in very short observations that there is only one way to salvation—namely, the way through Christ. But this rests primarily on the cooperation of two mutually opposed powers, on two, as it were, balance scales that together are only one scale, so that each balance scale, by itself alone, would be completely meaningless, and only has meaning as a part of the one scale of God.11 Indeed, this begins with the fact that God separated the people of Israel from all the other peoples of the world as the people of his choice. Should that then mean that only Israel has been chosen, and that all the other peoples have been rejected? At first it seems to appear as if this contrast of the chosen people, and the non-chosen peoples, should be considered in this static sense: as the placing next to each other of two different groups. But very soon, it becomes evident that that is not the case; for in Christ, the static placing next to each other of Jews and pagans becomes dynamic, so that now the pagans through their “not having been chosen” are changed into the chosen, but this does not mean that the choice of Israel was basically illusory, as is proved by Romans 11.

So one sees that God can choose men in two ways: directly, or through their apparent rejection. To state it more clearly: one sees clearly that God divides mankind into the “few” and the “many”—a division that occurs in the Scriptures, again and again: “The gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14); “The laborers are few” (Matt. 9:37); “Few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14); “Fear not, little flock” (Luke 12:32); Jesus gave his life as a ransom for the “many” (Mark 10:45). The opposition of Jews and pagans, of Church and non-Church, repeats this division into the few and the many. But God does not divide into the few and the many with the purpose of condemning the latter, and saving the former; also, he does not do it in order to save the many easily, and the few in a difficult way, but he makes use of the few like an Archimedean point by which he lifts the many out of their difficult situation, like a lever with which he draws them to himself. Both have their role in salvation, which is different, but still there is only one way to achieve salvation.

One can only then understand this opposition correctly, when he comes to see that for him, the opposition of Christ and mankind lies at the root of the one and the many. That is, one sees here now very clearly the opposition: The fact is that all mankind deserves condemnation, and only the One deserves salvation. Here, something very important is visible, which is often overlooked, even though it is most decisive: the gracious nature of salvation, the fact that it is an absolutely free gift of grace; for the salvation of man consists in the fact that he is loved by God, that his life at its end finds itself in the arms of eternal love. Without that, everything would remain empty for him. Eternity without love is hell, even if otherwise nothing else happens. The salvation of man consists in being loved by God. But there is no legal claim to love. This is so even on the basis of moral goodness. Love is essentially a free act, or it is not really love. For the most part, we tend to overlook this with all moralism. Actually, no morality of the highest kind can transform the free response of love into a legal claim. Thus, salvation always remains a free grace, even apart from the reality of sin; for even the highest morality is still that of a sinner. No one can honestly deny that even the best moral decisions of men, still in one way or another, even if it is subtly hidden, are infected with a certain amount of self-seeking. So this point remains true: In the opposition between Christ, the One, and us, the many, we are unworthy of salvation, whether we are Christians or non-Christians, faithful or unbelievers, moral or immoral. No one besides Christ really “deserves” salvation.

But even here, there occurs a wonderful exchange. Condemnation belongs to all men together, but salvation belongs to Christ alone. But in a holy exchange, the opposite takes place: He alone takes all the evil upon himself, and in this way, he makes the place of salvation free for all of us. All salvation, which can be given to men, is based on this fundamental exchange between Christ, the One, and us, the many, and it is up to the humility of faith to acknowledge this. But here, one must add the fact that according to God’s will, this fundamental exchange, this great mystery of substitution, on which all of history depends, continues itself in a complete system of representation, which has its coronation in the opposition of Church and non-Church, of the faithful and the “pagans.” This opposition of Church and non-Church does not mean a state of being next to each other, nor being opposed to each other, but of being for each other, in which both sides retain their own necessity, and their own proper function. In the continuation of the mission of Christ, the representation of the many has been committed to the few, who are the Church, and the salvation of both takes place only in their functional coordination, and their common subordination, under the great representation of Jesus Christ, which includes both groups. But if mankind in this representation by Christ, and in its continuation through the dialectic of the “few” and the “many” will be saved, then this means also that each person, above all the faithful, have their inevitable function in the whole process of the salvation of mankind.

If men and women, indeed the greater number of persons are saved, without belonging in the full sense to the community of the faithful, so then it takes place only because the Church herself exists as the dynamic and missionary reality, because those who have been called to belong to the Church are performing their duty as the few. That means that there is the seriousness of true responsibility, and the danger of real rejection, of really being lost. Although we know that individual persons, and indeed many, are saved outwardly without the Church, still we also know that the salvation of all always depends on the continuation of the opposition between the few and the many; that there is a vocation of man, concerning which he can become guilty, and that this is a guilt because of which he can be lost. No one has the right to say: “See, others are saved without the full weight of the Catholic faith, so why not I also?” How then do you know that the full Catholic faith is not meant necessarily for you—a faith that God requires of you for reasons about which you should not try to bargain, because they belong to the things about which Jesus says: “You cannot understand them now, but you will later on” (John 13:36). So it remains true [regarding] the modern pagans that [the Christian can] know that their salvation [is assured by] the grace of God, on which, of course, his salvation [also] depends, [but that regarding] their possible salvation he cannot dispense himself from the seriousness of their own act of faith, and that [their infidelity] must be [for him an] strong incentive for a more complete faith, because he knows that he has been included in the representative function of Jesus Christ, on which the salvation of the world, and not just that of Christians, depends.

In conclusion, I must clarify these ideas somewhat by a brief exegesis of two texts of Scripture, in which a point of view regarding this problem will be made known.12 There is, first of all, the difficult and weighty text, in which the opposition of the many and the few is expressed in an especially forceful way: “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14).13 What does this text mean? Surely it does not say that many are condemned, as one commonly tends to interpret it, but first of all that there are two forms of divine election. To put it still more precisely: It says clearly that there are two different divine acts, both of which have to do with election, without now giving us clarity whether or not both obtain their end. But if one considers the course of salvation history, as the New Testament expresses it, then one finds this word of the Lord illustrated: From the static neighborliness of the chosen people, and the not-chosen people, there was in Christ a dynamic relationship, so that the pagans through not being chosen became the chosen ones, and then, of course, through the choice of the pagans, the Jews return back to their election. So this word can be an important teaching instrument for us. The question about the salvation of men is always falsely stated if it is posed from below, that is, as a question about how men justify themselves. The question about the salvation of men is not a question of self-justification, but one of justification through the free grace of God. It is necessary to see these things from above. There are not two ways in which men justify themselves, but two ways in which God chooses them, and these two ways of election by God are the one way of salvation of God in Christ and his Church; and this relies on the necessary dialectic of the few, and the many, and on the representative service of the few in the prolongation of Christ’s representation, or substitution.

The second text is that of the great banquet (Lk 14:16-24). This gospel is, above all, in a radical way the Good News, when it recounts that at the end, heaven will be filled with all those that one can, in one way or another, include; with people who are completely unworthy, who with regard to heaven are blind, deaf, lame, and beggars. Therefore, this is a radical act of grace, and who would wish to deny that perhaps all our modern, European pagans in this way can enter into heaven? On the basis of this position, everyone has hope. On the other hand: The gravity of the situation remains. There is a group of those who will always be rejected. Who knows whether among these rejected Pharisees there is not perhaps someone who believed, who must be considered to be among good Catholics, but in reality was a Pharisee? On the other hand, who really knows whether among those, who do not accept the invitation, precisely those Europeans are to be found, to whom Christianity was offered, but who have rejected it? So at the same time, there remains for all both hope and a threat. In this intersection of hope and threat, out of which the gravity and the great joy of being a Christian manifests itself, the contemporary Christian lives his life for the most part in the midst of the new pagans, which he, in another way, knows are placed in the same situation of hope and threat, because also for them, there is no other salvation than the one in which he believes: Jesus Christ, the Lord.


This article was sent to Fr. Meconi by his Jesuit friend in Cincinnati, Fr. Matthew Gamber, S.J., who first saw it in a footnote in one of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s writings. Fr. Meconi sent it on to his predecessor, and talented polyglot, Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., who translated this timely and insightful essay for the English-speaking world. Thanks to you both!

1. J. Hünermann, “Der französische Episkopat und die heutige Sakramentenpastoral,” Aachen 1952, page 20.
2. Hünermann, ibid., page 20.
3. Hünermann, page 43. In this matter one must note that in France “Catholic education,” in a way that is more definite than here, is a matter of personal decision, because there is no religious education in the public schools. Religious education in the schools is something that we take for granted.
4. Reproduced by Hünermann on page 70.
5. Hünermann, page 43.
6. Compare with that the synopsis of the discussion about the Mass and television in: Herderkorrespondenz VII (1952/53), pages 518-520.
7. See J. Ratzinger, “Christliche Brüderlichkeit,” Der Seelsorger 28 (June 1958), pages 387-429.
8. Spiritual Exercises, First Day and First Contemplation. See the edition of Louis J. Puhl, S.J., (Loyola Press, Chicago 1951), page 49.
9. See J. Brodrick, Abenteuer Gottes. Leben und Fahrten des heiligen Franz Xaver, (Stuttgart 1954), esp. page 88 ff. The most impressive example of this narrow view of salvation is found in Dante’s Divine Comedy.
10. Henri de Lubac in an impressive way evaluates the insufficiency of the solutions existing until now in his book entitled, Catholicism: Christ and the Common Destiny of Man, (Ignatius Press 1988).
11. With these ideas, I am in agreement with the new approach to the teaching on predestination, which has been developed by Karl Barth in his Kirklichen Dogmatik II 2 (Zürich 1942), pages 1-563. Also see my observations on this matter in Christliche Brüderlichkeit, page 420ff.
12. For the sake of methodical neatness, it must be said that both explanations go beyond the merely historical exegesis in the sense that they assume that each text is part of the unity of the Scriptures, and according to that understand the individual texts as included in the unity of the faith. For a faithful understanding of the Scriptures this approach is, however, not only permitted, but it is also necessary.
13. See the illuminating observations on this text by K. L. Schmidt in Kittel’s Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament III, page 496.
Bracketed text edited by plinthos based on the text.

I have to say that I agree with Ratzinger's masterful assessment of the problem, but his solution is too Rahnerian for my taste--too zealous to save the unconverted pagan.
The few in Christ are responsible for the many so that the many might also know that they are also called to be among the few. But if few and many are both saved, then Christ's death on the cross seems a gross exaggeration! No, salvation is a matter of life and death, and it comes only through living faith in Jesus Christ.
He neglected to answer this key text: "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned." Mark 16:16

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ratzinger's Spiritual Father: Gottlieb Söhngen

Gottlieb Söhngen

"It is probably no exaggeration if one should here speak of a spiritual relationship. Considered in retrospect one could even say that the advice of Gottlieb Söhngen in 1953 to his habilitation student to choose Bonaventure was providential."

Marianne Schlosser 2009 prologue to the publication of the Habilitation Thesis in Gesammelte Schriften II: Offenbarungs-Verständnis und Geschichts-Theologie Bonaventuras, Joseph Ratzinger, Herder: Freiburg, 2009, 37.

"If the bibliography has the purpose of uncovering the spiritual influence in which the author stood during the drafting of his work, then it must necessarily remain with lacunae; for, more than what we read, what influences us most is the often obvious and given context of human relations in which we live. Thus I must at least not neglect to point out in this regard that above all the literature which has proven most significant for me is what I assimilated as a student in the classes of the Munich School of Theology. But without excluding any material, I wish to mention the classes of Professor Söhngen, especially those of Revelation, Theological Science and the Philosophy of Religion, as also the lectures in Dogmatics by Professor Schmaus. Without the systematic apriori, which developed in me through these lessons, this work would have been unthinkable..."

Joseph Razinger 1954 prologue in Gesammelte Schriften II: Offenbarungs-Verständnis und Geschichts-Theologie Bonaventuras, Joseph Ratzinger, Herder: Freiburg, 2009, 46.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

"The Idea that Sex or Gender are Malleable is Not True"

"Boy means boy and girl means girl."

"I want them to get treatment that they see fit!"

Ben Shapiro's clarity on gender is exemplary. Brilliant!
He's wrong, though, about contraception. Does he fail to realize that most chemical contraception is also abortifacient? Condoms do not and cannot sanitize what is inherently dirty, i.e. fornication/adultery. Castrating and/or killing rapists is also over the top. But he is right about gender and abortion.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cardinal McCarrick's 2013 Involvement in Pope Francis Election: In five years "He would make the Church over again."

Six minute highlights on Pope Francis' Mission to redirect the Church.
"If he has two years he will have changed the papacy."

The entire speech.
"In interviews [Pope Francis] answers hard questions...gracefully, thoughtfully, clearly, prudently and honestly."

Friday, March 17, 2017

On Saint Patrick's Day and Lenten and Friday Penances

As far as I can tell, the local bishop's dispensation from obligatory abstinence from meat on Saint Patrick's Day when it falls on a Friday of Lent, does not release from the obligation to Lenten penance or from the obligation to Friday penance (applicable throughout the year). So, for me, the most practical thing is to just not eat meat anyway.

Perhaps an exception to all of this would be in a parish named after Saint Patrick which would have the special privilege by law to celebrate the feast as a solemnity, in which case all of the normative penances would, perhaps, be trumped, by law, by the solemnity.

Solution: Declare Saint Patrick's Day a Solemnity in the diocese in perpetuity, which would eliminate all of the prescribed penances and free all the faithful to celebrate that day without restriction and would also eliminate this yearly charade of ambiguous dispensation.

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Catholicity: Only the Whole will Suffice

"A progressivism which maintains that nothing preconciliar is any longer of interest today is exactly what Frings wanted to preclude by his criticisms. No, the whole is always of interest. Faith always creates from the whole. Thus, just as after the First Vatican Council and after Pius XII, the Greek Fathers, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas remained as important as before, so also after the Second Vatican Council, the First Vatican Council remains important and Pius XII remains important. In this sense the progressivism of the Caridinal from Cologne is of the highest relevance: today we also cannot bear that mentality which forgets everything but the last twenty years--or still much more if possible. Today, too, the proclamation of the faith must be catholic--that is, it must live from the whole, draw again and again directly from the Bible, drink again and again from the great, pure sources of all times. Only then does faith remain great and wide; only then does it reach into those depths and grow to that height through which it binds heaven and earth. The dialectician's tricks with which one would free us from the burden of the mystery and seem to bring us right to the pinnacle of our time--such tricks do not survive the moment, on which alone they base themselves. Only the whole will suffice."

Joseph Ratzinger, Joseph Ratzinger in Communio, Volume 1: The Unity of the Church, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010, 90.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Oppression of Limiting Man to this World

"Economic materialism signifies the oppression of the human spirit. There is nothing free and nothing gifted. This sums up the whole oppression of the world."
Nicolas Berdyaev, The Meaning of the Creative Act, New York: Collier, 1962, 97.

Lenten piety, acts of penitence in reparation for sins and for love of God in Christ, is a key to freedom. Restoration of divine communion.
The other key is the creative human genius in itself! Perfect human nature. "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48

"Hide alms in the lap of the poor, and it shall pray to the Lord for you; For as water quenches fire, so alms destroys sin. Give alms and all things are clean to you. For as water quenches fire, so alms destroys sin. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be, world without end. Amen. For as water quenches fire, so alms destroys sin."
Matins Ember Saturday in Lent, Responsory to Lesson iii, Roman Breviary. (Plinthos translation)

"The letter and spirit of the Second Vatican Council in the Council speeches of Cardinal Frings"

Thus a literal translation of the Communio article entitled "Cardinal Frings's Speeches During the Second Vatican Council: Some Reflections Apropos of Muggeridge's The Desolate City" by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
Ratzinger, who was the speech writer for Cardinal Josef Frings throughout the Council, mentions fifteen speeches and their relevance to the Church's conciliar teaching.
Below are the dates and Acta citations for those speeches and the topics treated from each.
It seems to me that the Frings Speeches should be collected and published separately, as a contribution to the collected works of Ratzinger, because of the central historical importance of those speeches. The numbers in parenthesis are of the pages and footnotes of the Communio article as published in the book referenced below.

The Holy Office                                                                               8 XI 63, II/V, 616ff. (88 n5)
Language is schools                                                                        4 XII 62, I/III, 34. (89 n6)
Narrow use of sources, esp. the Greek Fathers                               4 XII 62, I/IV, 291. (Ibid.)
Collegiality                                                                                   14 XII 63, II/II, 493ff. (95 n10)
Church                                                                                             9 IX 63, II/I, 343-346. (Ibid.)
Bishops' Conferences                                                                       3 XI 63 II/V, 66-69. (92 n17)
Relief works                                                                                     5 XI 64 III/IV, 301-303. (99 n20)
"Progress"                                                                                        5 IX 65 IV/I, 201-203. (100 n21)
Divine salvation as different from human progress                        4 IX 65 IV/II, 406. (Ibid.)
Rejection of spiritualizing Platonism, and a theol. of Incarnation w/o suffering Passover
                                                                                                        27 X 64 III/V, 562. (101 n23)
Freedom                                                                                                        IV/I, 202,  #3a. (101 n25)
World                                                                                                            IV/II, 405, #2. (Ibid.)
"People of God" confusion                                                           24 IX 65 IV/II, 496, #3. (101 n26)
Church                                                                                                          II/VI, 194, #1. (102 n27
Errors in other faiths                                                                     28 IX 64 III/II 583, 584, #2 (102 n28)

Acta Synodalia S. Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani Secundi (Rome, 1973).
Joseph Ratzinger in Communio: Volume I: The Unity of the Church, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ember Days

They are still around!

"In the drawing up of the Calendar of a nation, the Rogation Days and Ember Days should be indicated (cf. no. 373), as well as the forms and texts for their celebration,[154] and other special measures should also be kept in mind."  GIRM, 394

Paul VI's, Mysterii Paschalis: Normae Universalis de Anno Liturgico et Calendrium Romanum Generale of February 14, 1969, is also included in the introductory section of all subsequent novus ordo editions of the Roman Missal including the most recent Amended Latin Third Typical Edition of 2010 right after the above mentioned GIRM. In that text you will find the following instruction on Ember Days.

"VII. Rogation and Ember Days (From the 2010 publication of the Roman Missal,
"45. On rogation and ember days the practice of the Church is to offer prayers to the Lord for the needs of all people, especially for the productivity of the earth and for human labor, and to give him public thanks.
"46. In order to adapt the rogation and ember days to various regions and the different needs of the people, the conferences of bishops should arrange the time and plan for their celebration.
"Consequently, the competent authority should lay down norms, in view of local conditions, on extending such celebrations over one or several days and on repeating them during the year.
"47. On each day of these celebrations the Mass should be one of the votive Masses for various needs and occassions that is best suited for the intentions of the petitioners."

The bishop of the diocese, and/or the conference of bishops, establishing the norms.

The instructive element in this is that the Ember Days have not been forgotten. There is no requirement from the Church on the matter, as far as I can tell, in USA or in Newark, but every man is free to follow that old discipline if he likes, just like the traditional Lenten fast (which the US bishops actually strongly recommend--Pastoral Statement On Penance And Abstinence, 14). We can all wear sackcloth too if we are so inclined, as did the Ninevites upon the preaching of Jonah and the Jews of the time and place of Queen Esther and Mordecai. (Cf. the penances implied in the daily first readings of the OF mass today and yesterday). Where can I get some sackcloth to wear? I think I'll get the youth group to make shirts of sackcloth as a fundraiser for next year! As far as I know the traditional "hairshirt" was never required. Saints wanted to do more for God and in reparation for sins. Our penances should never be limited to what is required.

I am very happy to hear and learn about all of these traditional observances of our past heroes of the faith. Very inspirational.

"Ember days are "the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of four weeks during the year. Ember Fridays were formerly days of fast and abstinence; Ember Wednesdays and Saturdays were formerly days of fast and partial abstinence (meat permitted only at the main meal). The Ember Days, of ancient origin, were days of fasting for the special sanctification of the four seasons and for obtaining God's blessing on the clergy. They occur during the third week of Advent, the first full week of Lent, the week after Pentecost, and the third full week in September...
"It is praiseworthy to continue the former (traditional) penitential observances, even though they are no longer obligatory. Penance serves to rectify our self-centeredness, to make up for sins (our own and those of others), to strengthen our wills, and to guide us in the footsteps of our Savior. It can be a very pure form of love for God, and can be offered up for the conversion of sinners and the relief of the souls in Purgatory." TAN Saints Calendar

There are ancient rhymes which remind you when are the four times of ember days.

Post Luciam, Cineres, post sanctum Pneuma Crucemque,
Tempora dat quatuor feria quarta sequens.
(After the feast of Saint Lucy [December 13], Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross [September 14], we have the four sets of ember days, following Wednesday.)

Post Cineres, Pneuma, post Crucem, postque Lucyam
Mercurii, Veneris, Sabbato, ieiunia fiant.

Vult Crux, Lucia, cineres, charismata dia,
Ut det vota pia, quarta sequens feria.
Durandus, Rationale Divinorum, VIII, iii, 22.

Fasting days and Emberings be
Lent, Whitsun, Holyrood, and Lucie.

The traditional ember days (when they were observed and what they meant) are explained here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Don't Touch our Children"--1.5 Million Peruvians Demonstrate Against Gender-Ideology in Schools

Lima Anti-Gender Ideology Demonstration Saturday

(Lima) Peru is defending itself against the state's compulsory inclusion of gender ideology in the schools. After months of resistance at all levels, from rallies before parliament to parliamentary debates, from newspaper articles and television discussions to signature collections, a million and a half Peruvians went to the streets on 4 March.

The gigantic popular movement was initiated by the movement #Conmishijosnotemetas (hands off my children). In many Peruvian cities, large-scale demonstrations were held. The biggest demonstration took place in the capital Lima.

The Peruvian government wants to transform the entire curriculum at public schools regarding gender theory starting with the coming school year, effecting even the youngest children. Cardinal Cipriani Thorne speaks of "ideological colonization." The organizers described the gender-compliant curriculum as "ideological brainwashing for the new generations." The curriculum is a serious attack on parental rights, which should be given priority in the education of children.

Lima March for Life

The President of Peru has been Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard since July 2016. This son of a German Jew and a Swiss Protestant is Catholic. The director Jean-Luc Godard is his cousin. Peru is a semi-presidential republic. The President of the State appoints the government. Parliament can overthrow the government by a vote of no confidence. However, this has not yet happened. In parliament, Kuczynski's party has only 20 out of 150 seats. The absolute majority is held by the party of Keiko Fujimori, whom Kuczynski had just narrowly defeated. Fujimori is the daughter of former Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori. The Peruvian left supported Kuczynski as a "lesser evil" against Fujimori.

Kuczynski is a dazzling figure. The investment banker, who became Minister for the first time at the beginning of the 80s, took part in the Bilderberger Conference in Tyrol in 1988. After his election as president, he dedicated Peru to the heart of Jesus and the heart of Mary. He implements the gender agenda, which is run by international institutions, including several UN agencies, without hesitation. The will of his people and the convictions of the vast majority of the Peruvians do not seem to bother him.

Beatriz Mejia, the spokeswoman for #Conmishijosnotemetas, called on Kuczynski to take a step backward and not to impose on the people anything that they neither want nor need.

Very much present in this mass uprising against gender ideology was the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. It was led by Cardinal Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru. The next date was just announced at the rally: the March for Life on the 25th of March. The right to life is the other big front, which is attacked from the international side.

There was massive criticism of the mass media at the demonstration, which barely offered space to cover the popular protest against the gender ideology, or downplayed and ridiculed it. The media follows a script that similar popular movements in other countries have experienced: from Manif pour tous in France, the Family Day in Italy and to the Demo für Alle in the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

"The civil society of Peru proves to be healthy and ready for battle. Will the political power be ready to listen to the citizens?" This is the question asked by Notizie Pro Vita which also formulated an indictment against the prevailing distortion of representative democracy, also seen beyond Peru.

Standard College Blasphemies, Calculated Corruption of our Youth, ∴ Nation

1. God does not exist.
2. The Catholic Church is evil.
3. Fornication/concubinage is OK.
4. The contraception pill makes you healthy.
5. The condom is clean.
6. Abortion is necessary.
7. All religions are the same.
8. All truth is relative.
9. Homosex is not unnatural.
10. People don't need Church.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Augustine's Definition of the Church, by Joseph Ratzinger

The Church is the State of the people of God, prefigured in the State of the Hebrew people, founded in faith through Christ and led, from slavery to the devils, to freedom; built upon the foundation of the faith--always accessible to the elect in faith--for the unity of love in His body as the victim of the one true God, in battle against the devils through Him, the power and the wisdom of God, awaiting in hope the definitive purification and reunion for the peace-sacrifice of the seventh day.

Die Kirche ist der Staat des Volkes Gottes, vorgebildet im Staat des hebräischen Volkes, durch Christus im Glauben begründet und aus der Knechtschaft der Dämonen herausgeführt zur Freiheit, auf dem Fundament des Glaubens--den Auserwählten im Glauben von je zugänglich--zur Einheit der Liebe in seinem Leib als Opfer des einen wahren Gottes erbaut, im Krieg gegen die Dämonen durch ihn, die Kraft und Weisheit Gottes, in Hoffnung erwartend die endgültige Reinigung und Vereinigung zum Friedensopfer des siebten Tags.

Gesammelte Schriften: Volk und Haus Gottes in Augustins Lehre von der Kirche, Joseph Ratzinger, Freiburg: Herder, 2011, 417-418.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Man is Man only in Christ

"The mystery of human nature is unknown to humanism and therefore humanistic anthropology is false from its roots up. Humanism knows man only as a natural object, and does not know man as a supernatural subject. Humanistic consciousness is oppressed by Copernicus's discovery. And it transfers anthropocentrism. Man is of a low origin and has no calling whatever, but by his own powers he rises through various degrees of the natural world and makes himself the end and object, the final goal. Fatefully and inevitably, humanism in the nineteenth century leads to positivism, to the forced installation of man in the limited territory of the given, natural world. Humanistic positivism would like to put an end to man's consciousness of belonging to two worlds. There is no other world; man belongs wholly to this one and in it he must seek happiness. But in this world man is a slave of necessity, an infinitely tiny part of the gigantic mechanism of nature. Naturalism and positivism definitely degrade man. They even deny man, for man is more than a bunch of impressions, changing sensations, a fractional part of the circular eddy of nature. In positivism that truth of the humanism of the Renaissance disappears, which was connected with the revival of antiquity as human value. And humanism is reborn as anti-humanism; it denies man. Without God and the God-man, the real man, man the microcosm, the king of nature, cannot exist. Either man is the image and likeness of Absolute Divine Being, and then he is a free spirit, the king and the centre of nature, or else he is the image and likeness of our given natural world, and in this case man does not exist--he is only one of the passing expressions of nature. We must choose; either man's freedom in God, or the necessity of a passing phenomenon in the natural world. In its positivistic limitation, humanism chose the latter and thus committed murder in thought; it refused man's higher consciousness of himself, transcending the given natural world, and thus denied man's primogeniture, betrayed man for the sake of adjustment to the given world of nature and for happiness within it. The fate of humanism is a great tragedy of man who seeks an anthropological revelation. The lack of anthropological revelation moves into the way of humanism..."

The Meaning of the Creative Act, Nicolas Berdyaev, New York: Collier, 1962, 83-84.
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