Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sexual Taboo Revenge: A Catholic Reflection on the Present Crisis in America

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin, "Lily of the Mohawks"

Enlightenment in education has sought to shed what was considered out-dated superstitions restricting sexual liberation.

"The area in which [radical enlightenment...the stated goal of education and the aegis under which the spirit of the times deliberately chooses to present itself] is most recognized...[in] the attempt to do away with the problem of sex and eros in the name of enlightenment, to turn it into a nonproblem by means of a knowledge devoid of taboos...[This] is only one (admittedly characteristic) symptom of an optimistic enlightenment that has, as its ultimate goal, liberation through knowledge."
Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1989 (an article originally published in 1975 under the title "Formation and Belief in our Time").

Fornication, adultery, and sodomy have all been decriminalized in the West, along with abortion. Contraception is promoted as a standard of healthy and responsible sexual license. "Consensual" fornication among minors (i.e. statutory rape) is all but decriminalized, with some weight given to the consent of the parents of the minors. Never mind about the related problems of ubiquitous prostitution and widespread pornography.

It is very important to note that precisely in this purposefully licentious environment of practically half a decade the problem of sex has come back to haunt us with a vengeance. And the problem was first felt in the Church. (Note in this regard the passage from a post two days ago: "Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for the people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hardships of faith for them. This is the reason why crises of the Church and of faith often make themselves felt sooner and more acutely among priests and religious than among the laity.")

Then there was some publicity about the epidemic problem of pedophilia in the schools and in school sports programs. Now, in the most recent exposures of these widespread crimes, Hollywood takes center stage in sexual abuse, and politicians are also being called out for their abuses.

The upshot is that sex in America is still a problem, and bigger than ever. Denial does not make it go away! Did we actually think that freeing people up (principally men--the biological penetrators) to do whatever they want sexually, the problem would go away? Lust does not take away lust.

In olden times a man making indecent suggestions to a woman (or to a man for that matter) would be charged with indecency in his attempted fornication or adultery (or sodomy). Not so today. All of that is open game today because those sins are considered o.k.. But that makes things very confusing because everything is made to hang upon a degree of consent rather than on a forbidden act. Not to belittle the gravity of real sexual abuse, but all of America is sexually abused by this novel and experimental permissiveness and licentiousness, which are failing us in every way. And the ones who suffer the greatest losses here are the weakest and the most vulnerable, the children in utero and extra utero, youth, and women.

The sexual laws (including marital laws) of a society are primarily supposed to defend the rights of mothers and children, that is why we call marriage matrimony from the Latin, the rights due to motherhood: the greatest safeguard against every form of abuse to women and children, including every manner of sexual sin. What is more, no sexual sins are healthy, and condoms are not healthy. They are dirty and they dirty and damage the body and the person very deeply.

Chastity is the remedy to lust. And holiness is the source of chastity. Jesus Christ and the Ever Virgin Mary and all the Saints are the masters of chastity, responsibility and respect.

May I here suggest that the State needs to consult the Catholic Church on how to remedy the present crisis which was created precisely because of the State's blatant rejection and mockery of the Church's time-honored and true societal norms regarding this aspect of the sanctity of the human body.

Cf. Fugite fornicationem: 1 Corinthians 6:15-20.
Condoms are Bad for Health
Homosexuality is Bad for Health

The Coat of Arms of the Gregorian Pontifical University, The Museum of Jesuit Treasures, Etc.

Jesus (IHS surmounted by the cross).
For the Greater Glory of God (A.M.D.G.)
1553 the founding of the Roman College, with the money given by Francis Borgia.
1583 the moving of the Roman College to the new site under the patronage of Pope Gregory XIII.
Seat of Wisdom (The Blessed Virgin Mary Seated on a Throne with the Child Jesus in her Lap, Blessing with his Right Hand).
For Religion and Good Arts (Culture).

N.B. There are a great collection of Jesuit treasures at the Chiesa di Gesú in what is called "La Sagrestia Nuova", the new sacristy, an upstairs series of rooms which includes a balcony looking out into the central nave of the church. The website says it is open to the public every Saturday, Sundays and Holy Days 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, or by appointment at info@chiesadelgesu.org

At Saint Louis University there is a much more modest collection of Jesuit treasures related to the American missions.

And, last year, a part of the Roman College, the rooms of Saint Louis Gonzaga, were restored to their original splendor and opened again to the public. I would love to say Mass on that altar! To make reservations for a visit: Tel. 066974406 – chiesasantignazio@gesuiti.it

Saturday, November 25, 2017

"Donkey's Have Unwittingly Carried Kings"

Having seen "The Star" the movie last Thursday, that is how I would name it.

The movie is the Christmas story, the birth of Christ the King, the Son of God and Son of Mary.

The donkey, Boaz, is ambitious to participate in a royal caravan but is recruited to work for Mary and Joseph of Nazareth en route to Bethlehem. When he is finally able to get away and go with the caravan of the king he decides, because of his affection for the Blessed Virgin (because of her kindness to him), to return to help Mary, Jesus (in utero) and Joseph. The story is really about the conversion of a donkey by becoming generous, and thus, unknowingly, serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

There is also an element of mercy in that "Bo" saves the savage dogs of Herod when they are in dire danger, and those (would-be assassin dogs) also convert and join the throng in adoration of the newborn King in the manger.

One clear downside to the movie is the overtly effeminate bird Dave. Perhaps the bird should have been female rather than a "gay" (acting) bird.

Also, I would have preferred greater fidelity to the scriptural texts: e.g. "Hail, full of grace" is omitted as is "Gloria in excelsis Deo!" of the choirs of angels.

N.B. Decent Films Review of "The Star."

The Power of God and the Faith of the Priest: Ex Opere Operantis from Ex Opere Operato

"Power in the sense of the authority of Jesus Christ is power that arises from a relationship; it is power that is imparted in obedience and returns in responsibility. If this is true, then it follows that priests and correspondingly Christians in general must be people who live from and in a relationship--the relationship with God. The priest must be a believer, one who converses with God. If this is not the case, then all his activities are futile. The most lofty and important thing a priest can do for people is first of all being what he is: a believer. Through faith he lets God, the other, come into the world. And if the other is not at work, our work will never be enough. When people sense that one is there who believes, who lives with God and from God, hope becomes a reality for them as well. Through the faith of the priest, doors open up all around for the people: it is really possible to believe, even today. All human believing is believing-with, and for this reason the one who believes before us is so important. In many ways this person is more exposed in his faith than the others, since their faith depends on his and since, at any given time, he has to withstand the hardships of faith for them. This is the reason why crises of the Church and of faith often make themselves felt sooner and more acutely among priests and religious than among the laity. There is also the danger that a priest takes the world of faith for granted or that it irritates him, that he becomes tired of it, first like the younger brother in the parable and then like the older. When this happens, people in the world, especially those who have found their way back to faith after experiencing the emptiness of the world, can do for him what the homecoming of the younger brother did for the older. They have experienced the deserts of the world and rediscovered the beauty of the house which has become a burden for the one who stayed. In this way there is a mutual give-and-take in faith in which priests and lay people become mediators of the nearness of God for one another. The priest must also nurture the humility of such receiving in himself. He must not allow that pride to awaken in him which we detect in the older brother: this good-for-nothing who is now enjoying home knows nothing about the burden of faithfulness. In our situation this pride often appears as a kind of arrogance that is typical of a specialist: What do these believing people in the world even know about the questions of biblical criticism and all the other kinds of criticism? What do they know about the misuse of power in the Church and about all the misery that is part of the Church's history? The arrogance of the specialist in matters of faith is a particularly intractable kind of blindness that is part of every know-it-all attitude. The faith that rediscovers the fresh water of God's word in the desert of a world emptied of God, at the pigs' trough of entertainment sprees gone hollow, such a faith may be inferior to the specialist in terms of knowledge about biblical text criticism, but for discerning the real that can be drawn from this well it is often infinitely superior to him. There will always be the fatigue of the older brother, but it should not lead to that intransigence which is no longer capable of hearing the wonderful words of the father: Everything I have is yours. The priest has to believe before others, but he also must be humble enough again and again to imitate and to cooperate with their faith. He strengthens their faith, but he also constantly receives faith from them.

"By no means do we take it for granted when we say: We first let God's strength into the world by believing in him. The first 'task' a priest has to do is to be a believer and to become one ever anew and ever more. Faith is never simply there automatically; it must be lived. It leads us into conversation with God which involves speaking and listening to the same degree. Faith and prayer belong together; they cannot be separated. The time spent by a priest on prayer and listening to Scripture is never time lost to pastoral care or time withheld from others. People sense whether the work and words of their pastor spring from prayer or are fabricated at his desk. Above and beyond all activity, he must carry his congregation in prayer and into prayer and thus entrust it to God's power. Mutual give-and-take is certainly necessary here as well: praying always means praying with the whole praying Church, and hearing the Scriptures properly can take place only when listening with the Church."

Joseph Ratzinger, A New Song for the Lord: Faith in Christ and Liturgy Today, New York: Crossroad, 1997, 46-48. (From "God's Power--Our Hope", a lecture given in Dresden, 1987.)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Condemnation of the Errors of Martin Luther and His Excommunication

Exsurge Domine

Condemning the Errors of Martin Luther

Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. When you were about to ascend to your Father, you committed the care, rule, and administration of the vineyard, an image of the triumphant church, to Peter, as the head and your vicar and his successors. The wild boar from the forest seeks to destroy it and every wild beast feeds upon it.
Rise, Peter, and fulfill this pastoral office divinely entrusted to you as mentioned above. Give heed to the cause of the holy Roman Church, mother of all churches and teacher of the faith, whom you by the order of God, have consecrated by your blood. Against the Roman Church, you warned, lying teachers are rising, introducing ruinous sects, and drawing upon themselves speedy doom. Their tongues are fire, a restless evil, full of deadly poison. They have bitter zeal, contention in their hearts, and boast and lie against the truth.
We beseech you also, Paul, to arise. It was you that enlightened and illuminated the Church by your doctrine and by a martyrdom like Peter’s. For now a new Porphyry rises who, as the old once wrongfully assailed the holy apostles, now assails the holy pontiffs, our predecessors.
Rebuking them, in violation of your teaching, instead of imploring them, he is not ashamed to assail them, to tear at them, and when he despairs of his cause, to stoop to insults. He is like the heretics “whose last defense,” as Jerome says, “is to start spewing out a serpent’s venom with their tongue when they see that their causes are about to be condemned, and spring to insults when they see they are vanquished.” For although you have said that there must be heresies to test the faithful, still they must be destroyed at their very birth by your intercession and help, so they do not grow or wax strong like your wolves. Finally, let the whole church of the saints and the rest of the universal church arise. Some, putting aside her true interpretation of Sacred Scripture, are blinded in mind by the father of lies. Wise in their own eyes, according to the ancient practice of heretics, they interpret these same Scriptures otherwise than the Holy Spirit demands, inspired only by their own sense of ambition, and for the sake of popular acclaim, as the Apostle declares. In fact, they twist and adulterate the Scriptures. As a result, according to Jerome, “It is no longer the Gospel of Christ, but a man’s, or what is worse, the devil’s.”
Let all this holy Church of God, I say, arise, and with the blessed apostles intercede with almighty God to purge the errors of His sheep, to banish all heresies from the lands of the faithful, and be pleased to maintain the peace and unity of His holy Church.
For we can scarcely express, from distress and grief of mind, what has reached our ears for some time by the report of reliable men and general rumor; alas, we have even seen with our eyes and read the many diverse errors. Some of these have already been condemned by councils and the constitutions of our predecessors, and expressly contain even the heresy of the Greeks and Bohemians. Other errors are either heretical, false, scandalous, or offensive to pious ears, as seductive of simple minds, originating with false exponents of the faith who in their proud curiosity yearn for the world’s glory, and contrary to the Apostle’s teaching, wish to be wiser than they should be. Their talkativeness, unsupported by the authority of the Scriptures, as Jerome says, would not win credence unless they appeared to support their perverse doctrine even with divine testimonies however badly interpreted. From their sight fear of God has now passed.
These errors have, at the suggestion of the human race, been revived and recently propagated among the more frivolous and the illustrious German nation. We grieve the more that this happened there because we and our predecessors have always held this nation in the bosom of our affection. For after the empire had been transferred by the Roman Church from the Greeks to these same Germans, our predecessors and we always took the Church’s advocates and defenders from among them. Indeed it is certain that these Germans, truly germane to the Catholic faith, have always been the bitterest opponents of heresies, as witnessed by those commendable constitutions of the German emperors in behalf of the Church’s independence, freedom, and the expulsion and extermination of all heretics from Germany. Those constitutions formerly issued, and then confirmed by our predecessors, were issued under the greatest penalties even of loss of lands and dominions against anyone sheltering or not expelling them. If they were observed today both we and they would obviously be free of this disturbance. Witness to this is the condemnation and punishment in the Council of Constance of the infidelity of the Hussites and Wyclifites as well as Jerome of Prague. Witness to this is the blood of Germans shed so often in wars against the Bohemians. A final witness is the refutation, rejection, and condemnation no less learned than true and holy of the above errors, or many of them, by the universities of Cologne and Louvain, most devoted and religious cultivators of the Lord’s field. We could allege many other facts too, which we have decided to omit, lest we appear to be composing a history.
In virtue of our pastoral office committed to us by the divine favor we can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the above errors without disgrace to the Christian religion and injury to orthodox faith. Some of these errors we have decided to include in the present document; their substance is as follows:
1. It is a heretical opinion, but a common one, that the sacraments of the New Law give pardoning grace to those who do not set up an obstacle.
2. To deny that in a child after baptism sin remains is to treat with contempt both Paul and Christ.
3. The inflammable sources of sin, even if there be no actual sin, delay a soul departing from the body from entrance into heaven.
4. To one on the point of death imperfect charity necessarily brings with it great fear, which in itself alone is enough to produce the punishment of purgatory, and impedes entrance into the kingdom.
5. That there are three parts to penance: contrition, confession, and satisfaction, has no foundation in Sacred Scripture nor in the ancient sacred Christian doctors.
6. Contrition, which is acquired through discussion, collection, and detestation of sins, by which one reflects upon his years in the bitterness of his soul, by pondering over the gravity of sins, their number, their baseness, the loss of eternal beatitude, and the acquisition of eternal damnation, this contrition makes him a hypocrite, indeed more a sinner.
7. It is a most truthful proverb and the doctrine concerning the contritions given thus far is the more remarkable: “Not to do so in the future is the highest penance; the best penance, a new life.”
8. By no means may you presume to confess venial sins, nor even all mortal sins, because it is impossible that you know all mortal sins. Hence in the primitive Church only manifest mortal sins were confessed.
9. As long as we wish to confess all sins without exception, we are doing nothing else than to wish to leave nothing to God’s mercy for pardon.
10. Sins are not forgiven to anyone, unless when the priest forgives them he believes they are forgiven; on the contrary the sin would remain unless he believed it was forgiven; for indeed the remission of sin and the granting of grace does not suffice, but it is necessary also to believe that there has been forgiveness.
11. By no means can you have reassurance of being absolved because of your contrition, but because of the word of Christ: “Whatsoever you shall loose, etc.” Hence, I say, trust confidently, if you have obtained the absolution of the priest, and firmly believe yourself to have been absolved, and you will truly be absolved, whatever there may be of contrition.
12. If through an impossibility he who confessed was not contrite, or the priest did not absolve seriously, but in a jocose manner, if nevertheless he believes that he has been absolved, he is most truly absolved.
13. In the sacrament of penance and the remission of sin the pope or the bishop does no more than the lowest priest; indeed, where there is no priest, any Christian, even if a woman or child, may equally do as much.
14. No one ought to answer a priest that he is contrite, nor should the priest inquire.
15. Great is the error of those who approach the sacrament of the Eucharist relying on this, that they have confessed, that they are not conscious of any mortal sin, that they have sent their prayers on ahead and made preparations; all these eat and drink judgment to themselves. But if they believe and trust that they will attain grace, then this faith alone makes them pure and worthy.
16. It seems to have been decided that the Church in common Council established that the laity should communicate under both species; the Bohemians who communicate under both species are not heretics, but schismatics.
17. The treasures of the Church, from which the pope grants indulgences, are not the merits of Christ and of the saints.
18. Indulgences are pious frauds of the faithful, and remissions of good works; and they are among the number of those things which are allowed, and not of the number of those which are advantageous.
19. Indulgences are of no avail to those who truly gain them, for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of divine justice.
20. They are seduced who believe that indulgences are salutary and useful for the fruit of the spirit.
21. Indulgences are necessary only for public crimes, and are properly conceded only to the harsh and impatient.
22. For six kinds of men indulgences are neither necessary nor useful; namely, for the dead and those about to die, the infirm, those legitimately hindered, and those who have not committed crimes, and those who have committed crimes, but not public ones, and those who devote themselves to better things.
23. Excommunications are only external penalties and they do not deprive man of the common spiritual prayers of the Church.
24. Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them.
25. The Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, is not the vicar of Christ over all the churches of the entire world, instituted by Christ Himself in blessed Peter.
26. The word of Christ to Peter: “Whatsoever you shall loose on earth,” etc., is extended merely to those things bound by Peter himself.
27. It is certain that it is not in the power of the Church or the pope to decide upon the articles of faith, and much less concerning the laws for morals or for good works.
28. If the pope with a great part of the Church thought so and so, he would not err; still it is not a sin or heresy to think the contrary, especially in a matter not necessary for salvation, until one alternative is condemned and another approved by a general Council.
29. A way has been made for us for weakening the authority of councils, and for freely contradicting their actions, and judging their decrees, and boldly confessing whatever seems true, whether it has been approved or disapproved by any council whatsoever.
30. Some articles of John Hus, condemned in the Council of Constance, are most Christian, wholly true and evangelical; these the universal Church could not condemn.
31. In every good work the just man sins.
32. A good work done very well is a venial sin.
33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.
34. To go to war against the Turks is to resist God who punishes our iniquities through them.
35. No one is certain that he is not always sinning mortally, because of the most hidden vice of pride.
36. Free will after sin is a matter of title only; and as long as one does what is in him, one sins mortally.
37. Purgatory cannot be proved from Sacred Scripture which is in the canon.
38. The souls in purgatory are not sure of their salvation, at least not all; nor is it proved by any arguments or by the Scriptures that they are beyond the state of meriting or of increasing in charity.
39. The souls in purgatory sin without intermission, as long as they seek rest and abhor punishment.
40. The souls freed from purgatory by the suffrages of the living are less happy than if they had made satisfactions by themselves.
41. Ecclesiastical prelates and secular princes would not act badly if they destroyed all of the money bags of beggary.
No one of sound mind is ignorant how destructive, pernicious, scandalous, and seductive to pious and simple minds these various errors are, how opposed they are to all charity and reverence for the holy Roman Church who is the mother of all the faithful and teacher of the faith; how destructive they are of the vigor of ecclesiastical discipline, namely obedience. This virtue is the font and origin of all virtues and without it anyone is readily convicted of being unfaithful.
Therefore we, in this above enumeration, important as it is, wish to proceed with great care as is proper, and to cut off the advance of this plague and cancerous disease so it will not spread any further in the Lord’s field as harmful thornbushes. We have therefore held a careful inquiry, scrutiny, discussion, strict examination, and mature deliberation with each of the brothers, the eminent cardinals of the holy Roman Church, as well as the priors and ministers general of the religious orders, besides many other professors and masters skilled in sacred theology and in civil and canon law. We have found that these errors or theses are not Catholic, as mentioned above, and are not to be taught, as such; but rather are against the doctrine and tradition of the Catholic Church, and against the true interpretation of the sacred Scriptures received from the Church. Now Augustine maintained that her authority had to be accepted so completely that he stated he would not have believed the Gospel unless the authority of the Catholic Church had vouched for it. For, according to these errors, or any one or several of them, it clearly follows that the Church which is guided by the Holy Spirit is in error and has always erred. This is against what Christ at his ascension promised to his disciples (as is read in the holy Gospel of Matthew): “I will be with you to the consummation of the world”; it is against the determinations of the holy Fathers, or the express ordinances and canons of the councils and the supreme pontiffs. Failure to comply with these canons, according to the testimony of Cyprian, will be the fuel and cause of all heresy and schism.
With the advice and consent of these our venerable brothers, with mature deliberation on each and every one of the above theses, and by the authority of almighty God, the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, we condemn, reprobate, and reject completely each of these theses or errors as either heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth. By listing them, we decree and declare that all the faithful of both sexes must regard them as condemned, reprobated, and rejected . . . We restrain all in the virtue of holy obedience and under the penalty of an automatic major excommunication….
Moreover, because the preceding errors and many others are contained in the books or writings of Martin Luther, we likewise condemn, reprobate, and reject completely the books and all the writings and sermons of the said Martin, whether in Latin or any other language, containing the said errors or any one of them; and we wish them to be regarded as utterly condemned, reprobated, and rejected. We forbid each and every one of the faithful of either sex, in virtue of holy obedience and under the above penalties to be incurred automatically, to read, assert, preach, praise, print, publish, or defend them. They will incur these penalties if they presume to uphold them in any way, personally or through another or others, directly or indirectly, tacitly or explicitly, publicly or occultly, either in their own homes or in other public or private places. Indeed immediately after the publication of this letter these works, wherever they may be, shall be sought out carefully by the ordinaries and others [ecclesiastics and regulars], and under each and every one of the above penalties shall be burned publicly and solemnly in the presence of the clerics and people.
As far as Martin himself is concerned, O good God, what have we overlooked or not done? What fatherly charity have we omitted that we might call him back from such errors? For after we had cited him, wishing to deal more kindly with him, we urged him through various conferences with our legate and through our personal letters to abandon these errors. We have even offered him safe conduct and the money necessary for the journey urging him to come without fear or any misgivings, which perfect charity should cast out, and to talk not secretly but openly and face to face after the example of our Savior and the Apostle Paul. If he had done this, we are certain he would have changed in heart, and he would have recognized his errors. He would not have found all these errors in the Roman Curia which he attacks so viciously, ascribing to it more than he should because of the empty rumors of wicked men. We would have shown him clearer than the light of day that the Roman pontiffs, our predecessors, whom he injuriously attacks beyond all decency, never erred in their canons or constitutions which he tries to assail. For, according to the prophet, neither is healing oil nor the doctor lacking in Galaad.
But he always refused to listen and, despising the previous citation and each and every one of the above overtures, disdained to come. To the present day he has been contumacious. With a hardened spirit he has continued under censure over a year. What is worse, adding evil to evil, and on learning of the citation, he broke forth in a rash appeal to a future council. This to be sure was contrary to the constitution of Pius II and Julius II our predecessors that all appealing in this way are to be punished with the penalties of heretics. In vain does he implore the help of a council, since he openly admits that he does not believe in a council.
Therefore we can, without any further citation or delay, proceed against him to his condemnation and damnation as one whose faith is notoriously suspect and in fact a true heretic with the full severity of each and all of the above penalties and censures. Yet, with the advice of our brothers, imitating the mercy of almighty God who does not wish the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live, and forgetting all the injuries inflicted on us and the Apostolic See, we have decided to use all the compassion we are capable of. It is our hope, so far as in us lies, that he will experience a change of heart by taking the road of mildness we have proposed, return, and turn away from his errors. We will receive him kindly as the prodigal son returning to the embrace of the Church.
Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father’s love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency.
We enjoin, however, on Martin that in the meantime he cease from all preaching or the office of preacher.
{And even though the love of righteousness and virtue did not take him away from sin and the hope of forgiveness did not lead him to penance, perhaps the terror of the pain of punishment may move him. Thus we beseech and remind this Martin, his supporters and accomplices of his holy orders and the described punishment. We ask him earnestly that he and his supporters, adherents and accomplices desist within sixty days (which we wish to have divided into three times twenty days, counting from the publication of this bull at the places mentioned below) from preaching, both expounding their views and denouncing others, from publishing books and pamphlets concerning some or all of their errors. Furthermore, all writings which contain some or all of his errors are to be burned. Furthermore, this Martin is to recant perpetually such errors and views. He is to inform us of such recantation through an open document, sealed by two prelates, which we should receive within another sixty days. Or he should personally, with safe conduct, inform us of his recantation by coming to Rome. We would prefer this latter way in order that no doubt remain of his sincere obedience.
If, however, this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices, much to our regret, should stubbornly not comply with the mentioned stipulations within the mentioned period, we shall, following the teaching of the holy Apostle Paul, who teaches us to avoid a heretic after having admonished him for a first and a second time, condemn this Martin, his supporters, adherents and accomplices as barren vines which are not in Christ, preaching an offensive doctrine contrary to the Christian faith and offend the divine majesty, to the damage and shame of the entire Christian Church, and diminish the keys of the Church as stubborn and public heretics.}* . . .
* Webmaster comment: This added text in italics was obtained from a secondary source, translator Hans J. Hillerbrand, ed. “The Reformation in its own Words” (London: SCM Press Ltd., 1964), pp 80-84

There is also the further bull of excommunication the following year.

Decet Romanum Pontificem

Papal Bull of Excommunication of Martin Luther and his followers (Damnatio et excommunicatio Martini Lutheri Haeretici et Eius Sequacium)

Through the power given him from God, the Roman Pontiff has been appointed to administer spiritual and temporal punishments as each case severally deserves. The purpose of this is the repression of the wicked designs of misguided men, who have been so captivated by the debased impulse of their evil purposes as to forget the fear of the Lord, to set aside with contempt canonical decrees and apostolic commandments, and to dare to formulate new and false dogmas and to introduce the evil of schism into the Church of God—or to support, help and adhere to such schismatics, who make it their business to cleave asunder the seamless robe of our Redeemer and the unity of the orthodox faith. Hence it befits the Pontiff, lest the vessel of Peter appear to sail without pilot or oarsman, to take severe measures against such men and their followers, and by multiplying punitive measures and by other suitable remedies to see to it that these same overbearing men, devoted as they are to purposes of evil, along with their adherents, should not deceive the multitude of the simple by their lies and their deceitful devices, nor drag them along to share their own error and ruination, contaminating them with what amounts to a contagious disease. It also befits the Pontiff, having condemned the schismatics, to ensure their still greater confounding by publicly showing and openly declaring to all faithful Christians how formidable are the censures and punishments to which such guilt can lead; to the end that by such public declaration they themselves may return, in confusion and remorse, to their true selves, making an unqualified withdrawal from the prohibited conversation, fellowship and (above all) obedience to such accursed excommunicates; by this means they may escape divine vengeance and any degree of participation in their damnation.
[Here the Pope recounts his previous Bull Exsurge Domine and continues]
II We have been informed that after this previous missive had been exhibited in public and the interval or intervals it prescribed had elapsed [60 days]—and we hereby give solemn notice to all faithful Christians that these intervals have and are elapsed—many of those who had followed the errors of Martin took cognisance of our missive and its warnings and injunctions; the spirit of a saner counsel brought them back to themselves, they confessed their errors and abjured the heresy at our instance, and by returning to the true Catholic faith obtained the blessing of absolution with which the self-same messengers had been empowered; and in several states and localities of the said Germany the books and writings of the said Martin were publicly burned, as we had enjoined.
Nevertheless Martin himself—and it gives us grievous sorrow and perplexity to say this—the slave of a depraved mind, has scorned to revoke his errors within the prescribed interval and to send us word of such revocation, or to come to us himself; nay, like a stone of stumbling, he has feared not to write and preach worse things than before against us and this Holy See and the Catholic faith, and to lead others on to do the same.
He has now been declared a heretic; and so also others, whatever their authority and rank, who have cared nought of their own salvation but publicly and in all men’s eyes become followers of Martin’s pernicious and heretical sect, and given him openly and publicly their help, counsel and favour, encouraging him in their midst in his disobedience and obstinacy, or hindering the publication of our said missive: such men have incurred the punishments set out in that missive, and are to be treated rightfully as heretics and avoided by all faithful Christians, as the Apostle says (Titus iii. 10-11).
III. Our purpose is that such men should rightfully be ranked with Martin and other accursed heretics and excommunicates, and that even as they have ranged themselves with the obstinacy in sinning of the said Martin, they shall likewise share his punishments and his name, by bearing with them everywhere the title “Lutheran” and the punishments it incurs.
Our previous instructions were so clear and so effectively publicised and we shall adhere so strictly to our present decrees and declarations, that they will lack no proof, warning or citation.
Our decrees which follow are passed against Martin and others who follow him in the obstinacy of his depraved and damnable purpose, as also against those who defend and protect him with a military bodyguard, and do not fear to support him with their own resources or in any other way, and have and do presume to offer and afford help, counsel and favour toward him. All their names, surnames and rank—however lofty and dazzling their dignity may be—we wish to be taken as included in these decrees with the same effect as if they were individually listed and could be so listed in their publication, which must be furthered with an energy to match their contents.
On all these we decree the sentences of excommunication, of anathema, of our perpetual condemnation and interdict; of privation of dignities, honours and property on them and their descendants, and of declared unfitness for such possessions; of the confiscation of their goods and of the crime of treason; and these and the other sentences, censures and punishments which are inflicted by canon law on heretics and are set out in our aforesaid missive, we decree to have fallen on all these men to their damnation.
IV We add to our present declaration, by our Apostolic authority, that states, territories, camps, towns and places in which these men have temporarily lived or chanced to visit, along with their possessions—cities which house cathedrals and metropolitans, monasteries and other religious and sacred places, privileged or unprivileged—one and all are placed under our ecclesiastical interdict, while this interdict lasts, no pretext of Apostolic Indulgence (except in cases the law allows, and even there, as it were, with the doors shut and those under excommunication and interdict excluded) shall avail to allow the celebration of mass and the other divine offices. We prescribe and enjoin that the men in question are everywhere to be denounced publicly as excommunicated, accursed, condemned, interdicted, deprived of possessions and incapable of owning them. They are to be strictly shunned by all faithful Christians.
We would make known to all the small store that Martin, his followers and the other rebels have set on God and his Church by their obstinate and shameless temerity. We would protect the herd from one infectious animal, lest its infection spread to the healthy ones. Hence we lay the following injunction on each and every patriarch, archbishop, bishop, on the prelates of patriarchal, metropolitan, cathedral and collegiate churches, and on the religious of every Order—even the mendicants—privileged or unprivileged, wherever they may be stationed: that in the strength of their vow of obedience and on pain of the sentence of excommunication, they shall, if so required in the execution of these presents, publicly announce and cause to be announced by others in their churches, that this same Martin and the rest are excommunicate, accursed, condemned, heretics, hardened, interdicted, deprived of possessions and incapable of owning them, and so listed in the enforcement of these presents. Three days will be given: we pronounce canonical warning and allow one day’s notice on the first, another on the second, but on the third peremptory and final execution of our order. This shall take place on a Sunday or some other festival, when a large congregation assembles for worship. The banner of the cross shall be raised, the bells rung, the candles lit and after a time extinguished, cast on the ground and trampled under foot, and the stones shall be cast forth three times, and the other ceremonies observed which are usual in such cases. The faithful Christians, one and all, shall be enjoined strictly to shun these men.
We would occasion still greater confounding on the said Martin and the other heretics we have mentioned, and on their adherents, followers and partisans: hence, on the strength of their vow of obedience we enjoin each and every patriarch, archbishop and all other prelates, that even as they were appointed on the authority of Jerome to allay schisms, so now in the present crisis, as their office obliges them, they shall make themselves a wall of defence for their Christian people. They shall not keep silence like dumb dogs that cannot bark, but incessantly cry and lift up their voice, preaching and causing to be preached the word of God and the truth of the Catholic faith against the damnable articles and heretics aforesaid.
VI To each and every rector of the parish churches, to the rectors of all the Orders, even the mendicants, privileged or unprivileged, we enjoin in the same terms, on the strength of their vow of obedience, that appointed by the Lord as they are to be like clouds, they shall sprinkle spiritual showers on the people of God, and have no fear in giving the widest publicity to the condemnation of the aforesaid articles, as their office obliges them. It is written that perfect love casteth out fear. Let each and every one of you take up the burden of such a meritorious duty with complete devotion; show yourselves so punctilious in its execution, so zealous and eager in word and deed, that from your labours, by the favour of divine grace, the hoped-for harvest will come in, and that through your devotion you will not only earn that crown of glory which is the due recompense of all who promote religious causes, but also attain from us and the said Holy See the unbounded commendation that your proved diligence will deserve.
VII However, since it would be difficult to deliver the present missive, with its declarations and announcements, to Martin and the other declared excommunicates in person, because of the strength of their faction, our wish is that the public nailing of this missive on the doors of two cathedrals—either both metropolitan, or one cathedral and one metropolitan of the churches in the said Germany—by a messenger of ours in those places, shall have such binding force that Martin and the others we have declared shall be shown to be condemned at every point as decisively as if the missive had been personally made known and presented to them.
VIII It would also be difficult to transmit this missive to every single place where its publication might be necessary. Hence our wish and authoritative decree is that copies of it, sealed by some ecclesiastical prelate or by one of our aforesaid messengers, and countersigned by the hand of some public notary, should everywhere bear the same authority as the production and exhibition of the original itself.
IX No obstacle is afforded to our wishes by the Apostolic constitutions and orders, or by anything in our aforesaid earlier missive which we do not wish to stand in the way, or by any other pronouncements to the contrary.
No one whatsoever may infringe this our written decision, declaration, precept, injunction, assignation, will, decree; or rashly contravene it. Should anyone dare to attempt such a thing, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Written at St. Peter’s, Rome, on the 3rd January 1521, during the eighth year of our pontificate.

Priests Should Not Refuse Communion to Faithful Who are Tardy for Mass

Today, a ferial day, I was concelebrating (alas!) and the pastor (mens nostra) of the parish refused communion to a zealous parishioner who arrived after the liturgy of the word.

That surprised me and reminded me of another priest friend and classmate (who has since left the priesthood [Kyrie eleison!]) who, in his zeal for the sacrament, would systematically and notoriously, do the same thing.

Priests who do that are violating the right of the faithful to the sacraments. Here are the relevant canons on the matter. I do intend to advise the pastor of that parish regarding this, when opportune.

I. Canons 843.1, 918 (on the obligation to administer the sacraments).
II. Canons 915, 916 (on the only canonical conditions for refusing the sacraments).

I. Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.
   Can. 918 It is highly recommended that the faithful receive holy communion during the eucharistic celebration itself. It is to be administered outside the Mass, however, to those who request it for a just cause, with the liturgical rites being observed.

II. Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinatelypersevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
    Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Praying for the Happy Repose of the Souls of the Faithful Departed

"The Friends You Can Always Count On" Bud Light Banality

I take this as a satire on mass-production, bland conformity, ordinariness, banality. The hero here is the man who is rejected for being original and real. "Dilly, dilly," indeed!

It is a statement on the low character of the realm when the realm treasures sand over diamonds.

This reminds me of a line from the 90's regarding priestly formation in this age of political correctness that went something like this: "The priests of this generation are a sun-tanned, blow-dried, Gucci-shoed lot whose greatest moral achievement is being nice." Sometimes "going with the flow" is not the right way.

In 1931 Dawson mentions American decadence thus: "The new machine-made civilization may be destructive of the finer pleasures in life, but under the old conditions these were only accessible to a small number. The ordinary man gets more satisfaction from his cinema and his daily paper than from grand opera or classical literature."
Christopher Dawson, Christianity and the New Age, Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 1985, 16-17.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

European Imperial Triumphalism in all its Splendor!

"...[Y]et I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of [the lilies of the field]." Matthew 6:29

Earthquake Bells Consecrated to the Centenary of Our Lady of Fatima..., and Summorum Pontificum, etc.

Messainlatino.it; Tolentino (MC). On the Feast of St. Thomas of Tolentino, Martyr, in the area in front of the tent/Church of the Cathedral of San Catervo the Diocesan Bishop His Excellency Bishop Nazzareno Marconi blessed and consecrated the new five bells of the church of the Sacred Heart of Tolentino which together with the other three existing ones will form an octave of the E-flat major scale.

The Church of the Sacred Heart of the Brotherhood of the same name, which was generously restored in full by the Government of Hungary, will be solemnly reopened on Saturday, December 9th with the song of the first Pontifical Vespers of the Feast of the Transit of the Holy House of Loreto. It is the only church that will be reopened after the earthquake last year: anti-seismic security works funded by the Hungarian government have given jobs to various women and men in the building, restoration, planting, etc., industries.

The five new bells were dedicated:

1.In Fatimensium visionum saecularibus.
In honore beatissimae Mariae virginis, Christifidelium auxiliatricis,
Hungariae reginae

2. In Honor Sancti Iosephi Sanchez Del Rio,
adulescentis pro fide martyris

3. Sancto Emygdio martyri,
contra terraemotus patrono
(recalling Fabio Quarchioni who died prematurely: a lover of the art of the organ and of bells)

4. In honor of Sancti Nicolai in Tolentino,
animarum purgatorio igni poenas luentium patroni (recalling Niccolò: a boy victim of a motorcycle accident)

5. Sanctis angelis custodibus,
iuventutis patronis

The other three bells on the bell tower were blessed on October 30, 2007 in St. Peter's Square by SS Benedict XVI and then consecrated by Monsignor De Magistris, now Cardinal, in the Church of San Salvatore in Lauro in Rome. They were given the title " Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum " and are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Thomas from Tolentino, martyr killed by Muslims and St. Vincent Maria Strambi Bishop.

The Pontifical Roman ( PONTIFICALE ROMANUM JUSSU EDITUM IN BENEDICT XIV AND LEON XIII RECOGNITUM AND CASTIGATUM DE BENEDICTIONE SIGNI VEL CAMPANAE ) prescribes that the bell, before being placed in the bell tower, must be blessed according to this order: first the bell itself must be suspended and placed in such a way that it can be touched, manipulated inside and out, and it can be circled all around, then near the same bell to be blessed the fadistorio (seat) for the bishop must be prepared, the holy water container, an aspergillum, 'a bowl of salt, clean bandages to dry the bell when needed, the vessel of the holy Oil of the Sick, the Sacred Chrism, the incense boat, the incense, the myrrh and the thurible with the coals '.

The blessing of the bell involves three main elements:
1) The lustration of the bell with mixed salt water
"The first of the two formulas gives details of the purposes of the blessing, which are not the fruit of magic but the effect of the virtue of the Holy Spirit: Benedic, Domine, hanc aquam benedictione caelesti et assistat super eam virtus Spiritus sancti, ut cum hoc vasculum ad invitandos filios eclesiae preparatum, in ea fuerit tinctum, ubicumque sonnuerit ejus tintinnabulum, longe recedat virtus inimicorum... incursio turbinum... calamitas tempestatum... et credscat in eis devotionis augmentum ut festinanter ad piae matris Ecclesiae gremium, cantent tibi canticum novum in eclesia sanctorum, deferentes in sono praeconium tubae, modulationem psalterii...

The thought of the festive note that the sound of the bell gives to those who listens to the symbolic voice is suggested at this point by the song of the six psalms of Laudes: psalms 145-150.

Meanwhile, the bishop with the blessed water he has mad, washes the bell inside and out, ending the lustration with a prayer to God, so that the sound of that instrument ... fideles invitentur ad praemium...; crescat in eis devotio fidei, procul pellantur omnes insidiae inimici... ventorum flabra fiant salubriter ac moderate suspensa, prosternat aereas potestas dextera tuae virtutis. Per Christum.."

2) Holy anointings. " In the present ritual of the Pontifical Council of Lion XIII, at first it is blessed with the Oil of the Sick and then with the Sacred Chrism. The rite is of Gallican origin, and the reason  is not apparent but it seems to be to complete the analogy with baptism.

The bishop does eleven anointings; seven on the outside of the bell, four inside. In the older Ordines , as in The Gellonense, only the last anointings are done with the Chrism; the first with other blessed oil without distinguishing between that of the catechumens or the infirm. Currently it is the latter which is prescribed.
The Roman Pontifical in the 13th century gives the formula of the anointing: Consecretur ut sanctificetur, Domine, signum istud in honorem S. Mariae Matris Christi, vel sancti illius, in nomine P. et F. et S.S. Amen.
The formula mentions the bell naming; the custom of giving her a sacred name during her baptism, is already evident in the tenth century.
Baronio reports that John P. XIII, in 961, was the first to impose a name on a bell, that of s. Giovanni in Laterano, ingraving it with the name Johannes.
The anointings also have a protective character. From sal. 28 Afferte Domino filii Dei..., prescribed during the ceremony, which affirms the sovereign power of God's voice on all elements, repeating the high concept in seven successive verses.
For this reason The Roman-Germanic Pontifical in its rubrics said: Quot vicibus in psalmis dicit: Vox Domini... totidem (episcopus) signa faciat cum chrismate..."

3) The Incensation
"Having anointed the bell, the bishop puts beneath it the smoking thurible, thimiamate, thure and myrra, so that scented vapors gather and all fill the funnel funnel.
Incense is first and foremost an act in honor of the instrument, which has become sacred; but at the same time continues the exorcist line that pervades the whole rite. The Schola, during the incensation sings the last seven verses of psalm 76 Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi... in which the idea of ​​God's omnipotence over the elements is reaffirmed. 
For his part the bishop in the collect which follows, after invoking the miraculous power of Jesus in the calming of the sea at Capernaum prays to the Lord that dum huius vasculi sonitus transit per nubila, Ecclesiae tuae conventum manus servet angelica, fruges credentium, mentes et corpora, salvet protectione sempiterna".

"From what has been said, it turns out that the bell is not considered a functional object, but almost as a living reality, as, moreover, the whole temple.
It has a name, a ritual similar to that of baptism (now non-existent in the Latin Church) and attributed to it a force derived from divine grace.
This is exactly what is explained the devotional attitude in the Byzantine liturgy of consecration of the bells ...
An attitude that the Christian Occident almost forgets as a result of a real shrivelling of its own faith in many respects. "

Source of liturgical and historical explanations of the ritual: Liturgical Tradition ( HERE ) AC

Saturday, November 11, 2017

"...Thomas can no longer be presupposed..." Ratzinger, 1973

In contrast to a truncated Thomism that rightly became an object of polemical attack by Reformation thought, [this essay--"Gratia Præsupponit Naturam {Grace Presupposes Nature}: Reflections on the Meaning and Limits of a Scholastic Axiom"--] attempts to call to mind again that other side of Scholasticism which is perhaps best characterized by the name of Bonaventure. Of course it also tries to defend the right of "nature" in faith against Barth's one-sidedness. Today, at some remove from the battle lines drawn then [having been written around ten years previous for the Festschrift in honor of Gottlieb Söhngen's seventieth birthday in 1962], I would emphasize this aspect [the ontological dimension] even more clearly: Since Thomas can no longer be presupposed, he should now be discussed as a contrast to Bonaventure.

Footnote: In this connection I would like to refer the reader to the recently completed dissertation by my student Michael Marmann, Gratia præsupponit naturam, a penetrating study, by means of a contrast between Augustine and Thomas, of the indispensable contribution of Saint Thomas to this question.

Dogma and Preaching, Joseph Ratzinger, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011, 143.

Plinthos: This line by Ratzinger expresses perfectly what I felt throughout my seminary training in the 1990's every time the seminary professors, I thought wrongly, presumed that the students had a clear foundation in Thomist metaphysics, twenty years after Ratzinger wrote these words, something which could in no way any longer be presupposed!

There's a new epistemology, but the new epistemology must be well grounded in the old metaphysics at least in its total reliance on the reality of God, of man and of the world: viz., creation with all of its relations must continue to be the bedrock for all of knowledge. That is reality! Without reality and the impinging responsibilities it entails, the new epistemology becomes, at best, a dream of selfish willfulness, and often devolves into a nightmare: e.g. abortion, the terrorism of spontaneous massacres, gaydom.

Cf. Christian Civilization Urgently Needs to Revive and Redevelop the Doctrines of Creation, Metaphysics and Eschatology; and,
Apathy is a Daughter of Indifferentism, Two Different Sins Which Destroy Man and Society.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Texas Massacre Was a Religious Hate Crime of Anti-Christian Atheist

Stephen Willeford, right, the good man with a gun who
stopped the bad man with guns.

A man, an avowed atheist and hater of Christianity, goes to a Christian Church and massacres dozens of people, attempting to kill everyone in the Church during the Sunday service and the news media says that it was a crime which was not religiously motivated.

As a matter of fact, the man's Facebook page was filled with his violently anti-Christian virulence.

Here is the story in Spanish.

The authorities in Texas are calling on all Americans to conduct emergency drills on what to do if someone comes in for a massacre. The implication is that we need many more law abiding citizens armed and ready to stand up and defend the defenseless in this type of ever more frequent scenario. When the police is not enough the people need to police themselves!

One problem is that only 3% of the American adults own guns. The statistics on this are very deceiving. If you google guns per capita USA comes out on top at 90 guns for 100 citizens. But it does not at all say how many of the 100 citizens own the 90 guns. Turns out that, on average, only 3 citizens own the 90 guns. That's scary! In a place like Switzerland it is much more balanced where practically half of the adult male population is armed, viz. 25% of Swiss adults own a gun. For an armed republic, many more adults in the USA would need to arm themselves and go to shooting ranges to learn how to responsibly employ them.

P.S. All religions are not the same. Fanatics massacre Christians daily in the name of Allah on the one hand and in the name of every manner of Atheism on the other, but when was the last time you heard of a Christian massacring people in the name of Jesus? Neither Christ nor His Apostles killed anyone, but rather gave their lives to redeem the world.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Clerical Dress as Conscience

Father Brown Series on PBS by the BBC
loosely based on
G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown Mysteries

Here is a short reflection I wrote on Tuesday, May 28th, 1996 just days before my June 2nd diaconal ordination, on how "the habit helps the monk," serving as a sort of external conscience.

It helps to keep one good, enforces one's conscience. But should it?...to avoid scandal one refrains from doing something that is sinful whereas without the added element of scandal one would commit the sin? e.g. if one were at a movie with illicit material in it, is it better to be without the collar?

In point of fact the first scandal is to oneself! By consenting to sin (regardless of others) one is already leading oneself--in effect--into sin. The first scandal is to one's own conscience. If you will, the first, and most serious scandal is giving a bad example to one's own conscience as if it were another person. For, consenting to sin one thereby betrays one's conscience. It is an offense against one's self, by one's self. But the self thereby offended is also weakened by the same act and with repetition of the same offense may eventually concede and suggest it on other occasions. Then the scandal to oneself has taken its effect in causing also one's deepest self to err => leaving no check on oneself from within: only external checks are possible then: 1. One's Guardian Angel vs. Evil Angels. 2. God. 3. Others.

P.S. This reminds me of something I learned while in Rome in my study and reflection on the history of the popes. The "bad" popes were typically most scandalous before becoming pope or even priest (e.g. fathering children as cardinals without yet even being in sacris, they were simply and literally princes of the realm), because the faithful would not tolerate such deviance from the Catholic course by their shepherds! The sensus fidei of the people is a check on the conscience, even of popes! So, wear the clerics, as the popes do, in order to be held to the standard of the saints which is Christ, Our Blessed Lord, Himself. Deo gratias!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Today's Philosophical Crisis

“I  wish to reflect upon [the] special activity of human reason [philosophy],...[it's] drive to attain goals which render people's lives ever more worthy,...the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life, and as an indispensable help for a deeper understanding of faith and for communicating the truth of the gospel to those who do not yet know it...I judge it necessary to do so because, at the present time in particular, the search for ultimate truth seems often to be neglected. Modern philosophy clearly has the great merit of focusing attention upon man. From this starting-point, human reason with its many questions has developed further its yearning to know more and to know it ever more deeply. Complex systems of thought have thus been built, yielding results in the different fields of knowledge and fostering the development of culture and history...Yet the positive results achieved must not obscure the fact that reason, in its one-sided concern to investigate human subjectivity, seems to have forgotten that men and women are always called to direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them. Sundered from that truth, individuals are at the mercy of caprice, and their state as person ends up being judged by pragmatic criteria based essentially upon experimental data, in the mistaken belief that technology must dominate all. It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being. Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing. Rather than make use of the human capacity to know the truth, modern philosophy has preferred to accentuate the ways in which this capacity is limited and conditioned.

“This has given rise to different forms of agnosticism and relativism which have led philosophical research to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread scepticism. Recent times have seen the rise to prominence of various doctrines which tend to devalue even the truths which had been judged certain. A legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today's most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another. On this understanding, everything is reduced to opinion; and there is a sense of being adrift. While, on the one hand, philosophical thinking has succeeded in coming closer to the reality of human life and its forms of expression, it has also tended to pursue issues—existential, hermeneutical or linguistic—which ignore the radical question of the truth about personal existence, about being and about God. Hence we see among the men and women of our time, and not just in some philosophers, attitudes of widespread distrust of the human being's great capacity for knowledge. With a false modesty, people rest content with partial and provisional truths, no longer seeking to ask radical questions about the meaning and ultimate foundation of human, personal and social existence. In short, the hope that philosophy might be able to provide definitive answers to these questions has dwindled.”

Thus, from the introductory section of Fides et ratio (5), which sounds very much like the language of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger during the decade of the late 1990's through to his papal election in 2005, with the famous homily on relativism during the Mass "Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice" from which I quote below.

"How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

"Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be 'tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine', seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

"We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An 'adult' faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.

"We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love."

N.B. Cardinal Ratinger's book on relativism, Truth and Tolerance, is also from that period (German edition published in 2003, and all of the essays therein [except one, the one from 1964 to "honor" Rahner's 60th birthday, which opens the book], were written during the decade between 1995 to 2005). Much of it is a reflection on the world in the wake of the fall of communism and how the West should proceed forward, with reason well supported by faith.
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