The Inner Struggle

man is not an angel,

Fulton J. SheenFirst, man is not an angel, nor is he a devil. He is not intrinsically corrupt (as theologians began claiming four hundred years ago) nor is he intrinsically divine (as philosophers began saying fifty years ago).1

Rather, man has aspirations to good which he finds it impossible to realize completely by himself; at the same time, he has an inclination toward evil which solicits him away from these ideals. He is like a man who is down a well through his own stupidity.

He knows he ought not to be there, but he cannot get out by himself. Or, to change the picture, he is like a clock whose mainspring is broken. He needs to be fixed on the inside, but the repairs must be supplied from without.

He is mistaken if he is an optimist, who believes evolution will give him a mainspring, or a pessimist, who believes that nobody can fix him. He is a creature who can run well again, but only if some watchmaker will have the kindness to repair him.

Second, this conflict has all the appearances of being due to an abuse of human freedom. As the drunkard is what he is because of an act of choice, so human nature seems to have lost the original goodness with which a good God endowed it through an act of choice.

As St. Augustine said, “Whatever we are, we are not what we ought to be.” The origin of this conflict has been told by medieval and modern theologians through the analogy of music.

Picture an orchestra on a stage with a celebrated conductor directing the beautiful symphony he himself composed. Each member of the orchestra is free to follow the conductor and thus to produce harmony.

But each member is also free to disobey the conductor. Suppose one of the musicians deliberately plays a false note and then induces a violinist alongside of him to do the same. Having heard the discord, the conductor could do one of two things. He could either strike his baton and order the measure replayed, or he could ignore the discord.

It would make no difference which he did, for that discord has already gone out into space at a certain temperature at the rate of about 1100 feet per second. On and on it goes, affecting even the infinitesimally small radiations of the universe.

As a stone dropped in a pond causes a ripple which affects the most distant shore, so this discord affects even the stars. As long as time endures, somewhere in God’s universe there is a disharmony, introduced by the free will of man.

Fulton J. Sheen,  Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map to Eternity (pp. 37-39). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

Cheers

Joe

ad aeternitatem

 

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The Inner Struggle

Good Reporters …

Good Reporters … report … they don’t spin, they don’t fabricate, they don’t “follow the party line”. Good reporters report the story, the whole story, and nothing but the story, and leave it up to the reader/viewer to put their own interpretation on things according to the viewer/readers own conscience or lack thereof.

Diane Montagna is the Rome correspondent for LifeSiteNews.

Diane Montagna is the Rome correspondent for LifeSiteNews.

It appears to me that Diane Montagna is a “Good Reporter”, one of the few, the blessed few. Diane Montagna is the Rome correspondent for LifeSiteNews.

She began translating papal addresses under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI for Zenit News Agency, and has served as a translator for the English edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Her work has also appeared in the National Catholic Register and Humanitas Christian Anthropological Review. Before joining LifeSite, Diane served for several years as Rome correspondent for the English edition of Aleteia.org.

She has also taught children’s and adult faith formation classes, and holds a License in Sacred Theology from the International Theological Institute, Gaming Austria and a B.A. in Italian.

One of her latest articles is a report on the Final declaration of the recently concluded conference Catholic Church, where are you going? this was an all Italian conference held in Rome. Reading this clearly reveals the difference between true reporting, op-ed, and tabloid media.

“Therefore we testify and confess…”

Final declaration of the conference ‘Catholic Church, where are you going?’

Rome, April 7, 2018

Due to contradictory interpretations of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, growing discontent and confusion are spreading among the faithful throughout the world.

The urgent request for a clarification submitted to the Holy Father by approximately one million faithful, more than 250 scholars and several cardinals, has received no response.

Amidst the grave danger to the faith and unity of the Church that has arisen, we baptized and confirmed members of the People of God are called to reaffirm our Catholic faith.  

The Second Vatican Council authorizes us and encourages us to do so, stating in Lumen Gentium, n. 33: “Thus every layman, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon him, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself ‘according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal’ (Eph. 4:7).”

Blessed John Henry Newman also encourages us to do so. In his prophetic essay “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine” (1859), he spoke of the importance of the laity bearing witness to the faith.

Therefore, in accordance with the authentic tradition of the Church, we testify and confess that: 

1) A ratified and consummated marriage between two baptized persons can be dissolved only by death.

2) Therefore, Christians united by a valid marriage who join themselves to another person while their spouse is still alive commit the grave sin of adultery.

3) We are convinced that there exist absolute moral commandments which oblige always and without exception.

4) We are also convinced that no subjective judgment of conscience can make an intrinsically evil act good and licit.

5) We are convinced that judgment about the possibility of administering sacramental absolution is not based on the imputability of the sin committed, but on the penitent’s intention to abandon a way of life that is contrary to the divine commandments.

6) We are convinced that persons who are divorced and civilly remarried, and who are unwilling to live in continence, are living in a situation that is objectively contrary to the law of God, and therefore cannot receive Eucharistic Communion.

Our Lord Jesus Christ says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8: 31-32).

With this confidence we confess our faith before the supreme pastor and teacher of the Church and before the bishops, and we ask them to confirm us in the faith.

Not much else to say. So refreshing to be allowed to arrive at one’s own conclusions without being directed towards the agenda of the media.

Cheers

Joe

With patience, humility, and charity towards all …

 

 

 

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The Inner Struggle

Nothing good to say?

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274

St. Thomas maintains: ‘Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers’ (S. Thomas, Summa theologiae, II-II, quaest. 3, art. 2, ad 2).

To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. […] Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good.

Or, in a more modern vein “all that is required for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the four ‘dubia’ cardinals

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the four ‘dubia’ cardinals

The history of the Church teaches us that “truth is not necessarily found with the majority,” but rather in the “minority which has truly lived and witnessed to the faith,” Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the four ‘dubia’ cardinals, said today in Rome.

Speaking at the symposium ‘Catholic Church: Where are you heading?,’ Cardinal Brandmüller said “when Catholics en masse consider it legitimate to remarry after divorce or use contraception … this is not a mass witness to the faith, but a mass departure from it.

Food for thought then … when is it bad to refrain from attesting to the Truth?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Rome, April 7, 2018 Diane Montagna/LifeSiteNews

Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Rome, April 7, 2018, Diane Montagna/LifeSiteNews

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in Rome, April 7, 2018, quoting an encyclical from 1890, said: “Christians are, moreover, born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph: “Have confidence; I have overcome the world (Jn 16:33). […] The chief elements of this duty consist in professing openly and unflinchingly the Catholic doctrine, and in propagating it to the utmost of our power” (Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae, January 10, 1890).

Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII

Pope John XXIII taught: “All the evils which poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: ignorance of the truth—and at times even more than ignorance, a contempt for truth and a reckless rejection of it. […]

Anyone who consciously and wantonly attacks known truth, who arms himself with falsehood in his speech, his writings, or his conduct in order to attract and win over less learned men and to shape the inexperienced and impressionable minds of the young to his own way of thinking, takes advantage of the inexperience and innocence of others and engages in an altogether despicable business.”

Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman

Blessed John Henry Newman’s 1859 essay On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine. emphasized the laity’s role in matters of doctrine, and sought to distinguish what is a true sensus fidei (sense of the faith) of believers and what is not.

“In the history of the people of God, it has often been not the majority but rather a minority which has truly lived and witnessed to the faith,” he said. “The experience of the Church shows that sometimes the truth of the faith has been conserved not by the efforts of theologians or the teaching of the majority of bishops but in the hearts of believers.”

Cheers

Joe

Church Militant …

Having a majority does not automatically confer “truth” and “good” and “just” upon any particular sociopolitical direction of a society or group. Can we still tell the difference between right and wrong, or is our moral compass broken irreparably?

 

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The Inner Struggle

Focus on what the person actually says and does …

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

… not on what everyone is complaining about.  The starting point of any thoughts about the conduct or speech of another should not be the conclusions and opinions of yet others about the person one is thinking about.

Joe Friday,

Joe Friday,

Just the facts, ma’am.”  It’s difficult for anyone who didn’t experience the early days of television to realize now how popular and influential certain shows were. I used to watch it regularly with my Dad in the 50’s when “Dragnet” and “Hockey Night in Canada” were the only reasons that I was allowed to stay up past my normal bedtime.

I really loved “overtime” in those days before the invention of “shoot-outs”. Anyway, Dragnet, was really popular amongst my parents crowd for its attention to detail and realistic portrayal of the nuts and bolts of police work.

Snopes tells me that “Dragnet” started out as a radio drama in 1949, made the transition to television in 1951 (and aired in both media simultaneously through 1957), became a feature film in 1954, spawned a revival TV series and made-for-TV movie in 1966, was spoofed in a 1987 movie starring Dan Akroyd and Tom Hanks, and was spun off yet again (after Webb’s death) as a new syndicated series in 1989.

The long lived popularity and influence of Dragnet is attested to by the number of Dragnet-related items that have become firmly embedded in our pop culture idiom: the distinctive “dum-de-dum-dum” opening four notes of its theme music; the characters’ rapid-fire, staccato delivery of dialogue; the somber “The story you are about to hear is true; the names have been changed to protect the innocent” intonation of its prologue; and, of course, Sgt. Joe Friday’s famous business-like catch phrase, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Well, about that last item . . . memory lane is fatally flawed … it turns out that “just the facts” are that the facts folks are talking about are wrong. And we go down this lane when we speculate about other’s motives and intent while relying on 3rd hand reports about what was said or done, appropriately spun to accommodate the views, opinions and fantasies of whoever is writing or speaking 2nd hand.

Our language is replete with famous phrases from historic and literary characters who never uttered the words attributed to them: Marie Antoinette and “Let them eat cake”; Cary Grant and “Judy, Judy, Judy . . .”; Sherlock Holmes and “Elementary, my dear Watson.” Sometimes the phrases are made up out of whole cloth (because they sounded like something those people would say), and sometimes they’re corruptions or rephrasing of something that actually was said. “Just the facts, ma’am” is a case of the latter. So popular was Dragnet in its day that satirist Stan Freberg spoofed it on a 1953 record titled St. George and the Dragonet.”

This record and its flip side, “Little Blue Riding Hood” (also a Dragnet spoof) were extraordinarily popular as well, hitting the #1 spot on Billboard‘s pop chart and selling over two million copies; the record’s success prompted Ed Sullivan to invite Freberg to perform both sides of the single live on his Talk of the Town variety show. Jack Webb’s ‘Joe Friday’ character typically used the phrase “All we want are the facts, ma’am” (and sometimes “All we know are the facts ma’am”) when questioning women in the course of police investigations. Freberg’s “Little Blue Riding Hood” spoof changed the line slightly, and it was Freberg’s alteration — rather than anything Joe Friday said — that would enter the roll of immortal catch phrases.

So also with all those news items and blogger reports of what people said and did and why, especially the why part, speculation about intent and motive … its expressing opinions about what we can’t know and don’t know we don’t know that trips us up and leads us into trouble and sin …

“Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

– of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
– of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
– of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it.

But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.”

— Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2476-2478

So, going forward, I resolve to write only about sayings and doings and opinions which are verifiable, and that avoid every attitude and word likely to cause unjust injury  … and to take a page from my grandfather, namely: “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything.”

Cheers

Joe

ad aeternitatem

 

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Life in a small town, The Inner Struggle

Shalom (שׁלום)

“Deep Peace”, Bill Douglas, from the album of the same name, (1996)

Divina Misericordia (Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, 1934)

Divina Misericordia (Eugeniusz Kazimirowski, 1934)

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  The Divine Mercy of Jesus, also known as the Divine Mercy, is a Roman Catholic devotion to Jesus Christ associated with the reputed apparitions of Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina Kowalska. The Roman Catholic devotion and venerated image under this Christological title refers to the unlimited merciful love of God towards all people.[1][2] Sister Kowalska was granted the title “Secretary of Mercy” by the Holy See in the Jubilee Year of 2000.[3][4][5]

Sister Faustina Kowalska reported a number of apparitions during religious ecstasy which she wrote in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul.[4][5] The three main themes of the devotion are to ask for and obtain the mercy of God, to trust in Christ’s abundant mercy, and finally to show mercy to others and act as a conduit for God’s mercy towards them.[4][6]

Pope John Paul II, a native of Poland, had great affinity towards this devotion and authorized it in the Liturgical Calendar of the church. The liturgical feast of the Divine Mercy is celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Some members of the Anglican Communion also share its pious beliefs and devotions in an effort towards church renewal.[7]

1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-4)

21Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21-23)

The Hebrew word for peace, shalom (שׁלום) is derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection.

Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain — to the absence of war and enmity — or to the social — to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.

In the Bible, the word shalom is most commonly used to refer to a state of affairs, one of well‑being, tranquility, prosperity, and security, circumstances unblemished by any sort of defect. Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.

Christ Jesus, AD 33

Christ Jesus, AD 33

36As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” (שׁלום)  37But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42They gave him a piece of broiled fish,b 43and he took it and ate before them. (Luke 24:36-43)

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47and that repentance forc the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)

“Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?” Trust in the Truth … no matter how things appear to us in this world … trust in the Truth. “O my Jesus, supreme Goodness, I ask of you a heart so enraptured with You that nothing can distract it. I wish to become indifferent to everything that goes on in the world, and I want You alone, to love everything that refers to You, but You above everything else, O my God!” (St. Thomas).

Sins of the repertoire … I do not trust, and the catechism tells me “He becomes guilty: – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;”.  Judgement and detraction are greatly facilitated when love of self and of the self’s opinions are coupled with caring about and being attached to everything that goes on in the world. I know better, right? Therefore I judge these others … bad, bad, bad, my bad. Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.

3 … and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,a it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. 7“Woe to the world for temptations to sin!b For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! (Mathew 18:3-7)

So do not judge, do not assume to know intentions, or the disposition of another soul. Do not aid and abet the confusion, the temptations, by pontificating about that which one cannot possibly know, one’s opinion to which I am so attached … woe to the one through whom the temptation comes.

Cheers

Joe

“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

 

 

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The Inner Struggle

“Why are you troubled, Jesus asked, “and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:38)

Inner Thoughts”  Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)

and … “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” (Matt 8:25-26)

Sometimes it helps to have recourse not only to a copy of Canon Law, but also to a good study volume of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

My copy of Canon Law is “Code of Canon Law Annotated”, 2004, from the University of Navarra, Faculty of Canon Law. My copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a first edition “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, 1994, from Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Publication Service.

The first thing is what does Canon Law have to say about voicing concerns about the conduct of our leaders? Canon 212, paragraph 3, in my copy of “Code of Canon Law Annotated”, 2004, from the University of Navarra, Faculty of Canon Law:

“§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

And, from the Catechism:

“Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:

– of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
– of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
– of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it.

But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.”

— Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2476-2478

Keeping fraternal charity in the forefront of my mind is the perennial challenge … trying not to slip into judgemental thoughts … judge not lest you be judged … pay attention to that bit about “rash judgement” in the Catechism quote.

Vatican at night

Vatican at night

Realizing that we are sinners, we must have a godly, and thus a deep, humble, sincere, perennial, and efficacious sorrow for our sins, a sorrow that forces us to quit the broad, rough road of sin and, with renewed spiritual strength, to advance in the way of God.

If we evade the stern obligation of repentance, we shall be lost. “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) Sorrow for past sin is the infallible means of avoiding future sin. Penitence is, then, the rock foundation of a virtuous life. We must clothe ourselves with the penitential garb here, if we would escape the terrors of the judgement hereafter. “If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

I guess where I am is “do not let the goings on in the “real” world disturb my Faith life. Truth is Truth, no matter what the current fashion, and it is unchanging at least since the Risen Christ cooked the Apostles breakfast on the shore after their fruitless night struggling without Him.

Cheers

Joe

Finis Gloriae Mundi

Finis Gloriae Mundi, by Juan de Valdés Leal (1622–1690)

 

“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

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The Inner Struggle

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection of Christ Jesus

“An Taiseirl (The Resurrection)”, Noirin Ni Riain and The Monks Of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, (1996)

Resurrection, Romolo Tavani

Resurrection, Romolo Tavani

Acts 10:34a, 37-43 Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

“Quid hoc ad aeternitatem,” as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

Cheers

Joe

1A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

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The Inner Struggle

Penitence as a way of life …

Mother of Sorrows”, Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent At Ephesus”, (2014)

I started this yesterday and posted the beginning  at the end of yesterday’s post. Nothing here is “Real Joe”, just a brief quote from “Divine Intimacy” and a rather long, but extremely important and moving excerpt from Father John A. Kane’s “How To Make A Good Confession”.

Gentle Reader’s mileage may vary if you are not in this head-space … I wouldn’t have given this much thought a few years ago, but when one is ready, then it speaks.

“… This is a sign of real fidelity, to persevere even in the darkest moments, when all seems lost, and when a friend, instead of triumphing, is reduced to defeat and profound humiliation.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D

It is easy to be faithful to God when everything goes smoothly, when His cause triumphs; but to be equally faithful in the hour of darkness, when, for a time, He permits evil to get the upper hand, when everything that is good and holy seems to be swept away and irrevocably lost — this is hard, but it is the most authentic proof of real love. (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. from the book “Divine Intimacy” meditations on the interior life for every day of the liturgical year.pp 400).

And from Fr. John A. Kane:

“Repentance (from the Greek: Metanoia) is the mind itself changed and transformed. It is the supernatural conquering the natural. It is the assumption of the spirit of Christ according to the words of St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Phil. 2:5)  Thus it is evident that penitence, in its entirety, is perennial.

It has not always the same quality, however. It assumes different phases, and in this respect it is like a lifelong grief. The first outbreak of sorrow will subside. The wilderness of desolation will bloom again with fragrant flowers. In resignation to the divine will, the soul will be flooded with light, peace, and joy. Then it will glory in the consciousness that it is suffering with Christ.

Fr. John A. Kane

Fr. John A. Kane, 1912 – 1962

Its sorrow is now more abiding; it has taken root in the very depths of the soul’s consciousness; it clings to the soul far more tenaciously than the first convulsive paroxysm of grief. Without any external evidence, sorrow has silently transfigured the soul’s life, uniting it more fully, more consciously with its God. A calm and permanent sorrow, which at first terrorized the soul, now lovingly embraces it and gradually sinks into its extreme depths, while externally there may have been no sign of its existence.

Penitence acts likewise. The initial expression of grief will cease; the tears will by degrees diminish; the would inflicted by sin will gradually close. The first instinctive feelings of disappointment with self, loathing, and remorse will quiet down and become more reasonable. But the awful realization of the soul’s spiritual state, the one all-absorbing thought of the horror of sin, will be more vivid, immeasurably truer, and will assume a more disciplined form.

And as the interior spirit of repentance grows and at the same time becomes calmer, gentler, and more enlightened, the sense of the meaning of sin will intensify, and the thought of God’s mercy to sinners will rouse the soul’s hope and dispel the mists and shadows of that first anguish of somewhat unrealistic sorrow and remorse. The soul’s powers, thus renewed, will now live their life in the eternal sunshine of the mercy and love of God.

Peter Paul Rubens - Vision of Ezekiel

Peter Paul Rubens – Vision of Ezekiel

To the superficial observer, repentance may then appear to have ceased. It has, however, only sunk deeper into the soul. It is invisible because it has rooted itself in the soul’s innermost being. Its very hiddenness robs it of all external assertiveness. It has thoroughly intermingled with the soul’s deepest source of life, like food completely assimilated by the body.

It has made the soul far more responsive to grace; it has sensitized the soul’s faculties; it has silently and secretly developed the soul’s realization of God’s most wondrous prerogative: mercy;  it has bound the soul irrevocably to Christ and revived the soul’s adoption by Him who “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11) thus it has become the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue, the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life.

The Apostle Matthew and Angel (Rembrandt, 1661)

The Apostle Matthew and Angel (Rembrandt, 1661)

The soul now serves God more freely and more lovingly because it realizes the contrast between its past sinfulness and its present holiness, and the marvelous way in which the mercy of God has affected the change. This perennial penitential state, because of its hidden and profound depth, is all the more real. It is a creature of intelligence and calm confidence, not of blind instinct and selfish sorrow for sin. It transcends the natural because it is born of faith.  A pious legend states that even to the day of his martyrdom, St. Peter, whenever he heard the crowing of the cock, wept anew.

The mighty flood of sorrow still flowed that broke forth within him when, on the night of his denial, he went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). In his epistles, penitence is not mentioned. But no other letters are more replete with soul stirring pleas for humility, watchfulness, and fear.

St. Peter

St. Peter

“Be ye subject therefore,” he says, “to every human creature for God’s sake.” (1 Pet. 2:13)  In like manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. … Insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to the humble He giveth grace. Be you humbled, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in the time of visitation, casting all your care upon him, for He hath care of you. Be sober and watch, because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet. 5:5-8) “Be prudent therefore, and watch in prayers.” (1 Pet. 4:7) “Fear God.” (1 Pet 2:17) “Converse in fear during the time of your sojourning here.”

St. Paul’s letters, on the contrary, are striking for their tone of repentance. The great apostle cannot forget the sins of his youth. “I am,” he says, “the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.” (1 Cor. 15:9)

Saint Paul The Apostle, probably by Valentin de Boulogne

Saint Paul The Apostle, probably by Valentin de Boulogne

“A faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief. But for this cause I have obtained mercy, that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all patience, for the information of them that shall believe in Him unto life everlasting.” (1 Tim. 1:15-16)

Penitence deserving the name, then, is not a mere passing act but a permanent state — a supernatural sorrow not fitfully but continually welling up within us, a condition of soul lasting until death. At no stage of the spiritual life may we dispense with it. It is necessary for the one who has advanced in virtue, as well as for the hardened sinner.

King David Playing the Harp - Gerard van Honthorst

King David Playing the Harp – Gerard van Honthorst

We are reminded of this in Confession. When slight imperfections form the subject matter of our accusation, the priest may well ask us to recall, in a general way, some former mortal sins, if any, or other venial sins, and to include them in our act of contrition. This is done to enliven our sense of sin and to increase our repentance.

Wonderfully retentive is the sinner’s memory. The reason is that the remembrance of past guilt and of God’s grace, which raised the sinner from spiritual death to spiritual life, can coexist in the soul.

God’s own eternity seems to be stamped upon the sinner’s conscience, that he may not be without fear for forgiven sin, that the abiding knowledge of former sin and the punishment thereof may, all his days, wring from him the wail that will finally remove the last vestige of both sin and punishment. “Wash me yet more from my iniquities and cleanse me from my sin.” (Ps. 50.4  Ps, 51:2)

St John the Apostle

St John the Apostle – Pieter Paul RUBENS – Flemish (Siegen 1577-1640 Antwerp) – ca. 1611 / Prado Madrid

As in the physical order, there is no light without its shadow, so , in the moral order, although the light of grace illumines the soul, the dim reflection of the hated past still remains.

The God who assumed our flesh so that sinners might “have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  the God of infinite compassion who came “to seek and to save that which was lost,” (Luke 19:10) would have us ever reflect on our past sinfulness — not to weaken our confidence in His unspeakable mercy and to fill us with despair, but to enliven our sorrow and to strengthen our love of Him, so that “where sin abounded, grace might more abound.” (Cf. Rom. 5:20)

The habitual thought of former sin will invigorate present repentance. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) True self knowledge will beget “the sorrow that is according to God,” which “worketh penance steadfast unto salvation.”

St. Luke The Evangelist - Claude Vignon

St. Luke The Evangelist – Claude Vignon

Thus, the prayer of the publican — “O God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) we can never repeat too often; his humility we can never assimilate too well. The yearning to return to the God whom he had outraged, the conscious recognition of his sin, which convinced him that he was utterly unworthy of pardon, justified him fully in the in the sight of the divine majesty. “I say to you, this man went down into his house justified.” (Luke 18:14)

Realizing that we are sinners, we must have a godly, and thus a deep, humble, sincere, perennial, and efficacious sorrow for our sins, a sorrow that forces us to quit the broad, rough road of sin and, with renewed spiritual strength, to advance in the way of God.

If we evade the stern obligation of repentance, we shall be lost. “Unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3) Sorrow for past sin is the infallible means of avoiding future sin. Penitence is, then, the rock foundation of a virtuous life. We must clothe ourselves with the penitential garb here, if we would escape the terrors of the judgement hereafter. “If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

Cheers

Joe

“If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities, Lord, who will stand it?” (Ps. 129:3 (RSV = Ps. 130:3)

 

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The Inner Struggle

Good Friday …

“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)

Yesterday, Good Friday, I watched “The Passion of The Christ” again. This film is as powerful now as it was the first time I watched it. I think most people in the West have probably watched “The Passion of the Christ” at least once. For others, it is more than once. And yet for others, myself included, it is an annual Lenten“ritual”.

Oh Lord, You have created me for Yourself, to love You and to enjoy You, infinite Good, ineffable Beauty; do not permit me to lose sight of this sublime end toward which I must tend; do not permit me to wander among the wretched satisfactions that vain, feeble creatures can offer me. (I don’t remember where I read that but it is too beautiful to be mine)

Yesterday was “Good Friday”, the end of Lent. Lent is about sorrow, contrition, and repentance.  Recent scripture readings and meditations have sensitized the soul’s faculties to the clear realization of my sinfulness, and of God’s most wondrous prerogative, namely God’s mercy, and the revival of our adoption by Christ who: “desires not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Cf. Ezek. 33:11) … “this realization of mercy becomes the impetus of the soul’s advancement in virtue, the inspiration of its power for good, and its daily shield in its struggle for eternal life“. (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 14)

I see “conversion” as a dawning awareness of the real truth of my sinfulness, a spiritual coming of age, where my soul experiences an ever intensifying consciousness of my preferential option for self worship, self gratification and of “sinning” in the pursuit of pleasure, consolation, satisfaction as ends in and of themselves.

The Passion of The Christ by Igor Zenin

The Passion of The Christ by Igor Zenin

The essence of this “conversion” is the turning of my soul and my faculties from sin towards identification of, and identifying with, the will of God, and a concomitant experience of remorse in understanding the lifelong predilection for self centered thoughts, habits, activities and attachments.

I had an intense AHA! experience early yesterday morning. The realization, in my own tiny way, of the pain God feels when his creatures turn away from his love and his care for them and his desire for them to live “the good life” in his orbit and under his protection.

This is what I do, in my selfishness, when I, essentially, tell God to “Just bugger off and leave me alone!” I want to do my own thing, to be me, to act out my own plan regardless of the consequences and the impact on others. I only care about me. It is manifest in a total absence of fraternal charity.

And then, when things go wrong, as they inevitably do, when I find myself in a place where I cannot control my life, where it is  all just happening to me and there is nothing I can do about it, I get focused on my little pain from some small source and I think that is everything there is and it is the greatest pain ever. My pain is special.

But God feels all the pain of all the behaviour of all His love children, those creatures He created, out of love, to share His love with, and who He holds in His hands and holds their everything in existence, so they can misbehave with impunity, so they can torture Him and kill Him, His  hateful creatures, hurting Him continuously and without pause, for all our time, in His eternal now.

I don’t think a human creature can even begin to realize the pain they cause God by disobedience, and the malice of self worship, until that human starts to get past the attachments to “self”  and the self-righteous anger response when that belief, that worship of “self” is threatened or challenged in some way. The only thing that teaches me, that reaches me, is the pain of overwhelming loss of precisely those things or thoughts to which I am most attached.

Jesus Christ, circa AD 30

Jesus Christ, circa AD 30

This painful experience fans the flames of my soul’s ever intensifying awareness of the preponderance of self worship, self gratification, self aggrandizement, and the serious attachment to all things and experiences centered on healing the wounds of my self regard, my self image to which I find myself so inordinately attached.

Attachment … to all the things of this world, but especially those things and experiences which reinforce my self regard, my self-worship. Becoming aware of this I feel sorrow and contrition for my conduct, now and throughout my whole life. I remember every little thing, from childhood to late in life looking back over my personal tale of woe, my misbehavior, my willfulness, and I am sorry.

The contrition experience gives rise to a desire for repentance, a desire to make atonement for past sins, a transformation of my mind, an up-welling of the supernatural drowning the natural in an intensifying struggle. How to atone? How to repent?

Repent, atone, by cutting adrift all those elements, all those attachments, which contribute to the healing of the wounds of my self love, to papering over of those ugly wounds inflicted by self worship, to whitewashing my black heart.

My attachments are a significant part of the framework within which I view “reality” and is it really real? As I have remarked before, some famous guy once said: “it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that bites our ass in the end”. I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. I desire to see my soul as God sees it, the better to repent for a lifetime of all-purpose sin, my repertoire, my curriculum vitae of “being human”.

Identifying and isolating my attachments has been greatly assisted by my now 15 month long program of fasting … never realized just how much I was attached to food, and the activities surrounding food, until I started fasting. Now it has become obvious that all attachments hide like this, they hide in plain sight within the normal every day experiences of life until I isolate them by choosing a new and different direction for my habits, thoughts, actions.

“Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash”.  Those were the immortal words of Captain Tom “Stinger” Jordan in Top Gun.  Of course, he was talking to Maverick, played by Tom Cruise. But that’s a movie, a Hollywood fantasy, it sells well because its what I would like to believe about my own life and abilities, when reality is truly somewhat different.

Odds are, when I use this phrase, especially when I am talking to myself,  I’m talking to someone with considerably less ability, to back up the checks being written, with real life performance. Because I have great difficulty identifying and isolating attachments. Let’s count the ways I’ve used this phrase:

… to someone (myself) who was daring others to take action on some outlandish behavior, just because I didn’t really like those others, at that moment in time …  no other reason … to that person (myself) who is making a rash decision because … just because, because I thought I could …  no other reason, just asserting my specialness … to someone (myself) who just had a wild time in (fill in you last port of call), loudly, confidently, exclaiming, “Really!  When am I going to be in (fill in you last port of call) again?”

Captain Jordan in Top Gun, as I know now, knew that it was all fool’s gold.  Nothing special here at all, just me, myself, and I, stroking my own ego, my own fantasy that I am special. People (myself) that do outlandish things inevitably learn, hopefully, eventually, that they can’t make irresponsible decisions without facing the music. So back to the escapist fantasy. How did it all work out for Maverick?  Crash and burn? Yup, and the real tragedy was that the rubber cheques took Goose and his family down with Maverick. Realization couldn’t bring them back or restore the magic.

It is only in the contrast of my losses and pain that I start to recognize the attachments of my life. This is that process which is described by the Greek wordMetanoia“, that is, changing my mind, and through that my reality. So conversion, contrition and repentance involve and devolve into an internal discussion, a meditation about real “reality” and  how attachments seem to be the lens through which I interpret and act upon events and stimuli in my life and relationships … attachments … all the attachments.

So, how am I to move towards being detached from “the things of this world”, the creatures and treasures which I look to for consolation and pleasure when indulging my self gratification and self worship? I think I have to enter into and accept repentance as pretty much a constant mindset, a basic understanding of the enormity of my life of sin and the greater enormity of God’s eternal mercy and love for me. The eternal is what matters, and only reference to the eternal gives meaning to this world and the perishable material things and creatures of this world.

I am living in my material shell as an eternal “soul”, as the ghost in the shell. The shell is not the “me”. The shell is just the collection of lenses, sensor systems and actuators for the self, but it is not the self. I, me, the “ME”, occupy the shell and look at, interact with, and think about the perishable material plane, and the “things of this world”, but as an eternal soul, not as the shell … which is actually what I really am, that ghost in the shell is where that which makes me “I” actually resides, actually exists.

So, all my life is no more than one night in a bad hotel. More thinking and more understanding required … about repentance as a newly understood way of life, like the Prodigal Son, a new way of life full of painful daily reminders of previous offenses against my Father. I will conclude this with a rather long excerpt from Father John A. Kane:

Fr. John A. Kane

Fr. John A. Kane, 1912 – 1962

“Repentance (from the Greek metanoia) is the mind itself changed and transformed. It is the supernatural conquering the natural. It is the assumption of the spirit of Christ according to the words of St. Paul: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. (Phil. 2:5)

Thus it is evident that penitence, in its entirety, is perennial. It has not always the same quality, however. It assumes different phases, and in this respect it is like a lifelong grief. The first outbreak of sorrow will subside. The wilderness of desolation will bloom again with fragrant flowers. In resignation to the divine will, the soul will be flooded with light, peace, and joy.

Then it will glory in the consciousness that it is suffering with Christ. Its sorrow is now more abiding; it has taken root in the very depths of the soul’s consciousness; it clings to the soul far more tenaciously than the first convulsive paroxysm of grief.

Without any external evidence, sorrow has silently transfigured the soul’s life, uniting it more fully, more consciously with its God. A calm and permanent sorrow, which at first terrorized the soul, now lovingly embraces it and gradually sinks into its extreme depths, while externally there may have been no sign of its existence.” (John A. Kane, “How To Make A Good Confession”, pp 11-12)

Cheers

Joe

Quid hoc ad aeternitatem, as old Saint Bernard of Clairvaux used to mumble when faced with the usual parade of travail, what does it matter in the light of eternity?

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Pen as Sword - Social Commentary, The Inner Struggle

A New Paradigm … Final … the horse is dead … we wait and pray.

“Crux Fidelis”, Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, from the album “Lent at Ephesus”, (2014)

Pope Francis has again received Eugenio Scalfari

Pope Francis has again received Eugenio Scalfari, the 93 year old atheist philosopher. Pope Allegedly Says Hell Doesn’t Exist in Latest Scalfari ‘Interview’ Nonagenarian atheist philosopher also claims Pope is honoured to be called a revolutionary.

Pope Francis has again received Eugenio Scalfari, the 93 year old atheist philosopher, leading to more controversial comments that the Vatican has had to insist are not “faithful” to the Pope’s words.

In his fifth meeting with the atheist philosopher, Scalfari — who neither records interviews nor takes notes — said the Pope allegedly told him again that hell does not exist and that he is honored to be called a “revolutionary.”

The Pope’s purported comments were published Thursday in La Repubblica, the left-leaning Italian newspaper Scalfari co-founded and which the Pope has said is his favorite newspaper.

Hell does not exist – what exists is the disappearance of sinful souls,” the Pope allegedly said. “They are not punished, those who repent obtain the forgiveness of God and go among the ranks of the souls who contemplate him. But those who do not repent, and therefore cannot be forgiven, disappear.” (Wasn’t disappearing what happened to those who disagreed with the government in Argentina under Peron?)

Headlines were quick to spread around the world saying Pope Francis believes hell does not exist, a belief which would break with 2,000 years of Church teaching.

Saint Vincent of Lerins

Saint Vincent of Lerins, who died c. 445, was a Gallic monk and author of early Christian writings.

Vatican statements intended to clarify things smell very strongly of damage control and cover up … quick, scrape the poop off the rug before anyone notices … I have seen this first hand back in the day as a government hack when I wrote briefing notes to spin the latest cluster for my departmental masters. I have a strong feeling that the ducks are taking over the Vatican. My personal bias here is that Scalfari probably got it right, or close enough. But even if he did not,  the damage is done. Again. And again. And again.

*****

Seriously. I borrow from David Warren here:I know at first hand how the media work, (David also knows) and I know that Bergoglio came to Rome (from Argentina of all places) with a reputation as an adept media manipulator, fond of playing the crowd. He is no babe in the woods. He must know as I do that if a journalist seriously misrepresents what you say, you don’t give him another opportunity. Moreover, you publicly correct him in a way not only unambiguous, but sharp enough to get everyone’s attention — at speed, I should think, if you have millions of Catholics hanging on your words. Instead he lets the outrage stand.”

*****

This is going on and on … this is not an accident … and I cannot see a good end for my following this. I think that this will be my last post on this topic and these sorts of things. Let things go, into God’s hands, according to God’s plan, for me, prayer and fasting and penitence. It is Lent after all.

Fr. Hunwicke, over at his blog  quotes from an address by Pope Francis last year, a line which Pope Francis quoted from Saint Vincent of Lerins, writing in the 5th century – a contemporary of Pope St. Leo The Great.

The phrase referred to in Pope Francis’ address …  is the Latin eodem sensu eademque sententia“.

While my Latin has declined precipitously in the decades since I was a Tridentine rite alter boy, we are now graced, courtesy of Google Translate, with the ability to whip off translations willy-nilly as required by circumstances. To paraphrase an old joke from 60 years ago, Latin may well have killed the Romans but it failed to kill Google Translate.

 Pope St. Leo The Great

Pope St. Leo The Great was Pope from 29 September 440 to his death in 461

So we learn that  this Latin snippet, in English, expresses the belief that, or understanding that, something, or some teaching, or some doctrine, is used in the same sense and the same meaning”To quote Father Hunwicke over at his blog  (above):

*****

Eodem sensu eademque sententia: because the teaching of the Church cannot and does not change. Derived by St. Vincent of Lerins from the text of Saint Paul, it was used by Blessed Pius IX, incorporated in the decree on the papal ministry at Vatican I, and contained in the anti-modernist oath.

Very significantly, it was used by Pope Saint John XXIII in the programmatic speech he gave at the start of the Council … What the Council taught, so he laid down, was to be in the same sense, the same meaning, as the teaching of the preceding Magisterium.

Pope Saint John Paul the Great

Pope Saint John Paul the Great

Pope Saint John Paul the Great in Veritatis Splendor made clear that it applied to questions of morality as much as to those of dogma. used this same sanctified phrase in his 2005 Christmas address to the Roman Curia about the Hermeneutic of Continuity. I have recently repeated a series of mine on this phrase which you could find via the search engine on this blog.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Eodem sensu eademque sententia”.  If this phrase means anything at all, it must mean that the teaching of Familiaris consortio (1981; paragraph 84) and of Caritatis sacramentum (2007; paragraph 29), that divorced people who, having gone through a civil form of marriage, are in an unrepented sexual relationship with a new “spouse”, should not approach the Sacraments, cannot already … in less than a decade! … have metamorphosed or “developed” into its exact and polar opposite“.

*****

So, what else is in play here? Where do all these tooings and froings leave the authority of the Chair of Peter? I have some more to add but I will first quote from a commenter over at Father Hunwicke’s blog namely:

*****

Thank you. Well, Father, I’ve referenced it a bit differently to the same end in that in Catholicism today we have far too many who look at a cow and then turn, look you straight in the face, pull a Bible from their pocket, place their right hand on it and swear it is a motorcycle.  With handlebars.  But then that is why we mortals have only maybe a half a dozen original stories ever told, one of them being the Emperor’s New Clothes.

You have nailed it here.  Jesus either said something or He didn’t.

He (Jesus) made life a lot easier in many ways. He softened many unnecessarily hardened teachings. But when He took on the issue of marriage I think His eyes narrowed, he scanned left and right like we are told in our self-defense pistol classes, He tightened His gut and He tensed every muscle for a fight.

And He ENDED the “Mosaic Compromise” right there and then.  Fact is, even Mercy has a limit, and that limit is found on the Original Intent of God Himself. The Pope can’t have more “mercy” than the Son of the Living God.

One Man. One Woman. One Time.

“For I hate divorce” says the Lord.  As that’s the case, I really don’t give a Rat’s Backside for what the Pope thinks about it.  {Says the man who got in a raucous fight this very eve with his precious and wonderful wife of 30 years.}

*****

Well said, Brother … to paraphrase Shakespeare,Something is rotten in the state of Vatican City

That apostolic primacy which the Roman pontiff possesses as successor of Peter, the prince of the apostles, includes also the supreme power of teaching. This holy see has always maintained this, …

So the fathers of the fourth council of Constantinople, following the footsteps of their predecessors, published this solemn profession of faith:

“The first condition of salvation is to maintain the rule of the true faith. And since that saying of our lord Jesus Christ, You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church [55] , cannot fail of its effect, the words spoken are confirmed by their consequences. For in the apostolic see the catholic religion has always been preserved unblemished, and sacred doctrine been held in honour. Since it is our earnest desire to be in no way separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope that we may deserve to remain in that one communion which the apostolic see preaches, for in it is the whole and true strength of the christian religion [56] .

What is more, with the approval of the second council of Lyons, the Greeks made the following profession: “The holy Roman church possesses the supreme and full primacy and principality over the whole catholic church. She truly and humbly acknowledges that she received this from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince and chief of the apostles, whose successor the Roman pontiff is, together with the fullness of power. And since before all others she has the duty of defending the truth of the faith, so if any questions arise concerning the faith, it is by her judgment that they must be settled.” [57]

Then there is the definition of the council of Florence: “The Roman pontiff is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians; and to him was committed in blessed Peter, by our lord Jesus Christ, the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church.” [58] To satisfy this pastoral office, our predecessors strove unwearyingly that the saving teaching of Christ should be spread among all the peoples of the world; and with equal care they made sure that it should be kept pure and uncontaminated wherever it was received. …

BUT

… For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter NOT so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.

This would seem to overrule any notions of a “New Paradigm”, regardless of the perambulations of the Vatican Secretary of State in his “dialogue” with the secular media and other interested parties. So on the face of it, we seem to find in 21st century Rome two old heresies, the Heresy of Arianism, regarding the nature of Jesus Christ, and the Heresy of Pelagius, regarding the nature of man. With respect to amending doctrine, if  Jesus Christ were not God, but only a prophet, then indeed his “prophecies” might reasonably be amended in light of “new evidence”.

With respect to a “New Paradigm” and the perfection of man, given a perfect man, then a “New Paradigm” might not be an unreasonable possibility upon reconsidering past thought. Two old heresies flowering again amongst the night soil of the Roman Curia, like mushrooms in a dark sewer.

Now, Pelagius was a monk from Britain, whose reputation and theology came into prominence after he went to Rome sometime in the 380’s A.D. The historic Pelagian theological controversy involved the nature of man and the doctrine of original sin.

Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam’s sin, original sin, total depravity, and substitutionary atonement. It simultaneously views man as fundamentally good and in possession of libertarian free will. With regards to salvation, it teaches that man has the ability in and of himself (apart from divine aid) to obey God and earn eternal salvation.

Pelagianism is overwhelmingly incompatible with the Bible and was historically opposed by Augustine (354-430), Bishop of Hippo, leading to its condemnation as a heresy at Council of Carthage in 418 A.D. These condemnations were summarily ratified at the Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431). Pelagianism is not Catholic, nor is it even Christian.

Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc by Emil Otto (‘E.O.’) HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

In addition, there appears to be a second heresy operational amongst the curia in Rome. The second heresy is that of Arianism. From the book “The Great Heresies” by Hilaire Belloc, :

“Arianism was the first of the great heresies. There had been from the foundation of the Church at Pentecost A.D. 29[1] to 33 a mass of heretical movements filling the first three centuries.

They had turned, nearly all of them, upon the nature of Christ. The effect of our Lord’s predication, and Personality, and miracles, but most of all His resurrection, had been to move every one who had any faith at all in the wonder presented, to a conception of divine power running through the whole affair.

Now the central tradition of the Church here, as in every other case of disputed doctrine, was strong and clear from the beginning. Our Lord was undoubtedly a man. He had been born as men are born, He died as men die. He lived as a man and had been known as a man by a group of close companions and a very large number of men and women who had followed Him, and heard Him and witnessed His actions.

But — said the Church — He was also God. God had come down to earth and become Incarnate as a Man. He was not merely a man influenced by the Divinity, nor was He a manifestation of the Divinity under the appearance of a man. He was at the same time fully God and fully Man.

On that the central tradition of the Church never wavered. It is taken for granted from the beginning by those who have authority to speak. But a mystery is necessarily, because it is a mystery, incomprehensible; therefore man, being a reasonable being, is perpetually attempting to rationalize it.

So it was with this mystery. One set would say Christ was only a man, though a man endowed with special powers. Another set, at the opposite extreme, would say He was a manifestation of the Divine. His human nature was a thing of illusion. They played the changes between those two extremes indefinitely. Well, the Arian heresy was, as it were, the summing up and conclusion of all these movements on the unorthodox side_that is, of all those movements which did not accept the full mystery of two natures.

Since it is very difficult to rationalize the union of the Infinite with the finite, since there is an apparent contradiction between the two terms, this final form into which the confusion of heresies settled down was a declaration that our Lord was as much of the Divine Essence as it was possible for a creature to be, but that He was none the less a creature. He was not the Infinite and Omnipotent God who must be of His nature one and indivisible, and could not (so they said) be at the same time a limited human moving and having his being in the temporal sphere.

Arianism was willing to grant our Lord every kind of honour and majesty short of the full nature of the Godhead. He was created (or, if people did not like the word “created” then “he came forth”) from the Godhead before all other effects thereof. Through Him the world was created. He was granted (one might say paradoxically) all the divine attributes — except divinity.”

Essentially this movement sprang from exactly the same source as any other rationalistic movement from the beginning to our own time. It sprang from the desire to visualize clearly and simply something which is beyond the grasp of human vision and comprehension.

Therefore, although it began by giving to our Lord every possible honour and glory short of the actual Godhead, it would inevitably have led in the long run into mere Unitarianism and the treating of our Lord at last as a prophet and, however exalted, no more than a prophet (as does Islam) .

Arianism is not Christian by definition since absent the divinity of Christ there is no such thing as Christianity. It is impossible to have it both ways. On the one hand, you have  Bishops and Priests who disagree with the “New Paradigm” theory of doctrinal changes, and there are numerous examples, or on the other hand you have Bishops and Priests who do subscribe to the “New Paradigm” theory of changes to established magisterial teachings.

Those who espouse the “New Paradigm” theory are neither Catholic nor Christian by any reasonable definition of the terms and concepts. They are heretics.

quod erat demonstrandum

So, end of the subject, perhaps forever – we will let things unfold and draw our own conclusions. Let those with an IQ higher than room temperature also draw their own conclusions?

Cheers

Joe

Ad Aeternitatem …

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