Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) and Prophecy in 1976

Presently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is meeting in Baltimore (thanks, KFD). Timothy Cardinal Dolan, outgoing President of the USCCB, on behalf of the Conference, welcomed Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio (essentially, the Holy Father’s “ambassador” to the U.S.), to deliver an address to the assembly yesterday evening. You can read the full text of Archbishop Vigano’s address here. It’s interesting.

Giovanni_Paolo_I_e_II

John Paul I and Cardinal Wojtyla, 1978

There’s a quote in the Nuncio’s address that caught my attention, given by Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) in an address during the Eucharistic Congress in 1976 for the Bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He said:

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has ever experienced. I do not think that the wide circle of the American Society, or the whole wide circle of the Christian Community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-church, between the gospel and the anti-gospel, between Christ and the antichrist. The confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence. It is, therefore, in God’s Plan, and it must be a trial which the Church must take up, and face courageously…”

That was nearly forty years ago. We can continue to pretend that the world isn’t afflicted by something…. very dark…. We can continue to believe that the instant times are notdifferent than times before…. but JPII makes our denials seem all the more…. ridiculous.

We must become like barnacles and firmly attach ourselves to the Rock, lest we get swept away by rising tides. Jesus says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Rock. He doesn’t say that all Christians will be saved. So long as we are the Rock, and the Rock is us, we are safe!

Ecclesia Semper Reformanda: Communion with the Church by Degrees of Fullness

A Lecture Addressed to the

Theological Students’ Association

of The Catholic University of America

by Father Jay Scott Newman, J.C.L.

Assistant Professor of Canon Law

at The Pontifical College Josephinum

18 April 2001

In his De Praescriptione Haereticorum, Tertullian famously asked with derision, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”, meaning “What has philosophy to do with theology?” I begin with this reminder because, although I am here to address the Theological Students’ Association, I am not a theologian; I a canon lawyer. And some among you may well ask with derision, “What has canon law to do with theology?” It’s a fair question, so before I explore the topic at hand today, I need briefly to digress and establish something of a lingua franca for our discussion.

Because she is a human society, the Church has had law, and therefore lawyers, since her foundation, but canon law as a distinct science and course of study did not emerge until the twelfth century. Canonists reckon the Italian monk Gratian as the Pater scientiae canonicae because his work provided a systematic and logical ordering of 1000 years of lawmaking. The Decretum Gratiani, completed around the year 1140, remained an indispensable touchstone for all canonists in the Western Church until the promulgation of the first Code of Canon Law in 1917. Now, you might suppose that after nearly nine centuries of doing this thing called canon law, there would be common agreement among canonists about just what their discipline is. You might suppose so, but you’d be wrong.

Among canonists today, there are some fundamental disagreements about the nature and method of their discipline, with two of the major proposals being — for lack of more precise terms — legal positivism and juridic theology. I am not here today to describe this disagreement, let alone to resolve the dispute. But to make intelligible much of what will follow in my remarks, I must explain that I hold canon law to be a truly theological discipline and therefore to have a theological method and object. Within the one science of sacred theology we commonly acknowledge many divisions: dogmatic theology, moral theology, biblical theology, and so forth. To these, I submit, must be added juridic theology-that is, canon law understood as a theological discipline with a specifically juridic character, vocabulary, and purpose.

One of the reasons why there is disagreement among canonists about the nature of their discipline is that there is often a tension between theological language and juridic language, or to put it otherwise, making laws out of theological truths is not simple. And yet, there must be an organic connection between the two if the law of the Code is to be truly the law of the Church. Pope John Paul II addressed this point in the 1983 Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Leges, by which he promulgated the present Code of Canon Law. The pope writes:

“As the Church’s principal legislative document founded on the juridical-legislative heritage of revelation and tradition, the Code is to be regarded as an indispensable instrument to ensure order both in individual and in social life … the Code … fully corresponds to the nature of the Church, especially as it is proposed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council…. Indeed, in a certain sense this new Code could be understood as a great effort to translate this same conciliar doctrine and ecclesiology into canonical language.”

Read more: via Ecclesia Semper Reformanda: Communion with the Church by Degrees of Fullness.

Think St. Gabriel Possenti . . . Obama’s America Turns Meek Me Into A Gun Owner: THE WANDERER

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — After the December 14 Newtown, Conn., school massacre, liberally inclined Washington Post writer Melinda Henneberger, a Catholic, said the left is correct that guns kill people. But who of any persuasion would doubt that? Guns, that is, plus human evil intent.

However, she added in a December 18 blog post, “the right has a point, too, about the ‘Culture of Death,’ in the language of John Paul II’s Gospel of Life.”

Henneberger wrote, “If gunsalone — or even guns plus lousy treatment options — were the entire problem, why were no little red schoolhouses fired on in the Wild West, where everyone was armed and mental illness completely untreated?”

Moral codes have been ejected faster than spent cartridges.

Read more . . .

THE REMNANT NEWSPAPER: Stuff and Nonsense

(www.RemnantNewspaper.com) On the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, the aging conciliar diehards in the Vatican apparatus, desperate to shore up the Council’s crumbling legacy, have dared to revive and advance at breakneck speed the long dead cause for the “beatification” of Paul VI. John Paul II initiated the cause at the diocesan level in 1993, but it failed to advance any further for reasons that should be obvious. (Among the many less obvious reasons was Montini’s dismissal from the Vatican Secretariat State by Pius XII in 1954 on account of his compromising secret correspondence with Russian and other communist officials in defiance of a papal ban on relations with communist governments.)

via THE REMNANT NEWSPAPER: Stuff and Nonsense.

Defending God-Given Freedoms – Truth and Charity Forum

The 19th century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky once wisely said, “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.”

Christians continue to wage a political and legal battle against a predominantly secular culture about the law and the meaning of life—both increasingly corrupted by what Blessed Pope John Paul II coined a “culture of death.”

Unfortunately, this deviant contemporary trend is determined to make God irrelevant and extinct from society. Dominating the national discourse, this atheistic worldview not only denies the existence of God and his social relevance, but is openly hostile to all people and things Christian.

This is contrary to America’s rich Judeo-Christian heritage. Our Founding Fathers believed in a free republic based on a Christian ethos, one in which man is created in the image and likeness of his Creator. Our American legal system is based on this understanding of God-given rights and individual freedom.

Read more . . .

Vatican II’s Golden Anniversary | First Things

It took awhile. Vatican II was like no other ecumenical Council in history, in that it did not provide authoritative keys for its own interpretation: the Council Fathers wrote no creed, condemned no heresy, legislated no new canons, defined no dogmas. Thus the decade and a half after the Council ended on December 8, 1965, was a bit of a free-for-all, as varying interpretations of the Council (including appeals to an amorphous “spirit of Vatican II” that seems to have more in common with low-church Protestantism than with Catholicism) contended with each other in what amounted to an ecclesiastical civil war.

The Providence raised up two men of genius—John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both men of the Council—to give Vatican II an authoritative interpretation. Their teaching, carried throughout the world by an unprecedented series of papal pilgrimages, has given the Church the truth about the Council—although some Catholics seem a bit slow to get the message, Moreover, in summoning the world Church to the Great Jubilee of 2000, John Paul II gave Catholicism the Pentecostal experience that John XXIII for which hoped, thus preparing the world Church to enter the third millennium with great missionary energy: to “put out into the deep,” as John Paul II put it, of the New Evangelization.

And that, finally, is Vatican II’s message to every Catholic. Vatican II did not displace the Church’s tradition. Vatican II did not create do-it-yourself-Catholicism. Vatican II, which accelerated the great historical evolution of Catholicism from a Church of institutional maintenance to a Church of evangelical mission in a genuine and Spirit-led development of self-understanding, taught Catholics that they enter mission territory every day. The degree to which each of us brings the Gospel to others is the degree to which we understand Vatican II at its golden anniversary.

via Vatican II’s Golden Anniversary | First Things.

The Lamb of God Theme: Second Model

Lamb of God

The Lamb of God

 

Abridged from a work by: Rev. Msgr. Donald C. Hamburger

Model Two: Noah’s Altar, Ark and Rainbow – Genesis 5:28-7:28 – Prehistory

The rainbow is a sign of the eternal covenant God made with mankind: that He would never again destroy the world’s creatures by flood as He did in the days of Noah.

A Sketch of Noah’s Life: God looked down from the heavenly heights and saw how evil the people had become. This predates Moses who includes the story in the first book of the Bible about 1200 years before Jesus was born.

In Genesis 5:28 we read how Lamech became the father of a son and called him, Noah. The people of the world had become so wicked that God repented of having created them, so He decided to drown them with a great flood. But God found Noah to be a just man, so He told Noah to build a large ark and to take his wife, his three sons, and their wives into the ark as well as pairs of all the living animals and seven pairs of the “clean animals.”

God promised that He would establish a covenant with Noah. So Noah did all that God commanded him. Rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights and all flesh on the earth died. The waters rose over the mountain tops but finally the rain subsided and the ark settled upon the earth.

Noah sent a raven out, then a dove. When the dove returned she had a green olive branch in her beak and the second time she was sent out, she did not return. So Noah, his family and all the animals went out of the ark.

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and offered sacrifices in thanksgiving; sacrifices of all the “clean” animals which he had taken into the ark. God then established His covenant with Noah, as mentioned earlier, using the Rainbow as an everlasting sign of His promise.

Pertaining to the Lamb of God theme, I perceive a development in two ways: 1) Noah built the first altar described in the Bible and 2) he specified that the sacrifice is offered in “thanksgiving.”

Hints: Since Noah used “every clean animal” for his sacrifice, he would have included the offspring of sheep and goats both of which were referred to as “lambs.”

After the waters of the flood subsided, Noah offered the sacrifice of “thanksgiving.” After experiencing the waters of baptism, a follower of the “second Adam” is able to offer the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist. It is noteworthy that the Greek word from which “Eucharist” is derived also gives us the word “thanksgiving.”

With Noah’s safe deliverance from the floodwaters, there is a certain renewal of the human race; a second beginning. God repeats, almost word for word, the blessing given to our first parents: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth . . .”

Noah as a Prototype of Jesus: Because the flood destroyed all mankind except Noah and his family, the human race received a new beginning from him. Through Noah’s ark the family is saved from the floodwaters just as by our baptism by water we enter into the barque of Peter and the hope of our salvation; for mankind was redeemed by Jesus, the second Adam who shed His Blood on the Cross. Thus we are washed by the blood of the Lamb, the “cleanest of all God’s creatures,” speaking only of His human nature.

The waters of baptism had just been poured over Jesus by John the Baptist when at the Jordan he announced, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

So today, Baptism by water precedes the worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist, the Lamb of God’s sacramental Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

St. Peter alluded to Noah: “It was in the spirit also that (Jesus) went to the spirits in prison (hell, in the Apostle’s Creed). They had disobeyed as long ago as Noah’s day, while God patiently waited until the ark was built. At that time, a few persons, eight in all, escaped in the ark through the water. You are now saved through a baptismal bath which corresponds to this exactly . . .” (I Peter 3:18 ff.)

Because of God’s blessing to Noah and his family, they gave birth to a new generation of human beings. God repeated the blessing almost verbatim which He gave to Adam and Eve. Therefore, Noah is likened to a “new Adam.” So too, does Jesus, through the water of Baptism (spiritual rebirth), beget a new generation and Whom St. Paul calls a “new Adam.”

God cleansed the world of evil and sin by washing humanity in His great flood. This should remind us of the spiritual effects of our own Baptism. God accepted Noah’s sacrifice and used the rainbow as a sign of His new and everlasting covenant. Let the rainbow also remind us of God’s other covenants and especially the new and everlasting covenant which was made at the Last Supper; Holy Eucharist.

The CCC (71) says of God’s covenant with Noah:

“God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and with all living beings (Cf. Gen. 9:16). It will remain in force as long as the world lasts.”

Finally, it is interesting to discuss whether the story of the flood and Noah’s ark is concerning a universal flood over the whole earth or only covering that part of the world known by Noah and his contemporaries. Galileo later quoted by Pope John Paul II, gives us a good piece of advice: “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.”

Listen to the Silence

Vigil Mass

Let all mortal flesh keep silent, standing there in fear and trembling, let all things of earth vanish from our thoughts; for the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Christ our God, is about to be sacrificed and to be given as food to the faithful. Before Him choirs of Angels go, clothed with power and dominion, with faces veiled, chanting the hymn, Alleluia. __ St. James Liturgy, 4th Century.

What is the value of silence? It is nothing, it is emptiness, it communicates nothing and yet by abiding in it we gain all, we find fullness and learn everything we must know; God Alone. It is the desire of the Church that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass be observed and participated in with a certain type of spiritual quiet. The instruction for the Missal requires that a period of silence be observed after the hearing of the Gospel and also after the reception of the Eucharist. It allows us to quiet our spirits and meditate on the moment. We do not obtain this stillness in a conversation with our friends or in the waving and holding of hands in Mass. Nor do we find it by smiling at all our friends that we spot in church. It is found in interior solitude. The exterior stillness is only a help and a symbol to aid the soul who wishes to enter that moment. The St. James Liturgy, the oldest existing liturgy known to us, knew the value of the silence of which I speak, as you can quickly see from the excerpt above.

Silence is the ultimate reverence. It is the humility and homage that Christ should demand of us. And if He doesn’t, we should demand it of ourselves. It is an expression of true dignity, respect and worship. How dare I make a sound lest I miss His whispers within my soul?  “What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language He best hears is silent love.” (St. John of the Cross)

As a dog shows his love by lying silently at the feet of his master, so too should a soul lay in quiet expectation for the slightest movement that His Lord might make: for whatever the Lord demands, that we should faithfully, willfully and lovingly fulfill. It is how we come to a complete reliance on God while ridding our minds of any consideration of self.  “The most generous choices, especially the persevering, are the fruit of profound and prolonged union with God in prayerful silence.” (Pope John Paul II)

Silence informs our prayers. We cannot possibly pray as we ought if we do not allow God to speak to us and our prayers become merely a list of personal requests and demands. “God speaks in the silence of the heart, and we listen. And then we speak to God from the fullness of our heart, and God listens. And this listening and this speaking is what prayer is meant to be….” (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)

We live in a noisy and busy world where we find it difficult to find time to be alone with God and feel continuously oppressed by the demands of our lives. Somehow, we need to make room for the benefit of both our minds and our souls. “Let us allow ourselves to be ‘infected’ by St. Joseph’s silence! We need it greatly, in a world that is often too noisy, that does not favor meditation or listening to the voice of God.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

May we all find at least an hour during our week, especially during Mass, where our souls might have an opportunity to plumb its depths to that stillness, that quiet spot within our souls, where God abides, God speaks and we silently listen.

No Conscience, No Sin

 

 

Pope Pius XII called Pastor Angelicus, was the...

Pope Pius XII called Pastor Angelicus, was the most Marian Pope in Church history. Bäumer, Marienlexikon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Pope Pius XII made a disturbing observation in 1946, when he stated the following: “the sin of the century is the loss of the sense of sin” (Pope Pius XII, Radio Message to the U.S. National Catechetical Congress in Boston, October 26, 1946). Few, over 50, who continue to live in this age would argue with that observation. Who among us can say they are unaware of a new attitude, which places blame on others for faults that they, themselves, commit? Nor are we blind to the prevailing attitude that says ‘if something is legal, it is also moral’ or ‘if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it cannot be a serious sin’. Therefore, the emptying of the confessionals in our Catholic Churches is symptomatic of this new “sin,” of which our late Pope Pius XII speaks. It seems as though a tremendous flock has been led astray by the wolves that roam among us.

On December 2, 1984, almost 38 years after Pope Pius XII’s statement, Pope John Paul II echoed his remarks in an ecclesial pronouncement, RECONCILIATIO ET PAENITENTIA. Within this document our Pope offers some very insightful reasons as to why and how such a dreadful situation might have come about.

First, he notes that secularism, which advocates a humanism totally devoid of God, reduces our sense of sin. It diminishes in importance our true understanding of sin as an offense against God while making a vain attempt to understand sin as a mere offense against humanity.

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II then cites the errors commonly made when evaluating the findings in the human sciences, especially in psychology and sociology. In psychology, there is great concern to avoid the feelings of guilt or the imposing of limitations to an individual’s freedom. This often leads to a refusal for individuals to ever admit a shortcoming or fault. In sociology, environmental and historical conditioning is viewed as an insurmountable influence upon the human person. Such a view reduces mans responsibility to such an extent that he may not even acknowledge his ability to perform a truly human act nor an ability to commit sin.

Next he speaks of historic relativism. This may take the form of an ethical system, which relativizes the moral norm, and denies its absolute and unconditional value. In other words it is a system of thinking which denies that there can be fundamentally sinful acts independent of the circumstances surrounding them. In time, this has fostered a notion of sin that has almost reached the point of saying that, ‘although sin exists, no one knows who commits it.’ Simply, it is much like saying that morality changes with the times and cultures in which we live and therefore can’t be judged outside of that particular culture’s ethical system and history.

Finally, sin is now being identified with a morbid feeling of guilt or with the mere transgression of legal norms and precepts. This notion has been propagated primarily by education, the media and within the family and has created a generation of children who no longer recognize the need to be mindful of transgressing the objective morality, nor the cognizance of whom has been offended.

With the above observations, it seems that the Pope has given us valuable insights in how this ‘sin of the century’ can be stopped and set aright once again. First we must convince ourselves and teach our children that sin is always an offense against God, even when we sin against other human beings. We must take full responsibility of our actions and realize that we have freewill. We must also recognize that moral truth is objective and not subjective: it is not relative to cultures and times. Lastly, we must make efforts to have these truths taught once again in our schools and reflected in the media as well as in the family.

St. John can also give us some excellent advice on the subject of sin: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us,” (1 John 1:8-10).

The French poet, Victor Hugo, once stated that, “Conscience is God present in man.” Let us then have a good conscience and make use of God’s Sacrament of Reconciliation.