What Will Our Resurrected Bodies Be Like?

St Paul writes to the Philippians of the glory that our currently lowly bodies will one day enjoy:

He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified Body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. (Phil 3:19)

I once spoke with an older woman who wasn’t all that pleased to hear that her body was going to rise and be joined again to her soul: “Oh, Father, you don’t mean this old decrepit body?! If this body has to rise I am hoping for an improved model!”

Read more via Archdiocese of Washington.

RORATE CÆLI: Terminology: is “Extraordinary Form” an acceptable name? And is it the official name?

Terminology: is “Extraordinary Form” an acceptable name? And is it the official name?.

On the Culture : The Pew Survey’s Most Sobering Result – Catholic Culture

pedra sepulcral cristã das catacumbas de Domit...

On the Culture : The Pew Survey’s Most Sobering Result – Catholic Culture.

Not only are the results of this survey shameful but they are an indictment that the Church has done a very poor job in catechizing their flocks. They had better get busy before we lose religious liberty completely.

RORATE CÆLI: The hardest mortification: that of one’s own judgment

St Francis de Sales

St Francis de Sales

RORATE CÆLI: The hardest mortification: that of one’s own judgment.

An article by St. Francis de Sales that plays into the conversations that have been taking place on my friend Jessica’s website: All Along the Watchtower. This shows the difficulty in changing peoples minds and judgment on things.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: Another Relevant Essay



by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Every now and then people come across a counterfeit bill, but I never knew anyone who, because of it, argued that the United States currency was worthless. Astronomers have seen spots on the sun, but I have yet to hear of one who denied that the sun is the light of the world. But I know many who pick out the failings and sins of a few Catholics and then say: “But, my dear, they don’t tell you everything! The Church is really the work of the devil.”

This extreme point of view starts with a fact: There are scandals. For example, some Catholic husbands and wives are unfaithful; some Catholic politicians are more crooked than those who have no religion; some Catholic boys steal; some Catholic girls worship the same saints as pagan girls: movie heroes or band leaders; some Catholic industrialists are selfish and hardhearted and totally indifferent to the rights of workers; some Catholic labor leaders are more interested in keeping their leadership by annual strikes than in cooperating for social justice. Then in the Papacy, there is Alexander VI.

What does all this prove, but that Our Dear Lord has espoused humanity as it is, rather than as we would like it to be! He never expected His Mystical Body the Church to be without scandals because He Himself was the first scandal. It was a terrible scandal for those who knew Him to be God to see Him crucified and go down to seeming defeat, at the moment His enemies challenged Him to prove His Divinity by coming down from the Cross. No wonder He had to beg His followers not to be scandalized by Him. If the human nature of Our Lord could suffer physical defeat and be a scandal, why should there not be scandals in Our Lord’s Mystical Body made up of poor mortals such as we? If He permitted thirst, pain and a death sentence to affect His Physical Body, why should He not permit mystical and moral weaknesses such as loss of faith, sin, scandals, heresies, schisms, and sacrileges to affect His Mystical Body? When these things do happen, it does not prove that the Mystical Body the Church is not Divine in its inmost nature, any more than the Crucifixion of Our Lord proved He is not Divine. Because our hands are dirty, the whole body is not polluted. The scandals of the Mystical Body the Church no more destroy its substantial holiness than the Crucifixion destroyed the substantial wholeness of Christ’s Physical Body. The Old Testament prophecy fulfilled on Calvary was that not a bone of His Body would be broken. His flesh would hang like purple rags about Him, wounds like poor dumb mouths would speak their pain with blood, pierced hands and feet would open up torrents of redemptive life – but His substance, his bones, they would be sound. So with His Mystical Body. Not a bone of it shall ever be broken; the substance of Her doctrines will always be pure, though the flesh of some of her doctors fail; the substance of Her discipline will be sound, though the passion of some of her disciples rebel; the substance of Her faith will always be Divine though the flesh of some of her faithful will be so carnal. Her wounds will never be mortal, for Her Soul is Holy and Immortal, with the Immortality of Love Divine that came to Her Body on the Day of Pentecost as tongues of living fire.

Coming to one of the major scandals, let it be asked: “How could a wicked man like Alexander VI be the infallible Vicar of Christ and head of His Mystical Body the Church?” For an answer, go to the Gospel text where Our Lord changes the name of Simon to Rock, and then made Him the Rock on which He built what He called “My Church.” Our Lord on that very occasion made a distinction very few ever think of: He distinguished between infallibility or immunity from error, and impeccability or immunity from sin. Infallibility is inability to teach what is wrong; impeccability is inability to do wrong. Our Lord made the Rock infallible, but not impeccable.

Immediately after assuring Peter that he had the keys of Heaven and authority to bind and loose, Our Blessed Lord tells His Apostles that He “must go up to Jerusalem,” and “must be put to death” (Matthew 16:21). Poor, weak, human Peter, proud of his authority as the Rock draws Our Lord to his side, and begins rebuking Him, saying: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to You” (Matthew 16:22). On hearing these words Our Lord “turned around and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an obstacle to Me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23).

A moment before Peter was called the Rock; now he is called Satan! In so many words Our Lord was telling him: “As a Rock upon which I build My Church, whenever you speak with the assistance of Heaven, you shall be preserved from error; but as Simon, son of Jonah, as a man, you are so frail, so carnal, so apt to be sinful, that you can become even like unto Satan. In your office you, as Peter, are infallible; but as man, Simon, you are peccable. The Power you have as Peter is My Making; the want of morals you have as Simon, is of your making.” Is this distinction between a person and his function hard to grasp? If a policeman directing traffic held up his hand and ordered you to stop, you would do so, even though you knew he beat his wife. And why? Because you make a distinction between his function as a representative of law and his person. I am sure that Our Lord permitted the fall of Peter immediately after the gift of Primacy to remind him and all his successors that infallibility would belong necessarily to his office, but virtue would have to be acquired by his own striving with the help of God’s grace. Whether the voice be sweet, or dull and grating, whether it be spoken with an accent or a flaw in grammar, we consider not the tone but the message. “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening” (I Samuel 3:9).

It is generally safe to say that those who know everything about the few bad successors of Peter, know nothing at all about the very many good ones. The wickedness of one man in authority is allowed to obscure a million saints. How many who dwell on the Vicars of Christ during the brief period of the Renaissance, ever dwell on their history for the other 1900 years? How many of those who exploit the bad few ever admit that of the first thirty-three successors of Peter, thirty were martyrs for their Faith, and the other three exiled for it? How many of those who concentrate on the bad example of a few know, or ever admit, that of the two hundred and sixty-one successors of St. Peter, eighty-three have been canonized for their heroic virtue, and that over fifty were chosen over the protest of their own unworthiness for such a high office, and that few can match in humility, wisdom and learning our present Holy Father, Pius XII? Anyone who attacks such a long line of martyrs, saints, and scholars must be certain of his own sinlessness to lay his hand on the few who revealed the human side of their office. If the revilers themselves are holy, pure and undefiled, let them pick up their stones. Our Lord said that it is the privilege only of those who are without sin to cast the first stone. But if they are not without sin, then let them leave the judgment to God. If they are without sin, they belong to a different race from you and me, for from deep down in our hearts a cry comes to our lips: “Be merciful to me a sinner.”

Turning to the scandal of bad Catholics, it must be remembered that Our Lord no more expected to have every member of His Church perfect than He expected to have perfect Apostles. That is why He said that on the last day He would throw the bad fish out of His net. Some Catholics may be bad, but that does not prove the Mystical Body is wicked, any more than because a few Americans who sell themselves to Russia, proves that America is a race of traitors. Our Faith increases responsibility, but it does not force obedience; it increases blame but it does not prevent sin. If some Catholics are bad, it is not because they are members of Christ’s Mystical Body, but rather because they are not living up to its Lights and Grace.

The psychology of those who are scandalized as bad Catholics is interesting. It means that they expected something better; if people who themselves are wicked, rejoice in the scandal, it is because they think they have greater authority for sinning than anyone else who fell. One never hears it said: “He is a bad Relativist,” or he is a “scandalous Humanist” or an “adulterous Ethicist,” because they never really expected anything better from them in the beginning. The horror that one feels at those who fall, is the measure of the height of virtue to which they expected to stand. We are grateful for the compliment of their being scandalized at our weak members, and for being intolerant with us about the very things they tolerate in others. They know that there are no other new lights possible if the sun fails! It is intellectually stultifying and morally easy to be a Communist; it is intellectually refreshing and morally hard to be a Catholic.

No ideal is more difficult of attainment. When anyone falls away from a Sun Cult he never has very far to tumble. But when a Catholic falls away, he is apt to be far worse than anyone else. The greater the height from which he falls, the greater the splash. “The corruption of the best is the worst.” No flowers smell worse than the rotted lily.

May we ask those who are scandalized with the failings of the Church, how perfect the Church would have to be before they would become incorporated into it as a living cell? If it were as perfect as they wanted it to be, do they realize that there would be no room for them? Just suppose for a moment, that Christ’s Mystical Body had no moral weaknesses; suppose that no monk ever broke his priestly vows to marry a nun and start a new religion – and this really happened; suppose that no bishop was ever just a business administrator and no priest ever disedifying and no monk ever fat, and no sister ever cross to children, and sanctity was as automatic as a parking meter; and suppose no one ever gave scandal to those who are on the outside to justify the way they were living. Would such a Church be the kind that Our Lord envisaged Who told us that cockle would be sowed with wheat, and that some of the children of the Kingdom would be cast out? If the Mystical Body were as perfect as the scandalized would have it, would not Her very perfection accuse and condemn us who are not saintly? Too high an ideal often repels rather than attracts. She would be so saintly that She would no longer allure ordinary mortals. She might even appear to the struggling souls as terribly Puritan, easily scandalized at our failings, and might even shrink from having Her garments touched by sinners like ourselves. Gone then would be the hope for those who are unholy or in sin. NO! The Mystical Body with none but perfect members would be a stumbling block. Then, instead of us being scandalized by Her, She would be scandalized by us, which would be far worse.

If the life of the Mystical Body had been one triumphant, blazing transfiguration on a mountain top, apart from the woes and ills of man, She would never have been the comforter of the afflicted and the refuge of sinners. She has been called like Her Divine Head, to be a redemptress, lifting men from the shadows of sin to be the tabernacles of grace where saints are made. She is not a far-off, abstract idea, but a Mother, and though She has been stained with dust in Her long journey through the centuries, and though some of her children have nailed Her Body and saddened Her Soul, yet there is joy in her Heart because of the children She has nourished; there is gladness in Her eyes, because of the faith She has preserved; there is understanding in Her soul, for She has understood the frailty of our flesh, and knows how to nourish it back to life. And in these qualities one divines the reason why Our Lord chose, not a saintly man like John, but a weak, fallen man like Peter as His First Vicar, in order that through his weakness he, and the Church of which he is the head, might sympathize with the weakness of his brethren, be their apostle of mercy and, in the truest sense of the term, the vicar of the Savior and the Redeemer of the world, Who came not to save the just but me, a sinner.

Our Lord often punishes His Mystical Body from time to time, by permitting some of the members or cells of that Body to separate themselves from it, but He punishes them still more. On the whole the world is right! We Catholics are not all we ought to be! The world is the way it is, because we Catholics are the way we are. Our Lord said: “If salt loses its taste, what is there left to give taste to it?” (Matthew 5:13). It is not the world we have failed, but Christ, and in failing Christ, we failed the world. But we beg those of you who see our failings to remember how hard it is for us to be everything Our Lord wants us to be. It is so easy to be a Democrat or a Republican or a “Cosmic Unifier,” but it is very hard to be a Catholic! Judge us not by our failings, as you judge not art by the feeble scribbling of a child. Look rather to our artistic masterpieces: the saints, and there are countless armies of them in the world. We have hurt you by our failings, and we beg your pardon, but we hurt Our Dear Lord more, and we shall do penance.

There are many of you who are scandalized by us, who, if you had the same Infallible Truth to guide you, the same Divine Eucharist to nourish you daily, would be a thousand times better than we are. We ought to be better than we are. And here I touch on the only unhappiness that comes to us as Catholics, and believe me, it is very real! We are unhappy because we are not saints. Will you therefore pray for us? Thanks!

God love you!

The SSPX Riddle

English: SSPX Mass in St. Jude's Church, Phila...

English: SSPX Mass in St. Jude’s Church

When the SSPX (Society of St. Pius X) became separated from the Post Conciliar Church, it was a scandal that has continued to reverberate until today. In one sense I understand the excommunication because of the illicit installation and consecration of new bishops without papal approval. On the other hand I have much sympathy for the position of the group as a whole. The excommunication has been lifted by the Pope recently as a peace offering for a possible resolution to this schism.

The Second Vatican Council was a pastoral council that evaluated where the Church wanted to go from here, the plans and practices that would be applied to get us there etc. It did not issue any new teaching on faith or morals; that is they did not add to or subtract from the de fide teachings of Catholicism.

The Council was extremely divided with Cardinal Ottaviani, Bishop Marcel Lefebvre and many supporters who were appalled at some of the changes being proposed as well as the inclusion of non-Catholic (Protestant) advisors invited to make suggestions. At one point Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani muttered to Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini (later Pope Paul VI): “I pray to God that I may die before the end of the Council—in that way I can die a Catholic.” The seriousness of their disagreements is obvious from the above quote.

On the other side of the aisle we had figures like Karl Rahner, Hans Kung and others, often accused of being modernists (a named Heresy of the Faith) who fought for more radical and novel changes. As things ended up, this group won out in much of what was proposed, though the Holy Spirit did preserve the teachings of our de fide teachings. The documents themselves must be read as orthodox suggestions for improving how the Church might go forth in the modern world and be more relevant in the rapid changes taking place. Therefore a right sense of the documents is entirely dependent on the reader to interpret these documents according to our tradition and the defined truths of the Church. After all, there was a time when the Church was the biggest influence on world culture and the tables began to be reversed where modern secular thought was and still is, to a great degree, a major influence upon the Church. We had lost the first skirmishes for the moral development of our changing societies. A New Evangelization will obviously be needed if we are to win the war.

A new Mass was introduced to the Council by Msgr. Annibale Bugnini, the architect of the Mass, who remains a very controversial figure to this day. He was later accused of being a Freemason though definitive proof was never released by the Church. Pope Paul the VI effectively put him in exile for his final years by giving him a post in Iran. However, this Novus Ordo Mass is now the preferred Mass of the Church.

The introduction of this Mass to the world caused many priests and religious to leave the Church as well as many ordinary, obedient Catholics who found the changes unbearable (an estimated 6 million in the U.S. in total). Nuns and priests began removing their habits and clerical clothing and dressing as ordinary laymen. It was at this time that Bishop Marcel Lefebvre began his journey that eventually got him and his group of followers excommunicated from the Church.

It is true that the modernists and progressives of the Church, used the argument “in the Spirit of Vatican II” to introduce far more changes to the Mass than what was originally intended. Abuses of the GIRM (General Instruction for the Roman Missal) were rampant. To this day we still see the footprints of their “novel” ideas all over most celebrations of the Novus Ordo Mass. I only bring this up to set-up the confusion among the faithful and what all of this uncertainty conjures up in the minds of us who have watched this storm approach and then engulf us from the close of the Council. Some being witnesses, as it were, to the chaos which, though greatly diminished, exists right through to our day. Some valiant attempts are being made to right the situations and our last 2 Popes have been steadfast captains of the Bark of Peter during this turbulent storm.

Back now to the dilemma in evaluating the situation with the SSPX:

So here’s the dilemma many ordinary people have when they look at the fruits of the New Mass and the Post Conciliar Church as opposed to that of the flock of the SSPX: Note I speak of the flock because we are now into the second generation of SSPX leadership. I am more interested in looking at their practice and culture and comparing them to the flock that have remained in the Bark of Peter as they ought.

On one hand those who stayed within the Post Conciliar Church abiding by all the changes were faced with a diminishing clergy, religious, and laity who have become extremely lax; some were simply being obedient to any and all changes, good or bad (novelty or not), when they were introduced by their parish priests. By 1992 only 30% of the Novus Ordo laity believed in transubstantiation. See my footnote on a recent post, here.

On the other hand, the SSPX, who were now in schism with the Church, has gained priests and religious, have been schooled in solid theology and their laity hold steadfast to all the de fide teachings of the Church. Their laity, in unison, would respond almost 100% in affirming the Catholic doctrine on transubstantiation. In this manner, one cannot equate their schism as being anything like that of Martin Luther whose Protestant heresy created a brand new religion with new teachings: rejecting nearly all of our de fide teachings.

By contrast, the SSPX looks and feels more like a small Catholic island community that was cut off from the rest of Catholicism for these past 47 years.

So for their acts of disobedience and rejection of new Catholic practices (which they felt undermined the de fide teachings of the Church), the SSPX is still viewed with great disdain among many of today’s Catholics and Catholic clergy. However, it sometimes appears ironic to anyone who might compare their acts of disobedience to the disobedience of many within the Novus Ordo, Post Conciliar Church who remain ‘Catholics in good standing.’

To this point, think of the scandalous behavior of some of our priests and Bishops in the abuse scandals; some of whom are still operating without sanction. Think of the influx of wild eyed theologians and scripture scholars who plagued us with their novel ideas, such as, Christ was not resurrected but his bones were eaten by dogs, or that Christ did not say most of things attributed to Him in scripture. They still wear their Roman collars and are interviewed on television as Catholic experts. Think of some of the most influential public political figures such as Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden who scandalously receive Holy Communion while fighting tooth and nail to promote abortion at every chance they get. They too are considered by Washington’s Cardinal Wuerl (an otherwise very traditional Bishop in America) as ‘Catholics in good standing;’ worthy to receive the Eucharist even though they bring unprecedented scandal on the Church. The consequence of his failure to deny or better yet excommunicate them tells the faithful layman that they need not agree with any de fide teaching of the Church which they might disagree with; after all, the prelates will surely give them a ‘wink and a nod’ and allow them to continue to scandalize the remaining faithful.

With this going on, is there any wonder that the laity of the Novus Ordo Church defies the Church teachings on contraception in overwhelmingly large numbers? Many have been led into apostasy or even heresy yet nothing is done. Do those in the SSPX churches act the same? It is doubtful from those whom I have met, though there is no poll that I have found to prove it.

In the same vein, the members of the Novus Ordo Church voted overwhelmingly in the last election for an avowed Socialist and the most pro-abortion presidential candidate this country has ever known. Again, I have no way to prove it, but I would say that the well educated laity of the SSPX church knows the Catholic teachings concerning socialism and abortion. The Church has repeatedly decried socialist forms of government and has spent an enormous amount of energy explaining the seriousness of the sin of abortion. John Paul II made it clear that to vote for a pro-abortion candidate was morally wrong when and if there is a pro-life candidate that could be voted for. I would wager than the SSPX members voted more in line with our Pope’s wishes than did the ‘Catholics in good standing.’

So we have the SSPX schismatic Church doing things and living in ways that we only wish our Post Conciliar Church would mimic. Meanwhile, we have a post conciliar Church getting involved in scandal almost everywhere we look. The latest being the LCWR scandal of the modernist nuns. I guess the Vatican has finally decided to discipline or sanction them.

The obvious questions for those of us who are still faithful to the Magisterium are: Why did it take so long to look into these modernist nuns? Why didn’t the Superiors of the various Orders stop this from happening? And why didn’t the Bishops of the diocese’s put an end to such behavior before now? Who is funding them? After all this is not a new problem; it has been going on for nearly 40 years now. Where have they been?

But we constantly lay blame on the SSPX (rightly so for their disobedience to the Pope). However, their followers are among the most faithful Catholics we have seen when it comes to abiding by the dogmatic teachings of the Church and avoiding doctrinal scandal. It is almost bazaar in its very nature. On one hand we have a schismatic group living the Catholic life and on the other we have the official Catholic flock that is rife with people who are living in apostasy. The choice is not that enticing.

Some hate the idea of the SSPX and are angry that the Pope wants to have them reconcile with the Church. Yet they could teach the rest of us what a truly Holy Mass looks like: something the Novus Ordo can do with much effort but still has a very hard time imitating. The SSPX can also teach us how to catechize our flock; something the Novus Ordo church is struggling with and must succeed in doing if we are ever going to reach our goals of a New Evangelization.

I think Pope Benedict the XVI knows that the reform of the reform which he desires is absolutely necessary. I also think that he is aware that he will need the help from the religious fraternities like the FSSP (Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter) and the SSPX in order to bring this revitalization about. These 2 groups are both very strong in the area of faithful adherence to the dogmatic teachings of the Church.

Therefore, I think we, as laymen, must keep an open mind about this era of our Catholic history. We are far too much invested in the present turmoil to be very good judges of this moment in time. It is impossible to escape our turbulent time in order to examine the outcome from afar without emotional, intellectual and doctrinal prejudice. What the future holds for the Church and the schismatic SSPX will just have to work itself out by the leaders of the SSPX and the Church.

For myself, I am going to leave this dilemma to Christ and His Holy Church and to the movement of His Holy Spirit. I have faith that our Holy Father and the Magisterium will, in the end, set the Bark of Peter aright.

My opinion again is that the rest of us need to take a deep breath and say, ‘from my perspective I admit that I am very short sighted.” Some may think me a rebel in taking a neutral stance but I refuse to take sides in this one though I will always defend defined teachings and reverent Masses.

I am personally praying for reunification and a real renewal of the Church; not more scandal and abuse like we’ve seen during these past 47 years. I pray for our Pope and His intentions and the revitalization of Holy Mother Church.

There are many of you who might disagree with me on the best way to renew the Church. I would love to know where you stand on these issues and how you might view the present dilemma with the SSPX.

False Ecumenism

Ecumenical Gathering

Ecumenism has as its goal, in fact it has as its actual definition, the aim of unity among all Christian churches throughout the world. It is a laudable goal for Christianity to end this disunity among Christians; for it is scandalous to Christ and to His prayer for unity. So it is a rightful goal of all Christians to work diligently for the unity that Christ wanted for His Church. To that end many church leaders have embarked on this goal through dialog with one another to see if we can one day reunite as one faith.

For the Catholic, the Vatican II document, Unitatis Redintegratio (commonly referred to as the Decree on Ecumenism) had as its aim to open up this dialog with those who have parted from the Church, especially the major Protestant denominations. The document however makes it clear that we cannot give up the purity of our doctrinal teachings just to arrive at a false appearance of peace though we are not in agreement on matters of doctrine. The following quote from the document makes that clear: “Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism (a social temper, condition or a state of public opinion for making peace), in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.” __ Decree on Ecumenism(Unitatis Redintegratio), Chapter II, 11

So the above is the Church’s intent for a genuine attempt at ecumenism and these guidelines insure that we do not change our de fide[1] teachings simply to gain a form of unity that would be, in reality, no unity at all. Peace between the denominations, though the goal or end of ecumenism, cannot make use of a means to that goal which denies the essential teachings of the faith. The ends, though admirable, never justifies the means if they are not of themselves in keeping with the truth.

I was recently made aware of some progress in the ecumenical talks between some of the protestant denominations. Much work had been done emphasize what we had in common rather than what we held as differences. One area that has excited some was the movement of some protestants to a position of acceptance of the Catholic Pope as a head of Christian leadership, however the Pope would be more of a figurehead with no real authority. This information seemed to seemed to delivered to me as a positive sign and first step toward an eventual reunification. Another sticking point, however, was that the other faiths would require that we rescind our anathema[2] for those who didn’t hold to the defined dogmas of our faith, especially those that condemned the protestant position as heretical and therefore opposed to the faith.

My initial question to his announcement was to ask, how the Catholic Church could reverse a solemn definition made in a Dogmatic Council which was held by the Bishops in union with the Pope? It was indicated that it might take another Council. However, the Catholic Church has never in any Council overturned a dogmatic teaching by another Council. If they did it would nullify a valid Council of the Church and overturn our traditional belief that the Holy Spirit guides and prevents such Councils from error. The other thought was the Pope could remove the anathema.

That type of thinking to me is what is wrong with many who get involved in the new evangelization and why so many critics call it an ecumenism of syncretism.[3] It has violated the principles cited above from Vatican II and is nothing more than an accommodation for peace between denominations facilitated by abandoning essential, traditional and definitively held teachings of the Catholic Church. I don’t think any ecuminism has a chance of getting Rome to ratify such demands on the part of the protestant denominations. If they did, it would spell the end of the Catholic Church as we now know it. The Church could no longer call Herself indefectible when relating to Her teachings on faith and morals. We will have abandoned the foundational principles of our faith to make friends and to mediate a new belief that is conciliatory and a collaborative effort by different faiths. It would be a watered-down faith that could no longer call itself the True Church.

My other thoughts are these:

First, if the Pope is just a figurehead without any power, how can we consider that this in any way is an agreement between different faiths and ours? Or is the pastor implying that they wouldn’t mind changing the defined role of the Pope to just a figurehead without the special graces granted Him by Christ? That would deny solemnly defined teaching.

Secondly, if we did remove the anathemas for this or any other held belief, then what is the need for any definitive teaching? The condemnation of an anathema is automatic even if not stated. If someone holds to a heresy, then they are ipso facto[4] excommunicated simply by holding to the heresy itself. It is the most common form of excommunication. Therefore if I, as an Anglican, sign some document that says that we are in agreement on matters of the Pope yet I do not agree with the de fide teaching of the Church, we are back where we started. I would be excommunicated ipso facto and we would no longer share in a communion of belief: not that we did anyway because the Pope is more than a simple figurehead.

Now maybe I misunderstood the positions that we are now calling a hopeful sign in this movement. However, if what was related to me is true, it would be a scandalous departure from the intent of ecumenism as put forth by the Council Fathers at Vatican II. I pray that I did not understand this apparant movement as intended. Perhaps it was just showing that inch by inch protestants are moving toward eventually accepting the Catholic positions.

God help us if this is the outcome we are looking for as an end, however. If so, this kind of dialog would be nothing more that the false irenicism warned against and would seem to make our ecumenical efforts nothing more than a false ecumenism.

[1] Literally ‘of the Faith’: it is a theological term used to express an essential teaching of the Church that cannot be changed.

[2] Condemnation, as in a heresy, which represents a serious breach of faith and is worthy of excommunication.

[3] The combining of different (often contradictory) beliefs, while melding beliefs or practices from various schools of thought.

[4] By the very fact itself.

The Whole World is Arian

It was concerning the Church Council of Constantinople in 359 A.D. that St. Jerome wrote, the whole world groaned and marveled to find itself Arian“. So St. Athanasius found himself exiled several times by the Church only to be released again. He seemed to be the only one standing between the Arian Heresy and the True Church that he had entered.

Imagine that. Catholic priests and bishops alike were taken in by the heresy of Arianism and yet the Church survives to this day largely because of the steadfast few whom, with the grace of God, stood their ground against a tidal wave of Arian thought that had literally swept the world. It is a lesson of why we should be careful to withhold judgment when the world cries in a unified voice that a person is in violation of Church belief; for it is often the case that we get swept up in the common thinking without prayerfully and patiently awaiting the outcome of the evidence. As it turns out, Athanasius became a Saint of the Church and his accusers are all but lost to history.

I often think of this when I look about at the secularism and modernist tendencies of the world and wonder at the swiftness of the changes that have occurred within our modestly Christian culture: especially in regards to Europe and the Americas. We may not know who our St. Athanasius is for our age but I am always sure that he exists with other fine Catholic men and women to wage war against secularism and modernism in the world and within our Church. We hold to our belief that “the gates of hell will not prevail” against Christ’s Church.

I find that the predominant attitude of people within the Church is to hold positions, which are similar in many respects to our national ideological attitude, which says that disasters of enormous societal upheaval can never happen here. As Americans we would never accept Marxism or Communism but we allow small movements toward Socialism without any thought of this being a movement toward these very ideologies: the “it could never happen here” syndrome is strong within the American psyche.

Likewise, I think we are being naïve, if not arrogant, to think that our Church is immune from the heresies that are prevalent in our day. Lets never forget that heresies have abounded continuously since the inception of the Church. True, “the gates of hell will not prevail” but will there be any faith left on earth when the Son of Man returns? That, I’m afraid, is a totally different question and is completely dependant upon our vigilance and stewardship of the treasury that the Church faithfully guards. God never told us it would be easy to be a member of His Church: to take up the standard of Christ requires great courage and a willingness to be humbled and ridiculed for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ.

If we are members of the Mystical Body will we not have to endure what He Himself endured? For each heresy, apostasy and schism are like fresh wounds delivered to the back of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Body of His Church. Do we individually stand firm with Athanasius and deflect the blows that might bring the Church to its knees or do we sit idly by awaiting for divine intervention; the metaphorical whip being taken from the hand of the oppressor?

When I became Catholic, no such ideas even entered my mind. It is an alien concept for a former Protestant. Over time, I see what a razor’s edge it is that we must walk without being disobedient to the Church or disobedient to Her Successors. All our actions must be done in filial love and great charity for the Glory of God. It is always possible to do so, but not without ruffling a few feathers along the way. To object to things that are commonly held, though not taught by the Church, is to receive a crown of thorns and perhaps be subjected to scorn from many. To disagree with the leadership concerning a particular religious practice or discipline, though it is lawful and laudable to do so, is a difficult path to follow. But when the practice or laxness of certain rules and practices put in jeopardy the salvation of souls (the first principle of the Church’s mission), it is equivalent to taking up one’s cross; for we must obey even imprudent practices regardless of our opinion as to whether it is prudent or not.

We are not unlike monks who must obey their superiors, except in matters of doctrinal or moral impropriety. As members of the Church we too owe this obedience. However, unlike the religious, we have a right, given us by the Church Herself, to voice our opposition to that which we find injurious to our faith. I cautiously add a note that we have no right whatsoever to challenge the Church in matters of moral or doctrinal teaching; for that is our faith that must be held without reservation. But legitimate disagreement is not unlike the expression of “holy anger” that Christ Himself displayed when he found his people profaning the House of God. We are entitled to that expression of disagreement by Canon Law; something I wouldn’t have even thought of as a Protestant.

We see it in St. Catherine of Siena as she travels to France, to oppose the decision that the Pope and the entire Magisterium made to abandon Rome. And guess who won that battle? St. Catherine knew what they did was poor practice and God gave her the Grace to persuade the hierarchy of the Church to return to Rome. This singular act of a brave and courageous woman resulted in the preservation of the Vatican to this day. It is always a marvel to see how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

It is good to know that we are called to be watchful as members of the Mystical Body. We are not just casual observers of the Body but we are living members of that Body; unless, of course, we turn our face from God by serious unrepentant sin. We have a personal stake in the health of the Mystical Body of Christ and a stake in its productivity in this world. If the Body is Holy then we too must strive to be Holy and therefore must reject profanation of any practice of the Church though it is judged by the rightful superiors to be acceptable practice; St. Catherine knew this as did St. Athanasius. Between what is acceptable and what is Holy lies a wide gap of razor sharp stumbling stones that must be perilously traversed without destroying either our obligation to obedience or our prayerful belief that we may have strayed from the path that the Church is founded upon; the leading of souls to everlasting life. Has the yoke become too heavy or our prelates sometimes lording their power over the faithful: things about which our Lord warned his apostles to be very cautious? In our 2,000 years I think the Church has done a very good job of addressing this. That said, it is still a challenge that we Catholics have had to deal with from the beginning and will not stop until the Parousia.

On a practical level, I will quickly admit that I struggle with the changes to the Mass known as the Novus Ordo. However, the Church did not effect many of the changes that I oppose so very much. They were done, not in concert with the bishops and the pope (as evident in the documents of Vatican II) but in individual parishes and by Episcopal fiat. From there the poison spread from diocese to diocese. The results were obvious: altar rails being torn down, beautiful art replaced by minimalistic modern monstrosities, angelic hymns abandoned for the clatter of drums and strumming guitars, reception of the Eucharist in the hand (as opposed by the bishops and our last 2 popes), and many other novelties that make our Church look more like our protestant counterparts than the protestant churches I previously attended before becoming Catholic. It’s a challenge, both mentally and spiritually. I fell in love with a Church that continually disappoints me and yet I love Her more now than the day I joined Her. It seems like an oxymoron to those who are not Catholic but Catholics understand that spiritual warfare occurs at every level of our lives, even in our most holy spaces, not just in the world and we are not shocked or dissuaded by these setbacks. It only reinforces our understanding that the Gates of Hell desires the True Church and Satan’s attacks are relentless; especially on the holiest members of our Church. We pray for them because we know that Satan desires to “sift them as wheat.”

Now the dictum lex orandi, lex credendi has been guiding the Church for years: the law of prayer is the law of belief. So we must request that our parish priests give us prayer that is proper to the Church (as guaranteed by our Church). Our prayer needs be holy and befitting to the Mystical Body of Christ. Proper and reverent liturgies afford us the ability to grow our faith and lead us to the holiness which we are individually called. It is a radical faith that the Church has called us to. We are not called to live a comfortable life of mediocrity in faith but to aspire to sainthood.

Catholicism is truly a radical call to change. The perspective of our true purpose and of our responsibility to the faith and the posterity of believers is challenged continually as we make our pilgrimage though this world. We constantly ask ourselves, “What am I being asked to do for the sake of Christ Crucified?” Don’t be surprised if the answer for some is crucifixion itself; either metaphorically or in actuality. The martyrs heard and obeyed the call and I only hope that I might find the courage that God might provide if such an occasion were to present itself to me. Notwithstanding, there are many different vocations in the Church: some more active and apologetic, some more prayerful and penitential etc.

Life as a Catholic is not simply the gathering for the Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday. We don’t just sing Kumbaya, receive the Eucharist and go home without being expected to live the Mystery of the Church every minute of every day. The Church expects us to change in extraordinary ways. How radical is it to be asked to die to self so that we might live in Him? We too make radical demands of ourselves: to accomplish what we are not capable of accomplishing without the lights provided us by divine help and mercy. We have answered a radical call to live a life of holiness and to strive in this life to be saints. That is what the Church demands we do.

I must always remind myself to be patient with those who seem to confront the practices of the Church and be slow to judge and pronounce their guilt: I may need more facts and pray on those facts before rendering a final judgment. At times it may take history to sort it out. Therefore, I might want to withhold judgment during my entire lifetime. It is prudent to do so, lest I find myself condemning the next Athanasius or Catherine of Sienna and ultimately opposing the guardians of our Faith in the work they were given to do.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality uses multimedia content. Appli...

“My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!” __ Charles Baudelaire, French Poet, 1864

The above quote about sums up what the enlightenment brought with it. When Satan is no longer real then sin is no longer real as our Pope some 80 years hence proclaimed: “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).

Now some 65 years later I think we are entering a new era of the enlightenment: the era where true reality does not exist. Virtual reality is now more believed and viewed than is the actual lives and events taking place in the real world. It seems we have a generation that might ask: “what is real?” It reminds me of when Pilate said to Christ: “what is truth?”

We wring our hands about the loss of moral values and the loss of patriotism in our country. But it seems that the whole world is living in a virtual reality; completely absorbed in their virtual friends, music, texting, videos, television, movies and the like. Is it that the technology just took us there or is it that we made such a mess of the real world that the virtual world is more appealing? When our young people who grew up with this technology are watched we will notice that they do not converse so much with one another. Instead that parallel play like developing children, each involved in their own self-absorbed interests. You’ll see a table of young (and sometimes older people as well) not conversing with one another but each either listening to their mp3 players, surfing the web, texting, watching movies or updating their Facebook pages with seemingly little or no interest in the reality of the moment.

I’m not sure how this bodes for mankind socially, economically, morally or developmentally. I only know that present reality is a must for those who seek Truth. They won’t find a virtual Truth or Good. In other words, you won’t find God within some alternate universe of 0’s and 1’s. The effect of the visual horror that is portrayed by so many video games, television shows and movies has blunted the reality of the horror that exists in the real world. They have become numb or indifferent to it and need only change the channel or, as I suspect, bring their virtual reality into the world as their base of reference.

I don’t know why things like last night’s shooting at the opening of the Batman movie occur. It seems impossible to deny, however, that the world has seen an uptick in the most horrible behavior imaginable: from Columbine to kids beating up and even killing innocent people for fun or to upload the crime to Youtube. For these folks, this is their moment of fame. This gives them purpose in life. It is a tragedy to say the least.

Obviously not all of our youth are affected to this degree, in fact, it is a small percentage. I only maintain that it is on the rise and that its growth is creating unforeseen problems, both mentally and physically. Many try to use the new mediums to reach the kids and give them better answers for life than they are presently finding and I praise them for it. I hope and pray that we start finding ways of reaching these people who are so self-absorbed and live and breathe virtual reality on a daily basis. Otherwise, how will they ever discover meaning and purpose of life? How can they find a successful path to the everlasting peace and joy to which we are each called?

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.