Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Exhortation To All Catholics

"Often read the divine Scriptures; yea, let holy reading be always in thy hand; study that which thou thyself must preach."

-St. Jerome

Sianara Sola Scriptura!

"Only scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
-2 Tim 3:16-17

Did you notice anything funny about that verse from 2 Timothy? Read it again.
If you are a Protestant, you probably won't think that anything is wrong with it.

However, if you are Catholic you will know that (contrary to what Protestants think) the beginning of the verse as found in the Holy Scriptures of God says "All" instead of "Only."

That's right, all scripture is inspired by God for teaching and reproof, but not Only scripture!

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter."
-2 Thessalonians 2:15

Reason #3,987,238 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

Priestesses in the Church by C.S. Lewis

"I should like balls infinitely better," said Caroline Bingley, "if they were carried on in a different manner ... It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day."

"Much more rational, I dare say," replied her brother, "but it would not be near so much like a Ball." We are told that the lady was silenced: yet it could be maintained that Jane Austen has not allowed Bingley to put forward the full strength of his position. He ought to have replied with a distinguo. In one sense, conversation is more rational, for conversation may exercise the reason alone, dancing does not. But there is nothing irrational in exercising other powers than our reason. On certain occasions and for certain purposes the real irrationality is with those who will not do so. The man who would try to break a horse or write a poem or beget a child by pure syllogizing would be an irrational man; though at the same time syllogizing is in itself a more rational activity than the activities demanded by these achievements. It is rational not to reason, or not to limit oneself to reason, in the wrong place; and the more rational a man is the better he knows this.

These remarks are not intended as a contribution to the criticism of Pride and Prejudice. They came into my head when I heard that the Church of England was being advised to declare women capable of Priests' Orders. I am, indeed, informed that such a proposal is very unlikely to be seriously considered by the authorities. To take such a revolutionary step at the present moment, to cut ourselves off from the Christian past and to widen the divisions between ourselves and other Churches by establishing an order of priestesses in our midst, would be an almost wanton degree of imprudence. And the Church of England herself would be torn in shreds by the operation. My concern with the proposal is of a more theoretical kind. The question involves something even deeper than a revolution in order.

I have every respect for those who wish women to be priestesses. I think they are sincere and pious and sensible people. Indeed, in a way they are too sensible. That is where my dissent from them resembles Bingley's dissent from his sister. I am tempted to say that the proposed arrangement would make us much more rational "but not near so much like a Church".

For at first sight all the rationality (in Caroline Bingley's sense) is on the side of the innovators. We are short of priests. We have discovered in one profession after another that women can do very well all sorts of things which were once supposed to be in the power of men alone. No one among those who dislike the proposal is maintaining that women are less capable than men of piety, zeal, learning and whatever else seems necessary for the pastoral office. What, then, except prejudice begotten by tradition, forbids us to draw on the huge reserves which could pour into the priesthood if women were here, as in so many other professions, put on the same footing as men? And against this flood of common sense, the opposers (many of them women) can produce at first nothing but an inarticulate distaste, a sense of discomfort which they themselves find it hard to analyse.

That this reaction does not spring from any contempt for women is, I think, plain from history. The Middle Ages carried their reverence for one Woman to a point at which the charge could be plausibly made that the Blessed Virgin became in their eyes almost "a fourth Person of the Trinity". But never, so far as I know, in all those ages was anything remotely resembling a sacerdotal office attributed to her. All salvation depends on the decision which she made in the words Ecce ancilla; she is united in nine months' inconceivable intimacy with the eternal Word; she stands at the foot of the cross. But she is absent both from the Last Supper and from the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost. Such is the record of Scripture. Nor can you daff it aside by saying that local and temporary conditions condemned women to silence and private life. There were female preachers. One man had four daughters who all "prophesied", i.e. preached. There were prophetesses even in Old Testament times. Prophetesses, not priestesses.

At this point the common sensible reformer is apt to ask why, if women can preach, they cannot do all the rest of a priest's work. This question deepens the discomfort of my side. We begin to feel that what really divides us from our opponents is a difference between the meaning which they and we give to the word "priest". The more they speak (and speak truly) about the competence of women in administration, their tact and sympathy as advisers, their national talent for "visiting", the more we feel that the central thing is being forgotten. To us a priest is primarily a representative, a double representative, who represents us to God and God to us. Our very eyes teach us this in church. Sometimes the priest turns his back on us and faces the East - he speaks to God for us: sometimes he faces us and speaks to us for God. We have no objection to a woman doing the first: the whole difficulty is about the second. But why? Why should a woman not in this sense represent God? Certainly not because she is necessarily, or even probably, less holy or less charitable or stupider than a man. In that sense she may be as "God-like" as a man; and a given women much more so than a given man. The sense in which she cannot represent God will perhaps be plainer if we look at the thing the other way round.

Suppose the reformer stops saying that a good woman may be like God and begins saying that God is like a good woman. Suppose he says that we might just as well pray to "Our Mother which art in heaven" as to "Our Father". Suppose he suggests that the Incarnation might just as well have taken a female as a male form, and the Second Person of the Trinity be as well called the Daughter as the Son. Suppose, finally, that the mystical marriage were reversed, that the Church were the Bridegroom and Christ the Bride. All this, as it seems to me, is involved in the claim that a woman can represent God as a priest does.

Now it is surely the case that if all these supposals were ever carried into effect we should be embarked on a different religion. Goddesses have, of course, been worshipped: many religions have had priestesses. But they are religions quite different in character from Christianity. Common sense, disregarding the discomfort, or even the horror, which the idea of turning all our theological language into the feminine gender arouses in most Christians, will ask "Why not? Since God is in fact not a biological being and has no sex, what can it matter whether we say He or She, Father or Mother, Son or Daughter?"

But Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favour of Christian priestesses but against Christianity. It is also surely based on a shallow view of imagery. Without drawing upon religion, we know from our poetical experience that image and apprehension cleave closer together than common sense is here prepared to admit; that a child who has been taught to pray to a Mother in Heaven would have a religious life radically different from that of a Christian child. And as image and apprehension are in an organic unity, so, for a Christian, are human body and human soul.

The innovators are really implying that sex is something superficial, irrelevant to the spiritual life. To say that men and women are equally eligible for a certain profession is to say that for the purposes of that profession their sex is irrelevant. We are, within that context, treating both as neuters.

As the State grows more like a hive or an ant-hill it needs an increasing number of workers who can be treated as neuters. This may be inevitable for our secular life. But in our Christian life we must return to reality. There we are not homogeneous units, but different and complementary organs of a mystical body. Lady Nunburnholme has claimed that the equality of men and women is a Christian principle. I do not remember the text in scripture nor the Fathers, nor Hooker, nor the Prayer Book which asserts it; but that is not here my point. The point is that unless "equal" means "interchangeable", equality makes nothing for the priesthood of women. And the kind of equality which implies that the equals are interchangeable (like counters or identical machines) is, among humans, a legal fiction. It may be a useful legal fiction. But in church we turn our back on fictions. One of the ends for which sex was created was to symbolize to us the hidden things of God. One of the functions of human marriage is to express the nature of the union between Christ and the Church. We have no authority to take the living and semitive figures which God has painted on the canvas of our nature and shift them about as if they were mere geometrical figures.

This is what common sense will call "mystical". Exactly. The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation. If that claim is false then we want not to make priestesses but to abolish priests. If it is true, then we should expect to find in the Church an element which unbelievers will call irrational and which believers will call supra-rational. There ought to be something in it opaque to our reason though not contrary to it - as the facts of sex and sense on the natural level are opaque. And that is the real issue. The Church of England can remain a church only if she retains this opaque element. If we abandon that, if we retain only what can be justified by standards of prudence and convenience at the bar of enlightened common sense, then we exchange revelation for that old wraith Natural Religion.

It is painful, being a man, to have to assert the privilege, or the burden, which Christianity lays upon my own sex. I am crushingly aware how inadequate most of us are, in our actual and historical individualities, to fill the place prepared for us. But it is an old saying in the army that you salute the uniform not the wearer. Only one wearing the masculine uniform can (provisionally, and till the Parousia) represent the Lord to the Church: for we are all, corporately and individually, feminine to Him. We men may often make very bad priests. That is because we are insufficiently masculine. It is no cure to call in those who are not masculine at all. A given man may make a very bad husband; you cannot mend matters by trying to reverse the roles. He may make a bad male partner in a dance. The cure for that is that men should more diligently attend dancing classes; not that the ballroom should henceforward ignore distinctions of sex and treat all dancers as neuter. That would, of course, be eminently sensible, civilized, and enlightened, but, once more, "not near so much like a Ball".

And this parallel between the Church and the Ball is not so fanciful as some would think. The Church ought to be more like a Ball than it is like a factory or a political party. Or, to speak more strictly, they are at the circumference and the Church at the Centre and the Ball comes in between. The factory and the political party are artificial creations - "a breath can make them as a breath has made". In them we are not dealing with human beings in their concrete entirety only with "hands" or voters. I am not of course using "artificial" in any derogatory sense. Such artifices are necessary: but because they are our artifices we are free to shuffle, scrap and experiment as we please. But the Ball exists to stylize something which is natural and which concerns human beings in their entirety - namely, courtship. We cannot shuffle or tamper so much. With the Church, we are farther in: for there we are dealing with male and female not merely as facts of nature but as the live and awful shadows of realities utterly beyond our control and largely beyond our direct knowledge. Or rather, we are not dealing with them but (as we shall soon learn if we meddle) they are dealing with us.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Professor Quotes

Here are some quotes from the professors of the three classes I had today:

"We do not fear the Truth. Please do not hesitate to put forth objections, because they will serve the common good!"
-Dr. Mark Miravalle

"Balthasar is not like a Big-Mac. You need to digest him slowly and intelligently."
-Dr. Regis Martin

"It used to be that Protestants mastered the art of the sermon. And why not? That's all they have!"
-Dr. Regis Martin

"Theological exegesis is not like a married bachelor. It is not an oxymoron."
-Dr. Scott Hahn

"Scripture is pointing us academically back to its own liturgical context."
-Dr. Scott Hahn

"Mystagogy is reality therapy!"
-Dr. Scott Hahn

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Discussion Continues

Here is the recent exchange between myself and a friend who is an Anglican priest on the issue of mortal and venial sins.
My responses will be in bold.

Hey Danny,
Thanks for your email. I don't see a system of penance in Scripture. (Basically, we are to repent and not do it again, like jesus tells in the woman in jn 8: "Go and sin no more!'") I would argue that the system of penance that you refer to evolved over time and was a development of the church, rather than something Jesus specifically commanded. I'm not saying that a system of penance is WRONG, per se, just that it was a product of the church.

That being said, I'm still not really a fan regarding the idea of "grading" sins. I've met many "Christians" (including loads of Catholics, but not exclusively Catholics) who belive that they are going to heaven because they are "good people." In other words, they really haven't committed any of the "big sins" (whatever those are), so they reason that they must be acceptable to God, as they are. Do you see my point? I think grading the sins actually ends up eroding the Scripture's emphasis upon grace. Tallying up mortal or venial sins does not make much sense to me, because, in the end, all of us are sinners who either accept God's grace or reject it. So, I still don't see how the distinction between mortal and venial sins would help me be a minister of grace.

Just because the exact word "penance" isn't in the Bible doesn't mean that the idea isn't in the Bible. For example, the word "Trinity" isn't in the Bible, but we profess belief in the Trinity today. Many things in the Church weren't defined until later due to the persecution they faced and the fact that they were busy being the Church!

The concept of penance goes hand in hand with confession, which all ties in with mortal and venial sins. It's all in the Bible. The Church didn't just make stuff up. They clarified doctrines along the line to make the teaching more explicit in order to combat heresies that were occuring, but never did the Church simply invent something. The Church over time kept to the teaching's of Christ passed down to the Apostles and then through the Kerygma of the Apostles to the bishops succeeding them and so on. This is called tradition. It's also part of Anglicanism's three-legged stool, so I'm sure it's not new to you. So to suggest that the Church just made something up as it went along would also suggest that the tradition that the Anglicans stand on is also invalid.

Now, that being said we can clearly see that confession is found in the Bible. In the OT whenever someone made a confession, they also had to make an act of atonement (penance). The same applies to Christians. Having to do penance for a sin doesn't take away from the grace of Christ, it is merely a way in which that grace is enacted. So by hearing confessions and issuing penance, you are being a minister of grace. As a priest, you act in persona Christi. It is one of the virtues of your ordination. Through Christ, you are ministering His grace. That is one of the reasons why Christ established the priesthood, in order to have ministers of His grace here on earth! And once again, it doesn't take anything away from the grace of Christ, because it is through Christ that you are able to minister.

The Church requires that we confess mortal sins, but someone who wants to grow in holiness will also confess venial sins as well. Unfortunately, as you have seen, many people aren't to worried about growing in holiness. I agree that the attitude of the people you describe is not good, but that doesn't mean that the doctrine of mortal and venial sins is false. You can't through out the baby with the bathwater! Rather we should be encouraging those people to live holier lives and confess all of their sins. As you suggested, how do they know that one of their small sins isn't a big one? That's why you should confess all of them.

How can we be sure if we've committed a mortal sin as opposed to a venial sin? That's the tricky part, as St. Thomas Aquinas talked about. Therefore we must confess all of our sins (the consequences are too great to mess around with figuring out which is which-yet that doesn't mean that there isn't a distinction). The people you have talked to (especially the Catholics) have undergone a poor catechesis! Unfortunately that has been the reality of the Catholic Church since many liberals have come out with their misinterpretation of what Vatican Council II actually said. That is why I want to be a theologian, to be able to educate Catholics better in their faith, as well as non-Catholics about the Catholic faith. The tide is turning too. I have seen many young people fervent in their faith who also know their faith. The same situation has happened in the Anglican Communion and more specifically in the Episcopal Church. The bad catechesis has led to outright revision of the basic doctrines of Christianity.

God Bless,

Hey Danny,

I feel like you aren't hearing what I am trying to say. I didn't say the IDEA of penance is not found in the bible; I said a FORMALIZED SYSTEM of penance is NOT found in the bible, but was developed later by the church. Notice that I am NOT saying that "the church made stuff up." Church doctrines and practices evolve over time, as Christians attempt to unpack the teachings of Jesus and apply them their situation, which always requires interpretation. (Even the Jews went through this process in unpacking the OT law, which resulting in the mishnah, a rabbinical commentary on the scriptures to help people apply the law to their everyday lives. And eventually the mishnah took on an authority of its own that was practically equal to the actual Scriptures.) That being said, I think it is necessary to realize that evolution does occur so that needed corrections can be made occasionally to bring the church back into closer alliance with the Scriptures. (I would argue that the Reformation was one such necessary correction! And maybe for some Catholics, Vatican II was a type of clarifying and standardizing church practice in a similar way.)

I still don't see a really helpful pastoral application for the concept of mortal vs. venial sins. In your last email, you said that trying to differeniate between the sins was not helpful (forget how you put it... too risky to attempt to differentiate between them?) So, if we have to confess all of our sins and all sins break relationship between us and God, what's the difference?

That being said, it's a good thing people like you have the desire to try and make all of this stuff more understandable to the average layperson!


I understood what you were saying and that was my whole point about Tradition. Everything doesn't have to be explicitly stated in the Bible. Sola Scriptura does not work! Anglicans don't believe in Sola Scriptura. In the 39 Articles, #34 On the Traditions of the Church it reads:

"Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God [
which a formalized system of penance or the differentiation between mortal and venial sins is not], and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren."

It is a fact that the Fathers of the Church had a formalized system of penance. This came from Tradition. The very Tradition passed on from Christ. Just because it is not explicitly stated doesn't mean it is false. Many things are not explicitly stated. St. John wrote at the end of his Gospel:
"But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25).

As for the pastoral application for the concept of mortal vs. venial sins, I can't provide an answer for you because I am not a priest. I will have to ask other priests and see what they say and get back to you.

God Bless,

If anyone has any input that would help me explain it to the priest any better, it would be very much appreciated!

Sunday, August 27, 2006


I've been tagged by Frank

If you could meet and have a deep conversation with any five people on earth, living or dead, from any time period, who would they be? (Explaining why is optional.)
Name five people from each of the following categories: saints, those in the process of being canonized, heroes from your native country, authors/writers, celebrities.

1) St. Patrick
2) St. Dominic
3) St. Thomas Aquinas
4) St. Jerome
5) St. Brendan

Those in the Process of Being Canonized
1) John Henry Newman
2) Pius XII
3) Fulton J. Sheen
4) John Paul II
5) William Lacey

Heroes From Your Native Country
1) Abe Lincoln
2) Samuel Adams (but only if he brought some of his beer.)
3) Ben Franklin
4) General Ulysses S. Grant
5) Harriet Tubman

1) Pope Benedict XVI
2) Moses (what? He wrote the Pentateuch!)
3) Mike Aquilina
4) Kurt Vonnegut
5) William Shakespeare

1) Paul Newman
2) Kenneth Branagh
3) Frank Sinatra
4) Dean Martin
5) Sammy Davis Jr.

I hereby tag Mike Aquilina, Jason, Moneybags, Antonia, Carmel, St. Peter's Helpers, and Dilexitprior.

More On Mortal And Venial Sins

I received another response concerning my previous post about the distinction between sins, this time from one of the priests in the bible study group:

Hi Danny,
I'm not sure how much light this information sheds on our discussion from last week. To be quite frank, I'm not sure how useful it is to rank sins (unless you are intending to create a system of penance or, at the worst, a system of indulgence). Paul says that the wages of sin is death. From my perspective, ANY sin that keeps you from God could be a "mortal" sin. I tend to look at sin in terms of relationships: ie. that all sin is a sin against love - love of God and love of other people. I find it helpful in preaching the gospel to about all sin breaking our relationship with God, but I just don't see how distinquishing between venial and mortal sins would actually be helpful in my ministry.

Probably the only real use I see of "grading" sins is in terms of leadership, which then brings us full circle back to the discussion from last week. In other words, are their sins that disqualify people from spiritual leadership? (the epistles to timothy probably are helpful here) But, unless you are going to argue that adultery and conspiracy to murder are venial sins, I'm just not sure how this distinction helps us understand I Samuel.


Here is my response:

I was merely pointing out the fact that there was indeed a distinction. The Apostles and Fathers of the Church and everyone else in the Church until the Reformation clearly taught that there was a distinction. Luther himself even said so. It wasn't until Calvin came along with his Reformed Theology that the distinction between mortal and venial sins were cast aside.

You said that you are not sure how useful it is to rank sins unless there is a system of penance or indulgence. Once again, the Apostles and Church Fathers have taught that there is a system of penance and indulgence. Penance (confession) is a sacrament in the Catholic Church and some would argue that it is also in the Anglican Church. In your Book of Common Prayer the rite can be found on page 447. It is very similar to the Catholic rite of Penance.

Even as an Anglican I knew that there were mortal and venial sins. It is not something I just picked up as a Catholic. That is why I was surprised when most people at the Bible study were not familiar with the concept.

As for asking whether adultery and conspiracy to murder are venial sins, the Church teaches, and has always taught, that they are mortal sins (sins that if you die with them on your soul, you go to Hell). But if you repent of a mortal sin, then the sin becomes venial (a sin that if you die with on your soul you will still be able to go to Heaven). That's the key issue I think concerning Saul and his leadership. Saul doesn't repent of his sins, thus they remain mortal. David however, with a contrite heart, repents and fasts, thus no longer making his sins mortal and enabling him to remain in God's favor.

God Bless,

The Covenant Of Sacrifice

Check out Fr. Martin Fox's homily for today. It is a must read!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Teaching Authority Of The Church Resides In The Magisterium, Not With Theologians

"Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking."

-Lumen Gentium 25

I have heard some Catholics try to make a case for contraception simply because many theologians rejected Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae. This is a very weak argument, because the authority of the Church is not (and has never been) with theologians. A theologian can assist the Magisterium and advise them, but the final say and the teaching authority lies solely with the bishops in union with the Pope. While many theologians of the time rejected Paul VI's encyclical, the majority of American bishops stood firmly behind the Pope.

Ralph M. McInerny, in his book What Went Wrong With Vatican II, says:

"In a debate sponsored by the Washington Lay Association, the question quickly became whether Catholics, having listened, were permitted to disagree. In the debate, Triumph magazine editor L. Brent Bozell maintained that any Catholic who does not accept the encyclical denies the Pope, denies the Church, and denies Christ, because he is not so much denying truth as authority. Catholics have an obligation to assent. He said that those who call themselves theologians but don't accept the encyclical should not consider themselves capable of serious theological discussion."

Bozell also said:

"Those priests who refuse to accept and faithfully carry out in their pastoral capacity Pope Paul's encyclical on birth control, should leave the Church. Any person who refuses submission to an authoritative teaching by the supreme pontiff on Faith and morals is a schismatic; and simple honesty, greatly honored in the present age, requires him to acknowledge the state of schism.

Any priest whose reason is not persuaded by the Pope's teaching should pray fervently to be among those whom Christ praised because they 'have not seen, and yet have believed' (John 20:29). If they will not do this, they should cease pretending to represent the Catholic Church. Otherwise, they will be personally responsible for widening the schism and increasing the scandal."

McInerny goes on to write in the book:

"Fellow Triumph editor Michael Lawrence was equally severe in the Washington debate. Lawrence said that those who do not accept the right of the Church to teach on moral questions are simply not Roman Catholics. Further, those who say that Humanae Vitae should be taken seriously, but who would balance the Pope's teaching with their own private conscience, have a 'Protestant view' of conscience. 'A Catholic does not have a free conscience.'

In other words, while anyone is, of course, free to be a Catholic or not, he is not free as a Catholic to reject what the Church teaches. To do so is to cease to be a Catholic."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mad Hatted Protestants

John Martignoni had this in his weekly e-letter:

"Could you be wrong on your interpretation of this passage," said Alice to the Mad Hatter. "Of course I could be wrong on my interpretation...," "Because you're not infallible," interjected Alice, "...because I'm not infallible, you know," continued the Mad Hatter. "Then," said Alice, "you would agree that the Cheshire Cat's interpretation of this verse could possibly be right?" "Absolutely, not," said the Mad Hatter. "I can say with absolute certainty that the Cheshire Cat's interpretation of this passage is wrong!" "But," interjected Alice, "you could be wrong on that, couldn't you?" "Of course, I could be wrong on that...," said the Mad Hatter. "Because you're not infallible," interjected Alice again. "...because I'm not infallible, you know," finished the Mad Hatter. "Then," said Alice, a bit puzzled, "if you're not infallible, couldn't the Cheshire Cat be right?" "Absolutely not," said the Mad Hatter, "the Cheshire Cat can never be right when he disagrees with me."

(If this has confused you, just substitute "Catholic" for "Cheshire Cat.")

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mortal And Venial Sins

Monday night during a Bible study that my wife and I participate in (we are the only Catholics, the rest being Anglican) there was a debate about whether or not there are distincitions between sins (i.e. venial and mortal). I made the assertion that there were venial and mortal sins, to which one of the girls in the group commented that the idea of venial and mortal sins is only a Catholic teaching. I replied that it was not just a Catholic teaching (or at least shouldn't be) since it is taught in the Bible.

I referred them to 1 Jn 5:16:
"If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal."

For some reason the plain words of the Bible didn't convince them.

So then I emailed them this post from EWTN.


St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica
First Part of the Second Part
Question 88
Article 1

Whether venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin?

Objection 1: It would seem that venial sin is unfittingly condivided with mortal sin. For Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 27): "Sin is a word, deed or desire contrary to the eternal law." But the fact of being against the eternal law makes a sin to be mortal. Consequently every sin is mortal. Therefore venial sin is not condivided with mortal sin.

Objection 2: Further, the Apostle says (1 Cor. 10:31): "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever else you do; do all to the glory of God." Now whoever sins breaks this commandment, because sin is not done for God's glory. Consequently, since to break a commandment is to commit a mortal sin, it seems that whoever sins, sins mortally.

Objection 3: Further, whoever cleaves to a thing by love, cleaves either as enjoying it, or as using it, as Augustine states (De Doctr. Christ. i, 3,4). But no person, in sinning, cleaves to a mutable good as using it: because he does not refer it to that good which gives us happiness, which, properly speaking, is to use, according to Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. i, 3,4). Therefore whoever sins enjoys a mutable good. Now "to enjoy what we should use is human perverseness," as Augustine again says (Qq. lxxxiii, qu. 30). Therefore, since "perverseness" [*The Latin 'pervertere' means to overthrow, to destroy, hence 'perversion' of God's law is a mortal sin.] denotes a mortal sin, it seems that whoever sins, sins mortally.

Objection 4: Further, whoever approaches one term, from that very fact turns away from the opposite. Now whoever sins, approaches a mutable good, and, consequently turns away from the immutable good, so that he sins mortally. Therefore venial sin is unfittingly condivided with mortal sin.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Tract. xli in Joan.), that "a crime is one that merits damnation, and a venial sin, one that does not." But a crime denotes a mortal sin. Therefore venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin.

I answer that, Certain terms do not appear to be mutually opposed, if taken in their proper sense, whereas they are opposed if taken metaphorically: thus "to smile" is not opposed to "being dry"; but if we speak of the smiling meadows when they are decked with flowers and fresh with green hues this is opposed to drought. In like manner if mortal be taken literally as referring to the death of the body, it does not imply opposition to venial, nor belong to the same genus. But if mortal be taken metaphorically, as applied to sin, it is opposed to that which is venial.

For sin, being a sickness of the soul, as stated above (Question [71], Article [1], ad 3; Question [72], Article [5]; Question [74], Article [9], ad 2), is said to be mortal by comparison with a disease, which is said to be mortal, through causing an irreparable defect consisting in the corruption of a principle, as stated above (Question [72], Article [5]). Now the principle of the spiritual life, which is a life in accord with virtue, is the order to the last end, as stated above (Question [72], Article [5]; Question [87], Article [3]): and if this order be corrupted, it cannot be repaired by any intrinsic principle, but by the power of God alone, as stated above (Question [87], Article [3]), because disorders in things referred to the end, are repaired through the end, even as an error about conclusions can be repaired through the truth of the principles. Hence the defect of order to the last end cannot be repaired through something else as a higher principle, asneither can an error about principles. Wherefore such sins are called mortal, as being irreparable. On the other hand, sins which imply a disorder in things referred to the end, the order to the end itself being preserved, are reparable. These sins are called venial: because a sin receives its acquittal [veniam] when the debt of punishment is taken away, and this ceases when the sin ceases, as explained above (Question [87], Article [6]).

Accordingly, mortal and venial are mutually opposed as reparable and irreparable: and I say this with reference to the intrinsic principle, but not to the Divine power, which can repair all diseases, whether of the body or of the soul. Therefore venial sin is fittingly condivided with mortal sin.

Reply to Objection 1: The division of sin into venial and mortal is not a division of a genus into its species which have an equal share of the generic nature: but it is the division of an analogous term into its parts, of which it is predicated, of the one first, and of the other afterwards. Consequently the perfect notion of sin, which Augustine gives, applies to mortal sin. On the other hand, venial sin is called a sin, in reference to an imperfect notion of sin, and in relation to mortal sin: even as an accident is called a being, in relation to substance, in reference to the imperfect notion of being. For it is not "against" the law, since he who sins venially neither does what the law forbids, nor omits what the law prescribes to be done; but he acts "beside" the law, through not observing the mode of reason, which the law intends.

Reply to Objection 2: This precept of the Apostle is affirmative, and so it does not bind for all times. Consequently everyone who does not actually refer all his actions to the glory of God, does not therefore act against this precept. In order, therefore, to avoid mortal sin each time that one fails actually to refer an action to God's glory, it is enough to refer oneself and all that one has to God habitually. Now venial sin excludes only actual reference of the human act to God's glory, and not habitual reference: because it does not exclude charity, which refers man to God habitually. Therefore it does not follow that he who sins venially, sins mortally.

Reply to Objection 3: He that sins venially, cleaves to temporal good, not as enjoying it, because he does not fix his end in it, but as using it, by referring it to God, not actually but habitually.

Reply to Objection 4: Mutable good is not considered to be a term in contraposition to the immutable good, unless one's end is fixed therein: because what is referred to the end has not the character of finality.

First Part of the Second Part
Question 88
Article 2

Whether mortal and venial sin differ generically?

Objection 1: It would seem that venial and mortal sin do not differ generically, so that some sins be generically mortal, and some generically venial. Because human acts are considered to be generically good or evil according to their matter or object, as stated above (Question [18], Article [2]). Now either mortal or venial sin may be committed in regard to any object or matter: since man can love any mutable good, either less than God, which may be a venial sin, or more than God, which is a mortal sin. Therefore venial and mortal sin do not differ generically.

Objection 2: Further, as stated above (Article [1]; Question [72], Article [5]; Question [87], Article [3]), a sin is called mortal when it is irreparable, venial when it can be repaired. Now irreparability belongs to sin committed out of malice, which, according to some, is irremissible: whereas reparability belongs to sins committed through weakness or ignorance, which are remissible. Therefore mortal and venial sin differ as sin committed through malice differs from sin committed through weakness or ignorance. But, in this respect, sins differ not in genus but in cause, as stated above (Question [77], Article [8], ad 1). Therefore venial and mortal sin do not differ generically.

Objection 3: Further, it was stated above (Question [74], Article [3], ad 3; Article [10]) that sudden movements both of the sensuality and of the reason are venial sins. But sudden movements occur in every kind of sin. Therefore no sins are generically venial.

On the contrary, Augustine, in a sermon on Purgatory (De Sanctis, serm. xli), enumerates certain generic venial sins, and certain generic mortal sins.

I answer that, Venial sin is so called from "venia" [pardon]. Consequently a sin may be called venial, first of all, because it has been pardoned: thus Ambrose says that "penance makes every sin venial": and this is called venial "from the result." Secondly, a sin is called venial because it does not contain anything either partially or totally, to prevent its being pardoned: partially, as when a sin contains something diminishing its guilt, e.g. a sin committed through weakness or ignorance: and this is called venial "from the cause": totally, through not destroying the order to the last end, wherefore it deserves temporal, but not everlasting punishment. It is of this venial sin that we wish to speak now.

For as regards the first two, it is evident that they have no determinate genus: whereas venial sin, taken in the third sense, can have a determinate genus, so that one sin may be venial generically, and another generically mortal, according as the genus or species of an act is determined by its object. For, when the will is directed to a thing that is in itself contrary to charity, whereby man is directed to his last end, the sin is mortal by reason of its object. Consequently it is a mortal sin generically, whether it be contrary to the love of God, e.g. blasphemy, perjury, and the like, or against the love of one's neighbor, e.g. murder, adultery, and such like: wherefore such sins are mortal by reason of their genus. Sometimes, however, the sinner's will is directed to a thing containing a certain inordinateness, but which is not contrary to the love of God and one's neighbor, e.g. an idle word, excessive laughter, and so forth: and such sins are venial by reason oftheir genus.

Nevertheless, since moral acts derive their character of goodness and malice, not only from their objects, but also from some disposition of the agent, as stated above (Question [18], Articles [4],6), it happens sometimes that a sin which is venial generically by reason of its object, becomes mortal on the part of the agent, either because he fixes his last end therein, or because he directs it to something that is a mortal sin in its own genus; for example, if a man direct an idle word to the commission of adultery. In like manner it may happen, on the part of the agent, that a sin generically mortal because venial, by reason of the act being imperfect, i.e. not deliberated by reason, which is the proper principle of an evil act, as we have said above in reference to sudden movements of unbelief.

Reply to Objection 1: The very fact that anyone chooses something that is contrary to divine charity, proves that he prefers it to the love of God, and consequently, that he loves it more than he loves God. Hence it belongs to the genus of some sins, which are of themselves contrary to charity, that something is loved more than God; so that they are mortal by reason of their genus.

Reply to Objection 2: This argument considers those sins which are venial from their cause.

Reply to Objection 3: This argument considers those sins which are venial by reason of the imperfection of the act.

As Well as:

47: And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48: But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more. (Luke 12: 47-48).

The servant who did not know received a light beating (venial sin).
The one who did know received a severe beating (mortal sin).

This is what the Fathers of the Church have always believed and taught.

I found these as well from the Fathers of the Church:

"There are venial sins and there are mortal sins. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe but a farthing. We shall have to give an accounting for an idle word no less than for adultery. But to be made to blush and to be tortured are not the same thing; not the same thing to grow red in the face and to be in agony for a long time. . . . If we entreat for lesser sins we are granted pardon, but for greater sins, it is difficult to obtain our request. There is a great difference between one sin and another"
-Jerome (Against Jovinian 2:30 [A.D. 393]).

"Although the apostle [Paul] has mentioned many grievous sins, we, nevertheless, lest we seem to promote despair, will state briefly what they are. Sacrilege, murder, adultery, false witness, theft, robbery, pride, envy, avarice, and, if it is of long standing, anger, drunkenness, if it is persistent, and slander are reckoned in their number. Or if anyone knows that these sins dominate him, if he does not do penance worthily and for a long time, if such time is given him . . . he cannot be purged in that transitory fire of which the apostle spoke [1 Cor. 3:11–15], but the eternal flames will torture him without any remedy. But since the lesser sins are, of course, known to all, and it would take too long to mention them all, it will be necessary for us only to name some of them. . . . There is no doubt that these and similar deeds belong to the lesser sins which, as I said before, can scarcely be counted, and from which not only all Christian people, but even all the saints could not and cannot always be free. We do not, of course, believe that the soul is killed by these sins, but still they make it ugly by covering it as if with some kind of pustules and, as it were, with horrible scabs"
-Caesarius of Arles (Sermons 179[104]:2 [A.D. 522]).

"For although in smaller sins sinners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of communion: now with their time still unfulfilled, while persecution is still raging, while the peace of the Church itself is not vet restored, they are admitted to communion, and their name is presented; and while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands Of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the eucharist is given to them; although it is written, 'Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.'"
-Cyprian, To the Clergy, 9 (16):2 (A.D. 250).

"All mortal sins are to be submitted to the keys of the Church and all can be forgiven; but recourse to these keys is the only, the necessary, and the certain way to forgiveness. Unless those who are guilty of grievous sin have recourse to the power of the keys, they cannot hope for eternal salvation. Open your lips, them, and confess your sins to the priest. Confession alone is the true gate to Heaven."
-Augustine, Christian Combat (A.D. 397).

If there are grievous sins, then there have to be others that are not as bad.

"While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call 'light'; if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession... "
-(St Augustine, In ep. Jo. 1,6: PL

Then I received this email:


The first thing I notice about the web-link you sent is that Mr. Donovan’s conclusion is not scripturally based:

“There are thus daily faults for which we must daily ask forgiveness (Mt. 6:12), for even the "just man falls seven times a day" (Prov. 24:16), and mortal faults that separate the sinner from God (1 Cor. 6:9-10) for all eternity.”

Note that whereas 1 Cor. 6:9-10 lists conditions which keep sinners from inheriting the kingdom of God, the very next verse says that these conditions can be changed and forgiven: “And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

Donovan is just plain wrong when he says those mortal faults will separate the sinner from God for all eternity.

To which I replied:

I think what Mr. Donovan intended when he said that there are "mortal faults which separate the sinner from God for all eternity" was that if the mortal sins go unrepented the sinner is eternally separated.
The Corinthians repented of their sins and received baptism thus washing them clean and allowing them to be once again in the grace of Christ.

An unrepentent sinner who has committed a mortal sin goes to Hell (separated from God for all eternity).

However if a sinner dies that only has committed a venial sin, he can still go to Heaven.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mandatory Mandatum (or) Make Catholic Universities Catholic

Notre Dame has a heretic priest by the name of Richard McBrien running loose.

The president of the University Of St. Thomas apologized for an address given by Ben Kessler that was faithful to the Magisterium.

A certain "Catholic" University here in Pittsburgh wouldn't let its students put up flyers to announce Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during Lent and yet allowed flyers to be put up by the Gay-Straight Alliance.

Liberal Jesuits.

These, and many other examples, are why I think it should be mandatory that all Universities and Colleges that wish to call themselves "Catholic" should be required to have all of its professors and employees take the Mandatum.

I feel that the bishops of the dioceses that these schools reside in should also take a greater role in making sure that the school is teaching in accordance with the Magisterium. There is no excuse for a Catholic University to be allowed to teach heresy without repercussions. And when repercussions are laid out, bishops also need to have the backbones to enforce them!

Professors at Catholic Universities and Colleges who teach theology or philosophy or any other like field should also not be able to get tenure (I don't think that professors who teach Math or Chemistry would have much room to teach contrary to the Magisterium and thus I don't see anything wrong with them receiving tenure). A professor should never be allowed to lead students astray from the Faith of the Catholic Church. The moment they start spouting heresies they should be given the boot.

If a professor wants to teach at a Catholic school, they need to teach Catholic doctrine or not teach there at all. There are many secular schools that would take them in.

Worrying about whether or not a Catholic school is really Catholic should not be on the list of concerns for a student.

The Bible speaks quite clearly about the eternal fate of false teachers. The fate of those who allow false teaching to continue will be the same, if not more severe!

Reason #3,987,237 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

This article is by Canon John Heidt, an Anglican priest in Texas.

For many years those of us who cannot accept women as priests, and bishops who refuse to ordain or license them, gave all the reasons why we oppose this innovation. But gradually we came to realize that what we were saying was falling on deaf ears and soon we became tired of repeating ourselves. Now it seems that people have forgotten what we said, or assume that the reasons we gave no longer count for much. We have more heady things to argue about, things like the ordination of +Vicki Gene, and most people have lost interest in the debate over women’s ordination. It is taken for granted that those still opposed are only headstrong cranks immersed in past injustices, and that’s the end of it. But if history teaches us anything it teaches that what once happened to all our arguments against ordaining women as priests and bishops will soon happen to all the current arguments against ordaining practicing homosexuals. So in the midst of our current debates the time seems right to repeat once again why we believe women cannot be priests even if they are legally ordained. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Those who promote the ordination of women commit three errors: biological, anthropological, and theological.

The biological error is about sex. Sex is confused with gender; male and female with masculine and feminine. But the two are quite different and we confuse them at our peril. Both are biological at their source but sex manifests itself physiologically and gender psychologically or, in its original meaning, spiritually. Thus God is not male because he has “no parts or passions,” i.e., He is not physical. But He is masculine because He is the spiritual Source and Father of all.

Every Human being is both masculine and feminine and this is natural, but if anyone is both male and female this is pathological. We are masculine in originating behavior, be it through thought, imagination, or physical activity. We are feminine when we receive outside influence be it grace or music or food.

God is only masculine because He is what the philosophers have called “pure act.” There is nothing passive about Him; he does not receive grace or music or food from any source other than Himself. But we are sacramental beings in which the inward and spiritual expresses itself in the outward and physical. Male and female are both masculine and feminine but each symbolizes one more than the other. Physiologically the female is predominantly receptive or feminine, and the male is active, initiator, and originator. Women need to be cherished; men need to be honored, as St. Paul himself recognized. (Ephesians 5:33) Women need to be caressed physically and spiritually; men need to be built up physically and spiritually. Women are from Venus; men are from Mars. Hence women represent the feminine and men the masculine. They are not interchangeable. A woman will be upset if her husband forgets their wedding anniversary, by at least giving her flowers, but in all my years as a priest I have never heard of a husband being upset because he did not get any flowers from his wife on their anniversary.

The second error of those who accept women as priests and bishops is anthropological. Having confused sex with gender and realizing that all human beings have both masculine and feminine characteristics, the next step was to confuse women with men. Just as the biological differences between men and women express themselves in the physiological and spiritual, so the anthropological differences express themselves in economics and politics. Be they single or married, women get together and talk mostly about clothes and shopping; men talk about sports or ways we should resolve the war in Iraq; Women are the economists and men the politicians. By nature women are practical, men are idealists. But in the eighteenth century Adam Smith changed all this. By redefining economics as finance rather than household management, he took women’s work out of the home of cottage industry into a man’s world of factories, laboratories and banks.- and women have been trying to get back their proper work ever since.

It was thought that to regain their rightful work and make women equal to men they had to become just like men. This was called Feminism but it is really just the opposite of Feminism. It is a movement that denigrates femininity. There is no accepted word for it, but let us give it its proper name; let us call it Masculism. Men unjustly remained on top of the pinnacle of earthly greatness, and women were simply encouraged to climb up after them. Women doing men’s work was not a social revolution but a greater participation in the status quo. Unisex shops sold trousers but not dresses. Bars became refuges for women as well as men, but few men ever frequented Tea Rooms. And in spite of heavy pressure, most men rebelled against becoming housewives. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with women doing the work normally done by men and vice versa, Yet when women and men do each other’s work they do it in different ways. Men and women are not interchangeable nor are their jobs.

Finally we come to the theological error of those who support women’s ordination; the one most crucial for traditional Christians but of little interest to the typical secularist sitting in the pews of our churches or voting in national conventions. They usually so emphasize the crucifixion, centering their theology on sin and redemption that they ignore the real significance of the Incarnation, turning Jesus into a pure spirit of fairness and good will rather than the incarnate Son of God. When they argue from the Incarnation it is only to demonstrate that human beings are spiritual and God-like, not that the Incarnation is God’s self- identification with fleshly human nature. The Catholic, on the other hand, in emphasizing the Incarnation talks about nature and grace. Both emphases are necessary, but the Catholic view must come first. To appreciate the crucifixion and resurrection one has to accept the Incarnation; to understand sin one has to believe in human nature; to be saved one has to know the nature of the Savior.Jesus is divine, but He is also human. “The Word became flesh;” It became sexual. God the Son became man physiologically as well as spiritually. As God He remained masculine but as a human being He became male. One was a sacrament of the other. He was man, i.e. all of human kind, of the same nature as us, and able to represent everyone, women as well as men, but as an individual he was male, with both masculine and feminine characteristics. He could, for example, be thought of as feminine by someone like the mystic Julian of Norwich, (who by the way was never canonized a saint) and he could describe himself as a mother Hen gathering her baby chicks under her wings. But that is no excuse for calling Him Hen Jesus or Mother Jesus. As an individual human being He is fully male, not a hybrid of male and female. He had to be male in order to be the sacramental or incarnational presence of divine masculinity. Unlike His portrayal in some nineteenth century paintings, He is not androgynous.

The advocates of women’s ordination either so emphasize sin and redemption that they forget that this redemption was achieved through male flesh, or else they use the doctrine of the Incarnation to so spiritualize Jesus and all humanity as to ignore or deprecate the flesh. In either case inherent American Puritanism wins the day. But in Jesus Christ our created earthly humanity is saved, not changed. Our sinfulness does not come from our humanity but from acting less than human. By our participation in Christ’s humanity, our own humanity is glorified in spite of our sins. And this happens sacramentally, by Baptism and the Eucharist. In these and other sacramental rites God saves and transforms our humanity and He does this through those who have been set aside by ordination to re-present the activity of the Father. The church and all its members are feminine in relation to the Father - we speak of Mother Church, but some human beings within the church are ontologically ordered to re-present, to make present, the activity of the Father in relation to His creation which is always masculine. As the Church is called mother, so Priests are called Father. To call them Mother is trying to turn them into something they cannot be.

Though men and women both have masculine and feminine traits and both can and must minister in the Church, only males can represent the masculine. Only men can be priests.

Quote Of The Day

"There needs to be a whole lot more excommunications going on!"

-My wife, after I mentioned that Archbishop Milingo would be excommunicated for working with Dan Brown.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Our Lady Of Knock

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Knock.

On Thursday 21 August 1879 at 8pm Our Lady, Saint Joseph and Saint John the Evangelist appeared in a blaze of light at the south gable of Saint John the Baptist Church, Knock, County Mayo, Ireland. They appeared to float about two feet above the ground, and each would occassionally move toward the visionaries, and then away from them. The Blessed Virgin Mary was clothed in white robes with a brilliant crown on her head. Where the crown fitted to her brow, she wore a beautiful full-bloom golden rose. She was praying with her eyes and hands raised towards Heaven. Saint Joseph wore white robes, stood on Our Lady's right, and was turned towards her in an attitude of respect. Saint John was dressed in white vestment, stood was on Mary's left, and resembled a bishop, with a small mitre. He appeared to be preaching and he held an open book in his left hand. Behind them and a little to the left of Saint John was a plain altar on which was a cross and a lamb with adoring angels. The apparition was witnessed by fifteen people. Miraculous healings reported soon after the area, and it is now a major pilgrimage destination.

The apparition was approved by Archbishop Gilmartin, diocese of Tuam in 1936.

Quote Of The Day

"A book I would strongly encourage anyone to read is “Slouching Towards Gomorrah” by Judge Robert Bork. Under “Radical Feminism” we read: “Even the language of the movement mirrors the mood of fascism. The apocalyptic and hate-filled rhetoric of radical feminists expresses their eagerness to inflict harm. A radical magazine, using the acronym for the National Organization for Women (NOW), declared on its cover: NOW is the time to take back control of our lives. NOW is not the time to assimilate to bureaucratic puppeteers who want to control, degrade, torture, kill and rape our bodies, NOW is the time to drop a boot heel in the groin of patriarchy. NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT BACK. NO GOD, NO MASTER, NO LAWS.

Were you aware of all this? Do you think our good Catholic women would have abandon their veils had they been made aware of it? We think not!"

-From the article Why the Veil? by Fr. Robert Fox.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Reason #3,987,236 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

"It is interesting to note that women who, thanks to God's grace, view the Church with the eyes of faith, would never dream of raising the question 'Why can't we be ordained?' It is only when the supernatural has been brushed aside and obnubilated that this type of query is likely to spring up. As soon as one adopts a purely naturalistic point of view, it seems legitimate to ask: Why should women be excluded from holy functions? All human beings are equal in dignity. Why should men be placed above them? Why should a purely biological peculiarity prevent women from consecrating bread and wine and hearing confessions? Is not this prohibition indicative that the Church (ruled by men from the very beginning) is keeping women in an inferior position which is radically opposed to authentic Christian teaching? Does not St. Paul write that from now on 'there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal 3.28)? That Christ did not ordain women is to be explained sociologically: he was bound by the customs of his time.

All of this sounds very convincing to an ear untuned to the supernatural, and alas, modern man has developed an allergy to its sublime message. Let us not forget that the supernatural is the warp and woof of Christianity; Christianity stands or falls with it. Given the 'spirit of the time' which emphasizes man's maturity, man's craving for independence, it is particularly difficult to accept a teaching based on humility.

One thing is certain: some women might believe themselves to be called to the priesthood, but this calling comes from their subjective wishes and not from the One who alone is to choose those whom he wants; it is always tempting for fallen man to assume that God's will matches his own will. These women are a far cry from the attitude of 'the handmaid of the Lord'; they forget that the apostles did not choose to be apostles; they were chosen ('he called those he wanted.' Mk 3.13). Mary did not choose to be God's mother; she was chosen, and said 'yes.'"

-Alice von Hildebrand, from Women and the Priesthood.

The Aborter Becomes An Apostle Of Death

"When piety dies out in women, society is threatened in its very fabric; for a woman's relationship to the sacred keeps the Church and society on an even keel, and when this link is severed, both are threatened by total moral chaos. Once again the menace of feminism lurks in the background. The ravages which it is creating in our society can hardly be gauged. Poisoned by a wrong philosophy, some women now trample upon the mystery of their femininity and willingly collaborate with men in committing one of the most brutal of all crimes: the murder of the defenseless unborn. Terrible as the crime of the abortionist is, the crime of the aborter is truly unfathomable: for the woman not only assists in a murder, she betrays her very vocation to give life, becoming instead an apostle of death."

-Alice von Hildebrand, from Women and the Priesthood.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Books I Get To Read For My Fall Classes

Update: Instead of taking Vatican II this semester, I am going to take: Mary In The Modern World taught by Dr. Mark Miravalle. The books for that class are:

All generations shall call me Blessed: Biblical mariology by Stefano M Manelli

Contemporary Insights on a Fifth Marian Dogma by Mark Miravalle

Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit: The Marian Teaching of St. Maximilian Kolbe by H. M. Manteau-Bonamy

Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate : Theological Foundations II : Papal, Pneumatological, Ecumenical by Mark Miravalle

Mary and the Fathers of the Church: The Blessed Virgin Mary in Patristic Thought by Luigi Gambero

Most Holy Rosary by John Paul II

True Devotion to Mary by Louis De Monfort

"With Jesus" The Story of Mary Co-Redemptrix by Mark Miravalle

That's right. I said get to read. I know, I'm a nerd and I actually look forward to having to read all these great books!

von Balthasar taught by Dr. Regis Martin

Love Alone is Credible by von Balthasar

The Christian and Anxiety by von Balthasar

The Moment of Christian Witness by von Balthasar

You Crown the Year With Your Goodness: Sermons Throughout the Liturgical Year by von Balthasar

Vatican II taught by Dr. Alan Schrek

Crossing the Threshold of Hope by John Paul II (I've already read this one before. Great Book!)

The Ratzinger Report by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Vatican Council II: The Conciliar & Post Conciliar Documents by Austin Flannery

Vatican II: The Crisis and Promise by Alan Schrek

What Went Wrong With Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained by Ralph M. McInerny

Biblical Foundations taught by Dr. Scott Hahn

Letter & Spirit, Vol. 1: Word, Worship, and the Mysteries

Letter And Spirit: From Written Text To Living Word in the Liturgy by Scott Hahn (I just finished reading this book last week. Very good stuff!)

The Scripture Documents: An Anthology of Official Catholic Teachings by Dean P. Bechard

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On The Use Of Veils

"Women are definitely more mysterious than men, not only because their affective life is more complex and more refined, but especially because there is something in women that calls for veiling. It is not by accident that women traditionally wore a veil, and that, up to Vatican II, they wore veils in Catholic churches. This custom was deeply symbolic, and alas this symbolism is now lost. Under the influence of feminism, many Catholics were led to believe that veiling indicated some sort of inferiority, and for this reason it was abolished.

This interpretation rests on a misunderstanding. Far from indicating inferiority, the veil points to sacredness. While we do cover what is ugly or decaying, we also veil what is sacred, mysterious, and sublime. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he covered his face to hide the glow that was apparent because God had deigned to speak with him: Moses' body reflected the depth and mystery of his experience.

Every woman carries within herself a secret most sacred, mysterious, and sublime. This secret is life. Eve means "the mother of the living." In the mystery of the female body, human life finds its beginning: not in the male semen but in the fecundated egg, hidden in the cavern of the female body. There God creates a new soul which is exclusively his work, and in which neither father nor mother has a part. This creation takes place when the male seed fecundates the female egg. Thus at that very moment a closeness exists between divine action and the female body which marks the latter as sacred ground. This is why the way a woman dresses, the way she sits, walks, laughs, should always be marked by a note of holy reserve. A woman conscious of her unmerited privilege will necessarily adopt a bodily posture- what is today called body language- which adequately reflects this calling."

-Alice von Hildebrand, from the book Women and the Priesthood.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Inquisition

This one's for Jason.

Was the inquisition really that bad?

Honestly, we are talking about the sorting out of heretics here!

Look at what happened with the Arian Heresy. It nearly toppled Christianity. They could have used an Inquisition then.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Inquisition was only concerned with members of the Church. It did not force people to accept Christianity. Rather its purpose was to get rid of so called “Christians” who led other Christians astray from true teachings of Christ.

The Inquisition began to combat Catharism, which forbade marriage and the propagation of the human race. One can obviously deduce the effects on society this sect would have had if it were allowed to continue!

Above all, the Inquisition wasn’t just a mindless attack on heretics. There was always a fair trial and the Inquisitors were some of the holiest men.

“It was a heavy burden of responsibility -- almost too heavy for a common mortal -- which fell upon the shoulders of an inquisitor, who was obliged, at least indirectly, to decide between life and death. The Church was bound to insist that he should possess, in a pre-eminant degree, the qualities of a good judge; that he should be animated with a glowing zeal for the Faith, the salvation of souls, and the extirpation of heresy; that amid all difficulties and dangers he should never yield to anger or passion; that he should meet hostility fearlessly, but should not court it; that he should yield to no inducement or threat, and yet not be heartless; that, when circumstances permitted, he should observe mercy in allotting penalties; that he should listen to the counsel of others, and not trust too much to his own opinion or to appearances, since often the probable is untrue, and the truth improbable. Somewhat thus did Bernard Gui (or Guldonis) and Eymeric, both of them inquisitors for years, describe the ideal inquisitor. Of such an inquisitor also was Gregory IX doubtlessly thinking when he urged Conrad of Marburg: "ut puniatur sic temeritas perversorum quod innocentiae puritas non laedatur" -- i.e., "not to punish the wicked so as to hurt the innocent". History shows us how far the inquisitors answered to this ideal. Far from being inhuman, they were, as a rule, men of spotless character and sometimes of truly admirable sanctity, and not a few of them have been canonized by the Church. There is absolutely no reason to look on the medieval ecclesiastical judge as intellectually and morally inferior to the modern judge. No one would deny that the judges of today, despite occasional harsh decisions and the errors of a, few, pursue a highly honourable profession. Similarly, the medieval inquisitors should be judged as a whole Moreover, history does not justify the hypothesis that the medieval heretics were prodigies of virtue, deserving our sympathy in advance” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

Heretics who confessed of their own free will were dealt with mercifully. It was only when the heretic swore falsely on the Gospels that harsher judgments were handed out.

There is nothing “to suggest that the accused were imprisoned during the period of inquiry. It was certainly customary to grant the accused person his freedom until the sermo generalis, were he ever so strongly inculpated through witnesses or confession; he was not yet supposed guilty, though he was compelled to promise under oath always to be ready to come before the inquisitor, and in the end to accept with good grace his sentence, whatever its tenor. The oath was assuredly a terrible weapon in the hands of the medieval judge. If the accused person kept it, the judge was favourably inclined; on the other hand, if the accused violated it, his credit grew worse. Many sects, it was known, repudiated oaths on principle; hence the violation of an oath caused the guilty party easily to incur suspicion of heresy. Besides the oath, the inquisitor might secure himself by demanding a sum of money as bail, or reliable bondsmen who would stand surety for the accused. It happened, too, that bondsmen undertook upon oath to deliver the accused "dead or alive" It was perhaps unpleasant to live under the burden of such an obligation, but, at any rate, it was more endurable than to await a final verdict in rigid confinement for months or longer.

Curiously enough torture was not regarded as a mode of punishment, but purely as a means of eliciting the truth. It was not of ecclesiastical origin, and was long prohibited in the ecclesiastical courts. Nor was it originally an important factor in the inquisitional procedure, being unauthorized until twenty years after the Inquisition had begun. It was first authorized by Innocent IV in his Bull "Ad exstirpanda" of 15 May, 1252, which was confirmed by Alexander IV on 30 November, 1259, and by Clement IV on 3 November, 1265. The limit placed upon torture was citra membri diminutionem et mortis periculum -- i.e, it was not to cause the loss of life or limb or imperil life. Torture was to applied only once, and not then unless the accused were uncertain in his statements, and seemed already virtually convicted by manifold and weighty proofs. In general, this violent testimony (quaestio) was to be deferred as long as possible, and recourse to it was permitted in only when all other expedients were exhausted. Conscientiousness and sensible judges quite properly attached no great importance to confessions extracted by torture. After long experience Eymeric declared: Quaestiones sunt fallaces et inefficaces -- i.e the torture is deceptive and ineffectual” (Catholic Encyclopedia).

“The Spanish Inquisition deserves neither the exaggerated praise nor the equally exaggerated vilification often bestowed on it. The number of victims cannot be calculated with even approximate accuracy; the much maligned autos-da-fé were in reality but a religious ceremony (actus fidei); the San Benito has its counterpart in similar garbs elsewhere; the cruelty of St. Peter Arbues, to whom not a single sentence of death can be traced with certainty, belongs to the realms of fable. However, the predominant ecclesiastical nature of the institution can hardly be doubted. The Holy See sanctioned the institution, accorded to the grand inquisitor canonical installation and therewith judicial authority concerning matters of faith, while from the grand inquisitor jurisdiction passed down to the subsidiary tribunals under his control. Joseph de Maistre introduced the thesis that the Spanish Inquisition was mostly a civil tribunal; formerly, however, theologians never questioned its ecclesiastical nature. Only thus, indeed, can one explain how the Popes always admitted appeals from it to the Holy See, called to themselves entire trials and that at any stage of the proceedings, exempted whole classes of believers from its jurisdiction, intervened in the legislation, deposed grand inquisitors, and so on“ (Catholic Encyclopedia).

In Short, the Inquisition wasn’t as bad as its critics and Hollywood make it out to be. It served its purpose and kept Christianity orthodox. Also, whenever an Inquisitor got out of line, the pope was quick to step in and put a stop to it. It is also to be noted that Catholics weren’t the only ones who advocated death for heretics.

“It is well known that belief in the justice of punishing heresy with death was so common among the sixteenth century reformers -- Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, and their adherents -- that we may say their toleration began where their power ended. The Reformed theologian, Hieronymus Zanchi, declared in a lecture delivered at the University of Heidlelberg:
We do not now ask if the authorities may pronounce sentence of death upon heretics; of that there can be no doubt, and all learned and right-minded men acknowledge it. The only question is whether the authorities are bound to perform this duty“ (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Feast Of The Assumption

"And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars"

-Rev 12:1

"Finally, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all guilt of original sin, on the completion of her earthly sojourn, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen of the universe, that she might be the more fully confimed to her Son, the Lord of lords and the conqueror of sin and death."

-Lumen Gentium 59

"For Christ took His immaculate flesh from the immaculate flesh of Mary, and if He had prepared a place in heaven for the Apostles, how much more for His mother; if Enoch had been translated and Elijah had gone to heaven, how much more Mary, who like the moon in the midst of the stars shines forth and excels among the prophets and Apostles? For even though her God-bearing body tasted death, it did not undergo corruption, but was preserved incorrupt and undefiled and taken up into heaven with its pure and spotless soul."

-Bishop Theoteknos of Livias, Sermon on the Assumption.

The Defining Of The Dogma Of The Assumption

Munificentissimus Deus

Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII issued November 1, 1950

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

3. Actually God, who from all eternity regards Mary with a most favorable and unique affection, has "when the fullness of time came"[2] put the plan of his providence into effect in such a way that all the privileges and prerogatives he had granted to her in his sovereign generosity were to shine forth in her in a kind of perfect harmony. And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.

4. That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God's Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.

5. Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.

6. Thus, when it was solemnly proclaimed that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, was from the very beginning free from the taint of original sin, the minds of the faithful were filled with a stronger hope that the day might soon come when the dogma of the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven would also be defined by the Church's supreme teaching authority.

7. Actually it was seen that not only individual Catholics, but also those who could speak for nations or ecclesiastical provinces, and even a considerable number of the Fathers of the Vatican Council, urgently petitioned the Apostolic See to this effect.

8. During the course of time such postulations and petitions did not decrease but rather grew continually in number and in urgency. In this cause there were pious crusades of prayer. Many outstanding theologians eagerly and zealously carried out investigations on this subject either privately or in public ecclesiastical institutions and in other schools where the sacred disciplines are taught. Marian Congresses, both national and international in scope, have been held in many parts of the Catholic world. These studies and investigations have brought out into even clearer light the fact that the dogma of the Virgin Mary's Assumption into heaven is contained in the deposit of Christian faith entrusted to the Church. They have resulted in many more petitions, begging and urging the Apostolic See that this truth be solemnly defined.

9. In this pious striving, the faithful have been associated in a wonderful way with their own holy bishops, who have sent petitions of this kind, truly remarkable in number, to this See of the Blessed Peter. Consequently, when we were elevated to the throne of the supreme pontificate, petitions of this sort had already been addressed by the thousands from every part of the world and from every class of people, from our beloved sons the Cardinals of the Sacred College, from our venerable brethren, archbishops and bishops, from dioceses and from parishes.

10. Consequently, while we sent up earnest prayers to God that he might grant to our mind the light of the Holy Spirit, to enable us to make a decision on this most serious subject, we issued special orders in which we commanded that, by corporate effort, more advanced inquiries into this matter should be begun and that, in the meantime, all the petitions about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven which had been sent to this Apostolic See from the time of Pius IX, our predecessor of happy memory, down to our own days should be gathered together and carefully evaluated.[3]

11. And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement. Hence, on May 1, 1946, we gave them our letter "Deiparae Virginis Mariae," a letter in which these words are contained: "Do you, venerable brethren, in your outstanding wisdom and prudence, judge that the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin can be proposed and defined as a dogma of faith? Do you, with your clergy and people, desire it?"

12. But those whom "the Holy Spirit has placed as bishops to rule the Church of God"[4] gave an almost unanimous affirmative response to both these questions. This "outstanding agreement of the Catholic prelates and the faithful,"[5] affirming that the bodily Assumption of God's Mother into heaven can be defined as a dogma of faith, since it shows us the concordant teaching of the Church's ordinary doctrinal authority and the concordant faith of the Christian people which the same doctrinal authority sustains and directs, thus by itself and in an entirely certain and infallible way, manifests this privilege as a truth revealed by God and contained in that divine deposit which Christ has delivered to his Spouse to be guarded faithfully and to be taught infallibly.[6] Certainly this teaching authority of the Church, not by any merely human effort but under the protection of the Spirit of Truth,[7] and therefore absolutely without error, carries out the commission entrusted to it, that of preserving the revealed truths pure and entire throughout every age, in such a way that it presents them undefiled, adding nothing to them and taking nothing away from them. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, "the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter in such a way that, by his revelation, they might manifest new doctrine, but so that, by his assistance, they might guard as sacred and might faithfully propose the revelation delivered through the apostles, or the deposit of faith."[8] Thus, from the universal agreement of the Church's ordinary teaching authority we have a certain and firm proof, demonstrating that the Blessed Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven- which surely no faculty of the human mind could know by its own natural powers, as far as the heavenly glorification of the virginal body of the loving Mother of God is concerned-is a truth that has been revealed by God and consequently something that must be firmly and faithfully believed by all children of the Church. For, as the Vatican Council asserts, "all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church, either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office, as divinely revealed truths which must be believed."[9]

13. Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries; and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day.

14. Christ's faithful, through the teaching and the leadership of their pastors, have learned from the sacred books that the Virgin Mary, throughout the course of her earthly pilgrimage, led a life troubled by cares, hardships, and sorrows, and that, moreover, what the holy old man Simeon had foretold actually came to pass, that is, that a terribly sharp sword pierced her heart as she stood under the cross of her divine Son, our Redeemer. In the same way, it was not difficult for them to admit that the great Mother of God, like her only begotten Son, had actually passed from this life. But this in no way prevented them from believing and from professing openly that her sacred body had never been subject to the corruption of the tomb, and that the august tabernacle of the Divine Word had never been reduced to dust and ashes. Actually, enlightened by divine grace and moved by affection for her, God's Mother and our own dearest Mother, they have contemplated in an ever clearer light the wonderful harmony and order of those privileges which the most provident God has lavished upon this loving associate of our Redeemer, privileges which reach such an exalted plane that, except for her, nothing created by God other than the human nature of Jesus Christ has ever reached this level.

15. The innumerable temples which have been dedicated to the Virgin Mary assumed into heaven clearly attest this faith. So do those sacred images, exposed therein for the veneration of the faithful, which bring this unique triumph of the Blessed Virgin before the eyes of all men. Moreover, cities, dioceses, and individual regions have been placed under the special patronage and guardianship of the Virgin Mother of God assumed into heaven. In the same way, religious institutes, with the approval of the Church, have been founded and have taken their name from this privilege. Nor can we pass over in silence the fact that in the Rosary of Mary, the recitation of which this Apostolic See so urgently recommends, there is one mystery proposed for pious meditation which, as all know, deals with the Blessed Virgin's Assumption into heaven.

16. This belief of the sacred pastors and of Christ's faithful is universally manifested still more splendidly by the fact that, since ancient times, there have been both in the East and in the West solemn liturgical offices commemorating this privilege. The holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church have never failed to draw enlightenment from this fact since, as everyone knows, the sacred liturgy, "because it is the profession, subject to the supreme teaching authority within the Church, of heavenly truths, can supply proofs and testimonies of no small value for deciding a particular point of Christian doctrine."[10]

17. In the liturgical books which deal with the feast either of the dormition or of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin there are expressions that agree in testifying that, when the Virgin Mother of God passed from this earthly exile to heaven, what happened to her sacred body was, by the decree of divine Providence, in keeping with the dignity of the Mother of the Word Incarnate, and with the other privileges she had been accorded. Thus, to cite an illustrious example, this is set forth in that sacramentary which Adrian I, our predecessor of immortal memory, sent to the Emperor Charlemagne. These words are found in this volume: "Venerable to us, O Lord, is the festivity of this day on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death, who has begotten your Son our Lord incarnate from herself."[11]

18. What is here indicated in that sobriety characteristic of the Roman liturgy is presented more clearly and completely in other ancient liturgical books. To take one as an example, the Gallican sacramentary designates this privilege of Mary's as "an ineffable mystery all the more worthy of praise as the Virgin's Assumption is something unique among men." And, in the Byzantine liturgy, not only is the Virgin Mary's bodily Assumption connected time and time again with the dignity of the Mother of God, but also with the other privileges, and in particular with the virginal motherhood granted her by a singular decree of God's Providence. "God, the King of the universe, has granted you favors that surpass nature. As he kept you a virgin in childbirth, thus he has kept your body incorrupt in the tomb and has glorified it by his divine act of transferring it from the tomb."[12]

19. The fact that the Apostolic See, which has inherited the function entrusted to the Prince of the Apostles, the function of confirming the brethren in the faith,[13] has by its own authority, made the celebration of this feast ever more solemn, has certainly and effectively moved the attentive minds of the faithful to appreciate always more completely the magnitude of the mystery it commemorates. So it was that the Feast of the Assumption was elevated from the rank which it had occupied from the beginning among the other Marian feasts to be classed among the more solemn celebrations of the entire liturgical cycle. And, when our predecessor St. Sergius I prescribed what is known as the litany, or the stational procession, to be held on four Marian feasts, he specified together the Feasts of the Nativity, the Annunciation, the Purification, and the Dormition of the Virgin Mary.[14] Again, St. Leo IV saw to it that the feast, which was already being celebrated under the title of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God, should be observed in even a more solemn way when he ordered a vigil to be held on the day before it and prescribed prayers to be recited after it until the octave day. When this had been done, he decided to take part himself in the celebration, in the midst of a great multitude of the faithful.[15] Moreover, the fact that a holy fast had been ordered from ancient times for the day prior to the feast is made very evident by what our predecessor St. Nicholas I testifies in treating of the principal fasts which "the Holy Roman Church has observed for a long time, and still observes."[16]

20. However, since the liturgy of the Church does not engender the Catholic faith, but rather springs from it, in such a way that the practices of the sacred worship proceed from the faith as the fruit comes from the tree, it follows that the holy Fathers and the great Doctors, in the homilies and sermons they gave the people on this feast day, did not draw their teaching from the feast itself as from a primary source, but rather they spoke of this doctrine as something already known and accepted by Christ's faithful. They presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ-truths that the liturgical books had frequently touched upon concisely and briefly.

21. Thus St. John Damascene, an outstanding herald of this traditional truth, spoke out with powerful eloquence when he compared the bodily Assumption of the loving Mother of God with her other prerogatives and privileges. "It was fitting that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death. It was fitting that she, who had carried the Creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles. It was fitting that the spouse, whom the Father had taken to himself, should live in the divine mansions. It was fitting that she, who had seen her Son upon the cross and who had thereby received into her heart the sword of sorrow which she had escaped in the act of giving birth to him, should look upon him as he sits with the Father. It was fitting that God's Mother should possess what belongs to her Son, and that she should be honored by every creature as the Mother and as the handmaid of God."[17]

22. These words of St. John Damascene agree perfectly with what others have taught on this same subject. Statements no less clear and accurate are to be found in sermons delivered by Fathers of an earlier time or of the same period, particularly on the occasion of this feast. And so, to cite some other examples, St. Germanus of Constantinople considered the fact that the body of Mary, the virgin Mother of God, was incorrupt and had been taken up into heaven to be in keeping, not only with her divine motherhood, but also with the special holiness of her virginal body. "You are she who, as it is written, appears in beauty, and your virginal body is all holy, all chaste, entirely the dwelling place of God, so that it is henceforth completely exempt from dissolution into dust. Though still human, it is changed into the heavenly life of incorruptibility, truly living and glorious, undamaged and sharing in perfect life."[18] And another very ancient writer asserts: "As the most glorious Mother of Christ, our Savior and God and the giver of life and immortality, has been endowed with life by him, she has received an eternal incorruptibility of the body together with him who has raised her up from the tomb and has taken her up to himself in a way known only to him."[19]

23. When this liturgical feast was being celebrated ever more widely and with ever increasing devotion and piety, the bishops of the Church and its preachers in continually greater numbers considered it their duty openly and clearly to explain the mystery that the feast commemorates, and to explain how it is intimately connected with the other revealed truths.

24. Among the scholastic theologians there have not been lacking those who, wishing to inquire more profoundly into divinely revealed truths and desirous of showing the harmony that exists between what is termed the theological demonstration and the Catholic faith, have always considered it worthy of note that this privilege of the Virgin Mary's Assumption is in wonderful accord with those divine truths given us in Holy Scripture.

25. When they go on to explain this point, they adduce various proofs to throw light on this privilege of Mary. As the first element of these demonstrations, they insist upon the fact that, out of filial love for his mother, Jesus Christ has willed that she be assumed into heaven. They base the strength of their proofs on the incomparable dignity of her divine motherhood and of all those prerogatives which follow from it. These include her exalted holiness, entirely surpassing the sanctity of all men and of the angels, the intimate union of Mary with her Son, and the affection of preeminent love which the Son has for his most worthy Mother.

26. Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers,[20] have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: "Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified"[21]; and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord's temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven. Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer.[22] Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles "that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense" to be crowned.[23] These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.

27. Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos.[24] Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,"[25] since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve.

28. Thus, during the earliest period of scholastic theology, that most pious man, Amadeus, Bishop of Lausarme, held that the Virgin Mary's flesh had remained incorrupt-for it is wrong to believe that her body has seen corruption-because it was really united again to her soul and, together with it, crowned with great glory in the heavenly courts. "For she was full of grace and blessed among women. She alone merited to conceive the true God of true God, whom as a virgin, she brought forth, to whom as a virgin she gave milk, fondling him in her lap, and in all things she waited upon him with loving care."[26]

29. Among the holy writers who at that time employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to Illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption, which was piously believed, the Evangelical Doctor, St. Anthony of Padua, holds a special place. On the feast day of the Assumption, while explaining the prophet's words: "I will glorify the place of my feet,"[27] he stated it as certain that the divine Redeemer had bedecked with supreme glory his most beloved Mother from whom he had received human flesh. He asserts that "you have here a clear statement that the Blessed Virgin has been assumed in her body, where was the place of the Lord's feet. Hence it is that the holy Psalmist writes: 'Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified."' And he asserts that, just as Jesus Christ has risen from the death over which he triumphed and has ascended to the right hand of the Father, so likewise the ark of his sanctification "has risen up, since on this day the Virgin Mother has been taken up to her heavenly dwelling."[28]

30. When, during the Middle Ages, scholastic theology was especially flourishing, St. Albert the Great who, to establish this teaching, had gathered together many proofs from Sacred Scripture, from the statements of older writers, and finally from the liturgy and from what is known as theological reasoning, concluded in this way: "From these proofs and authorities and from many others, it is manifest that the most blessed Mother of God has been assumed above the choirs of angels. And this we believe in every way to be true."[29] And, in a sermon which he delivered on the sacred day of the Blessed Virgin Mary's annunciation, explained the words "Hail, full of grace"-words used by the angel who addressed her-the Universal Doctor, comparing the Blessed Virgin with Eve, stated clearly and incisively that she was exempted from the fourfold curse that had been laid upon Eve.[30]

31. Following the footsteps of his distinguished teacher, the Angelic Doctor, despite the fact that he never dealt directly with this question, nevertheless, whenever he touched upon it, always held together with the Catholic Church, that Mary's body had been assumed into heaven along with her soul.[31]

32. Along with many others, the Seraphic Doctor held the same views. He considered it as entirely certain that, as God had preserved the most holy Virgin Mary from the violation of her virginal purity and integrity in conceiving and in childbirth, he would never have permitted her body to have been resolved into dust and ashes.[32] Explaining these words of Sacred Scripture: "Who is this that comes up from the desert, flowing with delights, leaning upon her beloved?"[33] and applying them in a kind of accommodated sense to the Blessed Virgin, he reasons thus: "From this we can see that she is there bodily...her blessedness would not have been complete unless she were there as a person. The soul is not a person, but the soul, joined to the body, is a person. It is manifest that she is there in soul and in body. Otherwise she would not possess her complete beatitude.[34]

33. In the fifteenth century, during a later period of scholastic theology, St. Bernardine of Siena collected and diligently evaluated all that the medieval theologians had said and taught on this question. He was not content with setting down the principal considerations which these writers of an earlier day had already expressed, but he added others of his own. The likeness between God's Mother and her divine Son, in the way of the nobility and dignity of body and of soul-a likeness that forbids us to think of the heavenly Queen as being separated from the heavenly Kingmakes it entirely imperative that Mary "should be only where Christ is."[35] Moreover, it is reasonable and fitting that not only the soul and body of a man, but also the soul and body of a woman should have obtained heavenly glory. Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience.[36]

34. The above-mentioned teachings of the holy Fathers and of the Doctors have been in common use during more recent times. Gathering together the testimonies of the Christians of earlier days, St. Robert Bellarmine exclaimed: "And who, I ask, could believe that the ark of holiness, the dwelling place of the Word of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit, could be reduced to ruin? My soul is filled with horror at the thought that this virginal flesh which had begotten God, had brought him into the world, had nourished and carried him, could have been turned into ashes or given over to be food for worms."[37]

35. In like manner St. Francis of Sales, after asserting that it is wrong to doubt that Jesus Christ has himself observed, in the most perfect way, the divine commandment by which children are ordered to honor their parents, asks this question: "What son would not bring his mother back to life and would not bring her into paradise after her death if he could?"[38] And St. Alphonsus writes that "Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to his own dishonor to have her virginal flesh, from which he himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust."[39]

36. Once the mystery which is commemorated in this feast had been placed in its proper light, there were not lacking teachers who, instead of dealing with the theological reasonings that show why it is fitting and right to believe the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven, chose to focus their mind and attention on the faith of the Church itself, which is the Mystical Body of Christ without stain or wrinkle[40] and is called by the Apostle "the pillar and ground of truth."[41] Relying on this common faith, they considered the teaching opposed to the doctrine of our Lady's Assumption as temerarious, if not heretical. Thus, like not a few others, St. Peter Canisius, after he had declared that the very word "assumption" signifies the glorification, not only of the soul but also of the body, and that the Church has venerated and has solemnly celebrated this mystery of Mary's Assumption for many centuries, adds these words of warning: "This teaching has already been accepted for some centuries, it has been held as certain in the minds of the pious people, and it has been taught to the entire Church in such a way that those who deny that Mary's body has been assumed into heaven are not to be listened to patiently but are everywhere to be denounced as over-contentious or rash men, and as imbued with a spirit that is heretical rather than Catholic."[42]

37. At the same time the great Suarez was professing in the field of mariology the norm that "keeping in mind the standards of propriety, and when there is no contradiction or repugnance on the part of Scripture, the mysteries of grace which God has wrought in the Virgin must be measured, not by the ordinary laws, but by the divine omnipotence."[43] Supported by the common faith of the entire Church on the subject of the mystery of the Assumption, he could conclude that this mystery was to be believed with the same firmness of assent as that given to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. Thus he already held that such truths could be defined.

38. All these proofs and considerations of the holy Fathers and the theologians are based upon the Sacred Writings as their ultimate foundation. These set the loving Mother of God as it were before our very eyes as most intimately joined to her divine Son and as always sharing his lot. Consequently it seems impossible to think of her, the one who conceived Christ, brought him forth, nursed him with her milk, held him in her arms, and clasped him to her breast, as being apart from him in body, even though not in soul, after this earthly life. Since our Redeemer is the Son of Mary, he could not do otherwise, as the perfect observer of God's law, than to honor, not only his eternal Father, but also his most beloved Mother. And, since it was within his power to grant her this great honor, to preserve her from the corruption of the tomb, we must believe that he really acted in this way.

39. We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the protoevangelium,[44] would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death which are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.[45] Consequently, just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was an essential part and the final sign of this victory, so that struggle which was common to the Blessed Virgin and her divine Son should be brought to a close by the glorification of her virginal body, for the same Apostle says: "When this mortal thing hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory."[46]

40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,[47] immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.[48]

41. Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith-this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians-we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived.

42. We, who have placed our pontificate under the special patronage of the most holy Virgin, to whom we have had recourse so often in times of grave trouble, we who have consecrated the entire human race to her Immaculate Heart in public ceremonies, and who have time and time again experienced her powerful protection, are confident that this solemn proclamation and definition of the Assumption will contribute in no small way to the advantage of human society, since it redounds to the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, to which the Blessed Mother of God is bound by such singular bonds. It is to be hoped that all the faithful will be stirred up to a stronger piety toward their heavenly Mother, and that the souls of all those who glory in the Christian name may be moved by the desire of sharing in the unity of Jesus Christ's Mystical Body and of increasing their love for her who shows her motherly heart to all the members of this august body. And so we may hope that those who meditate upon the glorious example Mary offers us may be more and more convinced of the value of a human life entirely devoted to carrying out the heavenly Father's will and to bringing good to others. Thus, while the illusory teachings of materialism and the corruption of morals that follows from these teachings threaten to extinguish the light of virtue and to ruin the lives of men by exciting discord among them, in this magnificent way all may see clearly to what a lofty goal our bodies and souls are destined. Finally it is our hope that belief in Mary's bodily Assumption into heaven will make our belief in our own resurrection stronger and render it more effective.

43. We rejoice greatly that this solemn event falls, according to the design of God's providence, during this Holy Year, so that we are able, while the great Jubilee is being observed, to adorn the brow of God's Virgin Mother with this brilliant gem, and to leave a monument more enduring than bronze of our own most fervent love for the Mother of God.

44. For which reason, after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

45. Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.

46. In order that this, our definition of the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven may be brought to the attention of the universal Church, we desire that this, our Apostolic Letter, should stand for perpetual remembrance, commanding that written copies of it, or even printed copies, signed by the hand of any public notary and bearing the seal of a person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity, should be accorded by all men the same reception they would give to this present letter, were it tendered or shown.

47. It is forbidden to any man to change this, our declaration, pronouncement, and definition or, by rash attempt, to oppose and counter it. If any man should presume to make such an attempt, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.

48. Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the great Jubilee, 1950, on the first day of the month of November, on the Feast of All Saints, in the twelfth year of our pontificate.

I, PIUS, Bishop of the Catholic Church, have signed, so defining.