Monday, December 31, 2007

The Reason Why Many People Have An Incorrect Or Insufficient Understanding Of Grace

"In the natural order...no one has ever philosophized about the natural order of life in man without starting from, or at least reverting to, the nature of man on which it rests and to which it conforms. But in the supernatural order this point is often neglected; no foundation analogous to nature is looked for, and that is the reason why a clear, sound idea of the supernatural order is so rarely achieved."

-Matthias Joseph Scheeben in Nature and Grace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

One More Fruit Of My Semester

This time I give to you for your reading pleasure (and especially you priests and seminarians out there) my term paper for my Second Vatican Ecumenical Council class, The Necessity of the Study of the Fathers of the Church for Priests in Light of the Second Vatican Council's Optatam Totius.

Enjoy!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I Present To You....

Daniel Mark Garland III!


He was born on December 21, the feast day of St. Peter Canisius, and weighed in at 6 pounds 7 ounces, with a height of 19 1/2 inches. He arrived at 6:39am on his due date (already a very obedient child!). Thank you all of you who have kept us in your prayers! We are incredibly grateful.
Blogging will be sparse over the next week or so. My wife and I are trying to catch up on sleep and it doesn't look like it's going to happen soon, since the baby likes to sleep all day and stay awake all night. So, in the meantime, a very blessed Merry Christmas to all of you from the Garland Family!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One Of The Fruits Of My Semester

For your reading pleasure, I present to you my term paper for my Catholic Theology of Tradition and Development of Doctrine class, The Development of the Doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Liturgy

“The liturgy is not exclusively a form of instruction, even though it is wholly instructive and includes some formal periods of instruction. It is an active memorial, a presence and a realization, in short, a celebration of the Christian mystery itself—of the whole Christian mystery, for if the liturgy celebrates particular mysteries successively, according to its well-known sequences of feasts—Christmas, Epiphany, Presentation in the Temple, our Lord’s fast, the Passion and Resurrection, etc.—they all form a unique cycle. It is like a unique celebration reaching its climax or innermost center by means of preparation and successive stages. Christmas, Epiphany and our Lord’s fast find their whole meaning in Easter, the mystery of death inseparable from the mystery of new life. Whatever the feast, it is always the celebration of the Covenant, whose sacrament is the Mass, the heart of all the feasts, which is also the memorial of the Lord’s Pasch.

The liturgy adds a sanctoral cycle to its temporal one, because it never separates the Body from the Head, the saints from their Lord and Master. In the celebration of the liturgy the whole mystical vine of salvation is communicated. It is truly the total reality of the Covenant that is offered to us.

It is not only taught to us or merely brought to our notice; it is celebrated, realized, rendered present and communicated not simply as a doctrine and truth, but as a reality. The doctrinal feasts were instituted relatively recently. They have a lot to recommend them, but even before the institution of a feast of Christ the King the liturgy was from beginning to end, and still is, the very realization and proclamation of the universal Lordship of Christ; it taught and teaches this by all that it is; it brings home this truth in a living way, exactly as a family inculcates the sense of duty in a child without giving him theoretical lessons on the subject. There was talk of instituting a feast of Redemption! It is unlikely that this will happen, and it would be quite superfluous if proper use is made of the liturgy, because the liturgy is, from beginning to end, the active celebration of the Redemption, and its efficacious enactment. The liturgy does not theorize on the Redemption, but it ceaselessly brings us into loving communication with Christ our Savior, with his Cross and its fruit, the hope of eternal life. Similarly…the liturgy teaches scarcely any lesson about the Eucharist—and none before the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi in 1264. But the liturgy celebrates the Eucharist; it offers us the means by which we may prepare ourselves to approach it; the liturgy brings us into communication with it and envelops it in a whole cult and worship, which radiates naturally from it.”

-Yves Congar in The Meaning of Tradition.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Welcome Home


Today Josh Mcmanaway from A New Testament Student blog came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church! I had the honor and privilege of being his sponsor. Go over to his blog and congratulate him on his first communion, confirmation, and reception into the Catholic Church!
...And in case anyone is wondering, he took St. Thomas Aquinas as his confirmation name....as if there was anyone else!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Holidays, Infidel!


Today is the feast of jolly old St. Nicholas of Myra, who allegedly punched Arius in the face at the Council of Nicaea! However, St. Nick's method of ecumenism wasn't the only method in use by the Fathers of the Church. Mike Aquilina reveals that St. Nicholas' style was the way of the minority and probably spurious at that (somebody should have told St. Jerome!). Check it out!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What Does The Gospel Of Judas Really Say?


"It says that Judas is a specific demon called the “Thirteenth.” In certain Gnostic traditions, this is the given name of the king of demons — an entity known as Ialdabaoth who lives in the 13th realm above the earth. Judas is his human alter ego, his undercover agent in the world. These Gnostics equated Ialdabaoth with the Hebrew Yahweh, whom they saw as a jealous and wrathful deity and an opponent of the supreme God whom Jesus came to earth to reveal."

That seems alot different than what the National Geographic Society has revealed it to say! Dr. April Deconick takes a look at the Coptic manuscript and finds out that the NGS needs lessons in translation! Read it here.


Hat tip to Josh at A New Testament Student.

Friday, November 30, 2007

True Liberation Comes From Hope In Christ

I haven't finished reading Pope Benedict's new encyclical, Spe Salvi, yet but I wanted to highlight his condemnation of Liberation Theology found in the encyclical. He says:

Christianity did not bring a message of social revolution like that of the
ill-fated Spartacus, whose struggle led to so much bloodshed. Jesus was not
Spartacus, he was not engaged in a fight for political liberation like Barabbas
or Bar- Kochba. Jesus, who himself died on the Cross, brought something totally
different: an encounter with the Lord of all lords, an encounter with the living
God and thus an encounter with a hope stronger than the sufferings of slavery, a
hope which therefore transformed life and the world from within.

I have to go to work now, but I will blog more on the encyclical later!

The Pope's New Encyclical....

...can be found here!

I haven't read it yet, but I will after class today and most likely put forth my two cents on it. Until then....happy reading!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Church Is The Kingdom

“There is a great difference of belief between us and [Protestants]: they do not believe that Christ set up a visible society, or rather kingdom, for the propagation and maintenance of His religion, for a necessary home and refuge of His people, but we do. We know the kingdom is still on earth: where is it? If all that can be found of it is what can be discerned at Constantinople or Canterbury, I say, it has disappeared; and either there was a radical corruption of Christianity from the first, or Christianity came to an end, in proportion as the type of the Nicene Church faded out of the world: for all that we know of Christianity, in ancient history, as a concrete fact, is the Church of Athanasius and his fellows: it is nothing else historically but that bundle of phenomena, that combination of claims, prerogatives, and corresponding acts, some of which I have recounted above. There is no help for it; we cannot take as much as we please, and no more, of an institution which has a monadic existence. We must either give up the belief in the Church as a divine institution altogether, or we must recognize it in that communion of which the Pope is the head. With him alone and round about him are found the claims, the prerogatives, and duties which we identify with the kingdom set up by Christ. We must take things as they are; to believe in a Church, is to believe in the Pope. And thus this belief in the Pope and his attributes, which seems so monstrous to Protestants, is bound up with our being Catholics at all; as our Catholicism is with our Christianity. There is nothing then of wanton opposition to the powers that be, no dinning of novelties in their startled ears in what is often unjustly called Ultramontane doctrine; there is no pernicious servility to the Pope in our admission of his pretensions. I say, we cannot help ourselves—Parliament may deal as harshly with us as it will; we should not believe in the Church at all, unless we believed in its visible head.”

-John Henry Newman in A Letter Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk.

Neither Angels, Nor Devils

"Popes, then, though they are infallible in their office, as Prophets and Vicars of the Most High, and though they have generally been men of holy life, and many of them actually saints, have the trials, and incur the risks of other men. Our doctrine of infallibility means something very different from what Protestants think it means. And so again, all the inconsistencies which they think they find in what we teach of the sanctity of the Priesthood compared with the actual conduct of a portion of the members of it, would vanish, if they understood that a priest, in a Catholic sense, as in St. Paul's sense, is one "who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that err, for that he himself also is encompassed with infirmity." Yet, strange to say, so little are they aware of our real doctrine on the subject, that even since these Lectures began, it has been said to me in reference to them in print, "A vulgar error in your Church is, that the Priests are so divinely protected that one of them can hardly err, can hardly sin. This notion is now at an end, as far as you are concerned." Most marvellous! This writer's idea, and the idea of most Protestants is, that we profess that all Priests are angels, but that really they are all devils. No, neither the one nor the other; if these Protestants came to us and asked, they would find that we taught a far different doctrine—viz., that Priests were mortal men, who were intrusted with high gifts for the good of the people, that they might err as other men, that they would fall if they were not watchful, that in various times and places large numbers had fallen, so much so, that the Priesthood of whole countries had before now apostatized, as happened in great measure in England three centuries ago, and that at all times there was a certain remnant scattered about of priests who did not live up to their faith and their profession; still that, on the whole, they had been, as a body, the salt of the earth and the light of the world, through the power of divine grace, and that thus, in spite of the frailty of human nature, they had fulfilled the blessed purposes of their institution. But not in one or two points merely, but in everything we think and say and do, as Catholics, were we but known, what a reformation would there not at once follow in the national mind in respect to us! British fair dealing and good sense would then recover their supremacy; and Maria Monks and Teodores would find their occupation gone. We should hear no more of the laity being led blindfold, of their being forced to digest impossibilities under menace of perdition, of their struggles to get loose continually overmastered by their superstition, and of their heart having no part in their profession. The spectres of tyranny, hypocrisy, and fraud would flit away with the morning light. There would be no more dread of being burned alive by Papists, or of the gutters overflowing with Protestant blood. Dungeons, racks, pulleys, and quick-lime would be like the leavings of a yesterday's revel. Nor would the political aims and plots and intrigues, so readily imputed to us, seem more substantial; and though I suppose, there is lying, and littleness, and overreaching, and rivalry, to be found among us as among other sons of Adam, yet the notion that we monopolized these vile qualities, or had more than our share of them, would be an exploded superstition. This indeed would be a short and easy way, not of making Protestants Catholics, but of reversing their ridiculous dreams about us,—I mean, if they actually saw what they so interminably argue about. But it is not to be:—first comes in the way that very love of arguing and of having an opinion, to which my last words have alluded. Men would be sorry indeed that the controversy should be taken from the region of argument and transferred to that of fact. They like to think as they please; and as they would by no means welcome St. Paul, did he come from heaven to instruct them in the actual meaning of his "texts" in Romans iii. or Galatians ii., so they would think it a hardship to be told that they must not go on maintaining and proving, that we were really what their eyes then would testify we were not. And then, too, dear scandal and romancing put in their claim; how would the world go on, and whence would come its staple food and its cheap luxuries, if Catholicism were taken from the market? Why it would be like the cotton crop failing, or a new tax put upon tea. And then, too, comes prejudice, "like the horseleech, crying, Give, give:" how is prejudice to exist without Catholic iniquities and enormities? prejudice, which could not fast for a day, which would be in torment inexpressible, and call it Popish persecution, to be kept on this sort of meagre for a Lent, and would shake down Queen and Parliament with the violence of its convulsions, rather than it should never suck a Catholic's sweet bones and drink his blood any more."

-John Henry Newman in Present Position of Catholics in England.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Loss Of The High Moral Ground


The United States has lost the high moral ground since 9/11.......so says the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams.

Yup, the very same Rowan Williams who supports gay marriage, gay bishops, and whatever other buggery the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the U.S. has advocated.

Right O, Rowan! No moral ground whatsoever. You tell 'em!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Encyclical #2


Pope Benedict's second encyclical will be released on November 30. It is called Spe Salvi, which means "Saved by Hope" referring to the phrase used by St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans. What a great way to start off the Year dedicated to the Blessed Apostle! Stay tuned....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Episcopal Bishop Of Southwest Florida Becomes Catholic


Two days ago, the Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, John Lipscomb, announced his resignation from the Episcopal Church and declared his desire to come home to the Catholic Church.

I have met Lipscomb a while back (he was my wife's former bishop) and he was a very nice man. However, as a bishop in the Episcopal Church he seemed to be on the fence over a lot of issues that divided the Episcopal Church, if not supportive of the reappraising side. One would guess that now that he is becoming Catholic, he has figured out where he stands on particular issues of controversy and firmly believes all that the Catholic Church teaches. It would be rather rash for him to go from being a bishop in the Episcopal Church to a member of the Catholic Church is this were not the case.

May God Bless you John Lipscomb and welcome to the Catholic Church!

Hat tip to Kendall Harmon at Titusonenine where Lipscomb's letter to his diocese is posted.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Brotherhood Of All Does Not Exclude The Authority Of One

“Even among the blessed apostles, there was side by side with an equality of honor a distinction of authority; and though all were equally chosen, preeminence was nevertheless given to one over the others. On the same principle, distinction is made between bishops, and the mighty design of Providence has ordered it that all may not claim every prerogative, but that in each province there should be someone possessing primacy of jurisdiction over his brethren; and again, that those presiding in the larger cities should receive a wider responsibility, that through them the care of the universal Church might ultimately rest upon the one See of Peter and that no part should anywhere be separated from the head.”

-Pope St. Leo the Great

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Right To Life....As Long As The State Says So.

According to this news article, the National Right to Life Committee says it will endorse Fred Thompson. Yet the article states that Thompson is in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade, but favors letting individual states decide whether to permit abortions. So, it seems that Thompson is not pro-life, but rather pro-choice seeing that he is willing to let the State decide.

Does anyone else see the absurdity of the National Right to Life Committee's endorsement of Thompson based on this? Why did they not endorse someone who is 100% pro-life? Does any candidate fit that description? It seems that Huckabee does. Although, I am not so quick to endorse him. Is there anyone else out there willing to stand up for life? Surely, someone is willing to resist compromise and support the dignity of human life!

I do know for a fact that I will not be voting for Giuliani!

The Death Of A Heretic: Epilogue

“It is said that for a long period subsequently no one would make use of the seat on which he died. Those who were compelled by necessities of nature, as is wont to be the case in a crowd, to visit the public place, when they entered, spoke to one another to avoid the seat, and the place was shunned afterwards, because Arius had there received the punishment of his impiety. At a later time a certain rich and powerful man, who had embraced the Arian tenets, bought the place of the public, and built a house on the spot, in order that the occurrence might fall into oblivion, and that there might be no perpetual memorial of the death of Arius.”

-Sozomen in Ecclesiastical History.

The Death Of A Heretic: Part 3

“When Arius himself, the author of the heresy, and the associate of Eusebius, was summoned through the interest of Eusebius and his fellows to appear before Constantine Augustus of blessed memory, and was required to present a written declaration of his faith, the wily man wrote one, but kept out of sight the peculiar expressions of his impiety, and pretended, as the Devil did, to quote the simple words of Scripture, just as they are written. And when the blessed Constantine said to him, ‘If thou holdest no other opinions in thy mind besides these, take the Truth to witness for thee; the Lord is thy avenger if thou swearest falsely’: the unfortunate man swore that he held no other, and that he had never either spoken or thought otherwise than as he had now written. But as paying the penalty of his crime, and ‘falling headlong burst asunder in the midst.’ Death, it is true, is the common end of all men, and we ought not to insult the dead, though he be an enemy, for it is uncertain whether the same event may not happen to ourselves before evening. But the end of Arius was not after an ordinary manner, and therefore it deserves to be related. Eusebius and his fellows threatening to bring him into the Church, Alexander, the Bishop of Constantinople, resisted them; but Arius trusted to the violence and menace of Eusebius. It was the Sabbath, and he expected to join communion on the following day. There was therefore a great struggle between them; the others threatening, Alexander praying. But the Lord being judge of t he case, decided against the unjust party: for the sun had not set, when the necessities of nature compelled him to that place, where he fell down, and was forthwith deprived of communion with t he Church and of his life together. The blessed Constantine hearing of this at once, was struck with wonder to find him thus convicted of perjury. And indeed it was then evident to all that the threats of Eusebius and his fellows had proved of no avail, and the hope of Arius had become vain. It was shewn too that the Arian madness was rejected from communion by our Savior both here and in the Church of the first-born in heaven. Now who will wonder to see the unrighteous ambition of these men, whom the Lord has condemned—to see them vindicating the heresy which the Lord has pronounced excommunicate (since He did not suffer its author to enter into the Church), and not fearing that which is written, but attempting impossible things?”

-Athanasius in his letter to the Bishops of Egypt.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Saint That Keeps On Giving


It takes two miracles to become a saint. After that, many saints sit back and enjoy the heavenly beatitude. Not so with St. John Chrysostom! Old Golden Mouth has recently performed two more miracles. Check it out!

The Death Of A Heretic: Part 2

“After the Synod of Jerusalem, Arius went to Egypt, but as he could not obtain permission to hold communion with the Church of Alexandria, he returned to Constantinople. As all those who had embraced his sentiments, and those who were attached to Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia, had assembled cunningly in that city for the purpose of holding a council, Alexander, who was then ordering the see of Constantinople, used every effort to dissolve the council. But as his endeavors were frustrated, he openly refused all covenant with Arius, affirming that it was neither just nor according to ecclesiastical canons, to make powerless their own vote, and that of those bishops who had been assembled at Nicaea, from nearly every region under the sun. When the partisans of Eusebius perceived that their arguments produced no effect on Alexander, they had recourse to contumely, and threatened that unless he would receive Arius into communion on a stated day, he should be expelled from the church, and that another should be elected in his place who would be willing to hold communion with Arius. They then separated, the partisans of Eusebius, to await the time they had fixed for carrying their menaces into execution, and Alexander to pray that the words of Eusebius might be prevented from being carried into deed. His chief source of fear arose from the fact that the emperor had been persuaded to give way. On the day before the appointed day he prostrated himself before the altar, and continued all the night in prayer to God, that his enemies might be prevented from carrying their schemes into execution against him. Late in the afternoon, Arius, being seized suddenly with pain in the stomach, was compelled to repair to the public place set apart for emergencies of this nature. As some time passed away without his coming out, some persons, who were waiting for him outside, entered, and found him dead and still sitting upon the seat. When his death became known, all people did not view the occurrence under the same aspect. Some believed that he died at that very hour, seized by a sudden disease of the heart, or suffering weakness from his joy over the fact that his matters were falling out according to his mind; other imagined that his mode of death was inflicted on him in judgment, on account of his impiety. Those who held his sentiments were of opinion that his death was brought about by magical arts.”

-Salaminus Hermias Sozomenus in Ecclesiastical History.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Death Of A Heretic

“Meanwhile the emperor, being desirous of personally examining Arius, sent for him to the palace, and asked him whether he would assent to the determinations of the Synod at Nicaea. He without hesitation replied in the affirmative, and subscribed the declaration of the faith in the emperor’s presence, acting with duplicity. The emperor, surprised at his ready compliance, obliged him to confirm his signature by an oath. This also he did with equal dissimulation. The way he evaded, as I have heard, was this: he wrote his own opinion on paper, and carried it under his arm, so that he then swore truly that he really held the sentiments he had written. That this is so, however, I have written from hearsay, but that he added an oath to his subscription, I have myself ascertained, from an examination of the emperor’s own letters. The emperor being thus convinced, ordered that he should be received into communion by Alexander, bishop of Constantinople. It was then Saturday, and Arius was expecting to assemble with the church on the day following: but divine retribution overtook his daring criminalities. For going out of the imperial palace, attended by a crowd of Eusebian partisans like guards, he paraded proudly through the midst of the city, attracting the notice of all the people. As he approached the place called Constantine’s Forum, where the column of porphyry is erected, a terror arising from the remorse of conscience seized Arius, and with the terror a violent relaxation of the bowels: he therefore enquired whether there was a convenient place near, and being directed to the back of Constantine’s Forum, he hastened thither. Soon after a faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died. The scene of this catastrophe still is shown at Constantinople, as I have said, behind the shambles in the colonnade: and by persons going by pointing the finger at the place, there is a perpetual remembrance preserved of this extraordinary death. So disastrous an occurrence filled with dread and alarm the party of Eusebius, bishop of Nicomedia; and the report of it quickly spread itself over the city and throughout the world.”

-Socrates Scholasticus in Ecclesiastical History.

Transubstantiation

"The religion which seeks to bind man’s individual being to Christ is not content with an invisible and purely spiritual communion; it desires that man should communicate with his God throughout his entire being, even by the physical act of feeding. In this mystical but real Communion the matter of the sacrament is not simply destroyed and annihilated, it is transubstantiated, that is to say, the interior and invisible substance of the bread and wine is lifted into the sphere of Christ’s ascended bodily nature and absorbed by it, while the phenomenal reality or outward appearance of these objects remains without sensible change, that they may act in the given conditions of our physical existence and so establish a link between that existence and the body of God."

-Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The State Of Protestantism In 1845

“Lutheranism has by this time become in most places almost simple heresy of infidelity; it has terminated, if it has even yet reached its limit, in a denial both of the Canon and the Creed, nay, of many principles of morals. Accordingly the question arises, whether these conclusions are in fairness to be connected with its original teaching or are a corruption. And it is no little aid towards its resolution to find that Luther himself at one time rejected the Apocalypse, called the Epistle of St. James ‘straminea,’ condemned the word ‘Trinity,’ fell into a kind of Euctychianism in his view of the Holy Eucharist, and in a particular case sanctioned bigamy. Calvinism, again, in various distinct countries, has become Socinianism, andCalvin himself seems to have denied our Lord’s Eternal Sonship and ridiculed the Nicene Creed.”

-John Henry Newman in An Essay On the Development of Doctrine.

The Logical Development Of Lutheranism

“A specimen of logical development is afforded us in the history of Lutheranism as it has of late years been drawn out by various English writers. Luther started on a double basis, his dogmatic principle being contradicted by his right of private judgment, and his sacramental by his theory of justification. The sacramental element never showed signs of life; but on his death, that which he represented in his own person as a teacher, the dogmatic, gained the ascendancy; and ‘every expression of his upon controverted points became a norm for the party, which, at all times the largest, was at last coextensive with the Church itself. This almost idolatrous veneration was perhaps increased by the selection of declarations of faith, of which the substance on the whole was his, for the symbolic book of his Church’ (Pusey on German Rationalism). Next a reaction took place; private judgment was restored to the supremacy. Calixtus put reason, and Spener the so-called religion of the heart, in the place of dogmatic correctness. Pietism for the time died away; but rationalism developed in Wolf, who professed to prove all the orthodox doctrines, by a process of reasoning, from premises level with the reason. It was soon found that the instrument which Wolf had used for orthodoxy, could plausibly be used against it;—in his hands it had proved the Creed; in the hands of Semler, Ernesti, and others, it disproved the authority of Scripture. What was religion to be made to consist in now? A sort of philosophical Pietism followed; or rather Spener’s pietism and the original theory of justification were analyzed more thoroughly, and issued in various theories of Pantheism, which from the first was at the bottom of Luther’s doctrine and personal character. And this appears to be the state of Lutheranism at present, whether we view it in the philosophy of Kant, in the open infidelity of Strauss, or in the religious professions of the new Evangelical Church of Prussia. Applying this instance to the subject which it has been here brought to illustrate, I should say that the equable and orderly march and natural succession of views, by which the creed of Luther has been changed into the infidel or heretical philosophy of his present representatives, is a proof that that change is no perversion or corruption, but a faithful development of the original idea.”

-John Henry Newman in An Essay On the Development of Doctrine.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Greatness Of Saint Josemaria Escriva


"The ministry of the Word demands a profound self-denial on the part of the priest: he is measured by the standard of Paul's saying: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me' (Gal 2:20). A little incident from the early history of the Opus Dei comes to mind. A young woman had the chance for the first time to attend lectures by the founder, Don Escriva. She was tremendously eager to hear such a very famous speaker. Yet when she had taken part in the Mass with him -so she said later- she wanted no longer to listen to a human speaker but only to discern what was God's Word and his will."

-told by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Divine Pedagogue

Why did God give the Old Law if it was imperfect? And how can the Old Law be from God if it is imperfect, when Deuteronomy 32:4 says that “The works of God are perfect”?

In the Prima Secunda of his Summa Theologica, Q. 98, articles 1 and 2, Thomas Aquinas answers these questions. In the first article, Aquinas affirms that the Law was indeed good even though Ezekiel says that God “gave them statutes that were not good, and judgments in which they shall not live” (20:25). It seems as though Revelation is against Thomas here, but he makes a distinction. Namely, the Laws “that were not good” refers to the ceremonial precepts. They were not good because they did not confer the Grace necessary for the remission of sins. Another “not good” aspect of this Law is that, as Aquinas mentions, it caused concupiscence to increase “since we desire a thing the more from its being forbidden.” And when a desire wants what is forbidden, this disordered desire leads to sin. So how then is the Law good? Here Aquinas makes a distinction between degrees of good:

-A perfect good: a good which is sufficient in itself to bring about the desired
end.
-An imperfect good: a good that is of some assistance in attaining the
end, but not sufficient in itself for its acquirement.


The end of the Divine Law (of which the Old Law is part) is “to bring man to that end which is everlasting happiness.”

Hence, the Old Law is an imperfect good that points to the end of everlasting happiness, and provides assistance, but is in itself insufficient to reach such end.

If you are keeping score, we now have an Old Law which not only is imperfect, but leads to sin. How can such a Law possibly be from God?

First, Aquinas tells us that the Old Law was ordained to Christ in two ways:

1) It bears witness to Christ.
2) It withdrew men from idolatrous
worship and taught them to worship the One God.


Thus, the Old Law has to be from God. “For the devil would not make a law whereby men would be led to Christ, Who was to cast him out….Therefore the Old Law was given by the same God, from Whom came salvation to man, through the grace of Christ.”



Building upon the previous conclusion, Thomas affirms the words of St. Paul in the Letter to the Galatians (3:24), “The law was our pedagogue in Christ.” The Old Law prepared us for the Grace of Christ. It was a Law that was humanly impossible to keep, but Christ would come and write a New Law on our hearts and give us the Grace to make it possible to keep the Divine Law. Apart from the Grace of Christ, we are unable to obtain Salvation. This is the heresy of Pelagius, who thought that some men did not need Christ’s Grace, but were able to reach Salvation on their own. God gave the Old Law precisely so men would not fall into this Pelagian way of thinking.

God wished “to give such a law as men by their own forces could not fulfill, so
that, while presuming on their own powers, they might find themselves to be
sinners, and being humbled might have recourse to the help of grace.”

The Divine Pedagogue that was the Old Law was designed to show men how weak and sinful they really were in order for them to recognize that they needed God and the Grace that only comes from Christ. In Romans 1, Paul tells us that the pagans did not pick up on the necessity of humbling themselves, but rather gave in to the sin of pride and “although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator..” (Rom 1: 21-23, 25).

In article 2, Aquinas also seems to suggest that the fathers of old had some kind of faith in Christ. For he says:

“Although the Old Law did not suffice to save man, yet another help from God
besides the Law was available for man, viz. faith in the Mediator, by which the
fathers of old were justified even as we are.”

This is an odd suggestion that is found elsewhere in the Summa where Aquinas suggests that Adam and Eve had a pre-lapsarian awareness of the Grace of Christ.

The ways of God are truly wonderful! By showing us our weakness we come to recognize our sinfulness and our absolute need of His love and Grace given by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Church Of The Fathers

“No one doubts…that the Roman Catholic communion of this day is the successor and representative of the Medieval Church, or that the Medieval Church is the legitimate heir of the Nicene; even allowing that it is a question whether a line cannot be drawn between the Nicene Church and the Church which preceded it. On the whole, all parties will agree that, of all existing systems, the present communion of Rome is the nearest approximation in fact to the Church of the Fathers, possible though some may think it, to be nearer still to that Church on paper. Did St. Athanasius or St. Ambrose come suddenly to life, it cannot be doubted what communion he would take to be his own. All surely will agree that these Fathers, with whatever opinions of their own, whatever protests, if we will, would find themselves more at home with such men as St. Bernard or St. Ignatius of Loyola, or with the lonely priest in his lodging, or the holy sisterhood of mercy, or the unlettered crowd before the altar, than with the teachers or with the members of any other creed. And may we not add, that were those same Saints, who once sojourned, one in exile, one on embassy, at Treves, to come more northward still, and to travel until they reached another fair city, seated among groves, green meadows, and calm streams, the holy brothers would turn from many a high aisle and solemn cloister which they found there, and ask the way to some small chapel where mass was said in the populous alley or forlorn suburb? And, on the other hand, can any one who has but heard his name, and cursorily read his history, doubt for one instant how, in turn, the people of England, ‘we, our princes, our priests, and our prophets,’ Lords and Commons, Universities, Ecclesiastical Courts, marts of commerce, great towns, country parishes, would deal with Athanasius,—Athanasius, who spent his long years in fighting against sovereigns for a theological term?”

-John Henry Newman in An Essay On the Development of Doctrine.

Feminine-Maternal Images of the Spirit In Early Syriac Tradition

....so goes the title of Emmanuel Kaniyamparampil's article, not only appearing in the third volume of the St. Paul Center's Letter & Spirit Journal, but it is online as well.

I just finished reading the article and I highly recommend it. This is one where you definitely want to read the footnotes! As well, it is important to make the distinction between the heretical gnostic sects who saw the Holy Spirit as a feminine being as opposed to the orthodox Christian groups who refer to the maternal working or function of the Holy Spirit.

Check out the article and while you are at it, you may want to read the other two articles online by Cardinal Schonborn and Dr. David Fagerberg. After that, you can purchase the journal and read the rest!

Q Who?

Mark Goodacre gives ten reasons to question "Q".

I think the best answer when someone asks if you believe in Q is to answer "yes." Then when they astonishingly question if you are putting them on, simply reply:

"Of course I believe in 'Q'. 'Q' is Matthew."




I apologize to those who are not into Biblical Criticism and may not know who or what "Q" refers to. It's probably best to stay that way! But for those who are interested:

"According to the Two Source Hypothesis accepted by a majority of contemporary scholars, the authors of Matthew and Luke each made use of two different sources: the Gospel of Mark and a non-extant second source termed Q. The siglum Q derives from the German word "Quelle," which means "Source." Q primarily consists of the "double tradition" material, that which is present in both Matthew and Luke but not Mark. However, Q may also contain material that is preserved only by Matthew or only by Luke (called "Sondergut") as well as material that is paralleled in Mark (called Mark/Q overlaps). Although the temptation story and the healing of the centurion's son are usually ascribed to Q, the majority of the material consists of sayings. For this reason, Q is sometimes called the Synoptic Sayings Source or the Sayings Gospel. Some scholars have observed that the Gospel of Thomas and the Q material, as contrasted with the four canonical gospels, are similar in their emphasis on the sayings of Jesus instead of the passion of Jesus." [Source]

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where Peter Is, There Is The Church

“Wherever Peter does not speak, only the opinions of men find utterance—and the apostles are silent. But Jesus Christ did not commend the vague and contradictory opinions of the mob or the silence of his chosen disciples; it was the unwavering, decisive, and authoritative utterance of Simon Bar-Jona upon which he set the seal of his approval. This utterance which satisfied our Lord clearly needed no human ratification; it possessed absolute validity etiam sine consensu Ecclesiae. It was not by means of a general consultation but (as Jesus Christ himself bore witness) with the direct assistance of the heavenly Father that Peter formulated the fundamental dogma of our religion; and his word defined the faith of Christians by its own inherent power, not by the consent of others—ex sese, non autem ex consensu Ecclasiae.

In contrast to the uncertain opinions of men, the word of Peter represents the stability and unity of the true faith; in contrast to the narrow national ideas of the Messiah to which the apostles gave utterance, his word expresses the messianic idea in its absolute and universal form. The idea of the Messiah which had sprung from the soil of Jewish national consciousness is already in the visions of the post-exilic prophets growing too large for these limits. But the true meaning of these mysterious and enigmatic visions was hardly divined by the inspired writers themselves, while Jewish public opinion remained exclusively nationalistic and could see no more in Christ than a great national prophet such as Elijah, Jeremiah, or John the Baptist, or at the most an all-powerful dictator, liberator, and leader of the chosen people such as Moses or David. This was the highest idea that the mob which followed Jesus held of him; and we know that even his chosen disciples shared these popular notions up to the end of his earthly life (cf. Luke 24:19-21).

Only in Peter’s confession does the messianic idea emerge, freed from all its nationalistic trappings and invested for the first time in its final and universal form. ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Matt. 16:16). Here is no question of a national king or prophet; the Messiah is not a second Moses or David. From this time on, he bears the unique name of him who, though he is the God of Israel, is nonetheless the God of all nations. Peter’s confession transcended Jewish nationalism and inaugurated the universal Church of the New Covenant.

This is yet one more reason why Peter should be the foundation of Christendom and why the supreme hierarchical authority, which of itself has ever maintained the universal or international character of the Church, should be the true heir of Peter and the actual possessor of all those privileges conferred by Christ upon the prince of the apostles.”

-Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Newman On Scripture

“Scripture, I say, begins a series of developments which it does not finish; that is to say, in other words, it is a mistake to look for every separate proposition of the Catholic doctrine in Scripture….The question, then, is not whether this or that proposition of the Catholic doctrine is in terminis in Scripture, unless we would be slaves to the letter, but whether that one view of the Mystery, of which all such are the exponents, be not there; a view which would be some other view, and not itself, if any one of such propositions, if any one of a number of similar propositions, were not true. Those propositions imply each other, as being parts of one whole; so that to deny one is to deny all, and to invalidate one is to deface and destroy the view itself. One thing alone has to be impressed on us by Scripture, the Catholic idea, and in it they all are included.”

-John Henry Newman in The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine: Sermon XV preached before the University of Oxford on the Purification, 1843.

Only One Church Is Universal

“William Palmer, a distinguished member of the Anglican Church and of the University of Oxford, wanted to join the Orthodox church. He went to Russia and Turkey to study the contemporary situation in the Christian East and to find out on what conditions he would be admitted to the communion of the Eastern Orthodox. At St. Petersburg and at Moscow he was told that he had only to abjure the errors of Protestantism before a priest, who would thereupon administer to him the sacrament of holy chrism or confirmation. But at Constantinople he found that he must be baptized afresh. As he knew himself to be a Christian and saw no reason to suspect the validity of his baptism (which incidentally, the Orthodox Russian church admitted without question), he considered that a second baptism would be a sacrilege. On the other hand, he could not bring himself to accept Orthodoxy according to the local rules of the Russian church, since he would then become Orthodox only in Russia while remaining a heathen in the eyes of the Greeks; and he had no wish to join a national church but to join the universal Orthodox church. No one could solve his dilemma, and so he became a Roman Catholic.”

Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

The Sacred Impression And Reason

“…I observe, that though the Christian mind reasons out a series of dogmatic statements, one from another, this it has ever done, and always must do, not from those statements taken in themselves, as logical propositions, but as being itself enlightened as (as if) inhabited by that sacred impression which is prior to them, which acts as a regulating principle, ever present, upon the reasoning, and without which no one has any warrant to reason at all. Such sentences as ‘the Word was God,’ or ‘the Only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father,’ or ‘the Word was made flesh,’ or ‘the Holy Ghost which proceedeth from the Father,’ are not a mere letter which we may handle by the rules of art at our own will, but august tokens of most simple, ineffable, adorable facts, embraced, enshrined according to its measure in the believing mind. For though the development of an idea is a deduction of proposition from proposition, these propositions are ever formed in and round the idea itself (so to speak), and are in fact one and all only aspects of it.”

-John Henry Newman in The Theory of Developments in Religious Doctrine: Sermon XV preached before the University of Oxford on the Purification, 1843.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Supreme Judge In Matters Of Religion Recognized By All The Fathers Of The Church: Peter


"As a member of the true and venerable Eastern or Greco-Russian Orthodox church, which speaks neither through an anti-canonical synod nor through the employees of the secular power, but through the utterance of her great Fathers and Doctors, I recognize as supremem judge in matters of religion him who has been recognized as such by St. Irenaeus, St. Dionysius the Great, St. Athanasius the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril, St. Flavian, the Blessed Theodoret, St. Maximus the Confessor, St. Theodore of the Studium, St. Ignatius, and on and on- namely, the apostle Peter, who lives in his successors and who has not hear our Lord's words in vain: 'You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church' (Matt. 16:18); 'Strengthen your brethren' (Luke 22:32); 'Feed my sheep, feed my lambs' (cf. John 21:15, 16, 17)."

-Vladimir Soloviev in The Russian Church and the Papacy.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Protestant Interpretation of 1 Jn. 5:17

Q: In regard to mortal and venial sins seen in 1 John 5:16-17, I was recently discussing this a friend who is Lutheran. He pulls out his NIV Bible and he reads the same verse and instead of it saying "There is a such thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say you can pray", it says something to the effect of "There is a sin that leads to death, about which I do not say you can pray", in which case he says it is referring to the sin against the Holy Spirit talked about in Mark's gospel. Is this biblical justification for mortal and venial sins now moot for me against anyone who carries an NIV Bible?

A: First of all we have to keep in mind that without a distinction between mortal and venial sins, we cannot have a proper concept of the Original sin of Adam.

Now, if we follow the logic of the translators of the NIV, then we need to be consistent and would have to translate 1 Jn. 5:17 also in the singular to read "but there is a sin which is not mortal." Following this logic, we have two singular sins. One leads to death (mortal). One does not. If they say that the one mortal is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, what do they claim is the one not-mortal sin? They would probably answer that it is absurd to say that there are only two possible sins, and they would be right. Hence the absurdity of their argument for the translation in the NIV and the absurdity of the logical conclusion that follows!

John 19:11 has Jesus say "...for this reason the one who handed me over to you had the greater sin." Jesus Himself makes a distinction in the degree of sins! We know that the "one who handed" Christ over was Judas. Judas certainly didn't blaspheme against the Holy Spirit. So how is it that he commits a greater sin? Because his sin is a mortal sin and Christ Himself makes a distinction between degrees of sin.

Also, Paul in 1 Cor. 6:9-11 states: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters..." If their were no distinction between sins, Paul's telling us of certain sins that cut us off from God (i.e. mortal) would be superfluous!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Sox Win World Series!

The Boston Red Sox win their second World Series in four years!


Mike Lowell was named the MVP of the series, but I think the ultimate MVP is manager Terry Francona who, ever since joing Boston in 2004, has given the Red Sox Nation two championships after an 86 year drought!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sancta Mater Ecclesia

“It is hard to imagine where the Gospel would have got to or in what state it would have reached us if, per impossible, it had not been composed, preserved and commented on within the great Catholic community—hard to picture the deformation and mutilation it would have suffered both as to text and as to interpretation….history speaks forcefully enough. There is no counting the number of aberrations which have been based upon an appeal to the Gospel, or the number of those who have, in consequence of them, toppled over into ‘atheistic and impious doctrines, or stupid and ridiculous beliefs.’

We owe our praise, therefore, to this great Mother of ours for the divine mystery which she communicates to us… This chaste Mother pours into us and sustains a faith which is always whole and which neither human decadence nor spiritual lassitude can touch, however deep they may go…This wise Mother steers us clear of sectarian excesses and the deceptive enthusiasm which is always followed by revulsion; she teaches us to love all that is good, all that is true, all that is just, and to reject nothing which has not been tested… She scatters the darkness in which men either slumber or despair or—pitifully—‘shape as they please their fantasies of the infinite.’ Without discouraging us from any task she protects us from the deceptive myths of the Churches made by the hand of man…she is initiated into His secrets and teaches us whatever pleases Him.”

-Henri De Lubac in The Splendor of the Church.

The Catholic Plenitude

“When the pope makes an act of doctrinal authority, this is no exterior yoke imposed by a particular man on a religious society in the name of his own intelligence, even though it might be that of a genius. He is defining the faith of the Church. He is in no way subject to her consent; yet the truth he translates into our language and renders precise is the truth by which she lives; the belief whose meaning he confirms is our belief—he analyzes its content, counters its potential weakening, and maintains its vigor. Thus, when we say to the Church, in the words which the Apostle used to Christ, who founded her: ‘To whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life’, this is not in virtue of some fatigue of spirit, which seeks to place itself under an authority to escape the effort of thought and the labor of living; rather it is, as Newman put it, in virtue of a sense of coming to rest in the Catholic plenitude.”

-Msgr. Blanchet, at the Institut Catholique inaugural Mass, November 1950.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Limits Of Papal Infallibility

“[Infallibility] does not belong to the Roman Pontiff inasmuch as he is a private person, nor even inasmuch as he is a private teacher, since, as such, he is equal with all other private teachers and, as Cajetan wisely noted, equal does not have power over equal, not such power as the Roman Pontiff exercises over the Church Universal. Hence we do not speak about personal infallibility, although we do defend the infallibility of the person of the Roman Pontiff, not as an individual person but as the person of the Roman Pontiff or a public person, that is, as head of the Church in his relation to the Church Universal. Indeed it should not be said that the Pontiff is infallible simply because of the authority of the papacy but rather inasmuch as he is certainly and undoubtedly subject to the direction of divine assistance. By the authority of the papacy, the Pontiff is always the supreme judge in matters of faith and morals, and the father and teacher of all Christians. But the divine assistance promised to him, by which he cannot err, he only enjoys as such when he really and actually exercises his duty as supreme judge and universal teacher of the Church in disputes about the Faith. Thus, the sentence ‘The Roman Pontiff is infallible’ should not be treated as false, since Christ promised that infallibility to the person of Peter and his successors, but it is incomplete since the Pope is only infallible when, by a solemn judgment, he defines a matter of faith and morals for the Church universal.”

-Bishop Vincent Gasser in his relatio at Vatican I, found in the book "The Gift of Infallibility."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Gospel Writers


“The first evangelist is Matthew, the publican, who was surnamed Levi. He published his Gospel in Judea in the Hebrew language, chiefly for the sake of Jewish believers in Christ, who adhered in vain to the shadow of the law, although the substance of the Gospel had come. The second is Mark, the amanuensis of the Apostle Peter, and the first bishop of the Church of Alexandria. He did not himself see our Lord and Savior, but he related the matter of his Master’s preaching with more regard to minute detail than to historical sequence. The third is Luke, the physician, by birth a native of Antioch, in Syria, whose praise is in the Gospel. He was himself a disciple of the Apostle Paul, and composed his book in Achaia and Boeotia. He thoroughly investigates the certain particulars and as he himself confesses in the preface, describes what he had heard rather than what he had seen. The last is John, the Apostle and Evangelist, whom Jesus loved most, who, reclining on the Lord’s bosom, drank the purest streams of doctrine, and was the only on thought worthy of the words from the cross, ‘Behold! thy mother.’ When he was in Asia, at the time when the seeds of heresy were springing up (I refer to Cerinthus, Ebion, and the rest who say that Christ has not come in the flesh, whom he in his own epistle calls Antichrists, and whom the Apostle Paul frequently assails), he was urged by almost all the bishops of Asia the living, and by deputations from many Churches, to write more profoundly concerning the divinity of the Savior, and to break through all obstacles so as to attain to the very Word of God (if I may so speak) with a boldness as successful as it appears audacious. Ecclesiastical history relates that, when he was urged by the brethren to write, he replied that he would do so if a general fast were proclaimed and all would offer up prayer to God; and when the fast was over, the narrative goes on to say, being filled with revelation, he burst into the heaven-sent Preface: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: this was in the beginning with God.’”

-St. Jerome in his preface to Matthew's Gospel.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

St. Malachy And The Papal Prophecies


This question came in the mailbox today:


Q: "what is the Church's stand on St. Malachai's prophecies? if there is faith in these prophecies, i say "yikes", because after Benedict, the final pope in this civilization's history would be seated!"

A: St. Malachy was an Irish saint who supposedly made a prophecy that described all the popes from Celestine II to the final pope (being a total of 112 popes), who was to be named Peter the Roman. After this second pope to be named Peter, Christ would come again in Glory. There has been speculation by some that Benedict XVI is number 111, and thus the next pope will mean….THE END OF THE WORLD!

The Church has no official opinion on these prophecies. As with all private revelation, the Church emphasizes that not only must the utmost discernment go into their authenticity, but also into their interpretation as well. In my opinion, many have tried way too hard to find a way of connecting the descriptions of the future popes with each successive pope that sits in the Chair of Peter. It really is quite ridiculous. So ridiculous in fact, that it is said that Cardinal Spellman of New York, in 1958 before the Conclave that elected Pope John XXIII, in a tongue-in-cheek manner hired a boat filled with sheep and sailed up and down the Tiber in order to show that he was “pastor et nautor”, the description of the next pope in the prophecies!

The problems with this supposed prophecy are two fold (at least):

1) The 142nd Pope, Sergius IV, was born with the name of Peter. And guess where he was born….Rome! So, even before Malachy’s prophecy, there is already a “Peter the Roman.”

2) The last pope is supposed to be the 112th pope from Celestine II who was the 165th Pope. Benedict XVI is the 265th Pope. Unless my math fails me, there have only been 100 popes, so the next pope is only 101 from Celestine II. You only reach 112 with the next pope if you count anti-popes, who are not real popes to begin with!

For info on the speculation concerning Pope Benedict and Malachy’s prophecy, see this article.

For info on discerning private revelation see here.

The Pope Has Always Been Infallible

During the First Vatican Council, the most common objection against the definition of papal infallibility was that if it is so defined, there would no longer be a need for an ecumenical council. Bishop Gasser in his relatio on the definition answered this objection. Here is Fr. James T. O'Conner's take on his answer in his commentary on the relatio:

"Living as we do after the celebration of a Second Vatican Council, the objection seems to carry little weight, and, indeed, history has demonstrated that Gasser's reply was accurate. He said, in essence: papal infallibility is not a new doctrine; the Pope has always been infallible. We are simply about to define that truth. And, although, the Pope has always been infallible, ecumenical councils were held in the past and so will they be in the future. They have never been, he says, absolutely necessary, but they have always been the 'most solemn judgment' of the Church in matters of faith and morals, since they visibly manifest the union of the Pope with the other bishops in fulfilling their roles as teachers of the faith. As such, ecumenical councils will always remain necessary."

Gasser's relatio can be found in the book "The Gift of Infallibility" along with Fr. O'Conner's theological synthesis of papal infallibility. This is an excellent book! If anyone is struggling with the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, (whether Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant) they should get* this book as soon as possible. You might come away with a different view and you will definitely understand the dogma better!


*I just did a search for this on amazon in order to link to it and apparently it is out of print and not available for less than $90 (which I assure my wife is not the price I paid for it!). I'm sure your local library will have a copy though, so go get it!

As I Would Expect...




Eucharistic theology
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Catholic

You are a Catholic. You believe that the bread and wine are transformed by the priest and become the Body and Blood of Christ. Though the accidents, or appearance, of bread and wine remain, the substance has been changed. The Eucharist remains the Body and Blood of Christ after the celebration, and is reserved in the Tabernacle; Eucharistic devotions are proper. As the whole Christ is present under either species, you partake fully of the Eucharist even if you receive only one.


Orthodox


100%

Catholic


100%

Luther


50%

Calvin


38%

Unitarian


0%

Zwingli


0%

I came out as scoring Catholic, but Orthodox apparently scored equal measure. I think this is due to my confusion over one question that was ambiguously asked concerning whether the Holy Spirit brings about the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Only after the quiz did I realize that it was referring to the epiclesis; the point in which the Orthodox hold that the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood, rather than at the words of consecration. I took it as a general question referring to the animating principal of the change. If I had realized this, the Orthodox rating probably would have been a 75 instead of 100. Oh well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Papal Primacy And Infallibility

"Salvation primarily depends upon guarding the rule of right faith. And since we cannot pass over the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, who says, 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church,' what was said is confirmed by facts, because in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been preserved immaculate, and the holy doctrine has been proclaimed. Not wishing, then, to be separated from this faith and doctrine, we hope to merit to be in the one communion which the Apostolic See preaches, in which See is the full and true solidity of the Christian religion."

-Profession of Faith at the Fourth Council of Constantinople(869) which was taken from the formula of the profession of faith expressed in 517 by Pope Hormisdas.

Patristic Bliss

On Monday I received the complete 38 vols. of the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers series! It is wonderful to have the Fathers available at my fingertips. I originally ordered the set of books from a company on Amazon called EducationMedia. This was a very bad idea!

A Warning to all who purhcase anything through Amazon Marketplace: NEVER ORDER FROM "EDUCATIONMEDIA"!

If you do so, you will end up paying for books that you will never receive. (I filed for a refund with Amazon, so I should get my money back)

Instead, if anyone wants to order the same series of the Church Fathers, I would highly recommend ordering them from ChristianBooks.com. They were $15 cheaper than the total price from educationmedia.

St. Basil Is Great!

This dialogue took place in 371 AD after St. Basil refused Modestus' insistence that he adhere to the Arian Creed of Rimini:

Modestus:
What, do you not fear my power?

Basil: What could happen to me? What might I suffer?

Modestus: Any one of the numerous torments which are in my power.

Basil: What are these? Tell me about them.

Modestus: Confiscation, exile, torture, death.

Basil: If you have any other, you can threaten me with it, for there is nothing so far which affects me.

Modestus: Why, what do you mean?

Basil: Well, in truth confiscation means nothing to a man who has nothing, unless you covet these wretched rags, and a few books: that is all I possess. As to exile, that means nothing to me, for I am attached to no particular place. That wherein I live is not mine, and I shall feel at home in any place to which I am sent, Or rather, I regard the whole earth as belonging to God, and I consider myself as a stranger or sojourner wherever I may be. As for torture, how will you apply this? I have not a body capable of bearing it, unless you are thinking of the first blow that you give me, for it will take me sooner to the God for Whom I live, for Whom I act, and for Whom I am more than half dead, and Whom I have desired long since.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Find It Highly Amusing.....

....that Origen, the master of the spiritual sense, took Jesus' words about the eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven literally.


It's almost as amusing as Fundamentalists who take all of the Bible literally, except when Christ says "This is my body"...."This is my blood."

It's Funny Because It's True...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Priesthood Before Christ (Non-Levitical)

“The most general concept of priesthood is centered in the notion of sacrifice. According to this concept, anyone who puts aside from his own use something he wishes to consecrate to the divinity is considered a priest. This is the original meaning of the expression sacrum facere.

Holy Scripture provides several instances of natural priesthood, one of which is the case of Abel, the ‘just man,’ whose sacrifice is commemorated daily in the Mass (Gn. 4:4). Natural priesthood is most often exercised by the leaders of a people in an act of public worship to obtain blessing for them. This office naturally falls, then, to the head of a family and to the qualified representatives of an ethnic group or clan.

Later, the sacrificial offering became the privilege of kings. Melchisedec, the high priest, was king of Salem (Gn. 14:18). The Babylonian and Assyrian leaders took pride in their priestly dignity; among the titles of honor attributed to them, that of priest was of exceptional importance. In Egypt, Pharaoh called himself ‘priest of all the gods,’ the qualified mediator between the divinities and his people. It is also true that, with the exception of a few cases, these priest-kings chose certain curates to replace them in the sacerdotal functions. In the organization of the tribes, as we read in Sacred Scripture, each family formed a small ceremonial community whose head was usually its priest. Thus, we see Abraham (Gn. 12:8, 15:8-17), Isaac, after the death of his father (Gn. 26:25), Jacob (Gn. 33:20), and Job (Jb. 1:5) offering sacrifices to the Almighty. It is to be expected that the Israelites would keep this usage in Egypt; it is also likely that the example of a privileged priestly caste, such as existed there, would influence them. This latter probability is enhanced by the fact that Joseph allied himself to the priestly nobility of the country of the Pharaohs by his marriage to Aseneth, daughter of Putiphare, priest of On (Heliopolis) (Gn. 41: 45).

Even under the Mosaic Law the ancient custom of authorizing the heads of families and of clans to fulfill the office of priest or of choosing replacements persisted. We see this in the example of Micha (Jgs. 7:5) who conferred the priestly investiture on one of his sons. But the sequel to that narration shows that this privilege of the Levites was recognized, since Micha subsequently invested an itinerant Levite and accounted himself of more worth in the eyes of God for having done so: ‘Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, since the Levite has become my priest’ (Jgs. 17:13).

The privilege of the royal priesthood was maintained in Israel for a long time. David exercised it in transferring the holy ark to Sion. He donned the priestly vestment (2 Sm. 16:14; 16:20); he offered sacrifices (2 Sm. 6:13, 17) and blessed the people (2 Sm. 6:18)—all functions reserved to the priests (Nm. 6:22-27; Lv. 9:22-23; 3:10; 18:7). His sons were priests (2 Sm. 8:18), that is, substitutes for their father in the sacerdotal offices. Solomon, in his turn, filled the ministry with authority (3 Kgs. 3:4, 14; 8:14-15; 30:55). Besides this, he appointed and removed the priests, considering them his functionaries (3 Kgs. 2:26-27; 35). The custom continued under Jeroboam I (3 Kgs. 12:33) and Achaz (4 Kgs. 5:12ff.). The sacerdotal reform which took place under Josias (640-609 B.C.) put an end to this privilege of the kings. At that time the cult was centralized at Jerusalem (Dt. 12:1-14; 4 Kgs. 23), an innovation indeed, which was not yet in effect under the Judges (Jgs. 6:28, 13:16 ff.), nor even under Solomon (3 Kgs. 3:4).”

-Clement Dillenschneider, C.SS.R. in Christ the One Priest and We His Priests.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Materially Sufficient?

Some well known theologians such as Pope Benedict XVI, John Henry Newman, and Matthias Scheeben (not to mention the Fathers of the Church) posit that Scripture is materially sufficient. This means that Scripture contains, whether explicitly or implicitly, all that is needed for salvation. It must be noted clearly that this is not the Protestant view of Scripture. Protestants hold that Scripture is formally sufficient, meaning that not only does it contain all that is needed for salvation, but that what is revealed is so clear and obvious that anyone can interpret without any guidance from an outside source such as the Church. Formal sufficiency is of course false. As Dei Verbum 12, paragraph 3 states: “Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written.” Theologians who hold for material sufficiency affirm the above, while Protestants who hold for formal sufficiency deny it.

It seems to be though, that material sufficiency would be extremely easy to disprove. All one would have to do is show a part of the deposit of the faith that isn’t contained at least implicitly in Scripture and material sufficiency ceases to exist. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and cannot come up with anything not implicitly contained in Scripture. Thus, I am forced to hold for material sufficiency.

Can anyone out there think of any part of the deposit that is not contained in Scripture explicitly or implicitly?

1,000 Posts (plus 1)

That last post was my 1,000th post!

Hurrah!

What a great way to celebrate, by quoting Matthias Scheeben. Go read his stuff now (if you can find it...)!

It's been a little over two years since I started blogging. What a journey! I'll see you at the next 1,000th......




Oh yeah,.....and I love being Catholic!

The Two Divine Missions And The Communication Of Grace

“In the outpouring of supernatural, filial, divine love, of caritas into our hearts, the interior outpouring of the love between the Father and the Son that is consummated in the Holy Spirit is continued because it is reproduced. So we can say not only that the love is given to us and is poured out upon us, but that the Holy Spirit Himself is given to us and poured out upon us in this love. We should do even better to say that the habit and act of charity, poured forth by the Holy Spirit, come into our heart by the very fact that He Himself, the torrent of divine love, is given and drawn to our soul.

Similarly in the conferring of supernatural divine light and the reflection of the divine nature upon our soul, in the impress of the supernatural likeness of God, the eternal splendor of the Father is irradiated over us, and His consubstantial image, the Son of God, is imprinted in our soul and is reborn in us by an imitation and extension of the eternal production. Thus God’s Son Himself in His divine and hypostatic character is lodge in the creature as the seal of the creature’s likeness to God. By the impress of this seal the creature is made conformable to the Son Himself, and by fellowship with the Son he receives the dignity and glory of the children of God.

The application to the creature of the divine love-flame flaring up in the Holy Spirit by the enkindling of a similar flame, and the reflection upon the creature of the divine glory shining in the Son by the irradiation of a similar splendor: these two images give us a striking illustration of the two divine missions as prolongations of the eternal processions and their entrance into the creature. These images become still more striking if we combine them with the image of the stamp of the seal imprinted by God upon the soul in the spiritual kiss wherein He so pours forth the light of His countenance and the sigh of His heart that the soul is illuminated and transfigured by His light, and inflamed and animated by His breath.

In the case of the Holy Spirit especially the outer procession as a prolongation of the inner is most fittingly expressed by saying that the Father and the Son breathe Him into the creature. This is the exalted sense in which the Fathers expound the words of Genesis: ‘And the Lord God...breathed into his face the breath of life.’

The statement just made would suffice in itself to enable us to perceive a true mission of the divine persons (Son and Holy Spirit) in the communication of grace. In this communication the Son and the Holy Spirit, as distinct from the Father and from each other, are present in the creature by virtue of a defining image impressed by each of them, an image which is so vivid and perfect that it infinitely surpasses the symbol. They are both so closely connected with this image that they dwell in it, not only as regards our way of conceiving the matter, because of the relation of similarity, but really, with their substance and personality. This is so far the general reason that as God they are everywhere present, and also because, even if they were not already present everywhere in substance for that general reason, they have to be present in so perfect an impress and effluence of their most intrinsic, personal perfections and origins, just as the seal must be present in its counterpart. Indeed, unlike the material seal after an impression has once been made, they cannot even be thought of as removed from immediate contact with the impression, for the latter, which has existence only from them, also has existence only in them.”

-Matthias J. Scheeben in The Mysteries of Christianity.

One Universal Authority

Whether In The Church There Can Be Anyone Above The Bishops?

Objection 1: It would seem that there cannot be anyone in the Church higher than the bishops. For all the bishops are the successors of the apostles. Now the power so given to one of the apostles, namely Peter (Mat. 16:19), was given to all the apostles (Jn. 20:23). Therefore all bishops are equal, and one is not above another.

Objection 2: Further, the rite of the Church ought to be more conformed to the Jewish rite than to that of the Gentiles. Now the distinction of the episcopal dignity and the appointment of one over another, were introduced by the Gentiles. as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24); and there was no such thing in the Old Law. Therefore neither in the Church should one bishop be above another.

Objection 3: Further, a higher power cannot be conferred by a lower, nor equal by equal, because "without all contradiction that which is less is blessed by the greater [Vulg.: 'better']"; hence a priest does not consecrate a bishop or a priest, but a bishop consecrates a priest. But a bishop can consecrate any bishop, since even the bishop of Ostia consecrates the Pope. Therefore the episcopal dignity is equal in all matters, and consequently one bishop should not be subject to another, as stated in the text (Sent. iv, D, 24).

On the contrary, We read in the council of Constantinople: "In accordance with the Scriptures and the statutes and definitions of the canons, we venerate the most holy bishop of ancient Rome the first and greatest of bishops, and after him the bishop of Constantinople." Therefore one bishop is above another.

Further, the blessed Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, says: "That we may remain members of our apostolic head, the throne of the Roman Pontiffs, of whom it is our duty to seek what we are to believe and what we are to hold, venerating him, beseeching him above others; for his it is to reprove, to correct, to appoint, to loose, and to bind in place of Him Who set up that very throne, and Who gave the fulness of His own to no other, but to him alone, to whom by divine right all bow the head, and the primates of the world are obedient as to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself." Therefore bishops are subject to someone even by divine right.

I answer that, Wherever there are several authorities directed to one purpose, there must needs be one universal authority over the particular authorities, because in all virtues and acts the order is according to the order of their ends (Ethic. i, 1,2). Now the common good is more Godlike than the particular good. Wherefore above the governing power which aims at a particular good there must be a universal governing power in respect of the common good, otherwise there would be no cohesion towards the one object. Hence since the whole Church is one body, it behooves, if this oneness is to be preserved, that there be a governing power in respect of the whole Church, above the episcopal power whereby each particular Church is governed, and this is the power of the Pope. Consequently those who deny this power are called schismatics as causing a division in the unity of the Church. Again, between a simple bishop and the Pope there are other degrees of rank corresponding to the degrees of union, in respect of which one congregation or community includes another; thus the community of a province includes the community of a city, and the community of a kingdom includes the community of one province, and the community of the whole world includes the community of one kingdom.

Reply to Objection 1: Although the power of binding and loosing was given to all the apostles in common, nevertheless in order to indicate some order in this power, it was given first of all to Peter alone, to show that this power must come down from him to the others. For this reason He said to him in the singular: "Confirm thy brethren" (Lk. 22:32), and: "Feed My sheep" (Jn. 21:17), i.e. according to Chrysostom: "Be thou the president and head of thy brethren in My stead, that they, putting thee in My place, may preach and confirm thee throughout the world whilst thou sittest on thy throne."

Reply to Objection 2: The Jewish rite was not spread abroad in various kingdoms and provinces, but was confined to one nation; hence there was no need to distinguish various pontiffs under the one who had the chief power. But the rite of the Church, like that of the Gentiles, is spread abroad through various nations; and consequently in this respect it is necessary for the constitution of the Church to be like the rite of the Gentiles rather than that of the Jews.

Reply to Objection 3: The priestly power is surpassed by the episcopal power, as by a power of a different kind; but the episcopal is surpassed by the papal power as by a power of the same kind. Hence a bishop can perform every hierarchical act that the Pope can; whereas a priest cannot perform every act that a bishop can in conferring the sacraments. Wherefore as regards matters pertaining to the episcopal Order, all bishops are equal, and for this reason any bishop can consecrate another bishop.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 40, a. 6.

Reason #3,987,242 Why Women Cannot Be Priests

Whether The Female Sex Is An Impediment To Receiving Orders?

Objection 1: It would seem that the female sex is no impediment to receiving Orders. For the office of prophet is greater than the office of priest, since a prophet stands midway between God and priests, just as the priest does between God and people. Now the office of prophet was sometimes granted to women, as may be gathered from 4 Kings 22:14. Therefore the office of priest also may be competent to them.

Objection 2: Further, just as Order pertains to a kind of pre-eminence, so does a position of authority as well as martyrdom and the religious state. Now authority is entrusted to women in the New Testament, as in the case of abbesses, and in the Old Testament, as in the case of Debbora, who judged Israel (Judges 2). Moreover martyrdom and the religious life are also befitting to them. Therefore the Orders of the Church are also competent to them.

Objection 3: Further, the power of orders is founded in the soul. But sex is not in the soul. Therefore difference in sex makes no difference to the reception of Orders.

On the contrary, It is said (1 Tim. 2:12): "I suffer not a woman to teach (in the Church),* nor to use authority over the man." [*The words in parenthesis are from 1 Cor. 14:34, "Let women keep silence in the churches."]
Further, the crown is required previous to receiving Orders, albeit not for the validity of the sacrament. But the crown or tonsure is not befitting to women according to 1 Cor. 11. Neither therefore is the receiving of Orders.

I answer that, Certain things are required in the recipient of a sacrament as being requisite for the validity of the sacrament, and if such things be lacking, one can receive neither the sacrament nor the reality of the sacrament. Other things, however, are required, not for the validity of the sacrament, but for its lawfulness, as being congruous to the sacrament; and without these one receives the sacrament, but not the reality of the sacrament. Accordingly we must say that the male sex is required for receiving Orders not only in the second, but also in the first way. Wherefore even though a woman were made the object of all that is done in conferring Orders, she would not receive Orders, for since a sacrament is a sign, not only the thing, but the signification of the thing, is required in all sacramental actions; thus it was stated above (Q[32], A[2]) that in Extreme Unction it is necessary to have a sick man, in order to signify the need of healing. Accordingly, since it is not possible in the female sex to signify eminence of degree, for a woman is in the state of subjection, it follows that she cannot receive the sacrament of Order. Some, however, have asserted that the male sex is necessary for the lawfulness and not for the validity of the sacrament, because even in the Decretals (cap. Mulieres dist. 32; cap. Diaconissam, 27, qu. i) mention is made of deaconesses and priestesses. But deaconess there denotes a woman who shares in some act of a deacon, namely who reads the homilies in the Church; and priestess [presbytera] means a widow, for the word "presbyter" means elder.

Reply to Objection 1: Prophecy is not a sacrament but a gift of God. Wherefore there it is not the signification, but only the thing which is necessary. And since in matters pertaining to the soul woman does not differ from man as to the thing (for sometimes a woman is found to be better than many men as regards the soul), it follows that she can receive the gift of prophecy and the like, but not the sacrament of Orders.

And thereby appears the Reply to the Second and Third Objections. However, as to abbesses, it is said that they have not ordinary authority, but delegated as it were, on account of the danger of men and women living together. But Debbora exercised authority in temporal, not in priestly matters, even as now woman may have temporal power.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Supplement, Q. 39, a. 1.

It is important to note here the Sacramental aspect of the priesthood that Aquinas stresses. This is one of the main things feminist theologies neglect in their advocacy of a women priesthood. In order for a Sacrament to be validly conferred, there must be valid matter. Women do not constitute valid matter.

Transformation In Christ

"Christ is formed in us in an ineffable manner, not as a creature in creatures, but as uncreated God in a created nature, transforming that nature to His own image by the Spirit, and transferring the creature, that is, ourselves, to a dignity higher than that of a creature."

-St. Cyril of Alexandria

Whether The Priesthood Of Christ Was According To The Order Of Melchisedech?

Objection 1: It would seem that Christ's priesthood was not according to the order of Melchisedech. For Christ is the fountain-head of the entire priesthood, as being the principal priest. Now that which is principal is not . secondary in regard to others, but others are secondary in its regard. Therefore Christ should not be called a priest according to the order of Melchisedech.

Objection 2: Further, the priesthood of the Old Law was more akin to Christ's priesthood than was the priesthood that existed before the Law. But the nearer the sacraments were to Christ, the more clearly they signified Him; as is clear from what we have said in the SS, Q[2], A[7]. Therefore the priesthood of Christ should be denominated after the priesthood of the Law, rather than after the order of Melchisedech, which was before the Law.

Objection 3: Further, it is written (Heb. 7:2,3): "That is 'king of peace,' without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days nor ending of life": which can be referred only to the Son of God. Therefore Christ should not be called a priest according to the order of Melchisedech, as of some one else, but according to His own order.

On the contrary, It is written (Ps. 109:4): "Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech."

I answer that, As stated above (A[4], ad 3) the priesthood of the Law was a figure of the priesthood of Christ, not as adequately representing the reality, but as falling far short thereof: both because the priesthood of the Law did not wash away sins, and because it was not eternal, as the priesthood of Christ. Now the excellence of Christ's over the Levitical priesthood was foreshadowed in the priesthood of Melchisedech, who received tithes from Abraham, in whose loins the priesthood of the Law was tithed. Consequently the priesthood of Christ is said to be "according to the order of Melchisedech," on account of the excellence of the true priesthood over the figural priesthood of the Law.

Reply to Objection 1: Christ is said to be according to the order of Melchisedech not as though the latter were a more excellent priest, but because he foreshadowed the excellence of Christ's over the Levitical priesthood.

Reply to Objection 2: Two things may be considered in Christ's priesthood: namely, the offering made by Christ, and (our) partaking thereof. As to the actual offering, the priesthood of Christ was more distinctly foreshadowed by the priesthood of the Law, by reason of the shedding of blood, than by the priesthood of Melchisedech in which there was no blood-shedding. But if we consider the participation of this sacrifice and the effect thereof, wherein the excellence of Christ's priesthood over the priesthood of the Law principally consists, then the former was more distinctly foreshadowed by the priesthood of Melchisedech, who offered bread and wine, signifying, as Augustine says (Tract. xxvi in Joan.) ecclesiastical unity, which is established by our taking part in the sacrifice of Christ [*Cf. Q[79], A[1]]. Wherefore also in the New Law the true sacrifice of Christ is presented to the faithful under the form of bread and wine.

Reply to Objection 3: Melchisedech is described as "without father, without mother, without genealogy," and as "having neither beginning of days nor ending of life," not as though he had not these things, but because these details in his regard are not supplied by Holy Scripture. And this it is that, as the Apostle says in the same passage, he is "likened unto the Son of God," Who had no earthly father, no heavenly mother, and no genealogy, according to Is. 53:8: "Who shall declare His generation?" and Who in His Godhead has neither beginning nor end of days.

-St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III. Q. 22, a. 6.