Monday, November 30, 2009

Pope Benedict On The De-Hellenization Of Christianity

“This process began in the Middle Ages and reached its full flower in the Reformation with Martin Luther’s efforts to remove the influences of Catholic philosophy and dogma and return to what he believed to be the original purity of Scripture alone. In different forms, the sola Scriptura principle became a key premise of the liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In seeking the unadulterated message and person of Jesus, liberal theology treated the biblical Word as a historical record to be read without reference to philosophical and theological formulations made using Greek language and Greek philosophical tools. This meant returning to a kind of literalism uninformed by such products of philosophical reasoning as the doctrines concerning the Trinity and the divinity of Christ.

This new theological outlook was greatly influenced by the rise of the natural sciences and the achievements of technology, as well as by Kant’s philosophical ‘self limitation of reason’ to only those things that can be perceived by the senses. These influences, in turn, gave rise to the modern understanding that truth and certainty are a function of what can be observed and either verified or falsified through experimentation in the laboratory.

Human reason in the modern period has since come to be seen as limited strictly to seeking understandings that conform to these ‘scientific’ canons of truth and certainty. Because they cannot be answered according to these modern canons, questions about such things as the existence of God or the meaning of human existence are discarded as ‘unscientific or prescientific.’ Hence, religious faith in the modern age is no longer viewed as a source of true knowledge about humans and the world; rather, it is regarded as a feeling or sentiment and a matter of individual or subjective preference.

According to Benedict [XVI], these developments—the separation of faith and reason and the radical diminution of both these faculties of the human spirit—are the root cause of grave problems in the world today. The entire project of de-Hellenization, as he sees it, rests on a false premise, namely, that the Christian faith can or should be separated from human reason as it was understood in the Hellenistic world. This premise is false because, as Benedict argues, ‘the encounter between the biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance.’ He cites St. Paul’s vision of a Greek man calling Paul to ‘come over to Macedonia and help us’ (Acts 16:6-10). Benedict interprets this vision as indicating ‘the intrinsic necessity of a rapprochement between Biblical faith and Greek inquiry.’

He notes that the gospels themselves were written in the Greek language, using vocabulary and concepts drawn from the Hellenistic milieu. The same influences can be found in the Jewish people—who live for many decades under Hellenistic rule. Notwithstanding their oppression, they too ‘encountered the best of Greek though at a deep level.’ The fruits of that encounter can be seen within the Scriptures themselves in the so-called wisdom literature. An even more compelling testimony of Greek influence is the translation known as the Septuagint, which Benedict describes as ‘more than a simple (and in that sense really less than satisfactory) translation of the Hebrew text: it is an independent textual witness and a distinct and important step in the history of revelation, one which brought about this encounter in a way that was decisive for the birth and spread of Christainity.’

For Benedict, all this means that ‘the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself.’ Moreover, he says, there is no need for us to think of human reason in such restricted terms as limited to seeking to understand only phenomena that can be seen or experienced. The self-limitation of reason has given rise to ‘the dictatorship of appearances.’ It has become ‘a kind of a dogma’ that we cannot know anything more than what is apparent.”

-Scott Hahn, Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Obama has said that our country is not a Judeo-Christian country. Others have claimed that the first amendment intends to keep religion out of the public square. Our founding fathers would strongly disagree with these sentiments! Faith was part of the everyday life of the early Americans. They did not hesitate to mention God and give him thanks for all his blessings. As one of the many examples, I give to you George Washington's 1789 proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday. In bold are the references to God and religion (which our founding father's supposedly avoided mentioning in public).

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789."

Here is also a post by Taylor Marshall on the Catholic origins of Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Solidarity With Bishop Tobin

Everywhere I look in the secular media I see the reports of Providence, R.I.’s Bishop Tobin telling Rep. Patrick Kennedy not to present himself for communion described as a political battle between bishop and lawmaker. One commentator went so far as to say that barring pro-abortion politicians was “bad theology.”

So instead spewing out expletives, I’d like to set the record straight.

Barring public figures who cause scandal from communion is not a political move nor is it bad theology. Rather, it is sound biblical and pastoral theology. Keeping public sinners from profaning the Body and Blood of Christ is not an action of political leverage, but an act of concern for the sinner’s soul.

St. Paul told the Corinthians that if they eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ in an unworthy manner, they eat and drink judgment upon themselves (1 Cor11:27-30). If someone receives the Eucharist in mortal sin, they are eating and drinking judgment upon themselves. Bishop Tobin does not want Kennedy’s soul to be in any more jeopardy than it already is. For if he claims to be Catholic, but is pro-abortion, he causes scandal by providing a bad example for other Catholics. If he then receives the Eucharist, he is committing sacrilege. He would be compounding mortal sin upon mortal sin. Bishop Tobin is performing an act of pastoral kindness by barring Kennedy from communion…whether Kennedy and the secular media realize it or not. Perhaps if Kennedy actually believed that the Eucharist is truly the Precious Body and Blood of Christ, he would not think that Bishop Tobin’s prohibition was a political ploy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

If Luther Was Right...

Today is the Solemnity of Christ the King. If indeed Christ is a king, and he is, then he necessarily has a kingdom. That kingdom is the Church, His own Body. When He established His kingdom, He did so based on the model of the Old Testament Kingdom of David. The Kingdom of David had a visible dimension with a hierarchy as well as an invisible spiritual dimension. Likewise, Christ’s Kingdom, the Church, has a visible dimension with a hierarchy as well as an invisible spiritual dimension.

One of the aspects of the Davidic Kingdom was the office of the Prime Minister. This office was one of succession, meaning that when one prime minister left the office it did not remain empty, but another took his place. We see this in Isaiah 22: 15-25. Also in Isaiah, we see that the Davidic Prime Minister possessed the keys to the kingdom as a sign of his authority. The Prime Minister had the highest authority in the kingdom, second only to the King. It was the Prime Minister who ruled when the king was away. Isaiah also tells us that the Prime Minister “shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.”

Christ the King establishes Peter as the Prime Minister of the restored Davidic Kingdom, the Church, in Matthew 16: 18-19. In doing so, He quotes directly from Isaiah 22. Christ gives Peter the keys to His Kingdom, so that Peter can rule when He is away. The office of Christ’s Prime Minister is also one of succession. It doesn’t end with Peter. Linus takes over after the death of Peter and then Clement, and so on down to the current successor of Peter, Benedict XVI. Just as the Old Testament Davidic Prime Minister was a father to his people, so is Christ’s Prime Minister. In fact, the word “Pope” (or in Latin “Papa”) means “father.” The Pope is the principle of unity for Christ’s Kingdom while He is away at the right hand of the Father and the Pope is running the Kingdom until Christ the King comes back in glory at the end of time.

To reject the King is to reject the Kingdom. We see this in Scripture with the Israelites who were to be a kingdom of priests with God as their King. The Israelites wanted to be like the other nations and have an earthly king to rule them. They rejected God as their King and thus rejected the Kingdom.

In the New Testament the Jewish leaders also reject their King. They cry, “We have no king but Caesar” and send the true King to the Cross. In rejecting the King, they reject the Kingdom.

Christ only established One Kingdom, One Church. It is an historical fact that the Church He established is the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ, His Kingdom. For a thousand years there was only one type of Christian—the Catholic Christian. Then the Eastern Orthodox broke away from the One Church established by Christ. About 500 years later, the Protestants also left this Church.

Christ the King is intimately connected to His Kingdom, which is His Body, the Church. Thus, not only does it hold true that if you reject the King, you reject the Kingdom, but also if you reject the Kingdom, you reject the King. I would argue that the Eastern Orthodox did not so much reject the Kingdom, for they kept all the Sacraments, as reject the authority of Christ’s Prime Minister. The Protestants led by Luther, however, rejected the Kingdom entirely. They claimed that the Catholic Church was overcome by Satan and that the Pope was the antichrist.

Let’s return back to Matthew 16, the point where Christ sets up the office of Prime Minister in His Kingdom. Not only did He establish Peter as the first Prime Minister, but He added a promise—the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church, His Kingdom. But if Luther is right, if the Church has gone astray, then that means that the gates of Hell HAVE overcome His Church and it makes Christ out to be a liar! Certainly, no Protestant would be willing to say that, but that is precisely the logical consequence of saying that the Church that Christ established has gone astray and is now taken over by Satan.

If Christ is our King, then we should believe His words. If He says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Church and that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into all truth, then it is so. Thus, to reject His Church, His Kingdom, is to reject Him, the King.

Listen to the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catechetical Lecture 18.26:

“But since the word Ecclesia is applied to different things (as also it is written of the multitude in the theatre of the Ephesians, And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the Assembly [Acts 19:14]), and since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to you now the Article, And in one Holy Catholic Church; that you may avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which you were regenerated. And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (for it is written, As Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it [Ephesians 5:25], and all the rest,) and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all [Galatians 4:26]; which before was barren, but now has many children.”

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Message From The Bishops Of The USCCB


Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding & Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation on the House and Senate floors. Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. The U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committee approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor. The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them.

Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come. None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care.

As the U.S. bishops’ letter of October 8 states:

“No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test…. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”

For the full text of this letter and more information on proposed legislation and the bishops’ advocacy for authentic health care reform, visit:

Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration. Please contact your Representative and Senators today and urge them to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments noted below. Otherwise much needed health care reform will have to be opposed.

Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them.

ACTION: Contact Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.

To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to
Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at &

“During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

“Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

WHEN: Both House and Senate are preparing for floor votes now. Act today! Thank you!

Reason #3,987,243 Why Women Can't Be Priests

A nice, succinct article on why women can't be priests.