Monthly Archives: February 2010
As we work our way through Lent 2009, we need to rejoice in the turning tide. Though there has been much negative news about the Catholic Church this past decade, much of the negative news had its roots in actions taken during the 1960s and 1970s. Yet, the seeds of the good news planted during the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and now Pope Benedict XVI is just now seeing its shoots and blossoms become visible to the naked eye.
What are the shoots and blossoms? They can be seen in increasing vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the strong orthodox nature of these new, young priests. A new crop of Catholic bishops is also boldly showing their orthodoxy, which often befuddles and mystifies the mainstream media and the secular culture in which we live. In addition to this, many in the laity have for years now been writing and blogging about the desperate need for Catholic orthodoxy in a world full of hurt and self absorption. Many ask how can the Church possibly grow when the Church’s active laity, especially the young along with those who serve her in ordained and professed ministries, are so different from the culture in which they live? It is that culture in which they live that causes them to see the wisdom in Christ’s words and the Church He started through the first pope, the Apostle Saint Peter.
There were fewer shoots and blossoms in the 1970s when the seriousness of the Catholicism was questioned after the Church seemed to be trying to be relative, whether it was related or not, thousands of priests and nuns left their vocations. However, starting in 1978 with the election of Pope John Paul II, the tide began to turn. All of the Polish pontiff’s hard work began to be seen in the shoots and blossoms of events like World Youth Day 1993, which was held in Denver. Later in his pontificate thanks to events like World Youth Day, vocations to the priesthood and religious life began to increase.
The interview changed the way Dodson talked with other supervisors and managers of low-income workers, and she began to find that many of them felt the same discomfort as the grocery store manager. And many went a step further, finding ways to undermine the system and slip their workers extra money, food, or time needed to care for sick children. She was surprised how widespread these acts were. In her new book, “The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy,” she called such behavior “economic disobedience.”
I’m perplexed as to why Prof. Dodson is so surprised by this. Continue reading
Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, among his many other services to the Church, clarified the concept of development of doctrine as opposed to corruptions of doctrine that occasionally fasten on the Church and are shed off by the Church over time.
Newman posited seven notes, I would call them tests, for determining whether something is a development of doctrine or a corruption.
1. Preservation of Type
2. Continuity of Principles
3. Power of Assimilation
4. Logical Sequence
5. Anticipation of Its Future
6. Conservative Action upon Its Past
7. Chronic Vigour
Each of these notes are explained by Newman in detail. The concepts aren’t simple either in theory or in application, at least to me, but Newman does a first rate job of explaining them. The note that has always fascinated me is number six, no doubt because I have always found history fascinating, and the history of the Church especially so.
Newman is quite clear that under the Sixth Note a Development of Doctrine does not reverse what has gone before:
A true development, then, may be described as one which is conservative of the course of antecedent developments being really those antecedents and something besides them: it is an addition which illustrates, not obscures, corroborates, not corrects, the body of thought from which it proceeds; and this is its characteristic as contrasted with a corruption.
As developments which are preceded by definite indications have a fair presumption in their favour, so those which do but contradict and reverse the course of doctrine which has been developed before them, and out of which they spring, are certainly corrupt; for a corruption is a development in that very stage in which it ceases to illustrate, and begins to disturb, the acquisitions gained in its previous history.
Newman sums up the Sixth Note as follows:
And thus a sixth test of a true development is that it is of a tendency conservative of what has gone before it.
We live in a time of massive change for the Church. Change there has always been in the Church, but change on the scale since the calling of the Second Vatican Council is unprecedented. Newman gives us an analytical tool in his theory of Development of Doctrine to try to discern what changes represent true developments of doctrine and what changes are mere corruptions fastened upon the Church due to popular intellectual and political movements and prejudices of our time, or reactions to such movements and prejudices, rather than organic developments from the past history of the Church.
An example of an organic development of doctrine and what I think is a corruption will now be given. An organic development is illustrated by Pius XII’s proclamation of the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. In Munificentissimus Deus Pius XII took pains to show how the doctrine had developed over the centuries. An example of a corruption I think is the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX. Although a defense of the Syllabus can be mounted, and I have done so in the past, and there is much in the Syllabus that is still held by the Church, it is also fairly obvious that Pio Nono was writing largely in reaction to intellectual and political trends in his time with which he was not in sympathy. Pio Nono was deeply wedded to an intellectual and political world view that was dying before his eyes. He sought to enlist the Church in support of what he cherished. Time has demonstrated that, great Pope though he was, the attempt of Pius in the Syllabus of Errors to outline how the Church should deal with the modern world has proven transitory and a corruption that the Church today merely ignores. Pope Benedict, before he became Pope, referred to Gaudium et Spes as a “counter-Syllabus”. What new bedrock doctrines and teachings of the Church, which have made an appearance over the last few pontificates, will be totally ignored by popes a century or more hence, only time will reveal, although Newman and his Development of Doctrine analysis may give us hints. Continue reading
Number 5 in my series on Great Jesuits of American history. A hallmark of the Jesuit Order has always been utter fearlessness. The Order founded by that Basque soldier turned saint, Saint Ignatius Loyola, had as little use for fear as it did for doubt. The “black robes” of the Jesuits in New France were typical of the Jesuit soldiers of Christ in their almost super-human courage in disdaining the torture and death they exposed themselves to as missionaries to warlike tribes.
Firmly in this tradition of courage is Joseph Timothy O’Callahan. Born on May 14, 1905 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he attended Boston College High School. He joined the Jesuits in 1922 and obtained his BA from Saint Andrew’s College in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1925, and his Masters in Philosophy at Weston College in 1929. Ordained in 1934, he served as a professor of Mathematics, Philosophy and Physics at Boston College until 1937. He then spent a year as a professor of Philosophy at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, before becoming head of the Mathematics department at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
On August 7, 1940, Father O’Callahan was appointed a Lieutenant JG in the United States Navy. His decision to join the Navy as a chaplain shocked some of his friends, one of them remarking, “Let someone younger help those boys. You can’t even open your umbrella!” Nothing daunted, Chaplain O’Callahan served at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida from 1940-1942. From 1942-1945 he served as chaplain at Naval Air Stations in Alameda, California and at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. It was almost at the end of the war when he was assigned to sea duty and reported aboard the Franklin, an Essex Class Fleet Air-Craft Carrier on March 2, 1945. The Franklin was the fifth ship in the United States Navy to be named after Benjamin Franklin, and had seen a lot of combat during the War. It was about to see more. Continue reading
A comedy from the U.K. where a devout British Muslim finds out he was not born a Muslim.
Watch the rest of the trailer for some really good English humour!
This is an fascinating story: a Russian soldier who was killed on his 19th birthday in 1996 is being venerated in his home country as a martyr and an icon of him is giving off aromas of myrrh:
Today according to Inferfax of Russia in Penza, an Icon of Evgeny Rodinov gave off aromas of myrrh in the St. Lukas Church at the Penza regional oncologic dispenser. Russian soldier Rodionov was executed in Chechnya in 1996 after refusing to renounce Orthodox faith and take off his cross.
“Myrrh came out in two spots, in a palm of his hand and where one wears the cross,” the church Rector Alexy Burtsev told journalists.
According to the Church Rector, it happened during the All-Night Vigil on February 15. Those in attendance, at the Church, stood behind praying, and took in the strange pleasant aroma.
The priest noted that on February 15, 1996, Penza-born Evgeny Rodionov was captured in Chechnya, imprisoned for hundred days and when he refused to renounce Christian faith, militants beheaded him.?
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov (Russian: ???????? ??????? ?????????????) (May 23, 1977 – May 23, 1996) was a Russian soldier who was kidnapped and later executed in Chechen captivity. The purported manner of his death has garnered him much admiration throughout Russia, and even prompted calls for his elevation to sainthood.
Rodionov was born in the village of Satino-Russkoye, near Podolsk, Moscow Oblast. Though he aspired to be a cook, he was conscripted into the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 1995. Private Rodionov was deployed to Chechnya, he served in border troops and on February 13, 1996 he was captured by Chechen rebels. They held him captive for more than three months.
On his 19th birthday Rodionov was beheaded on the outskirts of the Chechen village Bamut. According to his killers, who later extorted money from his mother in exchange for knowledge of the location of his corpse, they beheaded him after he refused to renounce his Christian faith or remove the silver cross he wore around his neck.
Yevgeny Rodionov was posthumously awarded the Russian Order of Courage. There is a growing movement within the Russian Orthodox Church to canonize him as a Christian saint and martyr for faith. Some Russian soldiers, feeling themselves abandoned by their government, have taken to kneeling in prayer before his image. One such prayer reads:
Thy martyr, Yevgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from thee, our God, for having thy strength he has brought down his torturers, has defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers save our souls.
As of 2003, religious icons depicting Yevgeny were becoming increasingly popular. Yevgeny’s mother has one herself; she has suggested that the icon of her son sometimes emits a perfume which she believes to be holy, to the extent that it actually drips with it.
Evgeny Rodinov, pray for us!
Reprinted with permission by Eric Sammons of The Divine Life.
Something for the weekend. Finlandia Hymn by Jean Sibelius. The above video is a tribute to the brave Finnish troops who defended their nation against the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939-1940 and the Continuation War of 1941-1944.
An English translation of the Finnish lyrics:
O, Finland, behold, your day is dawning,
The threat of night has been banished away,
And the lark of morning in the brightness sings,
As though the very firmament would sing.
The powers of the night are vanquished by the morning light,
Your day is dawning, O land of birth.
O, rise, Finland, raise up high
Your head, wreathed with great memories.
O, rise, Finland, you showed to the world
That you drove away the slavery,
And that you did not bend under oppression,
Your day is dawning, O land of birth. Continue reading
Appropos of last week’s torture post, some additional discussions on the web:
- EWTN and torture Mollie Wilson O’Reilly picks up the story (Commonweal February 19, 2010).
- Torture, Conscience, and the Tortured Conscience Mike Potemra (NRO‘s “The Corner” February 18, 2010) – with responses by Andrew McCarthy and Mark Thiessen himself (“The Bush administration met its responsibility to protect society. And it did so without resorting to torture, by using methods that were lawful, moral, and just”).
- Taking note of a recent article by Thiessen on the notorious “underwear bomber”, Vox Nova‘s M.Z. Forrest points out how the second wave of “torture apologists” have practically abandoned the “ticking time bomb” scenario.
- Michael Sean Winters (America magazine) has a modest proposal.
- Austin Ruse clarifies his position in “Torture” and the Pro-Life Cause (The Catholic Thing February 19, 2010):
For some in the pro-life world there is a fear that this debate will be successful in the effort to draw people away from the imperfect but still pro-life Republican Party. They also wonder how the fact that three terrorists were waterboarded more than six years ago in the aftermath of the horror of 9/11 can eclipse the regular, ongoing killing of unborn children in the tens of millions. In the six years of the waterboarding debate, there have been something like 7.2-million abortions and exactly zero cases of waterboarding. To their credit, most, if not all, of the conservative critics of waterboarding do not say waterboarding is more important than abortion, and if forced to make a choice of issues to work on would easily and quickly choose the fight for the unborn child.
On the one hand are the good-hearted who are advancing serious moral arguments. On the other side are those who use torture as a political agenda item. In the end, no matter what the motives, the prolife community must protect the momentum we have generated since 1973.
- ZippyCatholic on “Why I believe waterboarding prisoners is torture, and you should too”.
- Showdown at High Noon – ZippyCatholic and Austin Ruse meet in person, in a civil and friendly exchange of views:
When you are deeply committed to protecting the unborn, the holocaust of whom is possibly a worse stain on humanity than even the large-scale atrocities of the last century, and one of your personal passions is organizing people into formal institutions to engage in political action; and when you further see nothing but unprincipled political hatchet jobs coming from people who literally hate anything resembling an existing actual formally organized anti-abortion group; and when a principal weapon employed in these hatchet jobs is this particular issue — when all of that is true, you can’t help but have a particular impression of this whole debate.
Until, that is, you encounter orthodox Catholics who are also deeply passionate about protecting the unborn on that same side, the side forming the edge of the hatchet, under the “stopped clock” theory, of this particular issue.
In fact, being the sort who does the organization think-tank policy dance every day, [Austin] was enthusiastic about orthodox activist-anti-torture Catholics getting involved at that level and in that manner.
- In an addendum on Against The Grain, I offer my own wrap-up of sorts.
Lastly, one particular party, who had read over the recent exchanges on this blog, contacted me with the suggestion that, given my unfortunate reliance on “unreliable axe-grinding sources,” it would do well to elicit the assistance of some conservative organizations “with credibility” to review the various charges (of prisoner abuse, deaths of detainees in U.S. custody, etc.) and publish a report.
It seems often the case that a heated political debate causes people to suddenly focus on issues which had previously been essentially ignored. One recent example of this in Catholic circles has been the way in which the debate over the Stupak Amendment to the House health care reform bill suddenly focused scrutiny on the question of abortion coverage in health care insurance.
To recap briefly: From the beginning, one of the concerns that many pro-lifers had expressed about “government health care” was that it would result in government funding for abortion. As the various reform bills coalesced, it became clear that no “government health care” per se would be offered, but rather an exchange on which private health insurance plans which fit specific government-set criteria would be offered. Given this situation, pro-lifers (and in particular, pro-life Democrats, who clearly had the prime say here since Republicans were unlikely to support the bill either way since they saw its overall structure as detrimental to the common good) insisted that one of the stipulations for the private health insurance policies offered via the exchange (and qualified for government subsidy for lower and middle-income Americans) be that the plan not cover abortions.
Pro-choice Democrats of course hated this provision. Some progressive Catholics also seemed eager to explain why the bill would be just fine even without Stupak, doubtless in order to avoid a situation in which pro-life advocates (backed by the bishops) successfully made the case to conservative Democrats that supporting a bill without language similar to the Stupak amendment was unacceptable for Catholics and other pro-lifers. The primary argument that surfaced was, “Most private insurance policies already cover abortion, so even without Stupak’s language, the status quo does not change. More people just get health care, and that’s good, right?”
Laura Chinchilla was elected President of Costa Rica on February 7, 2010. She is the first woman to be elected to that office. She is a member of the Partido Nacional Liberacion (National Liberation Party) which belongs to the Socialist International. Now normally I am as fond of socialists as I was fond of the castor oil that my sainted mother regularly made me swallow a spoon full of daily when I was a little boy. However, Chinchilla is my type of socialist.
She ran on a get tough on crime platform. She is a devotee of free market economic policies. She was the only mainstream politician in Costa Rica to take part in a March for Life and Family on November 28, 2009 in Costa Rica which was organized by a coalition of church leaders. She is an ardent foe of abortion and opposes legalizing the human pesticide known as the morning after pill. She opposes altering the Constitution of Costa Rica which, while enshrining religious freedom, proclaims that Costa Rica is a Roman Catholic nation. Many of her supporters carried rosaries at her rallies and she always has her rosary with her. After her election she asked that all Costa Ricans ask strength of the patroness of Costa Rica, Our Lady of the Angels, and went to the shrine of Our Lady of the Angels to pray. Continue reading
Francis Cardinal Arinze is answering the question if liturgical dancing and rock-and-roll music is acceptable when the Holy Mass is celebrated in the United States.
Very loosely based on the Justice Trials of Nazi judges and Reich Ministry of Justice officials, Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) is a masterful exploration of justice and the personal responsibility of good men trapped in a totalitarian state. Burt Lancaster, an actor of the first calibre, gives the performance of his career as Ernst Janning. The early portion of the movie makes clear that Ernst Janning is in many ways a good man. Before the Nazis came to power Janning was a world respected German jurist. After the Nazis came to power evidence is brought forward by his defense counsel that Janning attempted to help people persecuted by the Nazis, and that he even personally insulted Hitler on one occasion. Janning obviously despises the Nazis and the other judges who are on trial with him. At his trial he refuses to say a word in his defense. He only testifies after being appalled by the tactics of his defense counsel. His magnificent and unsparing testimony convicts him and all the other Germans who were good men and women, who knew better, and who failed to speak out or to act against the Nazis. Janning’s testimony tells us that sins of omission can be as damning as sins of commission. When he reveals that he sentenced a man to death he knew to be innocent, we can only agree with his bleak assessment that he reduced his life to excrement. Yet we have to respect Janning. It is a rare man who can so publicly take responsibility for his own evil acts. Continue reading
… The call to conversion, in fact, uncovers and denounces the easy superficiality that very often characterizes our way of living. To be converted means to change direction along the way of life — not for a slight adjustment, but a true and total change of direction. Conversion is to go against the current, where the “current” is a superficial lifestyle, inconsistent and illusory, which often draws us, controls us and makes us slaves of evil, or in any case prisoners of moral mediocrity. With conversion, instead, one aims to the lofty measure of Christian life; we are entrusted to the living and personal Gospel, which is Christ Jesus. His person is the final goal and the profound meaning of conversion; he is the way which we are called to follow in life, allowing ourselves to be illumined by his light and sustained by his strength that moves our steps. In this way conversion manifests its most splendid and fascinating face: It is not a simple moral decision to rectify our conduct of life, but it is a decision of faith, which involves us wholly in profound communion with the living and concrete person of Jesus.
To be converted and to believe in the Gospel are not two different things or in some way closely related, but rather, they express the same reality. Conversion is the total “yes” of the one who gives his own existence to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ, who first offered himself to man as Way, Truth and Life, as the one who frees and saves him. This is precisely the meaning of the first words with which, according to the Evangelist Mark, Jesus began the preaching of the “Gospel of God.” “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
“Repent and believe in the Gospel” is not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but accompanies all its steps, [this call] remains, renewing itself, and spreads, branching out in all its expressions. Every day is a favorable moment of grace, because each day invites us to give ourselves to Jesus, to have confidence in him, to remain in him, to share his style of life, to learn from him true love, to follow him in daily fulfilling of the will of the Father, the only great law of life — every day, even when difficulties and toil, exhaustion and falls are not lacking, even when we are tempted to abandon the following of Christ and to shut ourselves in ourselves, in our egoism, without realizing the need we have to open to the love of God in Christ, to live the same logic of justice and love.
~ Pope Benedict XVI Ash Wednesday Address 2/7/2010
Pope Benedict visits a local shelter in Rome and is moved to tears by woman who was once homeless and is now helping others with the same plight.
Here is the complete text of the above YouTube video:
Workers, volunteers and those who are served at homeless shelter in Rome, were filled with joy by Pope Benedict XVI’s visit.
But it was the pope who was moved to tears while listening to what this woman had to say about over coming homelessness.
“When I got to the hostel I was desperate, but now I’m a changed person.”
She got help and after being rehabilitated she wanted to help others in her shoes and is now a volunteer at the shelter.
During the pope’s visit to Don Luigi di Liegro shelter he affirmed the Church’s commitment to helping the poor.
“The Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you.”
Biretta tip to Thomas Peters of the American Papist.
Update I: Curiously funny video clip of U.K. Sky News host and self-identified Catholic Kay Burley mistakenly thinks the ashes on Biden’s is a bruise.
0:29 minute mark of the video clip – Kay Burley makes above remark.
…you can skip the intermittent video of VP Biden bloviating about the successful stimulus package until the…
3:06 minute mark of the video clip – Kay Burley’s mea culpa.
Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving is by Father Francis Fernandez Carvajal from his series on meditations In Conversation with God, Daily Meditations Volume Two: Lent and Eastertide, 1.2:
True conversion is shown by the way we behave. We show that we really want to improve by the way we do our work or our study. We show it by the way we behave towards our family; by offering up to God, in the course of the day, little mortifications which make life for those around us more pleasant, and which make our work more effective. We can also show it by making a careful preparation for and going frequently to Confession.
Today God asks us also for a rather special mortification, which we offer up cheerfully: it is fasting and abstinence, which strengthens our spirit as it mortifies our flesh and our sensuality. It raises our soul to God. It gets rid of concupiscence by giving us the strength to overcome and to mortify our passions, and it disposes our heart that it may seek for nothing except to please God in everything.9
Pope Benedict XVI’s Ash Wednesday Address in English:
Here is the complete text of the Pope’s message:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the Church’s Lenten journey towards Easter.
Lent reminds us, as Saint Paul exhorts, “not to accept the grace of God in vain” (cf. 2 Cor 6:1), but to recognize that today the Lord calls us to penance and spiritual renewal. This call to conversion is expressed in the two formulae used in the rite of the imposition of ashes. The first formula – “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” – echoes Jesus’s words at the beginning of his public ministry (cf. Mk 1:15). It reminds us that conversion is meant to be a deep and lasting abandonment of our sinful ways in order to enter into a living relationship with Christ, who alone offers true freedom, happiness and fulfilment.