Shea, Voris and Amazing Grace

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An interesting spat has developed between Catholic blogger Mark Shea of Catholic and Enjoying It and Michael Voris of RealCatholic TV.  In the above video Mr. Voris attacks the use of the Protestant hymn Amazing Grace at Mass.    Amazing Grace was composed by John Newton, an eighteenth century captain of a slaver, who converted to Christianity, was ordained in the Anglican Church and became an abolitionist.  The song is used frequently at Mass in my parish.

Mark Shea, who has never had any use for Mr. Voris as far as I can tell, attacked the video in a post at his blog:

Voris’ sole message is “I am the measure of Real Catholicism and those who agree with me have the right to call themselves Catholic, while those who disagree are liars and lukewarm fake Catholics”.

His method is to begin, not by proclaiming the Faith, but by proclaiming that whoever has been chosen for denunciation in today’s video is a liar whose lies are about to be trapped and exposed.  In short, they are the Enemy, the watered-down, the fifth column.  This posture of sneering hostility established he then sets to work, inviting the viewer to join him in mocking whatever it is he is going to mock today.

In this video, our Real Catholic elects to tell us that most of his brother and sister Catholics are half-breed Protestants who, among their many sins, wear “Protestant clothes.” (What?  No mention of Protestant hair, Michael?) The point of this little litany is not so much to make sense as to establish, via a sort of hypnotic chant, that there are “Real Catholics” (Voris and his nucleus of Pharisees) and Everybody Else: the great unwashed who are unworthy to be called Catholic.

Then we go to work on today’s specific task: arraigning Catholics who like “Amazing Grace” as protestantized dimwits who are letting the Pure Catholic Faith be corrupted by the base metal of an “anti-Catholic hymn”. Dave Armstrong (who is, of course, not a real Catholic since he questions the infallible Voris) looks at Voris’ tissue of prideful, biblically illiterate and theologically stupid assertions that then follow:

I think it is an interesting presentation by Michael Voris, but I believe that his negative conclusion about Amazing Grace as an “anti-Catholic” song is absurd: much ado about nothing. Catholics  believe in Grace Alone, just as Protestants do. It is presentations  like this one that divide Catholics and Protestants unnecessarily, and  give the latter the impression that we frown on grace or put works on  the same plane with it. But the Church teaches Grace Alone and condemns  works-salvation, or Pelagianism, so I don’t see this as a contradiction  to our theology at all. Grace is amazing!

Go here to read the entire post.  Creative Minority Report had a post about the Shea-Voris conflict which may be read here.  The comments are interesting and often highly amusing.

Other than the pleasure of viewing a good example of the odium bloggum that makes Saint Blogs such a lively environ on the internet, what can we glean from this?  Well, and I am certain that Mark will faint as he reads this, I tend to agree with him overall.  I rather like the hymn Amazing Grace, or rather I did, until being forced to listen to it dozens of time at Mass.  Now it is rather old hat to me, but I find nothing objectionable in its use at Mass.  It is a heartfelt hymn of praise by a man saved by God’s grace, and that is all it is.  There are no deep theological musings in the song, so I do find Mr. Voris’s critique silly.  He is also given to making statements in his video in an ex cathedra fashion that I personally find off-putting, although, ironically, I believe that Mark does that frequently in his own blog posts, so I think his critique in that area is ironic to say the least.

This little tempest does raise an interesting question as to whether Protestant hymns should be used at Mass at all.  I have been at Masses where Martin Luther’s  A Mighty Fortress Is Our God was sung which struck me as an unintentional hilarious parody of  modern ecumenicalism.  However, most Protestant hymns used have nothing in them that any but the most nit-picking Catholic would find objectionable.  Personally, I find much greater problems with the drek hymns from the Sixties and Seventies of the last century endlessly recycled at Masses in this country.  Most of them are banal beyond belief, many are completely unsingable by ordinary parishioners, and more than a few have a fair amount of heresy in the lyrics.  Go here for an excellent discussion of the ten worst Catholic hymns.

I agree with George Weigel that most of the hymns written during the Sixties and the Seventies need to be placed on the shelf for, oh,  the next thousand years.

For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological “source:” not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther’s “Small Catechism.” Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church’s faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

Thus, with tongue only half in cheek, I propose the Index Canticorum Prohibitorum, the “Index of Forbidden Hymns.” Herewith, some examples.

Go here to read the brilliant rest.  The problem with Mass music in this country isn’t Protestant hymns, but lousy hymns, most of them written during my lifetime, that are played ad nauseam at Mass.  Mr. Voris is correct that we Catholics have a 2000 year heritage of fine sacred music.  It is time we rediscovered it, and the sooner the better!

131 Responses to Shea, Voris and Amazing Grace

  • Imus on Fox Business just played Billy Joe Shaver’s “If you don’t love Jesus go to hell.” Truth. How appropriate is that?

    Was Shea staring at his own reflection in the screen as he typed that?

  • Truthfully, I have no use for Shea. Now perhaps I don’t agree with everything Michael Voris says in his video. Still, 99% of what he puts out is right and correct. Shea’s self-glorification is however different and the less publicity given to him, the better.

  • Shea ought to commit himself to writing exclusively for publication. When his utterances are not redacted by Brian St. Paul, they can be just godawful.

  • As far as singing Amazing Grace at Mass is concerned, I might have some stylistic qualms with it, but it is certainly not heretical hymnity as Voris would lead us to believe. I think Voris is becoming way too invective prone for his own good.

    As far as Shea is concerned, I agree with Paul. I find Shea to be a calumnious windbag. Although I agree with Mark in this instance, he is lobbing grenades from a glass bunker in going after Voris.

  • This whole Amazing Grace thing started on Dave Armstrong’s blog. He didn’t like Voris’s take on AG either. I defended MV by saying if we are Catholic, we should be singing our own Catholic songs and hymns. Why bother with music from a tradition that is hostile to us? Armstrong labeled me a Pharisee and another commentator told me that we would be barren without those Prot songs and hymns! We have a 2000 year heritage of sacred music, and we would be barren without those Prot thingees? ROTFL!

  • I’ll stick with Voris. Never heard of Shea. Just As well.

  • Shea’s a pompous tool… of all people, to criticize someone because they put forth themselves as the measure of Catholicity. Physician, heal thyself.

    Look, I think it’s silly and stupid to have Prot hymns at Mass. But un-Catholic? Eh…. there are so many hymns in the Catholic arsenal that we can BOTH get rid of the modern pablum AND the Prot stuff. We do it at my parish, there are plenty of good hymnals to make it work.

  • Most Catholics today ARE protestantized. It began in the 50′s and was revved up by the liberal apostates at V2.
    An informed, orthodox Catholic–say Cardinal Burke–could sing A. G. and, knowing what it means, find nothing heterodox. The general run of the laity, who see little distinction between one denomination and another (“Hey, it’s all the same God”) understand AG as linking them with the general anglophone population who are nice people who support the place of worship of their choice.
    If Catholicism is not adherence to the one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic (Pope-run) it is not too much, just another church. This has been the theme of Voris: let’s be truly and wholely Catholic.
    Voris is trying to reverse the protestantizing trend and start a Catholicizing on.

  • Nothing like a catchy Gregorian chant to get toes tapping. I like Amazing Grace, especially when sung a capella by a great soprano. It’s like Auld Lang Syne, an oldie but goodie.

  • As for ‘dressing like a Protestant,’ would this include wearing Calvin Klein? :lol:

  • I don’t track Voris or Shea, but I’ve heard the first part of Voris’s argument from others. “Wretch” means “unhappy or vile person”, from the Old English word for “outcast”. That sounds about right. The argument is that “wretch” indicates that man is rotten to the core, which is a Protestant view. And maybe the word had that meaning at one time. Heck, maybe it has that meaning *now*. I just don’t make that association.

    I’ve never heard the second argument before, and it sounds valid on first hearing. But the hymn doesn’t deny the existence of actual grace. It says that we recognize the value of grace in our first moment of belief, not that grace appears in our first moment of belief.

    Could a person hear the hymn and come away with a Protestant understanding of grace? Sure. A Catholic understanding of grace? Again, sure. Are there better hymns in the world? Yup, a bunch of them. But as Donald points out, in an average four-hymn mass, there are at least two hymns worse than this one.

  • I think the explanation that Voris may be suffering from overly Protestant hair would actually clear up a number of issues.

  • Don’t like Voris — he annoys me. I do think he’s right about the song, although I like it. It’s a protestant song. And I too have sung “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” in church and found it hilarious. There’s another one we sometimes sing that talks about being “the elect.” I forget which one it is. But we are definitely NOT “the elect.”

    However, yesterday I had to endure a hit parade of awful contemporary songs, ending with the execrable “Anthem” (“Who is justice to the poor, Who is rage against the night, Who is blah blah blah blah blah blah, Who is light…” That is TEN THOUSAND TIMES WORSE than “Amazing Grace,” which one can at least choose to interpret in a Catholic way no matter what it actually means. There is no way to interpret crap like “Anthem” except as crap. “We are question, we are creed” — WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN????

  • I specifically requested “How Great Thou Art” for my uncle’s funeral Mass last year, not being the least deterred by its Protestant origins. There is no reason why Catholics and Protestants cannot share hymnody as long as they do not present theological problems. It is important to remember that Protestants are our brothers and sisters in Christ, and we are in communion with them even if that communion is imperfect.

    Amazing Grace is a fine hymn, even if it suffers a bit from over-use. The complaint regarding the word “wretch” has had currency in Catholic circles for well over 40 years, but I find it unconvincing. When one examines Newton’s life, his self-description is entirely apt.

  • I’d sing “How Great Thou Art” any day.

  • Funny, the referring to oneself as a wretch was what I considered the best part of the song. There’s humility, an admission of sinfulness, and acknowledgement of God’s mercy and grace in that line. Very Catholic, in my mind. The problem with it though is the “saved” – as in it’s a done deal. I know one can sing that line with a Catholic sensibility, but I have no idea how most Catholics think about it, if many even do at all (it is possibly just one of those rote things for many).

  • If Voris is complaining about the casual attire that people wear to church, I can’t fault him. I’d like to see people show more reference to the Blessed Sacrament in their manner and dress. Then again, Protestants used to dress up for church too. The problem isn’t the Protestantizing of American Catholicism; it’s the casualizing of American culture.

  • The hymn Amazing Grace is one of Christendom’s favorites. It’s been exported all over the world. It resonates because its message is simply Christian. It moves from the beginning (conversion) to the end (glory). It expresses a very basic experience shared by all Christians. Such a universal hymn is universally well loved.

  • I attend the 0730 Mass. Then, I don’t cringe through a protestant hootenanny.

    I prefer “Holy God We Praise Thy Name”” and just about any hymn in a 1956 Catholic Hymnal.

    AG is clownish on the pipes. That’s when I speculate what’s under them kilts?

    Yes. Many people come to Mass dressed like they’re going to the beach, and too many don’t know about genuflection or proper reverence for the Holy Eucharist.

  • AG is clownish on the pipes? How so? I think the pipes give it further dignity.

  • I agree, Pat. In some contexts it can be a bit cliche-ish, but cliches often develop for sound reasons. Years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, I decided that Pachabel’s Canon in D would be played at her wedding. Little did I know that since that time it would so dramatically increase in popularity that today it could fairly be described as a cliche. Still beautiful though. And hardly clownish either.

  • Donald:

    How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. FWIW, I hold no brief insisting that any Catholic *must* sing AG. I merely draw the line at calling it “anti-catholic” and implying that any Catholic who sings it is a protestantized semi-Catholic as distinct from Michael Voris, STB, Real Catholic.

  • Mr. Shea,

    While I might be inclined to agree with you that there is nothing really offensive about Amazing Grace, you still act very arrogantly and appear to be very full of yourself. I recognize this so well because it is one of my own chiefest defects of character. It’s sort of like looking in a mirror. Remember: you are NOT the spokesman for what’s Catholic and what isn’t. I suppose Michael Voris isn’t, either. And I am certainly not. But the fact that you closed down comments on your little piece about Michael Voris indicates you can’t take the criticism. Perhaps I am wrong. Nevertheless, I hope this will be my last interaction with you because you are best when you ignored. PS, feel free to ignore me, too. :wink:

  • “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.”

    Agreed Mark! Catholic blogdom is just one big happy family! :)

  • Donald: I love you man! :)

    Paul: “But the fact that you closed down comments on your little piece about Michael Voris indicates you can’t take the criticism. Perhaps I am wrong.”

    Yes. You are wrong. I closed down comments because, as I have said repeatedly on my blog, I’m super busy. I didn’t want to net.nanny the flood of hysterics coming in from pewsitter and elsewhere, so I closed comments. As a cursory glance at the out of control combox war which has broken out over at Creative Minority Report in the thread about me and Voris illustrates, the tongue is a flame. I decided to save myself the hassle while I’m trying to get other work done.

    Seriously, dude. My comboxes are full, every day, of criticism. I get it all the time. Most of the criticism is fairly rational. Corapi/Voris hysteria quickly becomes insane. When I’m busy, insane people are serious times sucks. Mystery solved. If you are going psychoanalyze my inmost motivations at least pay attention to obvious evidence that you are wrong. Thank you.

  • Oh! One other thing, Paul. You write: “Remember: you are NOT the spokesman for what’s Catholic and what isn’t. I suppose Michael Voris isn’t, either.”

    You know, I couldn’t agree more.

  • Shea certainly has been making a lot of noise lately via ad hominem attacks directed here and there…often against those who either cannot or won’t reply. What I don’t understand is how such a one of such a “brotherhood” gets paid for doing such.

    And ever notice how, in the comments afterwards, he has to react immediately against anyone who just might have a differing opinion! How dare they!

  • Rosie,

    Lest I be accused of an “ad hominem attack,” I am not saying this applies to any specific person. Just draw your own conclusions and apply the lesson therein as you see fit.

    If I act like a baboon, behaving as though I am God’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere while making a sanctimonious pretense at pious objectivity, the best thing you can do is to ignore me. Paying attention to arrogant buffonery gives it its power. Denying it publicity is truly the best that one can do.

    In the meantime, we should pay attention to people like Michael Voris. True, he makes mistakes on occasion. But by and large he is quite orthodox and that is exactly what irritates certain self-appointed so-called Catholic experts in the Catholic blogosphere so much. Being by nature heterodox, they get jealous, especially when the orthodox have a better media outlet than they do. I imagine that irritates them no end, and I couldn’t be happier. I believe the saying is “green with envy.” Hmmmm…..doesn’t the last Commandment say something about that?

  • PS, I do like how Michael Voris really doesn’t pay much attention to what people say about him. In fact, whatever defects of character he does possess, being envious of someone else’s reach into the Catholic media doesn’t appear to be one of them. And he doesn’t seem to have this constant need to quote himself. By all appearances, he is quite Catholic and does indeed enjoy it!

    :grin:

  • “Lest I be accused of an “ad hominem attack,” I am not saying this applies to any specific person.”

    Profile in courage.

  • I tend to get the cringes when i hear ‘Amazing Grace’ sung during Mass. I guess its because I remember the song coming out as a hit record back in the late 60′s by Judy Collins, and followed up not too long after by Joan Baez. I loved their renditions of the song and the religious tone of the lyrics, but to me, it was a secular ‘hymn’ – not some sacred music. I also loved the bag-pipe instrumental – stirred that part of my blood which retains a strong but distant Celtic Highlander strain.

    To me, its not sacred or holy (old English for ‘set apart’) music, even though the lyrics have been slightly modified from its originally ‘folksy’ format. i recall many years ago at Mass one Sunday, when no organ was available at the church at Mt.Maunganui, one of the choir members started singing ‘Amazing Grace’ for the communion hymn. The priest at the altar interupted him and asked him not to sing it. Undaunted, he again commenced with the opening lyrics, and the priest again interupted him and told him not to sing that song, as it was not a proper or appropriate hymn to welcome Christ in Communion. I agreed with the priest, despite the offended looks on the faces of the ‘touchy-feely’ bunch – mainly women. :wink:

    With regard to Michael Voris, I like the guy and get his daily e-mail and
    video clips. IMO he is a bit extremely orthodox, but that is certainly needed today in the battle we have to combat secular humanism and atheism, and the errors in the Church – that is why he is critical of the bishops, our leaders. I do recall many saints in the Church being extreme at times – St.Francis of Assisi comes to mind.

    And if anyone doesn’t like Mark Shea’s pugnacious boisterous style, don’t visit his blog. I quite like him, actually, but nowadays only a lurker rather than a commenter – that may change. Everyone doesn’t have to agree with everyone, as long as the Truth of the teaching of the Church is not being meddled with.

  • “And if anyone doesn’t like Mark Shea’s pugnacious boisterous style, don’t visit his blog.”

    I visited only once or twice. That was sufficient to see my worst defects of character in simultaneous action: arrogance, pride, ego, envy of others, intolerance of orthodoxy in others, etc.

    PS, if it were pugnacious style that was offensive, then I would never have listened to either Fr. Corapi or Michael Voris, both of whom Mr. Shea derides with impunity. I rather like pugnacious orthodoxy. Apparently Mr. Shea does not.

    I shall now go back to ignoring him. He merits not the publicity of even talking about him. :wink:

  • As an objective observer with no dog in this fight, can’t help but wonder why Catholics are bashing Catholics over such a trivial matter whether a hymn composed in 1779 is suitable in church. Aren’t there bigger fish to fry? The last thing Catholics need right now is more disunity — especially over mundane matters. Where is the brotherhood that you so famously claim to have?

  • I really liked Mark’s book By What Authority? and because of that I started following his blog. The one time I posted something wasn’t in agreement with his view on the matter and was quickly slashed with his razor sharp pen. I have a feeling that if I were to ever meet him I wouldn’t like him. Or rather, he wouldn’t like me. He’d probably call me an oaf or something like that.

    I started listening to The One True Faith podcast some years ago and really liked Voris’ direct approach. That got me to look at The Vortex. I commented on one video and was dealt the same pen sword that Mr. Shea likes to use. If I ever met Voris he’d probably call me a lemming or something worse.

    Big EGOs at play here.

  • Joe,

    Remember the story wherein the mother of James and John (the Sons of Thunder) asked Jesus that they might sit one at His right hand and the other at His left when He would come into His Kingdom? The Scripture tells us that afterwards the other ten disciples were indignant over this. Truly not much has changed in 2000 years, and I speak as a guilty party. Yes, I need to go to Confession – again.

  • For the life of me I do not see how Judy Collins or Joan Baez covering “Amazing Grace” renders the song secular. Its lyrics are plainly Christian and stirring, as the song’s history makes abundantly clear. Why a Catholic pastor would be offended by the song is beyond my comprehension, but disobeying his instructions during Mass is inexcusable.

  • While I understand that some people may not like Shea’s style, as far as I can tell, the man has never said a single heterodox thing since becoming Catholic. Claiming that he does not like Voris and Corapi because they are orthodox is silly, and it ignore the point he is trying to make (a point that I actually quite agree with), which is probably why he gets so frustrated by the responses he gets — they miss the point. So, for the record, does discussion about whether Amazing Grace is a Catholic hymn or whose side you take.

    She’s point is that Voris’ attempts at being Catholic are primarily focused on cutting down and attacking, as if orthodoxy were primarily a sword and not primarily something beautiful and life giving. Sure, orthodoxy has to defend itself from heresy or fake orthodoxy. But its main job is to help us have life and have it abundantly. And when the self-appointed guardians of Catholicism — and the ones who tend to make headlines — focus primarily on destroying this or that evil thing (especially when the thing is only questionable) they make converting the culture that much harder by presenting an entirely unattractive and mostly false picture of what orthodoxy looks like.

    Shea is sensitive to this fact. So are all of us with friends who don’t understand why one would want to be Catholic but are open. People like Voris make the task of talking to those friends that much harder. And that is a far worse thing than singing Amazing Grace.

  • We know that arguments on the internet tend to (a) get personal, and (b) escalate. If we can do so, let’s keep the conversation about hymn-good versus hymn-bad, rather than Voris versus Shea. We’re Catholics; we’re supposed to be charitable.

  • I apologize. “AG is clownish on the pipes? How so?”

    I think the pipes once were called “war pipes.” I prefer the pipes for “tunes of glory,” for funerals to tunes of adoration, and for the Sword Dance. The pipes were meant to get the blood up when war was “up close and personal”: cleaving assunder the other clan’s gallowglass with a claymoor or battleaxe. “Clownish” probably is the wrong word.

    Does AG express a confidence (arrogance is opposite of humility) of salvation (justification by conversion/Faith?) which may not comport with Catholic teaching: Hope for Salvation, the forgiveness (repentence, confession, penance, amendment of life) of sins, etc.?

  • I agree, Pinky. For whatever reasons, argumentation over the blogosphere tends to become much more sharp-elbowed much more quickly than argumentation over a Guinness. When participating, I try always to have a Guinness either in my hand or on my mind.

  • I disagree, T, on both counts.

    Hymns are types of prayers, of which their are 5 types: adoration, contrition, love, petition, and thanksgiving. AG falls into the last category — no need for it to touch the other bases as well.

    The use of the pipes for reflective prayer is effective precisely because they are powerful and associated with getting the blood up. It is the reason why the hard rock group Nazareth’s most popular song was the ballad “Love Hurt,” and why Steppenwolf’s subdued “Another’s Lifetime” was the most moving version of that song ever recorded. There is something very powerful in restraint.

  • Opinons are like noses. Everybody has one.

  • A competent musician, and certainly any composer, will offer that music itself conveys a message, one that altogether bypasses the analytical filtering faculties of the listener: “Music is language without words.” Hence it requires a scrutiny perhaops more careful than the lyrics, which we presumably scrutinize as a matter of course. With few exceptions, Protestant music exhibits a characteristic style or range of styles, styles which appear in not a few post Vatican II ‘Catholic’ hymns. The style is marked by a relatively heightened celebration of sentiment (‘enthusiasm’ in Fr. Knox’s sense), which, given the non-sacramental nature of the ordinary Protestant life of faith, stands to reason. Our religious experience must be as sensory as it is spiritual because we are physical creatures no less than souls, and where physical instruments of grace are rejected, an emotional experience of worship must compensate. Given that the musical message is assimilated along with the lyrics, and Amazing Grace is the product of a radically Protestant sensibility, its view is obviously averted from the sacramental life of Catholicism. We are obliged to ask as well, does the message of Protestant music comport with Catholic faith?

  • The problem with Shea’s blogging is not so much his “style”. It is the fact that he often engages in calumnious swipes at those he disagrees with particualrly in matters of politics and national security issues as well as capital punishment. On the latter he accused Tom McKenna of wanting “death, death, and more death” simply because McKenna supported the execution of Saddam Hussein. He has also portrayed Mr. McKenna’s support in general for capital punishment, a position that is perfectly legitimate from a Catholic moral perspective coupled with the fact that Mr. McKenna has specific expertise on this subject as a prosecutor with experieince with capital cases in like fashion. You can also read Shea’s despicable attacks on good Catholics like Marc Thiessien for daring to make the case for the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques employed by the Bush Administration to glean intelligence from high level terrorists when other means failed. These are only two examples, but there are scores more.

    Even worse, MArk has been given a pass on this by the entire Catholic apologetics and writers establishment including outlets like Catholic Exchange, Catholic Answers, and Crisis Magazine. This is a problem that makes whatever failings Voris has look like small potatoes in comparison.

  • Since the Church teaches us that we can only be saved through God’s grace, I simply cannot see any real theological issue with AG.

    And while I find J Pelham’s comments regarding the music itself interesting, I find them far too speculative and subjective to be instructive in assessing AG.

    On the other hand if I were to speculate, I’d say Voris’s assessment of AG is largely a function of his rather notoriously disproportionate animus toward Protestants and Protestantism. If the very same hymn had been written by Newman rather than Newton, Voris and others would have no issues.

  • J. Pelham – I understand the argument, but I don’t think it reflects the history of our hymns, in which Protestant and Catholic tunes and lyrics are mixed. I’ve noticed that a lot of the great hymns from my youth were written by Charles Wesley, for example. There was also an Anglican hymnist, William Chatterton Dix, who wrote “Alleluia, Sing To Jesus” and “What Child Is This”. I mean, “here on earth both Priest and Victim / in the Eucharistic feast”? Are you going to find anything more Catholic than that? We’d also have to give up Bach for not being Catholic.

  • Greg,

    I can’t disagree more; Shea isn’t engaging in calumny when he goes after Marc Thiessen. He is doing exactly what pro-lifers argue our apologists should be doing more of: pointing out the hard truth that one cannot favor certain policies and be a Catholic in good standing. And it was frustrating to see supposedly orthodox catholics bend over backwards to be orthodox Republicans first, trying to twist their Catholicism to justify whatever policies Bush could come up with next. I think what you are calling calumny was merely Shea’s frustrations boiling over.

    As for the death penalty stuff, I don’t recall what you are talking about so I’ll take your word for it. But Thiessen was doing exactly what pro-choice politicians do all the time and he deserved to be called out for it. And pewsitting Catholics deserved to know that one cannot advocate with Thiessen was advocating and remain a Catholic in good standing.

  • There is no comparison between the death penalty and abortion. Romans 13:1-7 gives the State the power of the sword to execute justice. It is ludicrous to make capital punishment and abortion morally equivalent. Quantitatively, there is no comparison between 60 million murdered innocent babies and a few thousand hardened criminals who received what a jury of their peers determined that they deserve. Qualitatively, there is a world of difference between a murderer or rapist being sent to God for final judgment, and an innocent baby being mortally evacuated from his mother’s womb by the most tortuous methods possible. At least the criminal is treated more humanely.

    No I did NOT say I support the death penalty. I prefer (as my father did) solitary confinement for capital offenders with perpetual Bible reading and hymn singing (even Amazing Grace) under a continuously illuminated 100 watt light bulb with no respite. Let the criminal have his bed and blankets, and feed him, and give him a clean toilet with toilet paper. But keep him forever in solitary till God calls him to stand before the Throne of Justice. Of course, all the bleeding heart liberals will hate that just as much as capital punishment. Too bad. Regardless that that is ever unlikely to be done, it’s what I support in lieu of simply sending the criminal to where he belongs.

  • Hymnody doesn’t always represent theology. Poetry can’t be fully faithful to one’s set of views or philosophic points. I find Amazing Grace to be an extraordinary hymn. Sometimes a poem or lyrics manage to capture something. I think that’s what Newton did.

  • I think, too, there comes a time in one’s life when one can say, justifiably, that they possess salvation. Amazing Grace, if it offers that level of confidence at all, is better for it.

  • “I think, too, there comes a time in one’s life when one can say, justifiably, that they possess salvation.”

    That is the sin of presumption. Not as deadly as the sin of despair but a sin nonetheless.

    http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3021.htm

  • I think it CAN be presumptuous if one really isn’t saved. But if one IS and has been so, to acknowledge the obvious signs and reach the correct conclusion is merely a reflex.

  • It’s not presumptuous to say that I have been saved from dying with a heroin needle in my veins (hopefully my detractor won’t yell at me for violating my anonymity again). That’s a reality for which I am grateful. And it’s not presumptuous to say that every day when I ask God for help, I am being saved. As for whether or not I will be saved, I’ll simply be happy to make it as far as Purgatory (because everyone who gets to Purgatory ends up in Heaven).

  • I believe one can reach a point, and will reach a point, where they know they are a child of God. John the epistle writer wrote that his readers may know that their sins were forgiven and that they passed from darkness to light.

  • Isn’t “once saved, always saved” a Calvinist doctrine? I thought Catholicism teaches otherwise.

  • If Pat’s point isn’t correct, then I may as well go back to using heroin and cocaine, and frequenting prostitutes, and stealing and lying as I used to.

  • No, it’s not a Calvinist doctrine, although it’s shared by Calvinists. It’s simply the way it goes. If God calls you home, then a point will arrive where that’s evident to you.

  • No one is saved until after death and safely in Heaven or Purgatory. Even the greatest would be Saint can fall prior to death, and even the greatest sinner can taste God’s mercy prior to death. The proud Pharisee and the poor sinner at the Temple is a telling parable about the dangers of presumption.

  • But I think poor man Divies really did look forward to the promised land. The Pharisee was the one kidding himself.

  • Even the greatest would be Saint can fall prior to death, and even the greatest sinner can taste God’s mercy prior to death

    How so, Don?

  • What you are stating pat has never been Catholic doctrine. It is the false doctrine of Eternal Assurance, or Eternal Security, and has never been taught by the Church.

    http://www.catholicbasictraining.com/apologetics/coursetexts/1s.htm

  • John, the epistle writer, told his readers that he wrote in order that they may know who they were, what they experienced, and what that meant. It’s implications, both temporal and eternal.

  • “Even the greatest would be Saint can fall prior to death, and even the greatest sinner can taste God’s mercy prior to death

    How so, Don?”

    Very easily indeed Joe. The great sinner on his death bed humbly turns to God and asks for forgiveness of his sins, in bitter regret for a mispent life. The lost lamb that is found is ever pleasing to God.

    The great Saint commits a great sin and does not repent of it before he is called before God for the Particular Judgement. The use by Our Lord of analogies of the first being last and the last being first indicates that this may happen more frequently that we humans reckon. On this Earth, no one is ever so high that he cannot fall, and no one is ever so low that he cannot rise.

  • Don, so save the best for the last, right?

  • There is an interesting article at Catholic Answers about assurance of salvation:

    http://www.catholic.com/library/Assurance_of_Salvation.asp

  • DOnald, I think the writers of the New Testament bear this out: patterns exist in the lives of those called home to God. Christians should indicate that God’s Holy Spirit is at work in them through holy living. Progressive sanctification is the direction I believe it takes. Deathbed conversions occur. Those people know they are saved and die peacefully.

  • How can one have peace with God? They know their sins are forgiven. Christ died for them. He rose again and they will be resurrected in Him. This is reconciliation through the cross.

  • I think pat that anyone who presumes to know his eternal destination in this life is a fool, and such has always been the teaching of the Church.

    From the Council of Trent:

    “CANON XVI.-If any one saith, that he will for certain, of an absolute and infallible certainty, have that great gift of perseverance unto the end,-unless he have learned this by special revelation; let him be anathema.”

    Unless one is promised paradise, as the kids were at Fatima for example, by a special revelation, assuming that one is saved is sinful nonsense. It isn’t as sinful as assuming that one is damned, but it has always been rightly condemned by the Church.

  • “Don, so save the best for the last, right?”

    Rather Joe we should all live as if today will be our last day, because for some of us, present company excepted I trust, it will be.

  • Which is why, Don, I suppose, that there will be people in heaven whom we thought we’d never see. Who knows? Maybe Hitler made a deathbed confession?

  • I disagree. I’m aware of numerous N.T. passages that deal with knowing one is a child of God. Like most else, it remains a matter of faith. But it is a faith that says I’m saved forevermore.

  • Kind of makes a mockery of Pascal’s Wager, doesn’t it, Don?

  • “How can one have peace with God? They know their sins are forgiven. Christ died for them. He rose again and they will be resurrected in Him. This is reconciliation through the cross.”

    Christ died for all pat, including the souls burning eternally in Hell. Our lives determine our eternal destination as Christ stated time and again in the Gospels.

  • I think we live by faith in the Son of Man and what he did. He died for the whole world. Whosoever will may come forth to take the free gift of life that inevitably bears fruit.

  • “Maybe Hitler made a deathbed confession?”

    Considering his last will and testament which endorsed his appalling crimes, the accounts of witnesses to his last hours, and the fact that he put a bullet through his brain, I think the chances of last minute repentance by the Austrian Corporal were minimal. However, not being God I will not presume to guess what happened in the very last instances of Hitler’s life.

  • If one doesn’t know what road he’s on (e.g., the one to heaven), then perhaps one ought to rethink where one is headed. I am NOT saying we should presume that we will stay on the road to end up in Heaven. But we should know what road we are on by doing an examination of conscience and going to Confession. Additionally, we can and should take comfort in knowing Jesus loves us and is a merciful and just Judge. Lastly (at least in my case) we can be grateful that we are saved from a life of self-destruction. Again, I don’t say we should presume we make it to Heaven, but if we can’t look forward to that as our goal, then what’s the point?

  • 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

  • “Again, I don’t say we should presume we make it to Heaven, but if we can’t look forward to that as our goal, then what’s the point?”

    Oh look forward to it all you want Paul, just don’t presume that you’ll get there until you get there.

  • I don’t believe God plays games with us. If he calls us home, then at some point we will find ourselves on the path that leads there. It’s not presumptious to recognize what street I’m on when driving to my physical home, is it?

  • And if I’m called to my spiritual home, I should be aware that I’m heading there. Otherwise I’m going in no particular direction at all, or perhaps zigzagging.

  • I don’t so presume, Donald, because I know what I deserve, and I am well aware I am but one drink or drug away from screwing up royally.

    BTW, I would suspect you, too, are on the road to Heaven. But like any imperfect human being, you too could screw up and not make it there.

    Someone somewhere in the Catholic blogosphere wrote a little essay explaining from Scripture why salvation is a process, i.e., “I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved.” The point wasn’t the doctrine of blessed assurance that the Protestants profess, but the idea that salvation is a journey.

  • Salvation is a destination, rather. We are saved from something. We are saved to something. We find salvation in Christ. Christ died for the salvation of the world. ‘Whosoever will’ represents all those who do come. But I think God initiates this. We also knwo that “He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion.”

  • I read in Romans:

    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  • Yes, I think it really comes down to faith in what God has done. Do we really believe it? THen we are included, and we will bear the inevitable fruit.

  • A few random thoughts of my own:

    All other things being equal, a meal served on fine china with cloth napkins and real silverware will be more pleasing and indicate a higher degree of respect for the guest than if the same meal were served with plastic or paper plates, plastic utensils, and paper napkins. However, if one is starving or really, really hungry and only gets one decent meal per week, one is probably not going to complain too loudly about being served on plastic vs. china as long as the meal is edible.

    To me, a Mass done with perfect reverence and with strictly “Catholic” hymns and chant would be like the meal served on china; a Mass done with a four-hymn sandwich that included “Amazing Grace” would be served on plastic; a Mass done with “Ashes” or “City of God” would be served on used paper plates. Yes, it would be much more pleasing served on the elegant china, but as long as it’s a valid Mass and Eucharist and I don’t hear or see anything grossly heretical or liturgically forbidden — if the “food” is not contaminated or spoiled beyond palatability — I’m not going to complain.

    I really don’t see where being excessively picky about liturgical correctness if you are not one of the persons responsible for the conduct of the liturgy (i.e. the priest or the parish music director) is any sign of superior intellect or virtue.

    As far as the doctrine of “eternal security,” obviously no one can be 100 percent certain they will be saved or 100 percent certain that they will be lost. However, there is a lot of range in between into which most of us fall.

    “Living saints” like Mother Teresa might have a 99 percent chance of being saved whereas a hardened criminal or serial killer may only have a 1 percent chance of being saved. Neither is absolutely 100 percent, but the probability can be pretty strong one way or the other.

    Assuming that most of us on this blog are practicing Catholics who are conscientiously attempting to avoid mortal sin, grow in holiness and conform to the mind of the Church — or in the case of Joe, someone open to the truth and sincerely striving to find it — I’d say we have about a 60 to 80 percent chance of being saved. However, that is not absolute certainty, any more than a weather forecast of a 70 percent chance of rain guarantees that you personally will get wet. Hence we neither presume nor despair of our salvation.

  • I probably should clarify that my reference to Mother Teresa as a living saint refers to the way she was perceived during her lifetime, of course, and not to the present, since she is now a Blessed on her way to sainthood (100 percent chance of salvation).

  • I think the tenor of scripture has been that those whom God calls respond and do so with their lives, bearing out that pattern. John, the epistle writer, wrote that we may know our sins are forgiven and that we are children of the light, that we walk in light and are part of the kingdom of light. There is almost a dichotomy, and perhaps there is, in his first epistle.

  • In other words, one is either on one side or the other, and if one is ‘in the light,’ one should realize it at some point.

  • ““Living saints” like Mother Teresa might have a 99 percent chance of being saved whereas a hardened criminal or serial killer may only have a 1 percent chance of being saved. Neither is absolutely 100 percent, but the probability can be pretty strong one way or the other.”

    True Elaine and throughout most of her adult life Mother Teresa endured a long dark night of the soul where she felt no sign of God. If her confessor had asked her about whether she thought that she was saved I doubt if he would have elicited a positive response. Yet another aspect to me of the greatness of Mother Teresa in that she persisted in her wonderful service of God when she did not feel His presence at all.

  • “Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

  • Yes, to perist in the Christian life apart from those feelings is difficult. But the conviction that one is a Christian, a saint, and bound for heaven can actually remain amidst that darkness and silence. It is only important that the life continues to be characterized by holiness.

  • “It’s not presumptious to recognize what street I’m on when driving to my physical home, is it?”

    It certainly is if you have no idea when the trip will end and whether you will persist in the journey until you arrive home.

  • Quoting Elaine: ‘As far as the doctrine of “eternal security,” obviously no one can be 100 percent certain they will be saved or 100 percent certain that they will be lost. However, there is a lot of range in between into which most of us fall.’

    Not exactly the certainty I was looking for, Elaine, which I remain a doubter. As a sometimes gambler, the odds don’t look good for me. I’m probably in the low single-digits, percentage-wise. Now if I could get up to 70 to 80 percent I’d feel pretty good. So it comes down to a numbers game, I guess.

    All my life I have been seeking just one certainty. Who was it who said, “Tell me of your certainties. I have doubts enough of my own.” Which is why I am stuck in that worst of all places — agnosticism.

  • “But the conviction that one is a Christian, a saint, and bound for heaven can actually remain amidst that darkness and silence.”

    I can think of few things more spiritually poisonous pat than presuming that one is a saint on earth. For me, I hope I will meet my maker as I am, a poor miserable sinner praying for a mercy that I do not deserve.

  • “Yet another aspect to me of the greatness of Mother Teresa in that she persisted in her wonderful service of God when she did not feel His presence at all.”

    My father, a Pentecostal (Assemblies of God), used to paraphrase a certain verse of Scripture to state, “We do not live by feelings alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

    BTW, my Dad died at 72 years of age where he wanted to die: in church on a Sunday night worship service. The place wasn’t exactly Catholic, but God granted him his wish and if he doesn’t make it / hasn’t made it to Heaven (and none of us know for certain), then my chances are quite minimal.

  • Donald, I don’t find it presumptuous to say where I’m going when I die if I’ve believed and confessed, and if this has been borne out over a long period of time (in a progressive way). I just consider that ‘naming’ the experience. Salvation in Christ. Faith in his work. A life that bears fruit as a result of the Spirit’s work. Forensic justification and future justification on the basis of all that God accomplishes throughout that timespan when judgement comes.

  • God judges us pat, not us. The human capacity for delusion is limitless when it comes to judging oneself, which is why the Church condemns both presumption and despair as sins.

  • I think God reveals himself to his people. I think those people can know what He decides to reveal to them. I believe the tenor of the Bible bears this out: Noah, Abraham, the Prophets, the early Disciples, Paul, believers generally who are called by Him.

  • God encounter us. He initiates a response. There’s a dialogue. If it’s real, we ought to know it’s occurring. Don’t you agree?

  • Presumably Judas thought he had an inside track on salvation when he was chosen by Christ as an Apostle. Martin Luther and John Calvin thought they were assured of their salvation. We are often the very worst judges of our own spiritual state. In any case we do not do the judging, but pray for God’s mercy. Lucifer fell because of his pride, and the Church has always regarded such spiritual pride as a very deadly sin.

  • I think you’re confusing different things. If a person has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, and believe that in their heart, they are saved. They can go forth confidently knowing God loves and forgives them, and that they are his children.

  • “If a person has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and Messiah, and believe that in their heart, they are saved. They can go forth confidently knowing God loves and forgives them, and that they are his children.”

    And throughout that person’s life they can still fall into mortal sin that can send them to Hell. That is precisely why we say in the Hail Mary:

    “Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death.
    Amen.”

    In the Our Father Christ has us pray:

    “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

    Until we are dead we all feel the lure and temptation of sin, and it is possible for any of us to fall, no matter how cock sure we are of our salvation.

  • Well Donald, if we have salvation through Christ, then it is precisely the mercy of God that has met us. It intersects at the point of our deepest sin, all of which is atoned for. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, has been sent, given to empower and enable, through Christ, to accomplish the will of the Father. The Christian, then, is one who has been called by God, saved in Christ, and is led by the Spirit. To accept this knowledge is not presumptious. It is merely to acknowledge what God has already revealed in the Scripture and in our own life.

  • So I think the following is a good quesion to ask: Do our lives accord with the Scripture?

  • “Well Donald, if we have salvation through Christ, then it is precisely the mercy of God that has met us.”

    God’s mercy is always available to repentant sinners pat. Until death, anyone can die a repentant sinner, and, conversely, until death anyone can die an unrepentant sinner.

  • In this dialogue on salvation, the one word that is missing, is HOPE .
    We cannot say we are saved because we are living according to Christ’s teaching – that is not our call. What we can say is that by following Christ’s teaching, we live in Hope of salvation.
    Hope is, after all, one of the three Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope and Charity.

  • Well said as usual Don! Christ is our Hope.

  • Exactly, Don.

    Pat, there have been some saints who have spoken with confidence about their afterlifes. There have been others who professed no confidence. A good number struggled on their deathbeds. Joan of Arc was asked if she was in a state of grace. She answered, “If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.” Paul, who late in life said that he’d fought the good fight and would possess the crown of righteousness, also warned us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

    We are repeatedly warned against both despair of salvation and certainty of salvation. We are told to hope in salvation.

  • Chris:

    Mark Shea’s attacks on Marc Thiessen most definitely ARE calumnious. There is nothing in the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques employed by th Bush Administration that are inconsistent with Catholic morality. If they were then Catholic teaching is inconsistent with itself. Think about it, the Church teaches that it is morally licit to put a criminal to death to protect the common good (i.e. the death penalty), but not impose discomfort to a terrorist to get him to cooperate so he will divulge intelligence that save innocent lives is a clear contradiction. This is what people like Mark Shea are positing as Catholic teaching and equating anyone who disagrees with such idiotic reasoning with pro-aborts as he does Marc Thiessen here:

    http://markshea.blogspot.com/2010/05/cathleen-kaveny-and-marc-thiessen.html

    As far as his dispicable attack on Tom McKenna, you can read that here:

    http://markshea.blogspot.com/2006/11/tom-mckenna-is-predictably-angry-with.html

    And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Any intelligent Catholic who does not regard Mark Shea’s conduct as the scandal that it is shows they have absolutely no respect for the integrity and credibility of Catholic apologetics and evangelization. This is especially true about the apologetics and writers establishemnt who make their living off of that very thing.

    American Catholic’s own Chris Blosser has a good piece on Shea’s behavior here:

    http://www.ratzingerfanclub.com/blog/2007/06/rewarding-bad-behavior.html

  • We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. And we are told to make our calling and election sure. Sure, here, means certainity in the realm of faith, as far as that goes.

  • Greg,
    I am no fan of Mark’s style, but I think you are on very weak ground as to the morality of torture, and yes while the definitional boundaries of torture might lack perfect clarity, the notion that waterboarding is not within those boundaries is simply not reasonable. The comparison to the death penalty is inapt for all manner of reasons, and a fair-minded analysis of Church teaching leaves little room for doubt. I say this even as one who admits a discomfort with (i.e., lack of complete understanding of) Church teachng in extreme cases, such as the proverbial ticking time bomb scenario. The waterboarding of prisoners is not humane, and the Catechism plainly and expressly demands humane treatment.
    All that said, our Church’s teaching in this respect is not especially intuitive despite being grounded, presumably, in natural law. In this respect it is more like the death penalty than abortion, not because the death penalty can be admitted in exceptional cases, but because the case against it as an ordinary matter is not intuitive to most people despite its natural law origins.
    In the end, you are simply mistaken in saying that waterboarding prisoners is not against Catholic teaching. Notwithstanding my discomfort with Catholic teaching in this respect, the teaching is clear to anyone who approaches it fairly and objectively.
    All that said, I do think that given Catholic teaching’s somewhat counter-intuitive nature in this respect, exceptional charity is called for when judging those who refuse to assent to such teaching by basically stubbornly distorting it.

  • And I should have added that I do think that Mark has occasionally failed to display such charity in my view, though in some of these cases his intemperate assertions were themselves responses to intemperate assertions.

  • Shea is clearly in the wrong, and Voris’s orthodoxy offends him.

    If you’ve been banished from Shea’s comboxes, join the support group at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/bannedbymarkshea

  • Why create a Facebook web page on a pompous donkey full of himself and what he thinks? It is always best to ignore such people and continue to give credence and publicity to any and all whom they think they can deride with impunity. Michael Voris makes mistakes sometimes, and it is his very orthodoxy which the envious hate. Ain’t nothing orthodox about him who edifies himself as God’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere.

  • I think there are lots of folks who are not aware of Shea’s methods. It’s not just his blustering and foaming at the mouth whenever a “Rad Trad” shows up….It’s the way he censors his comboxes so as to hide the weakness in his arguments. He doesn’t just kick out the obscene and the blasphemous; he ruthlessly puts down well-informed and well-documented objections to his drivel.

    And, satire is inherently fun: https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B3sg9KJVweh1ZWZlNDIxYmMtMWYxMy00ODM4LTgzNTQtZTk3YTQ1Yjk1MGQw&sort=name&layout=list&num=50

  • All this convinces me more than ever that the real patron saint of the Catholic blogosphere ought to be St. Jerome, who was known for being irascible.

    St. Paul could get kind of snarky when he wanted to as well. In Galatians he ends an extended rant about the “Judaizers” who insisted that Gentile converts to Christ had to first become Jews (which included, for male converts, circumcision) by saying “Would that those who are troubling you would mutilate themselves,” or in my favorite version — think this is from the Living Bible or one of those more “modern” translations — “Tell those who are troubling you (about circumcision) that I’d like to see the knife slip !”

    If the Church survived those two it can probably survive a few combox flame wars, even though flame wars are not my style at all and I actually prefer Shea to Voris (since Shea does at least have a sense of humor).

  • I think Amazing Grace was found troubling because it communicated a level of certainty: it assumes that the Christian person has passed from death to life, that they are a new creature. I frankly embrace that. After all, St. Paul tells us that that’s what it means to be in Christ.

    The writers of the epistles addressed their audiences as people redeemed in Christ. True, some of them had yet to make their calling and election sure. Others were warned or said to be in need of discipline. Still others were considered outsiders. But the writers assumed that the bulk of them were already in Christ and bound for glory. The writers possessed confidence that many or most of those addressed believed, bore fruit, and in doing so, had revealed that heaven was their destination. Confidence and assurance of salvation was sought, encouraged, and acknowledged in numerous ways throughout the epistles.

  • Pat – A theme on this thread is the proper way to argue and/or challenge someone who’s presenting theological error. With that in mind let me say that as far as I know, the teachings of the Catholic Church have consistently spoken against the kind of certainty you suggest. I don’t know if you’re Catholic or if Catholic doctrine carries any weight with you, but you should look into this issue more seriously than we’re likely to get on a comment thread.

  • Pinky, it seems the hymn found disagreement with someone because of its message. What I suggest is that the Scripture witnesses to the theme of grace and that one could reach assurance of their salvation. This has been my experience too. Your thoughts?

  • Mike:

    To say that waterboarding, which cause no permanent injury, is not within the boundaries of Catholic morality because it is inhumane, but capital punishment is, would mean Church teaching contradicts itself. In the case of waterboarding terrorists who we know have actionable intelligence upon whom innocent lives depend and refuse to divulge it. In both cases, legitimate means are being employed to protect innocent people from an unjust aggressor.

    By the way, the Church DOES NOT I repeat DOES NOT teach that torture is intrinsically evil. No, Veritatis Splendor #80 doesn’t teach that either. If you read it closely, along with torture it lists deportation, unsuitable living conditions, etc. You mean to tell me that deportation is wrong under any circumstances? That’s what intrinsically evil means. You cannot define something as intrinsically evil if you have no clear definition of what that something is. Furthermore, if the Church now teaches that torture is intrinsically evil it would contradict her own past since she had no problem with it in past ages.

    Even Mark Shea unwittingly admits that waterboarding is not intrinsically evil when he says that it is morally acceptable for our military to use it to train troops. If it is intrinsically evil that means it cannot be employed under any circumstances, including the training of troops.

  • Greg,

    You are wrong from beginning to end. AMAZING

    Church teaching does not contradict itself.
    Yes, Veritatis Splendor teaches that torture is intrisically evil:

    “Whatever is hostile to life itself, … whatever violates the integrity of the human person, … whatever is offensive to human dignity: … all these and the like are a disgrace.”

    Yes, Veritiatis Splendor teaches that deportation is intrinsically evil. (It not the same as exradition, which Paul VI himself spoke well of.)

    Whether or not members of church practiced or approved torture in the past has no bearing on the intrinsic nature of the evil. (A lively discussion on the matter you may be familiar with: http://zippycatholic.blogspot.com/2009/05/tale-of-two-documents-or-fallacy.html)

    No, what’s-his-name does not “unwittingly admit” that torture is a-ok because the military uses it to train troops. If you read anything at all about the SPECIFIC nature of what was done to KSM and the other terrorists, and compare it with the SPECIFIC nature of waterboard training — as so many of us in this debate already have done — you would know how different they are.

  • Larry Coty, Math Professor at Georgia Perimeter College and stalwart defender of the courage of Josef Mengele and the SS! Have you shared with the folks here your vigorous and enthusiastic encomiums to the greatness of the SS? Or your sympathies with David Irving, Holocaust Denier? http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ACAW_enUS400US347&q=%22larry+coty%22+David++Irving

    Really, if you are going to go around trying to gather a little group to help you in your Hate Mark Shea project, you really at least ought to tell them a little about your background. They do have a right to know. So sad you pulled down your little bookstore chocked with encomiums to the “great” Adolf Hitler.

  • Hmmmm….are you going to do an expose on everyone who recognizes the kind of person you are?

  • Shea,

    1. You told me in a private email that you “couldn’t care less” whether I left up my “Big Fat Phony” blog, as long as I “stayed out of your comboxes.” I have done so; but apparently the “Banished by Mark Shea Support Group” on Facebook is too much for you. You continue to run your silly little mouth while censoring those who effectively disagree. I am interested to see just how many of us “banned” people are out there. Link here, folks: http://www.facebook.com/groups/bannedbymarkshea/?ap=1

    2. I have never defended the greatness of “the SS.” I have tried to explain to you that many Waffen-SS units fought in the field admirably and against tremendous odds. This is a matter of history, not opinion. I have also tried to explain to you that the “camp guard” units were not drawn from the Waffen-SS but from the Allgemeine-SS, which was a completely separate organization and which was *not* under the control of the OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht). These distinctions seem too difficult for you to process.

    3. I have not defended Mengele’s entire career. I merely pointed out that the record shows that, *before* he was sent to Auschwitz, and *while* he was fighting the Russians in the 5th W-SS Division “Wiking” he apparently acted heroically in rescuing two crewmen from a burning tank. He got the Iron Cross for this. You, though, insist on a comic-book version of history in which the “Angel of Death” Mengele must have been a crazed villain at every moment of his life. [By the way, folks: This all started when Doktor Shea attacked some Tea-Party candidate simply because he took part in a battle re-enactment group which identified itself as the 5th W-SS Division. These groups are very common, and can be found re-enacting battles from many wars. It seems silly to me; but Shea treats it as a hanging offense.]

    4. I do not have a “bookstore.” I have used an on-demand service to reprint a number of out-of-print books, including two by Savitri Devi, who was a rabid National Socialist. She is an important writer, and has been the subject of a number of scholarly studies (such as Goodrick-Clarke’s “Hitler’s Priestess.”) I have also reprinted books such as “The Divine Liturgy” by Nikolai Gogol, a collection of essays dedicated to Hilaire Belloc, and Dante’s essay “De Monarchia.”

    5. Your repeated efforts to embarrass me or to cause trouble for me (such as by calling the “ethics hotline” of the University System here in Georgia) are doomed to failure. I have written nothing that I would not proudly defend in any public forum. I think it is very significant that you would go to such lengths to try and silence one of your critics. I guess you are afraid that if the word gets out to your fans that you manipulate your comboxes to exclude not only the “wild stuff” but also clear challenges to or refutations of your theses, then you might be seen for the addled egomaniac you so clearly are.

  • Mr. Shea,
    The Hate Mark Shea project was created by you and only you. No one can disagree with you or you corner people to death or you delete our comments or you call their bosses??? NICE. We aren’t the ones that run our mouth and post a blog at everything that comes into our minds like you do. Again, that project – you created. Maybe if you thought first and investigated before you posted and then thought of possibly being charitable in your posts, then more people wouldn’t feel so strongly about your rudeness! My advice? Grab a mirror and take a hard look at thyself. Seriously!

    oh and BRAVO Paul Primavera!!! Perfectly said, “Why create a Facebook web page on a pompous donkey full of himself and what he thinks? It is always best to ignore such people and continue to give credence and publicity to any and all whom they think they can deride with impunity. Michael Voris makes mistakes sometimes, and it is his very orthodoxy which the envious hate. Ain’t nothing orthodox about him who edifies himself as God’s gift to the Catholic blogosphere.”

  • Oh for crying out loud, are we headed down yet another torturtous torture debate rabbit hole? (Having to scroll through or moderate one of those threads would be my personal idea of blogger purgatory :-) )

    And how does participation on the German side of a WWII reenactors group make someone a “defender” of the Nazis any more than participating on the Confederate side of a Civil War reenactment automatically makes one a secessionist or traitor?

  • “Your [Mark Shea's] repeated efforts to embarrass me [L. Coty] or to cause trouble for me (such as by calling the ‘ethics hotline’ of the University System here in Georgia) are doomed to failure.”

    It seems that someone behaves worse than my atheist ex-wife. I am not, however, in the least surprised. Yet it is dismaying that such a person should escape with impunity for criticizing his better – Michael Voris.

  • Well, I am glad I have internet connection this morning as the comments in this thread seem to be devolving into a back and forth on Mark which was not the intention of my post. I am therefore closing the comments and getting back to my vacation. Three comments before I do:

    1. Jasper, I didn’t delete your comments or anyone else’s comments on this thread.

    2. The Waffen-SS had a habit of massacring POWs they captured. They did this for example to American troops at Malmedy. The myth of the simon pure Waffen-SS is just that, a myth.

    3. Writing about Mengele receiving a medal for courage is rather like mentioning that Hitler served with courage in the First World War, both strike me as utterly besides the main point. Both men were monsters and the world was a vastly worse place due to their having lived.

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