PopeWatch: Synod Chicanery

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

Chicanery, to be polite, is afoot in regard to the Synod next year.  Father Z gives us the details.

 

 

 

The outline of features for the next Synod of Bishops in October 2015, or Lineamenta, has been released.  The Lineamenta is based on the last Synod’s final document, the Relatio Synodi.  For the Relatio, the members of the Synod voted on each paragraph.  According to the Synod’s own rules, established and approved by those appointed by Pope Francis to run the Synod, in order to be included in the Relatio each paragraph had to receive a 2/3’s majority of voting members.  Some paragraphs, on Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and on homosexuality, very controversial paragraphs, did not receive 2/3’s as a sign of “consensus”.  They received 1/2, but not 2/3’s (therefore, not “consensus”).  That means that they shouldn’t have been included in the Relatio Synodi.  However, Pope Francis decided that they should be included anyway.  He overrode the rules of the Synod.  The only way you can tell that those particular paragraphs were not supposed to be included is a) to know the rules (which most people don’t) and b) look at the voting stats included in the Relatio (which most people don’t).

Many have the sense that those who are guiding the activities of the Synod are trying, like border collies, to drive the members of the next Synod to a predetermined position.

There is a precedent.  For example, during the last Synod, there was the midpoint report on what was discussed in the first phase, the Relatio post disceptationem.  Some paragraphs appeared in that midterm report, apparently written by Archbp. Bruno Forte.  They concerned, for example, homosexuality.  However, the paragraphs seem not to have resembled anything that was actually said by the members during the first part of the Synod.  In am amazing and, for the Holy See, unusual feat of efficiency, somehow the organizers of the Synod managed – mirabile lectu – to get the midpoint Relatio translated into five languages, bound, and distributed to the members.  By way of contrast, the final Relatio was released in Italian only, and then there was a provisional English version published not by the Synod office but by the Press Office.  It is hard to find and riddled with translation errors.

It is hard to watch this and not wonder about manipulations that aim at a specific outcome.

In any event, the Left has not been idle since the close of the Synod last October.  Watch the catholic media.

A great deal is going to take place on the rhetorical battlefield between now and the opening of the next phrase, next October.

For example, much is going to be made of the questions that are woven into the Lineamenta, questions that go to conferences of bishops for their subsequent exploration.

Among the questions…

Concerning communion for the divorced and remarried is no. 38:

“Sacramental pastoral practice with regard to the divorced and remarried requires further examination, also with the evaluation of the Orthodox practice and taking into consideration ‘the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances.’ What are the perspectives in which to act? What are the possible steps? What are the suggestions for avoiding undue or unnecessary forms of impediments?”

One concern homosexuality is number 40:

“How does the Christian community turn its pastoral attention to families that have within them persons with homosexual tendencies? Avoiding all unjust discrimination, in what way can it care for persons in such situations in the light of the Gospel? How can it present them with the requirements of God’s will in their situation?”

These are the most hotly debated questions partly because they have significant impact on other foundational dimensions of the Church’s doctrine and practice.

Here is an authoritative reaction.

 

Today at Sandro Magister’s place, one of the Cardinals who contributed to the Five Cardinals Book, His Eminence Velasio Card. DePaolis delivers some blunt words.  The book was called, by the way,  Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.

Card. De Paolis wrote, and I am jumping in medias res and adding my emphases and comments:

The proposition, to the extent to which it provides for the possibility of admitting the divorced and remarried to Eucharistic communion, in fact constitutes a change of doctrine. [That’s it!] And this [get this…] contrary to the fact that it is said that there is no intention to modify doctrine. Moreover, doctrine by its very nature is not modifiable if it is the object of the authentic magisterium of the Church. Before talking about and dealing with any change in the discipline in force, it is necessary to reflect on the nature of this discipline. In addressing this matter one must, in the first place, reflect on this doctrine and on its level of firmness; there must be careful study of what can be modified and what cannot be modified. The doubt has been insinuated into the proposition itself when it calls for exploration, [get that?] which must be doctrinal and prior to any decision.

We can also ask ourselves if it is the competency of a synod of bishops to deal with a question like this: the value of the doctrine and discipline effective in the Church, which have been formed over the course of centuries and have been ratified with statements on the part of the supreme magisterium of the Church. Moreover, who is competent to modify the magisterium of other popes? [NB…] This would constitute a dangerous precedent. Furthermore, the innovations that would be introduced if the text of the proposition were approved would be of unprecedented gravity: [That’s code for “total disaster”.  So, what are we talking about here?  Perpend…]

a) the possibility of admitting to Eucharistic communion with the explicit approval of the Church a person in a state of mortal sin, with the danger of sacrilege and profanation of the Eucharist; [Which, if you believe in what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, is bad.  Alas, many people approach the Eucharist as “they put the white thing in your hand, we sing the song, and we all feel good”.]

b) doing this would bring into question the general principle of the need for the state of sanctifying grace in order to receive Eucharistic communion, especially now that a generalized practice has been introduced or is being introduced[get that?  did you?] into the Church of receiving the Eucharist without previous sacramental confession, even if one is aware of being in grave sin, with all of the deleterious consequences that this practice involves; [For consequences see St. Paul’s 1 Cor 11.]

c) the admission to Eucharistic communion of a believer who cohabits “more uxorio” would also mean bringing into question sexual morality, particularly founded on the sixth commandment; [Which is GOD’s positive law.]

d) this would also lend support to cohabitation or other bonds,  [guess what kind] weakening the principle of the indissolubility of marriage.

Blunt language for important questions in troubled times.

Be sure to get the Five Cardinals Book™ and see what DePaolis says there! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Miracles, Facts and Fancy

 

 

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most dramatic appearances of Mary in history, when Mary, in the guise of an Aztec princess, appeared to Saint Juan Diego (his pre-conversion name of Cuauhtlatoatzin translates as “Talking Eagle”), a Mexican convert, on December 9, 1531 as he strode to Mass and was passing by the base of Tepeyac hill.  She spoke to him in Nahuatl, his native tongue, and told him to go to Archbishop Juan de Zumarraga, the primate of Mexico, and tell him that she wished for a shrine to be built on Tepeyac hill.  She also gave him this message: 

“I will demonstrate, I will exhibit, I will give all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful mother, the merciful mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me , of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow and will remedy and alleviate all their multiple sufferings, necessities and misfortunes.”  

The Archbishop told Diego he would not believe in his encounter with Mary unless he had a sign.  Our Lady told Diego to visit the Archbishop again, but Zumarraga repeated his request for a sign.   Returning to Tepeyac, Diego again encountered Our Lady who told him to present himself to  Archbishop Zumarraga and give to him roses he was instructed to pick.  Roses growing in Mexico in December were a miracle in and of themselves.  Diego did as he was bidden, and when he presented the roses to the Archbishop, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted on his tilma, his peasant’s cloak, where the roses had been held by him.  News of the miracle spread throughout Mexico and before the decade was out some eight million Mexicans converted to the Faith.  A chapel was built on Tepeyac and Diego cared for it and the image as a religious hermit until his death in 1548 at 73. 

Doubts have been raised about whether Juan Diego existed due to the lack of contemporary accounts.  However, these doubts were quashed, at least any reasonable doubts, in 1995 with the coming to light of the Codex Escalada which has been dated to the sixteenth century.  It bears the date of 1548 and is an illustrated account of the apparition with text in Nahuatl describing the encounter between Juan Diego and Mary.  The document bears the signature of  Father Bernadino de Sahagun, a missionary priest and historian in Mexico, and a contemporary of Juan Diego.  The first mention of the image in Spanish is in 1556 in a sermon preached by Archbishop Alonso de Montufar, the successor to Archbishop Zumarraga, in which he recommended devotion to the image.  Devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe spread rapidly throughout the Catholic world, with Genoese Admiral Giovanni Andrea Doria having a copy of the image on his flagship during the decisive Christian victory at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Cover Me! I’m Going In!

I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life.

Chistian Bale, star of Exodus:  Gods and Kings, in reference to Moses, who he is portraying in the film.

One of the many services that TAC has provided to its readers over the years is me going to see bad films so you don’t have to.  My bride and I are picking up our daughter on Friday from college and on Saturday our son will arrive by train, fresh from the rigors of first semester law school finals.  We will eat after he arrives and then the family will go off to see Exodus:  Gods and Kings.  I suspect it will be a bad film from everything I have read about it.  I hope it will be so bad that it may be a cult classic in the making rather like Dune (1984).  Whatever it is, I will review it for the blog.

The Messiah on Mott Street

Every now and then, God remembers the tenements.

Buckner, The Messiah on Mott Street

 

 

In my early teen years I was a fan of Rod Serling’s anthology series Night Gallery.  Usually consisting of tales of  horror, on December 15, 1971 something different was broadcast for Christmas.  Edward G. Robinson gives a moving performance of the eternal Jewish longing for the Messiah, and how, whether we realize it or not, we are always in God’s hands.  The episode may be viewed here.

 

Who’s the Messiah? He’s the messenger from God. Any moment he will appear, looming big and black against the sky, striking down our enemies and lifting us up to health and wealth and Heavenly contentment… and fix our digestions, too. And supply me with a new set of teeth.

Abraham Goldman (Edward G. Robinson), The Messiah on Mott Street

PopeWatch: Kasper

 

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin.  We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves.

Fyodor Mikailovich Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

 

Rorate Caeli has a very interesting English translation of an interview the Pope did recently with La Nacio, Argentina’s oldest daily newspaper.  PopeWatch was intrigued by this section:

What do you think about the solution put forward by the German cardinal Walter Kasper?

- Kasper´s address to the cardinals last February included five chapters, four of them are a jewel, about the purpose of marriage, open, in depth. The fifth is the question of what do we do with divorcees who have remarried; they are part of our congregation after all. Kasper´s hypothesis is not his own. Let´s look into that. What happened? Some theologians feared such assumptions and that is keeping our heads down. Kasper urged us to seek hypothesis, i.e., he made the first move. And some panicked. And went as far as to say: Communion, never. Only spiritual Communion. And tell me, don´t we need the grace of God to receive spiritual communion? That´s why spiritual communion obtained the fewest votes in the relatio synodi, because nobody was in agreement. Those for it, because there´s not much to it, voted against it; and those who are not for it and would rather go for the other one, because it´s not worth it.

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Pope Francis Does Not Gather Moss

Candida Moss

Candida Moss, Notre Dame’s self promoting “blonde ambition” Professor of Theology, go here, here, here and here to read about some of her prior antics, has apparently fallen out of love with Pope Francis.  Here is a quote from an article she and her sidekick Joel Baden wrote for the Daily Beast last month:

Much like an ex-partner you keep running into in the street, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s continued presence in the church serves as a constant reminder of the way things used to be. Benedict’s occasional but thoroughly traditional statements offer a painful reminder and glimmer of hope to conservative Catholics. Just last week, in written remarks read aloud at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome, Benedict wrote that interreligious dialogue “is no substitute for spreading the Gospel to non-Christian cultures.” Benedict’s arguments are expressed somewhat philosophically, but they are music to the ears of those tired of Francis’s soft embrace of atheists, aliens, and—worst of all—progressive social policies.

Conservatives can also be encouraged that Benedict is showing support, albeit subtly, for the previously important conservative Cardinals that Francis ousted from power. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a pro-life traditional prelate whose demotion by Francis was recently announced, invited Benedict to a Latin Mass at the Vatican. In declining the invitation, Benedict wrote that he was glad that the Latin Mass was being “celebrated by great cardinals,” a statement that many conservatives see as tacit support for those sent into exile by Francis.

Alas, that was last month.  This month Moss and Baden in an oped in the LA Times bemoan the un-pc use of language by the Pope:

 

 

Ten days ago, Pope Francis organized and addressed an interfaith colloquium on the subject of “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage.” The use of the doctrinal term “complementarity” signals the conservative underpinnings of Francis’ views on marriage. The religious teaching of complementarity holds that men and women have very different roles in life and in marriage, with men outranking women in most areas. Although Francis did acknowledge that complementarity could take “many forms,” he nonetheless insisted that it is an “anthropological fact.”

Last week, in chastising the European Parliament on the subject of immigration policy, Francis provided another alarming insight into his attitudes toward women, this time in his choice of metaphor. He described Europe as a “grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant,” but instead “elderly and haggard.” At 77 years old, presumably Francis still thinks himself relatively vibrant and useful to society. Women of his age, however, have apparently outlived their utility. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: The Core of the Question

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us the latest comment of the Pope on the issue of communion for divorced Catholics whose prior marriages have not been annulled:

 

With regard to communion for the divorced and remarried, Pope Francis has expressed his thinking once again in the interview that he gave to Elisabetta Piqué in the Argentine newspaper “La Nación” of December 7 (see photo):

In the case of the divorced and remarried, what do we do with them, what door can be opened? There is a pastoral concern: so are we going to give them communion? It is not a solution to give them communion. This alone is not the solution, the solution is integration. They are not excommunicated, sure. But they cannot be godparents in Baptism, they cannot read the readings at Mass, they cannot distribute communion, they cannot teach catechism, there are seven things they can’t do, I have the list here. If I were to present this, they would seem excommunicated de facto! So, to open the doors a little bit more.”

In the same interview, Francis defended the clarity of his own formulations:

“Someone told me once: ‘Yes, of course, discernment is fine, but we need things that are more clear.’ I told him: ‘Look, I have written an encyclical and an apostolic exhortation, and I continually make declarations and give homilies, and this is magisterium. What is there is what I think, not what the media say I think. Go there, you’ll find it, and it’s very clear.’”

Nonetheless the fact remains that what the pope said in this interview with regard to communion for the divorced and remarried still lends itself to interpretative doubts. One can read in it, in fact, both a rejection of the “solution” of giving them communion and an assent to this same solution, as part of a more comprehensive “integration” of these individuals. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

December 10, 1864: Letter From Lamon to Lincoln

Ward Hill Lamon

 

 

Virginia born Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s lawyer friend from Bloomington, Illinois, spent a frustrating Civil War attempting to protect the President, who appointed him the US Marshal for the District of Columbia.  Lincoln took a fatalistic attitude towards security, assuming that no precautions could protect him from an assassin determined to kill him.  Lamon’s frustration boiled over in an eerily prophetic letter written very early on December 10, 1864:

Washington, D. C.
Dec. 10, 1864, 1.30 o’clock, A. M.

Hon. A. Lincoln:

Sir, — I regret that you do not appreciate what I have repeatedly said to you in regard to the proper police arrangements connected with your household and your own personal safety. You are in danger. I have nothing to ask, and I flatter myself that you will at least believe that I am honest. If, however, you have been impressed differently, do me and the country the justice to dispose at once of all suspected officers, and accept my resignation of the marshalship, which is hereby tendered. I will give you further reasons which have impelled me to this course. To-night, as you have done on several previous occasions, you went unattended to the theatre. When I say unattended, I mean that you went alone with Charles Sumner and a foreign minister, neither of whom could defend himself against an assault from any able-bodied woman in this city. And you know, or ought to know, that your life is sought after, and will be taken unless you and your friends are cautious; for you have many enemies within our lines. You certainly know that I have provided men at your mansion to perform all necessary police duty, and I am always ready myself to perform any duty that will properly conduce to your interest or your safety.

God knows that I am unselfish in this matter; and I do think that I have played low comedy long enough, and at my time of life I think I ought at least to attempt to play star engagements.

I have the honor to be

Your obedient servant,

Ward H. Lamon.

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Confession! What a Relief!

 

 

 

My bride and I just went to Confession, and once again I pitied the poor priest who had to hear my lawyer’s confession!  I have never been to Confession without feeling a great sense of relief.

 

Here is the formula that I have followed for Confessions since childhood:

Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been ____________ since my last Confession and these are my sins.

 

I then recite my sins.  I follow the rule of three B’s in Confession:

Be Blunt

Be Brief

Be Gone

I say my sins, with no attempts to minimize or justify, no matter how it shames me to do so, and sometimes I do feel great shame, which I suspect is a good sign.  I end my recital with the statement that these are all the sins I can recall but that I am truly sorry for those I cannot recall.

After the priest absolves me, and what a wonderful word absolve truly is, I say an Act of Contrition:

O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest of all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the Pains of Hell, but most of all because I have offended Thee my God who art all good and deserving of all my love.  And I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life, amen.

If any of you who read this have been away from Confession, please go before Christmas.  Welcome Christ this year with a clean slate. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Sycophantic Slop

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

 

Father Z noted the breathless interview by Gerard O’Connell with Pope Francis which appeared in the Jesuit rag America and deemed it sycophantic slop:

 

Over the years, I’ve come to understand that Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, is a free man, a fearless man, one who’s not afraid to break with past ways of doing things so as to bring people closer to God. At last October’s synod on the family he encouraged the bishops to speak openly, honestly, with courage, but he also urged them to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church.  

He explained all this in a succinct way in his answers to Elisabetta’s questions about the synod, and stated that even if some are afraid where this whole unscripted synod process might lead, he’s not:  “I am not afraid… I am not afraid because it is the journey that God asks of us. Furthermore, the Pope is the guarantor; he is there to take care of this also. So it is necessary to carry on with this.”

Some have suggested that the church is like a ship without a rudder today, but the interview shows clearly that Pope Francis is truly in charge. He’s very conscious that he is the Successor of Peter. He’s happy and at peace in this role, knowing it’s where God wants him to be. He conveys a great sense of security, peace and joy. It’s what he conveyed on his recent trips to the Holy Land, Korea and Turkey. It’s what I felt too when we were with him.

It reminds PopeWatch of this classic piece of coverage of Obama in 2008:

Here’s where it gets gooey. Many spiritually advanced people I know (not coweringly religious, mind you, but deeply spiritual) identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet, of relating and connecting and engaging with this bizarre earthly experiment. These kinds of people actually help us evolve. They are philosophers and peacemakers of a very high order, and they speak not just to reason or emotion, but to the soul. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Messianic Prophecies: Isaiah 50:6

 

Continuing our Advent look at Messianic prophecies for this year, which we began in Advent 2011 and continued in 2102 and 2013, the earlier posts of the series may be read here, here, here ,here, here, here, here, here , here here, here, here, here , here, here and here ,we come to Isaiah 50:6:

 

 

I have given my body to the strikers, and my cheeks to them that plucked them: I have not turned away my face from them that rebuked me, and spit upon me.

Saint Athanasius links this passage to the sufferings of Christ: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Witch Hunt in Philadelphia

Witch Hunt
As the UVA rape story hyped by Rolling Stone falls apart, Ralph Cipriano at Big Trial notes that the author of the Rolling Stone story was involved in another story that may have sent three innocent priests and a teacher to prison:

 

In the Billy Doe case, what Erdely didn’t know [or bother to find out] was that Billy had already told his story to the archdiocese, police, and a grand jury, and would subsequently retell it to two different juries in two criminal cases. And every time he told his story, the details kept changing.

 

 

In the case of the alleged University of Virginia gang rape, The Washington Post discovered that although the victim claimed she had endured three hours of rape, which supposedly left her blood-splattered and emotionally devastated, no event was held at the frat house the day of the alleged rape.

 

Jackie’s defenders also reported that “key details of the attack” had changed over time and that they were not able to verify those details. For example, one alleged attacker belonged to a different fraternity. The fraternity also reviewed a roster of employees at the university’s swimming pool where the alleged ringleader of the attacked supposedly worked and discovered that roster did not include the frat member cited by Jackie, or anybody else who matched the physical description that Jackie gave.

 

 

But when it comes to details that keep changing or don’t add up, Billy’s got Jackie beat by a long shot.

 

 

In the Billy Doe’s case, Billy initially claimed that he was:

 

 

— Anally raped for five hours by one priest in the sacristy and afterwards the padre threatened to kill him.

 

 

— Punched in the head and knocked unconscious by another priest, after which Billy came to and found himself naked and tied up with altar sashes; after which he was anally raped so brutally he supposedly bled for a week.

 

 

— Punched in the face by a school teacher and strangled with a seat belt before he was raped in the back seat of a car.

 

 

Then, Billy dropped all those details about the anal rapes, being punched in the head and knocked unconscious, being tied up with altar sashes, getting punched in the face and strangled with a seat belt, and being threatened with death. And then he invented a whole new story about being forced to perform strip teases, oral sex and mutual masturbation with the same trio of assailants.

→']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Time to be Great Again

 

 

 

 

Hattip to Instapundit:

 

FROM THE COMMENTS OVER AT ACE’S some Pearl Harbor Day thoughts.

During the 3-1/2 years of World War 2 that started with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and ended with the Surrender of Germany and Japan in 1945, “We the People of the U.S.A.” produced the following:

22 aircraft carriers,
8 battleships,
48 cruisers,
349 destroyers,
420 destroyer escorts,
203 submarines,
34 million tons of merchant ships,
100,000 fighter aircraft,
98,000 bombers,
24,000 transport aircraft,
58,000 training aircraft,
93,000 tanks,
257,000 artillery pieces,
105,000 mortars,
3,000,000 machine guns, and
2,500,000 military trucks.

We put 16.1 million men in uniform in the various armed services, invaded Africa, invaded Sicily and Italy, won the battle for the Atlantic, planned and executed D-Day, marched across the Pacific and Europe, developed the atomic bomb, and ultimately conquered Japan and Germany.

It’s worth noting, that during the almost exact amount of time, the Obama Administration couldn’t even build a web site that worked.

Ouch.

Of course we were a serious people back then and did not spend all our time composing arguments as to why we couldn’t do something and we didn’t have elites who specialize in gridlock.  We were still the people described by Winston Churchill: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Humanity’s Sole Boast

 

 

Father Paul Mankowski, SJ, explains how in her Immaculate Conception, Mary began her life sinless, but always had the same capacity for sin that we do, just as Adam and Eve had such a capacity to sin prior to the Fall.  That she did not sin in her life, is, I think, why she is properly proclaimed Humanity’s Sole Boast:

 

 

When we fall, we fall from a human dignity, not an angelic one; our skid may well end at a level of animal savagery, but we never “tumble down” into humanity. It was natural indeed that the Legion inside the Gerasene demoniac pleaded to be cast into swine — not because pigs are of themselves wickeder then men, but because the elevator, so to speak, was already at that floor. There is no point, then, in exploring this avenue further. I think the way out is more direct. A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Whenever I hear the word ‘dialogue’, I reach for my dogma.” Let us, in the same spirit, reach for our dogma and see if it has anything to say to us.

 

 

Pope Pius IX’s Dogmatic Definition of 1854 runs thus: “The Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of omnipotent God, in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved free from all stain of original sin…. ” First, it should be noticed that the grace given to the Virgin Mary was “in consideration of the merits of Jesus Christ.” That is, in and of herself, she too was in need of salvation and was saved through the sacrifice of her Son, although it worked “retroactively” as it were, so as to affect her even at her conception.

 

A very partial analogy might be drawn with a woman afflicted from birth with a progressive terminal disease, whose own child grows up to be the scientist who discovers the cure for the disease, and so heals the mother. But let’s not push that too far. The second point, and this is the one I want to stress, is that it is original sin from which Mary was preserved at her conception. The contamination which we all inherited from Adam, namely, estrangement from God with its consequent warping of our human appetites, as well as death itself, did not touch her. The fittingness of this “singular privilege and grace” was, to my mind, well expressed by the English bishop Langdon Fox, who asked, “How could Mary be said to have been made fit to stand in the relationship of Mother to the all pure God if the Devil could claim, and claim truly that once, even if only for moment, she had been in the state of Original sin?” that is, if the devil had her in his control even briefly. Be that as it may, it should be clear that freedom from original sin does not bring with it an incapacity for actual sin. After all, Adam and Eve were both created without original sin; it was in fact their first actual sin whose effect we call “original” in their descendants.

 

Now the upshot, it seems to me, is this. The Blessed Virgin Mary lived her life in the state in which Adam and Eve lived before their sin. She was as capable of sin as they were; her life, to this extent like ours, was a series of choices between good and bad, self and other, God’s will and her own. her glory, for which all generations will call her blessed, is that in every instance she said, “I am your servant. Let it be done to me in accordance with your word.” She, who was full of grace, said, “Your will be done, not mine.” When she praised God because He had looked on her in her lowliness, she was not feigning humility. She was uniquely aware that it was God’s grace, and not her own merit, in virtue of which she had been set apart. And the consciousness of the gap between her humanity and God’s power was uniquely acute in her case.

 

 

C.S. Lewis remarked somewhere that we are not to imagine that Jesus had an easier time with temptation than we. In fact, he said, Jesus Christ was the only one who ever felt the full strength of temptation, because He was the only one who never gave in to it. He said by way of explanation something like this: “After all, you don’t discover the true strength of the German Army by laying down and letting it roll over you; but only by standing up to it and fighting it at every turn.” If I might extend (and correct) C.S. Lewis here, I would say that the Virgin Mary is, apart from her Son, the only one who really knew humility, since it was she who, in every instance, chose obedience, who let God’s will trump her own, who refused to be duped into trusting in her own resources.

 

 

We might illustrate what this means from the Gospel: I once heard another Jesuit talk over coffee about a homily he had to give at a summer camp for retarded children. The Gospel text on which he was to preach was the account of the Rich Young Man. Unsure how he was going to communicate the message to his congregation, this priest somewhat despairingly brought out a simple coffee cup after reading the Scripture. He said, “You see, the rich young man’s cup was already full of all the things he had, and so Jesus couldn’t give him anything; there was no room.” I still think that to be one of the most striking exegeses of that passage I’ve ever heard. And, when it is reversed, the same image can be applied to Mary. Her cup alone was genuinely empty; she alone had room only for God, for herself, no element of possessiveness or self-will, which took up the space made for God’s love. She alone was truly an earthen vessel, a repository, she whom the archangel Gabriel called “full of grace.”

 

Her humility, her lowliness, was not a sham. Alone of our race, she could point to her humility without an admixture of hypocrisy. The lowliness was hers; the glory was God’s. Far from being aloof from the pain of decision, she is the only one of us who ever felt the full sting. If you think I am laying it on a bit thick here, I’d invite you to try living for ten minutes genuinely unconscious of your own dignity, genuinely reliant on God. It hurts like blazes. ']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Sandro Magister, at his blog Chiesa, provides us with the ending of a 1972 article written by the Pope Emeritus when he was Father Ratzinger.  In that article Father Ratzinger, under certain conditions, supported allowing divorced and remarried Catholics whose prior marriage had not been annulled to receive Communion:

The Church is Church of the New Covenant, but it lives in a world in which there continues to exist unchanged the “hardness of … heart” of the Old Covenant. It cannot stop proclaiming the faith of the New Covenant, but very often it is forced to begin its concrete life somewhat below the standards of the Scriptures.

So in clear emergency situations it can make limited exceptions in order to avoid worse things. The criterion of this manner of operating should be: the limits of acting against “that which is written” lie in the fact that this action cannot bring into question the foundational form itself by which the Church lives. It is therefore bound to the character of the exceptional solution and of aid in a situation of urgent need, as for example in temporary missionary situations, but also in the concrete emergency situation of the union of the Churches.

This brings up the practical question of whether it is possible to cite such an emergency situation in the present-day Church and indicate an exception that would correspond to these parameters. I would like to attempt, with all the necessary caution, to formulate a concrete proposal that to me seems to be situated within this context.

When a first marriage has been broken for some time and in an irreparable manner for both parties; when on the contrary a second marriage contracted afterward has shown itself for a prolonged period of time to be a virtuous reality and has been conducted in a spirit of faith, particularly in the raising of children (such that the destruction of this marriage would cause the destruction of a virtuous entity and would cause moral harm), through an extrajudicial route and on the basis of the testimony of the pastor and members of the community, those living in such a second marriage should be granted permission to receive communion.

Such an arrangement seems to me justified by tradition for two reasons:

a. One must expressly remember the margin of latitude that is to be found in every process of annulment. This discretional margin and the disparity of opportunity that inevitably stems from the cultural level of the persons involved, as also from their financial resources, should put one on guard against the idea that justice could be perfectly satisfied in this way. In addition, many things simply are not judicable, even though they are real. Juridical questions must necessarily be limited to that which is juridically demonstrable, but precisely for this reason they can overlook decisive facts. Above all, in this way the formal criteria (errors of form or  intentional disregard for ecclesial form) become so prevalent as be able to lead to injustices. Overall, from the juridical point of view the fact of focusing the question on the foundational act of marriage is inevitable, but nonetheless it constitutes a limitation of the problem that cannot fully render justice to the nature of human action. The process of annulment indicates practically a group of criteria to establish if the parameters of marriage between believers cannot be applied to a particular marriage. But it does not exhaust the problem and therefore cannot advance the claim of that rigorous exclusivity which must be attributed to it in the domain of a particular form of thought.

b. The recognition that the second marriage has demonstrated itself for a prolonged period of time to be a virtuous reality and that it has been lived in the spirit of faith in fact corresponds to that type of indulgence which emerges in Basil, where, after a protected period of penance, the “digamus” (meaning someone living in a second marriage) is granted communion without the annulment of the second marriage: with trust in the mercy of God, who does not let penance go unanswered. When the second marriage produces moral obligations with regard to the children, the family, and even the wife and there are no analogous obligations stemming from the first marriage; when for moral reasons, therefore, the cessation of the second marriage is inadmissible and, on the other hand, abstinence is practically not a real possibility, (“magnorum est,” Gregory II says), openness to Eucharistic communion, after a trial period, certainly seems to be just and fully in line with the tradition of the Church: here the granting of “communio” cannot depend on an act that would be immoral or, in fact, impossible.

The distinction made in comparing the first thesis with the second should also correspond to the Tridentine caution, although as a concrete rule it goes further: the anathema against a doctrine that is intended to make the fundamental form of the Church an error, or at least a dispensable custom, remains in all its rigor. Marriage is a “sacramentum,” it has the irrevocable fundamental form of a decision undertaken to the full. But this does not rule out the fact that the Eucharistic communion of the Church should also embrace persons who recognize this doctrine and this principle of life but find themselves in an emergency situation of a special nature in which they have particular need for full communion with the Body of the Lord. In this way as well the faith of the Church would remain a sign of contradiction: it is this which it considers essential, and precisely in this knows it is following the Lord, who proclaimed to his disciples that they must not presume to be above their Master, who was rejected by the devout and the liberal, by Jews and pagans.

The Pope Emeritus long ago changed his mind on this subject.  Perhaps as a result of Cardinal Kasper citing this article, the Pope Emeritus this year has rewritten the ending of this article: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Lincoln’s Final Annual Message

 

Lincoln’s Final Annual Message to Congress, what we would call the State of the Union speech, dated December 6, 1864, is a good corrective to the idea that nothing occurred during the Lincoln administration except the Civil War.  Most of the Message deals with non War related matters, and reminds us that History did not sit still until the War was concluded.  The War itself is briefly touched upon, Lincoln assuming correctly that there were few citizens unaware of the fact that the War was going very well indeed and that the Union was on the verge of winning it.  Lincoln does pick out for mention Sherman’s March to the Sea, no doubt a common topic of conversation at that time in the North, and a demonstration, as Lincoln observes, of the increasing weakness of the Confederacy to impede Union military operations.  Lincoln devotes the end section of his Message to comments about reconstruction:

On careful consideration of all the evidence accessible it seems to me that no attempt at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good. He would accept nothing short of severance of the Union, precisely what we will not and can not give. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oft repeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. He can not voluntarily reaccept the Union; we can not voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war and decided by victory. If we yield, we are beaten; if the Southern people fail him, he is beaten. Either way it would be the victory and defeat following war. What is true, however, of him who heads the insurgent cause is not necessarily true of those who follow. Although he can not reaccept the Union, they can. Some of them, we know, already desire peace and reunion. The number of such may increase. They can at any moment have peace simply by laying down their arms and submitting to the national authority under the Constitution. Alter so much the Government could not, if it would, maintain war against them. The loyal people would not sustain or allow it. If questions should remain, we would adjust them by the peaceful means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes, operating only in constitutional and lawful channels. Some certain, and other possible, questions are and would be beyond the Executive power to adjust; as, for instance, the admission of members into Congress and whatever might require the appropriation of money. The Executive power itself would be greatly diminished by the cessation of actual war. Pardons and remissions of forfeitures, however, would still be within Executive control. In what spirit and temper this control would be exercised can be fairly judged of by the past.

Lincoln’s attention was beginning to shift from winning the War to winning the peace.  It is one of the great tragedies of American history that he would win the former and not be present for the latter.  Here is the text of the message: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Advent Sermons of Saint Thomas Aquinas-Second Sunday in Advent

 

 

Our progress through Advent continues with the Angelic Doctor as our guide:

“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning.”

Rom. xv. 4.

THE Apostle has taught us on the preceding Sunday to arise from the dead; on this day he teaches us towards what we ought to arise, for the Scripture, which our heavenly Master has given for us, is to be studied and read. And the Lord as a good Master was the more solicitous to provide us with the best writings, that He might make us perfectly instructed. “Whatever things,” He said, “were written, were written for our learning.” But these writings are comprised in two books that is to say, in the Book of Creation, and in the Book of Scripture.

The first book has so many creations: it has just so many most perfect writings, which teach the truth without a lie; hence, when Aristotle was asked whence he had learnt so many and so great things, answered, “From the things themselves, which know not how to deceive.” But they teach two things to be learned; and of the things which may be known four things are to be taught.

First, that there is a God; secondly, that this God is one; thirdly, that this God is triune; and, fourthly, that He is the highest good. For the world teaches by itself that it is His work. Wis. xiii. 5, “For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the Creator of them may be seen, to be known thereby.” Because they are one, and are preserved, in the same manner, they teach the unity of God; for, if there were many Gods, the world would have already been destroyed, since division is the cause of destruction.” S. Matt. xii. 25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” For all things exist by number, weight, and measure; or, according to S. Augustine, “On the Trinity by mode, by species, and by order; so that they teach a three-fold Godhead.” Wis. xi. 21, “Thou hast ordered all things in measure, number, and weight.” Because all things are good, they teach that He is the highest goodness through Whom so many good things proceed. According to S. Augustine it is a great token of goodness that every creature conceives itself to be good; therefore, because God is good, so are we. About the actions to be done, in like manner, we are taught a four-fold lesson. God is to be obeyed, loved, feared, and praised. Of the first, we ought to obey God, for all things serve Him. Ps. cxlviii. 6, “He hath made a decree which shall not pass.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below

Bookmark and Share

Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments

Archives

Our Visitors. . .

Our Subscribers. . .