Handel’s Advent Messiah: For Unto Us A Son Is Given

Thursday, December 24, AD 2015

The culmination of the Advent portions of Handel’s Advent Messiah.  Go here to listen to the earlier portions.

 

Handel heralds the coming of Christ with the immortal words of Isaiah Chapter 9, verse 6:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

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  • A beautiful rendition by the unmistakable Helen Watts of “Oh Thou that tellest good tidings to Zion,” but it brings back memories to me of Kathleen Ferrier in 1950.

    One of my earliest clear memories (earlier memories are mere snatches) is of the Messiah, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult in 1950. My parents took me to London for it – I was five -and this it is this passage that stands out so clearly in my memory.

    Also burnt into my youthful memory is the sound of some 5,000 seats in the Royal Albert Hall, flipping up, as the audience stood, according to the British custom, for the Hallelujah Corus. So far from being a distraction, it was a strangely appropriate and impressive introduction.

MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS

Sunday, August 15, AD 2010

1. The most bountiful God, who is almighty, the plan of whose providence rests upon wisdom and love, tempers, in the secret purpose of his own mind, the sorrows of peoples and of individual men by means of joys that he interposes in their lives from time to time, in such a way that, under different conditions and in different ways, all things may work together unto good for those who love him.[1]

2. Now, just like the present age, our pontificate is weighed down by ever so many cares, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of very severe calamities that have taken place and by reason of the fact that many have strayed away from truth and virtue. Nevertheless, we are greatly consoled to see that, while the Catholic faith is being professed publicly and vigorously, piety toward the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing and daily growing more fervent, and that almost everywhere on earth it is showing indications of a better and holier life. Thus, while the Blessed Virgin is fulfilling in the most affectionate manner her maternal duties on behalf of those redeemed by the blood of Christ, the minds and the hearts of her children are being vigorously aroused to a more assiduous consideration of her prerogatives.

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What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

UPDATE  Check Back On Monday To See What Time The Scheduled Appearance On The Al Kresta Show Will Take Place. Al Kresta Is Heard On EWTN Radio ( Over 100 Affiliate Stations) Check Your Local Listings Or Click Here To Listen Live

The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans. However a cursory glance at some of the national columnist’s reaction, to the week-long ego charade broadcasted by ESPN, gives me hope that many others have seen through this smoke screen as well. (Check these columns here here and  here.) What we witnessed Thursday night and the excuses made for it, along with sucking up by some of the national powers that be, gives us some insight on a world full of instant gratification and the desire to party on in South Beach, rather than roll up their sleeves in places like Cleveland. Talk about a metaphor for the Catholic Church.

For years now many faithful orthodox minded Catholics have painfully watched friends and loved ones leave the Catholic Church for either the local hoopty do mega church (Mother Angelica’s words,) or for no church at all, claiming they needed to feel better. They didn’t like a Church who couldn’t get with the times, had too many sinners in the pulpit, or talked to much about sin and not enough about heaven. Perhaps the LeBron James fiasco has given us the perfect recipe for what we should do; give it right back to them.

I grew in a small town (or city depending upon your classification) full of hard working class folks (and farmers who came into town from the outlying areas) where flowery words were few and far between and one would be easily called out for his actions. Now we all know the Church has had some difficult times in the last few years. However, this is because we wanted to be liked, instead of doing it God’s way, whether that was politically correct or not.

Today we have a new crop of orthodox-minded young seminarians, priests and women religious who are pious, but not above calling people out concerning their phony excuses for not taking their Faith more serious by not practicing it, or leaving it all together. In my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I outline the increase in vocations, especially in dioceses which are more openly orthodox in their approach. The Father McBrien’s and Kung’s of the world are being replaced by younger versions of Father Corapi and Father Pacwa. Though these two priests have different approaches, they are not above calling out the phony reality show world we often seem to celebrate in our culture and religion.

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20 Responses to What The Week Long LeBron James Ego Charade Can Tell Us About The State Of the World, As Well As The Catholic Church

  • LeBron will be lucky to get any contracts to endorse anything outside of Miami. The last athlete to fall this hard was OJ Simpson. No good comes from stabbing people in the back.

  • Strange the comments were about Lebron and not the comparing of the event to so called ‘catholics” in the pew, who have forgotten or have been swayed by the glitter of change and culture. They have forgot or never understood, our Lord did not give us rules that were elective in nature, but tenets that were set for all eternity regardless of occurences or changes in our world and scripture that fully explain what occurs when we forget that fact.

  • I read the letter to the Cavs fans by the owner guaranteeing that the team will win a title before LeBron does. If that happens, he’ll be left feeling like the Prodigal Son, ashamed of himself for letting greed and glitter get the best of him.

  • Lebron who?

    re: getting people back on the road to eternal life. The Pelosi-Obama-Reid regime may be a blessing in disguise. Tens of millions of unintended consequences of their misrule and the devastations of the economy and our way of life may bring people to realize that this glitzy world is a chimera and their true home is Holy Mother Church and in Heaven after repenting, confessing, doing penance, amending their lives and through good works glorifying Almighty God, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit.

  • Goodbye Clevland.
    Turn down the rock and roll
    Turn out the light.
    Goodbye Clevland.
    Goodbye, Good luck and goodnight.

    ~ Robert Earl Keen

  • Sorry, I have not been following the Lebron thing, and don’t follow basketball in general. But I don’t see much of a comparison between Lebron and the state of the Catholic Church.

    Lebron left because apparently he believes the Cleveland team is not good enough to win a championship. He decided that winning one was important to him , so he left for team that he thinks could get him there (an he could get them there). Has Lebron played for several teams for short periods of time? Has he hopped around a lot (I don’t know)?
    I can’t blame him – how many of us would leave their current job for one they felt was better (either better pay or better conditions, or maybe both?)? More importantly, how many of our employers would keep us around if we started sucking at our job? How long would the Cavs have kept Lebron if he suddenly started to suck (and how many fans would be clamouring for him to be cut)? Loyalty is a two way street my friend, and Big Sports, like any other big business treats it one way only.

    In the end, Lebron’s situation is an employee/employer one, not anything having to do with loyalty to one’s faith (employer/ee loyatly died decades ago). Just completely different situations.

  • LeBron who indeed.

    What an appalling waste of time, energy, effort, talent, and other human resources, speculating about the fate of a ball tosser.

    Enjoy it on your own time, have a beer, cheer when your team scores, boo when the other guys do, fine. To get this involved in a sports game and a sports figure is… I can’t use the word I’d like to use, but it begins with f, ends with ing, and is followed by ridiculous.

    Our Church is in crisis, and our government is out of control. Our southern border is menaced by marauders, Europe is being overrun by Islam, and the US is on the verge of another Great Depression.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19205.htm

    “If the world is unwilling to continue to accumulate dollars, the US will not be able to finance its trade deficit or its budget deficit. As both are seriously out of balance, the implication is for yet more decline in the dollar’s exchange value and a sharp rise in prices.”

    Worry about that. Not where some ball player decides to continue putting the ball in the net.

  • A couple of points. Yes, the whole LeBron fiasco is pretty ridiculous, which is what the article was attempting to point out. However, we don’t live in the world of our choosing, we have to deal with the cards we are dealt. Perhaps, this is why St Paul used sports anologies. If he didn’t, he would have been just another egg headed itinerant preacher in the 1st Century Roman Empire. Geeks by their very nature don’t attract crowds, perhaps this is why St Paul among many others through the centuries, including our present Magesterium have brought in sports anologies. Our own beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI used the World Cup in his remarks to highlight the need for teamwork in the realm of Faith.

    This blog is revelant because it addresses many current issues, I believe Tito and myself have thrwon in sports anaolgies simply because sports is a mainstay of our society, and yes we enjoy it.

    The second point: As for why LeBron James. He is a Akron St Vincent-St Mary’s grad, a historic Catholic high school in northeast Ohio. He has donated money to the school and helped to promote. In addition, he received one of his NBA most Valuable Player Awards at his high school, something that I believe has never happened.

    The point I was making about his shameless treachery of self promotion is very pertinent in our world where faith takes a back seat to me first promotion. Sadly, it seems LeBron has taken that road, a road he promised he would never take. As much I detest all of this pop culture nonsense, to ignore it, or pretend it doesn’t exist would simply be sticking our heads in the ground. We are not called to be Essenes but to live in the world, just not be of the world.

  • Dave,

    You certainly make some valid points. But this goes too far:

    “The LeBron James saga was particularly painful for those of us who live in Ohio and are Cavaliers fans.”

    Painful? Really? It caused you pain?

    St. Paul may have used sports analogies (where was this exactly?), but he never endorsed the gladiator games at the Colosseum. I’m not saying you endorsed the modern equivalent, but when I look at the madness that overcomes sports crowds – especially in a time of political, economic and social crisis – I don’t see a bunch of regular people enjoying sports.

    I see the bread and circuses of Rome, with which the people were distracted while civilization collapsed. A pacifier, a placater, a sedative – followed by irrational emotional outbursts and torrents of rage, all directed at some ridiculous non-event instead of at the people who are imposing a new tyranny upon us.

    I agree fully with the need to relate to people and their interests. I’m no ivory tower intellectual, I detest alienating and obtuse language, esoteric jargon, etc. But at a certain point, people do need to be slapped in the face with the truth, and they need to be told bluntly that every second of real and genuine PASSION they waste on a sports figure subtracts from the struggle they could be mounting against the growing threat to our liberties and security as citizens.

  • Joe, a very interesting post. I shall do my best to answer questions. With regard as to do I really feel pain regarding LeBron James leaving the Cavs. Yes, I do. Now pain comes in many stages for example; I have been stung on my left hand by a bee and that was painful but rather scant compared to the pain experienced when I broke that hand some years later. I hope you get my drift. I recently felt a sad pain when a fellow Catholic told told me that his business partner, also a practicing Catholic, took liberties with the business and the money causing great scandal and hardship. I felt pain for the injured and the knowledge that some non believers would get a kick out of the matter. To say that one can only feel pain when something major happens to them or some great tragedy in the Church, nation or world sounds rather cold and Dr Spock like to me.

    As for the whole Roman bread and circuses analogy first floated by the American Left in the early half of the last century and floated again by the likes of Libertarian Alex Jones, it just doesn’t make sense. The Roman population was by and large illiterate and caught up in violence and warfare. Are your really saying that modern sports fans want to see others torn apart in their local stadiums?

    The interesting assertion made is that intelllectuals in Europe are not sports minded and therefore Americans are rather ignorant. As a matter of fact TV ratings for soccer’s World Cup dwarf that of the US Super Bowl American TV ratings. Henry Kissinger has often commented that European intellectuals, espeically in Germany and England often treat World Cup defeats as some sort of national period of mourning and or deep period of introspection abou their place in the world.

    We must remember because of social engineering, sports is one of the few places where honest to goodness competition can take place, which is perhaps why Europe with all of their Social Democratic-Statist governemnts likes sports so much.

    I can’t help but think of the Saturday Nighr Live skit (of all things circa December 2000) when the presidential outcome was still up in the air. The skit consisted of a spook of the future if each of the candidates, GW Bush or Al Gore were elected. The future showed a relentlessly sighing (remember those odious debate sighs) Al Gore bemoaning the poor performance of Americans on his interactive quiz results. He would leture the public for hours on end concerning Western Civics, Economnics and the Environment and still not everyone was up to his standards.

    Joe, do you really think the problems in the Church and the world of politics would be solved if everyone was as smart as you think they should be? Perhaps this why Jesus said the poor will always be among us when Judas and some of Apostles threw a hissy fit at the pentitent woman use of the expensive perfumes on Jesus. Perhaps it was the Jesus’ way of saying; don’t think your way can fix every problem. Even if everyone watched TV news, read a plethora of newspapers and websites; the problems would remain. Perhaps this is why the late WIlliam F Buckley said he would rather be goverened by the first 1,000 names in the Boston Phone book, than by the Harvard Faculty.

    Whether it is Faith or Governance, it isn’t all about knowledge, it is courage and perserverance and lots of prayer that are needed for success. For example, General McClellan graduated 2nd in his class from West Point, while General Grant graduated in the bottom half of his class. However, as Shelby Foote noted; General Grant had 4:00 in the Morning Courage and General McClellan had none during the Civil War.

    The Church is going through a tough time now, but it has been far, far worse. After the Reformation, many Northern European cities had few if any priests to administer the sacraments. Check out the life of St Francis DeSales; when he arrived in Geneva as bishop he was treated to rotten fruit being thrown at him and few if any little old ladies in the pews. When he died, half of Geneva had come back to the Church. I am sure had he convened a strategy session of the best and brightest; they would have said your talents would best be served in a more receptive location. Well, just some of my thoughts on what you wrote.

  • Since we’re engaged in a spiritual battle for souls, it’s only fitting that sports analogies be used. The recent firing of the Catholic professor at the University of Illinois is one example of the intelligentsia putting down the “small people” for wanting to take the path that is hard and narrow but leads to life in Christ rather than the path that is wide and easy but leads to destruction–or in the case of the French soccer players who don’t do hard work, a trip back home in coach class.

  • Dave,

    On your personal pain: different strokes, I suppose. But you didn’t quantify it originally. A “small” amount of pain is fine. The utter grief that some appear to be going through is, in my view, a disproportionate response.

    You say of the bread & circuses argument:

    “it just doesn’t make sense”

    Well, it does make sense, and you don’t seem to be arguing against the “sense” of it as much as you are its mere existence.

    ” The Roman population was by and large illiterate and caught up in violence and warfare.”

    Our population isn’t illiterate by Roman standards, but it is less educated by the standards of the developed world. And there is plenty of apathy to go around, even if people have basic reading skills.

    As for violence, have you paid no notice of our sex and violence saturated entertainment “culture”? It’s everywhere, it’s a constant feed of increasingly horrific stimuli.

    “Are your really saying that modern sports fans want to see others torn apart in their local stadiums?”

    The rioting that takes place on occasion suggests that at least some are. So is the immense popularity of professional wrestling, “ultimate fighting championship”, and other increasingly bloody “sports” contests.

    In any case, the main argument is that people are distracted. I don’t have to prove that they are violent, or potentially violent, in order to show that they are investing time and resources in sports that would better be invested in politics.

    Frankly I think the American founders would be horrified at the cult of sports in this nation. Entertainment, or what the founders in their classical republican worldview called luxury, was considered to be the enemy of moral AND civic virtue. The extent to which the people indulge in games and vices is the extent to which they diminish as the sort of responsible citizens that a free republic needs to exist.

    As for Europe: I couldn’t care less. I’m not hung up on Europe, I don’t idolize Europe. I don’t see the relevance.

    Please don’t compare me to Al Gore. I don’t want to bore people with lectures. But as student of Aristotle’s “middle way”, I recognize that there is another extreme we want to avoid, which is hyping people with meaningless distractions.

    We have to appeal to both the passions and the intellect. In fact I’m much more about appealing to passions right now than I am intellect, because many issues are over-intellectualized. But I want to direct that passion AWAY from sports and entertainment, and TOWARDS politics. Politics can be as passionate and competitive as any game or any concert – and it is precisely because of this truth that these other distractions are dangled before the people.

    So I think you misunderstand my aim, especially when you ask,

    “Joe, do you really think the problems in the Church and the world of politics would be solved if everyone was as smart as you think they should be?”

    It is NOT about intelligence, so no, I absolutely do not think that. What I think is that people, regardless of their intellectual abilities, should care more about politics than they do sports or the media-created popular culture. One does not need intellect to participate in politics, any more than they do religion.

    ” Even if everyone watched TV news, read a plethora of newspapers and websites; the problems would remain.”

    I submit that they would be less severe with a politically active populace, and this was the unanimous opinion of the founders of this republic. This is what self-governance means. This is what liberty requires. Slavery and oppression are the defaults of this fallen world; freedom is rare and must be actively fought for and maintained.

    “Perhaps this is why the late WIlliam F Buckley said he would rather be goverened by the first 1,000 names in the Boston Phone book, than by the Harvard Faculty.”

    I think he said it because the elites at Harvard, moreso now than even in his day, are self-hating, self-destructive, and isolated from the people. I agree with his sentiment entirely – but in order to govern, those 1,000 names would have to put down the beer and the remote.

    It is precisely because I DON’T want an elite to run our lives that I DO want the people to stop focusing on nonsense and become better citizens. Don’t you see that? You can’t just say that sovereignty lies with the people, and expect it to stay that way without their involvement. If the people don’t exercise their power, others – the elites – will do it for them. Nature abhors a vacuum. If the people create one through the abrogation of self-government, then the masters will step right back into their comfortable position.

    It is vital that you and others understand this.

  • Joe, I think you are completely missing the point here. No one that I have heard is saying that people shouldn’t take their civic responsibility seriously. Believe me, I have spent 20 years in Catholic education, not to mention the five years I have been doing writing and speaking (all of which at little pay) to answer a call that I believe God has for all of us to be involved with Church and State. However, that doesn’t mean that all of the problems will be solved if we all get involved.

    It seems you don’t understand what I am saying about sports and entertaintment. First of all professional wrestling is not sports, it is entertainment which is why the World Wrestling Federation had to change their name from that to World Wrestling Entertainment. The reason people like sports is that our culture is so involved in social engineering that it has taken away our God given talents and the right to compete with them.

    The pop culture silliness such as who Paris Hilton is dating has nothing to do with competition. She hasn’t done anything with whatever talents God have her; she has merely been born to enabling parents who let her do whatever she wants. There is a big difference between that and the field of athletic competition.

    The three men most attacked by the intelligentsia for their lack of supposed intellect were President Truman, President Reagan and President GW Bush. Do you really think the nation would have been better served with the likes of Governor Dewey, Vice President Mondale and Vice President Gore?

    I am for civic participation, I have spent my life doing it and teaching the necessity of it. However, I am under no illusion that by simply doing it, we will live in a better world. According to your line of thinking the state of Vermont and the US citiies of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam would be the greatest places to live, because they have one of the highest civic participation rates in the world.

  • Dave,

    I wasn’t aware that there was only one point – I tried to address all of your points.

    “However, that doesn’t mean that all of the problems will be solved if we all get involved.”

    Who said it meant that? Certainly not I.

    And it just doesn’t matter. See, I think you’re missing the point with things like that. It doesn’t matter whether or not all problems will be solved, such a guarantee is not and never should be the requisite of political participation – the bottom line is that no problems at all will even be addressed by an inactive citizenry. That’s certainly what the elite wants.

    You say I don’t understand your argument about sports. I submit to you that I do understand it, and disagree with it.

    “There is a big difference between that and the field of athletic competition.”

    Insofar as both serve as a distraction from issues that matter, there is no difference. Other differences may exist, but they are not relevant to me.

    “Do you really think the nation would have been better served with the likes of Governor Dewey, Vice President Mondale and Vice President Gore?”

    Why are you asking me this? I invite you to read my previous post for the answer to this question. Carefully, perhaps, this time.

    “ccording to your line of thinking the state of Vermont and the US citiies of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam would be the greatest places to live, because they have one of the highest civic participation rates in the world.”

    I’m not sure what “civic participation rate” is, or measures – you can break that down for me if you like.

  • Joe, this could go on and on. However, I think we can agree that our western culture is too pop culture oriented and more people should attend Mass, know what the Catholic Faith is all about, and become more participatory in our civic responsibilities. However, to say that sports and entertainment holds too much sway on our society is bordering on nanny statism and eggheaded pontification. I am sure you wouldn’t suggest the following. However, it could lead to some actually thinking that if Broadway, Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the World Cup and the National Football League and college football took the rest of the year off, and everyone went to town hall meetings to resolve the various problems plaguing our country and world, the world would be a better place.

    Sadly, some people don’t care about their souls, or the state of the world or country, try as we might and pray as we might, they all won’t change. I have tried to illustrate this in my previous posts, using examples from all over the world. I will throw in a couple more. In the last five years or so, my writings have taken me to see and hear many great things happening in the Church. As you can probbaly figure out from the title of my book, “The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism,” I am an optimist. However, I am a realist as well. Some people just don’t care and some people who claim they care, just want to control others.

    For example, you asked about what I meant by participation rates in reference to my statement that the state of Vermont and the cities of Cambridge, Massachuseets, Berkeley, California and the Dutch city of Amsterdam have high participation rates. What I meant was voting participation and membership in civic clubs, neighborhoood groups, school organizations etc.

    These whacky far left locations would hardly be my cup of tea. Their foil of civic responsibility is really a foil for state control and the opportunity to attack religion, i.e. the Catholic Church at every turn.

    Some people chose to be ingorant and or commit various sins ad nauseam. The late Bishop Sheen spoke of a man he met in Paris (I believe it was the 1920s.) This man, (who was British) played piano in the lobby of the hotel that then Father Sheen was staying. They chit-chatted during one of his breaks and the British piano player agreed to have dinner with Father Sheen. The piano player seemed to boost to the future famous bishop that women couldn’t keep their hands off him, some had even left their husbands. The piano player went on to say that after a few months he gets bored with each woman and then moves on to another. Obviously Bishop Sheen was shocked so he met with the man for the next few days. When the time seemed right, he took him to Sacre Coeur to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. The man stayed all night and thanked Father Sheen for his insights, prayers and time. The piano player said he was a changed man. A few days later they agreed to meet again for dinner. When they did, the piano player came with another woman on his arm. It has happened again the man explained. Father Sheen pulled him aside to see what was really happening and the man explained the sinful life was far more enjoyable, even if it could result in a horrible end for his soul. What I am trying to say is that not everyone does what they should.

    Jesus was faced with two similar situations. The first occurred when the penitent woman poured perfume over him and Judas and some of the other Apostles protested saying it could have been sold and helped many poor people. Jesus answered; “The poor you will always have among you.” It was his way of remdinding the Apostles that though we should help everyone we can, it still doesn’t mean that it will be solved the way we think it should be. One more example involves the parable about the rich man asking to go back from (hell or purgatory) and tell those other rich relatives and friends of his to change their ways lest they end up in the same horrible predicament that he was encountering. Jesus told him that they wouldn’t listen to the prophets, why would they listen to him. Joe, I think we can agree that we should all be more involved in Church & State affairs. However, trying to tell people that sports and entertainment should be severely curtailed when so many of our saints and Holy Fathers were involved with both sounds a bit over the top.

  • Dave,

    You’re simply wrong. I don’t know if it is a logical or a rhetorical issue. Only you do.

    “However, to say that sports and entertainment holds too much sway on our society is bordering on nanny statism and eggheaded pontification.”

    It really is no such thing at all. Stating what I believe to be a mere fact in no way necessitates a nanny-state, and it is hardly an observation limited to the ivory tower.

    I could just as well say that ignoring the sway that these forces hold over society is to engage in bad citizenship and willful ignorance – but I don’t.

    To fail to participate is NOT an intellectual failure – IT IS A MORAL FAILURE. All but the mentally handicapped are culpable for their moral choices, regardless of their intellect.

    So you’re really barking up the wrong tree with this constant accusation of eggheadery. If intellect is the requisite for voting, then we have no business with a democracy or even a republic – we need Plato’s philosopher king. But it isn’t. It is virtue, not intellect, that is the primary requisite for voting. It is a free choice made by individuals, and not innate abilities, that is responsible for this decision.

    Now, if you don’t get my clearly stated point this time, what else can I conclude other than that you’re making excuses for people’s civic sloth?

    ” if Broadway, Hollywood, Major League Baseball, the World Cup and the National Football League and college football took the rest of the year off, and everyone went to town hall meetings to resolve the various problems plaguing our country and world, the world would be a better place.”

    Language is key. I absolutely believe it would be a “better” place – I don’t think it would become a perfect place, a utopia with no problems. It might be a little bit better, it might be a whole lot better – participation isn’t the only thing that makes a society bad or good. But I’d submit that while it is not sufficient for a good society, it is necessary.

    If it WOULDN’T make society a better place, then it is nothing but a baby’s pacifier granted by the elites to their stupid pets, serving no actual good and right purpose. It would have no rational justification, even if it can be said that voting is, or is the result of, a natural right.

    Is there a rational justification for universal suffrage, or is it just a societal ornament? If there is a rational justification for it, then we can only conclude that a widespread failure to use that right is irrational.

    “I am an optimist. However, I am a realist as well. Some people just don’t care and some people who claim they care, just want to control others.”

    But this is all off the main point.

    Here’s my question to you – is it your view that invoking the drama of LeBron James will politically galvanize folks who otherwise wouldn’t pay attention to anything? They’ll make the transition from sports to politics this way?

    If that happens, and it works, I’ll eat my shoes with ketchup. In all seriousness, I’d be interested to know if that works, or if it ever has. If it has, I say, go with what works.

    ” What I meant was voting participation and membership in civic clubs, neighborhoood groups, school organizations etc.”

    Those are all good things in themselves. It is unfortunate that secular leftists would seem, if your claim is accurate, to have a leg up in that department, since the vision of the founders was for this to be a universal phenomenon.

    I also have no problem with Vermont. I like their gun laws more than I dislike Bernie Sanders. And I say, ultimately, that power belongs to those who take it. Within our political system, Christians have the means to become just as involved, and have their values just as represented. It is simply irrational for them to cede the arena to hostile forces.

    “What I am trying to say is that not everyone does what they should.”

    For goodness sakes, you say that as if it is novel. Who the heck argued otherwise?

    But does this fact somehow absolve us of a responsibility to proclaim the truth, to proclaim what ought to be done? Again, I am with Aristotle. There are two extremes – there is pie-in-the-sky idealism on the one hand, that says anything is possible and people are capable of anything. Then there is fatalism – the view that things are what they are and cannot be changed.

    The rational, position is genuine realism – understanding what can be changed, and what cannot be changed. Understanding what can be influenced, and what cannot. Understanding what your power is, and what the limit of that power is.

    Your view, to me, is closer to fatalism than realism. The Church proclaims that civic participation is a moral obligation. It doesn’t matter if “people don’t do what they should” – people shouldn’t have abortions either, but the Church will never cease to proclaim that it is wrong, and that they should choose life.

    So I will continue to proclaim, along with the Church, and in the spirit of the American founders, the importance of civic virtue and I will continue to denounce those influences that weaken and corrupt it.

    “Joe, I think we can agree that we should all be more involved in Church & State affairs. However, trying to tell people that sports and entertainment should be severely curtailed when so many of our saints and Holy Fathers were involved with both sounds a bit over the top.”

    This is your problem – I said no such thing. When did I say “severely curtailed”? This was a false inference, or, poor choice of words. A fallacy or a gaffe.

    I do not propose to infringe upon ANYONE’s right to be a lazy idiot. But I certainly do propose that we use our first amendment rights to remind people of their moral and civic obligations, and to denounce the garbage that obstructs them.

    Do you understand that it is possible to oppose a thing without violating another person’s right to that thing? If so, then we have no quarrel, sir.

  • Over on another blog I found a list of humorous Twitter responses to the LeBron James announcement…. among them was the following:

    “I wanted to announce my Second Coming at 9 p.m. tonite, but it looks like you all had other plans — Jesus Christ.”

  • LeBron James had every right to leave Cleveland. You talk about his “week-long ego charade” but that entire week LeBron said very little to the media. LeBron made no appearances on ESPN or any other network until his special. You’re blaming LeBron for the fact that everyone on TV was talking about him non-stop. Further more you failed to mention the fact that LeBron’s marketing firm agreed to only do the special if the sponsorship dollars would go to The Boys and Girls Club.

    The reason so many people have left the church isn’t because they want some razzle-dazzle experience when they go to church. No, it’s because of the fact that for the last sixty plus years a small portion of priests and clergy members have been raping and sexually exploiting children around the world. Every clergy member who ever abused a child and every church official who covered it up and didn’t report these people to the authorities should be thrown in jail. So before you start criticizing completely innocent and upstanding athletes clean up your church first.

  • Chris Russo, then how do you account for the fact that many fans are quick to forgive and forget the sins of the Kobe Bryants and Tiger Woods of the world rather than ditch them? I don’t see that happening for the priests who betray their flock, so that says a lot about the effect of pop culture’s alluring but false promises of fame and riches on society, especially those who build their homes on shifting sand rather than rocks. Perhaps LeBron may be like the Prodigal Son and find that his ego got the best of him.

    Thankfully there are many other priests to do us Catholics proud, including superstars like Archbishop Raymond Burke, who certainly wouldn’t pull a LeBron act despite the Creative Minority Report humorously imagining such a possibility: http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/search?q=LeBron

  • ESPN’s ombudsman vindicates Dave, blasting the network for its LeBron coverage: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/post/ESPN-ombudsman-blasts-network-for-LeBron-coverag?urn=top-257681

Inventing Jesus

Thursday, June 3, AD 2010

Ross Douthat has a good post on his NY Times blog responding to Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece on the search for “the historical Jesus”.

James Tabor, a professor of religious studies, in his 2006 book “The Jesus Dynasty,” takes surprisingly seriously the old Jewish idea that Jesus was known as the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named Pantera—as well attested a tradition as any [emphasis mine — RD], occurring in Jewish texts of the second century, in which a Jesus ben Pantera makes several appearances, and the name is merely descriptive, not derogatory.

The whole problem with two centuries worth of historical Jesus scholarship is summed up in those seven words: “As well attested a tradition as any.” Because obviously if you don’t mind a little supernaturalism with your history, a story about Jesus being a Roman soldier’s bastard that dates from the second century — and late in the second century, at that — is dramatically less “well attested” than the well-known tradition (perhaps you’ve heard of it) that Jesus was born of a virgin married to Joseph the carpenter, which dates from the 70s or 80s A.D. at the latest, when the Gospels of Luke and Matthew were composed. Bracket the question of miracles, and there’s really no comparison: Giving the Roman soldier story equal weight with the accounts in Matthew and Luke is like saying that a tale about Abraham Lincoln that first surfaced in the 1970s has just as much credibility as a story that dates to the 1890s (and is associated with eyewitnesses to Lincoln’s life).

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5 Responses to Inventing Jesus

  • I’m not holding my breath for the “New Yorker” hit piece on the historical Muhammed.

  • Good quote and good subject — it’s easily one of my favorites (which I think might be obvious).

  • People invent their own gods, so why not invent some history while they’re at it? 🙂

  • This of course all comes from the anti-Christian writer Celsus. Go to the link below to read all about it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiberius_Iulius_Abdes_Pantera

    This recycling of a hostile Jewish slur against Jesus, was of course something unknown at the time of Jesus because it was invented after the fact as Christianity converted many Jewish congregations, and ill-will became the norm between the two faiths.

    The Gospels relate many slurs against Jesus, including the charge that he was possessed by demons, so our earliest source materials do mention what adversaries were saying, without a hint of this being mentioned. Tacitus, a pagan Roman senator who mentions Jesus in his writings circa 118 AD, says nothing of this.

  • Here is another “as well attested a tradition as any” (related by Cassius Dion through Edward Gibbon) that academics ought to take seriously: Simon Bar Kokba.

    “During Roman times the Jews were exceptionally intractable. They were unable to endure contact with others not of their race. They reacted with extreme vigor and obsession with ‘purity.’ They feared death less than the profanity of idolatry. They violently revolted when forced to pay taxes to idolaters.

    “The possibly mythic Zionist arch-hero Barchachebas –’Simon Bar Kokba’ – led an infamous messianic revolt against Rome during Emperor Hadrian’s reign – circa 135 AD. Humanity was shocked at the recital of the horrid cruelties they committed in Egypt, Cyrene, and Cyprus where they dwelt in treacherous “friendship” with the unsuspecting natives. They committed furious massacres: Cyrene – 220,000 dead; Cyprus – 240,000 dead, Egypt – uncounted dead. Mutilations and atrocities were recorded.” See Dion Cassius and Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

I read a comment[1] a few weeks ago on GetReligion.org attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).

This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.

Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.[2]

But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:

Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.

As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).

Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.

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47 Responses to SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

  • The legalistic traditions would be the most obvious theory but I suspect that it’s too abstract to have this disparate an impact. Besides, sola scriptura is much closer to the originalism of the four conservative Catholic justices. The living Magisterium is more analogous to the living constitution that they reject.

    The anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism makes sense. Part of it may also be that Catholics make more reliable conservative judges and are therefore more appealing Republican appointees but I bet Catholics are overrepresented in the general lawyer population as well.

    Maybe religion is actually hiding an ethnic cultural difference. The legal field was one of the few fields that was relatively tolerant of Jews which is at least partially why they are overrepresented. Maybe anti-Catholic or anti-immigrant sentiment drove the Irish, Italians, and now the Hispanics into law.

    Maybe religion is hiding a regional difference. Five of the justices are from New York, two from California, and one from New Jersey. New York and California are the two biggest lawyer markets. They also happen to have the largest Catholic and Jewish populations. I can’t speak for California, but every ambitious New Yorker wants to be either a lawyer or a banker (another field where Jews, and maybe Catholics, dominate).

    Maybe Catholics and Jews can’t be lumped together. Maybe Jews are overrepresented for historic reasons and Catholics for religious reasons.

    Protestants do have their colleges, seminaries, and Bible study groups, similar to those of Catholics.

    But their emphasis is very different. I’ve heard one Protestant accuse Catholics of being too mechanical in their religious studies.

    Ironic that people got all hot and bothered when the fourth and fifth nominees for the SCOTUS were Catholic’s thus over-representing Catholics in the Judicial branch. But somehow the secularists are excited that the current nominee, Elena Kagan, a Jew, would make SCOTUS 1/3 Jewish.

    They were hot and bothered because Roberts and Alito were conservative Catholics. They had no problem with Sotomayor.

  • Let’s get beyond liberals. Liberals only have insults and lies; and fabricated/imagined crises meant to “grease the skids” for their destructive policy “solutions.”

    If we don’t stop Obama and his horde of liberal idiots (I repeat myself) in congress, and soon the Judiciary, they will cause a degree of economic devastation from which the private sector may never recover.

    Then, they will have succeeeded in making us all serfs, which was their (the two or three that aren’t gays/lesbians/puppy-lovers/morons) plan all along.

  • I take issue with the notion that the conservative justices’ approach is similar to “sola scriptura” and that the “living Constitution” approach is analogous to the living Magisterium.

    Instead, I would say the two approaches to the Constitution are rather more like the difference between how a traditionalist Catholic and a Voice-of-the-Faithful Catholic view the Magisterium.

    Conservative jurisprudence does not reject development in the law; conservative jurisprudence recognizes that the world today is different from the world 200 years ago and that matters will arise that were completely outside the imagination of the Framers. However, conservative jurisprudence also recognizes that developments in the law (1) are better suited to be addressed by legislative bodies rather than courts, and (2) to the extent the courts must develop constitutional doctrine to meet modern challenges, the development must be (a) an organic extension of the rights and values traditionally held by society and (b) be bound to the text of the Constitution as originally enacted and intended by the Framers.

    Justice Scalia famously discussed this view in the Michael H. case, in which a putative father (from an extra-marital affair) sought to use the Court’s “substantive due process” jurisprudence (see, e.g., Griswold and Roe) to overturn a state’s codification of Mansfield’s Rule, which protects the children of a marriage from outside claims of paternity. Scalia, in his majority opinion, attempted to limit the extension of “substantive due process” to those instances where society had traditionally protected such rights:

    1. The § 621 presumption does not infringe upon the due process rights of a man wishing to establish his paternity of a child born to the wife of another man.

    […]

    (b) There is no merit to Michael’s substantive due process claim that he has a constitutionally protected “liberty” interest in the parental relationship he has established with Victoria, and that protection of Gerald’s and Carole’s marital union is an insufficient state interest to support termination of that relationship. Michael has failed to meet his burden of proving that his claimed “liberty” interest is one so deeply imbedded within society’s traditions as to be a fundamental right. Not only has he failed to demonstrate that the interest he seeks to vindicate has traditionally been accorded protection by society, but the common law presumption of legitimacy, and even modern statutory and decisional law, demonstrate that society has historically protected, and continues to protect, the marital family against the sort of claim Michael asserts.

    Scalia explains further:

    In an attempt to limit and guide interpretation of the Clause, we have insisted not merely that the interest denominated as a “liberty” be “fundamental” (a concept that, in isolation, is hard to objectify), but also that it be an interest traditionally protected by our society. [Footnote 2] As we have put it, the Due Process Clause affords only those protections “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U. S. 97, 291 U. S. 105 (1934) (Cardozo, J.). Our cases reflect “continual insistence upon respect for the teachings of history [and] solid recognition of the basic values that underlie our society. . . .” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 381 U. S. 501 (1965) (Harlan, J., concurring in judgment).

    This insistence that the asserted liberty interest be rooted in history and tradition is evident, as elsewhere, in our cases according constitutional protection to certain parental rights. Michael reads the landmark case of Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U. S. 645 (1972), and the subsequent cases of Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U. S. 246 (1978), Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U. S. 380 (1979), and Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U. S. 248 (1983), as establishing that a liberty interest is created by biological fatherhood plus an established parental relationship — factors that exist in the present case as well. We think that distorts the rationale of those cases. As we view them, they rest not upon such isolated factors but upon the historic respect — indeed, sanctity would not be too strong a term — traditionally accorded to the relationships that develop within the unitary family. [Footnote 3] See Stanley, supra, at 405 U. S. 651; Quilloin, supra, at 434 U. S. 254-255; Caban, supra, at 441 U. S. 389; Lehr, supra, at 463 U. S. 261. In Stanley, for example, we forbade the destruction of such a family when, upon the death of the mother, the State had sought to remove children from the custody of a father who had lived with and supported them and their mother for 18 years. As Justice Powell stated for the plurality in Moore v. East Cleveland, supra, at 431 U. S. 503:

    “Our decisions establish that the Constitution protects the sanctity of the family precisely because the institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

    Thus, the legal issue in the present case reduces to whether the relationship between persons in the situation of Michael and Victoria has been treated as a protected family unit under the historic practices of our society, or whether, on any other basis, it has been accorded special protection. We think it impossible to find that it has. In fact, quite to the contrary, our traditions have protected the marital family (Gerald, Carole, and the child they acknowledge to be theirs) against the sort of claim Michael asserts. [Footnote 4]…

    That’s hardly a “sola scriptura” approach to jurisprudence and, in fact, I would argue that Scalia was relying upon his own Catholic understanding of the Magisterium in formulating that approach.

  • Thanks, Jay, for beating me to it. I owe you.

  • Ditto what Mike said. I’ve written that comment before (although probably not as well).

  • Three comments:

    First, I would not dismiss the existence of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelical Protestantism as mere liberal rhetoric. Certainly there is some of that, but the anti-intellectualism in evangelical Protestantism is well documented, especially by scholars such as Mark Noll, who is himself an evangelical Protestant. It is a part of evangelical Protestantism that many adherents are putting aside, but its historical existence could be a factor.

    Second, we can’t ignore social trends. Mainline Protestantism has been declining in numbers and influence for some time. The lack of mainline Protestants that “percolate up” to the upper echelons of the law is a consequence of that. At the same time, Catholic numbers and influence increased during the same decades. Also, Catholics and Jews during the last century emphasized education, assimilation, and becoming part of the “establishment.” That too, had implications. I would expect the same to happen with evangelical Protestants in the decades to come.

    Third, both Jewish and Catholic teaching has not emphasized, as much as mainline Protestants, a radical separation of church/state and politics/religion. Mainline Protestants, some have argued, emphasized it so much that they made religion irrelevant in the public square.

  • It’s not a perfect fit but there are elements of originalism that more closely resemble sola scriptura. Sola scripturists would also agree that the world is different today. Jay, I don’t think anything you said is inconsistent with sola scriptura.

    It’s funny you mention Michael H. I was just rereading my notes on the case a few days ago. None of the justices objected to Scalia’s view to traditional rights. Brennan’s dissent also looks to traditional rights. But a majority didn’t join Scalia’s footnote 6 for a very different reason. I, along with most the justices, think he’s wrong in his application, if not his approach. Contrary to his assertion that broader classes are more susceptible to conflicting interpretations, Scalia’s approach allows judges to pick conflicting specific classes. Scalia puts Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers.” One can also place him in the class of “biological fathers.”

  • No, Scalia does not place Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers”; he places him in the class of those who society and the law don’t want breaking up intact families by challenging the paternity of the children within those families. He’s unwilling to create out of whole cloth a “fundamental right” to do something that society has not traditionally seen fit to give sanction.

    And while one may also place Michael H. in the class of “biological fathers”, that says absolutely nothing regarding the “fundamentalness” of his “right” to have Mansfield’s Rule struck down as unconstitutional. And that’s what’s at stake. The liberal would throw out a centuries old common law rule over some imagined “fundamental right” to claim the child of an intact marriage as one’s own. That’s not akin to a “development of doctrine” – that’s changing the rules to suit one’s own personal view of how the law SHOULD be and fits more in line with how the VOTF crowd view the Magisterium.

  • Furthermore, the reason the “sola scriptura” analogy is inapt is because it an ahistorical reading of how originalists have actually behaved on the Court.

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    The originalist, in contrast, doesn’t reject authority or tradition or developments in the law that have occurred in the intervening years since the founding. The originalist doesn’t seek to “refound” the American republic as it existed in 1787. In fact, the originalist approach to jurisprudence is actually quite limited in scope by comparison to the Protestant Reformation and the approach of the “sola scriptura” practitioner.

  • Jay,

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    Thanks for fleshing out what I said in one sentence.

    I’m no law expert nor a lawyer, but I too could see that sola scriptura was an impediment towards doctrinal development for Protestants.

    And with that, originalsim and sola scriptura have no similarities with the respect to doctrinal development.

    Also appreciated your first comment as well…

  • Finally, let’s be honest about why those Catholics opposed to Constitutional originalism try to stigmatize it with the taint of “sola scriptura”: they know that most Catholics, especially conservative ones, take a dim view of “sola scriptura” in the context of theology, so they use the analogy to paint Catholic constitutional originalists as unthinking (in relying on the same intellectually inferior practice as protestant fundamentalists) and/or hypocritical (in doing to the Constitution what they criticize the protestants for doing to Christianity).

    The problem, as I’ve noted above, is that the analogy is inapt. But it is inapt not only because it fails to describe what originalists actually believe and how they actually behave, but because it is a comparison of two completely different institutions established for two completely different reasons and under two completely different sets of circumstances.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

  • Jay, I see that you are anticipating in advance the charge of being trapped in a Calvinist (and very Protestant) dualism by virtue of defending originalism. But you cannot escape; in order for the intellectually cramped Calvinist-Catholic dualistic system to work, any disagreement must be described as an outgrowth of individualism/Calvinism/liberalism.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    I am not sure how true that is. I have friends and co-workers who are evangelicals that went to Harvard Law, and the Christian (not Catholic) law student group at my school (t-10 or so) was fairly sizable and active. But, of course, these anecdotes don’t really add up to data. You could be right about the general trend.

  • I’d consider myself a Catholic originalist. Sola scriptura (or some weak version of it) can be an perfectly defensible way to interpret the Constitution but not Scripture.

    Originalists reject any develop of new doctrines not grounded in the law as understood at the time of its enactment. They accept tradition only up to the point of enactment. They do not accept the idea that later traditions that could not reasonably be anticipated, can add to the law. On the other hand, Catholics accept that later traditions can add to existing “law” in ways that could not reasonably have been anticipated.

    Even the process of development differs. Originalists reject abstract unifying doctrines and prefer to judge new situations as fitting or not fitting into specific laws or enumerated rights. Catholics, I would argue, work in the opposite direction. Starting with abstract unifying doctrines (e.g., dignity of man), then judging whether the situation falls within an exception (e.g., double effect).

    As for the Michael H. sidetrack, Jay, you demonstrate exactly why Scalia’s methodology is wanting (I’d like to note that this is a different argument than the one over originalism). I described Scalia’s classification of Michael H. as a “cheating father.” You described it as “someone trying to break up a stable family.” Which one are we supposed to use? You also dismissed the implications of classifying Michael H. as simply a “biological father.” Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children. An appeal to tradition doesn’t work here because both sides can, and did, argue it. If Scalia’s methodology is correct, it’s incomplete, at the very least.

  • Centinel, you wrote:

    Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    That goes beyond generalization, friend. Generalization, philosophically, means abstracting a feature true of each instance of a class, e.g., “Houses have roofs.” Generalization, popularly speaking, means abstracting a feature true of most or even many instances of a class, e.g., “The students at Catholic University are Catholics.”

    What you’ve managed to do is pluck out of a bag of prejudices and biases a dazzling example of complete ignorance EXCEPT of perhaps one or two cases that you know, and a few more that you know of.

    I am close friends with a woman who, as an Evangelical, went to Yale Law School because it was “the highest-ranking school that would take” her, to use your words. Not too shabby. Granted, it’s not the University of Barbados, but I suppose Yale Law will do for her sort. She’s a Catholic now, though. Did you know that there are numerous law schools at Catholic universities bursting at the seams with… all sorts of people?

    Do you think it possible that Catholics might be serious about their faith and go to a law school conducive to it?

    Do you think it possible that an Evangelical might be serious about his faith and yet go to an ungodly school bearing in mind that it is not the law school’s job to nurture his faith, and that he will continue to seek spiritual nourishment through the means he always has – prayer, reading the scriptures, attending a good church?

    C’mon. Your “observation” was entire facile.

  • “Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children.”

    Not biological fathers who aren’t married to the child’s mother. That’s a very recent development.

  • And I’m sure you’ll say that my last comment illustrates your point about classifications.

    But there will always be classifications when talking about defining rights under the Consitition. The key is to find the classification that does the least amount of damage to the constitutional order, and this is done by limiting the interference of the judiciary into the democratic process by defining the “fundamental right” narrowly enough as not to remove a broad category of activities from democratic oversight (not to mention creating out of whole cloth “rights” that have no basis in the text of the Constitution).

    Scalia’s appeal to tradition is to look at the behavior that society has traditionally valued and protected and determine whether the particular case before the Court meets – with specificity – the activity society has sought to protect.

    The liberal will look at “tradition” and try to broadly define the activity that is “fundamental” to ordered liberty so as to include as much activity as possible and remove it from the democratic process. Thus, Brennan et al looked at Michael H. as a “biological father”, and relying on some very recent precedent (and ignoring other recent precedent – i.e. that “biological fathers” have very few if any rights when abortion and birth control are at issue), tried to make the argument that he had a “fundamental right” to interfere in the inner workings and relationships of an intact family unit.

    What’s “traditional” about that? Nothing. Maintaining Mansfield’s Rule was based on tradition – the tradition of protecting the family, as society has sought to do for generations. The Court’s “fundamental rights” jurisprudence – of very recent vintage – regarding a biological father’s “reproductive rights”, not so much.

  • While not remotely an expert on law, the sociological/historical aspect interests me in regards to biological fathers’ right. It seems to me that the accurate characterization would be that in Western Culture, a biological father can assert paternity rights over illegitimate offspring by effectively “legitimizing” or recognizing them. This, however, assumes that the illegitimate offspring are otherwise simply “fatherless” and unacknowledged.

    The rights of the pater familias as a husband typically include having paternal rights over all children he chooses to acknowledge. So if his wife bears a child which is not, in fact, his, he can effectively make the child his by acknowledging the child as his regardless of actual paternity.

    The idea that a biological father could assert paternity rights over a child he fathered on a married women over the objections of her husband (who is willing to raise the child as his own) would be distinctly un-traditional.

  • Darwin,

    You’re right. It IS distinctly un-traditional. And for over 200 years, under Lord Mansfield’s Rule, such claims cannot be heard.

    Okay, I realize I’ve dominated this thread, so just one last thing on the classifications in Michael H. and how they relate to “tradition”:

    As Restrained Radical notes, both Scalia and Brennan appealed to “tradition” in reaching opposite conclusions in the case. However, a closer examination of the arguments and what respective “tradition” was being sought to be preserved by the opposing Justices, will reveal that one of the Justices was ACTUALLY concerned with remaining faithful to and preserving an established tradition, while the other Justice’s feigned appeal to “tradition” was a complete load of BS from one of the most successful bu11$h**tters who ever sat on the Supreme Court.

    Let’s start off with the fact that the rights of “biological fathers” – the “tradition” to which Justice Brennan appealed – are, as I noted above, a recent development in the law, and there is no long-standing “tradition” of “biological fathers” having legal rights over their offspring outside the context of the marital relationship. Even the parental rights of divorcing parents have always been based on the fact that the parents were married in the first place.

    So, let’s dispense with Brennan’s nonsensical claim that he was appealing to “tradition” and cut right to the chase. Were one to follow his constitutional jurisprudence to its logical conclusion, here’s Bill Brennan’s take on the “rights” of biological fathers:

    * A “biological father” has absolutely NO LEGAL RIGHTS to protect the life of his child should the mother choose to abort the child; HOWEVER …

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” to interfere in an intact marital family relationship by asserting paternity over a child born inside that marriage should the mother choose to raise the child with her husband.

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” that overrides an over-200-year-old common law rule – a common law rule known to and explicitly accepted by the drafters of the Constitution – meant to protect marriages from outside attack and children from bastardization.

    That’s Bill Brennan’s definition of “tradition”.

    On the other hand, under Justice Scalia’s approach, here is the state of the law:

    * an over-200-year-old common law rule that was on the books at the time of this Nation’s founding is preserved;

    * the sanctity of the marital family unit is preserved from outside interference by claims from a stanger to that marriage that he is, in fact, the father of a child born to that marriage;

    * the original intent and meaning of the text of the Constitution is preserved from the violence done to the constitutional order whenever a newly created “fundamental right” is used to strike down as “unconstitutional” a law that was fully known to and explicitly acctepted by those who drafted the Constitution.

    Now, which one of those approaches is TRULY concerned with tradition?

  • Personally, I always thought the tradition of offering sympathy to orphans should have helped the Menendez brothers

    😉

  • Jay, your putative domination of this thread has enriched it, and is greatly appreciated at least by me.

  • Agreed, I’ve enjoyed your explanation on this stuff, Jay.

  • I spend the day in Bankruptcy Court and Jay leaves me nothing to say in regard to Constitutional interpretation. Rats! Ah well, I will merely say ditto to what Jay wrote and what Scalia says below:

  • Donald,

    I liked his Chestertonian quote:

    “Some worth doing, is worth doing terribly.”

    Or something to that effect.

  • I should’ve stated this early but I don’t necessarily disagree with the outcome of Michael H. And I do think originalism is the proper method of analysis (while I still maintain this is closer to sola scriptura). I only take issue with Scalia’s method of abstraction outlined in footnote 6. He defines classes that need not be defined in that way.

    Jay & Darwin, it all depends on how you’re defining the tradition and the specific case. The children of a married woman have traditionally been presumed to be the biological children of the husband. Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.

    Again, I’m not saying that’s right. Only that the very existence of what I think is an alternative reasonable interpretation, undercuts Scalia’s approach.

  • Don, that was a great vid. It would be interesting to see a liberal originalist on the court. Lawrence Lessig, a liberal and a broad originalist, says Kagan thinks as he does. I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer. Perhaps even more important than overturning Roe is changing the way liberals view abortion.

  • “Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.”

    I suppose it provides an alternative interpretation to Scalia’s, but it is one that I believe to be ahistorical.

    The historical record will bear out that Lord Mansfield was primarily concerned with the children of marriages not being made bastards, which is a matter wholly unconcerned with determining actual biological paternity. In fact, it was an objective that was often in direct conflict with determining such.

    Preserving intact marital family units from such challenges was not for the purpose of ensuring that the husband’s factual biological paternity was protected from spurious outside claims, but rather to ensure that children were not delegitimized. For that reason, the law created an irrebuttable presumption that the children of a married woman were the legitimate children of her husband.

  • I suppose, from a sociological point of view, a lot has to do with how you interpret the purpose of established cultural norms. It seems to me that the purpose would clearly be that a pater familias be able to determine who he wants to call his children. If he want to acknowledge children he had by a woman other than his wife, he can. If he want to refuse to acknowledge those children, he can. And when his wife bears children he can either acknowledge them, or repudiate his wife and deny them.

    All this sounds rather negative and “patriarchal”, but it also has the effect of making the direct and extended family strong against outside assaults. Good or bad, though, I think it’s hard to deny that it’s “traditional”.

  • “I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer.”

    I doubt restrainedradical that Kagan will be anything but an orthodox political liberal on the bench. However, the fact that she has no judicial experience on the bench should give her backers pause. Felix Frankfurter, the great advocate of judicial restraint, was a fairly conventional political liberal before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by FDR without judicial experience. Things can look quite differently after one dons the black robe, especially with a life time appointment, and Kagan, perhaps, could end up surprising everyone.

  • I would be astonished if Kagan does not prove to be “anything but an orthodox political liberal” cleverly legislating from the bench whey “necessary.” But I’m prepared to be astonished, and certainly hope that I am.

    In any event. I hope the confirmation process is a smooth one. I’m all for hardball politics, but Kagan is qualified and that should be the end of it. The Dems viciously changed the rules with Bork, and I believe that the temperament within the Senate has never been the same. I’d like to see the Republicans avoid scoring political and polemical points and just plain do the right thing.

  • I agree Mike that the Kagan nomination is not the one for the Republicans to put up a fight on, but one of the main reasons why the Democrats routinely engage in scorched earth tactics in regard to Republican judicial nominees is because the Republicans routinely fail to do the same to Democrat nominees.

  • Fair enough, Don, but it is worth remembering that both Roberts and Alito got through without the Dems resorting to scorched earth practices, which is not to say that they behaved perfectly. I’d rather try to ratchet the practices back to how they are supposed to work. I acknowledge that it is a judgment call as to whether exhibiting good behavior or returning bad behavior is the most effective way to do that.

  • In regard to Alito Mike the Democrats tried but failed to filibuster his nomination. The final vote for his confirmation was 58-42 which is astounding if one of the chief criteria is supposed to be judicial comptence.

    Obama of course voted against confirmation for both Roberts and Alito, two of the best qualified jurists ever nominated to the Supreme Court.

  • Forgot that, Don, thanks. I’d still support Kagan’s nomination, but would also score points by emphasizing the contrast between her treatment and that of Alito, and get lots of digs against Obama for voting against Alito and Roberts.

  • Roberts was confirmed 78–22. He got far more Democratic votes than Sotomayor got Republican votes. Alito had the misfortune of being second. Kagan has the same problem.

  • Wow. Such deep arguments!

    Still, I think a lot of folks are overthinking this situation. A president seeking a pro-life perspective on the high court appoints a Catholic. Another president seeking some pro-life cover also appoints a Catholic. Presidents who seek a reliably pro-abortion leftist or wish to appease leftist elements of their party often appoint a Jew.

  • Restrained Radical,

    There’s no comparison, democrats are far more emotional and vindictive when it comes to voting against well-qualified judges that happen to seem conservative.

    Case in point, Robert Bork who lost the nomination 42-58.

  • The Bork confirmation process was unprecedented. It broke with longstanding Senate tradition, and frankly the Senate has not been the same since. The Dems broke the rules and lied shamelesslessly while doing it. Mutual rancor, payback, and distrust have been the order of the day since.

    While not unopinionated, I am not given to immoderate commentary. In fact I sign my real name as a matter of self-discipline. But let there be no misunderstanding or doubt: Joe Biden made his bones in the Bork hearings and behaved like a consummate dirtbag. I expected such dishonest behavior from the cowardly Senator from Massachusetts, but this was when Biden showed his true character colors.

    Finally, let’s be clear. When the Left decides to play hard ball, you can ususally count on the subtext being their sacrament of abortion. It started with Bork and Palin has been the most recent manifestation.

  • Bork and Thomas are outliners. People like Bork with long controversial paper trails don’t get nominated anymore. And Thomas had to deal with Anita Hill. I don’t think either party has a monopoly on outrage. As I noted before, Roberts had an easier confirmation than Sotomayor who in turn will have had an easier confirmation than Kagan. I predict Kagan’s confirmation to be similar to Alito’s. Four Democrats voted for Alito. I predict 2 or 3 Republicans will vote for Kagan (Snowe, Collins, and maybe Brown).

  • It’s a straw man.

    Bork had the most difficult.

    You can continue to apologize for your democratic party, but facts are facts.

  • While, I do not disagree with the overall thesis expressed herein. I find the characterization of Reform and Hasidic Judaism to be off the mark. I contend that the divisions within Judaism that they represent a division with Judaism but that these division were the result not of dogmatic differences.

    Rather I view the divisions within Judaism as being similar to the differences that exist between religious orders with Catholicism.

    In the sense that each religious order agrees on the truth of the dogma espoused by universal church, their missions differ,and as a result there may exist minor differences within their devotions and practice.

  • Nathan Zimmermann,

    I would like to default to your position because I know very little about Judaism.

    But when I see “conservative” and “reform” Jews advocate for the death of the unborn in absolute violation of the Ten Commandments and then I see “orthodox” Jews express identical views with Catholics and stand up for the unborn, then your analogy does not seem to fit that of Catholic religious orders.

    Catholic religious orders differ in mission, but adhere completely to the teachings of the Church.

    I don’t believe your analogy falls into that category with all due respect.

  • Mr. Edwards,

    I based my analogy upon my experiences and interactions with the aforementioned communities within my native city where even the conservative and reform Jews tend to be more conservative and pro-life.

  • If the Republicans wish to Bork a nominee Solicitor General Kagan’s nomination may be the best opportunity. If President Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland, the ability of the Republicans to Bork the nominee would have proved less tenable because, Judge Garland’ nomination was openly advocated by Senator Hatch.

    As addendum to my two previous posts, and to throw a fox into a hen-house. While there is no doubt of the universal church on the subject of abortion and euthanasia, eugenics and Darwinism.

    It should be noted that there existed a split with the church on the subject of eugenics and Darwinism during the 1920s and 1930’s as is evident in the writings of Rev. Hermann Muckermann, the elder brother of Rev. Friederich Muckermann SJ.

  • Nathan:
    There has never been a split regarding either Darwinism or eugenics in Church teaching properly understood The fact that some Catholic priests and theologians have favored abortion rights, for instance (which of course is still the case) does not in any way impair the fact that the Magisterium has remained consistent, even as it develops.
    I have countless Jewish friends. Sadly I know none who consider themselves of the Reform stripe who favor laws forbidding abortions, even though I know many who claim they themselves would not abort a child.

Christianity and the Miraculous

Monday, March 29, AD 2010

Today, Palm Sunday, and throughout the rest of Holy Week, we devote ourselves to the central mysteries of our faith as Christians: Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Last Supper, which instituted for us the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The suffering and death of Christ on the cross. His resurrection on the third day.

These miracles are the very center of our faith. As Saint Paul said, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain. Or to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor’s use of rather more modern parlance, “If it isn’t true, to hell with it.”

This central miracle, Christ’s death and resurrection, is the miracle which gives our faith meaning and sets it radically apart from the “he was a good man killed by the authorities for standing up for the poor” substitute which some propose. For if Christ was not God, if He did not rise from the dead, if He did not offer to us eternal salvation, then “he was a good man” is no half-way-there substitute. The resurrection is a miracle so unlikely, so scandalous that we must either embrace it wholly or reject Christianity with scorn. The events of Holy Week are not something we can accept half-way, and by accepting them we accept something which goes utterly and completely beyond the natural and predictable world. A miracle.

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5 Responses to Christianity and the Miraculous

  • A very provocative post Darwin.

    So in the spirit of constructive engagement you say you loathe anything as approaching the miraculous as well as biblical literalism.

    Many Catholics, including Father Benedict Groeschel as well as myself don’t believe in coincidences, but in God’s hand in all things.

    How do you explain that Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves with your eisegesis?

    I’ll admit if I misread your posting.

  • I think you may have misread me a bit, Tito. My argument was that while in everyday life I tend not to assume a miraculous explanation for something which could just as well be chance or coincidence (for instance, happening to find a missing set of keys moments after pausing to pray to St. Anthony) I think it’s entirely inappropriate to treat the miracles in the Gospels this way.

    Finding a set of keys is something which happens all the time without the need for miraculous help. Feeding 10,000 people, on the other hand, is not something that “just happens”. Nor is the incarnation of Christ something that “just happens”. Indeed, if we accept that Christ was God, and we accept the Gospels as what they claim to be (an account of Christ’s work on Earth) we have already accepted that the Gospels are about the most incredibly miraculous events possible.

    What I am questioning here is: Why is it that some people accept Christ’s divinity and resurrection, yet then turn around and toss out half the gospels with “oh, well, the feeding of the 10,000 probably wasn’t a real miracle, it’s just a fable for sharing” or “Lazarus probably wasn’t really dead, he was just unconscious” or “Jesus didn’t really walk on water, that’s just mythological language”. This miracles are small potatoes if we accept Christ, and if we accept Christ it seems entirely reasonable to believe the incredible and miraculous things would happen around Him.

    I don’t understand the urge to accept Christ, but then reject (seemingly at random) some of His miracles — as if it is rational to accept Christ but irrational to accept that he really rose from the dead or that he really fed large crowds or walked on water.

  • Thanks Darwin.

    Don’t use me as a barometer to how well your columns are written. I’m better at history than theology comprehension.

  • Well, and given that I wrote it between 11pm and 1am… There’s probably blame to share.

  • Biblical context works best for me. The Gospels are set up as books of testimony, so already I have to go in thinking: this happened, or at least that something major occurred.

    Secondy, there are places in the texts where Jesus is specifically said to be speaking in metaphor. If the author is going to go to that length then why not do us the favor and tell us that his miracles are just literary metaphors?

    While I’m open to the notion that events or ideas could possibly be attributed to Jesus in order to emphasize a theological or historical point, Im no less inclined to take the Gospels at there word.

    After all, these miracles aren’t just abnormal for us, they were abnormal in Jesus’ time; which was not lacking in supply of sceptics either.

Cardinal Newman Development of Doctrine-First Note-Preservation of Type

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

Continuing on with my series on the seven notes, I would call them tests, which Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman developed for determining whether some aspect of Church teaching is a development of doctrine or a corruption of doctrine.  We began with Note Six-Conservative Action Upon Its Past, and I would highly recommend that any one who has not read the first post in the series read it here before proceeding with this post.  We will now take the remaining notes in numerical order.  This post will deal with the First Note-Preservation of Type.

In regard to Preservation of Type, Cardinal Newman takes pains to point out that the idea underlying the doctrine remains of the same type while the external manifestations of the idea may change greatly.  His illustration from Roman history conveys his point well:

On the other hand, real perversions and corruptions are often not so unlike externally to the doctrine from which they come, as are changes which are consistent with it and true developments. When Rome changed from a Republic to an Empire, it was a real alteration of polity, or what may be called a corruption; yet in appearance the change was small. The old offices or functions of government remained: it was only that the Imperator, or Commander in Chief, concentrated them in his own person.  Augustus was Consul and Tribune, Supreme Pontiff and Censor, and the Imperial rule was, in the words of Gibbon, “an absolute monarchy disguised by the forms of a commonwealth.” On the other hand, when the dissimulation of Augustus was exchanged for the ostentation of Dioclesian, the real alteration of constitution was trivial, but the appearance of change was great. Instead of plain Consul, Censor, and Tribune, Dioclesian became Dominus or King, assumed the diadem, and threw around him the forms of a court.

In other words in determining  whether there has been the preservation of type in a development of doctrine we must look at the substance and ignore the form.  For example, in the Middle Ages laymen would often receive communion once a year out of great reverence for the body of Christ.  Now we are encouraged to be frequent communicants.  However, the underlying reverence that the Church commands for the body and blood of Christ remains the same.

Cardinal Newman concludes:

An idea then does not always bear about it the same external image; this circumstance, however, has no force to weaken the argument for its substantial identity, as drawn from its external sameness, when such sameness remains. On the contrary, for that very reason, unity of type becomes so much the surer guarantee of the healthiness and soundness of developments, when it is persistently preserved in spite of their number or importance.

Newman on the First Note:

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Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Thursday, February 18, AD 2010

… The call to conversion, in fact, uncovers and denounces the easy superficiality that very often characterizes our way of living. To be converted means to change direction along the way of life — not for a slight adjustment, but a true and total change of direction. Conversion is to go against the current, where the “current” is a superficial lifestyle, inconsistent and illusory, which often draws us, controls us and makes us slaves of evil, or in any case prisoners of moral mediocrity. With conversion, instead, one aims to the lofty measure of Christian life; we are entrusted to the living and personal Gospel, which is Christ Jesus. His person is the final goal and the profound meaning of conversion; he is the way which we are called to follow in life, allowing ourselves to be illumined by his light and sustained by his strength that moves our steps. In this way conversion manifests its most splendid and fascinating face: It is not a simple moral decision to rectify our conduct of life, but it is a decision of faith, which involves us wholly in profound communion with the living and concrete person of Jesus.

To be converted and to believe in the Gospel are not two different things or in some way closely related, but rather, they express the same reality. Conversion is the total “yes” of the one who gives his own existence to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ, who first offered himself to man as Way, Truth and Life, as the one who frees and saves him. This is precisely the meaning of the first words with which, according to the Evangelist Mark, Jesus began the preaching of the “Gospel of God.” “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).

“Repent and believe in the Gospel” is not only at the beginning of the Christian life, but accompanies all its steps, [this call] remains, renewing itself, and spreads, branching out in all its expressions. Every day is a favorable moment of grace, because each day invites us to give ourselves to Jesus, to have confidence in him, to remain in him, to share his style of life, to learn from him true love, to follow him in daily fulfilling of the will of the Father, the only great law of life — every day, even when difficulties and toil, exhaustion and falls are not lacking, even when we are tempted to abandon the following of Christ and to shut ourselves in ourselves, in our egoism, without realizing the need we have to open to the love of God in Christ, to live the same logic of justice and love.

~ Pope Benedict XVI Ash Wednesday Address 2/7/2010

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Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving is by Father Francis Fernandez Carvajal from his series on meditations In Conversation with GodDaily Meditations Volume Two: Lent and Eastertide, 1.2:

True conversion is shown by the way we behave.  We show that we really want to improve by the way we do our work or our study.  We show it by the way we behave towards our family; by offering up to God, in the course of the day, little mortifications which make life for those around us more pleasant, and which make our work more effective.  We can also show it by making a careful preparation for and going frequently to Confession.

Today God asks us also for a rather special mortification, which we offer up cheerfully: it is fasting and abstinence, which strengthens our spirit as it mortifies our flesh and our sensuality.  It raises our soul to God.  It gets rid of concupiscence by giving us the strength to overcome and to mortify our passions, and it disposes our heart that it may seek for nothing except to please God in everything.9

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4 Responses to Works of Penance, Frequent Confession, Mortification, Almsgiving

  • A friend who belongs to Opus Dei turned me onto these books during Advent at an Opus Dei Men’s reflection. I can’t say that I have read them everyday, perhaps 85% of the time since.

    Amazing. That’s all I can say. I take them to Mass with me and read them after the after Mass prayers. What a fantastic help. The insights and lessons are inspired. What a great place to get perspective from the Communion of Saints, the Popes and the Magestirium.

    I recommend In Conversation with God to anyone and everyone who wants to increase their faith and understanding (in that order).

    We are dust but if you own these books they won’t get any dust on them.

  • AK,

    I agree.

    The In Conversation With God series has brought me ever closer to God. It is worth someones while to pick up the book and start reading.

    A great way to do something for Lent!

  • Tito,

    I never thought about the statement from your last sentence until this Lent. We all give something up and when we think of it or desire it we turn to God; however, I don’t know too many people who DO SOMETHING for Lent as opposed to NOT doing something. Sure, we may give the money we save from our habit, whether it be beer, chocolate or whatever, but that is not necessarily the same as DOING something.

    I think it is helpful, and these books are great for it, to add something to our spiritual life during Lent and God willing it will become part of us in Easter and beyond.

  • AK,

    I remember the “spirit of Vatican II” rage of “doing” something for Lent instead of “giving” something up.

    In the end I decided to do both (just to be safe!)

    😉

Ash Wednesday Address by Pope Benedict

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

Pope Benedict XVI’s Ash Wednesday Address in English:

Here is the complete text of the Pope’s message:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,today, Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the Church’s Lenten journey towards Easter.

Lent reminds us, as Saint Paul exhorts, “not to accept the grace of God in vain” (cf. 2 Cor 6:1), but to recognize that today the Lord calls us to penance and spiritual renewal. This call to conversion is expressed in the two formulae used in the rite of the imposition of ashes. The first formula – “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” – echoes Jesus’s words at the beginning of his public ministry (cf. Mk 1:15). It reminds us that conversion is meant to be a deep and lasting abandonment of our sinful ways in order to enter into a living relationship with Christ, who alone offers true freedom, happiness and fulfilment.

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Cardinal Newman on Fasting

Wednesday, February 17, AD 2010

“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterward an hungered.” Matt. iv. 2.

{1} THE season of humiliation, which precedes Easter, lasts for forty days, in memory of our Lord’s long fast in the wilderness. Accordingly on this day, the first Sunday in Lent, we read the Gospel which gives an account of it; and in the Collect we pray Him, who for our sakes fasted forty days and forty nights, to bless our abstinence to the good of our souls and bodies.

We fast by way of penitence, and in order to subdue the flesh. Our Saviour had no need of fasting for either purpose. His fasting was unlike ours, as in its intensity, so in its object. And yet when we begin to fast, His pattern is set before us; and we continue the time of fasting till, in number of days, we have equalled His.

There is a reason for this;—in truth, we must do nothing except with Him in our eye. As He it is, through whom alone we have the power to do any good {2} thing, so unless we do it for Him it is not good. From Him our obedience comes, towards Him it must look. He says, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” [John xv. 5.] No work is good without grace and without love.

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The Many Scandals of the USCCB

Saturday, February 6, AD 2010

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is a recent invention that grew out of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.  Some Catholics confuse the USCCB as a teaching authority and mistaken it for a parallel magisterium.

Nowhere in Sacred Scripture and Tradition do we have an instance for this man made invention.  We have one teaching authority and that is the Magisterium.

So why have the USCCB?  Well, to support the various ministries of bishops.  And of course you need the laity to support the many functions that the USCCB does.

Which brings us to our current scandal.  Like anything else the USCCB is susceptible to error.  Which in this case is that many bishops and the majority of the laity that work inside the USCCB are partial or are openly members of the Democratic Party that has various liberal platforms  which cooperatives in evil such as abortion and the legalization of homosexual license.

The issue is that this creates a conflict of interest.  When a member, in this instance a high executive such as John Carr, in the USCCB also holds a board membership with a group that supports abortion, confusion and scandal is created.

And this isn’t just one isolated case.  There is the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that provides funds to anti-marriage and pro-abortion organizations.  The bishops response is to arrogantly deny any scandal whatsoever.

This of course creates more scandal.

At this moment the bishops have refused to deal with infestation that the USCCB has, hoping that the scandal and uproar will quietly subside just as the controversy over Harry Forbes glowing movie reviews of anti-Catholic movies.

Well, enough is enough.  The chickens have come home to roost.

More and more Catholics will continue to shine the light on the decrepit state of the USCCB until the someone does something to resolve the matter.

Ora pro nobis!

Where is our Cardinal Spellman!

To help and keep the USCCB honest, please visit and support Bellarmine Veritas Ministry, the American Life League and Reform CCHD Now Coalition.

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11 Responses to The Many Scandals of the USCCB

  • I’m reluctant to derive conclusions re the USCCB. Most of the accusations invite questions concerning the level of cooperation with evil that are not easy to address wtih confidence. It is possible for Catholics to support and fund good works through morally imperfect organizations. A can fund the good works of B without necessarily supporting the evil works of B. The devil is in the details. The problem I have is that over many years of observing the USCCB I have come away with the disturbing impression that while it may check the boxes necessary to appear to avoid a material cooperation with evil, its staff and infrastructure are actually pretty indifferent to abortion and certain other issues and subordinate any ambivilence they might have on these matters to their embrace of liberal policy preferences.

  • “It is possible for Catholics to support and fund good works through morally imperfect organizations.”

    The way things look these days, I think I’d rather just do them on my own.

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  • Tito, if you haven’t already read the canon law regarding the episcopal conferences, here it is:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P1L.HTM

    It would also be helpful to read Pope Paul VI’s motu proprio Ecclesiae Sanctae, starting with paragraph 41:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_p-vi_motu-proprio_19660806_ecclesiae-sanctae_en.html

    Tito, it’s my opinion that you ought to consult with your spiritual director before continuing this ongoing series on the USCCB. If you are wrong in your assertions, then this is slander, and a grave sin. And everything that I have read leads me to believe that you are indeed wrong. May God lead us to the truth in charity.

    God bless,
    Nate

  • My God, Mr. Voris essentially called the USCCB a Satanic entity, even while using Pope Paul VI to prove his point. Apparently he’s unaware that it was Pope Paul VI who ordered the Church to form the episcopal conferences following Vatican II.

    Pope John Paul II wrote an Apostolic letter on the Episcopal Conferences, and made it clear that the Bishops’ Conferences had the duty to teach:

    “The joint exercise of the episcopal ministry also involves the teaching office. The Code of Canon Law establishes the fundamental norm in this regard: “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the Bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in Conferences of Bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own Bishops with a sense of religious respect (religioso animi obsequio)”.”

    Mr. Voris is right in a certain respect, in that the Conferences do not have authority per se. Yet the USCCB does have authority insofar as it is an instrument of the Apostolic Successors!

    Mr. Voris trots out all kinds of issues that the USCCB supposedly teaches against – abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. Is he speaking of the same USCCB? No document of the Bishops has ever supported these things.

    I said it before, when the first attacks came – this isn’t just about a few funding issues. This is about a deeply ingrained hatred for the teachings of our Bishops, especially on issues related to money, power, and violence.

  • Nate

    I tried to tell Tito that he needs to look into the charges instead of just repeating them; this is pure gossip-mongering.

  • Nate and Henry,

    I take your opinions and charges very seriously.

    I was careful to point out the conflicts of interest in this post.

    For Nate, I believe what you are saying and accusing me of is very sensationalistic itself.

    I’d like to know where were you when the pedophilia scandal broke out?

    Did you attack the abused children for coming out against priests and bishops?

    Again, the USCCB is not a teaching authority.

    You say This is about a deeply ingrained hatred for the teachings of our Bishops, especially on issues related to money, power, and violence

    If you bothered to read my post I did not accuse ANY bishop. I accused John Carr, Harry Forbes, and the USCCB as an entity.

    It’s interesting that you mention “power”.

    You seem to defend the USCCB much more vigorously than anything else here at TAC.

    Maybe you have made the USCCB your idol since it funds so many left-wing organizations that promotes anti-Catholic teachings.

    Maybe you need to take the log out of your eye before you make wild and inaccurate accusations.

    The links you provided do not vest ANY authority whatsoever in these bishops conferences.

    Moreover they give a detailed outline on how to hold meetings.

    Meetings!

    Not issue dogma, decide on discipline, nor invent any new teachings.

    Your opinion in the end is absolutely and unequivocally incorrect.

  • Tito, you might be right, and I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before, and I’ll be wrong again. I defend the USCCB because I see it as an indirect attack on the authority of our bishops.

    The USCCB is not per se an authority. Yet when the bishops speak together, through the USCCB, they do not lose their authority as bishops. I believe that it is incorrect to claim that the bishops lose their authority when they speak together. Moreover, the Church documents I linked to (and quoted) say that the Episcopal Conferences have authority when they teach on faith or morals. I’ll quote JPII again, with my own emphasis at the end:

    ““The joint exercise of the episcopal ministry also involves the teaching office. The Code of Canon Law establishes the fundamental norm in this regard: “Although they do not enjoy infallible teaching authority, the Bishops in communion with the head and members of the college, whether as individuals or gathered in Conferences of Bishops or in particular councils, are authentic teachers and instructors of the faith for the faithful entrusted to their care; the faithful must adhere to the authentic teaching of their own Bishops with a sense of religious respect (religioso animi obsequio)”.”

    If this is sensationalistic, then it is not due to me, but to the heart and mind of our late Pope. The Episcopal Conferences derive their authority from the Bishops who teach through it. This is Canon Law, and I’ve quoted and linked to it. Mr. Voris disagrees, but his S.T.B. doesn’t make him right. If anything, he makes him more culpable for spreading misinformation.

  • Nate,

    It isn’t sensationalistic.

    I appreciate your comments and you make some valid points.

    This would be a good idea for another (new) posting some time in the future.

    Thanks for engaging in this debate, your comments are truly valued by me and many of the readers of this site.

  • Thank you for the gracious response, Tito! We’re both Catholic, and we both want to defend the faith. God grant that we can figure out a way to do that together. Peace, Nate.

  • We’re both Catholic indeed, the least we can do is be an example of charitable dialogue, even if we disagree!

    😀

Follow Me, Top Baseball Prospect Leaves For Higher League

Sunday, January 24, AD 2010

Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men. (cf. Holy Gospel of Saint Mark 1:17)

Grant Desme, a highly touted baseball prospect for the Oakland Athletics organization, decided that he could not fight his calling anymore and answered God by retiring from baseball and to begin seminary training immediately.

A terrific article by Jane Lee of MLB.com.

My emphases and comments:

“Last year before the season started, I really had a strong feeling of a calling and a real strong desire to follow it,” the 23-year-old said. “I just fought it.”

“As the year went on,” he said, “God blessed me. I had a better year than I could have imagined, but that reconfirmed my desire because I wasn’t at peace with where I was at. I love the game, but I aspire to higher things.

“I thought, I’m doing well in baseball, but I really had to get down to the bottom of things — what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. And I felt that while baseball is a good thing and I love playing, I thought it was selfish of me to be doing that when I really felt that God was calling me more [Sounds like the Church has gained a mature and strong man for God!], which took me awhile in my life to really trust and open up to it and aim full steam toward Him .”

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5 Responses to Follow Me, Top Baseball Prospect Leaves For Higher League

Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

Friday, January 15, AD 2010

Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco addressed on January 13, 2010 a free will defense of abortion by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House:

In a recent interview with Eleanor Clift in Newsweek magazine (Dec. 21, 2009), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about her disagreements with the United States Catholic bishops concerning Church teaching. Speaker Pelosi replied, in part: “I practically mourn this difference of opinion because I feel what I was raised to believe is consistent with what I profess, and that we are all endowed with a free will and a responsibility to answer for our actions. And that women should have the opportunity to exercise their free will.”

Embodied in that statement are some fundamental misconceptions about Catholic teaching on human freedom. These misconceptions are widespread both within the Catholic community and beyond. For this reason I believe it is important for me as Archbishop of San Francisco to make clear what the Catholic Church teaches about free will, conscience, and moral choice.

Catholic teaching on free will recognizes that God has given men and women the capacity to choose good or evil in their lives. The bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared that the human person, endowed with freedom, is “an outstanding manifestation of the divine image.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 17) As the parable of the Grand Inquisitor in Dostoevsky’s novel, The Brothers Karamazov, makes so beautifully clear, God did not want humanity to be mere automatons, but to have the dignity of freedom, even recognizing that with that freedom comes the cost of many evil choices.

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5 Responses to Are You Listening Madame Speaker?

  • So what next? Nice statement and all, but what hapens, in the highly probable event that this goes in one Pelosi’s ear and out the other (there being nothing in between to catch it)? What will he do when she comes back with some form of I politely disagree but must follow my own reason and conscience which tells me campaign fund– I mean, a women’s right to choose, is an inviolable right necessary for her dignity?

  • To answer the question posed by the title of this post: No.

  • What a great statement by the bishop! And thanks for posting it in its entirety, Donald.

  • Thank you Pinky!

  • Even though Speaker Pelosi may not take the archbishops instruction, this is a positive sign that many bishops in America are finally defending life in a public manner in the correct circumstances.

    Especially from this archbishop who is breaking the stereotype of a “personally orthodox” but “episcopally lax” mold a la Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC.

The Construct of Rebellion

Monday, January 11, AD 2010

In 2010 the Catholic Church in particular and Christianity in general are under attack because age old truths are being abandoned for the Dictatorship of Relativism. One might ask; how did we get here? It didn’t happen overnight; as a matter of fact many of those doing the rebelling actually think they are doing us all a favor.  Centuries and millennium evolved into a construct of rebellion where self appointed leaders who thought knew better than the Church and society itself tried to change all that was sacred and holy into something, they but most importantly their friends in the intelligentsia, could accept. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be bad for your acquired culinary tastes, but when truth is watered down it is something entirely different and far more serious. In this instance, we are talking about souls, not taste buds.  If this is so then how could the thesis of my book, The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism be true? The answer is simple because the world is getting closer and closer to the precipice. Some may chose to jump but thankfully more will chose to come back from ledge into the world of reality and when they do they will see the many positive developments happening in the Church. One’s own mortality has a way of causing self preservation.

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55 Responses to The Construct of Rebellion

  • Well said, Dave. Thank God for Mary’s heel crushing the head of the serpent that is rebellion, or the whole place would have turned into one boring, childish, real-life version of “Wayne’s World.” It’s no wonder so many folks despise her as she has done what they ought to be doing.

  • What is the evidence for The Porsche?

  • My compliments for a well argued post. I am unaware of the O’Brien site or books, but I cannot disagree with any of your assessment nor your conclusions. I have been making a similar argument via my Canadian blog (http://www.frtimmoyle.blogspot.com) trying to point out the logical contradiction of modern day relativism – a contradiction that exists because moderns no longer possess a knowledge or sense of the role of the church in times past. I offer the following taken from one of my posts written when the European court ordered the removal of the crucifix from Italian classrooms:


    Where I freely admit that the governing authority of any school should be able to either choose or not to present this symbol of Christian/Catholic faith, it is entirely another thing to deny the right to express their faith/convictions/belief in the public square. The principle that is expressed as “separation of church and state” also implicitly includes the freedom to express those values that we believe are the path which leads to the betterment of all humanity.??Read the story, and ask yourself whether the secular argument that leads to this European suppression of the freedom of speech of believers is any different from the agenda that marks the direction of North American society today.??This story is proof positive of the price of failing to argue in defence of the principles which are the accumulated human reasoning that stretches back to the earliest days of recorded history. Whether the moral principles of our modern civilization evolved as the refinement of simply human wisdom, or whether it is a still imperfect vision of God’s will, they have brought Western civilization to the point where we are today. The “rights” that are now so suddenly being tossed aside in the last twenty-five years are the foundations upon which the right itself is rooted. The poisoned fruit of the civilizational tree now endangers the root from which it sprang. ??Freedom of expression of faith in the public square must be respected; it is the essential corollary of the freedoms of thought and speech. I pray that leaders of our faith, our Bishops, would look to the European (or Québécois for that matter) social experiment and heed the need to “teach”, in every forum possible, the wisdom and teaching of our Church: to educate those raised in the “sex, drugs and rock and roll” generation (the first generation of essentially uncatechized “C & E” Catholics (i.e., “Christmas and Easter”) who now have moved into society’s corridors of power) of the wisdom of these first principles before they use the levers of power to shape the debate. ??Freedom of life… Freedom of belief… Freedom of speech: these are the Bishops’ menu of first principles to defend in full. Let’s pray that they fashion sumptuous salad of arguments, no matter how appealing the dessert table secularism seems to offer. ??Society needs strong bones to grow and prosper. We eat of the poisoned fruit at our own peril.

    Fr. Tim

  • Excellent commentary, Fr. Tim, which very much reflects why us California voters are now being put on trial for having the temerity to vote for changing the Constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman.

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  • Lest one begin to think that this is all new, I quote St. Basil to the western bishops in the 4th Century:

    “The dogmas of the Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set to nought; the discoveries of innovators hold sway in the churches; men have learned to be speculatists instead of theologians… The aged sorrow comparing what is with what was; more pitiable the young as not knowing what they are deprived of”. [Ep.90]

  • Thank you Dave for letting history teach us, at least some will repeat the errors and call for a “king” to rule and guide or other idols instead of our Lord and Savior. Your recent Times article was excellent also.

  • Dave, you’ll be thrilled to know that Spirit Daily posted this today in its second most prominent spot.

  • Thank you for writing this. Thank you for mentioning the Blessed Mother crushing the devils head.I attend morning mass and pray the daily rosary for conversions and repentence(for many years) and within the last month have had 3 people say they want to come back to the church and I have been taking them to Sunday mass with me. One has already talked with the priest.The other I am taking to a Catholic healing service. The 3rd is actually an unchurched person who accepts what I am teaching him and wants to talk to the parish priest. When the Blessed Mother said she will give graces of conversion and repentance when you say the rosary, she means it. Thank you.

  • Great article !! Truer words were never spoken. We need to hear more of the truth to stir all Catholics
    into reality and into standing up for the Church and our rights.

  • There are 3 essentials ingredients in the Church that keep any soul on the correct road. The Eucharist. Confession and the Rosary. Stay faithful to these and you and your household will be saved. The world is passing away and we are passing through it to something that we can not even begin to understand. Show mercy to all those who are in darkness.

  • As a simple un-educated mother of seven I read the whole article Construct of Rebellion, and thought it was most informative and full of truth.
    However, what it was lacking was the matter of placing some blame on the church itself for the departing of so many Catholics from their true faith during the 2000 years of excistance.
    I asked should the church not have been more alert and listened to the complaints from the faithful on some liturgical customs and for the lack of education in the full deep meaning of scripture and the bible, also the lack of explaination the dogmatic reasons for truth?
    Even the fathers of the church were weak at times and had to also endure the evil one.
    Now we have at least been assured through the workings of the wonderful Popes we have had with John Paul and Benedict that the church will always remain. Both of them have used the media and every other medium to prove that the Catholic church is the only true one to embrace all of the world’s people.

  • as one person commented I echo: Confession, Mass, the Eelfucharist….and let the world blow its up and fall into hell…..or let it REPENT FAST.

    sanctuaryhouse.tumblr.com…….. CALL IT UP…

  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, a Diocese is coming unglued because it embraced dissent and New Age occultism. Visit: http://lasalettejourney.blogspot.com

  • I am wondering which diocese in Worcester Roger is talking about.Eileen George gives monthly

  • teachings there and she is veryorthodox andoutstanding catholic

  • The same diocese which hosts a “Commission for Women” which has New Age links. The same diocese where numerous children have been sexually abused. The same diocese where a Holy Cross professor (and ex priest) promotes homosexuality and is “married” to another man. I could go on but you wouldn’t accept the facts.

  • How does Eileen George feel about the College of the Holy Cross sponsoring Planned Parenthood on its campus? How about the Newman Center at Fitchburg State College promoting homosexuality as a simple variant of normal sexuality as well as homosexual “marriage”? Is she concerned that the Diocesan Commission for Women has links to Joyce Rupp? Read what Donna Steichen and other orthodox Catholics have had to say about Rupp.

    With all due respect for Eileen George, the Diocese of Worcester is losing many of the faithful (75 of 120 parishes are in economic crisis by the Diocese’s own admission) for a reason.

  • Holy Cross has engaged in homosexual agitprop:
    http://hccns.org/articles/news/081115_homosexual-promotion.htm

    Sorry Martha, Eileen George’s presence in the Worcester Diocese doesn’t justify that.

  • While I agree with your basic outline, there are two things that bother me with what you wrote: 1) The many grammatical and typing errors. Sorry, but when people have a good idea and they’re trying to communicate it, it helps to do so with correct punctuation and without typos.

    2) Whether or not people believe what Michael Brown wrote in his book or posts on his site is no indication of their adherence to the truth or lack thereof and no one should take it as such. Mr. Brown may be a Pulitzer-nominated journalist, but that doesn’t mean everything he writes is of the same quality as his work on Love Canal. Mr. Brown is not the sum total of the Catholic Faith. That comes to us from the apostles and their successors.

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  • Thomas, while you may claim to be an excellent grammarian, you might want to brush up on your reading skills. Where did I say or insinuate that Michael Brown is the sum total of the Catholic faith?

  • “Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.” A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.

  • “…self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church…” It’s the authority of the Church that’s being rebelled against. Not Michael Brown.

    Thomas, are you simply here in an attempt to wear down the author of this article?

  • No, John, I’m not. I made two observations about what I consider to be an otherwise well-constructed argument – grammar and saying that not liking Michael Brown’s book is part of the construct of rebellion.

  • No Thomas, you wrote: “A construct of rebellion implies that there’s something authoritative against which one can rebel. One cannot rebel against one who does not have authority and Michael Brown does not have authority.”

    No one said that Michael Brown is the authority being rebelled against. Instead, the author of the article wrote about, “..self appointed leaders who thought [they] knew better than the Church..” That’s the Church. Not Michael Brown.

    You are engaging in dishonesty.

  • On the contrary, John. The author writes (with my edits): “However, the pull of being accepted by the world is tough even for self-professed, orthodox-minded Catholics. For example, the secular scholarly world rolls its eyes and snickers at modern day miracles and apparitions. One of the most popular Catholic websites, Spirit Daily, is one such site that makes mention of both. However, mention you read this site and you are bound to be looked at with suspicion even in the world of orthodox-minded Catholicism…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics.”

    Hence my statement that in order to rebel, one must have something authoritative against which to rebel. Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.

  • This kind of dialogue appears to be feeding the egos of the individuals. Are we working for our own glory or God’s. I think the best road to travel is the one of Humilty and Love. Why not focus on ourselves individually and see where we are on the road of repentance and reconciliation.

    Better still why don’t we focus on Christian Unity and do positive things, – let us do the will of the Father and not our own, let us take this opportunity to love one another and at least celebrate Easter on the same date every year. At least the rest of the world will see that we are united on the essence of our faith; the death and resurection of Jesus Christ.
    It is only through unity that we will have :
    Peace, Love and Reconciliation
    Mary Joanne
    onedate.org

  • I don’t appreciate your unfair criticism Mary. I was merely attempting to defend what the author wrote. Hiw words are being twisted. There is no peace without truth Mary. It is the truth which sets us free (John 8:32), not falsehood.

  • The author wrote, “…It would seem that for some, the fear of being lumped in with those who see the Blessed Mother in every scrap of burnt toast or every dilapidated barn door holds far more sway than believing that the Blessed Mother has appeared in human history to bring attention to her Son, the Savior of us all. Sadly, the construct of rebellion is prevalent in all areas, even among some faithful Catholics…”

    What the author is saying is that because some rebel against the Church’s authority, they even reject or disregard Our Lady’s appearances to mankind. Our Lady always leads people to Jesus her Son and His Church. The author is not saying. or suggesting in any way, that Michael Brown is some sort of ersatz Magisterium of the Church or Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    To suggest otherwise is to engage in dishonesty.

  • Thomas, you are demonstrating the pedantic nature of the “lawyerly” arguments for Relativism. Argue all the brush strokes away and soon the painting itself will no longer exist for you.

  • “Just because people don’t like what Michael Brown writes — no matter how well researched it is — doesn’t mean they’re part of the construct of rebellion. I certainly accept that Mary appears in the world and that God works miracles. I don’t necessarily like Michael Brown’s approach.”

    I agree. I read Spirit Daily, probably more than I should, and I always come away from the site with confusion, not peace.

    What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval. I certainly believe Mary has and still does appear in the world, but there are so many alleged apparitions, and many of them contradict each other.

    I certainly don’t believe they should all be thrown out, but they need to be examined. Michael Brown is always going on about today’s Church “throwing out the mystical”, but I don’t believe that’s a fair claim. Why is it so “bad” to discern these apparitions, and if something about one doesn’t make sense, discard it? Why did God give us intellects if He doesn’t want us to use them?

    Michael Brown may be well-intentioned, but the net result of reading his site is confusion.

  • Elizabeth writes “What has always bothered me about Michael Brown is his very heavy reliance on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. It’s clear to me that he believes all of them, even those which have not received Church approval.”

    Elizabeth, calumny is a sin. I would refer you to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say in that regard. Mr. Brown has said – repeatedly – that we MUST accept the Church’s final decision on ANY apparition site. And this includes Medjugorje. For you to imply that Mr. Brown is someow failing to discern the authenticity of an apparition site or that he does not accept the Church’s ultimate authority is preposterous.

    Gaudium et Spes (specifically No. 28) forbids judging a person’s interior dispositions. I suggest you meditate very carefully on that teaching.

  • In Fides et Ratio, No. 16, Pope John Paul II teaches us that, “The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. Faith intervenes not to abolish reason’s autonomy nor to reduce its scope for action, but solely to bring the human being to understand that in these events it is the God of Israel who acts. Thus the world and the events of history cannot be understood in depth without professing faith in the God who is at work in them. Faith sharpens the inner eye, opening the mind to discover in the flux of events the workings of Providence. Here the words of the Book of Proverbs are pertinent: “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (16:9). This is to say that with the light of reason human beings can know which path to take, but they can follow that path to its end, quickly and unhindered, only if with a rightly tuned spirit they search for it within the horizon of faith. Therefore, reason and faith cannot be separated without diminishing the capacity of men and women to know themselves, the world and God in an appropriate way.”

    Faith and reason are described by His Holiness in this important Encyclical Letter as two lungs. Imagine how difficult it is to breathe properly with only one lung!

    Michael Brown is all for discernment of private revelation. But, along with St. Paul, he believes that we shouldn’t despise prophecy. Understand the difference?

  • peter santos: You accuse Elizabeth of sin because she expresses concerns about a Catholic writer and speaker. You accuse her of “judging a person’s interior dispositions”, and then lecture her on how she should meditate on Church documents.

    Elizabeth states that, in her opinion, Michael Brown relies heavily on non-Church approved apparitions, particularly the “1990 prophecy”. This is not judging Mr. Brown’s “interior dispositions”, but simply stating fact. On Spirit Daily, Mr. Brown mentions the “1990 prophecy” VERY frequently, and is quick to defend Medjugorje. Yes, he does state clearly that we should accept the final decisions of the Church on these matters. But, that does not negate what Elizabeth wrote.

    It seems to me that because you disagree with Elizabeth YOU assume evil motives on HER part. She says nothing in her post that would constitute the “sin” you claim she has committed. YOU are the one who has accused someone of sin because of a post. Elizabeth makes no such accusation.

    As an aside, I follow Spirit Daily and have for about 4 years now. I enjoy reading both the links and Mr. Brown’s own articles. Much discernment is needed in digesting these writings, clearly, as Mr. Brown’s opinions do not constitute official Church teaching. Stating that plain fact is NOT a sin, Peter.

  • For Elizabeth to assert that Michael Brown believes all apparitions or private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval,” is calumnious. It’s a lie. He has written against certain private revelations which were obviously false. The rest he commends to the Church.

    Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.

  • For Elizabeth (and anyone else who falsely accuses Michael Brown of accepting all apparitions), I submit the following words of Mr. Brown himself from 2005:

    Discerning Apparitions A Difficult Process

    [Q & A by Michael H. Brown]

    In the past twenty years there has been an explosion of alleged apparitions, locutions, stigmatics, and healers. Which are real and which are not?

    I would never attempt such a list, because I don’t have the authority to do so. We simply go by what the Church has decided, unless there is not yet a decision, in which case we try to exercise discernment.

    How do you tell if an apparition is real?

    This is one of the hardest questions in the world to answer. The process of what we call “discernment” is intensely complex. It’s also very personal. There is no formula. Some apparitions miss certain criteria and yet bear signs of authenticity while others seem to fill most standards but have problems at their very root. In the end, only through prayer and fasting can we get a true inkling. It is the spirit — not the mind — that discerns.

    You mean a “gut feeling”?

    No. I mean a feeling in the depths of the spirit after a period of fasting. When we fast, we are more sensitive to evil. We are more likely to know if it is present. This is very important.

    But aren’t there some tips to discernment?

    In the Bible it says that “by their fruits you will know them,” and so this is certainly one major facet. But we have to be careful about what we consider “fruits.” I have seen many cases in which people adhering to what turned out to be a deceptive circumstance had a great first impression, or even found the visit a major step in their return to the faith, to their conversion. God can take good from evil. He can draw with crooked lines. It is for that reason that we must be careful in speaking negatively about a circumstance, even if there are indications of problems; we don’t want to discourage those who have had good experiences.

    Are there often problems?

    Most claims of apparitions, visions, or locutions are a mix — in other words, there are parts that seem inspired, parts that come from the person’s subconscious, and parts that may be from a source that is deceptive or demonic. All of us are in touch with God and those who feel they have a special “line” of communication may in some cases have such a special gift, although too frequently this leads to ego, and ego leads to a person putting his or her own spin on what they think they have been “told.” This is very common, and why so many predictions do not materialize: The prophecy was not a direct communication but filtered through the ideas, preconceptions, and feelings of a person. It is the demonic component that of course concerns us the most. A demonic influence can cause not only spiritual trickery but also deep discouragement, division, and illness.

    Is divisiveness a standard of discernment?

    Certainly, it’s one. Now, remember that even with the authentic apparitions like Fatima or Lourdes or Medjugorje, which the Pope discerned as worthy of devotion (in recently publicized private letters), there is resistance. There is spiritual warfare. And that can lead to division. There will be some division. But that division usually is far outweighed by good fruits such as conversion. If division is the main effect, or if there is constant, lasting rancor, and a lack of peace, then there is a problem with the apparitions. We can also say to watch out for pride among the seers, attempts at self-promotion, and the spawning of a cult-like following. Cults in the bad sense of that term are a bad fruit (there are also holy cults, when proclaimed as such by Rome). Those who begin to exclude others because they don’t believe in a certain apparition are not in tune with the Holy Spirit, Who tells us through the Church that we don’t have to accept a private revelation. Meanwhile, we must watch for prophecies that are too gloomy and dark, that give messages of tremendous specificity, that ramble on at great length, and that contain messages threatening people who don’t believe in the particular revelation. There are some messages that have denounced anyone who won’t help purvey a private revelation. As soon as I see that, I know there is deception.

    What about those that mention the anti-christ?

    We have to weigh these with special caution. In my discernment there is truth to the coming of a personage of evil, and certainly major events, but we have to be cautious about believing that the coming scenario will exactly fit the scenarios spawned by those who have speculated on specific end-times schedules. Are we in the end times? We are at the end of an era. It is a very, very important time. It is not the end of the world. What is about to happen will fit the general prophetic pulse we have heard now for nearly 25 years (since the onset of Medjugorje, which caused an explosion in private revelation), but it will occur in ways we don’t specifically anticipate and that make sense (the feeling of, “oh, yeah, of course”) only in retrospect.

    What percent of seers are authentic?

    It’s impossible to say. What we can say is that very, very few are corporeal apparitions at the level of a Lourdes or Fatima. “Corporeal” is to see the Blessed Mother as a full-bodied, multi-dimensional apparition similar to the way we see another person: with eyes wide open. Some who claim this are imagining it, are projecting a “vision,” and a vision can be authentic, but it is not at the level of an apparition.

    How prevalent is actual demonism in alleged revelations?

    It is not uncommon. That is one way to put it. This is the fast lane of mysticism, which is one reason the Church is cautious. I might add that I am always perplexed by why a local bishop usually uses the term, “no evidence of the supernatural,” to dismiss a troublesome apparition. Often, there is plenty of evidence of the supernatural, but it’s supernaturality that is coming from the wrong source. At the same time, and overall, private revelation is of great benefit and as in Jesus’ time, among the Pharisees and Sadducees, it is sorely neglected by the official Church.

    Is the U.S. Church more closed and skeptical toward apparitions and phenomena like weeping statues than other nations?

    Yes, due to our scientific bent, much more skeptical.

    Why do you believe in Medjugorje?

    I have been there I think seven times, and I didn’t believe in it the first few hours I was there. I thought it was collective hysteria. Then I started to see phenomena myself — a lot of it — and tremendous, tremendous fruit, whereby virtually everyone who was going there was experiencing a deepening of faith or outright conversion unlike any other religious encounter with which I was familiar, just really profound and in most cases lasting. I had never seen people touched on such a massive scale. Dozens of millions have been affected in a way that can be compared only with older sites such as Lourdes or with trips to the Holy Land. Medjugorje leaves a feeling of peace and well-being and conversion.

    Whereas a false apparition?

    Another way of discerning a false apparition or a false anything is that it tends to drain you. It takes your energy. This is a hidden means of discernment: it takes more than it gives. It is temporary. This is often a good way to evaluate any situation, although like everything else in this field, there are exceptions (no foolproof means of discernment). We are very open to mysticism — it is crucial to our time and to any time — but we urge folks not to become involved in new such claims unless they are fasting and staying close to the New Testament. Daily reading of the Bible puts us in the correct frame of mind and is probably the best way to discern an apparition.

    06/27/05

    As for his acceptance of Medjugorje, there is nothing against faith there. A decision has not been made regarding that alleged apparition site. Mr. Brown has already said that he will ACCEPT THE CHURCH’S DECISION.

    Elizabeth is engaging in calumny. She should make this right.

  • I don’t understand where you’re coming from. How can you be so bold as to assume I’m in a state of mortal sin? Isn’t that up to God to judge? Not you?

    What exactly IS the “1990 prophecy”? Has it undergone Church scrutiny? Has it been submitted to any Church authorities for discernment and/or approval? I have been reading Spirit Daily for about 5 or 6 years. This is what I meant by an unapproved private revelation. There is no source and no mention of it ever being submitted to the Church.

    Medjugorje is different. It hasn’t been formally approved by the Church, but the Church is more than aware of it, so to speak. Not so with the 1990 prophecy.

    There is good on his site (his articles on Maria Esperanza, but much that leaves me, and others I’m sure, scratching their heads. There is a lot of stuff from his “mailbag” that makes me wonder. How much of this is real, and how much of it is coming from people’s overwrought imaginations? He needs to be more careful when presenting these viewpoints and some sites he links to. It’s all very confusing and doesn’t help the average person on their spiritual journey. That is all.

  • Elizabeth, Peter never said you are in “a state of mortal sin.” Your dishonesty is showing again. He wrote, “Calumny is, objectively speaking, sinful. It may even constitute grave sin. It offends against both charity and truth. It is a violation of justice.”

    You falsely accused Mr. Brown of accepting ALL private revelation, “even those which have not received Church approval.” This is – objectively speaking – calumnious. But rather than acknowledging that your post was false and unjust, you now assume a defensive posture and accuse Peter of judging your soul.

    When will your dishonesty cease? You are behaving very poorly.

  • I know what I wrote. I don’t appreciate Elizabeth’s false accusation against me.

  • This is the time I will ever read or visit this site. I’ve been accused of being a poor reader, of trying to wear down an author after a mere two posts, being dishonest, being egotistical, twisting words which were clearly written, and of being a relativist. Elizabeth comes along and gives her opinion that Michael Brown relies too heavily on Marian apparitions and personal revelation and she’s accused of calumny. There is no engagement of ideas here, only personal animus. The impression one is left with is that if one does not agree with everything written at this site, then that one is necessarily part of the construct of rebellion. Not exactly the best impression to leave with anyone.

  • Sorry, meant to say “This is the last time I will ever read or visit this site.”

  • Thomas, you’re not here to participate in a “dialogue.” Like Elizabeth, you’re here to level false accusations. Read Peter’s post of Michael Brown’s article from 2005. He does not accept all private revelation uncritically. Nor has anyone (including himself) held up Mr. Brown as “the authority” on all private revelation.

    As Christians, let us refrain from such falsehoods.

  • I will never cease to be amazed how the internet has the capacity to take a solid, well formed argument for the faith, and transform it into this demonstration of the classic “my father can beat up your father” form of analysis (or in this case, “my Mary can beat up your Mary” such as this thread has morphed into.

    Will wonders ever cease.

    Yes indeed, a great illustration of how the the internet is a wonderful tool for the faith… or is it that the internet is the place to witness the faith of tools?

  • Apparently Fr. Moyle has no problem with calumny. Maybe he should brush up on his Catechism. If this thread has “morphed” into something unproductive, it is because of unfair allegations and misinterpretations.

    Asinine comment Father. With all due respect for your priestly office. Asinine.

  • “Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2479).

    I would exhort those who visit this thread to read Michael Brown’s 2005 article on discerning private revelation and hold Elizabeth’s false accusations up to the light of truth.

  • I agree with you Peter. Where was Father Tim when Elizabeth was leveling a false accusation against Michael Brown? He chides you for exposing Elizabeth’s false accusation against Michael Brown and showing it for what it is and describes it as a “my father can beat up your father form of analysis.”

    Father is a disappointment.

  • I am closing this thread.

    In the future please stay on the topic at hand.

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Pope Benedict XVI Wishes Us All a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, AD 2009

Here is the text of Pope Benedict’s Christmas Eve Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters! “A child is born for us, a son is given to us” (Is 9:5). What Isaiah prophesied as he gazed into the future from afar, consoling Israel amid its trials and its darkness, is now proclaimed to the shepherds as a present reality by the Angel, from whom a cloud of light streams forth: “To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:11). The Lord is here. From this moment, God is truly “God with us”. No longer is he the distant God who can in some way be perceived from afar, in creation and in our own consciousness. He has entered the world. He is close to us. The words of the risen Christ to his followers are addressed also to us: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). For you the Saviour is born: through the Gospel and those who proclaim it, God now reminds us of the message that the Angel announced to the shepherds. It is a message that cannot leave us indifferent. If it is true, it changes everything. If it is true, it also affects me. Like the shepherds, then, I too must say: Come on, I want to go to Bethlehem to see the Word that has occurred there. The story of the shepherds is included in the Gospel for a reason. They show us the right way to respond to the message that we too have received. What is it that these first witnesses of God’s incarnation have to tell us?

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5 Responses to To Be Pitied More Than All Men

  • Hello,

    You say, “You also are not going to feel compelled to hold back on poking fun at the “Believers” who are pretty silly taking ‘tooth-fairy’-like beliefs into adulthood.” I’m not sure about this. Is it true that, if Christianity were not true, it would be not only false, but silly? I don’t, for example, believe that Islam is a true revelation, but it doesn’t strike me as unreasonable to believe that it is. Reading the Koran, I certainly feel that it’s a message that deserves to be taken seriously. I could say the same thing about a number of other religions and philosophies I don’t hold.

    No, I think that finding Christianity not only false but ridiculous is a sign of some sort of serious mental deficiency.

  • I agree that there is a range of reaction among non-Christians out there- I do see that much in the entertainment sector involves ridiculing Jesus and modern day wanna-be disciples- look at some of the most popular comedies- The Office, Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Daily Show/Colbert, South Park etc.. any character that is explicitly Christian is going to be made to look either simple, ridiculous, or hypocritical- and Jesus is constantly parodied- so this reaction must be reflective of something popular- I absorbed a lot of this over the years to the point where it didn’t really impact me- but lately I’ve taken more conscious notice of it and it is quite depressing to note the regularity. I remember a couple of years ago browsing comedy books and two prominent displays had George Carlin’s book where he is mocking Christ, and the guy named Black from the Daily Show had a cover shot of him mocking Jesus and Mary- now this sort of thing is just so commonplace it has to be a deeper statement on the state of our nation- the fact that we collectively are more likely to be entertained by images mocking Christianity than mocking Atheism is very telling. I would argue that we should expect the hits, and hit back but not in kind- but in a different way- one that reflects The Way- it gives the scorners an opportunity to think about their cruelty instead of just getting into another round of angry attacks back and forth- everyone establishing just how much they hate the other. I would rather pity the non-believer than react angrily- for the fact is that Christ is Real and as such those who mock Him and His Church a la Saul are at great spiritual peril- we needn’t get sucked down to their level, we should be trying to pull these poor souls up by the bootstrings- give them opportunities for conversion, not more excuses to stay on the other side of heaven.

  • One more quick note- for those who are religiously-inclined, it is pretty reasonable that they should demonstrate a measure of respect for other believers of other faiths- especially for Catholics who are taught that religion is a natural virtue, and other religious faiths have rays of truth- even as we believe that Catholicism has the fullness of truth. Someone who is agnostic/atheistic will not have this baseline of generally positive views of Religion in general- and so goes about the mocking and scorning much more intently on average.

  • Tim,

    You mention our most popular comedies in your follow up post: “The Office, Simpsons, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Daily Show/Colbert, South Park”

    The level of criticism and mockery in these shows is nowhere near the same. I don’t watch The Office, so I can’t speak to that. But The Simpsons has always struck me as respectful of Christianity, if occasionally crossing the line – and I think much of that happened in the later seasons as bad writers ran out of even mediocre ideas.

    Consider how Ned Flanders was always portrayed. His family is shown arguing over who will be the first to “anoint the sores” on a homeless man’s feet – its poking fun, but I think, in a good way. It shows the Flanders family going out of their way to live up to an ideal that few Christians actually reach. As Homer says in Ned’s defense in one episode, he hurled endless abuse at Ned, who in response “turned every cheek on his body.” He goes on to say that if everyone were like Ned Flanders, heaven would already be on Earth.

    Now, in later seasons the writers used Flanders as a punching bag, and especially his boys, who were portrayed as repressed weirdos. But Ned still retained his dignity as a Christian for the most part, even if a Protestant. And speaking of that, even the latter-season episode dealing with Catholicism directly was pretty good!

  • I’ll give the Simpson’s writers kudos for this one!

    http://najo.multiply.com/video/item/1