Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Tragedy of Dissent

In this article, Cardinal Stafford explains the happenings of the very unfaithful dissent around Humane Vitae. It's very interesting and sheds great light on a very turbulent time.

Pax Christi tecum.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Social ills" with a side of Pelagianism

This new story at CNS is interesting. It's about a Jesuit journal - and this part may be difficult to believe - defending - that's right, I said defending - the traditional seven deadly sins. Near the beginning the CNS article notes,
The seven deadly sins are still key to understanding and healing the social and personal ills plaguing humanity today, said an influential Jesuit journal.

Now, here is the problem: "key to understanding and healing the social and personal ills plaguing humanity today." What about God? What about the soul in relation to God? The problem is that the main problem with these mortal sins is that they offend God and in fact separate the soul from communion with Him. They offend His Divine Majesty and while He desires to gather us in as He did with Jerusalem, He will not when we choose to live in mortal sin.
It seems to me an axiom of the modern world that all that matters is what affects other people and how someone's actions affect the entire human community. God is left out of the equation. What people focus on is "the social and personal ills" and forget about our one Good Who is offended.

At the end of the article the followed is stated:

The journal said reflecting on vice is not pessimistic but hopeful because it presupposes a "great faith in the freedom and goodness of humankind," which is able to recognize good and act on it.

I find this part problematic, et tu? This paragraph asserts that man is able to recognize the good and act on it. Can every man recognize the good and act on it on his own? The writer of this article may be assuming - and I would be assuming by even mentioning it - that the reader understands the necessity of Christ and the grace His gives to us as a remedy for the effects of the Fall. Man, in his fallen state, has a darkened intellect and a weakened, "downward bent" (to use the words of St. Paul) will. Can he really simply recognize the good and act on it? Apart from Christ, and apart from grace, no he cannot.

This Pelagianism - this optimism concerning man's nature - plagues the modern world. It is a general belief that man can just "be good" in order to get to heaven, that every man can just seek and do the good. Apart from grace we can do nothing. Christ said: "Apart from Me you can do nothing." Mortal sin, those seven deadly sins that the article is about, creates more blindness and further weakening of the will the more it is indulged. Especially in our depraved world it is foolish to think people, and their consciences, can so easily recognize the good.

What is the true answer? Conversion. Not just conversion to "environmental concerns" or conversion for "the good of humanity." What is necessary is true contrition before God our true Source, before His Divine Majesty Our Lord Jesus Christ Who is coming again to judge the living and the dead. In the words of Our Lord to St. Faustina we know that He desires to come to us as Divine Mercy before He comes as Divine Justice. That Divine Mercy is the only way we can recognize the true good and to act on it. It is His Holy Passion and Holy Cross that are our salvation and apart from them, apart from Him, we cannot hope to know and accomplish the good. Man needs salvation. Man needs Christ.

Each of us, I am sure, can relate to the Apostle who says that what he wants to do he does not but that which he does not want to do, that he does. Poor wretched man, he exclaims! It sounds quite dire until we join with the Apostle to realize that Jesus suffered and died, rose again and ascended to Our Father, so that we can be saved and restored, made into that man who truly sees and truly does what is good.

Pax Christi tecum.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Our Lady to Rosario Toscano at Belpasso: sufferings offered to Our Lord become sweet roses

On Wednesday June 18, 1986 Our Lady said the following to Rosario Toscano:

Sufferings are thorns, but if offered to Jesus they are roses.
There is no need to grumble, because Jesus has suffered more than anyone else, and He complained so little.
Jesus grants you His love when you offer Him the humiliations that you receive.
Jesus offers you His love when you offer Him the insults that you receive.

Offer to Jesus every bad deed you receive, and tell Him that it is for the sake of His love that you receive it, and that you offer it to Him for the conversion of sinners, and that in Him you find comfort.

This message is a beautiful exhortation on how to accept and offer our sufferings to Our Lord Who suffered more than we could ever know or grasp. If we could just accept the sufferings of each and every day, realizing that they feel as thorns but when we offer them to Our Lord they are made into beautiful roses, what couldn't we endure joyfully?

Everything is Jesus' and when we offer everything to Him, we find, as Our Lady tells us, His love. In a world in desperate need of conversion to Christ, what difference could each of us make by offering our daily sufferings for the conversion of sinners? It's Our Lady's call to us. May we head our messages as God sends her for the sake of our souls.

Pax Christ tecum.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Vision for 2058: God is Dead

A collection of essays entitled "The Way We Will Be 50 Years From Today," edited by Mike Wallace, is recounted at this news site. Here is the final conclusion of what we can expect from the year 2058 and the "progress" the world will make:

20 PREDICTIONS FOR 2058

1. We'll all know our personal DNA sequencing, allowing medical treatments and health-prevention strategies to be tailored to our genetic profiles.

2. Life spans will reach triple digits as we learn to reprogram cells to compensate for failing organs.

3. Five to 10 percent of children will be born with genetic enhancements, speeding human evolution. Part of the motivation will be to keep up with fast-evolving artificial intelligence.

4. The recognition that infection causes most chronic diseases will lead to vaccines against schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, heart disease, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, dental caries, autism and some cancers. AIDS will be eliminated.

5. Pets such as cats, hamsters and birds will become rare as it becomes clear that animals are a major source of transmission of chronic diseases. The exception is dogs, which have lived with humans and shared their pathogens for 14,000 years.

6. Hand-held neuroimagers will reveal when people are lying.

7. People must have government approval to marry and have children, based on their genetic compatibility, or face a huge tax burden for any sick or disabled children they produce in defiance of a ban.

8. Children of the baby boomers will work into their 70s because of a labor shortage -- and because they can.

9. The merger of real and virtual worlds will allow people to meet holographically and to feel, smell and taste products they buy online.

10. Nanotechnology will let us turn information files into physical products. For example, we can e-mail a toaster and print it out on a desktop "nanofactory."

11. Integrated, hand-held devices will coordinate appointments, track family members, even plan vacations by matching our wish list of destinations with free blocks of time. Many people will vacation in virtual worlds.

12. Global interdependence will allow people, capital and information to flow freely across borders, eroding the power of nation-states. Simultaneous translation will let us talk with people of any language.

13. Goodbye, privacy. Data from cameras, biometrics (retinal scans, fingerprints, face recognition software), full body scans and perhaps microchip implants will be sent to intelligence "fusion" centers to tell governments where people are going and what they're doing in the public realm.

14. We may be able to add memory to human brains, just as we do to old computers, and download human memory into remote storage devices.

15. Thanks to research begun in the early 2000s, a child who is born blind can have nerve signals wirelessly rerouted to the brain's auditory cortex, which will process both sight and sound. A child born deaf will undergo a similar procedure, routing impulses from the ear to the brain's visual cortex.

16. Nanotechnology will allow paralyzed people to walk. Molecules injected into the spinal cord will form into nanofibers that prevent scar tissue and promote new cell growth.

17. People can get artificial retinas that let them switch (simply by thinking) between "reality" mode and virtual reality, including the ability to see real events in other locations -- say, checking on Mom in the nursing home.

18. Handshakes and other types of human contact will be reserved for family members to avoid spreading disease.

19. Animal diseases such as mad cow will reduce meat consumption and lead to germ-free, engineered meat.

20. We will understand the origins of life and re-create it in the laboratory.

The last entry may be the darkest of them all and seems to really disclose the hearts of those who dream, and hope for, such diabolical "progress." Essentially, they say, we will be like God in that we will re-create life ourselves. It harkens back to the desire of Lucifer: "I will be like the Most High." If we ever wonder where such ideas as mixing humans and animals comes from, or where it aims to go, it is this end: to be a god. This desire is the height of pride and of human depravity. In a world that attempts to turn away from God, to reject Him and pretend as if He does not exist - replacing Him with the pagan goddess of reason and progress - it is little wonder that they attempt to do and be everything that is particular to His divine Being.

Notice, too, that everything that is human is destroyed. We won't see like a human being is created to see, we'll be able to switch between a variety of realities or see activities occur somewhere else. Omniscience anyone? If there is no God, they reason unknowingly, then let's obtain what we attribute to Him - such as seeing events occuring elsewhere. Instead of dying, let's live forever in this world, they posit. If there is no God, then all that is left to hope for is happiness in this world. Instead of allowing God to heal all disease and sickness, if not in this world then in the next, let's fix it ourselves. And what is missing? The solution to sin and evil. Then again sophisticated modern man had explained those two negations away long ago. Who believes they even exist in our day and age? This list is concrete evidence that they do.

These "inventions" or attempts at a false form of progress are interesting because they attempt to make everything natural and to reject the supernatural - or rather, perhaps, to obtain the supernatural in a natural way. In rejecting God they have rejected the idea that grace can build upon nature, that man can become supernatural by co-operating with the Divine Being. They do not want to acknowledge God's sovereignty, His power and His essential nature so they attempt to seek all these ends in nature alone. Man then loses his true end. None of these attempts at progress will fulfill man because they reject his true end: the supernatural life of grace that is the seed of glory in heaven with God. Only in God is man fulfilled and only by God's grace does man make true progress.

People are overwhelmingly alone, depressed, anxious and angry in our day and age. Children kill children. Psychotropic medications are on the rise because of "mental disorders." Why? It is all a natural, material problem these men claim. Could it not be that the world being created, the view of society that is being established, does not have as its aim the true fulfillment of man? Could it be that our modern world is rejecting man's true and right last end, thus making him more and more dark, further away from that which will satisfy him? Could it be that all this "progress" is not fitting with God's will for man?

We live in sad times. Happily, as St. Thomas More has said, there is never an age so dark and so evil that men cannot live good in it. We need good men and good women, those formed not by the spirit of our age but by the Spirit of Truth. We need true Saints today more than ever before. The world is becoming darker and more diabolical. It appears satan is getting more power than ever before. But let us hope! Our Lord has overcome this world! He is the Strong One and satan is a wretched created being whose end is already determined. Let us live in faith, in hope and in love. Let us live in God, not in this world.

Pax Christi tecum.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tony Blair's new mission to unite the religions of the world

This Telegraph article details former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's new mission to unite the religions of the world. Mr. Blair is quoted as saying:

In an interview with Time magazine, Mr Blair said faith could be “a civilising force in globalisation”, bringing different peoples together to solve the world’s problems.

The disturbing phrase there is "globalization." Religion is often seen as a dividing force in societies and the world at large. We should not be disturbed by this fact since this world is made up of those who believe and who do not, those who are of the Church and those who are outside of the Church (even though God knows those who truly as of the Church, as St. Augustine notes in the City of God). Jesus Himself stated that we ought not think He came to bring peace but rather a sword. A sword divides and cuts. Those who claim that Jesus is concerned with unity to the detriment of truth are in grave error.

Jesus is concerned with unity but the unity He gives us of belief and of faith. Those who believe in Him and who follow Him are united in His mystical Body, His Church. They are one, which is why they share of the Most Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. The Sacrament is one of unity. Those who dissent from Church teaching, those who reject Christ, those who reject Christ's Church, cannot partake of this glorious Bread of Heaven because they have chosen to remain outside of that unified Body of Christ. That is the sword. Some find Jesus as a stumbling block, or as a scandal, and hence He becomes a cause for division in this world.

What is Christ's will for us all in the world? His will is unity in faith in Him. His desire is that all would come to Him, find new life in Him, and thus be born anew into His Church. He desires those who believe in Him to listen to His Apostles and their successors. That is where unity is found.

However, the idea of uniting the religions of the world is extremely dangerous and problematic. What of those who reject Christ and those who believe in Him? Ought they be united? Should darkness and light be brought together? What happens to truth? In this scenario truth is sacrificed to the god of earthly unity.

The article notes:

He added: “The purpose of it is so that we achieve a greater understanding between the different religious faiths, so that we make platforms for action by those faiths and deal with some of the biggest issues in the world — for example the millennium development goals and so on — it should be an interfaith encounter through action."

Is there anything wrong with people of different religions working together to help those in need? Not necessarily. The question is how does this contribute, or detract, from how we view those religions? Is it leading to indifference about what these religions believe? The idea of achieving "a greater understanding between the different religious faiths" most often means downplaying the tenets of each one. I think it is safe to say in a world with such a profound dissemination of information that we understand a lot of what each other believes. The real issue underlying this idea, I believe, is the division of religions. Liberal politicans and those who do not hold the true Faith often think that since we all believe in the same God, or so they think, then there is no reason we should be so divided. That idea begs the question, however, if we do serve the same God. What we believe is based on the One we serve. If our beliefs differ then we have a different understanding of God.

One striking quote near the end of the article is the following:

“What faith can do is not tell you what is right but give you the strength to do it.”

This statement betrays the problem. He is saying, basically, that God doesn't lead us into truth but rather just helps us do whatever we seem to think is good. Truth isn't paramount. There is no obedience to God, Who is Truth. Absolutely Mr. Blair errs here because God does tell us what is right and wrong. The true Faith does inform us of the truth, since it brings us into deep communion with the One Who is Truth. His words betray the fact that "greater understanding between the different religious faiths" really means a unity that disregards and forsakes truth since faith cannot tell is what is right. If faith cannot help us know what is right then the true religion cannot know the truth either. That is a grave error.

Mr. Blair's vision would "show the importance of co-operation between faiths, and it would show what faith can do for progress.” Progress. Globalization. Faith unable to tell us what is right. Greater understanding between faiths. Where do these ideas lead us? Honestly, it is not a very long leap to a one world religion in a globalized world that does not tolerate the true Faith and does not accept those who claim that their Faith - the true Catholic Faith - does in fact lead them to know the truth and to truly know God.

May Our Lord lead all souls to Himself so that they may know the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church, that they may know the truth and enjoy the true unity that comes in the true faith.

Pax Christi tecum.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Message from Our Lady in Belpasso to Rosario Toscano

The following was said on June 18th, 1986 by Our Lord to Rosario Toscano at Belpasso in apparitions (quote taken from Spirit Daily) that have been favorably accepted by the local Archbishop:

My dear children, I am glad to have your prayers, they are very useful for your souls.
Continue to pray for the conversion of the world.
This is what I say to the world: convert and do so in the name of Jesus.
It is already too late now; there is no more time for taking care of the body.
Think of purifying your souls, go to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist: He is your salvation.
Many men with their superficiality and lust for greatness offend the Lord.
Who is like God? No one is like God.
The men of little faith and the atheists must pay attention: the real blissful life is in heaven.
Do not think that God does not exist.
God has always been and will always be, forever, and He has created you as an act of love, mercy and goodness.
So, adore Him, praise Him and glorify Him, pray to Him to grant you the grace of enjoying the eternal reward, and promise Him faith, humility and prayer.
Do all this in His name and for His greater glory.

It's a very worthwhile message. For those who discount or reject the role of Our Blessed Mother - especially Protestants - it reminds us that she comes only in the name of her Son and only to draw souls to her Son. Nothing in this message is about pointing people only to her. What is her message? Convert - and convert to Christ. In a day and age when people think conversion isn't necessary, that everyone is going to heaven, she comes with a specific call for people to convert to Christ in faith.

She says, "It is already too late now; there is no more time for taking care of the body." These messages were given in the late 1980's. It is reminder that the days are short, that we know not the hour at which Our Lord will return. May we not be one of those who finds the Bridegroom return only to find us without oil for our lamps! Our poor little lamps - our poor little souls - how they need to be aflame with the grace of God, with the love of Christ! Watch and pray, Our sweet Lord warns us, so that we may not be led into temptation and be led astray. Watch and pray.

Finally, her goal is clear in her closing call: "Do all this in His name and for His greater glory." Glory God, she says, and do everything in Him and for Him.

We have so many calls by Our Mother to convert, to pray, to do penance. The Fathers said that an age of Mary would precede the return of Our Lord. The time is short - whether that time be 1 hour, 1 day, 1 year or 100 years. Our Lord will return. May He, in all His great mercy for poor sinners, strengthen us to be faithful to Him.

Pax Christi tecum.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Protestantism and Divorce: Is it any wonder?

As I was perusing the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on the Sacrament of Marriage, found here, I was struck by some quotes from the Protestant "Reformers". Jean Calvin states,

"Lastly, there is matrimony, which all admit was instituted by God, though no one before the time of Gregory regarded it as a sacrament. What man in his sober senses could so regard it? God's ordinance is good and holy; so also are agriculture, architecture, shoemaking, hair-cutting legitimate ordinances of God, but they are not sacraments" (from Institutes, IV, xix, 34; quoted from New Advent).
Luther, who also said that Holy Matrimony is much like any other natural institution and hence governed by worldly authority, said the following:

"Marriage may therefore be a figure of Christ and the Church; it is, however, no Divinely instituted sacrament, but the invention of men in the Church, arising from ignorance of the subject" (from the original edition of "De captivitate Babylonica"; quoted from New Advent).
Ought we really to wonder why divorce is accepted and so widespread in most of Protestantism? Marriage, the original "Reformers" (used lightly), is nothing different than any other natural institution, such as, in the words of Calvin, shoemaking. It is t merely natural and thus governed by natural authorities. If marriage is contracted before a natural authority, then why can't it be broken by the same natural authority? Also, if it is only natural then why is ending a marriage that big of a deal?

Holy Matrimony is, however, a true sign of the relationship between Christ and His Church. The Holy Catholic Church thinks very highly of marriage, following her Divine Head, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He taught that in marriage the two become one flesh therefore they cannot be joined to some other person without committing adultery. Divorce, He teaches, is not acceptable and was only allowed as a concession for hardheartedness in the Old Covenant. Is this really just shoemaking?

By the very fact that the Apostle says that marriage is a great mystery, that it relates to the mystery of Christ and the Church, reveals that marriage signifies something much more than just a natural institution. True, it is natural and the primary end is procreation. However the Church teaches us that the goal is not just to populate this earth but to populate heaven with Saints.

Holy Mother Church teaches us that Christ so valued Holy Matrimony as to make it a Sacrament. He endowed it with grace so that what was only a natural institution could be elevated to the supernatural, the love of spouses could be raised to supernatural charity and the procreation of children could result in the salvation of little souls for Heaven. Shoemaking could never have such glorious ends. Truly in Holy Matrimony the spouses seek the glory of God, perfection of divine charity in the family, and ultimately the salvation of all the souls involved. The family then is called to truly be a natural sign of the love of the Most Holy Trinity - a life of sacrifice, of self-giving and of singular commitment.

When Holy Matrimony is compared to shoemaking, and when it is denied that it is a Sacrament (as if God would never pour out His divine Grace upon something so natural), is it any wonder what happens to the union? It definitely will not be exalted and extolled to the extent that God desires. It risks being denigrated into something that can be changed or altered, being that it is only something natural. The dignity of the sacrifice and committed union of spouses in a lifelong vow becomes something far less divine, far less important.

I'm not claiming that every Protestant will follow this slippery slope, that every Protestant marriage will easily fall into divorce, or something like that. I am saying that the dignity of Holy Matrimony cannot help but be lessened when the Sacrament is lost. When people do not believe that it is raised and strengthened and dignified by God's grace, then something most be lost. Obviously the divine assistance of the Sacrament is lost when the Sacrament is forsaken but beyond that it becomes then just something of nature - and what in nature exhorts me that it cannot be ended for a variety of reasons?

Praised be Our Lord Jesus Christ for raising this sacrificial union of spouses, which is mysteriously related to Christ's love for His Church, to the dignity of a Sacrament. Truly such a wonderful union cannot be broken in this life - just as Christ's union with His Church cannot end.

Pax Christi tecum.