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.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pope St. Leo the Great on Our Lord's Ascension into heaven

"Accordingly, dearly-beloved, throughout this time which elapsed between the Lord's Resurrection and Ascension, God's Providence had this in view, to teach and impress upon both the eyes and hearts of His own people that the Lord Jesus Christ might be acknowledged to have as truly risen, as He was truly born, suffered, and died. And hence the most blessed Apostles and all the disciples, who had been both bewildered at His death on the cross and backward in believing His Resurrection, were so strengthened by the clearness of the truth that when the Lord entered the heights of heaven, not only were they affected with no sadness, but were even filled with great joy. And truly great and unspeakable was their cause for joy, when in the sight of the holy multitude, above the dignity of all heavenly creatures, the Nature of mankind went up, to pass above the angels' ranks and to rise beyond the archangels' heights, and to have Its uplifting limited by no elevation until, received to sit with the Eternal Father, It should be associated on the throne with His glory, to Whose Nature It was united in the Son. Since then Christ's Ascension is our uplifting, and the hope of the Body is raised, whither the glory of the Head has gone before, let us exult, dearly-beloved, with worthy joy and delight in the loyal paying of thanks. For today not only are we confirmed as possessors of paradise, but have also in Christ penetrated the heights of heaven, and have gained still greater things through Christ's unspeakable grace than we had lost through the devil's malice. For us, whom our virulent enemy had driven out from the bliss of our first abode, the Son of God has made members of Himself and placed at the right hand of the Father, with Whom He lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen." (from New Advent)

Praised be Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Who has conquered sin and the grave, thus reigning in heaven at Our Loving Father's right hand in glory! Come O Thy Divine Majesty in glory!

Pax Christi tecum.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marini and the New Mass

Reading this article today made me, in all honesty, quite angry. It appears to me that Archbishop Piero Marini - one of the key figures involved in the institution of the New Mass - is right out deceiving people with his words. When speaking of the traditional Latin Mass and the wider permission given for it by Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, he says,

"The pope's decision has so far not produced any change in the celebrative practice of our ecclesial communities. His gesture was only one of service to unity," Archbishop Piero Marini, who arranged papal liturgies for more than 20 years, said in an interview April 25 in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
Notice how (1) Marini is referred to as an expert since he has "arranged papal liturgies for more than 20 years" [nevermind the objective splendor or lack thereof in said liturgies] and (2) the Motu Proprio was "only one of service to unity." If you can recall, or if you read it, there was an interview with Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Here is a comment he made concerning the Motu Proprio:

The Motu Proprio, in my opinion, also operates in this sense. This is a possible boost for a necessary course correction. In fact, in certain choices of the liturgical reform effected after the Council, orientations were adopted which have overshadowed some aspects of the liturgy, better reflected in the previous praxis, because, for some, liturgical renewal was understood as something to be made ex novo. But we know well that that was not the intent of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which underlines that "any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing." (SC, 23).

There is a noticeable difference of outlook here. Marini wants the Motu Proprio to simply be a concession to those traditionalists who are locked into the past and causing "division" in the Church. Archbishop Ranjith sees it as a necessary "course correction" and that in no way can we discard the traditional Liturgy for, as he says elsewhere,

"It seems to me that there is a strong desire by the Pope to correct those temptations [which are] visible in some circles which see the Council as a moment of rupture with the past and of a new beginning."
This point is absolutely necessary. One of Pope Benedict's main goals has been to state that the Second Vatican Council can in no way be understood as a rupture to the past, as a rupture from the Tradition. Many, as we know, have taken just that perspective on the Council - that it intended to create a sort of "new church" that was breaking from the past and forging new, bold and novel practices and beliefs. Marini betrays this perspective:

"Therefore let's look ahead and let's continue with enthusiasm the path undertaken by the council," he said. [...] "Therefore this is an irreversible path," he said.
It is amazing to me how the path for the New Mass must be "irreversible" but that the traditional Mass, which nourished some of the greatest Saints and was declared could never pass away from the life of the Church by the Magisterium, could somehow be done away with, only allowed as a "service to unity" (in Marini's own words). If anything is irreversible, it is the reverence and splendor and majesty afforded to so great a God in our traditional Liturgy.

Marini also states:

"Everywhere, the liturgy desired by the council was celebrated with lively participation and enthusiasm. Everyone understood the liturgy as proper to the local church and at the same time as an expression of the universal church," he said.
It sounds as if the New Mass has just built up the Faith and that the Church is stronger than ever because of it. Everyone is full of enthusiasm about it, right? (If you've ever been to a Novus Ordo Mass that is not even remotely reverent or proper then you know as well as I do how false this "enthusiasm" can be.) Let's consider the statistics that to many of us are well known (quoted from SSPX):

Apart from marriages and baptisms, Mass attendance is the most accurate guide to the vitality of the Catholic community. The figure has plunged from 2,114,219 in 1966 to 1,041,728 in 1999 and is still falling at a rate of about 32,000 a year.

In 1944, 178 priests were ordained; in 1964, 230; and in 1999 only 43-----and in the same year 121 priests died.

In 1985, twenty years after the Second Vatican Council, bishops from all over the world assembled in Rome to assess the impact of the Council. This gave them the opportunity to admit that their implementation of it had been disastrous, and that drastic measures must be taken to give the Faith a viable future in First World countries. (emphasis mine)

Now, I am not a big defender of the SSPX and I think they should do more to be in regular communion with Rome but they are right in many of their arguments (but not all). We can see that following the Second Vatican Council, and following the allowance of the New Mass, priestly ordinations as well as attendance at Holy Mass dropped off significantly - and continues to drop. We hear so often of the vocation crisis. However the traditional groups within full communion with the Church are full of vocations! Why? Because where Christ is there is life.

All of these things could cause us to despair and to worry. If anything they should cause us to pray. But there is hope! Christ is for us and He is helping us! Look at the Pope he has given to us to lead His Church who has given us the Motu Proprio. Look how the traditional Latin Mass is now appearing in places in hadn't in so many years and how many people are flocking to them! With the traditional Latin Mass comes a strong orthodoxy in preaching and in the faith of the people which builds up the Church. The Holy Spirit truly is at work and through perhaps one of the darkest ages of the Church (which paradoxically many speak as if it were a springtime) there can yet shine new, brilliant Light!

Pax Christi tecum.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Technological progress of Babelonian proportions

I was just reading the following article, "Humanizing Animals."

It is frightening the extent to which fallen mankind will go when reason is made its god and restraint is forsaken in the name of absolute liberty. The main question this article asks is whether it would be moral to have human-animal hybrid beings who are "happy slaves." The author asks,

[...] what about uplifting animals by boosting their intelligence and physical dexterity? Uplifting animals to human-like sapience has been explored by many speculative writers.
First of all, are you really asking this question? What amazes me is that we live in an age when the idolatry of human nature is rampant, the "cult of man" takes pride of place above the true cult of God, but yet the world is attacking humanity at the same time. The world claims to care for humanity more than any other generation yet the world assails it on all sides, degrading it in ways far beyond what any other age could have dreamed.

Basically, by "uplifting" animals they are speaking of joining human nature, specifically reason and free will, into animals by these hybrid embryos. Is this idea not substantial evidence of the baseness of the state of the world? The world is actually considering becoming animals, not just in their indulgence of sin but also in their actual nature.

What of the most striking indictments in this article is this one:

However, living as a human discontented with my shortcomings, I know that it is "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n." When sufficient progress has been made later this century, I hope to have the power of choosing how to use new technologies to enhance my capacities and even at the risk of overwhelming and destroying my own identity.
The author believes it is "better to reign in hell?" Why? Because he is "discontented with [his] shortcomings." He'd rather live in that imperfection, drink to the dregs, and reign as king of the basest parts of humanity - as opposed to allowing God ("Heav'n") to overcome and help us in our shortcomings, making us a servant of the greatest Good for which we could ever hope. But he looks to progress. That is the crux of the matter. Progress.

We must ask, however, what is the essence of true progress? That is one of the greatest confusions of our age. Everyone yearns for progress but the progress they cry for is an unrestrained progress that does not know an objective, absolute moral compass. It is progress aimed at new inventions, new technologies, regardless of where they take us. We must ask, however, what is our greatest good. It is not unrestrained freedom nor free liberty but rather to do the good and to obtain eternal life with God. What progress takes us down that path? Not human-animal hybrids nor technological advances that do not assist us in pursuing the good. True progress is in very essence that which helps us attain to the good.

Evolution is a key foundation to the theories of progress such as the one reflected in this article. The author states,

Some have argued that self-aware intelligence is an ecological niche that can only be inhabited by one species. If two proto-intelligent species arise at the same time, one eventually out-competes and causes the extinction of the other. This may have happened to our Neanderthal cousins. Would uplifting animals spark a dangerous evolutionary competition for the occupation of the intelligence niche?
Competition and extinction. Hence we must progress so that we remain atop of the evolutionary food chain. Only one species can reign in this "hell" that the author details. The very idea of human-animal hybrids is supported by the idea that in the past one species advanced past others, we - they would say - became superior. Thus they may want to make these hybrids but then again they may, in the process of survival of the fittest, overcome us.

What have we become? Is the world really this confused? Has the goddess of reason really so deluded so many? What possible benefits could they see? How can they not see the immorality of it all?

If anything, it cries out for a strong support of Creationism. Regardless of micro-evolution, we cannot be silent in attacking the errors of Darwinian macro-evolution. Mankind was made by God ex nihilo. All human beings belong to Him and are responsible to Him. They cannot seek progress for the sake of progress even when it offends God. We must ask, "Will this perceived advancement assist the human community in seeking the good and remaining faithful to God our Creator?" If not, regardless of human ingenuity, it must be rejected.

We may be very well headed for some of the scariest and most degenerated ages the world has ever known. But even in the midst of the greatest darkness, the light just shines all the greater. May we all, by the grace of God, live lives that shine the light of Christ.

Pax Christi tecum.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Brett Favre: real Catholicism

I'm just going to offer one quote from this article on Brett Favre's (Green Bay Packers quarterback) faith:

"If I were to make a list, I would include the interceptions, the sacks, the really painful losses. Those times when I've been down, when I've been kicked around, I hold on to those. In a way those are the best times I've ever had, because that's when I've found out who I am. And what I want to be."

Read the article. It explains how Brett and his wife had a child out of wedlock, reject the idea of abortion, suffered through many difficulties but never questioned God's goodness ("if I asked why my father died or why Deanna has breast cancer, I would have to ask why I throw touchdown passes").

God bless you Brett and Deanna.

Pax Christi tecum.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pope Wants to Make World Youth Day a Real Celebration

A Zenit article quotes Rome's diocesan director for youth ministry as saying the following up the upcoming World Youth Day with Pope Benedict XVI:
Monsignor Mauro Parmeggiani, Rome’s diocesan director for youth ministry, explained to ZENIT that the Pope wants to transform the traditional meeting with the youth, “which was a sort of party, into a real celebration, not only an external celebration."

Now we're talking! What kind of real celebration does the Pope have in mind?
In this context the Holy Father is hosting on Thursday a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica in preparation for Palm Sunday, which is the day the dioceses of the world celebrate World Youth Day. More than 20,000 young people have signed up for the event, which is also a lead-up to the international World Youth Day, to be held July 15-20 in Sydney, Australia.

With this liturgy, Monsignor Parmeggiani explained, the Pope has one objective: “To meet God who loves. The more the sense of God grows, the more the sense of my smallness before God grows, of my impotence before God, of my sin. From this the plea arises: ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, have mercy on me because I am a sinner.’”

The priest who works with Roman youth said young people’s attitudes toward confession, “despite what one might think, is positive.”

The real celebration the Pope wants to have with youth is one of meeting God, cultivating a greater sense of God as well as our own sense of finitude and sinfulness. Penance. Repentance before the God Who loves.

God bless our Pope!

Pax Christi tecum.

God bless Bishop Devine

An article (link is in post title above) quotes Bishop Devine, from Scotland, as saying:

"I want to ask you if you are able to see the giant conspiracy that's taking place before our eyes, even if we didn't see it at the time. I take it you're beginning to see that there is a huge and well-orchestrated conspiracy taking place, which the Catholic community missed."

He went on: "In this New Year's honours list, I saw actor Ian McKellen being honoured for his work on behalf of homosexuals, when a century ago Oscar Wilde was locked up and put in jail. "It's a very small group of people, but very active and organised – and extremely indulgent. The opposition know exactly what they're doing. We don't."
Exactly right! The enemies of the Church know they want to attack and destroy her. The Church however has not taken the threat seriously. As he says, "The opposition knows...but we don't." The article states:

"Last night his views were attacked by gay rights groups, which branded them "unChristian" and "deeply out of step" with the views of ordinary Scots."
The most un-Christian thing we can do is to affirm people living in sin, to tell them "it's okay to offend God, to live an immoral life, because God will love you all the same." While it may be true that Bishop Devine's views are "deeply out of step with the views of ordinary Scots" they are not in any way "deeply out of step" with Christ Himself.

"He [Bishop Devine] said prominence had been given to the "supreme moral values of liberty and equality" replacing "truth and goodness" as supreme moral values."
Yes! Here is the crux of the matter: false views of liberty and equality have replaced moral truth and goodness. "Nevermind that terrible moral perspective, we must simply make sure everyone is free to do as they please and to be absolutely equal in the eyes of God and man in whatever they do." What a sad age indeed! On the bright side, isn't a name such as Bishop Devine fitting for a Catholic Bishop!

And Bishop Devine is chippy:

"He concluded his lecture stating: 'Like Mel Gibson, who said, 'I'm going to pick a fight', so am I.'"
Now we're talkin'! God bless you Bishop Devine! While obviously no one wants a fight, and nobody wants to have discord, but Jesus Himself said we ought not think He came to bring peace but rather a sword. It is high time the Catholic Bishops of the world took up that sword of the Gospel which divides as well as unites: those who follow Christ's teaching at any cost gathering together as one while those who oppose Christ being clearly outside of the realm of true disciples. His Divine Majesty is a Lover indeed but He is also the Strong One of Israel who cannot be defeated.

Thank you Bishop Devine. May many more Bishops have the courage and humility to speak the truth and to make the Way known.

Pax Christi tecum.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oddly enough, the Pope is not set to rehabilitate Martin Luther

Catholic News reports that Pope Benedict XVI is not ready to rehabilitate Martin Luther, contrary to previous reports.

Who woulda thought? :) That's why we don't listen to Cardinal Kasper's opinion.

Pax Christi tecum.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI: Luther Not a Heretic?

A Time Online (UK) article is stating that Pope Benedict XVI, at a seminar with 40 other theologians at Castelgondolfo, will state that he doesn't think Martin Luther was a heretic. The article states: "According to Vatican insiders the Pope will argue that Luther, who was excommunicated and condemned for heresy, was not a heretic." Now two questions come to mind: (1) who are these "Vatican insiders" (perhaps they are inter-religious "experts?") and (2) how much secular bias against the Church is embedded into this story? We have to be very tentative when we read articles such as this one that speculate what the Pope does and does not intend to do at some future event.

It is, all things considered, a curious article. It goes on to state:

"The move to re-evaluate Luther is part of a drive to soften Pope Benedict's image as an arch conservative hardliner as he approaches the third anniversary of his election next month. This week it emerged that the Vatican is planning to erect a statue of Galileo, who also faced a heresy trial, to mark the 400th anniversary next year of his discovery of the telescope."

This passage, again, is suspect. The "drive to soften Pope Benedict's image"? Has our Pope really seemed to care about his image? He angered Muslims with his Regensburg speech only to apologize for how they responded to it. He issued the Motu Proprio to the dismay of many inside and outside of the Church. All of a sudden he is concerned with his image? If I had to guess - and I'm not guessing - I'd say it is more these "Vatican insiders" (read: heterodox Bishops and Cardinals buried inside the Curia) who are most concerned with his "image."

It goes on to say:

"Cardinal Kasper said: “We have much to learn from Luther, beginning with the importance he attached to the word of God.” It was time for a “more positive” view of Luther, whose reforms had aroused papal ire at the time but could now be seen as having “anticipated aspects of reform which the Church has adopted over time”."

Here is where we issue the Cardinal Kasper alert. Notice how the article is mentioning what Pope Benedict XVI will say and do in the future yet what we get is Cardinal Kasper's personal spewings. Perhaps they are trying to give credence to his heterodox views by placing them on the Pope's coat tails. Whenever we hear him speaking from the inter-religious dialog perspective, danger follows. From experience it appears that he is most concerned with promoting peace - which most often means indifference - between religions. I believe - if I am not mistaken - he was the one who tried to weaken the blow of the new Good Friday prayer for the traditional liturgy by essentially downplaying the call for Jews to conversion. It's not as if we are going to have a mission to convert the Jews, he said (if I am not mistaken). Really? It seems as if perhaps we should.

And how can we have a "more positive" view of a heretic? Regardless of Luther's intentions (which I tend to be of the mind to think he was a very troubled, scrupulous man who fell into heresy more out of a troubled soul than out of the malice of some others, such as Mr. Jean Calvin), he ended in heresy. God judges his soul, not me (thankfully), and I will in no way guess as to his eternal fate. However, because of Truth and of care for souls, we cannot have a "more positive" view of heretics. To do so lends credence, or at least tolerance, to falsehoods which can lead people to not fully evaluate the dangers of the error. "If the Pope thinks Luther isn't a heretic," some may reason, "then I guess Protestantism isn't all that bad after all."

What is apparent in this article - for whatever scant morsels of reality may be found in it - is that the greatest concern is "to promote ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Protestants" and to "soften Pope Benedict's image as an arch conservative hardliner as he approaches the third anniversary of his election next month." These two concerns should be far down the list - if they even make the list - of the Vicar of Christ on earth. The greatest goal must be to preach the Gospel, to make the Truth (Who is Christ) absolutely crystal clear, to glorify God and to speak the truth (in charity and humility) for the salvation of souls. We cannot compromise for the sake of "ecumenical dialogue" or even worse, for the sake of image. The idea of acting for the sake of dialogue or image sounds more like the errors of the modern world dictating ecclesial priorities rather than the glory of God and the care for souls.

One can only wonder what these "Vatican insiders" would have planned for Jesus' image if they had been alive at that time. Perhaps they would think they could hurry him into being a political power who would overthrow the Romans. Maybe they would issue statements on the cleansing of the temple in an attempt to make Jesus' image less harsh. Whatever they would have done in the past - whoever they are - they sure do cause enough difficulties for Christ and His disciples in our own day and time.

O Lord, cleanse and strengthen Your Church so that she may faithfully and uncompromisingly preach and teach the Truth. Send faithful workers to Your harvest field. Miserere mei.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Can we find Carmel, even in the world?

It's been awhile since I've last posted on here - partly because I've yet to get this whole blog thing going (which means no one is really reading anything I post haha) and partly because I've not had the time. Lately, however, I've been delving deep into Carmelite spirituality. It is a spirituality to which I am deeply and powerful drawn. It is a fit with me and God's work in my life. Hopefully soon I'll read the rule for the Secular Discalced Carmelites. I've thought many times of looking into becoming a secular Carmelite and hopefully soon I'll look even more into it. But as I read St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus - while their words can inflame even the coldest heart with love for His Divine Majesty - I wonder: can someone in the world find Carmel there too? No doubt the answer must be affirmative, even if it is the more difficult path to the mount. The seculars take promises, called vows, of Obedience and Chastity (in accord with their state in life). They live out a certain rule of life. The purification of the senses and the night for the appetites that St. John teaches surely can be sought in the world albeit with far greater difficulty. The ascent of Mount Carmel must be able to be had by those in the world since the perfection of charity is the goal of all Christians. It reminds me of the words of St. Catherine of Genoa when she was tested by a friar who had said he could love God more than herself because of his vow to a religious life: "If I believed that your habit would add one spark to my love, I would not hesitate to tear it from you, if I could obtain it in no other way. Whatever you merit more than I, through the renunciation you have made for God's sake, and through your religious life, which continually enables you to merit, I do not seek to obtain; these are yours; but that I cannot love God as much as yourself, you can never make me believe." (Chapter XIX of her Life and Doctrine). Yes, may it please God, I - and us all - can dwell in Carmel even in the world because it is the call of Christ that we love Him. May we all, by His grace, love Him more with each passing breath.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Von Balthasar and the New Theologians

I came across this passage from the New Oxford Review article, "Whatever Became of Hell" by Hurd Baruch. The article states:

"One of the leaders of the attack on the actuality of eternal damnation was the late Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. He tried to overturn the literal language of the Gospels and 20 centuries of Tradition by proclaiming not only that we should hope that all men are saved, but that there are grounds in Scripture for believing that they are saved. Our late Holy Father, John Paul II, who was much taken with von Balthasar's ideas..."

Now, one theologian I greatly admire, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, fought vigorously against these New Theologians. He saw in them something dangerous. Where I studied theology, Von Balthasar and his ilk are exalted. They are exemplars. However it is not uncommon to find some novelty in their theologies. Here is one such example. It is widely known that Von Balthasar made this assertion, that not only should we hope for the salvation of all but that we can believe it. He may have known just how to tip-toe so as to not incur the anathema of the Church, who has rejected the idea of universalism. As Hurd notes, our late Pope John Paul II was especially beholden to Von Balthasar.

These are the theologians many of her orthodox Catholic universities extol and lift up, those who fancy novelty more than the traditions of our Faith. It is sad that a respected theologian would say that we have ground to believe that all will be saved.

In closing, it is good to recall the visions Our Lord grant to St. Faustina as recounted by Hurd in his article:

Sr. Faustina, as set forth above, related in her diary her detailed vision of Hell, and wrote that the number of souls she saw falling into the abyss was "so great that it was impossible to count them," and that "most of the souls there are those who disbelieved that there is a hell." She further related that Jesus had said to her: "There are souls who despise My graces as well as all the proofs of My love. They do not wish to hear My call, but proceed into the abyss of hell. The loss of these souls plunges Me into deadly sorrow. God though I am, I cannot help such a soul because it scorns Me; having a free will, it can spurn Me or love Me."

The belief in the reality of eternal damnation is part of our Faith, not because we are pessimists or because we're especially gloomy, but because we are hung up on truth and reality. We cannot dismiss those souls who reject Christ and who remain in sin until and including their death. It is necessary for us to not reject it so as to have a proper outlook on life, to view sin with the necessary hatred, to abhor evil and to fear the One Who is to be Our Judge - the One Whom we hope will accept us in His mercy so long as we follow in His ways.

Oh that Our Lord would grant us, in His great good, true theologians who will be faithful to the Tradition before them, free of novelties and inventions! Many good things are happening in the Church. More and more people are seeing the emptiness and deception of these novelties and errors. Let us always pray to the Lord for His salvation in troubled times. At all times He is our refuge and our hope.

Pax Christi tecum.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Condoms and the spread of immorality

We've all heard it, haven't we? "There must be a change in the opinion of the church regarding contraception in HIV-laden countries." Or perhaps "condoms will help our young people be more responsible and protect them from harm." Isn't it amazing how those wolves come dressed as sheep? I wonder if they get a bulk discount on their wool orders.

There is an interesting blurb in the New Oxford Review about protests angered at the idea of installing condom vending machines in one part of India. One of the arguments noted in the article is that access to condoms will “degrade women and corrupt the young.” These are Muslim women. Women! They are not so deceived as many American women to cry out for their reproductive rights and to have control over their own bodies.

Here is another great quote from the New Oxford Review article:

"
M.H. Jawahirullah, who heads the Muslim Progressive Party, says, 'We must fight AIDS, but these machines at public places will only promote sex outside marriage among the younger generation.'"

You know, they're right. Contraception does degrade women, corrupt the young and encourage pre-marital relations. It degrades women because it views them as something to be used - as a means for pleasure - and does not respect their person nor their body. It degrades women by allowing a man to have the utmost intimacy with her but have no commitment whatsoever (as would be given in the marital "until death do us part"). Contraception degrades women by valuing their body while disregarding their person.

It corrupts the young by essentially saying it is okay to have pre-marital relations so long as you use "protection." It makes it easier for the young to consider pre-marital relations because the main fruit of those relations, i.e. the child, is no longer a concern. If a person had to think of the possibility of a child then they may respect the act much more than to engage in it casually and without marital commitment.

Chastity and marriage, on the other hand, values the person to the utmost degree. Chastity says: "I respect you and therefore I cannot use you for my own selfish ends." Each spouse, in marriage, says "I will be faithful to you, to love you, until death do us part." While it is true that either spouse can be used within the marital state, and that is still a danger for fallen man to overcome, the commitment leads to respect of the person. By saying that your entire lives are not enjoined, as one flesh, then both individuals are respected. They are so worthwhile that each spouses intends to spend the rest of their earthly existence giving themselves only to this one person. So long as contraception does not enter into marriage, and the primacy of reproduction is maintained, then relations have a lesser chance of denigrating into use because the act is not engaged apart from reason. It cannot be denied however that the desire for selfish use is still a temptation - and each spouse must struggle against it, by grace - but there is nothing inherent that would aim toward selfish use as is the case when contraception is employed.

While many of the wolves in our own Church have said that an allowance needs to be made for contraception in the case of HIV/AIDS, the true shepherds do not waver. What is the answer for the plague of HIV/AIDS? Chastity. It is little wonder that God would punish someone for their sins. That is why we believe there is a hell for those who do not repent and come to the mercy of Christ. That is why our Sacred Scriptures tell us that God chastises those He loves, not because He has an eye at watching them suffer but because His desire is for their repentance.

While many in our country attack Muslims as evil because of the terrorism caused by a radical minority, the fact remains that on many moral issues they surpass many Americans. They do not condone abortion or contraception. If only Americans would cry out as fiercely as these Muslims and if only our leaders, our entire country, would see the truth and turn from the error of their evil ways. God is merciful, loving and forgiving when we return to Him in repentance and genuine contrition.

May our country, by the grace of God, stop the degradation of women, the corruption of youth and the encouragement to immorality that comes from a contraceptive mentality.