We’ll be taking the rest of the week off (resume blogging December 2) to enjoy Thanksgiving, so from all of us to you and yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
We’ll be taking the rest of the week off (resume blogging December 2) to enjoy Thanksgiving, so from all of us to you and yours, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
A wonderful sermon for this day from one of my favorite Catholic blog sites: Rorate Caeli at https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/
“It was just after time was created from eternity, when even before the earth was created, in fact long before that, that heaven was created, as that place to receive those in time into eternity, Come ye blessed of my Father and inherit the Kingdom. But to create something out of nothing, this act must entail a risk, a risk that what has been created as good, what has been created from Love itself, may turn away from love and exult in its own being as being created. And there were only the created spirits, those later called angels, who were created to give glory to God, these were the inhabitants of this created heaven, whose purpose was the eternal praise and worship of God. And one of these created beings, one of these angels, discovered his freedom, his freedom given by God his creator, but he realized that this freedom gave him the power to say No. And so this is what he said to God: Non serviam. I will not serve you. To serve is to be a slave and I will not be the slave of God. Non serviam. The ultimate words against the creation by Love for Love.
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—
“And it is Michael who personally fights against the dragon who is Lucifer, Lucifer who chose darkness instead of light, and it is Michael the Archangel who defeats Lucifer who has become a dragon, the anti-Christ, and it is Michael before the final blow that defeats the devil asks the question of Lucifer himself, “Who is like God?” And this question is what Michael’s name means. And it is with this question that this great Archangel and warrior hurls Lucifer into that hell then created for those whose lives say: Non serviam.
“The Garden was perfect. There was no need to work. The only obligation was to be, to be in this paradise created for the first man and woman. This special place had been created by God for the man and woman made in his own image. Male and female he created them. And God loved this man and woman he had created In his own image and because he loved them he gave them free rein over everything in the garden, everything except one tree, the Tree of Knowledge, for God knew that to eat of this fruit would be the end of their innocence and bring in the power of death, that power of Lucifer. So one day she was walking by this tree, and a serpent spoke to her. She probably thought that it was unusual for a serpent to speak. But one has to be open to such things.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate.
“You will be like God. You will be like God. The ultimate temptation. The ultimate temptation that leads to sin and death. But there is no champion present in this garden. The test of the man and the woman made in the image of God must be made in the silence of freedom. But the silence is broken by the laughter of the devil that rang through hell at this very moment in time.
“It was the seventh century and a Benedictine monk had been elected Pope by the name of Gregory. He had to deal with the aftermath of the fall of the Roman empire. The city was in terrible shape. There was no civil government that could bring order out of chaos. So this Benedictine monk who never asked to become the bishop of Rome had to become not only the spiritual leader of the city of Rome but also its secular leader. The heart of the faith of the people was the Mass that had developed in form from the time of the Apostles, and the Mass celebrated by Pope Gregory already in the seventh century was essentially in form and substance the Mass we celebrate here today. To make his task even more onerous a terrible plague broke out in Rome. Thousands were dying. So Gregory organized a procession through the streets of Rome imploring God through the intercession of the martyr saints of Rome to end this terrible plague. And as they passed the emperor Hadrian’s tomb near the Tiber, Gregory saw a vision of Saint Michael the Archangel over the tomb in which the Archangel put his sword into its sheath. And Gregory understood that the prayers of the people had been answered and the plague ceased. And Hadrian’s magnificent tomb was renamed Castel Sant’ Angelo, the fortress of the Holy Angel.
“I knew I was dying. The illness had not been long, but at my age it took its toll. This is the time when the question of faith becomes deeply existential and real. It is easy when one is young and healthy to mumble words in a creed about the resurrection of the dead. It is not that one does not believe it, but it is not something urgent, of the moment. It is always in the future. But there I lay now surrounded by my family and some friends. There was a moment of deep weakness, when I lost my sense of my surroundings, and I knew that the most important event in my life was about to happen. The prayer to St Michael fixed itself in my brain: St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle. Yes, the ultimate battle is at death, when the fallen angel, Satan, and minions, try to claim the body and soul of one who has died. There was war in heaven. And now there is war as I die from time into eternity. And as a priest I remembered so vividly the words I read at every Requiem Mass at the Offertory.
“O Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory,deliver the souls of all the faithful departedfrom the pains of hell and from the bottomless pit:deliver them from the lion’s mouth,that hell swallow them not up,that they fall not into darknessbut let the standard-bearer holy Michaellead them into that holy light: Which thou didst promise of old to Abraham and to his seed.”
“And then I died. I entered into a blackness, but I could hear a furious activity that sounded like beating wings. I became frightened. But then I saw in the distance a light that penetrated the darkness and the noise. And as the light approached I saw the Archangel Michael fighting off the powers of darkness with his sword. And he grasped me in his arms and carried me towards the light from which he had come. And I became aware, oh, so intensely aware, of the prayers of so many I knew speeding me on towards the light, I heard the many Masses that were said and would be said for me like a chorus that combined the chant I knew and loved with the music of Josquin, of Ockegham, of Victoria, of Mozart, of Fauré, of Duruflé. And Michael held me and brought me to the place, or rather the state, where the residue of my sins would be scoured. And then I understood the reality of hope and its meaning for life. And more than this I cannot say.”
Retrieved Sunday September 29, 2019 from https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2019/09/michaelmas-sermon-saint-michael.html
A very nice article from Catholic World Report.
Ps 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14-17
Phmn 9-10, 12-17
“Writing about a prominent televangelist, I once half-jokingly observed that the “only” topics the preacher in question never discussed for fear of offending his listeners were “Jesus, sin, salvation, hell, Cross, Satan, and the Final Judgment.”
“Although some televangelists are associated with “conservative” forms of Christianity, their pandering and sensational versions of pseudo-Christianity are similar in content—or lack of content—to the theologically liberal Christianity described seventy years ago by Protestant theologian H. Richard Niebuhr. He dryly described the mushy message of Christianity-lite in this way: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”
“The appeal of this spirituality without reference to sin, salvation, hell, and the Cross is understandable, even if the use of the term “Christian” to describe it is indefensible. Scripture, not to mention Tradition, contradicts such “easy believism” and “cheap grace,” to borrow a term from another Protestant author, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was murdered by Nazis for refusing to renounce his belief in Jesus Christ. Every Christian who has died rather than reject Jesus as Savior and Lord gives concrete witness to the words spoken by Jesus in today’s Gospel: “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
“This passage from Luke’s Gospel is difficult, even unnerving. St. Augustine wrote that Jesus’ statement about hating father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters seems contradictory, not the least because Jesus elsewhere exhorts His followers to love their enemies. So now He demands that they hate family and friends? How should this be understood? Much like His shocking command to tear out an eye “ that causes you to sin” (Matt. 5:29), Jesus’ command to “hate” one’s family is not about emotions—He is not telling His disciples to feel hatred or disdain for those we do and should love—but with right relationships and priorities.
“Those who follow Christ have entered into a new family and participate in the life of the Kingdom of God. To put anything before the King, including our own life, indicates that we are not as committed as we should be. “Christ is the center of all Christian life,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social” (par. 1618). When our love for the Master is our top priority, then we are able to love family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies with a godly and sacrificial love.
“This teaching would have been especially troubling to most first-century Jews, who placed a high value on strong family ties and derived much of their sense of belonging, both in social and religious terms, from their ethnicity. But as Jesus made increasingly evident, the new covenant and the new family of God have no use for social or ethnic distinctions. “There is neither Jew nor Greek,” wrote Paul to the Galatians, “there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
“Today’s reading from Paul’s short letter to Philemon regarding the runaway slave Onesimus is a demonstration of the love that Christians should have for one another. The Apostle is unable to overturn the institution of slavery, but he asks Philemon to no longer consider Onesimus a slave, but a brother in the Lord.”
Retrieved Sunday, September 8, 2019 from https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2019/09/07/the-cross-and-true-discipleship/
Here are the saints for September 6, 2019, all wonderful; (Only St. Eleutherius today) for they are the Church Triumphant.
What a blessing it is to read these stories each morning.
The Saints are the holy bones of the Church and their lives the true Magisterium.
The Catholic Church has many saints and reading about their lives has been a spiritual journey Catholics have been on since the publication of the Golden Legend, http://sourcebooks.web.fordham.edu/basis/goldenlegend/
From Butler’s Calendar of the Saints (which follows the old dating) listing all of the saints of today. https://web.archive.org/web/20061019111510/http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/day0906.htm
Here is a wonderful daily devotional site offering much to reflect on, including their version of saint of the day, Anastpaul https://anastpaul.wordpress.com/
From Butler’s Lives of the Saints, (old dating) by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. edition, , ST. ELEUTHERIUS, Abbot. “WONDERFUL simplicity and spirit of compunction were the distinguishing virtues of this holy man. He was chosen abbot of St. Mark’s near Spoleto, and favored by God with the gift of miracles. A child who was possessed by the devil, being delivered by being educated in his monastery, the abbot said one day: “Since the child is among the servants of God, the devil dares not approach him.” These words seemed to savor of vanity, and thereupon the devil again entered and tormented the child. The abbot humbly confessed his fault, and fasted and prayed with his whole community till the child was again freed from the tyranny of the fiend.
“St. Gregory the Great not being able to fast on Easter-eve on account of extreme weakness, engaged this Saint to go with him to the church of St. Andrew’s and put up his prayers to God for his health, that he might join the faithful in that solemn practice of penance. Eleutherius prayed with many tears, and the Pope, coming out of the church, found his breast suddenly strengthened, so that he was enabled to perform the fast as he desired. St. Eleutherius raised a dead man to life. Resigning his abbacy, he died in St. Andrew’s monastery in Rome, about the year 585.” https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots280.htm
This wonderful story from the Remnant Newspaper, written by the inimitable Christopher Ferrara, is about the U. S. Attorney General—who I did not know was Catholic—and what is really important in terms of the U. S. Department of Justice.
“In an interview with Jan Crawford of CBS, Attorney General William Barr said something that should strike fear in the hearts of all the conspirators involved in the plot to remove President Trump from office based on fabricated evidence of the fabricated non-crime of “colluding with the Russians” or, failing that, to accuse him of obstructing the phony investigation of the fake crime.
“Crawford suggested that Barr was risking his reputation, “a reputation that you worked your whole life on,” by “protecting the President”—meaning, of course, exposing the illegal activities of the plotters. To which suggestion Barr replied:
“Yeah, but everyone dies and I’m not… You know, I don’t believe in the Homeric idea that, you know, immortality comes by, you know, having odes sung about you (chuckles) over the centuries, you know.
“In his own detailed analysis of the interview, Rush Limbaugh did not miss the significance of Barr’s reference to his own mortality:
“Okay, now, folks, this is really, really telling, and I think there’s actually a very great life lesson in this answer. The more I hear of Barr, the more I understand why nobody in the Drive-By Media is airing any of the excerpts of this interview. This answer is mind-blowing. The question comes from the standard desire in Washington… be seen as great, honorable, filled with integrity, unchallengeable and all that. She’s basically saying, “You’ve lost that now, because you’ve chosen to work with Trump, and now you’re not an honest guy!”
“And he says [paraphrasing], “You know what? I knew that, and that’s why I took the job. One of the reasons I was persuaded that maybe I should take this job, is I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. The only thing that matters to me is the integrity of the system of justice in this country. That’s what matters: The integrity of the Department of Justice. That’s what I have purview over. I’m not worried about me. I’ve lived most of my life, and I’m gonna die like we all are gonna die, and so all I’m faced with right now… All I need to worry about is the right thing as I see it.”
“Also cognizant of the significance of “everybody dies” were the fake news media, which had promoted the Russia Hoax relentlessly for two years until it vanished in a puff of smoke following publication of the doddering Robert Mueller’s ghostwritten, novelistic and legally meaningless report finding “no collusion”—meaning no evidence of the make-believe crime. Expressions of contempt, outrage and alarm quickly multiplied, including a lot of indignant harrumphing over at MSNBC:
“ARI MELBER: It`s not about whether or not you die. It`s about whether your reputation, your professional work, the oath you take to the office matters, Jason [Johnson].
“JOHNSON: Well, again, Ari, what Barr is basically saying is I don`t care what anyone thinks because I`m working for Trump. Many men wish death on me, I don`t care, right….
“What we have here is a believing Catholic, the son of a Jewish convert, who once dared to proclaim to a gathering of the Catholic League, followed by the loud alarums of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, that “To the extent that a society’s moral culture is based on God’s law, it will guide men toward the best possible life… The secularists of today are clearly fanatics.”
“Barr knows what happened here and I believe he will expose the perpetrators of Russiagate, which has to be far and away the biggest political scandal in American political history. To recall its basic elements:
“Corrupt members of the FBI (Comey, McCabe, Strozk, Page, et al), the Justice Department (Rosenstein, Bruce Ohr, et al) the “intelligence community” (Brennan and Clapper et al and their operatives here and abroad), the State Department (Kerry, Winer, Nuland) and members of foreign intelligence services in England, Italy, Australia all combined and conspired with Hillary Clinton and the DNC to frame Donald Trump for the non-existent crime of “colluding with the Russians” to “steal” the 2016 election from Hillary.
“The co-conspirators employed a phony dossier of Trump’s non-existent “ties to the Russian government,” compiled by Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson under the name of a foreign agent, ex-MI-6 spy Christopher Steele, who desperately wanted to prevent Trump’s election. The millions of dollars in funding for this fraudulent scheme were funneled through the Perkins Coie law firm and characterized as “legal services” in order to circumvent campaign finance disclosure requirements.
“At the same time, Comey and his subordinates, including James Rybicki, his chief of staff, were conspiring to conduct a sham investigation of Hillary’s massive violations of the Espionage Act via her private server and personal devices, employed to avoid the creation of public records of her nefarious dealings as Secretary of State while a principal of her pay-for-play Clinton Foundation. The “investigators” agreed to allow Clinton and her lawyers to determine which limited range of emails she would produce (even though her lawyers had no security clearance to review classified emails) and then turned a blind eye to her sudden change of “retention policy” under which she deleted more than 30,000 relevant emails outside of her chosen range. The FBI agreed to destroy the devices she did produce, stripped of anything Hillary did not want the FBI to see, and further granted immunity from prosecution to everyone involved in the illegal email scheme, thus precluding any case against anyone, including Hillary, despite evidence sufficient to land a dozen ordinary citizens in jail.
“The same corrupt “intelligence community” that lied us into the disastrous Iraq War —now led by the hyper-partisans Brennan and Clapper, both demonstrable liars—floated the bogus “assessment” that “Russia” wanted Trump to win and Hillary to lose. The fake IC “assessment” was issued at the same time Steele’s “Russian sources” were assisting Hillary, the DNC and all the aforementioned government agents in preventing Trump from winning or else undermining his Presidency with the preposterous narrative that Trump is a Russian agent. Thus, at one and the same time, the lying “intelligence community,” Hillary and the DNC were all colluding with Russians while accusing the Russians of colluding with Trump.
“The “intelligence community” also alleged that “Russia” had hacked the DNC emails in order to help Trump and hurt Hillary. The only “evidence” for this claim was a redacted report by the private firm CrowdStrike, hired by the DNC. The FBI was never allowed to examine the DNC servers to determine if in fact they had been hacked by anyone, let alone Russia, as opposed to an internal leak of data copied to thumb drives. In a devastating report entitled “CrowdStrikeout,” Real Clear Investigations (Real Clear), no friend of Trump, shows that the alleged hacking by “Russia,” the very heart of the Russian Collusion Delusion, has never been established. Herewith the report’s principal conclusions:
“U.S. intelligence officials cannot make definitive conclusions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computer servers because they did not analyze those servers themselves. Instead, they relied on the forensics of CrowdStrike, a private contractor for the DNC that was not a neutral party, much as “Russian dossier” compiler Christopher Steele, also a DNC contractor, was not a neutral party. This puts two Democrat-hired contractors squarely behind underlying allegations in the affair – a key circumstance that Mueller ignores.”
Retrieved August 17, 2019 from https://www.remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/4575-deep-state-be-afraid-bill-barr-has-the-eternal-perspective
Today, October 14, 2018, is the feast day of St. Callistus, Pope, Martyr , according to Lives of the Saints by Fr. Alban Butler (first published in 1887 under the title Lives of the Saints–With Reflections for Every Day in the Year), http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/lots/lots320.htm
Callistus was a criminal saint and pope whose story, written by his lifelong enemy, who also became a saint, St. Hippolytus, in his Refutation of All Heresies (Book IX), Chapter 7, can be read at http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/050109.htm .
Reading about these saints is a wonderful daily reflection; such marvelous lives they lived, such an army who has our back in heaven.
Canonization of Vatican II
This is a very nice historical look at the canonization of popes over the millennia and the canonizations being done today by the Holy Father, from First Things.
In October 14, 2018, Pope Francis will canonize Pope Paul VI as the 82nd saint among the 266 popes. Paul VI will become only the eighth papal saint since 1000 AD, but the fourth of the twentieth century, joining Pius X, John XXIII, and John Paul II. What are we to make of this fact?
For the Church’s first five hundred years, popes were routinely acclaimed as saints. Christians regarded their late popes as saintly and created individual cults. Of the fifty-four popes from St. Peter to St. Felix IV (d. 530), only two were not canonized. After Felix IV, such popular devotions became more selective, but through the eighth century the process remained the same. This was the “popular model” for canonizing popes, whereby the faithful selected popes for veneration. It was the norm, not the exception, for a pope to become a saint; only the controversial and the morally or doctrinally suspect were denied sainthood.
After Pope St. Nicholas I died in 867, papal saints became highly unusual, for two reasons. First, all the popes during the period 900-1050 were either obscure or simply bad people. Second, during subsequent ecclesial reforms in the eleventh century, the popes centralized and formalized canonization decisions throughout Christendom. In 1200, Innocent III confirmed the exclusive right of the papacy to name saints. Such papal control complicated the decision to canonize a pope. The canonization of any saint—but especially a papal saint—conferred the current pope’s imprimatur on that saint’s life, beliefs, and political or religious agendas.
As a result, papal saints became rare, and the few papal canonizations between 900 and 1957 all reflected contemporary papal policies. Pope St. Leo IX, one of the eleventh-century reformers, was canonized by Pope St. Gregory VII, himself a great reformer and centralizing pope. Gregory’s own canonization in 1728 accords with the post-Tridentine vision of a muscular papacy. Pope St. Celestine V, who abdicated and was imprisoned by his successor Boniface IX, was canonized by Clement V at the behest of King Philip IV of France—Clement’s friend and Boniface’s enemy. Pope St. Pius V, who implemented the Council of Trent and solidified Catholicism after the Reformation, was canonized in 1712 in recognition of that work. Finally, “the Pope of the Blessed Sacrament,” Pope St. Pius X, was canonized by Pius XII, who shared that devotion.
These five saints represent the “papal model” of papal canonizations. In the papal model, successor popes direct the canonization process. Papal saints become the exception, not the rule, for in general, popes have canonized only those predecessors with whom they agreed on specific political or religious policies. All of these canonized popes were, of course, holy men—but they were not canonized for their holiness alone.
The canonizations of Sts. John Paul II, John XXIII, and (soon) Paul VI do not fit easily into either the popular or the papal model. As in the popular model, the causes of all three have been advanced relatively quickly and within living memory of the popes’ deaths. Also as in the popular model, papal canonizations appear to be becoming routine. While discussing Paul VI’s canonization, Francis said, “Benedict and I are on the waiting list.” It seemed like only half a joke.
Yet, as in the papal model, Francis is expressly canonizing these popes due to their policies, especially in relation to Vatican II. Though John Paul II was likely to be canonized quickly in any case due to his massive popularity, John XXIII’s and Paul VI’s causes gained momentum only after Francis’s election. Francis confirmed the importance of Vatican II to the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II at the canonization Mass for both popes. Moreover, as the causes of post-Vatican II popes are expedited, the causes of recent pre-Vatican II popes have stalled. Francis has moved to canonize not simply John, Paul, and John Paul, but the Vatican II era itself.
One might expect this canonized period (1958-2005, from the election of John XXIII to the death of John Paul II) to have been a time of resounding success for the Church. The last period during which popes were canonized with such frequency—the first five hundred years of the Church’s existence—saw the Church grow in numbers and in faith. But in fact the Catholic Church is in serious decline and at its most unstable moment since the Reformation.
During 2005-09, most European nations saw fewer than a quarter of Catholics attend Mass weekly, with some countries’ rates as low as 10 percent. Mass attendance is similarly low in Latin America, where the Church is hemorrhaging members to Protestant denominations. In the U.S., weekly Mass attendance has slipped from 48 percent in 1970 to 23 percent in 2017.
Vocations are doing no better. Worldwide, despite the Catholic population’s doubling between 1970 and 2016, the number of ordained priests has remained flat, at roughly 415,000. The number of nuns has dropped by 35 percent.
The Church’s sway over its flock is likewise diminished. Ireland has voted by popular referenda to permit abortion and gay marriage. In the Netherlands, a culture of euthanasia has taken hold. German bishops seem more determined to loosen sacramental disciplines surrounding the Eucharist and matrimony than to enforce them. Between 70 and 90 percent of married Catholics reject the Church’s teaching on birth control. Corruption at the Vatican Bank has been a perennial problem.
Rates of clerical sexual abuse of children were at their highest in the three decades following Vatican II. During that time, bishops around the world attempted to shift around or rehabilitate offenders through psychiatric care rather than expel them from the priesthood.
Many of these problems pre-date Vatican II. Yet Vatican II’s purpose was to be a pastoral council—to reorient the Church in the modern world, so that it might serve the Gospel and the people of God more effectively. As the evidence shows, the decline of the Church has accelerated during the sixty years since Vatican II was announced.
Retrieved October 14, 2018 from https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/10/paul-vi-and-the-canonization-of-vatican-ii
A bracing article by Susan Potts from the Remnant Newspaper.
In the days before the Changes, nobody used words like liturgy or eucharist or reconciliation. It was Mass and Holy Communion and Confession. Simple, straightforward words. Everyone knew what they meant. We didn’t talk about rubrics, and most laypeople didn’t know about ambos and aspersoria and thuribles. That was the priest’s business. Like a doctor, he had his professional lexicon, and it was really not our concern. We just followed along, confident that we were being led to Heaven.
That’s what we talked about then, Heaven and Purgatory, and what we had to do to reach the one and shorten the other. We shuddered to think about Hell, and so we didn’t talk about it much either. We just set about working out our salvation with fear and trembling, like St. Paul told us to do. All for the love of Jesus, the Glory of God, and the Salvation of souls, we used to say.
But you hardly ever hear about salvation anymore. The subject just doesn’t come up. Don’t you wonder why? Are Catholics that sure of Heaven, or is something else going on?
I think it’s the something else. There is a deep-seated reluctance in them to broach the subject. Something holds them back. It’s not that they’re silent. There’s plenty of vapid talk out there. But if you cut through the empty words and look below the surface of the mush that passes for theology, you’ll find the obstacle.
It’s a triple-walled mental block.
First, people don’t know what Heaven is anymore. Second, they don’t know what’s a sin and what’s not. And third, they don’t know what to do about that troublesome doctrine, Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus. These three things make it nearly impossible to talk about salvation.
Consider the first obstacle. Too many years of agnostic priests and professors telling us that we don’t really know anything about Heaven has dampened supernatural faith and hope. Nothing seems clear. Questions aren’t answered; doubts are not dispelled. Retreats, religious education lectures, and classroom discussions often go something like this:
“Is Heaven a place?” a student asks.
The pedant-in-charge shakes his head, but says nothing. He strokes his chin and lowers his lids, pondering the question. Everyone waits.
“It is a state of being,” he says at last, carefully, as if he were imparting a deep truth.
The student persists. “But what does that mean?”
“We’re not really sure.”
The student sighs. He turns his head, looks out the window, and never brings it up again.
I’ve heard this sort of thing too many times. No sooner spoken, but the words evaporate, portentous as thin smoke. Nothing adheres to the mind; nothing cleaves to the soul.
Enough of this nonsense. Of course Heaven is a place, and those in authority should say so, loud and clear. What this supernatural place is like is beyond our imagination, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. It is above nature, incorruptible; its substance endures forever.
I mean, come on, if Heaven is not a place, then where is Our Lord? What does He see through His beautiful eyes, and what does He touch with his Wounded Hands? And just where is Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, she who was assumed body and soul into Heaven?
They’re not floating in some ethereal mist. We’re talking physical presence here. Someday, when we behold our King and Queen reigning gloriously in Heaven, it’s real faces we’ll see, real voices we’ll hear.
Retrieved June 13, 2018 from https://www.remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/3931-where-have-all-the-catholics-gone
He was a great Catholic thinker (I have both books noted in the excerpt and they are must-haves for your library) who died February 17, 2017.
This story from the Wall Street Journal about his impact is excellent.
I first read Michael Novak’s groundbreaking work “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” when it was published in 1982, before I entered seminary at the Catholic University of America. The book’s dialogue between economics and theology made a deep impression on me, as it did thousands of others. I wrote the author and asked if we might meet once I arrived in Washington. Thus began a friendship that lasted until Novak’s death last year.
The first anniversary of his passing, Feb. 17, comes at a difficult time. Americans face an uncertain economy and deadlocked government. A vocal critic of capitalism leads the Catholic Church. Young people are showing a strange attraction to socialism, as are many Christians who might have been expected to sustain Novak’s philosophy of virtuous capitalism. The U.S. lacks leaders who combine prudence and moral vision.
I was intrigued to find a theologian who was familiar with writers like Friedrich Hayek. I sought his mentorship as I began my theological studies at a time when much of the academy was enamored with Marxist “liberation theology.” I even suggested that Novak squarely address that movement, which he did in another book, “Will It Liberate? Questions About Liberation Theology” (1986).
Even though we were from different generations, I soon found many parallels in our intellectual and religious trajectories. We had both identified as men of the left in early life. Over time we moved from advocating some form of democratic socialism to supporting the free economy. We spent decades defending free-market democracy as the system that best reflected the truth about man.
Novak’s philosophical and theological formation prepared him well. He had entered seminary at 14 and completed his formation, but he withdrew before being ordained. He became a Vatican correspondent after earning degrees in theology, history and philosophy from Harvard and the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Novak began his public career in Rome during the Second Vatican Council, and he wrote in proximity to the events and debates of the time. As the church worked to define human values such as freedom and conscience, Novak argued that theories of life should be grounded in perceptible truths. He believed this perspective to be best expressed in what he called the most “American” of the council’s documents, “Dignitatis Humanae,” a treatment on religious liberty and the rights of conscience.
While his appreciation for the church’s traditions deepened over time, he also believed Catholics needed to engage with outsiders. I believe most of his friends and intellectual colleagues were non-Catholics.
For an American Catholic of Novak’s age, ethnicity and class, the Democratic Party was the natural place to call home. But his politics began to shift in the 1970s and ’80s. More than anything, the issue that alienated Catholics from the Democratic Party was the latter’s increasing embrace of abortion after Roe v. Wade.
Novak told me his political change was not an abrupt conversion. Rather, it came as a series of small conclusions based on his reading of economists like Hayek, Adam Smith and Ludwig von Mises. He was always looking for solutions to poverty that avoided utopian dead ends. The result was that Novak projected his interior debate about markets and morality into a national, and even international, conversation within religious and secular circles.
The often hostile reaction from his erstwhile colleagues on the left struck me as more emotional than rational. Whatever else Novak was in his writings, “thin” does not describe the scope and complexity of his thought. He eschewed anger, but expressed a pleading tone in his responses to critiques, which he took as invitations to refine his arguments. His courteous demeanor was key to his persuasiveness.
Retrieved February 16, 2018 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-i-learned-from-michael-novak-1518739867
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,200 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.
I’ll be taking the rest of the week off from blogging to celebrate, returning Tuesday December 1st, and wish you and your family the most wonderful Thanksgiving!