Category Archives: Ecclesiology

1 Cor 12:26 – one suffers, all suffer…

Jesus, You who have accepted me as a member of Your Mystical Body, grant that I may not be in it as a stranger, but that I may work for the good of all my brethren.

“If a thorn,” says St. John Chrysostom, “gets into the sole of the foot, the whole body feels it and is solicitous for it: the back bends, the hands reach down to draw it out, the head is lowered, and the eyes watch very carefully and anxiously.

The cause of all evils lies in the fact that we consider as alien the things that concern our own body [the Mystical Body of Christ]. No one is fulfilling his own duty if he ignores his neighbor’s salvation. If you dare to contend that you have nothing in common with your fellow member; if you think you have nothing in common with your brother, then neither have you Christ for your Head.”

“O Lord, turn Your merciful eyes upon Your people and upon Your Mystical Body, the Holy Church, since You will receive more glory from pardoning many souls than You will by pardoning only me, a wretched creature who has offended You so often. I beseech You, therefore, divine eternal Charity, to avenge Yourself on me and be merciful to Your people; I shall never depart from Your presence until I see that You have shown mercy to them. How could I be happy if I had eternal life and Your people were condemned to death?… Therefore, I wish, and as a favor I implore You, to show mercy to Your people by that same charity which moved You to create man to Your image and likeness so that He might have a share in You and in Your life.

O Lord, I offer You my life now and forever, whenever it shall please You to take it, and I offer it for Your glory, humbly beseeching You, by the merits of Your Passion, to cleanse and purify Your Spouse, the Church, from every defect; delay no longer!… I turn my gaze in another direction and I see the lost souls of countless sinners. My heart is broken at the sight of them, or rather, it is dilated by the force of bitter regret. I am overcome with compassion, and I cannot help weeping for their misery as if I found myself—like them—soiled with the mire of their guilt.

Lord, during Your mortal life, You bore the weight of two crosses by carrying in Your body the heavy burden of our sins. In order that I may be conformed to You, You have burdened me with the weight of two crosses: one crushes my body with infirmities and other distresses, the other transfixes my soul which grieves for the perdition and blindness of so many poor, obstinate sinners.” (St. Catherine of Siena).

Love & compassion, literally “to suffer with”,
Matthew

Infallibility & Inerrancy

“To me, this always has been the root question, the answer to which answers most other questions in religion. Who—or what—is the (Christian) authority? Is it a living Church, endowed with a magisterium guaranteed, in some way, to hand on faithfully the deposit of faith and capable of deciding fresh questions in a definitive way, or is it the individual Christian, relying on what appears to him/her to be the perspicuity of Scripture?

The claim that the Bible is the final authority reduces to the claim that its reader is the final authority. This perhaps can be appreciated best when discussing infallibility. The Catholic position is that the Church itself is infallible and that its infallibility may be manifested in one of three ways: by formal decrees of ecumenical councils, by highly-circumscribed decisions of popes making definitions on their own, and by the centuries-long, consistent teaching of the Church. (Ed.  It DOES NOT MEAN Popes, or the lesser, are not sinners!!!  Pssst…the Church is FULL of SINNERS!!!!  That is its raison d’ etre!!! Mk 2:17, Lk 5:31-32, Mt 9:12.  I look at infallibility as I look at my father when I was a child calling a definitive halt to debate in our house.  The reason being the debate was becoming more destructive than resolution would have been beneficial, if possible, which it was not looking like by the time he called a halt, imho.)  Protestant churches have no equivalent of the magisterium, even those that have structures that formalistically mirror those of the Catholic Church, such as an episcopacy and councils. If these churches admit infallibility, that charism, by the end of the discussion, is found always and only in Scripture itself. Proponents says that it is the Bible that is infallible. That is a misuse of the word. The Bible is inerrant—that is, its teaching, when properly understood, contains no error. This is a necessary consequence of the inspiration of Scripture: God could not inspire a sacred writer to propose as true what in fact is false. But inerrancy is not infallibility. Inerrancy is a static thing. It is a testament that both testaments are accurate in conveying the truths they attempt to convey…Inerrancy is a good and, for the economy of salvation, a necessary thing—the Bible would not be of much utility if it were awash in errors—but inerrancy is not infallibility.

Infallibility is the inability, under certain circumstances, of deciding or defining in error. Infallibility means not being able to make a mistake. Its existence suggests the possibility, under other circumstances, of a wrong decision being made. It is this second status that all of us are familiar with, since we make wrong decisions regularly. It is the very making of wrong decisions that lets us imagine that it might be possible to have a situation in which making wrong decisions is not possible.

Only an active agent can make a decision, right or wrong. To make a decision, a decider is required. No book, not even the Bible, can decide anything. Even an inspired book is a static thing. It is purely passive. It does not have within itself the power of judgment, of discrimination, of reasoning. It may be inerrant, as the Bible is inerrant, but, on its own, it is incapable of drawing inferences from its own text. Something or someone outside the text is required for that. This means that a person may be infallible, or an institution (such as the Church) manifesting itself through one or more persons may be infallible, but no book is infallible…(Ed. it simply can’t be by definition of the word “infallible”.)

(Ed. Tradition is inescapable, even for Protestants. Not Catholic Tradition, but their own. And, of course, that individual interpretation leads to Protestant unity (sic), etc.)…What simple, unscholarly Christian in fact derives his belief in the Trinitarian doctrine of the Athanasian Creed from his personal reading of the Bible text?…

…Just look at the hodge-podge of books that make up the New Testament: “four fragmentary records of Christ’s life and teaching,” “an inadequate sketch of the early years of the apostolic age,” “some letters,” and “a prophecy.” Nothing suggests that this collection of documents, none of which purports to be a compendium of doctrine, contains everything that the Apostles learned from Christ or that they considered important. . . . The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture does not involve a belief that Scripture is our sole available source of Christian truth. And, hackneyed though the argument is, it must be pointed out that it is by Tradition and the authority of the teaching Church that we know both the number of the inspired books and the fact of their inspiration.”

-Keating, Karl. Booked for Life: The Bibliographic Memoir of an Accidental Apologist (Kindle Locations 2276-2299, 2309-2310, 2312-2319). Catholic Answers Press. Kindle Edition.

Love,
Matthew

Nice words

Fernando Karadima, Chile’’s most infamous pedophile priest, sits in court before testifying in a case that three of his victims brought against the country’’s Catholic Church in Santiago, Chile, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The Vatican ordered Karadima to life of penance and prayer in 2011 for abusing three young boys. A local judge determined the abuse allegations were truthful but absolved Karadima because the time limit had expired for prosecution. The three victims who filed the suit accuse the Chilean Catholic church of a cover up.


From left James Hamilton, José Andrés Murillo and Juan Carlos Cruz

http://www.lastampa.it/2018/05/02/vaticaninsider/karadimas-victims-the-pope-asked-for-forgivgeness-now-exemplary-actions-needed-kUfgAvkSFdkJlNjuDffMgI/pagina.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karadima_case

A Wounded Church

Alter Christus

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, deign to imprint Your likeness on my poor soul, so that my life may be a reflection of Yours.

MEDITATION

The imitation of Christ should not be limited to some particular aspect of His life; it means living Christ and becoming completely assimilated to Him. The life-giving principle of our resemblance to Christ is grace: the more grace we possess, the greater our resemblance to Him. The principal characteristic of Christ’s soul is the unlimited charity which urges Him to give Himself entirely for the glory of His Father and the salvation of souls. This same charity increases in our souls in the measure in which we grow in grace and live under the influence of Jesus, who is the source of grace, and to the degree in which our souls are directed by the same divine Spirit that directed the soul of Jesus. Each one of us will be an alter Christus (another Christ) in the measure in which he receives Christ’s influence, His grace, His virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and, above all, the motion of the Holy Spirit, which urges us to make a complete gift of self for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor. However, in order to accomplish this fully, we must continually die to ourselves, “always bearing about in our body the mortification of Jesus, that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest … in our mortal flesh” (2 Corinthians 4:10, 11). Jesus lived a life of total abnegation in order to save us; we too must follow in His footsteps that He may live in us and we in Him. “For to me, to live is Christ.” (cf Philippians 1:21) is the cry of the Apostle who had so lived Christ that He was able to say, “I live, now not I but Christ liveth in me.” (Galatians 2:20).

COLLOQUY

“O my Christ, Whom I love! Crucified for love! I long to be the bride of Your heart! I long to cover You with glory and love You … even until I die of love! Yet I realize my weakness and beg You to clothe me with Yourself, to identify my soul with all the movements of Your own. Immerse me in Yourself; possess me wholly; substitute Yourself for me, that my life may be but a radiance of Your life. Enter my soul as Adorer, as Restorer, as Savior!

O consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend upon me and reproduce in me, as it were, an incarnation of the Word; that I may be to Him a super-added humanity wherein He may renew all His mystery!” (St Elizabeth of the Trinity, Elevation to the Most Holy Trinity).

O my Jesus, this is my great desire: to be an extension of Your humanity, so that You can use me with the same freedom with which You used the humanity that You assumed on earth. Now in Your glory in heaven, You continue to adore the Father, implore Him on our behalf, give grace to our souls; You continue to love us and offer the merits of Your passion for us; but You can no longer suffer. Suffering is the only thing that is impossible for You, who are glorious and omnipotent, the only thing which You do not have and which I can give You. O Jesus, I offer You my poor humanity, that You may continue Your passion in me for the glory of the Father and the salvation of mankind. Yes, Jesus, renew in me the mystery of Your love and suffering; continue to live in me by Your grace, by Your charity, by Your Spirit. I want my humble life to be a reflection of Yours, to send forth the perfume of Your virtues, and above all the sweetness of Your charity.

You know O Jesus, that the world needs saints to convert it—saints in whom it will be able to recognize and experience Your love and infinite goodness, saints in whom it will find You again. O Lord, although I am so miserable, I also want to be of the number of these Your faithful followers in order that through me You may continue to win souls for the glory of the Blessed Trinity. O Jesus, give us many saints and grant that many priests may be counted among them.”

Love,
Matthew

The Church

“O Christ, our Lord, You have transmitted to Your Church the sovereign power which You have received. By virtue of Your dignity, You have made her Queen and Spouse. You have given her supreme power over the entire universe. You have commanded all men to submit to her judgment. She is the Mother of all the living, and her dignity increases with the number of her children.

Every day she gives birth to new children by the operation of the Holy Spirit. As a vine, her branches cover the whole world. Her boughs are upheld by the wood of the Cross and they reach up to the Kingdom of heaven.

Your Church, O Christ, is a strong city built on a mountain, visible to all and enlightening all. You are her Founder and foremost Citizen, O Jesus Christ, Son of God and our Lord.

We beseech You, eternal King of souls, Christ our Lord, stretch Your omnipotent Hands over Your holy Church and the holy people who belong to You; defend them, guard them, preserve them; combat, challenge, subdue all their enemies.

May Your Church always remain pure and living! May she chant Your praises under the guidance of the holy angels! We pray to You for all her members; grant them pardon and remission of all their sins; grant that they may sin no more. Be their defense; take away from them all temptation. Have pity on men, women, and children; reveal Yourself to all, and let the knowledge of Your Holy Name be written in their hearts.” (-from an ancient Liturgy).

Love,
Matthew

Filial Obedience 2

-by Rev Gabriel of St Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy, Baronius Press, (c) 1964

Presence of God – O Jesus, teach me the secret of humble obedience which submits to every superior and every command.

MEDITATION

Although obedience is precious because it places our whole life in God’s will, nevertheless, in practice it has its difficulties and these arise chiefly because the command itself does not come directly from God but through His representatives. Thus it often happens that we fail to see God in our superiors and to recognize His authority in them. For example, when, as often happens in religious life, we have as our superior a former colleague or perhaps even a former pupil, younger and less experienced than we, one whose weaknesses and defects we know only too well, we could easily be tempted to have insufficient respect for his authority and his commands. Then a life of obedience becomes especially difficult: it is hard for us to obey, we do not have recourse to the superior with childlike trust, and what is worse, we justify this attitude to ourselves. Here we are making a great mistake in perspective; we forget that, no matter who the superior is, he is invested with authority which comes from God, authority placed on him solely because he has been called to this office. This authority is unchangeable and has the same force whether the superior is old or young, experienced and virtuous or inexperienced and less virtuous. Basically, if we find ourselves in these difficulties, we must lay the blame on our lack of a supernatural spirit, a spirit of faith. We are judging spiritual matters according to natural standards and from the point of view of human values, which makes it impossible for us to live a life of real obedience, a life entirely based on supernatural values and motives. We must learn how to rise above human views concerning the person of our superior—his good qualities or his faults, his actions in the past, and so forth—to look upon him only as the representative of God and of His divine authority. It is true, we often find it absolutely necessary to use all our strength and efforts to do this if we do not wish to lose the fruit of a life of obedience. It is certain that the more we force ourselves to see in our superiors the authority which comes from God, so much the more perfect and meritorious our obedience will be, and God Himself will guide us by through them.

COLLOQUY

“My sweet Savior, can I see You obedient to Your creatures for love of me, and refuse to be obedient out of love for You to those who represent You? Can I see You obedient unto death, the death of the Cross, out of love for me, without lovingly embracing this virtue and the Cross on which You consummated it?

“I will force myself to the utmost of my power to imitate Your example, and for love of You, obey all creatures—my superiors, equals, or inferiors—in all things, without argument, murmuring, or delay, but joyfully and lovingly. Therefore, I will not question the reasons why I am told to do this or that; I will not think about the way in which the order is given to me, or the person who gives it. I will consider Your will alone, letting myself be moved like You in any direction, by anyone, in agreeable or disagreeable, suitable or unseemly circumstances. It matters not! Grant me the obedience You desire.

“O Jesus, who willed to make reparation for Adam’s disobedience and mine at the cost of Your life; O Jesus who by Your death acquired for me the grace of knowing how to obey, I wish to live longer only to sacrifice my life by perfect, continual obedience” (St. Francis de Sales).

“O Lord, You desire to infuse obedience into our hearts, but You cannot because we will not recognize that You speak and work through our superiors, and also because we are attached to our own will” (St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi).”

Love,
Matthew

Making real love possible

“Prayer and asceticism, then, are part of the Catholic intellectual life. Disciplines of soul and disciplines of the mind go together. One of the most attractive things about the Catholic intellectual vocation is that it calls us to be people of a holistic integrity. Every facet of our life needs to come progressively into the light of Christ, not so that it may perish but so that we may live in a more truly human and divine way. When human beings are integrated morally, intellectually, and spiritually, their intellectual concerns and their moral pattern of life cohere…Their relationships of human love are deeply related to their aspiration to divine love.

…De-Christianization leads to re-paganization…Without the grace of Christ, the “integration(Ed. integrity) of the human person is made more difficult, and even on many levels impossible. (Ed. the word “holiness” is related to the word “wholeness”.  Sin & evil are associated with “disintegration”.  Rm 6:23)

The intellectual life of the human being needs to be coupled with an inner life: worship, prayer, the search for God’s mercy, and the pursuit of Christian virtue…The Church provides us with a storehouse of living wisdom, and it is in being connected to her life, and to fellow Christian thinkers, that we are likely to grow best intellectually.

…Our own conversion to an integrity of life, especially an intellectual life of faith, is one that speaks to our contemporaries, who so often are bereft of orientation and who are on some level seeking a deeper meaning that only Christ can give them. To be a living member of the Church in our own times, then, is a witness to the world around us. For this, the pursuit of theological wisdom is essential. Without genuine knowledge, no real love is possible. We cannot love what we do not know. And so, likewise loving God in the truth depends upon understanding God truly. The study of theology can detract from Christian love if it leads to the loss of faith, or becomes a formal academic exercise devoid of existential conviction. But as Aquinas notes, the study of theology can also be genuinely “meritorious”: it can stem from charity, and can also intensify love, as we draw closer to what we know. 45 In fact, when we begin to love others, we seek to get to know them better, and even “study them in love” in a certain way. This is true not only in our natural experience, but also in the domain of supernatural life. Intellectual engagement with the Christian faith is essential to our personal relationship with Christ.”

-White, OP, Rev. Thomas Joseph. The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism (Kindle Locations 966-972, 974-977, 981-992). Catholic University of America Press. Kindle Edition.

Love,
Matthew

45. Aquinas, ST II-II, q. 2, a. 10.

Who cares?

“Intellectually serious Catholics need to come to terms with (basic theological questions)…(As Catholics, we need to speak about the faith in a) coherent and serene way, but also as people who are intellectually happy. Theology is never reducible to the utilitarian function of apologetics. Theology is about happiness. Happiness is as much in the intellect as in the heart, and it stems from understanding the truth about ultimate things, and being headed in the right direction, being oriented existentially. We derive our moral stability in large part from having a perspective on the world that is realistic and profound. Happiness for Aristotle is unimpeded activity. The highest, most vivifying thing we can do is contemplate the truth. So understanding God deeply and rightly in light of revelation gives the intellect unimpeded activity and liveliness about what is most ultimate. It also gives us the stability of seeing things in perspective, and a peace that cannot be diminished even in the midst of the trials and travails of life. What grim stoicism and utilitarian efficacy cannot deliver, the work of theology can: the serenity of rest in God Himself.

The idea of leaving our intellect behind to become spiritual is very strange and inhuman. However, it is a view that is very widespread, sometimes in conservative Christian circles, but more often in liberal Protestant and Catholic spheres. The vulgar commonplace form is the saying “I’m spiritual but not religious(SBNR).” The idea is that dogma constricts, and that religious practices blind us to the fact that God is larger than our conceptions and rituals. Spiritual people transcend the limits of dogma, creed, and regulation to live on a higher plane of spiritual awareness or a unity with God and others that is beyond all concepts. In fact, that is a very anti-intellectual viewpoint, marked by a latent despair of finding the truth about God.

But what about the counter-charge? Don’t religious intellectuals simply seek to trap God within the constraint of their manmade systems? It is true that our conceptual knowledge is partial and that the mystery of God is not reducible to our partial knowledge of God’s mystery. But we only aim rightly at God in and through our real knowledge of God, and this does entail language, concepts, thinking, and acting in ways that integrate us into the life of the Church. In other words, to live spiritually for God we need to make right use of dogma and theology. The early twentieth-century Catholic Modernist movement claimed that profound religious experience always transcends dogmas and relativizes them. This idea is based, however, on a superficial notion of mystery. Religious experience does not take place merely in our conceptions of the truth (as if holding to Church dogmas were somehow a sufficiently spiritual act), but it also does not take place by transcending conceptions either (as if giving up dogmas of faith were a super-spiritual act of mental asceticism). The goal, in fact, is to pass through the dogmas to the mystery that they signify, and to find God in and through the true teachings of scripture and tradition. Dogma is the guardian of mystery. It alerts us to its presence, and orients us toward God in constructive ways.”

-White, OP, Rev. Thomas Joseph. The Light of Christ: An Introduction to Catholicism (Kindle Locations 936-958). Catholic University of America Press. Kindle Edition.

Love & truth,
Matthew

Christian failure

“St. Francis Xavier, SJ died on a small island six miles off the coast of China, his ultimate destination in sight. Not having reached his goal, Xavier felt himself something of a failure. Here is Walter Burghardt, in his book Saints and Sanctity, reflecting on times of failure even after we have worked hard:

“This is dreadfully difficult for a human being to accept— even for a Xavier. Just because I am trying to do God’s work with every ounce of my being is no guarantee that my plans will prosper. There is no guarantee that an effective Christian apostle will not be cut down in his prime. . . . There is no guarantee that because you have given yourself to a Christian marriage, your oneness will be lasting . . . that because you love God deeply, you will not lose your job, your home, your family, your health. . . . There is no guarantee that because you believe, you will not doubt; because you hope, you will not despond; because you love, your love will not grow cold. There is no guarantee that a Xavier will reach China. In this sense there is a Christian frustration, a Christian failure. . . . You do your Christian task as God gives you to see it; the rest, the increase, is in His hands. God still uses what the world calls foolish to shame the wise, still uses what the world calls weak to shame its strength, still uses what the world calls low and insignificant and unreal to nullify its realities. . . . In this sense, there is no Christian frustration and no Christian failure.

-Martin, James, SJ. The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (Kindle Locations 6236-6247). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/07/opinion/pope-francis-catholic-church-sexual-abuse.html

-Rm 6:23

Love,
Matthew

Catholic Church: eating w/sinners & tax collectors – the difficult way of mercy, part 3 of 3


– by Jan Cornelisz, Vermeyen (circa 1504-1559)


-by Dr. Randall B. Smith, is a Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston where he holds the Scanlan Foundation Endowed Chair in Theology. His book “Reading the Sermons of Thomas Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide” was published in late October 2016 by Emmaus Academic. Born and raised near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, Dr. Randall Smith also lived in Philadelphia and Chicago before attending college in Mount Vernon, Iowa, graduating with a BA in Chemistry from Cornell College. During his time at Cornell, he converted to Catholicism, and after college, went off to study his new-found Catholic faith. He subsequently earned a Master’s degree in theology from the University of Dallas and then completed a Master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Notre Dame.

“…People will fault me for writing a long article….and, I’ve never written anything that I didn’t look at in print and wish I had said something differently. Nor have I written anything, no matter how faithful to official Catholic teaching, that didn’t bring me excoriation in the “comments” section as a fool, a scoundrel, or worse…

…At the present moment, however, I’m more concerned with what culturally “conservative” Catholics will say and do, largely because I am one. It’s easy enough to vilify the other side; but are we willing to turn that critical eye around on ourselves? Are faithful Catholics willing to interpret this apostolic exhortation charitably and in accord with the document’s overall intention? Will we be willing, then, to do the hard work it challenges us to do?

Will bishops, for example, strive to do a better job and expend more resources on Pre-Cana programs and tribunals? (Ed. INSTEAD OF REAL ESTATE? ARE YOU SURE the Catholic Church is NOT in the real estate business? Really? Can you hear the non-Catholics laughing? I do. I always do.) Or will pre-Cana continue to be the notoriously bad, pro-forma exercises many Catholics have come to know and dread? I know someone who says—only somewhat tongue-in-cheek—that if 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, then 50 percent of the people sitting in Pre-Cana probably shouldn’t be getting married. I’m not saying I agree with those numbers, but the serious point behind the comment is that, if so many marriages are failing, the kind of two-day quickie marriage preparation we’re currently asking couples to participate in clearly isn’t doing the job.

Are bishops going to undertake the hard steps needed to help couples considering marriage avoid a spiritually and emotionally devastating set of mistakes? Good ones have. Or will they continue to take the easy route of simply passing along the problem to their understaffed marriage tribunals for them to take the heat, and to their priests in the local parishes to figure out how to deal with the “irregularities” caused by these bad marriages?

…We are called upon to live as members of Christ’s Body, seeking more fully to make ourselves into the image and likeness of God. And if, as St. Thomas says, mercy is God’s primary act, then we must go out of ourselves to extend mercy. How we do that in various situations will take wisdom—the sort of wisdom we don’t characteristically develop in a society of autonomous individuals.

And it precisely because we have allowed ourselves to become a society of autonomous individuals that we depend more and more upon the law to bring order in society rather than building fellowship and community from the ground up, by serving as a leaven in society through the exercise of the virtues, both intellectual and moral; through countless conversations with others with whom we disagree; and by living the Gospel message fully and truly so that our light will shine before men. When the Gospel is a matter only of words and rules, it has no power to transform. Or at least that’s what St. Paul thought.

Is no one else concerned about Paul’s warnings about the law: about its tendency to tear down and destroy, and about its failure to bring life? Is no one else concerned about Christ’s harsh condemnations of the self-righteous and complacent scholars of the law?

In these endless conversations about the precise interpretation of the canons and who should or should not be received at Christ’s table, I’ve heard comparatively little about how we can find ways of talking to our fellow Catholics, of calling each other to account for our failures while still maintaining a spirit of charity.

Does no one else hear the warning echoing repeatedly in their ears: “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to carry, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them”?”

Love, really, and His mercy,
Matthew