Friday, August 4, 2017

Being the Light of the World: Stop Hiding Your Faith!

My latest article in the Diocese of Joliet's monthly magazine, Christ Is Our Hope, has appeared in print in their August 2017 issue. The article can also be found on their digital magazine in the link above. Below is an unedited and slightly longer version of the article found in the magazine. After experiencing many Catholics around me who were reticent to share their faith, I was moved to write an article that we are exhorted to do just that. The movie Silence was another trigger for writing this article, and it is mentioned in the essay itself, specifically why we must not follow the example of the two main characters in the film.hh
The Ahırkapı Lighthouse- Michael Zeno Diemer

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Essay on Alternatives to Planned Parenthood: Why Pro-Lifers Are Against PP

I recently had the opportunity to write a guest article for the pretty awesome website Secular Prolife. These people are dedicated to protecting the unborn, and while we hope for their conversion one day, they are secular and typically agnostic. This sit has proved to be a great starting point for talking to people who think that all pro-lifers are only of such an opinion because they are religious. Rarely, if ever, have I used a religious argument to voice my opposition to abortion. Anyone can do so using natural reason, as the wonderful people at Secular Prolife have. Below is a link to my first essay with the site. A short selection can be found below:
Here’s the thing that those who support Cecile Richards and her associates need to know about their pro-life friends. Even if we were to accept the bogus claim that only 3% of the services done at Planned Parenthood are abortions, how could one in good conscience support an organization that purposefully ends the lives of human beings? Even if that number was 1% or .5% of the time, the percentage would be too high. Why? Because the vast majority of people in this world consider the purposeful and willful killing of a member of the human race to be immoral and wrong.
Read the full article here. 




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reflections on the Readings for the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene

Yesterday, on July 22nd, the Catholic Church celebrated the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene, on of the feasts of the liturgical year that is celebrated on the same day in both forms of the Latin Rite and in the Byzantine Rite. I was lucky enough to attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form (EF) after receiving the Sacrament of Confession, and I just  briefly wanted to right down my thoughts after reflecting on the Scripture readings for the Mass in the EF, as well as the Scripture selection in the Liturgy of Hours' Office of Readings.

The First Reading in the Divine Office came from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians 3:1-17. It was subtitled, "Your life is hidden with Christ in God". As I was reading this, waiting for Mass to start, a particular few verses close to the halfway mark caught my attention. It immediately called to mind the current state of affairs regarding the permissibility of certain sins that have become socially acceptable in the Western world, i.e., fornication, and homosexual activity in particular. Beginning from verse 5:
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Feast of Simon the Pharisee- Peter Paul Rubens

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Causes of Unconditional Love

In getting ready to write a new essay tangentially related to contraception, I recalled a dialogue I had with someone regarding an essay I had posted on social media. I thought about just posting my own words since I pretty much dominated the conversation. I regret doing this sometimes, typing so much, but there's always so much on my mind that I want to be able to express it all. I am trying to become more concise in my writing, but as I care for this person, I felt it my Christian duty to get this person introduced to some ideas that they may not have been aware of.  I apologize if anyone tires of the length of my blog posts. Please know that I don't do it because I'm full of myself or like to hear myself "talk". In putting my thoughts here, and in dialoguing with other people, I hope to find answers. I just go about it in a way many millennials would rather not.

In any case, here's the selection of the essay, entitled "The Death of Unconditional Love", I posted on social media: 
"The widespread availability of contraception ushered in an age of sexual intercourse without consequence. Unconditional love was taken out of the equation and replaced with immediate, self-serving gratification. Love became inconsequential to sexual relations. With the possibility of procreation and the need for commitment gone, sex went from being a wonderful gift from God and an active participation in his work of creation to a sterile act, devoid of meaning and transcendence. 
"Likewise, easy, no-fault divorce has played an enormous role in the death of unconditional love. Marriage went from being a permanent, lifelong relationship to a temporary one. Our very high divorce rate signals the fact that as adults, few are capable of unconditional love. By rejecting our wives or husbands, whether we intend to or not, we tear apart our families. What is left is a broken reflection of what once was.
"In essence, without using words and often without even intending to do so, we tell our children 'My personal needs are far more important than your need for a loving home, nurtured by both Mom and Dad.'"
Below is our conversation. Some things have been edited out, but the bulk of it is still here:
The Triumph of Divine Love- Peter Paul Rubens

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Article on "Spiritual Progress" on Catholic Stand

My latest article, replying to a claim made by Evangelical Christian author Elyse M. Fitzpatrick, is now up on Catholic Stand.  Below is a snippet of the article, followed by another link:
From reading some of the work that Ms. Fitzpatrick has produced, her faith squares up pretty evenly with the modern Evangelical movement; a movement that has no room for a visible Church. On her website and in other advertisements, Ms. Fitzpatrick describes her work in this way: “No fluff. No bricks. Just good news of a crucified and risen Savior.” 
Ms. Fitzpatrick probably does not intend it, but these words are insulting and condescending to many Christians. It implies that, for instance, that the Sacrifice of the Mass as celebrated by Catholic and Orthodox Christians is superfluous, that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is just “fluff”, and that asking for the intercession of the saints is part of a man-made building of brick and mortar that has nothing to do with the mystical Body of Christ. As if none of those things I just mentioned don’t preach the Good News of the Christ crucified. How misguided and mistaken a notion she and many other non-denominational Christians have on Christ’s relationship to the Church. Which leads us to the isolated quote I came across … 
Below is the verbatim quote from Mrs. Fitzpatrick as it was presented, with no further context: 
"Real progress in the Christian life is not gauged by our knowledge of Scripture, our church attendance, time in prayer, or even our witnessing (although it isn’t less than these things). Maturity in the Christian life is measured by only one test: how much closer to his character have we become? The result of the Spirit’s work is not more and more activity. No, the results of his work are in in our quality of life, they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." 
Is this an accurate description of “real progress? There are many issues with this quote, as well as the way the meme is delivered to the masses.
Read the rest here. 
Entry into Jerusalem- Pedro Orrente

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bishop of San Jose's Statement on Bishop Paprocki's Decree on "Same Sex 'Marriage'"

While the news cycle has started to relax it's focus on the controversial (but really, not controversial at all) decree issued by Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, IL on the pastoral care of those homosexual persons in state sanctioned marriages, it seems that there are those within the Church who are still making comments about it. A few days ago, Bishop Patrick J. McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose released the following statement:
Dear Father/Sister/Brother, 
Recent news reports of policies and practices related to members of the LGBT community in other dioceses can be confusing. 
I take this opportunity to assure you that the pastoral response in the Diocese of San Jose remains just that: compassionate and pastoral. We will not refuse sacraments or Christian Burial to anyone who requests them in good faith. 
Finally, let us remember and be guided by the words of Pope Francis: “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
This is disheartening.

It's extremely sad to see, at almost every turn, bishop against bishop, pastor against pastor, and even Bishops' Conference against Bishops' Conference on several issues.

Frankly, this whole controversy that's erupted around Bishop Paprocki's decree (which is simply a reiteration of Catholic teaching) is ridiculous. As Bishop Paprocki commented in a recent interview, "[T]he decree is a rather straightforward application of existing Church teaching and canon law. The Catholic Church has been very clear for two thousand years that we do not accept same-sex “marriage,” yet many people seem to think that the Church must simply cave in to the popular culture now that same-sex “marriage” has been declared legal in civil law."

Friday, June 30, 2017

Separating Brainwashing From Evangelizing Children

I came across an awesome article by soon-to-be-deacon Joe Heschmeyer the other day, where he addressed the following question: "Is teaching children religion brainwashing?" Apparently, as he mentioned in his essay, 86% of respondents to this question on Debate.org thought the answer was "yes". How profoundly sad. Religion, once seen as a virtue (and still seen as one by the Church, see CCC 1807) by virtually all people in the Western world, is now seen as a vice, and has even been called "child abuse" by certain proponents of the new atheism; of which I would argue is a new religion in itself... but I digress.

The entire article is an excellent read, and I urge everyone to read it before continuing. Here's a good sampling from Heschmeyer's essay:
As Christians, we’re called to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world (Matthew 28:19-20), but in a special way, to teach the next generation about the faith. The Shema Yisrael, the core of Jewish morning and evening prayer, comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-7: 
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." 
So you can’t be a faithful Christian (or Jew) and not teach the faith to your children. But it’s more than that. Christianity isn’t just your dad sitting around musing about what the afterlife might or might not be like. The God of the Universe entered history in the Person of Jesus Christ, and He taught, died, and rose from the dead. And Christians don’t just believe in this as as an abstract idea, but have a personal relationship with this same God. So it’s not just speculation on the Christian parents’ part: it’s rationally trusting the expert, the one Person qualified to tell us these things. It’s also sharing the most meaningful relationship you have with your loved ones. 
And finally, not teaching your kids still teaches them something. If you really believed Christianity was the most important truth in the world, if you really believed it was the surest way to knowing God and to happiness in this life and eternity in Heaven, you wouldn’t hesitate to share it with the people you loved most (especially those entrusted to your care for formation: your children).
That same selection from Deuteronomy is something that I often see included in my recitation of Compline (Night Prayer) at the end of each day. It's a beautiful thing to reflect on, and whenever I read it, I think about my own kids. Heschmeyer brings up a great point; why would you hesitate to share the faith that comes from Truth Himself with your own children? This essay is a great answer to the question that was posed on Debate.org, but I'd like to add a couple of points to my own, piggybacking off of what Heschmeyer has written.
Jesus Falling Under the Cross

Friday, June 23, 2017

Decree From Bishop of Springfield Lays Down Directives For Those in Same-Sex "Marriages"

About a week and a half ago, Bishop Thomas Paprocki released a decree "Regarding Same-Sex 'Marriage' and Related Pastoral Issues". The secular media jumped all over this yesterday, with painfully erroneous ways of misrepresenting Church teaching. Dissenters such as New Way Ministry, as well as their supporters such as Fr. James Martin, also denounced the bishop's decree. However, everything seemed to focus specifically on one small section of the decree, namely on funeral rites:
“Unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death, deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites. In case of doubt, the proper pastor or parochial administrator is to consult the local ordinary [bishop], whose judgment is to be followed (cf. c. 1184).
Fr. Martin replied very quickly on his Facebook page:
If bishops ban members of same-sex marriages from receiving a Catholic funeral, they also have to be consistent. They must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics who have not received annulments, women who has or man who fathers a child out of wedlock, members of straight couples who are living together before marriage, and anyone using birth control. For those are all against church teaching as well. Moreover, they must ban anyone who does not care for the poor, or care for the environment, and anyone who supports torture, for those are church teachings too. More basically, they must ban people who are not loving, not forgiving and not merciful, for these represent the teachings of Jesus, the most fundamental of all church teachings. To focus only on LGBT people, without a similar focus on the moral and sexual behavior of straight people is, in the words of the Catechism, a "sign of unjust discrimination" (2358).
I would have to conclude, as have others, that Fr. Martin, who echoes what the editors at New Ways Ministry had to say, is way off base here. In all honesty, he's pretty much wrong.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Discussion on Abortion and "Personhood" With a Utilitarian

Recently, the ever-awesome Secular Pro Life posted a guest blog by a woman who suffers from turner Syndrome. An excerpt from the article is below:
"Instead of turning 30 reminding me that I'm getting old, it reminds me I'm living—and it's a wonderful feeling. I will wear every grey hair and every wrinkle as a badge of honour. I get to enjoy a life that's all too often left to 'choice' and deemed 'not worth living'—without even being given a chance. 
"My mom is 'pro-choice' and believes it should have been up to her whether or not to abort me if she had known. I'm so thankful that my diagnosis was safe with me in the womb and that I'm alive—instead of my life being reduced to a statistic."
A heart wrenching reality this woman has to live with, that her mom would actually say these things to her own daughter. But what really disturbed me was one of the commenters on the article. This man, from the UK, was a self-professed utilitarian. This was the first time I really was able to get into a deep conversation with one such person. While his ideas are scary, perhaps even monstrous, my interlocutor was pleasant throughout our discussion, never threw any personal attacks, and explained his point of view in an intelligent manner. But it's his worldview that is problematic. While reading through this dialogue, one will see that not only does he reject the personhood of most life in the womb, but also of some people who may be in a vegetative or comatose state, as can be seen by him saying they "often resume personhood". His comments will be in red, mine in blue, and various other commenters in different colors. My interlocutor's initial reply to the article itself is below:

Tom: This is merely confused counterfactual thinking. She'd never have suffered with the thoughts of having not existed or regretted her missed existence had she have been aborted in the first-trimester do it's a moot point.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Priest Resigns After Implementing Traditional Changes: Why Is "Restoration" a Negative Thing?

A couple of days ago, a local news story out of Charlotte broke regarding a Catholic priest. Apparently, after being pastor at a small parish for nearly three years, Fr. Christopher Riehl resigned after several of his parishioners expressed their displeasure with his more traditional directives that were implemented. A rift had risen in the parish, with those who were complaining about his leadership splintering off to hear Mass at a dentist's office in "exile", as some described it. From The Charlotte Observer:
The pastor of a Catholic church in the N.C. mountains whose conservative leadership style split the congregation and drew national media attention has resigned. 
In a Facebook post, the Rev. Christopher Riehl of St. John the Evangelist parish in Waynesville wrote that he was “worn out or burned out” and for his own well-being needed to take a sabbatical. 
He did not mention the rancor at the parish, where he’s been pastor for nearly three years, or the petition by more than 100 members to have him removed. It was sent to Bishop Peter Jugis, who leads the 46-county Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.
The National Catholic Reporter published a January article on the clash between Riehl and many parishioners in the church of about 250 families. Some of those members have left St. John’s. 
The article cast the divide as one of a new pastor who preferred traditionalist approaches to the liturgy and church governance versus parishioners who cherished what had been St. John’s post-Vatican II style of a greater role for the laity and more modern worship and music. 
Vatican II refers to the Second Vatican Council of the early- to mid-1960s, when the Roman Catholic Church, for example, permitted the use of local languages for a Mass that had traditionally been celebrated all over the world in Latin. 
According to the National Catholic Reporter article, Riehl threw out popular hymns and replaced them with the ancient Gregorian chant. When the music director was relieved of her duties, the article said, most of the choir resigned. 
A group calling itself Appalachian Catholics in the Smoky Mountain Region said in a statement earlier this year that Riehl and some other conservative priests assigned by Jugis to small parishes in the mountains “seem to be more intent on taking the church back to pre-Vatican ll days rather than minister to the people. They seem to be steeped in doctrine and theology, but are unwilling to participate in ecumenical activities, and are lacking in compassion, love and mercy. They are doing the job of the theologian, but not the job of the pastor. This is directly opposed to what Pope Francis and Vatican II are teaching us.”...
In his June 4 Facebook post to members of his “parish family,” Riehl wrote that his leaving was not prompted by anything other than his own need to take some time away from parish ministry. 
“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that I have decided, of my own free will and my own instigation, to resign my position here at St. John’s,” he wrote. “I have found that I am worn out or burned out and for my own well being need to take a sabbatical. There was no incident or event, just a feeling that I need some time away from full parish ministry. I have absolutely no questions or doubts about my vocation to the Priesthood of Christ.”
A very sad state of affairs, indeed. NCR (more aptly called the Fishwrap or National Catholic Distorter, by others), also ripped Fr. Riehl over a year and a half ago in an earlier article, which I will quote more below. One commenter on the recent developments in this story said the following:
This new trend is disturbing to me - out with faith, hope and love ... in with appearances of reverence. I am glad these parishioners fought back against this movement of clerical snobbery. I get the sense that some of these younger priests just want to say Mass in what they perceive to be a reverent, or legal, style, without parishioners. It seems like they are removing the communion part of the faith. I hope priests like this can see that their approach is deeply flawed.  
I am now starting to understand why our Holy Father talks so much about clericalism, rigidity and legalism in the Church.
The only trend that is disturbing is the trend of disobedience and the trend that wants to see the Latin Rite purged of all it's legitimate traditions. This whole episode leads me to compare and contrast the Latin and Byzantine Rites a bit. But more on that in a bit.
St. Gregory the Great- Jusepe de Ribera

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More From the Enlightened Mind of Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich

I've written a few posts on here regarding Bl. Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a young 20-something saint who was born, raised and died in New Jersey in the first few decades of the 20th century. An American saint through and through, and I've come to appreciate her even more after reading her biography, written by Sister Mary Zita Geis. I learned many new things about this valuable intercessor of ours, and my devotion to her has certainly grown as I try to figure out how I can attain at least some of the holiness that she exuded throughout her life.

First, I learned that she was certainly a mystic. While the visions she had aren't described in too much detail here, she did experience visions of our Lord and Lady, as well as an interesting encounter with St. Therese, the Little Flower. But most of her experiences seemed to be internal, and in the writings she sent to her spiritual director, he understood that she was definitely receiving spiritual consolations from our Lord such as ecstasies, raptures, visions and locutions.

She also mortified herself daily in many different ways, offering up even the smallest of sufferings to our Lord. For instance, she at times never touched the pew in front of her while kneeling during Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, and when rapt in front of the altar itself, she never let her feet touch the ground as she kneeled before the Blessed Sacrament.

Another interesting tidbit was that she was quite into sports. Particularly, that "boys' game" known as baseball! Of course, baseball is my favorite sport, and to know that she enjoyed playing America's pastime, as well as basketball, makes her same ever more closer despite her nearly unrivaled holiness and submission to God's will. She also took part in Spanish club, as well as drama club and glee club at high school, and performed in and wrote many plays during her high school and college days. Again, this is something still done by many of our high schoolers today. Yet through all these similarities with us Americans today, she was oh so very different. Her piety and desire to conform to God's will is truly an example to us all, and I can't wait to see her become canonized so that all of the United States will properly be able to venerate her as they do St. Elizabeth Ann Seton today.

So in the biography, I came across a couple of her spiritual conferences that were not included in her posthumous book, Greater Perfection. Remember, she wrote these secretly as the rest of he congregation thought that the convent's priest was writing them. Finding these felt like finding a long lost b-side from one of my favorite bands. I'd like to share one of those conferences here, as many of these are hard to find on the Internet, as it certainly moved me, and I hope it does the same for the reader here:

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflecting on the Different Interpretations Given for Amoris Laetitia

I had refrained from posting this long exchange I had had regarding Amoris Latetia for a while, but it seems that the controversy surrounding it just won't go away. I decided it was time for me to post this lengthy discussion so that others can see what is at stake here. We have several bishops contradicting several other bishops on the interpretation of AL. That in itself is scandalous, and even more so are some of the interpretations we've gotten, namely from the Bishops of Malta.

This exchange is mostly with a person I had already talked a bit with on the subject. Unfortunately, this time around it didn't end so well, as my interlocutor, who is a 50-something with a degree in theology, didn't think I was worth the time as I was simply an "autodidact". The thing is, my sources all came from saints, popes, and bishops... as well as our Lord! At the outset, he would interact with my arguments, by the end, he refused to. How my questions were continually dodged will be obvious. Please note, that I don't claim to be a know-it-all. I don't. But the Church does. I asked more than once, that if I was wrong, then show me my error! It didn't happen; my arguments were instead ignored. Perhaps I could've been more pithy, but as I'm a student, I learned a lot through this exchange, and citing as many sources as possible helps me keep things straight. I can only hope that in this excessively large post, someone is able to understand the point I'm trying to make, and can see the evidence I have from the Tradition of the Church to back it up. That is, AL has not changed Church teaching on the reception of Communion for the divorced and remarried that continue to live together more uxorio. My words will be in blue, my interlocutor's in red, and eventually, my words will turn back to black to interject towards the end.
The Apparition of Christ to the People- Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

More Dioceses Restoring the Order of the Sacraments of Initiation

I was confused a few days ago when I kept seeing people posting a two year old news story on how the Archbishop of Denver was restoring the traditional order of the Sacraments of initiation. That is, the age for Confirmation was being lowered so that it would be received before First Holy Communion in the Latin Rite of the Church. I later found out that the reason this is in the news again is because the changes were being staggered, and are finally taking full effect this year. All children in the third grade will receive Confirmation and First Holy Communion at the same Mass. I applaud this decision, and I sincerely hope to see it happen in my own diocese at some point... preferably before my own children reach the second or third grade. A little background on all this "restoring the order business, though.
The Seven Sacraments: Confirmation- Nicolas Poussin


Friday, May 26, 2017

New Catholic Stand Post on the Beauty of the Latin Rite

My latest, original essay is up on Catholic Stand. I've blogged here before that I often spend a lot of time worshipping with Byzantine Catholics, and I've noticed something during that time. At the same moment those in the Byzantine Rite were exhorted to maintain their beautiful and legitimate liturgical traditions, those in the Latin Rite began to discard their venerable liturgical traditions for an, oftentimes, hokey and bland minimalism, which made grandeur and feelings of awe in the Sacrifice of the Mass something to be purged and/or avoided. How can Roman Catholics reclaim this beauty and reverence that Byzantine Catholics have maintained for centuries? Here's a snippet of my thoughts, which you can finish reading at the link below:
While I myself am a Latin Rite Catholic, my maternal grandmother’s side of the family belongs to the Byzantine Rite, specifically the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC). I’ve always felt that I’ve grown up with the best of both worlds. But now, with a Byzantine Rite parish so close to my home, I find myself drawn to this form of worship more and more. This is a rite in the Catholic Church which has not lost its traditions, as we have painfully seen in many Latin Rite parishes throughout the world. 
It can be rightly argued that we as Latin Catholics have an identity crisis; the Byzantines do not. On the contrary, many Latinizations that have been acquired in the last several generations are disappearing in many Byzantine parishes. Yet, despite all this, I wish to stick with the Latin Rite. I want to help, in whatever small way I can, to regain our Latin traditions as the Byzantines have.





Read the rest HERE.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

But One Example of a Negligent Teacher- When and How Should We Speak Up to Error?

Many today in the Church are concerned about how the laity, and even the clergy, have suffered in recent years due to a lack of proper formation and good catechesis. Recent popes have called for a renewed vigor in catechesis; Pope St. John Paul II even wrote an entire encyclical on the matter, Catechesi tradendae. In it, he said:
“To begin with, it is clear that the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right…from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely by reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to on a truly Christian life…” (CT 14).
Unfortunately, many of those who have been in this position to teach have been, at times, derelict, in their duties. One such example that comes up time and time again is found in the person of Fr. James Martin, S.J. Despite his appointment as a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications recently, Fr. Martin has caused controversy by his words on more than one occasion in the last few years. But just as much as his words have caused confusion among the faithful, it can be argued that his silence and lack of speaking up as a pastor and teacher have led to even more confusion among the Catholic faithful. Just earlier this month, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop of Durban in South Africa, said on his Twitter account what many faithful Catholics have been thinking for years: "If we follow [the] teaching of Jesus & his Apostles James Martin's utterances will be shown up for what they are - heterodox!"

In a recent video in which he responded to several other criticisms he has received on Twitter, hFr. Martin mentioned how he doesn't feel the need to respond to people that disagree with him, or ones that call him out on errors he has made, because their arguments are supposedly "baseless". In the same way you wouldn't dignify a man who said you are a wife beater a response, Fr. Martin feels he doesn't need to answer the accusations of those that criticize him. Sure, some of them are baseless assertions, like the ones that are uncharitable.

But there are many people who have asked, in a charitable way, whether or not certain aspects of Church teaching are true. And Fr. Martin has sidestepped those questions at nearly every turn, always toeing the line between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, without ever going too far over into heterodoxy... but keeping a toe or two there, nonetheless. With his new book on the horizon, this is a good time to cite but one example in which it would be prudent to make a note of Fr. Martin's deafening silence. Indeed, as St. John Paul said, all Christians have the right to receive instruction on how to lead a true Christian life. Is remaining silent in the face of a teachable moment really living up to the example St. John Paul gives us?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Christians Are Commanded to Worship Together on Sundays and Holy Days: Why Should We Trust the Church's Teaching Authority?

Sometime back, I got into a discussion with someone regarding the Baltimore Catechism and how it has been an effective supplement for me as a catechist in teaching my students in our parish's religious education program. The pictures inside are remembered by many Catholics of a certain age, and these pictures, and their explanations in Q&A format, made it easy for the kids to understand the reality of the Eucharist during our first Holy Communion prep for 5th-7th graders. The Baltimore Catechism is the perfect supplement to any textbook series a catechist today uses.

However, as the discussion went on, one Catholic person expressed how he disliked some of the pictures and ideas presented in the Baltimore Catechism. This led to a discussion on whether all Christians are obligated to pay due worship to God, by assisting at Mass on Sundays or Holy Days, under pain of mortal sin. This further led into us discussing whether the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium) has clearly stated such an obligation to all Christians, and if those same Christians should pay heed.

I think it needs to be said that many non-Catholic Christians, specifically those of an Evangelical or non-denominational bent, eschew corporate worship. They believe that a "Jesus and me" relationship is the only real requirement anyone needs for eternal life, and that if one misses worship with their brothers and sisters on a particular Sunday, it's not a big deal. Clearly, such persons have made only a cursory reading of Scripture. For if they really had delved into the Scriptures, it would be apparent that not only are we obligated to worship our Lord each Sabbath day, but we are to do so corporately. The thought process goes something like this:

1. The relationship between me and Jesus is the most important thing there is, and one doesn't need the Church to have a relationship with Jesus.
2. This must mean it's the only thing I'm really required and obligated to focus on in regards to entering eternal life.
3. So if I miss worshipping with my brothers and sisters in Christ on Sundays, it's not really a big deal.
4. Therefore, I am not required to assist at Mass on Sundays.

Unfortunately, the jump from "1" to "2" does not prove what a relationship with Christ entails. Not to mention, the jump from "3" to "4" is untenable, because who has decided it's "not really a big deal"? Furthermore, who has decided that we are not obligated to keep the Third Commandment, "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy"? This is the problematic thought process we've received from many Evangelical Christians; it's seeped into the practice of more than a few Catholics who no longer feel it's necessary to corporately worship each Sunday and holy day. As Patrick Madrid puts it in his book Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine:
"Me and Jesus" Christianity isn't biblical"
St. Paul said, "[W]e, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another (Rom. 12:5). Catholics believe membership in Christ's Body means a personal relationship with Jesus and, through Him, with all Christians. 
Although Protestants may agree with this in theory, in application most of them (this is especially true of Evangelicals and Fundamentalists) promote an individualistic "me and Jesus" version of Christianity, teaching that the only thing ultimately important is one's own relationship with Christ, independent of any relationship to anyone else. While it may pay lip service to the communion of saints, in reality most of Protestantism ignores the organic bond of unity between the Christian faithful..."
Excerpt from the Baltimore Catechism
The "me and Jesus" mentality is indeed "individualistic", flying in the face of Scripture; so how anyone can think worshipping with our brothers and sisters is a trivial matter has obviously not read or reflected on what St. Paul says in his First Letter to the Corinthians. He actually scolds other Christians for thinking they don't need other Christians, emphases mine:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ...  For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 
...as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single organ, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, ...those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor... 
But God has so adjusted the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Cor. 12: 12, 14-15, 18-27)
Many Christians, Catholic or not, talk about caring for the needs of other people as Christ instructed, but then they forget about how we need to develop an even deeper relationship with our brothers and sisters since we are all incorporated into the same Body of Christ. This need... this relationship, which is developed concretely at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our partaking of the Eucharist, must no longer be forgotten. The spread of this individualistic notion of a "personal relationship" with Jesus at the expense of His Body, of His spotless Bride (cf. Rev. 22:17; Eph. 5:26-27), needs to be curbed. We, as Christians, must assist at the Mass so that we may keep the Sabbath holy by giving due worship to God, and we also must worship corporately so that we "may have the same care for one another."

Below is my discussion, with my interlocutor's words in red, mine in blue, and various other commenters in different colors.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Redefining Marriage Leads to the Dissolution of Marriage

Today I had the unfortunate luck to come across a story where I found out a family had been torn apart because of one spouse's fear that she "might miss out on my chance at happiness". It's the story of a relatively famous, non-denominational Christian blogger, Glennon Doyle Melton, to leave her husband and pursue a relationship with U.S. women's' soccer star Abby Wambach. In a not so surprising twist, Wambach had just divorced what the state calls her wife not that long ago. But the whole same-sex marriage issue isn't the part that makes me so sad; it's the part about how a wife did not keep her marriage vows to her husband and has left her three children to pick up the tab. It's the culture of divorce in the Western world which should cause all Christians much sadness.
Jean Auguste Henri Leys- Wedding in Flanders in the Seventeenth Century

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Regarding the Validity of Anglican Orders

There's been a lot of talk lately regarding Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio’s comments on the validity of Anglican orders. His comments come from an article in The Tablet, a publication which can be compared to the National Catholic Reporter here in the US; in short, both publications are known best for their heterodox writings. Here's some excerpts from the article on the cardinal if you haven't seen it yet:
In a recently published book, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, calls into question Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 papal bull that Anglican orders are “absolutely null and utterly void.”
“When someone is ordained in the Anglican Church and becomes a parish priest in a community, we cannot say that nothing has happened, that everything is ‘invalid’,” the cardinal says...
“The question of validity [regarding the non-recognition of Anglican orders, while the Pope would give pectoral crosses, rings or chalices to Anglican clergy], however, is not a matter of law but of doctrine,” he explains in a question and answer format. “We have had, and we still have a very rigid understanding of validity and invalidity: this is valid, and that is not valid. One should be able to say: ‘this is valid in a certain context, and that is valid another context’.”
There's been a lot of talk about "rigidity" lately, and it's unfortunate that it seems so many things devolve into this charge against Catholics by and large. These comments have raised some eyebrows, and it would be well for all Catholics to take a deeper look and find out the real story behind Pope Leo XIII's declaration on the nullity of Anglican orders in Apostolicae curae, especially in light of all the confusion that may result among the faithful during the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Protestant reformation.
Pope Leo XIII in 1898

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What Does Gender Really Mean When It Comes to the Transgender Question?

Recently, my friend posted a meme on social media which depicted a person holding up a sign saying "My genitals do not define my gender". On the bottom half of the meme, the following statements were also made:
"My IQ does not define my intelligence."
"My physique doesn't define my fitness."
"My semen doesn't define my child."
"Go on. Make some more stupid cases."
While I thought the meme was a bit crude, I did think it got a valid point across. Another person made a comment, indicating that the view given in the meme was ignorant in his view. The discussion we had is below, with my words in blue and my interlocutor's in red. I think the discussion we had was cordial, as we both felt very differently on the subject, but it never devolved into ad hominem attacks or other insulting banter. I hope to go deeper into such a discussion in the future, but I'm thankful for the time my interlocutor took to engage me and the time they took to read my point of view. Our discussion follows the jump:
Creation of Adam- Michelangelo 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

New Essay on "Window Dressing" Up on Catholic Stand and Catholic365

My latest essay for Catholic Stand is now live, which focuses on the differences between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians, and why both sides contradict each other on the so-called "essentials". The Catholic Stand article was shortened for space issues, but the full, unedited version can be found on Catholic365. Here's a snippet from the article. Please follow the links above for more:
King David Playing the Harp- Peter Paul Rubens
Many of our separated Christian brethren hold that there is more we have in common than we might think. I agree. Catholics and non-denominational Christians share in a common baptism and common profession of Jesus as God and savior. However, it’s pretty obvious that there are also some glaring differences between these two faiths, and I would argue (as would many Catholic and Orthodox Christians) that these differences are in essential areas, i.e., salvation. 
The first point to make in response to this view of indifferentism regarding Jesus’ Church is to simply ask, how can this be that the doctrines and Traditions of Christian religions are merely window dressing? Who has decided which teachings and doctrines are window dressing and which are actually the structure of the building itself, that is, essential? The “essentials” seem elementary to any Evangelical. 
But on the flip side, the “essentials” seem pretty clear to Catholics, too. The problem here is that these essentials are defined differently between these two faiths, and often, the “essentials” even contradict each other. But what if everything revealed to us by Jesus and the New Testament writers are essential? 
More here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

When the Writings of Saints Are Deemed to be Politically Incorrect...

You may or may not have heard the story coming out of Orlando this past week concerning a catechist at a Catholic school who had passed out printouts of St. John Bosco’s 1853 essay “The Catholic Educated in his Faith.” The teacher was reprimanded, but to what extent is unclear. From the local article:
The Diocese of Orlando issued a statement about its decision to reprimand the teacher to the Huffington Post. Diocese officials said they would issue the same written statement to the Star-Banner, but that had not been received by press time.
The Diocese of Orlando officials would not answer questions to discuss details about the exact extent of the punishment.
Jacquelyn Flanigan, an associate superintendent with the Diocese of Orlando’s Catholic school system, said in a statement to the Huffington Post that she had spoken with Blessed Trinity’s Principal Jason Halstead and Smythe.
Flanigan stated that after speaking with the two men, the school district decided to “reprimand the teacher for this unfortunate exhibit of disrespect.” Flanigan also said in the statement that the material is also “not consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
It seems we've come to the point where even local dioceses are being too careful of upsetting the PC police. Here's a sampling of St. John's readings, and even I can admit that they aren't PC:
"We could say the Koran is a series of errors, the most enormous ones being against morality and the worship of the true God.  For example, it excuses from sin those who deny God out of fear of death;  it permits revenge; it guarantees its followers a Paradise filled only of earthly pleasures.  In short, this false prophet’s doctrine permits things so obscene, that the Christian soul is horrified just naming them."
But here's the thing... so what if his writings aren't PC? One could argue that Jesus Christ wasn't politically correct either, so to claim that St. John Bosco's writings go against Catholic teaching is simply mistaken. Let's see why that's so.
St. John Bosco and students

Friday, April 14, 2017

An Open Letter to a Catholic University Chaplain

It's no secret that many of North America's (and Europe's) Catholic colleges and university have had a streak of unorthodox practices and dissent for several decades. A great example of a college that once upheld Catholic teachings, and now possesses a most questionable attitude to the doctrines of Christ's Holy Church, would be the University of Notre Dame. Many other places of higher education could be named, but we don't need to go down that rabbit hole. We'll instead go down another, where I noticed a certain Catholic university had been displaying images near the school's chapel that were dangerous to the faith of those not well grounded in their faith, and were crafted by a man who had clear intentions to subvert the Truth revealed to the Catholic Church. Below is the letter I made up for the chaplain of this university:
North Quad at Notre Dame

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thoughts on the Jesuit General's Apparent Relativism, and a Reply to His (non-Catholic) Supporter

A little over a month ago, a very controversial interview with the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, was released. In it, Fr. Abascal claimed that all Church doctrine must be subject to discernment. While technically true, he failed to mention that all need to submit to what the Church has declared. That is so, because Jesus is Head of the Church. All doctrine that the Church gives us comes directly from Jesus Christ Himself. Here are a couple relevant excerpts:
Q: So if conscience, after discernment, tells me that I can receive communion even if the norm does not provide for it… 
A: The Church has developed over the centuries, it is not a piece of reinforced concrete. It was born, it has learned, it has changed. This is why the ecumenical councils are held, to try to bring developments of doctrine into focus. Doctrine is a word that I don't like very much, it brings with it the image of the hardness of stone. Instead the human reality is much more nuanced, it is never black or white, it is in continual development. 
Q: I seem to understand that for you there is a priority for the practice of the discernment of doctrine. 
A: Yes, but doctrine is part of discernment. True discernment cannot dispense with doctrine. 
Q: But it can reach conclusions different from doctrine.
A: That is so, because doctrine does not replace discernment, nor does it the Holy Spirit.
After reading the full interview of what the Jesuit General had to say, I have to say I find his words very disheartening. It sounds as if he's completely embraced moral relativism. Fr. Dwight Longenecker made some good points:
"This is astounding. Let’s be clear. While Fr Abascal thinks Jesus’ words are difficult to understand, Fr Abascal’s are easily understood. He is saying that we can’t really know what Jesus’ words were so it is all up for grabs."
The Scribe Stood to Tempt Jesus- James Tissot

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What Came First? The Egg or Moral Relativism?

I came across an interesting meme the other day. It wasn't one of your typical memes with a little bit of text emblazoned on a funny picture. The picture can be found below, with a long (for a meme) essay attached to it, seen here. The meme is titled "You were on your way home but you died". It involves a man who dies in a car accident, meets a being who purports to be God, with the God character telling the man he will be reincarnated, and will keep being reincarnated until he has lived the life of every living thing on Earth, because then he will be sufficiently mature.

The conclusion is that the universe is simply an egg for this person to mature in. However this person is simultaneously Hitler and Abraham Lincoln. Therefore, our actions do not have any real consequences. In addition, the God character comments that "All religions are right in their own way." Not to mention, the typical nonsense of God being a woman comes into play again, because it's everyone's favorite thing to disregard the fact that God has revealed Himself to humanity as "Father". But anyways, read the whole thing at the link above. We'll be focusing on one main error here: the moral relativism that the author's notion of "all religions being right in their own way" leads us to.


Monday, March 27, 2017

First Post at Catholic Stand

I've been fortunate enough to have begun writing over at Catholic Stand, a great website for superior quality content from a variety of Catholic authors. I'm hoping to reach a wider and slightly different audience by writing here, and hoping that somehow my writing will help others on their path to holiness.

My first article is a slightly shortened and edited version of my previous blog post on ugly churches. To find the new article, follow this link, and please be sure to check out the other essays around the site!

St. Nicholas of Tolentino cathedral, Philippines 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

If Planned Parenthood Is Defunded, Will FQHC's Be Affordable For All Women?

Recently, Live Action posted a story on their website exposing the myth that has been circulating around pro-choice circles. That myth is that if Planned Parenthood (PP) is defunded, women will not be able to get accessible healthcare, and the alternatives will be too expensive. Of course, we have to define healthcare, as I (and many others) would argue that abortions and contraceptives are not healthcare. But the biggest issue here, of course, is abortion. Several lively conversations ensued on public social media, and I interacted with two people. Well one, I suppose would be more accurate. And even that one wasn't interested in having a conversation of much substance. What I noticed, in the replies to this story, was that many Americans who are pro-choice and/or support PP are incapable of rational discourse; they are incapable of interacting with ideas other than their own, and instead throw around ad hominem attacks, or simply dismiss any point made with a wave of the hand since they can't come up with a rebuttal. For if they did offer a rebuttal, that would mean they would have to consider the points made by their interlocutor, and it appears that it's too much for many people to contemplate for even a second that they're position on a matter as grave as abortion is wrong.
Christ Blessing Little Children- Marie Ellenrieder

The first "exchange" I had was in response to someone simply posting a meme in reply to the article. In response to my and others' comments, all the person could do was dismiss everything said by saying a condescending "Oh honeys!" This is where intelligent debate dies. Less and less it seems that two people can exchange ideas and have a thoughtful conversation, and instead immediately dismiss the opposing sides thoughts. This is different from finding your opponents logic in actual error. We can't just dismiss someone's opinion, no matter how ridiculous we find it. We still have to interact with it, and not just declare "you're wrong", but prove and demonstrate why this is so.

The other dialogue took place with a woman who felt that Live Action was spreading "lies" and that women would never be able to afford visiting an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center). She was mistaken. I'll post my response to the first young woman, followed by pseudo-dialogue I and others had with the second woman immediately after. My words will be in blue, my interlocutor's in red, and other people in various colors.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Timely Words From Pope St. John Paul II on Conscience

As part of my Lenten devotions, I'm currently reading "In Conversation With God" from Opus Dei priest Fr. Francis Fernandez. Today, meditation was "Conscience- the light  of the soul". He himself gives great insight, but he quoted the words of St. John Paul II; words that the great pope gave exactly 36 years ago this Wednesday from his Angelus address:

I provide the link from the Vatican website in Italian, and I was able to translate the relevant parts from the Spanish, with Google and Fr. Fernandez's translations. I thought this would be good to share this, as it regards to all the talk going on about "conscience" lately in the wake of the controversy caused by certain interpretations of Amoris Laetitia. Please read in its entirety, but here are some snippets:
St. John Paul II at Yankee Stadium, 1979

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Answer to the Apparent "Exclusivity" of the Catholic Church

There was a lively thread on social media regarding various heresies throughout the life of the Church. Many people, when seeing things such as Lutheranism and Anglicanism on the list, recated as expected: pretty incredulously. One person posed the following question/comment:
"So what do you say to people who say the church is any and every believer in Christ, rather than one denomination you believe to be correct? The exclusivity of this is strange to me.. that truth is not in Christ, but only in the Catholic Church. You see your religion as the gatekeeper to God, rather than Christ being so."
My reply, with a little bit more added, follows below.

Pope St. Clement I Adoring the Trinity- Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

Friday, March 3, 2017

Expansive Dialogue Regarding The Church's Infallibility and Apostolic Succession

Some of you may remember that I wrote a series of articles on Catholic365 that stemmed from dialogues I had with a Baptist (and five-point Calvinist) pastor which were posted here on this blog. I then continued to turn those dialogues into essays, however, there was one last dialogue between this pastor and I that I haven't posted yet. It was in response to this essay on the Church's infallibility and how that specific charism relates to the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. The reason I hesitated for so long in posting it is because of the length of our discussion, how sprawling it was, and how off topic it eventually got before I decided enough was enough.

Perhaps I went on for too long; there is that saying about casting pearls before swine after all, and shaking the dust from your shoes. But it's my hope that someone might benefit from what is written here, and hopefully, I can eventually make this into an essay or two after doing some modifying. In any case, posting this dialogue will in the very least show people how stubborn Calvinists can be when they are backed into a wall, i.e., perfectly valid arguments not being addressed but instead deemed "invalid" and then with a wave of the hand, seemingly dismissed.

Below is the very long conversation we had. Unfortunately, the original conversation is deleted from Catholic365 as the pastor has been banned. I saved our conversations, but at certain points I did not save the entirety of my interlocutor's posts, and instead only included the relevant quotes I was replying to. I apologize for any confusion that may result in reading this, but I will try to make this as streamlined as possible for easy reading. My words will be in blue, and the pastor's in red. I begin by replying to relevant parts of the pastor's first comment on the above article. After my initial reply, I will include his full replies. My words will be in blue and "Tom's" in red:
Gérard de Lairesse- The Institution of the Eucharist

Declarations Regarding Luther's "Witness" Are Not Teachings of the Magisterium

A few months ago, I had a somewhat disturbing conversation with someone regarding Martin Luther. This Catholic man could not agree to the simple fact that, by definition, Luther was a heretic. He couldn't confirm that that was a true statement. That interaction, and the conversation that ensued with someone else following it, can be found on this blog here. This bothered me for quite a while. Even though I already knew how to respond, it didn't sit right with me so I asked for the opinion of some other people. Apologist Dave Armstrong answered me on his Facebook, after I commented on a post of his regarding Luther. Our short exchange follows and validates what I had written in the post I linked to above. My words are in blue, and Dave's in red:
Pope Leo X

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Penitential Nature of the Great Canon of St. Andrew

Today, I was able to experience something different compared to what I have encountered during my Lenten journeys over my life. Many Latin Catholics probably aren't too familiar with the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. If you want to be immersed in the beauty of the Byzantine liturgical tradition, you should look no further than the singing of these hymns during the canon. The canon was written by the great hymnographer, St. Andrew, bishop of Crete, in the seventh century. It is the longest canon ever created, with 250 hymns when sung in its entirety.

During the first week of Great Lent (also known as Pure Week), the Canon is divided into four parts, Monday through Thursday. On the fifth Thursday of Lent, the canon is sung in its entirety, lasting over three hours. I went on a Thursday night, and while it was beautiful and intimate, it was definitely a work out, and was not what I was expecting. Following the opening incensation of the church, we got a little pep talk by the priest. He told us if we felt tired, to take a break. He advised us to get water if our voice cracked, since we would be doing a lot of singing. But why would he warn us about getting tired? Because the entire service included over 100 full body prostrations... and that was just for Thursday's portion.
St. Andrew of Crete and St. Mary of Egypt

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Modern Day Iconoclasm Has Done to Catholic Parishes

This past Sunday, my wife and I had to attend Mass out of town at a different church that was outside of our diocese. That always pains me a bit because our pastor at our home parish is pretty cool and knowledgeable, not to mention there are other nearby parishes which are solid in their own right.

Now I've been to some ugly Catholic churches before, but this one stood out in its preeminent blandness. After I walked in, I remembered being there for a great uncle's funeral before. But this time, I was able to see how this church was basically a hold over from the proponents of iconoclasm, which had been condemned as heretical over a millennium ago. Why was I seeing such a naked church in the 21st century?

Of course, the church was built 30 years ago, so the somewhat clandestine revival of iconoclasm was obviously a thing in the years and decades following the Second Vatican Council. But let's not forget that the Council never called for such ugly and white washed houses of worship to be made.
Altar of St. Joseph at Basilique Notre-Dame de Bonne Nouvelle de Rennes

Monday, February 20, 2017

New Catholic365 Articles on Byzantine rite

I apologize for the lack of content lately. I have been working overtime again, and it's anyone's guess how long this will last. I may be posting infrequently still for the next few weeks. In the meantime, I finally finished up my series on the eastern Catholic Churches over at Catholic365.com. I had to end up separating the long essay into three parts, and they are linked below, with a preview of the first part after the jump:

Intro to the Eastern Catholic Churches Part VI: The Byzantine Rite and Its History

Intro to the Eastern Catholic Churches Part VI: The Byzantine Churches Today and Its Liturgical Traditions

Intro to the Eastern Catholic Churches Part VI: Great Byzantine Saints



Friday, January 13, 2017

Should the Koran Be Read During Christian Worship?

I saw this reported on a few websites in the past couple days that an Episcopalian cathedral in Glasgow had invited a Muslim woman to read from the Koran during their liturgy for the Feast of the Epiphany (or Theophany in the East). Thank God this would never be allowed in a Catholic Church, but nonetheless, this act is scandalous to Christians of any creed. At least it should be. What makes it even more problematic was that the reading that was used was from the 19th Surah. While this selection speaks of the Annunciation and Jesus' conception, it is wholly inappropriate as the 35th verse completely denies that Jesus was divine. It flat out affirms that that Jesus was not God. And this selection was read during a Christian liturgy, where Jesus, God the Son, is worshiped.
The Theophany in Heaven with the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint John the Baptist

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What To Do About Confusion?

The whole confusion surrounding the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia truly saddens me, and I just don't understand how there can be so many contradictory interpretations of this document among not just theologians, clergy, and laypeople, but between bishops.

I was just made aware of an interpretation by Bishop Benno Elbs of Feldkirch, Austria who told an Austrian newspaper that regarding the doctrine telling us the D&R can't receive Communion,
"The doctrine is changed inasmuch as the door is now open. People have done this before, but now with the Pope's blessing, they can, so to speak, make this decision with their conscience... If it's in a footnote or not isn't significant to me. The entire document breathes the spirit that the individual finds in his own conscience a way to deal with life's situations."
Bishop Benno Elbs

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Elephant(s) in the Room

With a new year just beginning, the same controversies that plagued the last continue. It appears that all the discussion surrounding Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Latetia (AL) will continue into 2017. In an interview, Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the four cardinals who submitted the dubia, explained that a formal correction could appear in the new year if the dubia were not addressed. Things are getting pretty serious, and how things will play out is anyone's guess. I sincerely pray there will be no division and all will be resolved by God's grace. I've read a lot of commentary on the issue, and had some discussions with others on this as well, and it all seems to boil down to a couple of issues that are the clear "elephant, or elephants, in the room". One of those, taken from a conversation I was a part of can be seen below:
"Is the idea that refraining from sexual intercourse from a civilly-married partner is too large of a burden and too great of an expectation?"
"It may be that this question is THE elephant in the room re[garding] AL.
"From my own... experience re married couples, especially a Catholic woman married to a non Catholic man, yes, this may well be an unreasonable ask (sic) for a variety of reasons."
To which another person replied, citing the Council of Trent, Session VI: "CANON XVIII.-If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema."

What's being referred to here is the apparent (not actual) contradiction found in one interpretation of AL's footnote #351 (on page 237) and section 84 of Pope St. John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio (FC) which reads:
"[T]he Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
"Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they 'take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.'"
The rest of the conversation, or at least the relevant portions, will follow below. I believe this conversation was very fruitful, and I was able to learn quite a bit, especially by reading more of the papal documents promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; documents I had never given the time of day to read, but now realize the entirety of these documents are a great treasure of the Church. My words will be in blue, my main interlocutor's in red, and other people chiming in during the conversation will be in other various colors:
Pope St. John Paul II