Friday, May 30, 2008

Stations of the Cross "Updated" for WYD

Story from the CathNews site:

In a bid to ensure the World Youth Day Stations of the Cross will not incite anti-Semitic feelings and appeal to all Christians, organisers have dropped six traditional stations which have no scriptural foundation.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Church has changed one of its most popular devotions and a landmark event of World Youth Day to take account of the sensitivities of Jews and draw other Christian denominations into its youth celebrations.

In the Catholic tradition the Stations of the Cross, the depiction of the final hours of Jesus Christ, features 14 scenes including the fall of Jesus three times, but only eight stations have scriptural foundation.

To make the event more appealing to all Christians, a Vatican approved scriptural version, founded entirely on passages from the New Testament, will be adopted when it is staged in the streets of Sydney on July 18.

It is not the only concession the Church is willing to make in the name of interfaith unity: scriptural texts, reflections and video commentaries will be carefully worked so that the scene at the Sydney Opera House in which Jesus is condemned does not incite anti-Semitic feeling.

So if six of the "traditional" stations have "no scriptural foundation", which are they? I assume they are including (though on a few I'd disagree):

2 - Jesus is Made to Bear His Cross
3 - Jesus Falls for the First Time
4 - Jesus Meets His Mother
6 - Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
7 - Jesus Falls a Second Time
9 - Jesus Falls the Third Time

Leaving the following eight "scripturally based" stations:

1 - Jesus is Condemned to Death
5 - Simon Helps Jesus Carry His Cross
8 - Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem
10- Jesus is Stripped of His Garments
11- Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
12- Jesus Dies on the Cross
13- Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
14- Jesus is Laid in His Tomb

Sigh. I hope they're careful not to offend any Romans.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corpus Christi

Adoro te devote

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating Thee.

Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived;
The ear alone most safely is believed:
I believe all the Son of God has spoken,
Than Truth's own word there is no truer token.

God only on the Cross lay hid from view;
But here lies hid at once the Manhood too:
And I, in both professing my belief,
Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.

Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;
Yet Thee confess my Lord and God to be:
Make me believe Thee ever more and more;
In Thee my hope, in Thee my love to store.

O thou Memorial of our Lord's own dying!
O Bread that living art and vivifying!
Make ever Thou my soul on Thee to live;
Ever a taste of Heavenly sweetness give.

O loving Pelican! O Jesu, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in Thy Blood;
Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
Is ransom for a world's entire guilt.

Jesu! Whom for the present veil'd I see,
What I so thirst for, O vouchsafe to me:
That I may see Thy countenance unfolding,
And may be blest Thy glory in beholding.


St. Thomas Aquinas
(tr. E. Caswall)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Transalpine Redemptorists

On the island of Papa Stronsay stands the Golgotha Monestary, home to the Transalpine Redemptorist Congregation. The Transalpine Redemptorists are a group of traditional Catholic monks who live by a rule based of the rule St. Alphonsus Liguori lived by.

The Transalpine Redemptorists are connected to, though not part of, the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX). The SSPX is a group of Traditional Catholic priests who belong to a society founded in 1970 by the French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre after Vatican II. In 1988 the Archbishop consecrated 4 of the order’s priests as Bishops, placing the group in a complicated situation and status within the Church. An interesting point is that Pope John Paul II sent none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to talk with Archbishop Lefebvre.

Recently, they have drawn the attention of many on both sides by entering into dialog with the Ecclesia Dei Commission – a commission set-up to care for former members of the SSPX. It seems that the Pope’s last muto proprio "Summorum Pontificum" which allowed for a more liberal use of the extraordinary rite has been accepted as a positive step toward possible reconciliation.

In response to rumors flying around the Internet, the group posted a document "Declaration On Relations with Rome" on their blog. It’s an honest, but not angry, statement of where they stand. Here is how it begins ... and ends:
"We hold firmly with all our heart and with all our mind to Catholic Rome, Guardian of the Catholic Faith and of the traditions necessary to the maintenance of this faith, to the eternal Rome, mistress of wisdom and truth.

We refuse on the other hand, and have always refused, to follow the Rome of Neo-Modernist and Neo-Protestant tendencies, which became clearly manifest during the Second Vatican Council, and after the Council, in reforms which issued from it.

That is why, without any rebellion, bitterness, or resentment, we pursue our work of the sanctification of souls in the spirit of Saint Alphonsus under the guidance of the never-changing Magisterium, convinced as we are that we cannot possibly render a greater service to the Holy Catholic Church, to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to posterity."

. . .

"All these serious considerations, dear friends, move us to go and see what Rome has to say. Let not our contacts with Rome be understood as meaning that we will break off our friendship with the Society of Saint Pius X and the other traditionalist organisations around the world. On the contrary, we positively want with all our hearts to remain in contact, sharing all that we may learn with Bishop Fellay and the other heads of traditional orders for the good of tradition as a whole.

Only time will tell if the moment has come for an agreement with Rome. Prudence requires of us to proceed slowly and cautiously, reflecting well at each step of the discussions. In this, we will rely on the continued support and advice of our traditionalist friends. Our agreement must be founded upon the fundamental principles of the Church and the safeguarding of the Faith.

While asking for your prayers for this matter, we place ourselves under the patronage and protection of our Mother of Perpetual Succour, She ‘who by Herself has crushed all the heresies in the whole world’ qui cunctas haereses interemit. May She, whom St Alphonsus ever invoked as the Mother of Good Counsel, teach us to be "wise as serpents and simple as doves"5, while showing us how to "generously open our hearts to make room for everything that the Faith itself allows."
Nobody knows how the story will end, but I think most would agree that we lost an important part of the family in 1988. I do pray that we can welcome them home someday soon.

Here is a very interesting video where an atheist/agnostic gentleman spends 24 hours with the Transalpine Redemptorists and has a experience I don’t think he’ll soon forget. Be sure to watch it through to the end.

Genuine Charity: still the best evangelization tool around.

Pray for Ted Kennedy

We learned today that Senator Edward Kennedy has brain cancer. This could end his life relatively quickly, or he could live past the typical 3-5 years. To be honest, I do have a tough time mustering sympathy: I don't like or respect Kennedy in the least, but I sincerely don't relish his suffering or how his disunion with the Church ala abortion remains apparently unresolved-- for his sake as well as those who are influenced by him as their role model.

Please pray for strength for him and his family as they face his struggle against cancer; and pray for Kennedy's reconciliation with the Church and conversion to a prolife position.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Great Resource

I thought I’d pass along a resource I ran across not so long ago. The Catholic Information Service (CIS) is a program the Knights of Columbus started in 1948 to “provide free Catholic publications for parishes, schools, retreat houses, military installations, correctional facilities, legislatures, the medical community, and for individuals who request them.”

One of these publications is the Luke E. Hart Series. This is a series of 30 booklets written by Peter Kreeft that “provides a systematic introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church … offering an explanation in everyday language of each area of Catholic belief and practice.”

The series is grouped into 3 sections: What Catholics Believe, How Catholics Worship, and How Catholics Live. Each section contains 10 booklets/lessons on topics relating to the section. Here is a list of the topics.

What Catholics Believe
- Faith
- God
- Creation
- The Human Person
- Jesus Christ
- The Holy Spirit
- The Holy Catholic Church
- The Forgiveness of Sins
- The Resurrection of the Body
- The Life Everlasting

How Catholics Worship
- Introduction to Catholic Liturgy
- Introduction to the Sacraments
- Baptism and Confirmation
- The Eucharist
- Penance
- Matrimony
- Holy Orders & Anointing of the Sick
- Prayer
- The Lord's Prayer
- Mary

How Catholics Live
- The Essence of Catholic Morality
- Human Nature as the Basis of Morality
- Some Fundamental Principles of Catholic Morality
- Virtues and Vices
- The First Three Commandments
- The Fourth Commandment
- The Fifth Commandment
- The Seventh & Tenth Commandments
- The Eighth Commandment

Each lesson is available in a PDF format that can be read on your computer or easily printed, and is also available in an mp3 format that allows you to listen to it on your computer or download it to an mp3 player. The booklets can also be ordered for the cost of postage (50 cents) if you prefer.

I’ve been quite impressed with the topics I’ve had a chance to work through. Typical Peter Kreeft (one of my favorites) writing – understandable, interesting, witty, and orthodox. They're a great free Catholic resource. There are man other resources on the site, and more are being added regularly.

When you get a chance go to the site and check it out!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Very Tricky Situation: What Do You Think?

In today's twin cities paper, and on a couple of radio talk shows, I read/heard about a situation in a small MN parish, in which a family has been asked (first verbally and now via a restraining order) to refrain from bringing their autistic son to Mass. He is 13 years old, but is over 6 feet and weighs over 200 lbs. He is disruptive and from the accounts I heard could be unintentionally dangerous. Now, I only know what was in the newspaper article, and what was relayed on the radio by the mother of the autistic boy, and of course the opinions of the hosts and several callers. I invite everyone to read and listen for yourself.

The links to the radio audio files can be found in the podcast links below, just click and then look for Dan Barriero and Ron Rosenbaum for 5/17 with the appropriate descriptions-- you can download the relevant audio files. The newspaper story link is also provided below.

Here's my take; I would really like to hear from others. First, the family of this boy seems to be full of love; they are enduring the struggles of having two autistic children and have taken in a foreign exchange student. I think I heard that they have five children. On the radio the mother seems to clearly take her Catholic faith seriously and desires to share this with her son. This really is a beautiful thing. Second, this boy needs (just as we all do) the grace provided by the Eucharist, and thus needs access to it. I cannot really imagine the challenges the family faces, but I believe I can at least empathize with the situation. But...

But, both in the short excerpts in the paper, and in her responses to several callers' suggestions and criticisms, she really did seem to be stubborn about not accepting compromises that involve not having her son attend the Mass, in the sanctuary. This particular church apparently has two crying rooms, and her response was that her son becomes even more uncontrollable in the "open spaces." (?) She also indicated that her son would not do well if they tried to change the routine that they've established over the last several years. I also think the family has a severe blind spot about how the boy's size and actions affect others and put them in danger. In a really stark example, they let him start the family car after Mass (uh, yeah...) and then he jumped into someone else's car and revved the engine. Her response? He's drawn to engines.

Well anyway, there is more detail, about the priests actions, and the local school system (similar issues), etc. You'll have to take a look and listen for yourself.

The only additional solution I could come up with, was having Communion delivered to their home. I understand the value of having the whole family attend Mass, but there is a common sense point where the needs of the remaining parishioners have to count, too.

Comments or thoughts??

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pray for Those Affected by Recent Disasters

Friends, please take a few moments to pray for the victims, family and friends of the recent disasters in Myanmar and China; for safety, comfort, & consolation.

God bless them.

Monday, May 12, 2008

On the Assumption of Mary; an explanation

It is one thing to say we will reject all that contradicts scripture and quite another to say one must reject anything not explicit in scripture. Even Luther would submit to those arguments which appealed to logic or reason. The Assumption of Mary for instance while not found explicitly in scripture is not without precedent. Furthermore, one can argue that her assumption is described allegorically in Revelation. I will grant that we Catholics tend to over use allegory in as much as Reformed and Evangelicals avoid it, but it must follow that if the genre uses allegory then one must interpret using allegory. And Revelation uses allegory. Nonetheless, the point is that while the dogma is not explicit, it is implicit. Moreover, everything the Church believes about Mary is based on the logic that to not hold to it diminishes Christ. Does that make sense? Or put another way everything the Church believes about Mary follows from a particular belief about Christ. Christ is without sin so Mary was made to be without sin at conception, through no merit of her own but by the grace of God in order to prepare a dwelling for Himself. Conversely if we were to argue that Mary was an ordinary child and woman, sinful and bent, how does it follow that her son is the sinless son of God. Would he not instead be half God half son of Adam? No! The Immaculate Conception is necessary for the incarnation. Likewise in the assumption of Mary we see the fulfillment of Christ’s work. The hope that if we die with him we will also live with him if we persevere we will reign with him. Mary is the very real proof of that hope. Just as the virgin birth was a very real proof of the Messiah. If the dogmas concerning Mary are removed one is left with convincing but hollow arguments. Paul asked the Corinthians if they wanted wisdom or the power of God. I propose that Marian dogma is all about the power of God. Marian theology is also strongly tied to the Church and to the individual believer. Every dogma that is believed about Mary is true by extension to the Church and to each of the faithful. This is what we believe and why. Hopefully this helps to show some of the reasons behind our belief and will begin to nibble away the new barriers.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Festivals and Vigils – Balance

A little more Newman.

"[T]he age, whatever be its peculiar excellences, has this serious defect, it loves an exclusively cheerful religion. It determined to make religion bright and sunny and joyous, whatever be the form of it which it adopts. And it will handle the Catholic doctrine in the spirit; it will skim over it; it will draw it out in mere buckets-full; it will substitute its human cistern for the well of truth; it will be afraid of the deep well, the abyss of God's judgments and God's mercies.

... Surely we are pretending allegiance to the Church to no purpose, or rather to our own serious injury, if we select her doctrines and precepts at our pleasure; choose this, reject that; take what is beautiful and attractive, shrink from what is is stern and painful ...

Christianity, considered as a moral system, is made up of two elements, beauty and severity; whenever either is indulged to the loss or disparagement of the other, evil ensues ...

... Thus let us proceed in the use of all our privileges, and will be benefits. Let us not keep festivals without keeping vigils; let us not keep Eastertide without observing Lent; let us not approach the Sunday feast without keeping the Friday abstinence; let us not adorn churches without studying personal simplicity and austereness; let us not cultivate the accomplishments of taste and literature without the corrective of personal discomfort; let us not attempt to advance the power of the Church, to enthrone her rulers, to rear her palaces, and to ennoble her name, without recollecting that she must be mortified within while she is in honour in the world ...

... [L]et us beware, on the other hand, of dishonouring and rudely rejecting God's gifts, out of gloominess or sternness; let us beware of fearing without feasting. "Every creature of God is good, and nothing be refused." Let us beware, though it must be a sad perversion of mind which admits of it, - let us beware of afflicting ourselves for sin, without first coming to the Gospel for strength to do so. And let us not so plunge ourselves in the sense of our offenses, as not withal to take delight in the contemplation of our privileges. Let us rejoice while we mourn. Let us look up to our Lord and Saviour the more we shrink from the sight of ourselves; let us have the more faith and love the more we exercise repentance. Let us, in our penitence, not substitute the Law for the Gospel, but add the Law to the Gospel ...

... [A]s they must not defraud themselves of Christian privileges, neither need they give up God's temporal blessings. All the beauty of nature, the kind influences of the seasons, the gifts of the sun and moon, and the fruits of the earth, the advantages of civilized life, and the presence of friends and intimates; all these good things are but one extended and wonderful type of God's benefits in the Gospel. Those who aim at perfection will not reject the gift, but add a corrective; they will add the bitter herbs to the fatted calf and music and dancing; they will not refuse the flowers of the earth, but they will toil in plucking up the weeds. Or if they refrain from one temporal blessing, it will be to reserve another; for this is one great mercy of God, that while He allows us discretionary use of His temporal gifts, He allows discretionary abstinence also..."

The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

Taken from:
The Rule of Our Warfare
42. The Defect of "Cheerful" Religion

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"The Great Unknown"

"The arm of the Lord has not been shortened." God is no less powerful today than he was in other times; his love for man is no less true. Our faith teaches us that all creation, the movement of the earth and the other heavenly bodies, the good actions of creatures and all the good that has been achieved in history, in short everything, comes from God and is directed toward him.

The action of the Holy Spirit can pass unnoticed, because God does not reveal to us his plans, and because man's sin clouds over the divine gifts. But faith reminds us that God is always acting. He has created us and maintains us in existence and he leads all creation by his grace toward the glorious freedom of the children of God.

For this reason, christian tradition has summarised the attitude we should adopt toward the Holy Spirit in just one idea: docility. That means we should be aware of the work of the Holy Spirit all around us, and in our own selves we should recognize the gifts he distributes, the movements and institutions he inspires, the affections and decisions he provokes in our hearts. The Holy Spirit carries out in the world the works of God. He is, as we read in a liturgical hymn, the giver of grace, the light of our hearts, the soul's guest, our rest in work, our consolation in sorrow. Without his help there is nothing innocent or valuable in man, since he is the one who cleanses the soiled, heals what is sick, sets on fire what is cold, straightens what is bent and guides men toward the safe harbour of salvation and eternal joy.

But our faith in the Holy Spirit must be complete. It is not a vague belief in his presence in the world, but a grateful acceptance of the signs and realities into which he has poured forth his power in a special way. When the Spirit of truth comes, our Lord tells us, "he will glorify me, for he will take of what is mine and declare it to you." The Holy Spirit is the Spirit sent by Christ to carry out in us the work of holiness that our Lord merited for us on earth.

And so, there cannot be faith in the Holy Spirit if there is not faith in Christ, in his sacraments, in his Church. A man cannot act in accordance with his christian faith, cannot truly believe in the Holy Spirit, unless he loves the Church and trusts it. He cannot be a coherent Christian if he limits himself to pointing out the deficiencies and limitations of some who represent the Church, judging her from the outside, as though he were not her son. Moreover, consider the extraordinary importance and abundance of the Paraclete when the priest renews the sacrifice of Calvary by celebrating Mass on our altars.


To live according to the Holy Spirit means to live by faith and hope and charity — to allow God to take possession of our lives and to change our hearts, to make us resemble him more and more. A mature and profound christian life cannot be improvised, because it is the result of the growth of God's grace in us."

-St. Josemaria Escriva

*Taken from: Christ is Passing By - "The Great Unknown"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pope's Address to Catholic Educators

A couple weeks ago I sat down and began to figure out how much it was going to cost to continue sending our children to a Catholic School. I was a little more than shocked when I saw the number that appeared in my little Excel spreadsheet.

Please don't get me wrong; I really love the school - that's not the point. But I struggled with the fact that financially it's always ... well ... a struggle. And it's not that tuition for the school is outrageous, in fact it's just the opposite. The tuition for the school is one of the lowest around for Catholic schools, but when you start mixing in 7+ kids, even trips to McDonald's can break you.

I'm sure the fact that I myself never attended a Catholic school, along with knowing may ex-Catholics who did, doesn't help. Going to a Catholic school doesn't automatically produce a better person, Christian, or Catholic, no one would argue that.

Last night I read over a speech the Holy Father gave on the topic of Catholic education on April 17th. Pope Benedict XVI addressed more than 400 Catholic educators in Washington D.C. on not only the importance of a Catholic education, but also what that education should look like. I really found it interesting and helpful and have included a few paragraphs below.

Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4). This relationship elicits a desire to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ and his teaching. In this way those who meet him are drawn by the very power of the Gospel to lead a new life characterized by all that is beautiful, good, and true; a life of Christian witness nurtured and strengthened within the community of our Lord's disciples, the Church.

It is an outstanding apostolate of hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.

Some today question the Church's involvement in education, wondering whether her resources might be better placed elsewhere. Certainly in a nation such as this, the State provides ample opportunities for education and attracts committed and generous men and women to this honorable profession. It is timely, then, to reflect on what is particular to our Catholic institutions. How do they contribute to the good of society through the Church's primary mission of evangelization?

Clearly, then, Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics. Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society. They become places in which God's active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ's "being for others" (cf. ibid., 28).

For anyone interested, I've also created a pdf file which can be downloaded or printed that can be found here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Response to Luther’s assertion; Can the Truth we believe be discovered by reason alone

"Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
Von Balthasar makes an interesting observation on the effects of the reformation in which he claims that the reformation made legitimate religion based primarily on reason not Apostolic authority. Hence the need for the primacy of a written scripture which could be used to as case law to legitimize or condemn ideas and denominations. This took the power out of the hands of the clerics and placed into the hands of … the educated.
[If anyone thinks the correct answer is ‘the laity’ see me after class! Though that is what we have been told.]
The tools and power of the reformation lie in the ability to critically analyze text. This skill is only developed in Universities. The common person in those times could not do this; the common person today can not do this. [See Biblical Interpretation in Crisis; Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger]. The claim that scripture is revelation becomes hollow when the text is subject to this kind of rational analysis.
“If Rudolph Bultmann used the philosophy of Martin Heidegger as a vehicle to represent the biblical word, then that vehicle stands in accord with his reconstruction of the essence of Jesus' message. But was this reconstruction itself not likewise a product of his philosophy? How great is its credibility from a historical point of view? In the end, are we listening to Jesus, or to Heidegger, with this kind of an approach to understanding?” [Ratzinger/Benedict]
In the final analysis the interpretive philosophy becomes the revelation with the text simply a vehicle with no meaning of its own. Scripture alone is a meaningless phrase.
Because of this the end result of the reformation was to push people away from each other and the push God away from the people. The reaction within Protestantism is polarization. On the one hand the Jesus seminar, John Shelby Spong liberals for whom Christianity is an academic curiosity, on the other the many mostly conservative bible churches which exist because most know that Christianity is something more than curious. It is noteworthy that this polarization continues in the bible church denominations with a split between the revelation based Pentecostal’s and the reason based evangelicals. This polarization is the result of people seeking God with no clear direction or boundaries. They find the edges.
At the heart of the protestant problem is the question of authority which manifests in polarization. Is reason primary or revelation? Modernism sought to answer the question by claiming the answer was reason [Boundary 1]. The post-modern response was “how can this be so?” “Look at reasons limits!”. [Post-Modernism finds the other boundary!]
The reformation was really the renaissance occurring in the church and the renaissance laid the foundation for modernism by elevating reason above revelation Protestantism is a child of modernism and as such contains in its doctrines all of the assumptions common to the modern paradigm. I will not list them all here but only comment that one of the more difficult for Christianity is the dis-belief in miracles. For a protestant theologian or philosopher to believe in miracles they must step outside their modern based [reformation based] model. They must borrow from something else; eastern mystics, Catholic theology, whatever. They find no support in their own backyard because of the modern foundation. Hence the tendency of Pentecostal churches to charge headlong into errors which have long since been settled. [Though this is changing see Thinking in Tongues article in First things March or April issue]. Evangelicals do not even bother. They claim all revelation is found in scripture and that is it. Once again the drift is to the edge and to extremes.

So, back to Luther; His question was one of authority. Look at the statement above. He demands that the proofs and arguments must meet his criteria. Since they did not he will not retract. What he is really saying is that he will not believe. He will not believe that the Apostolic Church hands on the teachings of Christ. He believes that the teachings of Christ can be ascertained through textual analysis and philosophical inquiry. To Luther Christianity was an academic endeavor. The Church was right to condemn his teaching because he was wrong, the Truth we believe can not be discovered by reason alone.

What is truth?

"There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is not more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth cannot afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.” (Counsels to Writers and Editors, 35, 1892)"

I propose that there is truth to be found in every seeking after God [Ellen White included]. That is what the Catholic Church teaches. But that a thing contains some truth is not the same as a thing containing the fullness of truth. The Church contains the fullness of the truth not because she has better thought systems than other faiths or philosophies but because she contains Christ hidden in the Eucharist. When the Church claims she contains Truth, she is not making an abstract claim about some ideal, she is stating concrete reality. We [Catholics] have the truth because we literally have [possess in real literal way by handling and consuming and worshipping] the Truth, that is Christ; Body, blood, soul and divinity. That is what we Catholics mean by truth. So we do not agree that more truth will be revealed. We can not.

The Human Experience

This movie intrigues me. I remember hearing about it when production began, but hadn't heard or saw much about it after that.

That is until recently. The movie seems to be affecting people in a big way. It seems to have the ability to tear people's focus from themselves, and place it on others - a concept at the heart of our faith.

From the website:

From Grassroots Films of Brooklyn, New York comes THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE – the story of a band of brothers who travel the world in search of the answers to the burning questions: Who am I? Who is Man? Why do we search for meaning? Their journey brings them into the middle of the lives of the homeless on the streets of New York City, the orphans and disabled children of Peru, and the abandoned lepers in the forests of Ghana, Africa. What the young men discover changes them forever. Through one on one interviews and real life encounters, the brothers are awakened to the beauty of the human person and the resilience of the human spirit.
Grassroots Films is the same organization that produced "Fishers of Men", the positive look at the Catholic priesthood.

There was a very good review of the movie done over at C-L-S that is well worth a read.

I was able to view a segment of the film dealing with a visit to the Leper colony in Ghana. I will tell you that the images and stories from the colony were very moving, even heart-breaking. But there was an irony in it all. The people with leprosy were not bitter or angry; they had an outlook on life that was nothing less than amazing.

It may be hard for us U.S. Catholics to envision, but maybe this is the form the "New Springtime" will take - a renewed desire to spend more energy and attention to sharing the gifts of God with others rather than receiving them ourselves. We may find our assumption that things can only be given after they are received doesn't hold in this area.

I honestly believe and am encouraged in knowing that everything we have to learn can be found in what we have forgotten. Our faith isn’t worth much if it doesn’t go beyond knowledge, beyond a feeling, beyond ourselves, or beyond the parish walls. If it doesn’t spill over into the lives of others – Catholic, Christian, and others – it’s not really faith at all.

Blessed Damien of Molokai, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Religion of the Day

"What is the world's religion now? It has taken the brighter side of the Gospel,—its tidings of comfort, its precepts of love; all darker, deeper views of man's condition and prospects being comparatively forgotten. This is the religion natural to a civilized age, and well has Satan dressed and completed it into an idol of the Truth.

As the reason is cultivated, the taste formed, the affections and sentiments refined, a general decency and grace will of course spread over the face of society, quite independently of the influence of Revelation. That beauty and delicacy of thought, which is so attractive in books, then extends to the conduct of life, to all we have, all we do, all we are.

Our manners are courteous; we avoid giving pain or offence; our words become correct; our relative duties are carefully performed. Our sense of propriety shows itself even in our domestic arrangements, in the embellishments of our houses, in our amusements, and so also in our religions profession. Vice now becomes unseemly and hideous to the imagination, or, as it is sometimes familiarly said, "out of taste."

Thus elegance is gradually made the test and standard of virtue, which is no longer thought to possess an intrinsic claim on our hearts, or to exist, further than it leads to the quiet and comfort of others. Conscience is no longer recognized as an independent arbiter of actions, its authority is explained away; partly it is superseded in the minds of men by the so-called moral sense, which is regarded merely as the love of the beautiful; partly by the rule of expediency, which is forthwith substituted for it in the details of conduct.

Now conscience is a stern, gloomy principle; it tells us of guilt and of prospective punishment. Accordingly, when its terrors disappear, then disappear also, in the creed of the day, those fearful images of Divine wrath with which the Scriptures abound. They are explained away. Every thing is bright and cheerful. Religion is pleasant and easy; benevolence is the chief virtue; intolerance, bigotry, excess of zeal, are the first of sins. Austerity is an absurdity;—even firmness is looked on with an unfriendly, suspicious eye.

On the other hand, all open profligacy is discountenanced; drunkenness is accounted a disgrace; cursing and swearing are vulgarities. Moreover, to a cultivated mind, which recreates itself in the varieties of literature and knowledge, and is interested in the ever-accumulating discoveries of science, and the ever-fresh accessions of information, political or otherwise, from foreign countries, religion will commonly seem to be dull, from want of novelty. Hence excitements are eagerly sought out and rewarded.

New objects in religion, new systems and plans, new doctrines, new preachers, are necessary to satisfy that craving which the so-called spread of knowledge has created. The mind becomes morbidly sensitive and fastidious; dissatisfied with things as they are, desirous of a change as such, as if alteration must of itself be a relief."

The Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman

Taken from:
Sermon 24. The Religion of the Day
Parochial and Plain Sermons, Volume 1