Saturday, November 02, 2002

A link to a very good essay from one of our new weblinks - The Society of St. John. The following is an excerpt from the piece followed by the link to the entire piece:

It was the goal of Vatican II to reaffirm and to further develop the treasure of the Catholic faith, while highlighting those pastoral approaches which would speak to contemporary man: “It is important that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which all must submit themselves faithfully, be studied and explained in a manner conformed to the exigencies of our time.”...It is not our purpose here to examine the appropriateness of all the pastoral approaches to which the Council, in the optimism of the sixties, opened the door. Neither is it our purpose to inquire whether the post-conciliar reforms went beyond what was asked by the Council fathers. With the passage of time, it has become clear that several of these reforms, both in themselves, but more so in their application, were marked by serious failings, which would in the end compromise the realization of the just intuitions of the council fathers.  It seems to us that three of these failings have played important roles:

Firstly, the pastoral aspect took precedence over the doctrinal foundation recalled and developed by the Council. Secondly, the concern to preserve the continuity and homogeneity consubstantial to the development of Catholic dogma and the evolution of the liturgy was insufficient. Lastly, the speed and universality of the reforms along with the brutality of their application contrasted sharply with the proclamations condemning dictatorial approaches... The Founding Acts and Gestures of Unity

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Rerum Novarum Has Been Updated!!!

Here are the links to this update sorted by category:

Society of St. John
Lisa's Lighthouse

Jeff Miller's "Athiest to a Theist" BLOG
The "Heart Mind, and Strength" BLOG
Eve Tushnet's BLOG

Spiritual Instructions (New Category):
Spiritual Direction
Spiritual Instruction on Zeal (Part I)
Spiritual Instruction on Zeal (Part II)
Spiritual Instruction on Prayer (Part I)

Other Approved Sites or Links of Interest:
Michael Jackson's "Beerhunter"

As Sovereign Thane I publish these sites motu proprio in accordance with Rerum Novarum's specificities for site approval in the sidemargin of the weblog all things to the contrary notwithstanding.


Some more souls to remember today in prayer:



Rerum Novarum includes in its list of intentions the eternal repose of the souls of the Jesuits listed here and all religious who made the supreme sacrifice of their lives for the glory of God and the welfare of their fellow man. We will include them in the masses and other prayers offered throughout the month. Until later today, shalom...

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I know I said this before but it bears repeating again with additional emphasis...

"Calling All 'Traditionalists'" Dept.

In seeking to restore an ancient tradition, I am surprised that more of you are not speaking up and pleased as punch with this whole idea. I mean, those of a Traditional worldview oughta love the fact that We at Rerum Novarum are requesting loyalty oaths. This was after all quite the "in thing" in the Middle Ages. Indeed not only a loyalty oath but use of titles such as "sovereign", "chancellor", solemn language, and the like really give it that medieval touch do they not???

But why do I continue to sense that most so-called "traditionalists" would not make the professio as prescribed by the Holy Father??? Is there something missing from the authentic medieval atmosphere??? Would it be necessary for Us to excommunicate someone to *really* give it that monarchial feel??? Inquiring minds wanna know...

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Friday, November 01, 2002

"Advice For Neophyte Apologists/Evangelists" Dept.

Though blogging a piece from Dale Price in an issue that pertains to the Vatican - Holocaust topic, my friend Lane Core Jr. wrote a very concise opening paragraph which explains exactly why dialogue is a waste of time with those who demonstrate that they are not interested in the truth. And he highlights why I have shied away from message boards the past year rarely spending time on them anymore. Take it away Lane:

One of the reasons that participation on a message board like Steve Ray's can be very frustrating is that some of the participants are simply unteachable. An anti-Catholic fundamentalist Protestant may spout some slanderous error about Catholic faith, or practice, or history. He is then corrected. And corrected. And corrected. He may go on to some other topic. And another. And yet another. Eventually, though, he will make his way back to the issue on which he had been repeatedly corrected, as if the episode had never occurred at all.

If there was a "Truism of the Month" award, Lane Core Jr. would win it for the month of October in my book. I originally planned to end this entry there but then thought perhaps some advice for budding apologists/evangelists may be in order since Lane kinda set the table for it with his comments. So here are some observations that may come in handy for you if you have a zeal to want to explain and defend the Faith.

A good test when dialoguing is seeing if the one you are discussing things with can make a public mea culpa. If they can make ones on minor issues where it is warranted then you can hold out some hope for a fruitful discussion though you may have to work at it. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing as it can offset approaching this subject in a "canned arguments" kind of way.)

If the person you are dialoguing with can make a major admission of fault where it is warranted then you are certain to have a productive discussion. Remember though, this works both ways and you will make your errors and overreaches too - particularly if you use boilerplate overlysimplistic "one size fits all" apologetics arguments. So if you use boilerplate arguments, make sure you acknowledge the face plants when you make them{1} and then go back and do a better job.

It takes both time and effort to be an effective evangelist but it also takes some humility because you will inevitably go into areas you are not well informed in. (Trust me, this happens to all of us at one point or another.) And much as all musicians have certain riffs or motifs that pop up in their playing you will cultivate certain "riffs" of your own after arguing a particular position enough times.

Try though at all times to find a new phrase if you will in each argument advanced. Meaning: try if possible to find at least one new element to add to the mix when arguing a point. It may be a concept, it may be a new way of phrasing an argument to make it stronger, etc. But try without forcing the issue to avoid a carbon copy of your last time arguing a given point - particularly if you and your dialogue partner have gone over this issue before.

It is not always possible to do this but it often is. I am not saying reinvent the wheel everytime as much as I am saying do not repeat the exact same argument to someone you have previously discussed a given subject matter with. Because if you are listening to them you will receive information that you should take into account before responding. After all, you may have a mea culpa of your own to give *particularly* if you have been using the "boilerplate" approach. Make sure however that to the extent you make the error that you correct it.{2}

If you are going onto message boards where you are in a minority, make sure you stick with main subjects and avoid derivatives. It is pointless to discuss transubstantiation without discussing the Real Presence - and if you have to forego one of the two then forego transubstantiation and focus on the Real Presence. Likewise papal primacy and authority should precede any talk about infallibility. (And considering that most *Catholic* sources fudge on the subject of infallibility ignore the subject completely. Focus instead on authority and papal primacy.)

As for Marian doctrines you are better off focusing on the Second Eve doctrine and learning as much of it as possible as that is your foundation for all Marian dogma. (Do not bother discussing the Immaculate Conception or Assumption if you can at all avoid them.) If prayer to Mary is being discussed your focus should be on the Communion of Saints because (i) it is the foundational doctrine and (ii) you have a lot wider base to draw from.

By doing these things you will be less likely to resort to "canned" arguments which shut off the thinking mechanism and result in "ivory tower apologetics." You are not discussing things with a philosophical abstraction but with a person who has feelings and whose take on an issue will be to some extent unique. Respect their individuality and you will win their confidence that you are not out to hang a target on them.

Anyway, that should provide some food for thought hopefully.


{1} And you will make them particularly with generic arguments.

{2} Thus if by private email then do so by private email; if on a public board then do so on that same public board.

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Thursday, October 31, 2002

Courtesy of Greg Krehbiel I obtained the following article on beer consumption:

Beer is found to be good for bones.

It just figures since I am in weight loss mode that I would learn of this now ;-)

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"Give it a Bit of Gas and Let out the Clutch" Dept.

Despite his message board prowess, it seems that my friend SecretAgentMan cannot get his weblog "outta first gear" if you will. Hopefully noting this publicly will light a fire under him to get it going ;-)


According to The Mighty Barrister the Vatican has reached an agreement with 4 US Bishops on proposed changes to the Dallas charter. I presume these are the 4 Bishops appointed to the Joint Commission spoken of by His Excellency Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops. The first line of the Barrister's quote reads "Acting with surprising speed, the Vatican..." When was the last time you saw the words "Vatican" or "Holy See" anywhere in the vicinity of the word "speed"??? ;-)


"Bastiat's Corner"

You know the drill by now, I post the last section of the series at the top of the link and then link this current section to the end of the aforementioned previous section. It is now time to discuss the topics of legal plunder, why socialism is legal plunder, and why fraternity and liberty cannot coexist without logical contradiction among other subjects. To those just tuning in, you have to read from the beginning to understand why this thesis is so effective. You can do that by clicking HERE.

I have sought to make these sections reasonably short and you can probably read all of them in under fifteen minutes - though I would recommend taking more time to cover the sections in total then that.

After all, we have an election coming up and an opportunity to get to the root of the vast tide of legal plunder that has been sanctioned in greater amounts for over ninety years in America. It will not happen in this election cycle but we can make better selections today and prepare for the next two year election cycle. Rome was not built in a day and we will not get things back to where they need to be in one election either. But without further ado, I turn my soapbox over to Mr. Bastiat:

Legal Plunder Has Many Names

Now, legal plunder can be committed in an infinite number of ways. Thus we have an infinite number of plans for organizing it: tariffs, protection, benefits, subsidies, encouragements, progressive taxation, public schools, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, minimum wages, a right to relief, a right to the tools of labor, free credit, and so on, and so on. All these plans as a whole --with their common aim of legal plunder -- constitute socialism.

Now, since under this definition socialism is a body of doctrine, what attack can be made against it other than a war of doctrine? If you find this socialistic doctrine to be false, absurd, and evil, then refute it. And the more false, the more absurd, and the more evil it is, the easier it will be to refute. Above all, if you wish to be strong, begin by rooting out every particle of socialism that may have crept into your legislation. This will be no light task.

Socialism Is Legal Plunder

Mr. de Montalembert has been accused of desiring to fight socialism by the use of brute force. He ought to be exonerated from this accusation, for he has plainly said: "The war that we must fight against socialism must be in harmony with law, honor, and justice."

But why does not Mr. de Montalembert see that he has placed himself in a vicious circle? You would use the law to oppose socialism? But it is upon the law that socialism itself relies. Socialists desire to practice legal plunder, not illegal plunder. Socialists, like all other monopolists, desire to make the law their own weapon. And when once the law is on the side of socialism, how can it be used against socialism? For when plunder is abetted by the law, it does not fear your courts, your gendarmes, and your prisons. Rather, it may call upon them for help.

To prevent this, you would exclude socialism from entering into the making of laws? You would prevent socialists from entering the Legislative Palace? You shall not succeed, I predict, so long as legal plunder continues to be the main business of the legislature. It is illogical -- in fact, absurd -- to assume otherwise.

The Choice Before Us

This question of legal plunder must be settled once and for all, and there are only three ways to settle it:

1. The few plunder the many.

2. Everybody plunders everybody.

3. Nobody plunders anybody.

We must make our choice among limited plunder, universal plunder, and no plunder. The law can follow only one of these three.

Limited legal plunder: This system prevailed when the right to vote was restricted. One would turn back to this system to prevent the invasion of socialism.

Universal legal plunder: We have been threatened with this system since the franchise was made universal. The newly enfranchised majority has decided to formulate law on the same principle of legal plunder that was used by their predecessors when the vote was limited.

No legal plunder: This is the principle of justice, peace, order, stability, harmony, and logic. Until the day of my death, I shall proclaim this principle with all the force of my lungs (which alas! is all too inadequate).*

[*At the time this was written, Mr. Bastiat knew that he was dying of tuberculosis. Within a year, he was dead.]

The Proper Function of the Law

And, in all sincerity, can anything more than the absence of plunder be required of the law? Can the law -- which necessarily requires the use of force -- rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution -- so long searched for in the area of social relationships -- is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.

Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law -- that is, by force -- this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization -- justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?

The Seductive Lure of Socialism

[Democrats in particular pay attention here. You too "moderate" Republicans (better styled as "Me Too Democrats") - ISM]

Here I encounter the most popular fallacy of our times. It is not considered sufficient that the law should be just; it must be philanthropic. Nor is it sufficient that the law should guarantee to every citizen the free and inoffensive use of his faculties for physical, intellectual, and moral self-improvement. Instead, it is demanded that the law should directly extend welfare, education, and morality throughout the nation.

This is the seductive lure of socialism. And I repeat again: These two uses of the law are in direct contradiction to each other. We must choose between them. A citizen cannot at the same time be free and not free.

Enforced Fraternity Destroys Liberty

Mr. de Lamartine once wrote to me thusly: "Your doctrine is only the half of my program. You have stopped at liberty; I go on to fraternity." I answered him: "The second half of your program will destroy the first."

In fact, it is impossible for me to separate the word fraternity from the word voluntary. I cannot possibly understand how fraternity can be legally enforced without liberty being legally destroyed, and thus justice being legally trampled underfoot.

Legal plunder has two roots: One of them, as I have said before, is in human greed; the other is in false philanthropy.

At this point, I think that I should explain exactly what I mean by the word plunder.

According to my written translation of this work, the French word used by Mr. Bastiat is spoliation. We will deal with a definition of plunder in the next section. Hopefully the readers up to this point in the series are starting to feel the scales fall from their eyes - if they have not fallen off already.

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Some good comments on ecumenism and Ecclesia Dei by Gregg the Obscure

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More from a discussion on Florence with my favourite Anglican Edwin Tait:

Response to My Friend Edwin on His Problems With the Ecumenicity of Florence (Part II of a series of indeterminable length)


Wednesday, October 30, 2002

This entry from Catholic Light gave me a chuckle LINK


The Faith Legion Has A New Member!!!

As making the profession of faith as prescribed by the Apostolic see is a requirement for admission and as "Greg the Obscure" hath made said professio according to the prescribed form, by the power vested in me as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum, I decree that Vita Brevis has been officially enrolled in The Faith Legion with all rights and privileges of said enrollment remaining intact all things to the contrary notwithstanding.


Michelle Malkin has let her hair down in more ways than one :) A few editorials on the problems with our immigration policies. The first in general, the second deals with Lee Malvo:



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"The JunkYard Blog" Dept.

We have a triple spin today. To start with, Bryan Preston of the JunkYard Blog summarizes your humble host's view of the Wellstone fiasco:

THE WELLSTONE FUNERAL, or pep rally, or whatever you want to call it, says to me that the right and left in this country essentially have nothing to talk about anymore. The blue state/red state divide is more than just a reflection of political opinion, but of actual culture. I'm not really talking about the so-called "culture wars" here, but just a general difference in philosophy about what is proper and improper, what is seemly and unseemly, and what constitutes respectful versus disrespectful behavior...Continued HERE.

The following is an excerpt from a examination of the alleged sniper and his associate located at the link below:

Terrorists on the West Bank want to eradicate Israel, so they kill Israeli citizens. Chechen terrorists want Russia to pull out of Chechnya and grant it independence, so they take a thousand hostages and threaten to kill them unless Russia does what they want. And so with Mr. Muhammad, who wanted to attack the United States at its political heart and expose its impotence in dealing with him. He encircled the nation’s capital with senseless murders, careful to kill in a variety of age ranges and racial categories, and careful to kill victims doing everyday things like gassing up their cars or waiting for buses. There was no rhyme of reason to the killing, and once he struck on a Saturday night toward the end of the spree, there was no discernible pattern—and that was the point. The last remaining superpower, the supposed oppressor of Muslims around the world, can’t even protect a 13-year-old boy walking into his school just a few miles from the White House. That’s a very powerful political point, and goes to the heart of one of our society’s most basic seeming contradictions: How can a nation be both totally safe and totally free? The answer is that we can’t, and that liberty does have a price which includes a measure of risk, but that price may be too high for many to pay in an increasingly risk-averse society. Muhammad seemed to be exploiting that dichotomy... Go HERE.

WALTER CRONKITE thinks the decade before us is the most dangerous America has faced since the '60s. And he'd be right, too, if he were talking about the 1860s... Go HERE.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2002

This entry from the aforementioned F. John Loughnan is one which every reader should ponder. Both the picture with its accompanying narrative and the poem. I was going to do another section of the spiritual series on prayer tonight but leaving you with this seemed more fitting. Read and reflect and (if necessary) repent. And I will see you again tomorrow or so shalom until then.

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The 150 Compline Te lucis ante terminum courtesy of Quenta Narwenion

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Why I have been opposed to zero tolerance policy can be seen with the real life example where the former ordinary of my good friend F. John Loughnan was falsely accused. You can read about that story HERE. Anyone want to continue to defend zero tolerance policies now???


A very worthwhile reflection on Ephesians 5 and its application to both marrieds and monastics by a Fr. Jerome courtesy of Kevin Miller's De Virtutibus Blog.

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"One From the Vault" Dept.

From my weblog archives I was looking for an entry from September and ran across this two part series on Gaudium et Spes. This is another illustration of what happens when the unlearned and unstable distort magisterial texts to their own distruction (cf. ii Pet iii,16-17).

Gaudium et Spes vs. the Unlearned and Unstable

Part II is linked to the bottom of part I.


"Seeeeeee Em-i-ly Plaaaaaaay" Dept.

I doubt there has been more of a "slam dunk" department title than this Syd Barret era Pink Floyd ditty for Emily Stimpson. Courtesy of Lane Core via the Mighty Barrister your humble blog host was made aware of this entry from Miss Stimpson at the HMS blog. Unlike many bloggers I do not have a set schedule of which blogs I visit at which intervals. And it has probably been at least five days since my last visit to HMS and I missed this link the first time around.

[Emily Stimpson]


Too many half-dressed women popping up all over the place. Seriously.

This morning while surfing the web I must have seen over two dozen ads with nearly naked women posing suggestively.

They are all over the place.

I checked my e-mail, only to see a chick in a bikini on Hotmail's front page promoting a weight loss product. Then I immediately had to delete about half a dozen porn spams from my in-box.

I let my Hotmail account expire earlier this year because of those and other spam emails. Angelfire only recently started receiving a flow of such emails after three years of virtually no email of that sort. I get maybe a message or two of junkmail at lycos a week and thus far only a piece or two of porno junk in six months or so.

Later, I walked by someone reading the morning paper and couldn't help but notice the full page ad featuring a woman in a bra and a diamond necklace. For me it's a mere annoyance. But for guys it has to be a serious struggle.

Part of it Emily is perhaps is that you were seeing pictures of women. The other part (and I believe more prevalent one) is that men are simply more visual creatures in a way that women are not.

Now, I know it's a struggle that most men aren't really waging. But for those that are...

I almost never read the papers anymore except the sports section. And the same goes for magazines except sports or a theological journal or something of that sort. With Fox Sports I do not watch it much anymore either because of Lisa Guerrero. Not her personally as much as her appearance is one that ...well... let us just say I have to turn the set off or change the channel. It is not as bad considering that I watch much less TV after baseball season.

Is all hope forever lost of bringing back decency in advertising?

Well, if we had more people like you running the show it would make things better all around. Until then, the war continues...

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For those who think the scandals of today are somehow unique historically, many examples could be given to refute this assertion. Here is one from the seventeenth century courtesy of FirstThings: A Bishop’s Tale: Mathias Hovius Among His Flock in Seventeenth–Century Flanders.

I wonder if those who blame Vatican II for the problems of our age would blame these problems on Trent. I mean 1596-1620 was how long after Trent...let me see: 34 years after its closing session.{1} Yet fifty-five years after Trent's final session there were still scandals in the convents and monasteries among other crises.

I ask you "trads" out there: were the problems in Flanders and other areas of the Church at this time because of the Council of Trent??? The Jansenists of France in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were one group who certainly thought so. To them Trent was "Humanist influenced". And as the Jansenists thought Trent was "Humanist influenced" and used that as an excuse to disobey its definitions, declarations, and sanctions, self-styled "traditionalists" claim that Vatican II was "shot through with Modernism" or "Modernist-influenced" and use that excuse to disobey its declarations and sanctions. And for "trads" who use the "great apostasy" excuse, well the Jansenists used that one too with not only Trent but also the definitions and declarations of the seventeenth and eighteenth century popes.

The Preacher was right that "nothing under the sun is new" (Ecc. i,10). I await the latest round of arbitrary and inconsistent ramblings of self-justification by so-called "trads" to justify their insolence. Give me an angle to justify obstinance that I have not heard before - just ONCE please. Is that too much to ask???


{1} We will be 36 years from when Vatican II closed its final session as of December 8th of this year.

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The Faith Legion weblog has moved. It is now located HERE.


Monday, October 28, 2002

More of my ramblings from Steve Ray's message board: LINK


I am not sure if it is thanks which are in order or not that Karen Knapp has so much food for thought of a spiritual nature at her weblog that no one thing leaped out at me for the purposes of blogging. I refer you to the side link to her weblog and encourage you to have a look for yourself :)


Note to Pax: I was swamped all week and time was short - and I needed to get into the right mindset to discuss what you sent to me. I promise to finish my email to you tonight and send it out either then or tomorrow morning.


To continue from the previous entry, Mark Shea asked which of the Flame Warriors others thought he was. (He mentioned that he thought it may be Tireless Rebutter but was open to other suggestions.) As one who has at times used the Warriors in parodies (particularly in mid 2000 when I first learned of them) I decided to give Mark my own analysis of the situation. So Mark, to answer your question, here goes:

At Steve Ray's Board you were a Royal much as I was. The "trads" (aka "The Lidless Eye" crowd) probably see you as Evil Clown or as a Big Dog while they delude themselves into thinking that they are a bunch of Kung Fu Masters. (When in reality they are generally Artful Dodgers or Rats though some of the ones who can stay on topic tend towards a Zenophobia which is as unmistakable as light from the sun. But I digress...) At your own weblog you are (of course) Administrator.

How is that for confusion???

- A recovering Philosopher


In attending the 5:45 mass at Blessed Sacrament Parish yesterday, a few interesting things took place. First, since they are in the final stages of renovating the chapel (and not "wreckovating" it), mass was in the gymnasium. The homily was by a Dominican friar who was there for "vocations" week. The setting got me to thinking of all those masses in private homes prior to the legalization of Christianity in the Roman Empire - not to mention during Cromwell's genocidal rampage of Ireland but I want to stay on track here.

Afterwards they had to move stuff back to the hall near the library. I found myself carrying the pulpit which had this iron base to it and on the second trip I was handed the vestments of the priest and the friars.

Back at the hall I spoke with the visiting friar and was touched by his gentle manner. He has been a Dominican for almost 40 years and been all over the world doing missionary work. We talked about the liturgy, his missionary work, and the Dominicans vs. the Jesuits.{1} I got a "business card" from him and email address so in the future there may be a "Dominican Corner" here at Rerum Novarum where I let him hold court. I also have an email address from a first year theology student of the Dominican order who has taken two years of philosophy: another potential candidate for musings in a "Dominican Corner" department at this humble weblog. But I digress...

I attended a pro-life gathering after mass in this hall also and heard some stories and ... well... I ended up deciding that barring the most extraordinary event cropping up that I will go to the Roe v Wade demonstrations in Olympia in January. Kinda strange in that while I have written on this subject in board dialogues and engaged people of numerous faith outlooks on the subject (including the mythical "free thinkers") I have never actually been in a demonstration such as the one mentioned above.

I have in the past been involved in other demonstrations (such as hunting and fishing rights for example) and I have made campaign door to doors for candidates - even being involved in state caucus stuff - but my view of the pro-life movement as a whole was jaded because of their political stupidity manifested over the years.{2} But politics aside for a moment I have been a believer in pro-life both religiously and philosophically for many years. And attending this event last night made me think about the importance of the Culture of Life theme in general and abortion in particular. And it seems right to involve myself in this cause on the front lines such as at the demonstration in January and ...well... in some way though I am not yet sure how. I will keep you updated on this theme from time to time as I am thinking about the subject in depth in a way I honestly have not done before.

In other news, I stopped off at the Blessed Sacrament library and looked at some books and ended up checking out three. (I did not see any of Mark Shea's books there which was surprising: maybe I was not looking in the right places or they are checked out already.) The books I checked out are:

Christopher Bellitto's "Lost and Found Catholics: Voices of Vatican II" - an eighty pager I can probably read in about twenty minutes or so.

Jaroslav Pelikan's "The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600)" written back in 1971 in Pelikan's Lutheran days. (In 1998 he converted to Eastern Orthodoxy.) It is about 400 pages but I will not be able to read it quickly because it is rather detailed. (Probably a four to five hour book.) Ironic that though I have read Pelikan's stuff before I have only scanned this series briefly previously. (This will be the third of the three books in the order I will read them.)

The first book of the three I started reading this morning is what will be my fourth biography on Pope Paul VI: Peter Hebblethwaite's heap big 750 page tome "Paul VI". It is subtitled "The First Modern Pope". I was looking through the index last night before coming home and saw next to the entries on Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani titled "chairs decisive birth control meetings" and went to that section initially to read it quickly. (Not sure why, perhaps the pro life meeting had something to do with it.) Let us just say I think I know where my friend Bill Bannon got his "conspiracy theory" stuff about the Humanae Vitae Commission meetings.

With that in mind I thought about checking for Fr. Sebastian Tromp SJ in the index (as he was the main writer of Mystici Corporis Christi) and the same "problems" Bill refers to about the encyclical were mentioned. Those being (i) problems that Vatican II would have to "correct", (ii) the accusation that the referring to The Mystical Body as the Catholic Church was an "error" in the encyclical.{3} That the norms of theological interpretation are blatantly ignored in both cases is unfortunate but I have gotten used to this kind of approach over the years from people of divergent outlooks.

If it sounds as if I am throwing in the towel it is not what it seems I assure you for I do fight against it at times. The problem is that ideologues are not easily swayed and certainly not by reasoning alone. I have thoroughly refuted these canards (including the Humani Generis one) over the years in dialogue using the texts of the encyclical letters and the dogmatic constitutions to do so but I believe Bill still uses those kinds of arguments. Nonetheless, it is nice to know where (or whom) Bill likely got them from.

The Paul VI book after scanning it looks to be on the whole a pretty good one but I highly doubt it will exceed the biography done by the Episcopalian Alden Hatch. (And page for page it will probably not be a better work than the Roy MacGregor Hastie bio either: neither of which were listed in the source.) Hatch's work is IMO an excellently balanced one. I am not sure yet about this one and at 750 pages I will be reading it carefully and will post stuff I find interesting perhaps. Which reminds me of something else as this is "vocations week" at Blessed Sacrament.

I used to get very angry at "trads" in my days at SSPX who presumed that because I was interested in theology and philosophy that I must be "considering the priesthood". I even barked at some friends who were once fellow parishoners with SSPX (they left before I did) about that subject approximately seven months ago. What that I prefer theology and philosophy to half-baked apparition literature somehow means I cannot be a layman??? I find this implied dichotomy to be both facile and insulting - though I do not believe those who made the statement meant anything negative about it of course.

I have nothing against the priesthood at all of course, only the inference that to be a layman I have to be a "dummy" on these kinds of issues - or at least be half-baked in the knowledge department. After all, no layman could REALLY be interested in such matters right??? All we know how to do is "hunt, shoot, and entertain" (cf Msr. Talbot's) right??? (This was Talbot's assertion after Newman suggested that the lay faithful were more than wall flowers who "paid, prayed, and obeyed".)

Are we still in that backwards outlook that says that a layman cannot be interested in these subjects without being "suspect for a vocation"??? Anyone who wants to email me about it feel free to. But to end on an upbeat closing note, did I mention how much I enjoy being around Dominicans??? :) And speaking of my fellow Blessed Sacrament parishioner Mark Shea...


{1} I *had* to bring this one up :)

{2} Yes I have to say it, the pro life community politically have shot themselves in the head many times.

{3} The first notion of "correction" is absurd as the teaching to supposedly be "corrected" is sententia certa which means it is permanent - and Lumen Gentium made no change on the matter whatsoever. The second one as an assertion is only viable by a superficial reading of the encyclical letter: akin to the way many people read Humani Generis.

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Bernard Shaw defending the dogma of papal infallibility as "by far the most modest profession of its kind in existence"??? Apparently so according to First Things, though in this case your blog host was alerted to the quote by Eve Tushnet. What is next, the Marquis de Sade extolling the virtue of restraining the passions??? ;-)

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"Arguing With the Professor" Dept.

Aaah the flashbacks to high school and college and arguing with some of my professors...Anyway, this response is to an email from Kevin Miller that is a couple weeks old admittedly. But the death penalty topic is not exactly pop culture so I figured it could wait in responding for that reason.

Greetings - saw and liked your comments on your blog. I've just blogged a semi-lengthy response re: the possibility of further development (i.e., in the direction of ruling out capital punishment in principle) (which, I should say, as I do on the blog, I would still not favor).

For the benefit of you my readers, your humble servant thought yesterday about two weeks ago that running all the links to the exchange between himself and Kevin Miller on the Death Penalty would be in order. I wrote rather lengthy on this subject back in April or May on Steve's board but am too tired to track down the links. (Those who want to find them for me at the board would need to search for a post series titled "EV and the Praxis of the DP" or something like that. I also did one on Scalia and the DP where I had to dress down Justice Scalia for theological errors - not a position I like to be in particularly since I have great respect for the man.)

I would gladly take a class in Constitutional law with him teaching as I believe he is well schooled in this area - certainly far beyond my meager knowledge of this sphere. But as for theology I am frankly not impressed with his grasp of this area of the argument or his seeming "cafeteria" mentality viz the authority of the pronouncements of the Magisterium. He is wrong about the DP and does not have a very good grasp of dogmatic theology. He needs to think more like Kevin on this issue. Without further ado, here is Round 1 of "call and response" blues styling but applied to theology:

De Virtutibus

Rerum Novarum

Round Two can be read here:

De Virtutibus

De Virtutibus

I will complete this round with a brief response to Professor Miller...well...right now I guess.

Responsum ad Professor Miller:

My only significant criticism with your observations is the seemingly tacit rejection of the principle of repetition as a criterion for handing on a teaching definitively in the ordinary magisterium.

I can agree that the application of the death penalty can be seen as reformable but its existence and usage in toto would appear to fall under the realm of moral principles and the Church has taught from the very beginning that the use of the death penalty was morally permissible. She has never taught this with regards to certain other issues with similar alterable variables to it such as slavery (to name one example of an issue that has taken various forms throughout history). To explain the difference between the two, allow me the following brief digression on slavery please.

The NT would in essence be trying to deal in the most humane manner possible with slavery in the form that it existed in NT times. (Which was in some significant ways different than the form by which we almost exclusively associate with that term today.) The first magisterial condemnation of slavery (which was by Pope Eugenius IV in 1435) the condemnation was of chattel slavery which differed greatly from what slavery was in NT times.

Pope Paul III in his Apostolic letter of 1537 (I believe Subliminus Dei but am not sure of the title offhand) even referred in his condemnation to the form of slavery of the Indians as "a form unheard of" as it was racial slavery which differed from NT forms which were forms of "just title slavery".{1}

Today the only form of slavery that comes to mind is the kind which was practiced in the colonization of the New World and the very sort which the popes condemned in Apostolic letters in 1435, 1537, 1591, 1639, 1741, and 1839. The first that was a universal condemnation was the one in 1537, but that does not mean that the one in 1435 was not definitive in rejecting chattel slavery as a moral principle.{2}

With the death penalty we also are dealing with a teaching of a moral precept and it has been reiterated in the same manner as the subject of reservation of priestly ordination to men or artificial forms of contraception. And while the pope may personally think that the criteria for just use of the death penalty is "rare if not non-existent", he prefaces the next part of his encyclical with a key phrase "in any event". This is significant as I see it. Here is the text:

"In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: "If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person".

I do not see how the Church can come any closer to banning the death penalty then this Kevin. She has reiterated in her ordinary magisterium over the centuries that its usage was morally permissible. She cannot now say that it is not and retain her credibility. However, while she cannot change the divine law in its essence she CAN regulate the application of the divine laws. That is about as close as the Church can get to a "reversal" as I can ascertain. I welcome your thoughts and comments on the matter as outlined above.


{1} Forms of slavery have changed over time: a subject for another time perhaps.

{2} We are dealing here with a moral principle after all and the Church is infallible in regards to moral precepts.

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Sunday, October 27, 2002

More dissertations from yours truly:

More on the Jews and Florence

Responses to a "traditionalist" on the Jews and their Treatment in Church History

On Usury and its Definition


More on the Profession of Faith Subject:

Michelle of the weblog And Then? emailed me about the use of material from her weblog with regards to some clarifications on the Profession of Faith. As I noted in that response:

"The person I refer to above has expressed some discomfort with the three additional paragraphs after the Nicene Creed, I want to comment on them briefly to hopefully put their mind at ease and encourage them to take it the extra step and make a full subscription of faith".

Because of an intention to make this a more generalized response and not a specific one (and also because I only wanted to address the part of her objections which directly hinges on the three paragraphs), I did not link to her weblog entry on this subject.

Michelle in addition to what we already went over also expressed some concern about the element of the Profession of Faith where the accompanying Oath of Fidelity - which is taken when a person assumes an office in the name of the Church - would imply that blogging was some kind of Church "office". Of course blogging is no such office nonetheless to remove all doubts on this matter for those with similar trepediations about using the Professio in full, I will address that point now.

From the beginning I deliberately sought to avoid this by using only the Professio and not the accompanying Oath. My rationale was that the absence of the Oath would make this aspect of it conspicuous enough. Nonetheless somehow this perception did not have the desired effect to all who inquired on the matter. In her own words, here are Michelle's concerns:

Since when is maintaining a personal web site or a blog "assuming an the name of the Church"? If publicly posting whatever religious thoughts occur to the Catholic blogger is to be redefined as an "office," shouldn't it be done only with the permission of one's bishop and under his ecclesial oversight? That would certainly sound the death knell for most of the orthodox Catholic blogs in existence, if for no other reason than bishops would not have the resources to oversee them and orthodox Catholics would likely be the only ones to feel constrained by a lack of episcopal approval. Heterodox Catholics would likely feel free to continue blogging at will.

I am also concerned, etc.

My primary reason for noting your post on the blog was to flesh out the canonical and theological reasons for why those three paragraphs were a necessary addition to the Creed. I edited out the "also" part because that is what I wanted to focus on but provided an ellipse to indicate something was removed.

Michelle indicated to me that she had "no theological problem with the entirety of the Profession...that you have used". In that case, I will remove the last roadblock by revising the byline of the weblog. What currently reads as Those who have subscribed to the Professio Fidei will be amended to read Those who have subscribed to the Professio Fidei to indicate their obedience to all that the Catholic Church teaches and as as a pledge of their loyalty to the Vicar of Christ Pope John Paul II I hope this will remove any confusion on the issue as well as any trepidation about making the full Professio publicly.

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Some dissertations from your humble servant via one of his former stomping grounds Steve Ray's Catholic Converts Board:

Response to My Friend Edwin on His Problems With the Ecumenicity of Florence (Part I of a series of indeterminable length)

On the Jews and Florence


"Take Mee Out to the Boobb-Game" Dept.
(If Greg the Obscure was pitching to Robert Sungenis)

Sungenis repeats his assertions that he copied Nazi material without knowing its origin – from a website he can’t even remember. That makes me wonder how often Bob culls material from websites he hasn’t carefully checked for accuracy. As he mentions later, anyone can publish anything on the internet. Doesn’t he hold himself to the standard of only posting that which he has good reason to believe is truthful?

Fastball inside corner ...STRRIKE (0-1)!!!

He seems to claim that the internet is different from other media in terms of plagiarism and asks to see a legal definition for plagiarism. Plagiarism is like adultery, it isn’t a crime in the eyes of the law. That doesn’t make it any less of an offence. Reputable websites mention where they obtain information.

Another heater but just a shade outside...1-1...

Sungenis makes the following unsubstantiated allegation: “From credible sources that I trust, it has been stated that about a third of the bishops in the United States are practicing homosexuals.” That statement might carry some weight with others if you provided a source – some means of verifying the charge. Instead we’re asked to take the word of someone who cites websites he can’t even remember and happens to inadvertently copy Nazi propaganda!

Wicked outside breaking ball...Bob swings.......STRRRIKE...(1-2)!!!

Bob’s next high point follows, “Mr. Cork's allegation [that Sungenis is anti-Semitic] is the most ludicrous and satanically originated lie ever perpetrated by someone purporting to be a Christian.” Strong words. They also imply that Bob somehow knows all the lies ever perpetrated by someone purporting to be a Christian – itself a tall order – but also that the lie was both ludicrous and initiated by Satan. We’re told that Satan is quite clever, and it seems that this must be the case. If Satan were the originator of this particular lie, then, one would expect for lie to be clever and subtle, rather than for it to be ludicrous. Then again, reason and consistency are sadly lacking from Sungenis’ recent writings.


{Greg strikes out Sungenis looking with a change-up. Bob meanwhile lodges a complaint with the league that not only was he not struck out but that Greg failed to throw him any actual strikes at all...and besides...he actually homered to center field on the first pitch...}

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"Conversations With Culbreath" Dept.

I mentioned earlier at Rerum Novarum that I would respond to Jeff and apologize for the delay in getting to it. I had a response written in my notebook and accidentally deleted it so I am winging it here by my own admission. I hope the response is adequate and I look forward to Jeff's response to it.

Now in order to maintain continuity, I will put Jeff's comments in purple, my previous words quoted by him will be in red italicized, and my responses will be in dark blue. Here with very few alterations is the email as Jeff sent it:

Good evening Shawn,

You wrote:

My addition of two more of your essays to Rerum Novarum hopefully answers that question :) That does not mean I agree with your stance on this particular issue of course but it does mean that the position is acceptable theologically. The real indicator to me Jeff is the tone and the tendency towards obedience to authority that you have.

That is a very high compliment, and I thank you.

My pleasure :)

I will respond to the rest of the note either by email or on the blog hopefully later in the week. (If I use the blog I will not refer to you by name.)

Feel free to use my name if you prefer. I trust you'll be fair.

Oh, you have not voted on which spiritual instruction series you want yet. (See the blog for details.)

I must apologize. For some reason I can't do "spirituality" on the computer. It seems too much like sacrilege, and I have too many spiritual books I should be reading instead. :-)

Well if you have Quadrupani's Light and Peace you have the material I am using. If not I recommend getting it and guarantee you will never spend $8.00 better in your life.

Wish I had time to dispute with you on the subject of rock music. (Like creation/evolution, the rock music debate can get very involved and tedious and I am pathetically slow on the keyboard.)

Well, we may be able to have that discussion in the future.

For now I will simply direct you to the articles below, which should be sufficient to demonstrate that rock music has no place in the life of a serious Catholic

I removed them from this post and transposed them to another page to look at later. (I have read one of them already.) All I will note on it at the moment is that my approach to music and art is very Thomistic. Some people in St. Thomas' time did not think Aristotle, Maimonides, Averros, and Avicenna had any place in the life of a Catholic theologian or Catholic philosopher. (Not that the two can or should be separated of course.) St. Thomas though saw the value they contained and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Much in the same train of thought I see value in art and music as expressions of reality as well as the restlessness of the human spirit in its search.

Like life itself this can mean turning down the wrong path at times. But then I also do not recommend such music in any form for someone who is not fortified with spiritual nourishment of the faith. Someone who knows right from wrong - and can recognize music and art for what they can be - can actually learn from them.

I will note here though that I believe a person with good grounding in the faith does not have to worry about most forms of "rock music". There are some that of course are extreme and cannot be recommended but we cannot judge something only by extremists. But I do not want to belabour this point at this time. I will look over the links and if you can mull over what I noted above, perhaps we can discuss this subject later on.

Finally, a comment with respect to your Profession of Faith. You may already know that the older Profession of Faith, which I made along with my first confession under the direction of Fr. Jospeh Terra, F.S.S.P., has been posted on my website for some time. It seems to be much more thorough than the newer version -- and with much less room for mischief.

For the benefit of the readers I note here that Jeff's profession is identical to the one promulgated by the First Vatican Council.

The newer Profession concludes:

"What is more, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the college of bishops enunciate when they exercise the authentic magisterium even if they proclaim those teachings in an act that is not definitive."

Yes. It is akin to the Vatican profession "I promise and swear true obedience to the Roman Pontiff, successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ." True obedience means obeying the popes magisterium.

Unfortunately, this statement really does not resolve anything. The modern problem, as I understand it, is that recent *non-definitive* teachings seem to be in conflict with prior *definitive* teachings (e.g., ecumenism and the status of non-Catholics) and prior *non-definitive* teachings (e.g., ladies' headcoverings).

Apperances can be deceiving. The reason religious submission is required is because most people are not theologians Jeff and even those that are need to remember that the magisterium teaches with divinely vested authority. And as such there is guidance from above even in ordinary teaching matters even though it is not the same plentitude that is present when a definition or declaration is made on matters pertaining to faith and morals.

There is also a presumption by many people that none of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council - as no definitions of dogma were promulgated - are definitive. In many cases I would (and have) argued that this presumption is an egregiously flawed one. But I do not want to go into details on it now.

Suffice to say, I see no real conflicts in the areas you noted above but I concede that this is not readily apparent at first or even second glance. The veil issue is interesting in a way because women used to wear hats as part of their clothing. This was the standard until very recently.

I find myself on this issue vacillating back and forth on it admittedly as I see good arguments on both sides. As a kind of concession I remind myself that if I am looking around for veils when in the chapel then I am not properly focused on the mass.

Furthermore, this statement could lead one to think that only the current magisterium is to be listened to when it comes to non-definitive teachings.

The problem here as I see it is where the line is drawn. If the magisterium has a living authority as Catholics profess and if that authority is supreme, then nothing except what is either imposed on the faith or what is definitively settled can be immutable in the future. Peter Olivi tried to argue that the popes were bound by the policies of their predecessors and Pope John XXII condemned his assertion as heretical. Olivi's application of infallibility was to matters of discipline.

I guess I would have to know what you mean by "listening to former magisteriums". This sounds similar to what Protestants do with the Bible to me except applied to the magisterium. But at the same time I do not believe you are advocating "sola traditio". At this point I will let you define your meaning of the statement above: I think I know but I do not want to put words in your mouth.

My question to you is this: Why, in your opinion, was the older Profession of Faith replaced? What has been gained in your view? Has anything been lost in your view?

You realize that the older Professio you professed was replaced in 1967 right??? (The anti-Modernist oath was an addition to the older Professio and not the Professio itself as some seem to think it was.) This is not to say that each successive Professio was "abrogated" as a Catholic should be able to make all professions of faith promulgated by the popes and ecumenical councils. It is simply that the magisterium taking into account the needs of the age sought to reiterate explicitly what was implied in the scaled down 1967 Professio and highlight an area to which neither that professio or Pope Paul's Credo of 1968 explicitly took note of: the definitive doctrines to be held which were not de fide. This is an area that most "trads" and "liberal" dissenters alike go astray in - though in different ways.

I would like very much to see this question addressed on your blog, with the full text of both Professions linked so that your readers may compare the two.

Well as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum, I can certainly make that happen. I made some clarifications on the Professio last night before bedtime and indeed by doing that I remembered my promise to you to address this email on the blog. And while I wrote out a response earlier it somehow got deleted so I started this one anew this morning.

I have no problem with this request but I have two questions first though:

Are you referring to the current Professio and the Vatican I version which you took??? Or a comparison of the current Professio and the one from 1967???

Heck, we could examine the last three Professios if you want. I have no objections to that at all.

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