Friday, July 25, 2003

"One From the Vault" Dept.

This one is from a comments thread at the Libertarian weblog Samizdata.Net circa October of 2002:

In the spirit of calling a spade a football bat, those advocating change in America for the last 20 years have been calling themselves conservatives.

Where is it written that conservatism is opposed to change??? No greater progress on all fronts was made in this country than when conservative principles were preserved and honoured. What we are opposed to is arbitrary alterations simply for the sake of change.

The real difference is substantial in that conservatism is substantial whereas liberalism is at bottom a rather facile outlook. Conservatism takes into account the entire person and sees the spiritual as superior to the temporal - in both philosophy as well as economics. Liberals by contrast are materialistic and tend to either downplay or dismiss completely this entity and as a result they end up championing an idol of the populace to "take care" of people. In the absence of spiritual moorings they seek to find their locus in the structures of man-made governments and institutions.In other words, they ignore the spiritual and then fill the void with their own creations.

Then when these creations fail (as they always do) the liberal simply continues to tinker with the creation rather than asking if their very presuppositions are what is indeed the problem. This was the problem seventy-five years ago and it has only gotten worse since then - particularly since 1972 when the Democrats stopped running on principle and started running on fear full time. (There were flashes of this taken by Johnson in 1964 but not until '72 was this the defacto approach taken. And since then it has not wavered an iota.)

The problem is that for seventy-five years the conservatives have not exactly been the real deal most of the time. They have become tainted with the presuppositions of the socialists liberals. Every movement is claimed as a "restoration" of sorts where we "roll back taxes to 1990 levels" or something like that. Do they stop and ask if 1990 levels were not already WAAAY too high??? Of course not.

When we tolerate a tax burden in this country 5000% higher than what the colonists threw a tea party over, what needs to be questioned is the governing methodology not little insignificant wrinkles here and there that are a case of taking one step forward and two steps back.

Posted by: I. Shawn McElhinney on October 10, 2002 01:17 AM

If interested, the whole thread can be read HERE.

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"Possibly Coming Soon to a Pulpit Near You" Dept.

I have to say that I never thought that anything I said would become the object of a sermon. But it seems that my essay on Justification became just that. Here is the sermon in full.

Sermon for
29 September 2002
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My great and good friend Jeff sent me a link early this week:

http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/justif.html

. . . which, while much too long to quote here, effectively demolishes the "sola scriptura" and "once saved..." arguments. By a very nice coincidence, today's readings also speak to those points.

Boiled down, I. Shawn McElhinney's argument is that Jesus trumps Paul (He's God, you know -- and Paul isn't). The essay goes on to show that all of the Apostles, including Paul, teach the same Faith -- Peter, James, John and Paul. Therefore, when we interpret Paul we have to interpret him in terms of what Jesus says.

And Jesus says, right here in today's Gospel, that mere "mouth Christianity" -- saying "Yes, Lord" -- doesn't get you anywhere. You need to get off your backside and actually go out an DO the will of the Father.

"Which of the two did the will of his father?" said Jesus, and points out that many tax collectors (IRS Agents of that time) and harlots had repented -- changed their minds and lives. The first son, too, in the parable, at first says "I won't", then changes his mind and does what his father asked. The second says "Yeah, sure, Pops," and does nothing.

In another place -- Matt.7:21 -- Jesus says: "Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father..." The command is to get up and do, not just "accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior". That's the first step -- the leap of faith, but as James says -- Jas 2:26 -- "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead." -- clearly teaching what Jesus taught, as we should expect, that the good works are as necessary as the faith.

In today's First Reading, the Prophet Ezekiel makes the same point that Paul does in Romans 6:23: "...the wages of sin is death...". But like Paul and the Church, he also says that there is salvation for the sinner by turning away from his iniquity.

Ezekiel, like all the Hebrew prophets, is being very concrete here -- saying that by ceasing to do the wrong thing, and doing the right thing, we are saved from eternal death. It is not by saying or believing that we are saved, but by doing what is right.

Turned on its head, the argument is that, while we cannot work our way into heaven, we sure can work our way into the other place. Works matter, as Jesus repeats over and over (see the arguments in the link, above) -- and doing good works is as important as avoiding bad ones.

The Psalmist sings:

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
Teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
For you are God my savior.

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.

"Paths of righteousness", in the Hebrew, is just that -- a physical path, the route one walks to do the right thing.

The things one does in this life, which the Lord will reward. It is not a metaphorical thing, but a very concrete one; it is not only "Right Belief" (in the Buddhist phrase), but also "Right Action".

In today's Epistle, Paul talks about the kind of person -- the type of personality -- that we, as Christians, should be developing. We are to be like Christ, who, although God, emptied Himself to become a slave, even unto dying on the cross for us.

This, by the way, is the answer to the Mohammedan and Arian lies that Jesus cannot be God, because He prays to God, and obeys God. How little insight they have into the true depths of God's love for us -- that He would make himself as we are, to save us from our follies.

Note that He does all of this "for us" -- as Paul says: "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." Jesus certainly looked to our interests, dying for our sins on the Cross, so that we might rise up with Him also.

So what we are called to do is to be humble, as Jesus was humble; to have concern for others, and do for others, as Jesus did and does for us. Let us pray then, that we may live up to that example . . . .

In the Name of the Father +
And of the Son +
And of the Holy Spirit +
Amen.

The sermon link

My friends, I am not sure how to feel about this - whether to be honoured or terrified. (Or a bit of both.) And for that reason, I should probably leave it at that for now.


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Thursday, July 24, 2003

An article worth reading from First Things

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Points to Ponder:

I cannot identify with any complete system with an integral view of the world or an ideology. It seems to me that anything finished, complete, and not open to another dimension is heavy and self–destructive. I see the error of any dialectics that proceed with thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, removing possible contradictions. I think that openness must always remain; it is faith, in it God is found, who is not a "synthesis" but life and fullness. [Orthodox theologian and historian Fr. Alexander Schememann: From His Private Journal circa December 23, 1976]

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Heineken. I am from Holland, ishn't that weird?
Yesh, yesh, you have a strong personal flavor
and some people just don't like you. People who
really know you realize that you are one of the
best.


Which Beer are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Response to Jeff Culbreath:

[Note: Though I posted the majority of this response last night, formatting problems made it expedient to correct and re post anew this response today. - ISM]

I admit right off the bat that there has been a long delay in responding to Jeff's comments from early May. However, it seems appropriate to do so now for two reasons (i) it has been a while since I responded to anything of Jeff's and (ii) Jeff is always such an asset to those of his outlook that failure to do so may give the impression that apologists for Tridentinism are uniformly reactionary or impolite. (Or - dare I say it: spiritually immature.) So without further ado, let us get to it. Jeff's words will be in black font.

I. Shawn McElhinney has replied to my post below at Rerum Novarum, and Michelle of And Then has contributed HERE. As the individual link is not working, please scroll down to the May 12, 2003 response for the thread.

Shawn suggests that I might be inconsistent in partially faulting Rome for the SSPX schism but not holding Rome accountable for earlier schisms. He writes:

While Jeff would not probably extend the same leeway to other schisms or heresies historically, the two reasons for this would seem to be (i) no personal attachment to them on his part and (ii) they did not promote an agenda that he personally would in any way endorse. Because of this, it is human nature to give such the benefit of the doubt because it allows us to justify ourselves and our own positions. For this I do not begrudge Jeff any more than I would a current (or former) Lutheran who gives the benefit of the doubt to Fr. Martin Luther. One questionof course is if Jeff would apply this principle in the same manner also. For some reason, I am inclined to doubt it.

A brief personal history before I reply: I was raised a nominal Lutheran with a vague belief in God; flirted with atheism and agnosticism in my late teens/early twenties; "converted" to orthodox Lutheranism in my early twenties and attended Missouri and Wisconsin Synod parishes; over time I was drawn to Catholicism and persuaded by Catholic arguments; I enrolled in RCIA at age 29 and was repulsed by the liberalism of my local Catholic diocese; I joined the breakaway Anglican Province of Christ the King where I remained for five years; I spent six months in seminary studying for the Anglican priesthood; I discovered the Latin Mass and finally entered the Catholic Church three years ago.

This actually explains a lot. For you see, there is a tendency for people to want to defend whatever it is that brought them to their current philosophical or religious viewpoints. In Jeff's case, since the Latin Mass was the linchpin, it is naturally going to be a source of his affections. This does not mean of course that Jeff may not have become Catholic without it - or even that he may not have embraced the Latin Mass later on after conversion of course - but this point goes a long ways towards explaining his presuppositional tendencies.

So, my past religious associations are Lutheran and Anglican, and I have never had any affiliation with the SSPX or schismatic traditionalist groups.

If memory serves, Jeff's Anglican experience was one of High Church "Anglo-Catholic" import. Hence, the Latin Mass would be a natural fit of sorts for him devotionally and spiritually.

Do I hold Rome equally responsible for the Anglican and Lutheran schisms? Not on your life. There were many abuses in the Church that were exploited by Luther, Calvin, and Cranmer in their day, but these were merely pretexts and were cleaned up at the Council of Trent.

It took a while before this actually filtered down though. In some countries the resolutions of Trent took over a century to implement. And in some cases, certain resolutions were not implemented at all. Be that as it may, the substance of Jeff's assertion is accurate.

Lutherans and Anglicans began as heretics and ended as heretics. They did not even claim to preserve the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church:

They claimed in justification for their actions that popes and councils had "plainly erred and contradicted themselves." So did Lefebvre and his allies claim this with Vatican II and with the popes from John XXIII on down who were directly involved with the Council or its implementation.

instead, they radically revised their creeds and expunged Catholic dogma from their liturgies. On the other hand, it seems clear that the SSPX initially changed nothing and merely tried to preserve what it had received.

Actually, there was liturgical experimentation at Econe early on. I quote from one of the sources used in my treatise where John Loughnan in an essay quotes an old Roman Catholic periodical. I did not use this quote in any of my writings and I actually have on my lap at the moment the very source being quoted. (Not because I lack faith in John's quoting of sources but in case I want to quote more of it than he does. My additions to John's cites will be in fire coloured font.)

"Isn't this Liturgy of John XXIII the one in which you priests were trained and ordained at Ecône?" The answer is no. We received no appreciable liturgical training whatever at Ecône, and until the September of 1976 the Mass was that of the early years of Paul VI. (Indeed, concelebration was permitted in our first statutes.) The celebrant sat on the side and listened to readings, or himself performed them at lecterns facing the people. The only reason the readings were done in Latin and not in French, we were told, is that the seminary is an international one! (Interestingly enough, the Ordinances of the Society, signed by Archbishop Lefebvre and currently in force, allow for the reading of the Epistle and the Gospel in the vernacular - without reading them first in Latin.)

"It would be difficult to say what liturgy was followed at Ecône, because the rubrics were a mishmash of different elements, one priest saying Mass somewhat differently from the next. No one set of rubrics was systematically observed or taught. As a matter of fact, no rubrics were taught at all.

"The best I can say is that over the years a certain eclectic blend of rubrics developed based on the double principle of (a) what the Archbishop liked, and (b) what one did in France.

"These rubrics range rather freely from the Liturgy of St. Pius X to that of Paul VI in 1968. It is simply the 'Rite of Ecône,' a law unto itself... ...There is no uniformity because there is no principle of uniformity - certainly not the "Liturgy of John XXIII."...

"As for our seminary training, we were never taught how to celebrate Mass. Preparation for this rather important part of the priestly life was to be seen to in our spare time and on our own. The majority of the seminarians there seem never to have applied themselves to a rigid or systematic study of the rubrics, as may be seen from the way in which they celebrate Mass today ... It is a pity that today so many priests trained at Econe are content with saying Mass "more or less" properly....

"At one time we were taught to reject the Vatican Council II entirely since, again according to the Archbishop, so many of its actions "began in heresy and ended in heresy." [The Roman Catholic, by Fr. Daniel L. Dolan, June 1983]

Now while it is true that this was shortly after the ejection of Fr. Dolan and eight others from the SSPX in 1983; nonetheless, this is not the only source I have seen that substantiates these assertions. I point out in my treatise - the liturgies are not celebrated the same way in all SSPX chapels. In some cases, parts of the rubrics are omitted, other times they are added to.

So based on sources such as the above and my own (and John's not to mention others) eye-witness accounts, the claim that the SSPX initially changed nothing and merely tried to preserve what it had received. is not true. But as Jeff never had involvement with the SSPX, I do not fault him in the slightest for this.

Yes, Msgr. Lefebvre resorted to disobedience. Yes, his disobedience resulted in schism. Yes, the protracted separation of the SSPX has caused some of their number to cease thinking with the mind of the Church.

All of which is sufficiently serious enough mind you.

But the SSPX is much closer to full catholicity today than Luther was even before his excommunication.

Perhaps. Since Archbishop Lefebvre tried to chalk up many of his outlandish comments stating [i]f in my discourses I made use of somewhat extreme expressions, allowances must be made for literary style (ECONE FULL STOP, Fortes in Fide, by Fr Noél Barbara (January 11-12, 1979), I fail to see why people are hesitant to allow the same leeway to Fr. Luther. Much (if not all) of what he put in his 95 Theses was actually matters of legitimate theological debate in 1517. (Fr. Luther was not excommunicated - and some of his propositions condemned - until 1521.) The same cannot be said for many of Lefebvre's statements which - though never condemned by Rome - nonetheless de facto undermined the foundations of Catholic doctrine every bit as much as some of Luther's did.

The crisis in the Church following the Second Vatican Council was a crisis of doctrine and worship -- things much more serious than the corruption and human failings of the Renaissance Church in Luther's day.

There was a crisis in these matters long before Vatican II. If we really look at the broader picture, one finds as the Society of St. John noted in an excellent piece they did on the liturgy that the contemplative spirit of the liturgy—nourished in a special way by the monks, but the birthright of all the baptized—declined through the centuries leading up to the French Revolution..

And again:

Dom Guéranger wrote that prayer is "man's richest boon," and liturgy (the prayer of the Church) is "the most pleasing to the ear and the heart of God, and therefore the most efficacious of all prayers." Then, after lamenting the decline of the liturgy in the centuries following the Reformation, he notes that "this liturgical prayer would soon become powerless were the faithful not to take a real share in it, or at least not to associate themselves to it in heart. It can heal and save the world, but only on the condition that it be understood." [The Liturgical Movement Part I]

If you note, Dom Guéranger in the nineteenth century was critical of the liturgy since the Reformation. This means he was critical of it as reformed after the Council of Trent and as promulgated in the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum. As research on the liturgy and knowledge of liturgical history increased substantially after Quo Primum, there was a fuller appreciation for the liturgy apart from confessional defences.

This is not to say that Dom Guéranger did not have his own biases of course - some of which were regrettable - but those who studied the liturgy began realizing that the problems which the French Revolution brought to a head spiritually began some time before it and involved the manner whereby the liturgy was understood and incorporated into everyday life. There are many reasons for this - including some which are not flattering for the Church in the Counter-reformation period - but I will simply note here that the core problems were not only not rectified by the Council of Trent but they continued in their degenerative effects all the way into the twentieth century. (When finally the Magisterium starting with St. Pius X began involving itself in the liturgical movement.) However, despite some improvements, the liturgical life continued to degenerate all the way up to the Council. The fallout after the Council was nothing more than the tree of liturgical life after being gnawed thoroughly for centuries finally falling into a dry rot heap.{2}

This is also what the Second Vatican Council intended from the start to address and further still, why any "return" to pre-Vatican II liturgical policies will not fix anything except in a superficial sense at best. This is something that those who identify themselves as "traditionalists" almost never want to face up to (with the Society of St. John as one of the few exceptions). Now the SSJ only offers the Tridentine liturgy. However they also do not see it as either the be-all and end-all of successfully restoring the Church - or as some panacea against problems as many who advocate the older liturgical form do. To quote from part IV of their essay (which I will probably post in full to my weblog in the coming weeks):

If we judge according to appearances, the times before the Council might seem like times of unparalleled orthodoxy and discipline, times when the Church was on the move with the prestige and organization of a major corporation. Many who lament the intellectual, moral and liturgical chaos that followed the Council look back to the days before the Council as an ideal time, one to which those who would restore the Church's glories may look to for guidance. But before we can judge whether a particular time is exemplary we have to have a standard by which to judge. By what standard can we judge the health or sickness of the Church? While organization, prestige, and the number of vocations may be signs of health, are they enough in themselves to determine health or sickness? Is it possible that the Church, like any other organism can give the appearance of health while her interior reserves of vitality have been on the wane for some time?

And again:

Before the Council the Church presented a face of unanimity in philosophy, theology, and liturgy. Today pluralism reigns in all these areas. However this pluralism has two aspects: Firstly it denotes heterodoxy and as such it is a cancer that weakens the body of Christ and destroys souls. But secondly it denotes a legitimate variety in areas where the Church has not traditionally demanded uniformity. The first of these is an evil, the second a good. But before the council the legitimate and illegitimate pluralism were intertwined so that it was necessary for both to surface if they were to be untangled.

And the process of the past two pontificates - particularly that of the current pontificate - was to untangle what is legitimate from what is illegitimate.

In short, there is a reason Jeff why the modern liturgical movement started in the nineteenth century and gathered steam throughout the twentieth century. The reason was because there was a subconscious understanding that all was not well with the liturgy. And the crisis in doctrine when the Church encountered the modern world only made matters even worse.

Since it was a more serious provocation, the responsibility for schism is correspondingly greater.

Well, I respectfully believe that you have underestimated the degree of damage to doctrine and worship that already existed in the Church long before Vatican II. And this is part of the reason why I believe a universal indult to celebrate the Tridentine liturgy would not be the panacea that many who identify with that liturgy believe it would be. But that is a subject for another time perhaps.

Which prompts another question worth contemplating: where does the benefit of the doubt properly belong???"

Where there is doubt, the benefit of the doubt belongs to Rome.

Agreed.

But there is no doubt that the culture of Catholicism in the West became, almost overnight, a positive threat to the Faith.

By all superficial accounts, this is true. But a deeper look at the problems would reveal that the spark that sets the blaze would never set the blaze if not for the fuel stored up for some time preceding that point.

To give a few examples, the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression by the same reckoning you are making here would have "started" with the firing on Fort Sumter. And the so-called "reformation" would have "started" with Fr. Luther and his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. And the breakdown of communion between the west and the east "happened" in 1054 when legates for the deceased Pope Leo IX placed a Bull of Excommunication on the high altar in Constantinople only to have the Patriarch of Constantinople issue his own excommunication in return. And of course the schism of Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX would have "started" on June 30, 1988. By all surface accounts, these would be accurate statements. However, if we look below the surface we can see several things including:

(i) there was at least a twenty-four year buildup of tension prior to 1861 which provided the fuel for the start of that war.

(ii) The problems ignited by Fr. Luther was a two hundred year plus accumulation of fuel for that explosion.

(iii) The "Eastern Schism" (falsely so-called) can be traced back to 325 AD as its point of "conception" if you will. The first explicit manifestations of a definite split widening was at Trullo in 692. Another flareup in the time of Photius showed that there was no simmering in the tensions.

All that was needed was a century of papal degradation followed by an ever escalating totalitarian view of the papacy coupled with some boneheaded papal diplomats making a stupid act of aggrandizement and the Church was officially split. Though the split would not be final for another century and a half, for all intensive purposes the west and east were separated at that point ideologically, theologically, and ecclesially.

(iv) And of course in the Lefebvre case, though there were difficulties even at the beginning, the situation of 1988 as I pointed out in my treatise was a crystallization explicitly and formally of a previously implicit and material but ever widening schism that began the day that Pope Paul struck the Archbishop with ad divinus suspension on July 29, 1976: an action that prompted the Archbishop to declare This conciliar church is a schismatic church because it breaks with the Catholic Church of the centuries ..." and "This conciliar church is schismatic because it has taken as the basis for its updating principles opposed to those of the Catholic Church." If that was not enough, he cemented it with the statement that "The church which affirms errors like these is both schismatic and heretical. This conciliar church is thus not Catholic."

In short, nothing happens in a vacuum, by chance, or by an arbitrary event. Explosions of any kind do not happen without fuel. And the larger the explosion, the more fuel that was stored up for that day of reckoning.

It isn't the novelties, in and of themselves, that caused seminaries and convents to empty and Catholics to leave the Church in droves.

Agreed. There were many underlying factors in the equation.

Rather, the novelties created a crisis of Faith, a sense that the Church did not take herself seriously.

The catechesis and spiritual formation of most people in that period and preceding it was anemic. Most Catholics had at best a Baltimore Catechism Four understanding of the faith - if even that. This foundation was/is both inadequate and also to some extent a confusion of the permanent and the transitory elements of Catholic understanding. The Counter-reformation lie of the "unchanging Church" came back to roost with a vengeance.

Most Catholics did not leave the Church because they were outraged by novelties: they left the Church because the novelties seemed to prove that the Church no longer believed in her own teachings, that all the certitude of the Catholic past had been a hoax.

I agree but of course would point to the fact that a lot was treated as immutable which was not. In that climate - when accidents are not separated from substance properly - then any alteration is seen as of equal (or near equal) weight.

The radical alteration of the liturgy, which seemed to embrace so much of what Catholics had always been taught was wrong with Protestant worship, contributed immensely to the crisis of belief.

Agreed. But a lot of what Catholics had been taught in the Counter-reformation about what was "wrong" with Protestant worship was subjective opinions. The attitude of opposing something simply because "the Protestants did it" was a horribly dualistic attitude to be epousing. Obviously in areas where there was a legitimate difference of view - such as how Catholics view the mass as a sacrifice - this is necessary. But denigrating or downplaying common ground does not help one iota.

But in the age of confessional scholarship, that was done to "score points" along with downplaying areas which were detrimental to a particular position. With an average individual possessing much greater education than was common in the past, such approaches do not reflect well on the credibility of the Catholic Church.

An eternal and indefectible Church that seems to disown her past inspires neither faith nor confidence, and it may well be that the desperate disobedience of Msgr. Lefebvre preserved the Faith of untold thousands of Catholics who would otherwise have been lost.

Perhaps. But he also may have by his rebellion consigned many Catholics to Gehenna who adhered to his schism. We do not know but can only pray for God's mercy on behalf of all involved on all sides of the divide. But before closing this thread, reflection on a core principle of Catholic moral teaching is necessary. Whatever excuses are made for His Grace, the bottom line really is this:

The end does not justify the means.

This was a point amplified by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Ecclesia Dei Adflicta when he stated that [E]specially contradictory is a notion of Tradition which opposes the universal Magisterium of the Church possessed by the Bishop of Rome and the Body of Bishops. It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church.

There is also the issue of EENS that cannot be avoided. To quote Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis Christi:

Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. [Mystici Corporis Christi §22 (c. 1943)]

And the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium from Vatican II:

Basing itself on scripture and tradition, [this holy Council] teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it. [Lumen Gentium §14]

And as with schism one separates from the Catholic Church, objectively speaking such a person cannot be saved. So in the end preserving the Faith (the end) does not justify the means (schism) and the Archbishop's actions cannot be condoned or excused - or even mitigated - in any way whatsoever.

Only an ignorance of some kind that renders the guilty to some extent invincible can excuse. And for that I hold out that the elderly Lefebvre was not in full command of his faculties. May His Grace rest in peace with all the souls of the faithfully departed but may the schism he created be resolved and resolved soon so that more souls are not placed in jeopardy.

Notes:

{1} The response can be found HERE. Originally it was supposed to be a multipart post but I changed my mind and left it as a stand-alone post - deciding at the time that a further response would not be expedient. (Hence, where it says "to be continued" there is no need to regard that at all - right now blogger is not letting me fix it.)

{2} Those such as myself who take this view - a view I might add which has no small amount of support historically, theologically, devotionally, and philosophically - therefore view the approach to the liturgical movement by most of those who identify themselves as "traditionalist" to be too superficial to be conducive to an authentic and substantial renewal of the Church.

This is also why there are reservations as to how even legitimate Tridentine apostolates at times approach these matters. However, those who are authentically Traditional - whether they favour wider application of the Tridentine liturgy or not - are still deserving of our support. And gentlemen such as yourself who possess both a well-placed heart as well as an authentically Traditional outlook are always a pleasure to dialogue with.

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I would like to take the time to invite all of you to visit the website of my friend Bill Bannon. Bill is about a zillion times better artist than I am and he is also a photographer. He has some very beautiful pencil sketches and pictures available for purchase. For decorating that home, apartment, or office, please stop by Bill's Place and pick up some fine art and pictures for adding a little culture to your home, apartment, or office. For those who talk about Catholics supporting Catholics, well here is your chance viz the area of art and photography. If he asks, let him know that Shawn McElhinney sent you.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Points to Ponder:

My God, I know that Thou didst create the whole universe very good; and if this was true of the material world which we see, much more true is it of the world of rational beings. The innumerable stars which fill the firmament, and the very elements out of which the earth is made, all are carried through their courses and their operations in perfect concord; but much higher was the concord which reigned in heaven when the Angels were first created. At that first moment of their existence the main orders of the Angels were in the most excellent harmony, and beautiful to contemplate; and the creation of man was expected next, to continue that harmony in the instance of a different kind of being. Then it was that suddenly was discovered a flaw or a rent in one point of this most delicate and exquisite web—and it extended and unravelled the web, till a third part of it was spoilt; and then again a similar flaw was found in human kind, and it extended over the whole race. This dreadful evil, destroying so large a portion of all God's works, is sin.

My God, such is sin in Thy judgment; what is it in the judgment of the world? A very small evil or none at all. In the judgment of the Creator it is that which has marred His spiritual work; it is a greater evil than though the stars got loose, and ran wild in heaven, and chaos came again. But man, who is the guilty one, calls it by soft names. He explains it away. The world laughs at it, and is indulgent to it; and, as to its deserving eternal punishment, it rises up indignant at the idea, and rather than admit it, would deny the God who has said it does. The world thinks sin the same sort of imperfection as an impropriety, or want of taste or infirmity. O my soul, consider carefully the great difference between the views of sin taken by Almighty God and the world! Which of the two views do you mean to believe?

O my soul, which of the two wilt thou believe—the word of God or the word of man? Is God right or is the creature right? Is sin the greatest of all possible evils or the least? My Lord and Saviour, I have no hesitation which to believe. Thou art true, and every man a liar. I will believe Thee, above the whole world. My God, imprint on my heart the infamous deformity of sin. Teach me to abhor it as a pestilence—as a fierce flame destroying on every side; as my death. Let me take up arms against it, and devote myself to fight under Thy banner in overcoming it. [Venerable John Henry Newman on The Evil of Sin courtesy of Donna Lewis' Quenta Narwenion BLOG]

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Conversations With Gregory:
(Part III of III)

The previous installment of this thread can be read HERE. To start from the beginning of this thread, please go HERE.

These sections are from St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life. The topic is that of rash or hasty judgments: a continual problem for not a few who identify themselves as "traditionalists."

CHAPTER XXVIII. Of Hasty Judgments.

"JUDGE not, and ye shall not be judged," said the Saviour of our souls; "condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned:" {S. Luke vi. 37} and the Apostle S. Paul, "Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts." {1 Cor. iv. 5} Of a truth, hasty judgments are most displeasing to God, and men's judgments are hasty, because we are not judges one of another, and by judging we usurp our Lord's own office.

Man's judgment is hasty, because the chief malice of sin lies in the intention and counsel of the heart, which is shrouded in darkness to us. Moreover, man's judgments are hasty, because each one has enough to do in judging himself, without undertaking to judge his neighbour. If we would not be judged, it behoves us alike not to judge others, and to judge ourselves. Our Lord forbids the one, His Apostle enjoins the other, saying, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged."{1 Cor. xi. 31} But alas! for the most part we precisely reverse these precepts, judging our neighbour, which is forbidden on all sides, while rarely judging ourselves, as we are told to do.

We must proceed to rectify rash judgments, according to their cause. Some hearts there are so bitter and harsh by nature, that everything turns bitter under their touch; men who, in the Prophet's words, "turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth." {Amos v. 7} Such as these greatly need to be dealt with by some wise spiritual physician, for this bitterness being natural to them, it is hard to conquer; and although it be rather an imperfection than a sin, still it is very dangerous, because it gives rise to and fosters rash judgments and slander within the heart.

Others there are who are guilty of rash judgments less out of a bitter spirit than from pride, supposing to exalt their own credit by disparaging that of others. These are self-sufficient, presumptuous people, who stand so high in their own conceit that they despise all else as mean and worthless. It was the foolish Pharisee who said, "I am not as other men are." {S. Luke xviii. 11}

Others, again, have not quite such overt pride, but rather a lurking little satisfaction in beholding what is wrong in others, in order to appreciate more fully what they believe to be their own superiority. This satisfaction is so well concealed, so nearly imperceptible, that it requires a clear sight to discover it, and those who experience it need that it be pointed out to them.

Some there are who seek to excuse and justify themselves to their own conscience, by assuming readily that others are guilty of the same faults, or as great ones, vainly imagining that the sin becomes less culpable when shared by many. Others, again, give way to rash judgments merely because they take pleasure in a philosophic analysis and dissection of their neighbours' characters; and if by ill luck they chance now and then to be right, their presumption and love of criticism strengthens almost incurably.

Then there are people whose judgment is solely formed by inclination; who always think well of those they like, and ill of those they dislike. To this, however, there is one rare exception, which nevertheless we do sometimes meet, when an excessive love provokes a false judgment concerning its object; the hideous result of a diseased, faulty, restless affection, which is in fact jealousy; an evil passion capable, as everybody knows, of condemning others of perfidy and adultery upon the most trivial and fanciful ground. In like manner, fear, ambition, and other moral infirmities often tend largely to produce suspicion and rash judgments.

What remedy can we apply? They who drink the juice of the Ethiopian herb Ophiusa imagine that they see serpents and horrors everywhere; and those who drink deep of pride, envy, ambition, hatred, will see harm and shame in every one they look upon. The first can only be cured by drinking palm wine, and so I say of these latter,--Drink freely of the sacred wine of love, and it will cure you of the evil tempers which lead you to these perverse judgments.

So far from seeking out that which is evil, Love dreads meeting with it, and when such meeting is unavoidable, she shuts her eyes at the first symptom, and then in her holy simplicity she questions whether it were not merely a fantastic shadow which crossed her path rather than sin itself. Or if Love is forced to recognise the fact, she turns aside hastily, and strives to forget what she has seen. Of a truth, Love is the great healer of all ills, and of this above the rest.

Everything looks yellow to a man that has the jaundice; and it is said that the only cure is through the soles of the feet. Most assuredly the sin of rash judgments is a spiritual jaundice, which makes everything look amiss to those who have it; and he who would be cured of this malady must not be content with applying remedies to his eyes or his intellect, he must attack it through the affections, which are as the soul's feet.

If your affections are warm and tender, your judgment will not be harsh; if they are loving, your judgment will be the same. Holy Scripture offers us three striking illustrations. Isaac, when in the Land of Gerar, gave out that Rebecca was his sister, but when Abimelech saw their familiarity, he at once concluded that she was his wife. {Gen. xxvi} A malicious mind would rather have supposed that there was some unlawful connection between them, but Abimelech took the most charitable view of the case that was possible.


And so ought we always to judge our neighbour as charitably as may be; and if his actions are many-sided, we should accept the best. Again, when S. Joseph found that the Blessed Virgin was with child, {S. Matt. i} knowing her to be pure and holy, he could not believe that there was any sin in her, and he left all judgment to God, although there was strong presumptive evidence on which to condemn her. And the Holy Spirit speaks of S. Joseph as "a just man."

When a just man cannot see any excuse for what is done by a person in whose general worth he believes, he still refrains from judging him, and leaves all to God's Judgment. Again, our Crucified Saviour, while He could not wholly ignore the sin of those who Crucified Him, yet made what excuse He might for them, pleading their ignorance. {S. Luke xxiii. 34.} And so when we cannot find any excuse for sin, let us at least claim what compassion we may for it, and impute it to the least damaging motives we can find, as ignorance or infirmity.

Are we never, then, to judge our neighbour? you ask. Never, my child. It is God Who judges criminals brought before a court of law. He uses magistrates to convey His sentence to us; they are His interpreters, and have only to proclaim His law. If they go beyond this, and are led by their own passions, then they do themselves judge, and for so doing they will be judged. It is forbidden to all men alike, as men, to judge one another.

We do not necessarily judge because we see or are conscious of something wrong. Rash judgment always presupposes something that is not clear, in spite of which we condemn another. It is not wrong to have doubts concerning a neighbour, but we ought to be very watchful lest even our doubts or suspicions be rash and hasty.

A malicious person seeing Jacob kiss Rachel at the well-side, {Gen. xxix. 11} or Rebecca accepting jewels from Eleazer, {Gen. xxiv. 22} a stranger, might have suspected them of levity, though falsely and unreasonably. If an action is in itself indifferent, it is a rash suspicion to imagine that it means evil, unless there is strong circumstantial evidence to prove such to be the case. And it is a rash judgment when we draw condemnatory inferences from an action which may be blameless.

Those who keep careful watch over their conscience are not often liable to form rash judgments, for just as when the clouds lower the bees make for the shelter of their hive, so really good people shrink back into themselves, and refuse to be mixed up with the clouds and fogs of their neighbour's questionable doings, and rather than meddle with others, they consecrate their energies on their own improvement and good resolutions.

No surer sign of an unprofitable life than when people give way to censoriousness and inquisitiveness into the lives of other men. Of course exception must be made as to those who are responsible for others, whether in family or public life;--to all such it becomes a matter of conscience to watch over the conduct of their fellows. Let them fulfil their duty lovingly, and let them also give heed to restrain themselves within the bounds of that duty.

Public, notorious sinners may be spoken of freely, provided always even then that a spirit of charity and compassion prevail, and that you do not speak of them with arrogance or presumption, or as though you took pleasure in the fall of others. To do this is the sure sign of a mean ungenerous mind. And, of course, you must speak freely in condemnation of the professed enemies of God and His Church, heretics and schismatics,--it is true charity to point out the wolf wheresoever he creeps in among the flock. Most people permit themselves absolute latitude in criticising and censuring rulers, and in calumniating nationalities, according to their own opinions and likings. But do you avoid this fault; it is displeasing to God, and is liable to lead you into disputes and quarrels.

When you hear evil of any one, cast any doubt you fairly can upon the accusation; or if that is impossible, make any available excuse for the culprit; and where even that may not be, be yet pitiful and compassionate, and remind those with whom you are speaking that such as stand upright do so solely through God's Grace.

Do your best kindly to check the scandal-bearer, and if you know anything favourable to the person criticised, take pains to mention it. [St. Francis de Sales: Introduction to the Devout Life Chapter XXVIII (c. pre 1622)]

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Conversations With Gregory:
(Part II of III)

The previous installment of this thread can be read HERE.

St. Paul also carried this thread of reconciliation or recapitulation of all things in Christ in his Epistle to the Ephesians - written probably congruently with the Epistle to the Colossians - as the two have many of the same thought threads in them. Here is what St. Paul said about this in Ephesians:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace [be] to you, and peace, from God our Father, and [from] the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: [St. Paul: Epistle to the Ephesians i,1-10]

The Douay Rheims translates "gather together in one" as "re-establish" and, in my New Catholic Edition bearing a 1948 Imprimatur, has the following footnote on the passage:

Ver. 10 To re-establish: the Greek word means rather "to sum up under one heading."

So essentially, "sum up" or - as the Fathers noted "recapitulate." And in a February 14, 2001 General Audience Allocution, the subject of recapitulation was the theme the Pope focused on. Here are some excerpts with the link to the whole text below:

God's plan for salvation, "the mystery of his will" (Ephesians 1:9) concerning every creature, is expressed in the Letter to the Ephesians with a characteristic term: "recapitulate" all things, heavenly and earthly, in Christ (see Ephesians 1:10). One can imagine the rod around which was wrapped the scroll of parchment or papyrus of the volume, bearing the writing: Christ gives a unitary meaning to all syllables, words, works of creation, and of history.

The first to take up this topic of "recapitulation" and develop it in a wonderful way was St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, great second-century Father of the Church. In face of any fragmentation of the history of salvation, any separation between the Old and New Alliance, any dispersion of revelation and divine action, Irenaeus exalts the only Lord, Jesus Christ, who in the Incarnation brings together in himself the whole history of salvation, humanity and the whole of creation: "He, the Eternal King, recapitulates everything in himself" ("Adversus haereses" III, 21,9).

Let us hear a passage in which this Father of the Church comments on the words of the Apostle relating, precisely, to the recapitulation in Christ of all things. In the expression "all things" -- Irenaeus affirms -- man is included, touched by the mystery of the Incarnation, when the Son of God "from invisible becomes visible, from incomprehensible comprehensible, from impassible passible, being Word became man. He has recapitulated everything in himself, in order that, as the Word of God, he has primacy over supernatural beings, spiritual and invisible; in the same way he may have it over visible and corporeal beings. Assuming this primacy in himself and giving himself as head to the Church, he attracts everything to himself" ("Adversus haereses" III, 16,6). This confluence of all being in Christ, center of time and space, is fulfilled progressively in history, overcoming the obstacles, the resistance of sin, and of the Evil One.

In order to illustrate this tension, Irenaeus takes recourse to the opposition, already presented by St. Paul, between Christ and Adam (see Romans 5:12-21): Christ is the new Adam, namely, the first born of faithful humanity, who accepts with love and obedience the plan of Redemption that God has designed as the soul and goal of history. Christ must, therefore, cancel the work of devastation, the horrible idolatry, violence and every sin that the rebellious Adam has spread in the secular affairs of humanity and on the horizon of creation. With his complete obedience to the Father, Christ opens the era of peace with God and among men, reconciling in himself scattered humanity (see Ephesians 2:16). He "recapitulates" Adam in himself, in whom the whole of humanity recognizes itself; he transfigures him into son of God, he brings him to full communion with the Father. Precisely through his fraternity with us in the flesh and blood, in life and death, Christ becomes "the head" of saved humanity. Again, St. Irenaeus writes: "Christ has recapitulated in himself all the blood poured out by all the just and all the prophets who have existed from the beginning" ("Adversus haereses" V, 14,1; see V, 14,2).

The good and the evil, therefore, are considered in the light of the redemptive work of Christ. The latter, as Paul helps us intuit, involves the whole of creation, in the variety of its components (see Romans 8:18-30). Nature itself, in fact, subjected as it is to lack of meaning, degradation and devastation caused by sin, thus participates in the joy of the deliverance brought about by Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Thus is the full action of the original plan of the Creator delineated: a creation in which God and man, man and woman, humanity and nature are in harmony, in dialogue, in communion. This plan, upset by sin, was taken up in a more wondrous way by Christ, who is carrying it out mysteriously but effectively in the present reality, in the expectation of bringing it to fulfillment. Jesus himself declared he is the fulcrum and point of convergence of this design of salvation when he affirmed: "I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32).

And John the Evangelist presents this very work as a kind of recapitulation, "to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (John 11:52).[ Pope John Paul II: General Audience Allocution §1-4 (February 14, 2001)]

In short, the very Traditional theology of recapitulation is what John Paul II is probably referring to in the passage above. In the absence of a complete text and - in light of statements he has made in his Magisterium subsequent to that time - this seems the most logical explanation of all. But notice how integrally Scriptural and also Traditional that this theme really is.

"...therefore in Jesus’ human nature, and therefore, the whole of humanity is redeemed, SAVED, enobled to the extent of participating in divine life by means of grace." December 7, 1978 General Audience

Again, I must note the sources that reference this quote. Here they are courtesy of Google:

Untitled... a 1978 General Audience he stated: “...therefore in Jesus’ human nature, and therefore, the whole of humanity is redeemed, saved, enobled to the extent of ... www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/When_A_Pope_Errs.html - 78k - Jul 20, 2003 - Cached - Similar pages

Untitled... a 1978 General Audience he stated: “...therefore in Jesus’ human nature, andtherefore, the whole of humanity is redeemed, saved, enobled to the extent of ... catholicintl.com/epologetics/When_A_Pope_Errs.html - 78k - Cached - Similar pages

This time, our only two sources for the quote are the Captain of the CAItanic. I do not expect an accurate or in context citation from such a pundit whose very agenda depends on obfuscation of facts and the misrepresentation of others. (In short, the agenda of all radtrads.) If Mr. Sungenis' allies want to post the entire General Audience Speech, then we could examine it and see if they are fairly representing the Pope's manifested intention or not. Until then, I remain unconvinced by this very PROTESTANT mentality of quoting little one line snippets.

In May 1980, he stated: "Christ obtained, once and for all, the salvation of man – of each man and of all men" (L’Osservatore Romano, May 6, 1980).

Well, at least with this one there are several attestations. (Fifteen according to Google.) As I scan the names of the involved parties, I see that twelve in fifteen (80% of them) are to articles by sedevacantists. (Six of them are to material by Dr. Rama P. Coomaraswamy; six by Brother Michael Dimond, O.S.B. Both are sedevacantists.) Besides that, there are two by CAItanic, and one by a toady of CAitanic who goes by the nom de plume Alcazar.

It seems that - based on the way the quotes are framed in each example - that there was borrowing from one another here - and that the original source was virtually certain to have been Dr. Coomaraswamy.{1} I do not believe for three seconds that these guys all got this quote independent of one another. Instead, it is likely that it (i) originated with Coomaraswamy, then was (ii) picked up by Dimond. From there Domind's quote was (iii) borrowed by Sungenis and from him (iv) "Alcazar" got the quote.

Nonetheless, I have not a shred of doubt that if the context of these passages was accessible that it would not be difficult to point out that the "trads" are again misrepresenting their sources. This is part of the reason btw that I am so detailed in my essays viz making as many of my sources readily available to the reader with minimal effort on their part as possible. Anyone can prooftext.

[When he says all men have been redeemed, I have no problem. Christ did die for all men. But saying every person is saved is heresy]

Well, in the sense that Christ by His death destroyed death, every person is redeemed. This quote appears similar to one that the Pope made in a June 15, 1996 Address to the Columbian Bishops when he said God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tm 2:4), and this is why he accomplished the work of universal redemption in Christ." As troubling as that might be at first glance, the following lines contextualize it. Here is the passage in context:

The mission you have received and which, as an expression of your pastoral charity, you must carry out with courage and generosity, is to proclaim Christ, Redeemer of man. You must proclaim him in the concrete social and cultural situation of your communities and peoples, and also to all the nations of the earth, showing special pastoral concern for "those parts of the world in which the word of God has not yet been proclaimed or in which, especially on account of the scarcity of priests, the faithful are in danger of falling away from the obligations of the Christian life or even of losing the faith itself." (Christus Dominus, n. 6)

In fact, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tm 2:4), and this is why he accomplished the work of universal redemption in Christ. The first to benefit from this salvation is the Church, called to profess before all peoples that God constituted Christ as the only saviour and mediator, and that she herself was established as the universal sacrament of salvation (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 48). Missionary activity is therefore a priority task in the Church one that is essential and never completed, since without it the Church would be deprived of her fundamental meaning and exemplary role (cf. Redemptoris missio, nn. 33-34).

Both the mission ad gentes and the new evangelization to which the whole Church is summoned spring from the certainty that in Christ there are "unsearchable riches" (Eph 3:8), which do not suppress the culture of any age and which men can always turn to for spiritual enrichment. These riches are, first of all, Christ himself, his person, for he himself is our salvation (cf. Opening Address at the Fourth General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, Santo Domingo, 12 October 1992, n. 6; L'Osservatore Romano> English edition, 21 October 1992, p. 7).

He is the living image of the Father (cf. Col 1:15), the eternal Truth, infinite Love, and supreme Good; and at the same time, he is the living image of man, of his salvation and of his true greatness, despite the adversities which befall humanity. In Christ, man fully discovers his dignity as a person called to integral development in truth and open to transcendence.

Therefore it is urgent for the name of Jesus Christ, sent by the Father, to resound with renewed force in Colombia and to the ends of the earth, and for the salvation which he achieved through the sacrifice of the Cross and the triumph of the Resurrection to be proclaimed. [Pope John Paul II: Audience with Bishops from Columbia on their "ad limina" visit on 15 June 1996.]

Again understood in the context of recapitulation this is not difficult.

I've been pondering these quotations and I don't see anyway around them. I trust my pope and I can't believe that he would preach evil opinions.

Your faith is commendable my friend. Indeed, I am not saying that I have by any stretch "resolved" these questions of yours - as I have no access to the original sources. (Thus there is some room for doubt.) However, hopefully at the very least a probable understanding in light of certain themes that this pope has focused on at times is of assistance in this endeavour.

Could you please tell me why these quotes are not heretical.

Well, if my thesis is correct here, one could just as easily impugn St. Paul for heresy. But since (i) it is a solemn definition of faith that the Scriptures are inerrant and (ii) St. Paul taught the thesis of recapitulation which some of the Fathers themselves (i.e. St. Ireneus of Lyons) expounded upon, then (iii) Pope John Paul II in developing implications of the Pauline thesis of recapitulation would not be a heretic.

However, I understand that as I am leaving some angles unsecured here due to the circumstances, in light of the subject matter discussed, it seems good to end this with some spiritual instruction from the masters of the Great Tradition. I will end this section with two small excerpts from Thomas à Kempis' Imitation of Christ first published in 1418. The third installment will contain some instruction from St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life. Without further ado, here is Thomas à Kempis:

OBEDIENCE AND SUBJECTION

IT IS a very great thing to obey, to live under a superior and not to be one's own master, for it is much safer to be subject than it is to command. Many live in obedience more from necessity than from love. Such become discontented and dejected on the slightest pretext; they will never gain peace of mind unless they subject themselves wholeheartedly for the love of God.

Go where you may, you will find no rest except in humble obedience to the rule of authority. Dreams of happiness expected from change and different places have deceived many.

Everyone, it is true, wishes to do as he pleases and is attracted to those who agree with him. But if God be among us, we must at times give up our opinions for the blessings of peace.

Furthermore, who is so wise that he can have full knowledge of everything? Do not trust too much in your own opinions, but be willing to listen to those of others. If, though your own be good, you accept another's opinion for love of God, you will gain much more merit; for I have often heard that it is safer to listen to advice and take it than to give it. It may happen, too, that while one's own opinion may be good, refusal to agree with others when reason and occasion demand it, is a sign of pride and obstinacy.

AVOIDING RASH JUDGMENT

TURN your attention upon yourself and beware of judging the deeds of other men, for in judging others a man labors vainly, often makes mistakes, and easily sins; whereas, in judging and taking stock of himself he does something that is always profitable.

We frequently judge that things are as we wish them to be, for through personal feeling true perspective is easily lost.

If God were the sole object of our desire, we should not be disturbed so easily by opposition to our opinions. But often something lurks within or happens from without to draw us along with it.

Many, unawares, seek themselves in the things they do. They seem even to enjoy peace of mind when things happen according to their wish and liking, but if otherwise than they desire, they are soon disturbed and saddened. Differences of feeling and opinion often divide friends and acquaintances, even those who are religious and devout.

An old habit is hard to break, and no one is willing to be led farther than he can see.

If you rely more upon your intelligence or industry than upon the virtue of submission to Jesus Christ, you will hardly, and in any case slowly, become an enlightened man. God wants us to be completely subject to Him and, through ardent love, to rise above all human wisdom. [Thomas à Kempis: Imitation of Christ (c. 1418)]

To be Continued...

Note:

{1} In this crowd, Dr. Rama P. Coomaraswamy is actually the most credible. (Because he at least has a vague notion of such things as Catholic dogmatics apart from dogmatic definitions.) He still overlooks details of no small importance as a result of not making certain proper distinctions but I digress.

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Conversations With Gregory:
(Part I of III)

Hello Shawn!!

Hi Gregory

Gosh, it's been a month since I emailed you last. I've been kinda lazy about getting emails out lately.

That's okay. I have responded to maybe 5% of the emails I have gotten the past month too.

Anyway, since I don't have much time to write this email right now, I'll have to make my question brief. I was reading the most recent exchange between Robert Sungenis and John Pacheco on the Assisi incident.

Aah yes, the religious liberty discussion. {1} I am very proud of the way John is handling his dialogue with Robert. If anyone has the intangibles needed to bring Robert back to the fold, John does. It helps I am sure that there is a genuine frienship there. I have sensed it in the tone of John's voice when we have conversed by phone and that subject has come up. But I digress.

At several points in the exchange Mr.Sungenis listed a lot of quotes from our Pope John Paul II that DO *seem* to say that salvation (not just redemption) has been given to all men (which is heresy).

That is the whole point though Gregory. This is where spiritual maturity comes into play and why I have recently began emphasizing that part of the equation more in discussing these issues with those of a self-styled "traditionalist" mindset. For the arguments themselves can only achieve their intended purpose if the person you dialogue with is properly disposed to receive them. And while sensitivity is required in particular when dealing with non-Catholics, we have to hold those who claim to be Catholics to a higher standard. (Particularly when they try to claim to be unique preservers of the Great Tradition.)

The concept does not mean ignoring or downplaying areas where there are legitimate perplexities. However, it does mean that a proper and traditional Catholic attitude towards these situations is required at all times. I see in your response here the very sort of maturity that I refer to - questions are advanced but that is fine. Ordinarily I would respond to an email like this privately but this time I do so publicly because it will serve a useful purpose I believe in how to approach these subjects. (Particularly when the sources are ones not easily verifiable as in this case.)

With regards to snippets of quotes, I remind you my friend that St. Francis de Sales and other spiritual masters of the Catholic tradition have a very specific - and consensus view - on how this is to be approached. They emphasize in their instructions that people should "[a]lways be ready and willing to excuse the faults of your neighbour and never put an unfavourable interpretation upon his actions. The same action, says St. Francis de Sales, may be looked upon under many different sepects: a charitable person will ever suppose the best, an uncharitable one will just as certainly choose the worst.[RP Quadrupani: Light and Peace Spiritual Instruction on Charity (c. 1795)]

St. Francis also said that we are not "[to] weigh so carefully the sayings and doings of others, but let your thought of them be simple and good, kindly and affectionate".[(ibid)]

And if we consider what St. Francis wrote about hasty judgments in his Introduction to the Devout Life, there is more fruitful instruction for us. That will be touched on later in the thread though I assure you, it is no exaggeration to say that St. Francis himself would not look kindly on someone who took the attitude towards their superiors that self-styled "traditionalists" so often do. (And without any hint of shame whatsoever.)

Furthermore, I trust so-called "traditionalists" to accurately cite their sources about as much as I do Bill Clinton to tell the truth. This may sound uncharitable but I have too much experience over the years of encountering "proofs of error" where I have taken the time to track down sources quoted, provide the context to prooftexted bits, and thereby refute assertions of "error" or "contradiction." When I have had the time to investigate these matters with specific points, I have not once seen any viable assertion that withstands scrutiny. As a result, the process has made me very jaded about the truthfulness of anything that trads have to say.

Besides, so many of them use sources produced by allies of theirs which they never verify for themselves as far as whether or not the source is cited accurately, whether it by itself is referenced in a way that detracts from the actual sense of the source quoted, and I could list other problems but I want to keep this response short as possible so I will refrain from that.

Having set the stage, let us look at what you present here before again having recourse to St. Francis' counsel to close this thread.

Here is the list of troublesome quotes:

"But in this same reality, in this dimension of every dying person – be he a centenarian or two-day old infant – there remains present the promise, the ‘guarantee of our inheritance’ given to us in Christ...every man has inherent in him the mystery of a new life which Christ has brought and which he has grafted on to humanity. Every human death, without exception, has this dimension....As all men are sanctified ‘in Christ Jesus’ their death means a prolongation of this life ‘in Christ’" (Sign of Contradiction, p. 160).

I would point first and foremost to a couple sets of ellipses in the quote. That indicates that something has been left out. It could be a line, it could be a few pages of text. We do not know how much unless we have access to the source. (I admittedly do not.) If memory serves, this book was a collection of spiritual retreats delivered by Cardinal Wojtyla during Lent in 1978 in the presence of Pope Paul VI.

[In the last sentence he said all men have been *sanctified*.]

Well, notice the statement "But in this same reality." That means that there is a preceding point which sets the stage for this point and contextualizes it. Further still, the last sentence is separated from the middle part by an ellipse. And when I did a search at Google for this statement, here are the only three sources I found that are using it.

Untitled... Every human death, without exception, has this dimension....As all men are sanctified ‘in Christ Jesus’ their death means a prolongation of this life ‘in ... www.catholicintl.com/epologetics/When_A_Pope_Errs.html - 78k - Cached - Similar pages

Untitled... Every human death, without exception, has this dimension....As all men are sanctified ‘in Christ Jesus’ their death means a prolongation of this life ‘in ... catholicintl.com/epologetics/When_A_Pope_Errs.html - 78k - Cached - Similar pages

Untitled... this dimension... As all men are sanctified 'in Christ Jesus' their death means a prolongation of this life 'in Christ.'" 119. Not ... www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/ Issue4_Why_Antipope_John_Paul_II_Cannot_be_the_Pope.html - 101k - Cached

The first two sources are from the captain of the SS CAItanic and you can see what I noted about the veracity of his citation of sources above. The third source is a screed from sedevacantist crackpot Brother Peter Dimond, OSB. (Presumably he is related to the sedevacantist Brother Michael Dimond, OSB.) My guess is that Sungenis being the new kid on the block to tradville got the quote from Dimond. Either way though, without the supplied context, any statement can be made to sound suspect.

[As far as I know, sanctification has to do with sanctifying grace entering the soul. And that certainly has not happened to "all men"]

Well, I would remind you that John Paul II - his prerogatives as Supreme Pontiff aside for a moment- is a hell of a lot brighter theologian than the contingent of unlearned and unstable radtrads who are legion. (To name a few: Matatics, Sungenis, Dimond, Derksen, Pulvermacher, Fellay, etc.) And it is not only the "trads" whom we can say this about but since they are the critics currently being talked about, mentioning them is adequate to make this point.

As a result, John Paul II's insight into the Scriptures as well as the Fathers of the Church is not to be regarded lightly even when he is not manifesting the intention to teach via the magisterium. But of course when he does give an Allocution, it is to be accepted as authoritative. (Even though not to the extent of a constitution, apostolic letter, encyclical, or exhortation.) So we will do that now to provide a snapshot of how the pope views the subject of salvation.

One of the themes that St. Paul speaks of in his epistles is how in Christ all things are made anew. In his first encyclical letter - written about a year after the Lenten Retreats from which the above prooftext was taken, JP II reiterates the following teaching from Vatican II:

[T]he Second Vatican Council teach[es]: "The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of him who was to come (Rom 5:14), Christ the Lord. Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling".

And the Council continues: "He who is the 'image of the invisible God' (Col 1:15), is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that is was assumed, not absorbed, in him, has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare. For, by his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin"{Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 22: AAS 58 (1966) 1042-1043.}, he, the Redeemer of man. [Pope John Paul II: Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Hominis §8 (March 4, 1979)]

Consider this principle as outlined in the Epistle to the Colossians:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus [our] brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love [which ye have] to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as [it is] in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as [it doth] also in you, since the day ye heard [of it], and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence. For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight...[St. Paul: Epistle to the Colossians i,1-22]

I will continue on this reflection in the next installment of this thread.

To be Continued...

Note:

{1} An adjacent thread to that debate is one between John and Robert on whether civil rights can ever be divorced from moral foundations. I recently blogged some musing of my own on this subject after reading the latter thread. They can be viewed HERE.

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Monday, July 21, 2003

Those Clinton supporters who love to harp on one possible error in Bush's last State of the Union Address - much as they did his father's lie about no new taxes - will probably not care much about the accuracy of President Clinton's 1999 State of the Union Address - fisked well by The Mighty Barrister. Much as these same type of people hounded Chuck Colson for possessing 1 FBI file of a political opponent and turned a blind eye to the Clintons having over 1,000 of them. Much as Reagan's Administration selling outdated arms to Iran was a "scandal" but Clinton's crowd compromising national security for the acquisition of election funds from the Chi-Coms was of course "no big deal." Frankly on those points alone Clinton (compared to Reagan) loses and loses huge. But why stop there???

Much as Watergate was hyped as so scandalous and the same kinds of people sought to get Alger Hiss off scott free when enough evidence to put him six hundred and sixty feet underground - as opposed to a mere six feet - was produced time and again in the late 1940's and early 1950's. (By former Communist Wittaker Chambers who was assisted by the ever-persistent congressman Richard Nixon. If not for him helping Chambers expose Hiss, the latter would have walked in a classic OJ case of "not guilty.") Much as Quayle was an "idiot" for misspelling "potato" while Al Gore wrote environmental screeds that read in some spots even more disconcerting than some of the chief complaints of the Unabomber. (Not to mention his lie about "inventing the Internet".) Need I go on???

One does not have to be a Republican (and I am not one btw) to see that there is a clear as crystal blatant double standard here.

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Points to Ponder:

During the past several months in the American press, the Democrats have frequently denounced the Republicans as Nazis due to their attempts to control runaway federal spending. How very ironic. I remember the Nazis. Let me share a little about them and recall some of their exploits.

First of all, "Nazi" was gutter slang for the verb "to nationalize". The Bider-Mienhoff gang gave themselves this moniker during their early struggles. The official title of the Nazi Party was "The National Socialist Workers Party of Germany". Hitler and the Brownshirts advocated the nationalization of education, health care, transportation, national resources, manufacturing, distribution and law enforcement.

Hitler came to power by turning the working class, unemployed, and academic elite against the conservative republic. After der fuhrer's election ceased being a political conspiracy and was transformed into a fashionable social phenomenon, party membership was especially popular with educators, bureaucrats, and the press. Being a Nazi was politically correct. They called themselves "The Children of the New Age of World Order" and looked down their noses at everyone else. As Hitler accrued more power, he referred to his critics as "The Dark Forces of Anarchy and Hatred". Anyone who questioned Nazi high-handedness in the German press was branded a "Conservative Reactionary". Joseph Goebbels, minister of communications, proclaimed a "New World Order".

The Nazi reign of terror began with false news reports on the Jews, Bohemians and Gypses who were said to be arming themselves to overthrow the "New World Order" and Hitler demanded that all good people register their guns so that they wouldn't fall into the hands of "terrorists and madmen". Right wing fanatics of the "Old Order" who protested firearms registration were arrested by the S.S. and put in jail for "fomenting hatred against the Government of the German people".

Then the Reichstag (government building) was blown up and Hitler ram-rodded an "Emergency Anti-Terrorist Act" through Parliament that gave the Gestapo extraordinary powers. The leader then declared that for the well-being of the German people, all private firearms were to be confiscated by the Gestapo and the Wermotten (federal law enforcement and military). German citizens who refused to surrender their guns when the "jack-boots" (Gestapo) came calling, were murdered in their homes. By the way, the Gestapo were the federal marshals' service of the Third Reich. The S.W.A.T. team was invented and perfected by the Gestapo to break into the homes of the enemies of the German people.

When the Policia Bewakken, or local police, refused to take away guns from townsfolk, they themselves were disarmed and dragged out into the street and shot to death by the S.A. and the S.S. Those were Nazi versions of the B.A.T.F. and the F.B.I. When several local ministers spoke out against these atrocities, they were imprisoned and never seen again.

The Gestapo began to confiscate and seize the homes, businesses, bank accounts, and personal belongings of wealthy conservative citizes who had prospered in the old Republic. Pamphleteers who urged revolt against the Nazis were shot on site by national law enforcement and the military. Gypsies and Jews were detained and sent to labor camps. Mountain roads throughout central Europe were closed to prevent the escape of fugitives into the wilderness, and to prevent the movement and concealment of partisan resistance fighters.

Public schools rewrote history and Hitler youth groups taught the children to report their parents to their teachers for anti-Nazi remarks. Such parents disappeared. Pagan animism became the state religion of the Third Reich and Christians were widely condemned as "right wing fanatics".

Millions of books were burned first and then people. Millions of them burned in huge ovens after they were first gassed to death. Unmarried women were paid large sums of money to have babies out of wedlock and then given medals for it. Evil was declared as being good, and good was condemned as being evil. World Order was coming and the German people were going to be the "peacekeepers".

Yes, indeed, I remember the Nazis and they weren't Republicans, or "right wing", or "patriots" or "militias". They were Socialist monsters. [Thomas Colton Ruthford: Letter to the Editor: Washington Times (6/7/95)]

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