Friday, January 17, 2003

The CDF's New Doctrinal Note:

At seventeen pages it is economical as well as densely packed with moral nutrients...

DOCTRINAL NOTE on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life


"I Got Some ... Oceanfront Property in Ar-i-zon-a" Dept.
(aka "If you buy that I'll throw the Golden Gate in free...")


My name is LOI C.ESTRADA,The wife of Mr. JOSEPH ESTRADA, the former President of Philippines located in the South East Asia.

My husband was recently impeached from office by a backed uprising of mass demonstrators and the Senate.

My husband is presently in jail and facing trial on charges of corruption, embezzlement, and the mysterious charge of plunder which might lead to death sentence. The present government is forcing my husband out of Manila to avoid demonstration by his supporter.

During my husband's regime as president of Philippine, I realized some reasonable amount of money from various deals that I successfully executed. I have plans to invest this money for my children's future on real estate and industrial production. My husband is not aware of this because I wish to do it secretly for now.

before my husband was impeached, I secretly siphoned the sum of $30,000,000 million USD (Thirty million United states dollars) out of Philippines and deposited the money with a security firm that transports valuable goods and consignments through diplomatic means.

I am contacting you because I want you to go to the security company and claim the money on my behalf since I have declared that the consignment belong to my foreign business partner. You shall also be required to assist me in investment in your country.

I hope to trust you as a God fearing person who will not sit on this money when you claim it, rather assist me properly, I expect you to declare what percentage of the total money you will take for your assistance.

When I receive your positive response I will let you know where the security company is and the payment pin code to claim the money which is very important.

For now, let all our communication is by e-mail because my line are right now connected to the Philippines Telecommunication Network services. Please also send me your telephone and fax number.

I will ask my son contact you to give you more details on after i have received a responce from you.

Thank you and God bless you and family.


Anyone want to "go in on it" with me??? C'mon, it *has* to be true because someone sent an email about it ;-)

Apparently Hans "Inspector Clueso" Blix and his cohorts actually stumbled upon some unreported weapons contraband!!!
(Courtesy of Drudge)

The official, Gen. Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of Iraq's weapons-monitoring directorate and the chief liaison to U.N. inspectors, said the chemical shells were overlooked because they were stored in boxes similar to those for conventional 122mm rocket warheads. "Nobody opened this box," Amin said at a news conference convened less than an hour after the inspectors announced their discovery. "There was no intention to keep them." Amin said the warheads, which he said were imported in 1986, were too old to be used. "It doesn't represent anything," he said. "It's not dangerous. Go here for more

Suuuuuure, that is a probable scenario. If you do not believe Amin he will show you the "best if used before 1990" label on each canister...

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Thursday, January 16, 2003

Points to Ponder:
(This one is courtesy of Dwight Longenecker)

In the spiritual life when you say 'I have enough' your soul is in danger. - St. Augustine


Wednesday, January 15, 2003

On the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Fathers Who "Denied" Her Sinlessness -Part II:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Part I is located HERE.

As we noted earlier, doubt in and of itself is not a sin. It is instead accurately defined as "a state in which the mind is suspended between two contradictory propositions and unable to assent to either of them". Now a person who deliberately doubted something that they knew was either true or otherwise probable would by their doubt be guilty of a sin. However, it is to lack in charity to presume that anyone who doubts something is thereby guilty of sin. (Charity after all is not presumptious and it does not think any evil according to the Apostle Paul.) Nor does one who suffers from temptations towards scandal or dispair necessarily sin either because temptation is not in and of itself sinful.

That summarizes the refutation of the arguments of those who bring Origen, St. Basil the Great, or St. Cyril of Alexandria to the stand to testify against the apostolic teaching on the sinlessness of Blessed Mary. It helps those who bring up such stray citations to remember that theology is a developing science.{1}

St. John Chrysostom is often advanced as one who doubted Mary's sinlessness. An actual example of this interaction with a Protestant who denies the sinlessness of Blessed Mary is noted here:

(H. Protestant) [After making the astute observation as per the outlooks on the part of some Catholics, "H. Protestant" focuses on the sinlessness of Mary subject by saying] Never mind that in this particular case, the view being refuted traces back to St John Chrysostom, hardly an avatar of anti-Catholic bigotry.

(A. Catholic) He believed that Mary sinned, which is contrary to the Orthodoxy that claims him as their own today, to Catholicism, and even much primal Protestantism (e.g., Luther believed in the Immaculate Conception). So it is a view which is out of the orthodox mainstream.

This is true *today* but it was not the case in St. John's time. It does not much benefit the critic of Blessed Mary's sinlessness to cite St. John on this matter (when we explain why this is the case). Nonetheless, it is worth noting that it is possible to espouse an uncommon theological view in classic Christian theology when that position is one that has not been decided by the ecclesiastical magisterium. And in the late fourth and early fifth century, this subject was one where there was a spectrum of opinions. However, there is more to this equation then simply the words of St. John Chrysostrom.

Though he was the Patriarch of Constantinople, St. John was not educated in the theological school of Constantinople. Instead, he was schooled in the Antiochian theological tradition. Though there were some distinctions and certain areas of theological emphasis in the various schools (of Constantinople, of Alexandria, of Antioch, of Rome, etc.) perhaps the most distinct difference was the difference in the Alexandrian and Antiochian traditions.

The difference between the Alexandrian tradition and the Antiochian tradition was the distinction between divinity and humanity of Christ. (The Alexandrians focused more on the divinity of Christ; the Antiochians more on His humanity.) Another notable figure from the Antiochian school was Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. (He became Patriarch twenty-one years after the death of St. John.) Another Antiochian theologian was Theodore of Mopsuestia who was to factor into the controversies at the fifth ecumenical council held in 553 AD.

Opposing Nestorius was Patriarch Cyril of the Alexandrian tradition and Pope Celestine of the Roman tradition - which in this case was on the side of the Alexandrians. To explain the view of St. John in part, it is necessary to point out the theological controversy that arose after his death: the controversy over the Theotokos. In doing this, the distinction between the Antiochian and the Alexandrian traditions can be better understood.

The term Theotokos was one that had been accepted throughout Christendom except - and this is important to note - the Antiochian school. This is why when the orator Proclus between 428 and 429 preached - in the presence of the recently consecrated and installed Patriarch Nestorius - the sermons on the Theotokos, he and the faithful in Constantinople were on the same page but to Nestorius this term was foreign to his theological formation. It was also foreign to St. John's theological formation; however as this was a controversy that cropped up after St. John's death, he is held to a different standard than Nestorius was.

Getting back to St. John, it is also important to note in his deprecations of Mary that he was not a speculative theologian in the mould of a St. Augustine, St. Athanasius the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, or a St. Ambrose. Instead, he was a forerunner of what we would call today the "moral theologian". His primary intention was the application of Christian teaching to everyday life. In doing this, he was not above attributing to Mary personal defects to illustrate to his audience attitudes or problems that needed correcting in their own lives. In the absence of a definitive consensus at the time as to the sinlessness of Mary, his approach was acceptable.

This is not to say that St. John held to a personal view of Mary's sinlessness of course because he probably did not. But failing to account for the elements of the equation that contextualize the statements of St. John is to do his view an injustice. (Albeit most Prots who quote or refer to St. John are not aware that they are doing this.)

To summarize these points again (i) St. John was schooled in the Antiochian tradition focusing more on the humanity of Christ (ii) he carried this over into his outlook which was that of a moral theologian first and foremost - only secondarily was he a speculative theologian (iii) he died before the controversy over the Theotokos cropped up and (iv) it seems to stretch credulity to presume that St. John would have opposed the judgment of Ephesus. (For he would be contradicting the very principles that he preached on if he were to contradict the judgment of the church on matters of doctrine.)

Evidence that this principle was recognized in him was that the Alexandrian theologians at Ephesus - though disagreeing with him theologically - nonetheless cited him as a witness to their cause. The only way this would have been credibly sustained would be on the basis of his lifelong pattern of obedience to the Church. If this witness was on the basis of his personal theology, it would not have held up - for this is how Nestorius utilized St. John in his own defense at Ephesus.

The judgment of the Church at Ephesus marked a definitive direction for all subsequent Christological discussions on the unity of the divinity and humanity in Christ primarily - and the role of Mary in the economy of salvation taken in and of itself to some extent and not wholly wedded to Christology. The two could never be completely separated of course but Mariological theology received its strongest early impetus from the decision of Ephesus - and later in the sixth century when the Perpetual Virginity of Mary was mentioned by Constantinople II as an accepted fact.

All universal synods of the first millennium from Chalcedon onward explicitly reaffirmed the judgment of Ephesus. In the second millennium the councils likewise did so though generally in a more tacit manner. (Such as promulgating a Profession of Faith where the teaching of Ephesus was manifested.)

So in conclusion, Catholics are at times too quick to dismiss St. John's position because of a preceived incongruity with the consensus of Church history. However, at the same time, Protestants make far too much out of St. John's position. In reality, if all of the factors are taken into account, St. John is actually an ally for the Catholic cause.


{1} Some Fathers referred to Our Lord as an angel before Nicaea; a term that since Nicaea is theologically unacceptable. I wonder therefore why anyone would think that Marian theology would somehow not be behind Christological theology - particularly since the latter is primarily what the former primarily contributes to.

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On the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Fathers Who "Denied" Her Sinlessness -Part I:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

One of the common arguments advanced by Protestants against the Apostolic Churches and their understanding of the Immaculate Conception is to point to a handful of Fathers who make statements or infer presumptions that appear incongruous with the understanding that Catholics and the Orthodox have with regards to the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Among the Fathers, the four names often mentioned in this regard are St. Basil the Great of Cappadocia, St. Cyril of Alexandria, Origen, and St. John Chrysostrom. With regards to the first two, Basil and Cyril appear to suggest in spots some doubts or discouragements by Mary at key points of her life. But before getting to these, the following observation from a Protestant who affirms a denial of the teaching on the sinlessness of Blessed Mary is worth noting here:

(H. Protestant) Catholics are absolutely convinced that no one could possibly have honest reasons to disagree with them, so instead the culprit is invariably our latent "prejudice and hostility", a universal epistemological defect of "anti-Catholicism" that renders Protestants ostensibly incapable of rational thought.

It is true that discussions on matters theological often get very murky. (It is not without reason that the old dictum "never debate religion or politics" was coined.) Nonetheless, it seems often that when you have two parties who have fundamental disagreements, it is useless to deal with ancillary subjects most of the time except as far as they relate to the primary topics at hand.

Hence I seldom discuss subjects such as indulgences, the Immaculate Conception, transubstantiation, or papal infallibility except for the most part insofar as their congruence with the more fundamental subjects from which they are inferences thereof. (Sacrament of Penance, Mary as the Second Eve, the Real Presence/Sacrifice of the Mass, or Papal Primacy respectively.) In delving into the sinlessness of Blessed Mary, I am going against my ordinary protocol here by my own admission. However, it is not without reason that I am doing this at this time.

My reason is to address the use of Patristic sources to defend a position that differs from the consent of antiquity on the subject at hand. Two things annoy me on this score and in equal measure (i) the Protestant who pretends that their theological deviations from the stream of Church history are not really deviations at all and (ii) Catholics who defend every ancillary teaching as if it is self-evident from the records of Church history.{1} Anyway, having made those notations, the purpose of this entry and the sequel to it is to discuss the common Patristic citations brought forward against the apostolic teaching on the sinlessness of Blessed Mary. We will start with St. Basil the Great and St. Cyril of Alexandria.

St. Basil suggests that Mary yielded to doubt on hearing the words of holy Simeon and on witnessing the crucifixion. St. Cyril speaks at least once of Mary's doubt and discouragement at the foot of the cross. Those who argue that these would necessitate sin demonstrate an ignorance of how sin is defined by the apostolic tradition.

Sin is properly seen as a violation against the law of God. To be in doubt in and of itself is not a sin since in doubting there is no assent to or dissent from God's will mutis mutandis. Instead, the stasis of doubt is often one of neutrality.

Now it is true that a person who has doubts should strive to undertake with reasonable diligence to remove that doubt. As long as this was done, there would be no sin in the doubt remaining. Only if the doubt was willfully entertained could there be a question of actual sin. And because of these factors in the equation, this is adequate to refute the sadly misinformed notion that doubt is ipso facto sinful except perhaps for those who believe that all human actions or thoughts are automatically sinful.

As Catholics and other Apostolic Christians reject this understanding viz. sin, anyone who seeks to discredit the teaching on the sinlessness of Blessed Mary needs to address the fact that the teaching is built on the belief that sin is a deliberate choice made by the believer.{2}

The remaining notion to deal with is the claim that Blessed Mary suffered "discouragement" at the foot of the cross - as this differs from doubt. The reference in Cyril's Commentary on John reads as follows:

[The evangelist] intended to teach that the Lord's unexpected Passion scandalized even His Mother, either because of the cruel nature of his death or because of the ridicule of the Jews or because of the soldiers at the foot of the Cross who derided the One hanging upon it and dared to divide his garments right before His Mothers' eyes. [Commentary on John: xii,19, Patrologiae cursus completus, Series Graeca (Paris: Migne, 1857-1866) 74, 662 (c. 429 AD)]

I read one analysis where it was opined that Cyril was drawing on "Origen's severe interpretation of the Sword of Simeon" which tempted Mary with scandal and dispair. Origen, another witness brought forward to deprecate the Blessed Virgin, rendered an interpretation of the Sword of Simeon that reads as follows:

The sword was nothing other than the trial of the Passion, a trial so violent that it drove the woman's soul to absurd thoughts. [Origen: Homilies on Luke xvii, 6-7, Patrologiae cursus completus, Series Graeca (Paris: Migne, 1857-1866) PG 13, 1845; Sources chretiennes (Paris, 1941- ) 87, 256-258]

I hope I do not have to explain that temptation is not in and of itself sinful. In summary, except for those who feel they *have* to impute sin to the Mother of Our Lord, that should be adequate to refute the usage of either St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Alexandria, or Origen viz. the subject of the sinlessness of the Blessed Virgin.

As nothing from the three noted above is a credible argument against the teaching of the Apostolic Churches on the sinlessness of Mary, no more needs to be discussed on them viz. this subject. However, St. John Chrysostrom though is not so easily dismissed. We will deal with him in the next installment.

To be continued...


{1} In the case of the latter the Catholic usually drapes things in the "2000 years of Church history" tag. This is a tag that has value indeed but the usage of which can only be legitimately applied to a select handful of actual teachings - nowhere near as many as not a few Catholics would seek to apply the term.

{2} While it is true that those who would deny free-will would have an escape hatch here; at the same time they would be setting themselves up to defend an absurd notion to do it. To quote St. Thomas Aquinas: "[F]orasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will."

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Though some people have claimed that John Betts' blog has been put to sleep, in reality he has simply suspended it for a few months to resume blogging later in the year. With that in mind, We at Rerum Novarum have decided to remove his blog link from this site in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding. (And in standard legal jargon when he is blogging again We will readmit his weblog to Our list in perpetuity - provided that he has not gone the way of the "caitanic" of course.)


Points to Ponder:

[T]he best description of the ultimate horror of lust can be found in [C S] Lewis's "That Hideous Strength" where Lewis observes that for someone lost in the grip of this vice, the degrading ugliness of his deeds are the very "spice" of his obsession, beauty being much too weak a stimulant. [John Hearn]


Tuesday, January 14, 2003

"JunkYard BLOG" Dept.


Henry Hanks is all over Sen. Robert Byrd's efforts to spin his way out of his shameful past. Now, he's saying he wasn't a racist when he joined the KKK... (insert laugh here)

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"Well I Was Drunk... the Day My Momma ... Got Outta Prison" Dept.

To quote from arguably the greatest country western song every written. Seriously though, it seems that the subject of beer and its benefits again is newsworthy. Though not imbibing as much as I used to, I do enjoy pointing out for those who like to lift a pint here and there that though we previously posted a study on beer and its benefit for bones we would be remiss in not pointing out another study about its benefits in the prevention of heart attacks. All the more evidence of that old dictum that "the existence of beer is proof of God's love for mankind" (cf. Benjamin Franklin).

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Sunday, January 12, 2003

Points to Ponder:
(This one courtesy of Mark Shea)

The Pope, in his continuing Olympian unaccountability to anybody, says that he does not read blogs and was unaware of the outcry of St. Blog's foreign policy experts against him.


Some Overreach by Lane Core Jr. -Part III of III:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

This is the third part of the thread started earlier today yesterday about two presidents I was comparing. Part II can be read HERE.

Because of problems posting these last two parts (blogger is not letting them through no matter how short), go HERE for the decoding sequence.

Post-R history tells us that Roe v. Wade would have been overturned in 1990 by a 5-4 vote if Bork had been on that court.{1} W's father nominated one excellent Justice (Thomas) and one wishy-washy fellow (Souter). Souter's presence retained the 5-4 deficit.{2} W will hopefully be able to make some headway here with one or two nominations should he be re-elected. Only time will tell.

In summary, despite W having a Gipper-like ability to be labeled as an "idiot" by the media who thereby continues to outsmart his opponents, despite his aggressive handling of the terrorists, despite what will hopefully be a quick and decisive campaign in Iraq, and finally, an economic recovery plan that is very Gipperesque, it seems to your humble servant to be extreme overreach at this time to declare W "the next R". That would be akin to someone in 1862 declaring Abraham Lincoln the "next Andrew Jackson". Hopefully he will be but we need instead to remember the wise counsel of Ven. John H. Newman:

Men who are plunged in the pursuits of active life, are no judges of its course and tendency on the whole. They confuse great events with little, and measure the importance of objects, as in perspective, by the mere standard of nearness or remoteness. It is only at a distance that one can take in the outlines and features of the whole country.

We have the distance of time and the value of hindsight to declare Lincoln arguably the greatest president in history. We have some distance and value of hindsight to see that R was from the standpoint of overall accomplishment one of the three best presidents of the twentieth century -and certainly the best of the second half of the century. And to some extent the incompetence of Clinton will shine forth from the non-revisionist history books of the future with even greater clarity then it does now.

But it is too early to declare W the second coming of R. Maybe the second coming of Eisenhower. But he will need to accomplish a lot more to be considered heir to the Gipper. I for one hope that he will.


{1} The swing vote that retained the case was Anthony Kennedy - the replacement nomination.

{2} Clinton made that a 6-3 deficit on the Court by nominating the most unqualified of people to sit on the court in ACLU liberal Ginsburg.

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Some Overreach by Lane Core Jr. -Part II of III:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

Part I can be read HERE. Because of problems posting these last two parts (blogger is not letting them through no matter how short), go HERE for the decoding sequence. [For you conspiracy theorists out there, here is a viable one for you to spread around: blogger has forced me to do this in order to post certain truths that the "shadow government" does not like ;-)

While the Devilcrats in Congress (who controlled the House and therefore the purse-strings) was acting chummy with the Sandymarxists and refusing to help the people they were oppressing with any kind of aid whatsoever. R's strategy was to sell old outdated weapons to Khomeini as a hedge against Hussein who was backed by the Soviets.

After this was done, the cash from the sale was then funneled to those resisting the Sandymarxists. Not one US citizen lost their life in this approach, we maintained the Iranian military which was able to offset the Iraqis (and by extension the Soviets who wanted to back Iraq to have a presence in the region), and all of this for a simple lie to Congress??? Sounds good to me folks!!!

This is not to say that I endorse lying but there are times when you have to avoid telling the truth.{1} There is another fact and it is this: the whole "Iran C" so-called "scandal" accusation was a joke.

I for one could care less if R or North "lied to Congress" since the Devilcrat House of Congress lied to him about cutting three dollars spending for every dollar tax increase back in 1981. Had they done that, the economy would have grown us out of a deficit by about 1986-87 and there would have been surpluses the last two years of R's term. (They proved that they were still lower than a snake's belly in a wagon-wheel rut when they pulled the same scam against Bush Sr.)

So even if R or North *did* lie to Congress, that was akin in my book to lying to the devil. (Both because of the budget disaster and after what they did to Robert Bork.) Compared to any of a dozen or more scandals that Clinton was involved in, Iran C was a mere bagatelle.

To be Continued...


{1} The classic example of telling the Nazis you are not harbouring Jews when you have some in your attic comes to mind.

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"Conspiracy Theory" Dept.

There must be a Pravda-like group monitoring blogger cause those threads are again not getting through. Thus, I will in the next threads refer to the Gipper as "R", the current President as "W", the former rulers of Nicaragua as "Sandymarxists", the Democratic congress in R's tenure as "devilcrats", the so-called scandal from R's term as Iran C. Maybe then the blogger will let the messages through.

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