Friday, February 21, 2003

Clarification on Dialogue Approach Distinctions:

I may add this to my Miscellaneous BLOG later on, I am not sure yet. Nonetheless, it is worth noting here that there have been some emails about the way I approach issues with certain self-styled "traditionalists". Those paying close attention may notice that I dialogue differently with, say Jeff Culbreath, than I do with, say, my friend Albert Cipriani.{1}

This difference may seem even more suspicious when it is pointed out that while I consider Jeff to be a friend, I am much closer to Albert personally.{2} Is there an interpretation to take from this piece of (previously unrevealed) information??? Yes there is and I will explain it in brief so readers are not misunderstanding my manifested intentions on this matter.

I mentioned it here with the intention to explain what would appear to be a strange paradoxical approach by your humble servant of Rerum Novarum. I use Jeff and Albert because they are among the few who sent me emails who originally did not insist on anonymity.{3} Jeff now has a weblog and Albert has a discussion list so stuff from those sources of course is fair game even if I was not to utilize a magisterial exercise of the Welborn Protocol. (I tend to use this protocol judiciously most of the time anyway.) So I use them personally because it makes it easier to follow the discussion than if I were to refer to them as "trad A" and "trad B" - particularly since I gladly concede the term "Traditionalist" to Jeff but do not to Albert. I will now attempt to explain in part why I take this apparently contradictory approach. I have my reasons and hopefully this entry will clearly set them forth so I do not have to reiterate them anew.

To start with, there is an element to dialogue which involves addressing both issues of similarity (if not identical positions) along with issues where there is a difference either in personal philosophies or manifested beliefs. Generally I try to factor both of these into the mix but with Albert I do not do this.{4} In truth, there is a broader stream of stuff that Albert sends my way but I post only the polemical ones. This is not out of an itch for a fight but instead is to illustrate a principle of consistency that is required in these kinds of discussions.

For as Albert and other rad-trads repine so much for the so-called "good old days" I am giving them what they appear to want: good old Counter-reformational dialectic contrariness. An ignoring of areas of common ground (or playing them down) and focusing only on the areas of dispute. (I would caricature these in the worst possible light if not for the fact that I do have a certain sense of fair play at work here.) Further still, I am employing the "ecumenism of return" model because showing any degree of encouragement for areas of common-ground is in their philosophical weltanschauung an immediate defacto "indifferentism" and therefore it is to be avoided if I am to be a "true Traditionalist".

With Jeff though we have our differences Jeff's approach is so much closer to keeping with the authentic and traditional Catholic outlook that it is not necessary for polarity. Whatever difficulties Jeff has with certain subjects he (i) does not tend to take positions that wash out the fundamentals of Catholic dogmatics and (ii) he addresses these areas with a noted degree of humility and deference.

Further still, I have detected with Jeff that if he really has a struggle with a certain issue he tends to approach people privately about it and does not air these things publicly in a haughty fashion presuming that his theological opinions are sure and inarguable conclusions. (And when he does publish areas of difficulty his deference and openness to authentic dialogue is apparent.)

For these reasons there is a different tone and a different method that I use when dialoguing with Jeff and with Albert - with those who approach these issues akin to Jeff and with those who approach them in a manner akin to Albert. I hope when the series on Frederic Bastiat's The Law is completed to possibly do a series on the teachings of the Second Vatican Council. I do not know when I will get to either of these but in the interim I have assigned "homework" to some of my dialogue partners and with others where our discussions are more irenic the same pace for the most part will be maintained as before.

Which reminds me, I mentioned to Jeff an examination of the last few Professions of Faith. Perhaps we can take that up during Lent which is a good time for reflection upon our own fidelity to the Mystical Body of Christ. Anyway Jeff, if you are reading this we can perhaps do that now if you are game. I had in mind the last four Professions of Faith prescribed by the popes:

Pope John Paul II's Professio Fidei{5}

Pope Paul VI's Credo (proclaimed by the Supreme Pontiff on behalf of the entire Church in 1968: clearly this should be seen as the interpretive hermeneutic of the 1967 Professio)

Pope Paul VI's Professio Fidei (promulgated in 1967; replaced in 1989)

The Vatican I Professio Fidei (promulgated in 1870; replaced in 1967; the Oath Against Modernism was added in 1910 to supplement the 1870 Professio)

The Credo of Pius IV (promulgated in 1563; replaced in 1870)

I should note here that a faithful Catholic should be able to take all of the professions universally promulgated by the Pope or an Ecumenical Council approved by the pope. (Also, promulgation of a new Symbol does not annul a former Symbol.) But still there is a good idea to examine the last five professions to point out this with greater clarity.


{1} And most of those identified "traditionalists" whose emails are posted anonymously are treated in a manner closer to that of which Albert is addressed than the way I address Jeff.

{2} Not only in certain religious and philosophical/political contexts but including in certain non-theological subjects such as a love of the blues.

{3} Indeed even asked certain subjects to be discussed on the weblog which I obliged them on.

{4} To say nothing of others who are philosophically aligned with Albert whom I address exclusively on the Lidless Eye Inquisition weblog. For personal reasons I do not address my responses to Albert there at this time.

{5} Required by law since 1989 for all theologians to take - along with an oath of fidelity - if they are to teach in the name of the Catholic Church.


Thursday, February 20, 2003

Peter J. Vere JCL was recently interviewed by his diocesan newspaper on annulments. That interview can be read HERE.

(Link courtesy of Catholic Light)

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Al Kresta Spiritual Bouquet:

Please go HERE and contribute however you can.

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"JunkYard BLOG" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Double Spin)

"Recalling" my arguably airtight case for war from early February (to phrase it in UN bureaucrateze), Bryan Preston adds some icing to the cake, summarizing the facts as only he can. The first piece is with Germany:


Well, I could say "I told you so" about Germany's role in helping Saddam acquire WMDs. Instead, I'll point you to an article that says it for me. The Germans may have built 8 mobile bioweapons labs for the madman from Baghdad. That's in addition to the one fixed lab for which they definitely initiated construction, and which I suspect they later finished.

Gee, d'ya think this might explain Germany's hesitance to take Saddam down? Just a little bit?

I do.

And Bryan really nails it with France. Just a sample you need to click there for the rest:


With the world seemingly headed to war, and with millions marching against that war around the globe, all the news that streams in from all parts seems bad. The North Koreans celebrated dictator Kim Jong Il’s birthday by hating the US, and promising themselves a victory should nuclear war result from Pyongyang’s own lawbreaking. Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden or one of his voice impersonators issued a new tape again, this time promising that his terrorist group’s “victory” in Afghanistan (a victory seen in their rearview mirrors, for some odd reason) was the beginning of the end of the US.

But all is not lost, even with the gigantic anti-war protests of the weekend. We Americans, especially we Americans who lean to the right politically, owe a huge debt of gratitude to one nation which has provided so much clarity to these confusing times. So all together now, folks—thank you very much, France.

Yes, you read that right. Thank you very much, France. You have taken a clouded world and made the view as bright as a spring day...For more go here

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Having completed the seven part spiritual instruction on prayer finally, I have added the series to the weblog on the side and highly recommend it. I also decided to add my reasons why I disagree with the Pope but can do so in good conscience and in accordance with Catholic tradition since (i) the entry itself is about to fall off the main page and (ii) we may well be at war before I update this weblog again. Because of that, I want my position made perspicuous in advance because there may well be other Catholics who find themselves in the same quandry that I do on this issue.

For the aforementioned reasons as Sovereign Thane and Lord High Executioner of Rerum Novarum, I declare that these links are to be added to this weblog and to remain there in perpetuity all things to the contrary notwithstanding.

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Spiritual Instruction on Prayer (Part VII):

The last installment of this series can be read HERE. To start at the beginning go HERE. Please read the definition of an "ejaculatory prayer" in the previous section if you are to understand the usage of that word properly in this section.

20. St. Theresa's opinion is that the body should be in a comfortable position when we pray, as otherwise it is difficult for the mind to pay the proper attention to prayer and to the presence of God. Do not then fatigue your body by remaining too long prostrate or kneeling: the important thing is that the soul should humble itself before God, in sentiments of respect, confidence, and love.

At this point the text says "Read Chap. XIII, Part II of the Introduction to a Devout Life. That section will be added at this time in dark green font. The explanatory footnotes of the text will be italicized.

CHAPTER XIII. Aspirations, Ejaculatory Prayer and Holy Thoughts.

WE retire with God, because we aspire to Him, and we aspire in order to retire with Him; so that aspiration after God and spiritual retreat excite one another, while both spring from the one Source of all holy thoughts. Do you then, my daughter, aspire continually to God, by brief, ardent upliftings of heart; praise His Excellence, invoke His Aid, cast yourself in spirit at the Foot of His Cross, adore His Goodness, offer your whole soul a thousand times a day to Him, fix your inward gaze upon Him, stretch out your hands to be led by Him, as a little child to its father, clasp Him to your breast as a fragrant nosegay, upraise Him in your soul as a standard. In short, kindle by every possible act your love for God, your tender, passionate desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom of souls. Such is ejaculatory prayer, as it was so earnestly inculcated by S. Augustine upon the devout Proba; and be sure, my daughter, that if you seek such nearness and intimacy with God your whole soul will imbibe the perfume of His Perfections. Neither is this a difficult practice,--it may be interwoven with all our duties and occupations, without hindering any; for neither the spiritual retreat of which I have spoken, nor these inward upliftings of the heart, cause more than a very brief distraction, which, so far from being any hindrance, will rather promote whatever you have in hand. When a pilgrim pauses an instant to take a draught of wine, which refreshes his lips and revives his heart, his onward journey is nowise hindered by the brief delay, but rather it is shortened and lightened, and he brings it all the sooner to a happy end, pausing but to advance the better.

Sundry collections of ejaculatory prayer have been put forth, which are doubtless very useful, but I should advise you not to tie yourself to any formal words, but rather to speak with heart or mouth whatever springs forth from the love within you, which is sure to supply you with all abundance. There are certain utterances which have special force, such as the ejaculatory prayers of which the Psalms are so full, and the numerous loving invocations of Jesus which we find in the Song of Songs. Many hymns too may be used with the like intention, provided they are sung attentively. In short, just as those who are full of some earthly, natural love are ever turning in thought to the beloved one, their hearts overflowing with tenderness, and their lips ever ready to praise that beloved object; comforting themselves in absence by letters, carving the treasured name on every tree;--so those who love God cannot cease thinking of Him, living for Him, longing after Him, speaking of Him, and fain would they grave the Holy Name of Jesus in the hearts of every living creature they behold. And to such an outpour of love all creation bids us--nothing that He has made but is filled with the praise of God, and, as says S. Augustine, everything in the world speaks silently but clearly to the lovers of God of their love, exciting them to holy desires, whence gush forth aspirations and loving cries to God. St. Gregory Nazianzen tells his flock, how, walking along the seashore, he watched the waves as they washed up shells and sea weeds, and all manner of small substances, which seemed, as it were, rejected by the sea, until a return wave would often wash part thereof back again; while the rocks remained firm and immoveable, let the waves beat against them never so fiercely. And then the Saint went on to reflect that feeble hearts let themselves be carried hither and thither by the varying waves of sorrow or consolation, as the case might be, like the shells upon the seashore, while those of a nobler mould abide firm and immoveable amid every storm;--whence he breaks out into David's cry, "Lord, save me, for the waters are gone over my soul; deliver me from the great deep, all Thy waves and storms are gone over me;" for he was himself then in trouble by reason of the ungodly usurpation of his See by Maximus.

When S. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe, heard Theodoric, King of the Goths, harangue a general assembly of Roman nobles, and beheld their splendour, he exclaimed, "O God, how glorious must Thy Heavenly Jerusalem be, if even earthly Rome be thus!" 1 And if this world can afford so much gratification to mere earthly lovers of vanity, what must there be in store hereafter for those who love the truth?

1. Was it in imitation of this that the hymn was written? "If thus Thy lower works are fair,-- If thus Thy glories gild the span Of ruined earth and guilty man,-- How glorious must the mansions be Where Thy redeemed dwell with Thee!"

We are told that S. Anselm of Canterbury, (our mountains may glory in being his birthplace 1 ) was much given to such thoughts. On one occasion a hunted hare took refuge from imminent death beneath the Bishop's horse, the hounds clamouring round, but not daring to drag it from its asylum, whereat his attendants began to laugh; but the great Anselm wept, saying, "You may laugh forsooth, but to the poor hunted beast it is no laughing matter; even so the soul which has been led astray in all manner of sin finds a host of enemies waiting at its last hour to devour it, and terrified, knows not where to seek a refuge, and if it can find none, its enemies laugh and rejoice." And so he went on his way, sighing.

Constantine the Great wrote with great respect to S. Anthony, at which his religious expressed their surprise. "Do you marvel," he said, "that a king should write to an ordinary man? Marvel rather that God should have written His Law for men, and yet more that He should have spoken with them Face to face through His Son." When S. Francis saw a solitary sheep amid a flock of goats; "See," said he to his companion, "how gentle the poor sheep is among the goats, even as was Our Lord among the Pharisees;" and seeing a boar devour a little lamb,

1 S. Anselm was born at Aosta in Piedmont, A.D. 1033.

"Poor little one," he exclaimed, weeping, "how vividly is my Saviour's Death set forth in thee!"

A great man of our own day, Francis Borgia, then Duke of Candia, was wont to indulge in many devout imaginations as he was hunting. "I used to ponder," he said, "how the falcon returns to one's wrist, and lets one hood its eyes or chain it to the perch, and yet men are so perverse in refusing to turn at God's call." St. Basil the Great says that the rose amid its thorns preaches a lesson to men. "All that is pleasant in this life" (so it tells us mortals) "is mingled with sadness--no joy is altogether pure--all enjoyment is liable to be marred by regrets, marriage is saddened by widowhood, children bring anxiety, glory often turns to shame, neglect follows upon honour, weariness on pleasure, sickness on health. Truly the rose is a lovely flower," the Saint goes on to say, "but it moves me to sadness, reminding me as it does that for my sin the earth was condemned to bring forth thorns."

Another devout soul, gazing upon a brook wherein the starlit sky of a calm summer's night was reflected, exclaims, "O my God, when Thou callest me to dwell in Thy heavenly tabernacles, these stars will be beneath my feet; and even as those stars are now reflected here below, so are we Thy creatures reflected above in the living waters of Thy Divine Love." So another cried out, beholding a rapid river as it flowed, "Even thus my soul will know no rest until it plunge into that Divine Sea whence it came forth!" S. Frances, as she knelt to pray beside the banks of a pleasant streamlet, cried out in ecstasy, "The Grace of my Dear Lord flows softly and sweetly even as these refreshing waters" And another saintly soul, looking upon the blooming orchards, cried out, "Why am I alone barren in the Church's garden!" So S. Francis of Assisi, beholding a hen gathering her chickens beneath her wings, exclaimed, "Keep me, O Lord, under the shadow of Thy Wings" And looking upon the sunflower, he ejaculated, "When, O Lord, will my soul follow the attractions of Thy Love?" 1 And gathering pansies in a garden which are fair to see, but scentless, 2

1 Moore has preserved the graceful imagery of the sunflower, anciently called "tourne-soleil" (as by S. Francis here). "Oh the heart that once truly loved, never forgets, But as truly loves on to the close, As the sunflower turns to her God when he sets The same look which she turned when he rose."

2 "Pensees." This play on words is common--as Ophelia says in Hamlet, Act iv. sc. 5: "There is pansies--that's for thoughts." But the name of this pretty viola is really derived from panacea, signifying all-heal, just as Tansy is derived from Athanasia, i.e. immortelle or everlasting. Its other name of heart's-ease also refers to the potent virtues ascribed to it of old. Cawdray, in his Treasurie of Similies, London, 1609, says: "As the herb Panax or Panace hath in it a remedy against all diseases, so is the Death of Christ against all sin sufficient and effectual." In the preface to our English Bible of 1611, the translators speak of "Panaces, the herb that is good for all diseases."

"Ah," he cried out, "even so are the thoughts of my heart, fair to behold, but without savour or fruit!"

Thus it is, my daughter, that good thoughts and holy aspirations may be drawn from all that surrounds us in our ordinary life. Woe to them that turn aside the creature from the Creator, and thrice blessed are they who turn all creation to their Creator's Glory, and make human vanities subservient to the truth. "Verily," says Saint Gregory Nazianzen, "I am wont to turn all things to my spiritual profit."

Read the pious epitaph written for S. Paula by S. Jerome; it is marvellous therein to see how she conceived spiritual thoughts and aspirations at every turn.

Now, in the practice of this spiritual retreat and of these ejaculatory prayers the great work of devotion lies: it can supply all other deficiencies, but there is hardly any means of making up where this is lacking. Without it no one can lead a true contemplative life, and the active life will be but imperfect where it is omitted: without it rest is but indolence, labour but weariness,--therefore I beseech you to adopt it heartily, and never let it go. (Introduction to the Devout Life Ch. Part II, Ch. XIII) [Fr. R. P. Quadrupini: excerpts from his spiritual instruction "Light and Peace - Instructions for Devout Souls" pgs. 36 (c. 1795)]


Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Spiritual Instruction on Prayer (Part VI):

The last installment of this series can be read HERE. To start at the beginning go HERE.

Before starting this section, it will be necessary to supply a definition for a word that will be repeated throughout this section. As this is a word that has a secular understanding that is at great variance with the traditional Catholic understanding, I will supply the definition before moving onto the instruction in this section.

The word I refer to is ejaculation. The sense it was traditionally used in - and is used in below - is the following definition from the Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary:

Ejaculation. A prayer consisting of a few words only which can be repeated often and at any time (e.g. "Jesus, mercy! Mary, help!" "My Lord and My God") many ejaculations have indulgences (q.v.) attached to them. [Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary, Twenty-Fifth Edition, Donald Attwater - General Editor pg. 173 (c. 1941)]

Having clarified the meaning of the term, let us proceed now to the sixth (and second to last) part of this instruction.

15. You should never omit or neglect the duties of your state in life in order to say certain self-imposed prayers. These duties are a substitute for prayers and are equally efficacious, St. Thomas teaches, for obtaining the graces you stand in need of and which are promised to those who ask them properly. It is even more meritorious to perform some work for the love of God, to whom we offer it, than merely to raise the soul to Him by actual prayer.

"Every person is bound to observe strictly the duties of his particular calling. Whoever fails to do this, although he should raise the dead to life, is guilty of sin and should the sin be grave deserves damnation if he die therein. For example, bishops are obligated to make a visitation of their dioceses in order to console and instruct their flock and to rectify whatever may be amiss. If I, a bishop, neglect this duty, I shall be lost even though I spend my entire time in prayer and fast all my life" (St. Francis de Sales).

16. Make frequent use of the prayers called ejaculations, - which are short and loving aspirations that raise the soul to its Creator. According to St. Francis de Sales, ejaculations can in case of necessity replace all other prayers, whereas all other prayers cannot supply for the omission of ejaculations.

"Acquire the habit of making frequent ejaculations. They are sighs of love that dart upward to God to sue for His aid and succor. It will greatly facilitate this custom if you keep in mind the point of your morning's meditation that you liked best and ponder it over during the day. In sickness let pious ejaculations take the place of all other prayers" (St. Francis de Sales).

17. Ejaculatory prayers can be made at all times, wherever we are or whatever we may be doing. They may be compared to those aromatic pastilles, which we may always have about us and take from time to time to strengthen the stomach and please the palate. Ejaculations have a like effect on the soul by refreshing and fortifying it.

18. The monks of old, of whom St. Augustine speaks, could not say long prayers, obliged as they were to earn their bread by daily toil. Ejaculatory prayers, therefore, took the place of all others for them, and it may be said that although labouring unceasingly they prayed continually.

19. I cannot too earnestly urge you to accustom yourself to the profitable and easy practice of making frequent ejaculations. It is far preferable to saying many other vocal prayers, for these when too numerous are apt to employ the lips only rather than to reanimate and enlighten the soul. [Fr. R. P. Quadrupini: excerpts from his spiritual instruction "Light and Peace - Instructions for Devout Souls" pgs. 34-36 (c. 1795)]

To be continued...


Quote of the Day:

If Paulist Press keeps going the way they are then they should change their name to Saulist Press since they seem to have reversed St. Paul's conversion and have unfallen back onto the horse. [Courtesy of Jeff Miller's Curt Jester BLOG]

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"Leaving the Sardonic Silliness Behind" Dept.
(Response to Albert Cipriani)

Albert's heading of the email sent was "Leaving the Good Old Days Behind". Hence the heading of my response here.

I thought about posting this to the Lidless Eye weblog but decided at the last minute against it. (Though I will link this to that weblog.) My words are in regular font, Albert's will be in black and his quotes of me in dark green.

Dear Shawn,

Hello Albert:

You write of the dark Winter prior to the Springtime of Vatican II

I really get tired if this kind of snide crap. (Particularly when in typical "trad" fashion you prooftext your sources - in this case the posted entry from one of my essays.) My words were not chosen without purpose. Unfortunately those not informed about the time period I was discussing (and therefore who do not have their thought processes inconvenienced by such things as facts) like to pick one or two sentences from the mix and comment on them with a snide tone.

Frankly, if you knew anything about the state of the Church before the Council you would know of the dryrot that was under the surface and had been festering for a long time. And while some noteable moves had been taken to correct things by the twentieth century popes (and Leo XIII), most of them were superficial surface corrections.

You can either continue to click your ruby slippers together and pretend that you are still in Oz or you can return to Kansas where the tornado of two centuries of unwillingness to take the modern world seriously slammed into the farmhouse of the Faith. I see "trads" as spiritually immature because they choose to live in some little fantasyland and not deal with reality.

I could dress this up but I believe speaking as bluntly as possible is the best way to deal with our differences in outlook at this time. To avoid uncontextualizing your first statement I will restate the part already noted in brackets.

[You write of the dark Winter prior to the Springtime of Vatican II] “The response on the part of the prevailing neo-scholastics (particularly those in positions of authority within the Holy See) was silencing, denunciations, and other authoritarian tactics.”

Correct. But I note that you do not set up the quote and thereby strip it from its context. The reader can read the piece in full here and understand better what I was saying:

On The Inauthentic Scholasticism of Manual Theology

The essay the passage above is from is linked to that entry.

You make it sound like for the Church to be “authoritarian” is somehow dirty and beneath the Church's dignity.

This is ironic since you reject the very authority of the Church yourself. You basically think the Supreme Pontiff and the last Ecumenical Council can go fly a kite while you defend the administrative practices of the mid twentieth century curia. Talk about having your priorities severely out of whack. Let me clarify this for you.

What was "dirty" (your word not mine) was that certain imprudently zealous prelates used their positions of authority to suppress anyone who disagreed with them. As a result a lot of eminent theologians were persecuted along with the Kungs of the world and no attempt was made to differentiate between the two. This is akin to shooting every duck on the pond to hit one or two. Frankly there is *NO* excuse for such actions. Let us consider a few of them now shall we???

For starters, the accused had no knowledge of what they were being accused of, and they were not allowed to defend themselves. This in and of itself was in direct opposition to even the traditional medieval form of a disputation. (Yet again the self-styled "traditionalists" defend as "traditional" a process that was anything but.) Instead, it was more of an ecclesial example of tying the person to the chair, shining a light in their face, and saying "tell us what we want to know". (Whereupon the person in the chair asks "what do you want to know" only to be slugged in the face and given the response "you know what we want" when in reality the person in the chair did not know.)

That you would by implication defend this is frankly inexcusable. It is time for you to read something other than revisionist drivel on these subjects written by theologically malformed self-styled "traditionalists" who frankly not even up to par on a Baltimore Catechism Level Four of theology.

And how dare you deign to derisively attach the word “tactics” to the Church’s God-given authority?

Why am I suddenly told that I have the "temerity" in essence to address this subject as I have when you do it all the time Albert??? At least *I* obey the Church Albert. At least *I* can be respectful in discussing these issues. You though cannot say the same thing; ergo you are standing in quicksand and not on solid ground criticizing me here.

She calls herself the Church Militant, but by your lights, her use of authority is a no-no?

These are the same people who censured St. Padre Pio five times. The issue is not the use of authority but its abuse. Besides, why are you suddenly defending imprudent uses of authority whereas you would probably not defend the just use of it as in, say, the suspension of Archbishop Lefebvre??? Unlike the examples I am referring to, Lefebvre was given a couple of opportunities to straighten up and fly right and he refused.

She should not engage in “silencing” or in “denunciations” of those who stray from the path?

For one who loves to use the Joan of Arc example, it is perfectly applicable in this case because what I am referring to was a similar abuse of power. Again, the problem is not with the authority but the misuse of it. The Church's officers should know what the hell they are talking about before they attempt to discipline people. No one can have all the details of course but any disciplining should have *some* foundation in truth.

Using the machinery of the magisterium as a tool for advancing one's personal opinions is an abuse of authority. That is not the role of the Holy Office as it was constituted and yet that is how it had come to be abused in the decades before the Second Vatican Council. These are well established facts and no one can dispute them and retain their credibility. PERIOD.

Rather, should she only rummage through her bag of tricks for water pistols while good-naturedly chiding the wolves into getting along better with her sheep?

Anyone who understands what happened in that period of Church history knows precisely what I am referring to. Whatever problems that still exist in the handling of preceived problematical people (and there are some), at least the Church now gives them a reasonable opportunity to explain themselves.

That was not the case in the twentieth century prior to Vatican II - paricularly from about 1930-1960 which was frankly a series of very black marks on the credibility of the Holy Office: black marks from which the Holy See has still not fully recovered from. You who would whine about people worthy of censure either not being censured while openly defying the magisterium yourself{1} need to squarely face up to this obvious hypocrisy. (And in an example of supreme irony, you support the very abuses that resulted in what we see today.)

Well, you’ve won.

Actually you have won. (Well the first skirmishes anyway.) Your side back in 1968 both the liberals and also the "Protestants of the right" (trads) have wrecked your havoc. My side (if we are to call orthodoxy a "side") has only turned the tide in recent years. (Arguably since 1984 and it has been a slow process.) And only in the last ten years have there been juridical penalties added to the Code to punish the kinds of violations that "trads" make of second tier truths. There were no similar precepts in the 1917 Code (which was abrogated in 1983) and even the 1983 Code did not have them. But with legislation often being the last recourse to restrain the unruly, such provisions - now sorely needed - are available.

The Church has been made over in your image of a kinder gentler humanitarian organization that is militant in name only. A name you will almost never hear applied to her in polite, i.e., non-Traditionalist circles.

Well, at least you admit even if only by implication that so-called "traditionalist circles" tend to be impolite. Politeness is one of the marks of authentic charity so by logical extension the "trads" are bereft of charity by your own admission - albeit indirectly do you say this. I will cut to the chase here and note that this "kindler gentler" notion is frankly little more (if anything) than ignorant drivel.

When are you going to stop this stupid fantasy mirage of my supposed "Pollyanna post-Vatican II" position (which I do not and never have professed) all to prop up your revisionist fantasies of what Church life was prior to Vatican II??? Am I going to have to get vicious in my responses and really rip your offerings to shreds or can you set aside these kinds of snide comments and discuss these issues with me intelligently???

I am continually disappointed that you cannot get past this defect very often. You wonder why I spend more time on other lists or in the blogosphere and not in our discussions well this is the primary reason right here. I like to discuss substantive issues spanning a diversity of subjects. I tire very quickly of this kind of "Johnny-one-note" chorus. All you want to do is presume the veracity of your operative presumptions and ignore my clear and undeniable skewering of your sacred cows.

I noted back on September (in my open letter to you) that I was through doing the "ancillary dance" with you and acting contrary to my normal dialogue modus opperandi. I have challenged you publicly and privately to address the root issues and all you seem to want to do is carp on superficial points derived from prooftexted excerpts isolated from their proper sitz im leben.

You have expressed the desire privately to "ascend the ladder of theological discourse" but you continually refuse to take the first step which is placing your opinions and philosophies on trial. You need to stop making the presumption that the Church has to prove herself in cases of doubt and place the blame properly on your own positions. Otherwise you act no different than the heretics and schismatics have historically acted.

Who has the Church denounced lately? Who has she silenced in the past 40 years?

Well, since you asked, I will list some names. In the process I will make it clear now that in the future you will refrain from tossing out this red herring. And I will go you one better and point to those censured in the pontificate of JP II alone. Here are the names that come to mind:

Fr. Hans Kung, Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx OP, Fr. Leonard Boff, Fr. Charles Curran, Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Robert Nugent, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Fr. Matthew Fox, and Sr. Ivone Gebara come to mind. (Among those who were disciplined and eventually resigned due to prolonged and intense Vatican inquiry would include my former ordinary Raymond Hunthausen.) In the last seven years (presumably that would qualify as "recent"), Fr. Roger Haight SJ, Fr. Tissa Balasuriya OMI, Fr. Anthony De Mello SJ, and Fr. Jacques Dupuis SJ were all censured and Fr. Paul Collins resigned before the CDF was able to open up a planned inquiry on him.

Everyone mentioned above was disciplined in the pontificate of JP II. They are not the only names but they are significant ones. It is also worth noting that Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone are able to respond to criticisms from others without threatening them with the authority of their office.

What would you think if Cardinal Ratzinger censured everyone who did not agree with the views he espoused in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy??? Would him opening an inquiry or threatening excommunication or some other censure on those who disagreed with Ratzinger the theologian be an appropriate use of his authority as Prefect or would it instead be a manifested abuse of power???

If you think that would be an abuse then stop taking me to task for my consistency and acquire some consistency yourself. If you think that would be appropriate for Ratzinger to do, then stop bringing up Joan of Arc as an example of injustice and face the fact that your favourite sources of "spiritual pornography" (Angelus magazine, Latin Mass magazine, Remnant periodical, etc.) would be on an Index today or be burned if the Inquisition still burned bad books.

What books has she put on the index? Excuse me, I forgot, she put the index itself on the index, banning the platform itself from which she used to ban heretical books.

The Index had become a political tool. Again, I find myself discussing a subject with you that you are not informed about. The Index had become (like the Devils Advocate in the saint-making process) a political device. Besides, if the Index still existed virtually every periodical or book you seem to frequent would be on that Index. Yet I do not see you refraining from those sources. I therefore question the veracity of your concerns about this and chalk it up to more "straining the gnat and swallowing the camel" on your part.

What movies has she condemned?

There is a list of "recommended movies" put out by the Vatican. (Recommended meaning that they are safe for family viewing.) Obviously if a movie is not on that list it either is too recent for addition or it has something to it that is of a too-objectionable nature.

In short, to the devil’s credit, the Church no longer employs “authoritarian tactics”. And it’s a better Church and were all more informed Catholics for it, right? Alleluia for the churchmen in high places whose pastoral insights seduced them into dropping all those mean-spirited pre-Vatican II tactics!

If you cannot argue with me without resorting to this kind of overly-rhetorical crap, I will withdraw from this list. Everytime I read this sneering tone I am tempted to really lay the smack down on your misunderstandings. You are not making my restraint easy.

You say that the pre-Vatican II churchmen
“refused to even consider the merits of modern philosophical ideas… they caricatured modern ideas and philosophies, sought to thereby dismiss them as ‘unworthy,’ and treated their own theology as the Catholic theology.”

No, I am saying that certain prelates of the pre-Vatican II Church between the Counter-reformation and Vatican II had this problem. It was particularly acute in the period between 1740 and 1960 but not uniform and not all periods were equally as problematical. Leo XIII made a good effort to reestablish Thomism - a movement that had started gaining momentum again after 1815.

The good news between 1879 and 1960 was that virtually every significant Catholic theologian and/or philosopher sought to some degree to incorporate Thomism into their ideas or proposed systems of theology. (Even theologians who were open to more contemporary philosophical and/or theological methods: there was still the conscious attempt to tie their speculations to some form of Thomism.) The bad news was that those who practiced manual theology - a sad shadow of authentic scholasticism - decided to act against the Church's longstanding tradition of legitimate theological speculation and began persecuting those who did not agree with their theological opinions.

It got so bad that the Holy Office in the early twentieth had to respond to a dubitum that asked if the 24 Thomistic theses were to be accepted as matters of divine faith!!! The response of course was no{2} but to some prelates they placed their personal opinions over and above the actual instruction of the magisterium. I go over some of this HERE and ask that you read that entry before reading the next installment of this response which I will blog either tonight or tomorrow. (I intend to build upon what I talk about in that entry in the next part of my response to your inquiry.)


{1} This accusation is accurate because you attend masses celebrated by a vagus priest without proper faculties.

{2} They were declared to "safe norms of intellectual guidance" by the Holy Office in a decree approved by Pope Benedict XV on March 7, 1916. The 1917 Code decreed that they were to be studied in Pontifical universities if I recall correctly but I will email this to Pete Vere (who is never far from his 1917 copy of the Code) for verification. Any verification of my presumptions - or correction of them - will be appended to the end of the last part of this response which (hopefully) will be the next one.

Unlike yours truly, Pete is a licensed canonist so his opinions are considered to have some authority unlike my canonical speculations - or the speculations of others who are not properly licensed - which do not.


The Final In Formation entry on the value of silence (by Steve Mattson) is highly recommended reading by Rerum Novarum.


Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Points to Ponder:

The great Orthodox theologian and my dear friend, the late Alexander Schmemann, said East-West reconciliation awaits a pan-Orthodox council, and, he quickly added, a pan-Orthodox council is an eschatological concept. Another Orthodox theologian, who must remain anonymous, tells me that may be a slight exaggeration, but he says he has never been so discouraged by the leadership of Orthodoxy. "We have not one leader with the vision or courage or generosity to even begin to respond to the initiatives of John Paul II," he says. "For centuries we have demanded that Rome make the moves he has made, and now that he has made them we react like spoiled, suspicious, squabbling children." That may be too harsh, but it reflects the sense of bitter disappointment that is palpable also among some Orthodox. [Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus: First Things March 1998 Edition]

To what extent do we - in our own ways - act in the same manner???


Monday, February 17, 2003

Gregg the Obscure weighs in at The Lidless Eye Inquisition with a poignant response to the ever-sinking CAItanic.


El Camino Real vs. Rerum Novarum

It was good to see Jeff Culbreath respond to my request for a clarification of his endorsement. He does so HERE. A brief response to his four points will be given at this time.

Concerning point one: Thankyou for clarifying this point. (You responded as I presumed you would.)

Concerning point two: You noted that I do believe that John Paul II, Paul VI, John XXIII, and even Cardinal Ratzinger were all influenced by Modernism to a significant degree, and I find that their writings often have Modernist tendencies.

Can you define what "Modernist tendencies" are please??? I find it interesting that those who are critical of the Second Vatican Council for supposedly being "a river of ambiguity" do not hesitate to shroud things with perhaps the most ambiguous of terms: "Modernism". Even more ambiguous is the term "modernist tendencies".

I explain in my essay on the Syllabus of Errors why the so-called "new theology" was a faithful use of the methods and principles of St. Thomas and the Scholastic masters whereas the Roman school (Ottaviani, Garrigou-Lagrange) was substantially different than the "methods and principles of the scholastic masters" (cf. Syllabus Prop 13). See this previous entry to Rerum Novarum for details. That point aside though, it would be greatly appreciated Jeff if you could explain what is "modernist in tendency" about the writings of Paul VI, JP II, John XXIII, or Ratzinger. I presume Ratzinger's predecessor in the CDF (Franjo Cardinal Seper) would fall under this as well.

Please enlighten us as to what is "modernist" in tendency - for I have heard this claim many times and have not seen any examples thus far that would fall under the proscriptions of - say Humani Generis or Pascendi: particularly the latter which is a more dogmatic encyclical on "doctrine" rather than "opinions".

This is not to dismiss Humani Generis but most of its proscriptions are inexact and similar to certain mid century trends. As I noted already, many theologians suppressed after HG was promulgated did not actually controvert any of the teachings contained therein - the facile attempts of many Integrists notwithstanding to demonstrate such controversions.

Concerning point three: Jeff said I have read enough of the documents produced by the Council to concur with the charge of ambiguity and obfuscation. Admitting a few exceptions, I find the conciliar documents unhelpful and impractical. Obviously one persons clarity can be another persons ambiguity so I will simply have to agree to disagree with Jeff on those points. (Not to mention one persons "helpful and practical" being another persons "unhelpful" and "impractical".)

My question though is how terms like "modernist-sounding" or "modernist-influenced" are practical or helpful terms. They are much more ambiguous than the most ambiguous parts of Vatican II. I do not even believe this is debatable but I am willing to consider that my assumption is perhaps ill-founded.

Therefore, would Jeff (i) disagree with this assessment and (ii) how would he explain the clear misunderstandings that 'traditionalists' have on the four points I noted in my previous entry. If the documents themselves are so "clear" and "unambiguous", why have so many egregious misinterpretations of them been forthcoming over the decades and (in some cases) centuries???

Trust me, I could make a list of more parts from the supposedly "unambiguous" pre-Vatican II magisterium - both the declarations of the Councils, the letters of the Popes, and the judgments of the Congregations. There are even some areas where Vatican II had to clear up previous ambiguities in settling certain theological controversies.

Concerning point four: The aftermath of the Council was an unmitigated disaster for the Church. Response: that is generally what happens after ecumenical councils. Including Vatican II, the ratio is approximately 2:1 against an immediate aftermath which is not profoundly problematical. To whom should we look for a true interpretation? 1) The Magisterium 2) The documents interpreted according to the general norms of interpretation. (I would be glad to discuss this sometime.) They are really not that difficult to understand provided that one approaches the Council as a Catholic is supposed to.

There is no coincidence that those who speak for a "spirit of Vatican II" are unable to point to their pet issues as being taught either by the Council or the post Council popes. What has prevented the Council from being properly implemented is the attitude of dissent which started in 1968 with Humanae Vitae. The same problems that prevented the reception of that encyclical have impaired the reception of the Council. Catholic Insight (which is not the website of the Integrist Mario Derksen) explains this well HERE if you are interested. (And I believe you are.)

Though it mentions Bishop Christopher Butler, it infers that he "turned away from loyalty and orthodoxy". That is the only real problem I could detect with the article. {1}

Finally, you noted that At the very least, then, it is fair to say that the Council readily lends itself to Modernist interpretations. I disagree profoundly but with a caveat. The core of my disagreement is on the same premise that I pointed out four areas in the last response that have been continually misunderstood. If you want to say that the Council taken by itself could be appropriated in a Modernist manner then I agree. But likewise Vatican I could be misappropriated in a monarchial sense, Trent could be misinterpreted in a Humanist sense (ask the Jansenists), Constance in a Gallianist sense, Constantinople II in either an Antiochian or Alexandrian sense, Ephesus in a Monophysite sense, Nicaea in a Semi-Arian sense. Councils and Popes clarify or balance one another Jeff. And Vatican II explicitly reaffirmed the dogmatic teachings of previous councils and popes. Which reminds me of something else.

The two most quoted magisterial sources in the texts of Vatican II are the magisteriums of Pius XII and Pius XI. Likewise, Trent, Vatican I, and Leo XIII are also heavily referenced. This is why anyone who tries to pit Vatican II against pre Vatican II is in error and deserving of serious rebuke.

Shawn has a long history with the SSPX and is therefore on something of a crusade against the excesses of the "traditionalist movement".

I want those who identify with earlier forms of liturgical practice and discipline to have a credible voice in the arena of ideas. I also believe that they raise some important points that need to be considered. But it also goes beyond that a bit. I do not talk about it very much but I identify with many positions of the self-styled "traditionalists".

But all too often similarity is confused with identity and I will not have the extremists defining my positions on anything. I will not have them tarring and feathering my views to summarily dismiss them as it is so easy to do with these kinds of people. (Be they "liberals", "moderates", "conservatives", or "traditionalists".)

I do not fit well into any of those artificial categories, therefore to some extent have to defend and reprove them all. An example of this can be read HERE. Anyway, if you could respond to the three points above over the next few days or so it would be appreciated.{2} I will keep an eye on your weblog and thank you for responding to my previous inquiry. For the readers, this may seem to be a kind of Interblog Philosophical War but I assure you, if this is the case, it is a friendly one.


{1} Bishop Butler did have problems with HV but he was nonetheless eminently orthodox. I am afraid that this article does not cover well that aspect of the equation but that is a subject perhaps for another time.

{2} I responded to several points. The three I would be most interested in are (i) explaining how to understand the term "modernist sounding" and point to parts of the writings of the last four popes and two cardinal prefects of the CDF (ii) the reason why so many people misunderstand the four points I noted yesterday (iii) when you say the Council contributes to Modernist interpretation, do you mean by itself or taken in the stream of Tradition???

Obviously there are some areas of manifested doctrinal development but even these build on or presuppose previous teachings. I guess I am not sure what you are saying on this point because I could agree or disagree with it. (The statement being potentially interpreted in various ways.)

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Dr. Art Sippo has written a good short essay on The Sacrificial Emphasis in Eucharistic Prayer 2 which can be read here.

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An Excerpt From One of My Essays:

I have thought it might not be a bad idea to put this excerpt out as a short essay in and of itself. It is taken from my essay The Counter-Syllabus Canard written in September of 2001 and recently given a minor revision.

13. The method and principles by which the old scholastic doctors cultivated theology are no longer suitable to the demands of our times and to the progress of the sciences. -- Apostolic Letter Tuas libenter Dec. 21, 1863.

It is certainly possible that some self-styled 'traditionalists' would see in this condemnation a defacto endorsement of scholasticism to the exclusion of all other methods of theology. But hopefully with a little fleshing out of this point, such an assertion can be seen for the red herring that it is.

While Bl. Pope Pius IX gave his approval to scholasticism in a number of his speeches and writings, there was nothing from him written solely on the subject of philosophy. His successor Pope Leo XIII, issued the Encyclical Letter Aeterni Patris, which endorsed the doctrine of St. Thomas as the Church’s normative theology. As a Thomist revival was already underway (having started in the early nineteenth century), this endorsement from the popes (particularly Leo) led to the spread of Thomism throughout the Church. Such a movement of course bore good fruit for the Church; however it was followed by an attitude that would lead to its undoing by the end of the Second Vatican Council.

The condemnation we are dealing with above referred to the "method and principles" of the old scholastic doctors. But what the form of Thomism was in the early twentieth century was not one that could be said to accurately reflect the "methods and principles" of the scholastic doctors. Instead the form of scholaticism that dominated the Roman school was a Thomism of manuals and its adherents sought to impose their views not through persuasion of argument but instead by the naked wielding of authority. Insight and creativity were stifled with an emphasis placed instead on correct expressions of verbal formulation and syllogisms. This frame-work had no use for the ideas of the modern world and took a defensive ad hominem approach towards anyone who was critical of this dominant paradigm of thought. The ideas of the modern world were caricatured and summarily dismissed with rhetorical flourishes, which were tantamount to ignoring them in toto. Those seeking to make a greater use of modern philosophy or science, utilize non-Catholic biblical methods, utilize non-Catholic scholarship, or even other traditional schools of philosophy and theology within the Church were denounced and condemned as "modernists". There is no denying that some of them were in fact of the sort that were rightfully condemned by St. Pope Pius X. However, rather then a calm charitable discussion of the issues at hand all too often bullying tactics were used. The neo-scholastics in positions of influence started using their theological positions as the "measuring stick" of orthodoxy.

After World War II, the neo-scholastics came in conflict again with scholars in the Church who were following other philosophical and theological paths. A common thread of many of these new developments was the desire for a more positive relationship to the world outside the Church. This of course flew in the face of the "Fortress Catholicism" model so commonly espoused in the Counter-Reformation period. The attempts by an assortment of scholars who sought to formulate a ressourcement approach could not logically be considered as philosophically or theologically precise as would be preferable any more then an idea could logically be born fully formed. These matters take time to mature into full form and this should have been obvious to the critics of the so-called "New Theology". But instead, the response on the part of the prevailing neo-scholastics (particularly those in positions of authority within the Holy See) was silencing, denunciations, and other authoritarian tactics. The idea of theological dialogue as has gone on historically with divers theological movements within the Church (i.e. the Dominicans and Jesuits on predestination) was not to be found. Instead, if you were not a neo-scholastic manual theologian, you were suspected of being in collusion with Modernism — a charge rashly thrown around and quite often without any justification for doing so.

Of course once one was suspect it was not easy to get out from under the dark cloud. The irony is that those who made these assertions were neo-scholastics, who in seeking to return to the founts of the schoolmen used methods that were in many ways alien to the masters at the height of scholasticism. The neo-scholastics relied on manuals where they were continually involved in the refining of derivative points. They utilized almost no Scripture at all in their arguments (except indirectly). Nor did they have much use for the Fathers except as cursory references. (Seeming to consider the Patristic witness to have been supplanted — rather then supplemented — by the systematical presentations of the schoolmen.) They seem to have considered the Scholastic period as the only really relevant period in history and refused to even consider the merits of modern philosophical ideas. And finally, they caricatured modern ideas and philosophies, sought to thereby dismiss them as "unworthy", and treated their own theology as the Catholic theology. These actions in every way were completely alien to "the methods and principles" of Saint Thomas — which the Syllabus by implication claimed were relevant to solving modern problems. (And which Pope Leo XIII later coined as perennial in relevancy.)

The "methods and principles" of Saint Thomas (and the other scholastic masters) dealt primarily with the fundamental points of doctrine (building onto them in addressing derivative points). The methods and principles of Saint Thomas utilized Scripture copiously in argumentation, not as an occasional ornament. The methods and principles of Saint Thomas meant having recourse to the Fathers for defending primary points of doctrine as apostolic. The methods and principles of Saint Thomas meant considering the breadth and depth of Church history in its fullness. (Saint Thomas himself did not consider any period of history to be the definitive period as if this meant ignoring all other periods of Church history.) The methods and principles of Saint Thomas meant considering the merits of modern philosophical ideas as well as more ancient ones. (Hence St. Thomas drew from not only Aristotle and the Fathers — particularly Augustine — but also non-Christian philosophers such as Averros, Avicenna, and Maimonides who were nearly contemporaries of his time.) And finally the methods and principles of St. Thomas did not involve caricaturing opposing arguments but instead it involved summarizing them accurately and then addressing them. (At times St. Thomas would phrase and argue an opponent’s position better then they would.) Every method and principle of St. Thomas was directly opposite the tactic taken by the neo-scholastics. However the ressourcement paradigm of the so-called Nouvelle Theologiae was a faithful use of the scholastic method as the masters of the thirteenth century used it (particularly St. Thomas) right down to every area as listed above. The eternal value of the scholastic methods and principles are rooted in common human experience. The simple yea or nea to scholasticism cannot do the issue proper justice since there are scholastic methods that are no longer valid today. (There are also other methods that will always be valid.) Pope John Paul II spoke of the perennial value of St. Thomas' doctrine in his Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio:

A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.(44) More radically, Thomas recognized that nature, philosophy's proper concern, could contribute to the understanding of divine Revelation. Faith therefore has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfilment,(45) so faith builds upon and perfects reason. Illumined by faith, reason is set free from the fragility and limitations deriving from the disobedience of sin and finds the strength required to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God. Although he made much of the supernatural character of faith, the Angelic Doctor did not overlook the importance of its reasonableness; indeed he was able to plumb the depths and explain the meaning of this reasonableness. Faith is in a sense an "exercise of thought"; and human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice.(46)

This is why the Church has been justified in constantly proposing Saint Thomas as a master of thought and as a model of the right way to do theology. In this connection, I would recall what my Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, wrote on the occasion of the seventh centenary of the death of the Angelic Doctor: "Without doubt, Thomas possessed supremely the courage of the truth, a freedom of spirit in confronting new problems, the intellectual honesty of those who allow Christianity to be contaminated neither by secular philosophy nor by a prejudiced rejection of it. He passed therefore into the history of Christian thought as a pioneer of the new path of philosophy and universal culture. The key point and almost the kernel of the solution which, with all the brilliance of his prophetic intuition, he gave to the new encounter of faith and reason was a reconciliation between the secularity of the world and the radicality of the Gospel, thus avoiding the unnatural tendency to negate the world and its values while at the same time keeping faith with the supreme and inexorable demands of the supernatural order".(47)

(44) Cf. Summa contra Gentiles, I, 7.

(45) Cf. Summa Theologiae, I, 1, 8 ad 2: "cum enim gratia non tollat naturam sed perficiat".

(46) Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Participants at the IX International Thomistic Congress (29 September 1990): Insegnamenti, XIII, 2 (1990), 770-771.

(47) Apostolic Letter Lumen Ecclesiae (20 November 1974), 8: AAS 66 (1974), 680. ...

The study of the methods and principles of the scholastic doctors is and always will remain viable for addressing societies problems. And far from controverting this proposition the very approach of Vatican II (ressourcement) was along the lines of the methods and philosophy of the greatest of the scholastics (St. Thomas Aquinas) virtually point for point. In this light it cannot be reasonably asserted that this condemned premise has in any way been affirmed by Vatican II or the post-council papal magisterium. [I. Shawn McElhinney: Essay excerpt from The Counter-Syllabus Canard (c. 2001)]

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Sunday, February 16, 2003

Spiritual Instruction on Prayer (Part V):

The last installment of this series can be read HERE. To start at the beginning go HERE.

13. Should it happen that the whole time given to prayer be passed in rejecting temptations or in recalling your mind from its wanderings, and you do not succeed in giving birth to a single devout thought or sentiment, St. Francis de Sales isuthority for saying that your prayer is nevertheless all the more meritorious from the fact of its being so unsatisfactory to you. It makes you more like our divine Lord when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemani and on Mt. Calvary. "Better to eat bread without sugar than sugar without bread. We should seek the God of consolation, not the consolations of God: and in order to possess God in heaven, we must now suffer with Him and for Him."

"When your mind wanders or gives way to distractions, gently recall it and place it once more close to its Divine Master. If you should do nothing else but repeat this during the whole time of prayer, your hour would be very well spent and you would perform a spiritual exercise most appealing to God" (St. Francis de Sales).

14. It is well to bear in mind that in commanding us to pray always our Saviour did not mean actual prayer, as that would be an impossibility. The desire to glorigy God by all our actions suffices for the rigorous fulfillment of this precept, if the desire be habitual and permanent. "You pray often", says St. Augustine, "if you often have a desire to pay homage to God by your actions: you pray always if you always have this desire, no matter how you may be otherwise employed."

"Need we be surprised that St. Augustine often assures us that the whole Christian life is one long, continual tending of our hearts towards that eternal justice for which we sigh here below? Our only happiness consists in ever thirsting for it, and this thirst is in itself a prayer; consequently, if we always desire this justice, we pray always. Do not think it necessary to pronounce a great many words and to struggle much with oneself in order to pray. To pray is to ask God that His will may be done, to form some good desire, to raise the heart to God, to long for the riches He promises us, to sigh over our miseries and the danger we are in of displeasing Him by violating His holy law. Now, this requires neither science, nor method, nor reasoning; no one can pray without any distinct thought; no head-work is necessary; only a moment of time and a loving effusion of the heart are needed; and even this moment may be simultaneously occupied with something else, for so great is God's condescension to our weakness that He permits us to divide it when necessary between Him and creatures. Yes during this moment you can continue what you were doing: it is sufficient to offer to God your most ordinary occupations, or to perform them with the general intention of glorifying Him. This is the continual prayer required by St. Paul....thought by many devout persons to be impracticable, but in reality very easy for those who know that the best of all prayers is to do everything with a pure intention, and frequently to renew the desire to perform all our actions for God and in accordance with His divine will" (Fenelon). [Fr. R. P. Quadrupini: excerpts from his spiritual instruction "Light and Peace - Instructions for Devout Souls" pgs. 31-34 (c. 1795)]

To be continued...


The following is part of a beautiful reflection on married love as it is supposed to be from the late great Deitrich von Hildebrand and his equally stellar widow Alice courtesy of Gerard Serafin's Catholic BLOG for Lovers.

The time we spend with our loved ones is not the time to relax but rather the moment to put on our festival garment, the moment to achieve a real Sursum Corda...Click here for more...

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Thoughts on Communion Reception:

In light of the recent declaration about communion posture, it seems appropriate to reiterate that just because something is lawful (as kneeling for receiving communion is) that does not make it expedient. Nor what is lawful immediately edify. That brings me to the topic of those who kneel to receive in a church where the procedure is standing - or those who stand where the procedure is kneeling. I believe in both cases the person going against the grain is wrong and hope to point out the reason why here in brief.

It is my belief that people who go against the norm at their church by kneeling - when the policy is standing - are acting this way out of some hidden pride masquerading as piety. If the church is administering the sacrament standing, then they should receive it standing with some form of external reverence such as a reverent bow or a genuflection.

If the church is administering the sacrament at an altar rail, then they should be kneeling to receive. Zeal for the faith needs to be accompanied with great humility because it is the one virtue that pride most easily masquerades as. And I cannot see how those who go against the grain on this matter act in any way that is not one of some hidden pride - however much they persuade themselves that they are simply showing due reverence.

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Points to Ponder:

This was written at a time that Fr. de Lubac was under a censure by his superiors:

The Church which we call our Mother is not some ideal unreal Church but this hierarchical Church itself; not the Church as we might dream her but the Church as she exists in fact, here and now. Thus the obedience which we pledge her in the persons of those who rule cannot be anything but a filial obedience. [Fr. Henri de Lubac SJ: "The Splendour of the Church" pg. 265]


The Lidless Eye weblog has been updated.


On Ambiguities, Canards, and Manifested Errors:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

It was disappointing to read Jeff Culbreath's apparent lauding of an editorial from Christian Order about the Second Vatican Council. I like Jeff a lot and we have had some very stimulating discussions. We have not always agreed with one another; however, I have always sensed a degree of respect from him and I assure him that the feeling is a mutual one.

Nonetheless, in seeing one of his recent weblog entries, I am rather taken aback by it but I want to avoid a snap judgment here as that is not conducive to a proper Christian outlook which should "thinketh no evil" about another in the absence of incontrovertible evidence. (And even then should hate not the sinner but the sin.)

Now in fairness the statement that he thought "hit the nail on the head" could be interpreted as the one paragraph near the beginning of the piece that he quoted.{1} But he did proceed to link to the entire editorial that contained the quote so that makes his stance equivocal by its very nature. And because of that I feel no small amount of disappointment.

For the editorial he quotes, in whole and in its parts, was so full of half-truths and outright prevarications that it disturbs me to see a fine man like Jeff giving concurrence to it.

To summarize it for you readers, it (i) repeats the same prevarications about "Modernist theologians" (whereby lumping together a group of theologians whose views were divergent from one another). Further still, it (ii) repeats the mistruth that these theologians were "implicated by Humani Generis",{2} and (iii) repeats the canard about the so-called "New Theology" being new.

Further still, it (iv) accuses without proper evidence many eminent theologians of being "modernists" (including the previous pope, the current pope, and the current prefect of the CDF) as well as the popes (Paul VI and John Paul II) of a conspiracy to "rehabilitate modernists". Not only that but the ignorant drivel of Michael Davies and his Cranmars Godly Order is lauded not to mention Davies' facile comparisons of Vatican II to the French Revolution come to mind. (Has anyone this side of Archbishop Lefebvre midwifed more people into schism than Michael Davies???)

I have read the documents of the Council and they are no more ambiguous than magisterial texts tend to generally be. But I want to take this point further and ask this question: if pre-Vatican II magisterial texts are so "clear anc concise" (contra supposed "ambiguities" of Vatican II) then:

(i) why have so many theologians and commentators so grossly misunderstood Pius XII's teaching on the Mystical Body of Christ from Mystici Corporis Christi - claiming that the encyclical affiliated the Mystical Body solely with the Catholic Church when the text does not say this at all???

(ii) Mediator Dei and the pope's warnings about imprudent policies for "individuals or particular churches" as applying to the Magisterium herself (contrary to MD §58)???

(iii) The Council of Trent's teaching on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition???{3}

(iv) most theologians, virtually all laity, (and Christian Order's editor) grossly misunderstanding Vatican I's definition of papal infallibility and the implications of that definition thereof???

I could name more but there are four areas which virtually no self-styled "traditionalist" properly understands. Yet they make hay of the supposed "clarity" of the magisterial documents that these teachings are taken from. How inconsistent and hypocritical can they be???

I am frankly sick and tired of ignorant and presumptuous people repeating the same old lies again and again as if they can somehow magically morph them into truths. Chris Burgwald accurately sums up the problem with this editorial in this link.

I only hope that good faithful Catholics like Jeff Culbreath and others stop imbibing this kind of destructive poison or else they will not long be faithful Catholics. I also hope that I am vastly overrestimating the import of Jeff's endorsement here.

But without the "Culbreath Magisterium" clarifying Jeff's manifested intention, I am not sure what he is endorsing and what he is not. And that is an ambiguity that transcends any proposed "ambiguity" in the texts of the Council: be it real or imagined. (And almost always in the case of the Council it is the latter.)


{1} In Jeff's defense, he only quoted this part of the article at his weblog:

As the most verbose Council in the history of the Church by at least a factor of six, it is the sheer volume of words that smothers a plain interpretation of many Vatican II documents, providing support both for a novel and a traditional meaning. "The council’s lack of precision," writes Professor Romano Amerio, a pre-eminent Conciliar analyst who worked as a peritus on the draft schemas to be discussed at Vatican II, "is admitted even by those theologians most faithful to the Roman See, who attempt to acquit the council of blame in the matter. But it is obvious that the need to defend the univocal meaning of the council is itself an indication of its equivocal character."

While I disagree with that passage on virtually every point, it is only fair to note that Jeff could have been giving his concurrence only with that paragraph and not the entire article. (And if that was the extent of his agreement then I withdraw my criticisms.) If that is the case then I suggest he clarify this at his weblog because the stance he is taking is itself ambiguous.

{2} The only theologians who could be said to be implicated by Humani Generis of the the group mentioned were Kung, Schillebeeckx, and Rahner - and in the case of the first two it would be after the Council that they would noticeably fall away from orthodoxy.

The attempts to implicate de Lubac, Danielou, or Congar from the text of HG could only be sustained by the most facile reading of the texts absent of proper context. Of course Christian Order is not exactly acting against script in doing that: a point I have demonstrated in detail in this critique of a March 2001 article. The essay I critique and dispatch with was later was printed in The Latin Mass Magazine in the spring 2001 issue.

{3} How many preconciliar theology texts spoke dogmatically about a "partim-partim" theory that Trent nowhere actually taught???

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