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Short Changed

  /   Sunday, March 25, 2007   /   Comments(0)

Take a look at this article. It deals with the Holy Father’s new exhortation on the Eucharist. The text of that document is here. I hope to read it in the near future.

Now, the headline of the article is “Pope Upholds Celibacy for Priests and Ban for Communion for Divorced Catholics Who Remarry.” The rest of the article is similar in nature. Do you think this does justice to what the Holy Father has said? Without having read the Holy Father’s words, I seriously doubt it. When I finally get to read this, I believe it will go to show why we shouldn’t get our information on the Church and her documents from the media.

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USCCB Sends Out Notice on a Theologian

  /   Sunday, March 25, 2007   /   Comments(0)

I recently received further news that the USCCB has sent out a notification regarding some pamphlets sent out by theologian Daniel Maguire of Marquette University. In them, Maquire basically gives a defense of abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage. He sent it to the bishops, and they responded by saying that his views “cross the legitimate lines of theological reflection and simply enter into the area of false teaching.”

Did you get that last line? The USCCB Committee on Doctrine not only said that these don’t represent the views of the USCCB, but that these views are “false teaching.” They defended the Catholic faith. I hope that this is a sign that some things are going to change.

What is deplorable to me are the people on the Sound Off in the linked-to blog page who insist on responding with cynicism. Have they made a spirituality out of being critical to the point that nothing can satisfy them? Well, it’s quite possible. Even if what they insist on (e.g. “tail wagging the dog” or “the bishops were ‘forced’ to respond to this one”) is true, we need to show support when support needs to be shown. It’s the best way that we can help to get more of these badly needed clarifications.

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Faith and Unbelief

  /   Friday, March 23, 2007   /   Comments(0)

When I was a resident in drug information during the 1999-2000 year, some things came up that told me that I needed to search and find whether the truth can be known and how. One book that I read along the way was Faith and Certitude by Fr. Thomas Dubay. At the time I didn’t know it, but he is one of the top writers on Catholic spirituality in the nation. I was a beginner, so the book was hard to read, and I would do well to re-read it at some point.

Ignatius Insight has posted this excerpt from the book. It is well worth reading. It reminds me a lot of what I have learned about the problem of dissent in the Catholic Church. People will often submit to the teaching of a book or even a watered-down notion of “tradition” because they can interpret it however they please. Once a living authority is involved, they have trouble. Simply submitting to an idea based on its intellectual merits is not faith. It is only an agreement based on your own intellect. Such a person is really following himself; he just happens to have come across an idea he believes is good. If it didn’t suit his fancy, he could just as well have discarded it.

One way that this has come to light for me is when I reflect on the recent discipline of a liberation theologian by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No doubt the supporters of this guy will trump this up as, in the words of a priest I had heard from, the Church using “censorship.” Well, before I get into the meat of this, let me remind you that such a conclusion is completely untenable. How can I say this? Look at how few theologians have actually been disciplined. Second, look at what those who were disciplined were promoting.

Truthfully, if anything, there should be more censorship. Much of what passes for theology today disregards divine revelation and reduces theology to a mere empirical science or the “tradition” of a “community.” The empirical science approach works well for biology, for example, because we have no absolute truth revealed by God. Anything we believe could be found not to be true at any time. However, anyone who wishes to question widely accepted theories had better have some strong evidence to back up what he is saying. Theology is different because there is divine revelation. Such revelation is absolute truth, handed on from Jesus to the Apostles to their successors to this day. This is why we must not allow academic theologians to set up their own alternate magisterium. When theology is reduced to a mere academic exercise, the “theologians” can interpret any text or event in history any way they wish. Some have claimed that they know more that the people who were much closer to the time of Jesus, which is ludicrous.

As part of the divine revelation we have received, there is an authority to protect the faithful from those who would reject revelation. In reading parts of the linked-to statement on the discipline of Fr. Jon Sobrino, S.J., one can see that he has done such. The statement of the CDF has shown, among other things, that he recognized Jesus as not the incarnate Word of God, but only as a mere human being who saw human misery and felt he should do something about it. This strikes me as a very similar view that the Israelites had about the coming Messiah. He was to be an earthly king, and if Jesus was to be an earthly king, he was a complete and total failure.

This is not why Jesus came or what his mission was. He came first and foremost to free us from what separates us from God – sin. Sin is the ultimate bondage. Not knowing God is the ultimate poverty. Our desire to help the poor (whether spiritually or materially poor) must flow from our knowledge of Jesus Christ and his mission. If we try to do things any other way, we end up going astray from what Our Lord wants us to do. This is how we end up adopting the form of “theology” that is little more than warmed-over Marxism, commonly known as liberation theology.

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Fr. Fessio Dismissed from Ave Maria

  /   Friday, March 23, 2007   /   Comments(0)

I read yesterday in Catholic World News that Fr. Fessio was abruptly dismissed from Ave Maria University. Today, I read that they are retaining him in a new capacity. As of this writing, there is no explanation on the school’s web site. By the time you read this, there may be.

I just don’t get this. It looks really bad, especially the way it is reported to have been handled. In any case, you can bet that Satan is attacking this school and doesn’t want it to exist. There is no way that this could happen and not cause the school to be in turmoil. I heard a report (which I cannot verify) that after this happened many students have protested and have even refused to attend classes. It wouldn’t surprise me.

I had great expectations for the school and have donated money. If anything, I thought it would be a great orthodox alternative to those who aren’t big fans of the Charismatic Renewal that is still strong at Franciscan University of Steubenville (to which I have also donated). I might have liked to study there.

The irony of this is that, on the day I learned of the firing, I received a letter, part of which bore Fr. Fessio’s signature, asking for a donation. I had just finished a pledge to them. However, I am so concerned about this move that I will not give another penny to Ave Maria University unless I get a satisfactory explanation for what is going on. I don’t want to abandon their students, but I can’t support an environment that may become questionable in their formation of the students. You might think that doing this is giving in to Satan’s attempt to destroy the school, but if this dismissal is part of Satan’s plot, then giving to the school may be helping him instead of Our Lord. I must know what I am helping before I donate again.

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The Four Last Things

  /   Friday, March 23, 2007   /   Comments(0)

For a long time, I’d hoped to give a talk about the Four Last Things. Well, I hadn’t had the opportunity, so I decided to may it my Lenten podcast. You can check it out here. I have done Death and Judgment. Hell is next, especially since the last part may not come until Easter. I thought it would be very disconcerting to say “Happy Easter . . . let’s talk about Hell.” Besides, I want to end on a high note.

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  /   Saturday, March 17, 2007   /   Comments(0)

Some of you may have read the article that I wrote about three years ago on penance. My main point was to suggest that penance had to be done other times than just during Lent, but I had another point in there as well. I defended the practice of giving something up against those who seemed to think that all we need to do is just “do something positive.”

Besides the fact that I absolutely hate hearing any aspect of our faith framed in terms of “negative” and “positive,” there’s something else I’d like to consider. How does your schedule look now? Mine is often full. If I say that I’m going to, for example, read Scripture more each day, can I keep the same full schedule? Well, if I do, I won’t be very successful.

We will spend every bit of our time doing something, whether it is service, prayer, study, or just lounging around watching TV. If we want to add something to our lives that God wants us to do, we are going to have to give up doing something else with our time. Sometimes, it’s sin that we have to give up. Other times, it is something that is not bad, but we are spending too much time doing it. Then again, we might not be spending too much time on it, but God has something that he would rather have us do at this time. To do something good, we must give up something else.

For example, the Church understands this in requiring celibacy in the Roman Rite. We can’t be fully open to serve God in that capacity without giving up family life. Family life is good, but men called to priesthood give it up because God asks them to do something else. I’ve heard all I can take about people “balancing” career and family or priesthood and family life. We are finite creatures, and the fact that there are so many more things within our reach due to technology hasn’t changed this and won’t. I just wish I had realized this a long time ago.

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Where Not to Burn

  /   Sunday, March 11, 2007   /   Comments(0)

I was in an adoration chapel early one morning, and, as is proper when exposition is taking place, there were four candles around the monstrance. No doubt the candles were appropriate for the occasion. Sometimes the holders may be decorated with a favorite Scripture passage. In this case, the top of the candle holders, as a tribute to the age we are in, said “Do not burn near combustibles.”

No, I’m not criticizing the chapel. However, I do think we can add this to our list of warnings made necessary only by the litigious society that we live in. Even a chapel isn’t safe.

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  /   Wednesday, March 07, 2007   /   Comments(0)

The Roman Curia took its annual Lenten Retreat, and I wonder how they reacted to this statement by Cardinal Biffi. Cardinal Biffi is the retired Archbishop of Bologna, and he preached the retreat. In this, he said that the Antichrist will present himself as one who waters down the message of Jesus Christ and the Cross in favor of more popular causes. Precisely, he said that the Antichrist will present himself as “pacifist, ecologist, and ecumenist.” How did Pope Benedict XVI respond? He responded with praise, stating that he had presented a “very accurate and precise diagnosis of our situation today.”

If this upsets you, please read this commentary by Dr. Jeff Mirus for a good perspective on what was meant. His point was not to rail against ecumenism in and of itself, but to rail against ecumenism that requires one to compromise the truth. Working for a true peace is not wrong, but in no way can total pacifism be considered Christian. Certainly, we have to be good steward’s of God’s creation, but we should remember that God placed everything there as a gift to us.

Our eyes must be focused on Jesus Christ himself. Sometimes, perhaps in an attempt to show that our Christian life is “valuable” to the secular world, we begin to place certain causes above the transcendent. In so doing, we compromise the truth for the sake of avoiding giving offense. Sometimes the horizontal, “see Christ in our neighbor” attitude is taken to such an extreme that we become practically indistinguishable from do-gooder agnostics and athiests. It is absolutely obligatory for us to do good for others, but we must keep our eyes on Christ. Those who would turn us away are quite deserving of the title “Antichrist.”

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Blessed Are They Who Can Do Math

  /   Saturday, March 03, 2007   /   Comments(0)

I took a trip to the grocery store today. I saw that they had a six-pack of bottled water there for $3.99; a twelve pack, with a sign saying it was a special price, was right next to it. The price of the twelve-pack was $8.99.

I went to buy paper towels, and I found an 8-pack for $6.99. A 12-pack, right next to it, was $10.99. Granted, neither case would make a huge difference, but it goes to show that we have to be careful when it looks like we are getting a deal by buying more.

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