Interesting to Catholics
Pro Pontiff, Pro-Magisterial, Pro-life, Pro-family. These articles reflect these values and I believe should be Interesting to Catholics. If there are any article I have missed, or you feel should not be here, or you agree/disagree with, then please feel free to post a comment.
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Sunday, December 31, 2006
Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of us all, we turn to you today as the one who said 'Yes' to Life. 'You will conceive and bear a Son,' the angel told you. Despite the surprise and the uncertainty about how this could be, you said yes. 'Be it done unto me according to your word.' Mary, we pray today for all mothers who are afraid to be mothers. We pray for those who feel threatened and overwhelmed by their pregnancy. Intercede for them, that God may give them the grace to say yes and the courage to go on. May they have the grace to reject the false solution of abortion. May they say with you, 'Be it done unto me according to your word.' May they experience the help of Christian people, and know the peace that comes from doing God's will. Amen.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
KARL KEATING'S E-LETTER
At his blog Catholic apologist Mark Shea has posted "Some Thoughts on the Apologetics Subculture": http://www.markshea.blogspot.com (scroll down to June 16).
Among other things, Mark bemoans the tendency, among some Catholic and not a few Protestant apologists, to get bogged down in minutiae. As an example, he refers to a discussion about the interpretation of the Greek behind the word "until" in Matthew 1:25: "and he knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son."
The link Mark provides takes you to an interminable tit-for-tat between a Protestant and a Catholic. Read just the first few paragraphs (you won't be able to get through the whole thing). What will come to mind is Macbeth's soliloquy in Act V: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
The writer (in this case a Protestant, but Catholics have done the same) offers up thousands of words--19,000 of them in fact--that supposedly demonstrate that his understanding of "until" is true and that his Catholic opponent's understanding is false. In fact, the most he can hope to do is to prove that this particular Catholic committed an error here or there; he can't (and doesn't) prove that the traditional Catholic understanding of "until" is wrong.
Such a waste of time!
Look, I'm an apologist, and I like engaging in apologetics, but there are limits. There are limits to what apologetics can accomplish, and there are limits to my patience. When I come across a 19,000-word dispute about the meaning of a single term, I don't think: "This is impressive work." I think: "This guy needs to get a life."
Apologetics is the explanation and defense of the faith. It comes into play only when someone asks for an explanation or attacks the faith. It is not the same as evangelization, which is the promotion of the faith.
Apologetics is reactive; evangelization is pro-active. The two often go hand-in-hand, but they are not coterminous and should not be confused with one another.
I think apologetics is important, and that is why I have been engaged in it for a quarter of a century. I think it is so important that I don't want to waste time writing or reading 19,000-word exercises in futility.
It is said that Joseph Conrad once spent the better part of a day trying to decide whether to describe a character as "penniless" or "without a penny." There is a subtle distinction between the two, but it is so subtle that I am sure that no reader of his story ever came across the passage and wondered to himself why Conrad didn't choose the other term.
To Conrad, choosing one word over the other was important. It was important to absolutely no one else. Sometimes apologists reduce apologetics to the same level.
Friday, June 16, 2006
I have heard Father Benedict Groeschel refer to The Da Vinci Code as “blasphemous.” Exactly what does he mean by this?
One of the greatest violations against the love of God and the reverence we owe to Him alone is the mortal sin of blasphemy. Blasphemy is thinking, speaking, or acting against God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in a contemptuous, scornful, profane, or abusive manner. Serious ridicule of the saints, sacred objects, or persons consecrated to God is also blasphemous because God is indirectly attacked.
As Christians who are God-fearing, who truly respect God as God, and who love God with our whole hearts, minds and souls, we must be outraged at the blasphemous book and movie entitled The DaVinci Code. While the author Dan Brown states that his work is fiction, he also states it is based on facts. This work is a weaving of half-truths, misrepresentations, and outright lies. We do not have time to elaborate on all of them. However, a good source book would be The DaVinci Deception. Here are a few of the assertions paraphrasing directly from the book:
The book asserts that our New Testament was the product of man, not God. Wrong. The human authors were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The words of Sacred Scripture teach faithfully, firmly, and without error the truth God wanted us to have for our salvation.
The book asserts that throughout history there never has been a definitive version of the Bible. Wrong again. At the time of our Lord, the Jewish people had the 46 books we know as our Old Testament. The New Testament writings were completed by the year 100 at the latest and there is growing evidence that the completion date was closer to 70. In the early second century of Christianity, St. Irenaeus (a disciple of St. Polycarp, who was a student of St. John the Apostle), St. Justin the Martyr and Bishop Papias attested to the 27 books of our New Testament being used at Mass. The Muratorian Fragment (AD 155) lists the books of the New Testament and distinguished between those that were genuine to the apostolic faith and those that were heretical and forged, referring to gnostic writings. There were only four Gospels, those attributed to St. Matthew, an Apostle; St. Mark, a disciple of St. Peter; St. Luke a disciple of St. Paul and who knew our Blessed Mother; and St. John, an Apostle. These four Gospels were accepted because of their apostolic witness.
After the legalization of Christianity in AD 313, the Church was able to meet and to set officially the texts of Sacred Scripture. In AD 367, St. Athanasius listed the 27 books of the New Testament. When Pope St. Damasus instructed St. Jerome to translate the Sacred Scriptures into Latin in AD 382, producing the Vulgate Text, the canon of Sacred Scripture comprised 46 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament, as we have today and what the apostolic Church had accepted. This canon was again affirmed at the Council of Hippo in AD 393, the Council of III Carthage in AD 397, and in a letter of Pope Innocent I in AD 405. In AD 1441, the Council of Florence again defined the canon of Sacred Scripture. Therefore, the Church has had a definitive version of the Bible. The first person to tamper with the canon was Martin Luther in 1532 when he removed 7 books of the Old Testament.
What then are the Gnostic gospels? They did not appear until about AD 150-200. The Gnostics were a heretical sect that believed in a God and an equally powerful devil. First mistake! They thought everything material, including our person, was evil; everything spiritual was good. Our spirit was imprisoned in the body and only a special knowledge — or "gnosis" — would free us. Jesus, a spiritual creature (another mistake) only appeared human; He entered a human Jesus, because a spiritual being would not really become incarnated. He gave the gnosis. He then did not die on the Cross; only the human Jesus did. Therefore, the Gnostics did not believe in the incarnation. There was no redemption of us, body and soul. There were no sacraments because God would not channel grace through evil material things like bread and wine, water or oil.
The Gnostics did not believe in marriage or procreation, because no one would want to imprison another spirit in a body. Moreover, abortion, suicide, and infanticide were not uncommon among some of the Gnostic sects, because these acts freed the spirit from the body. For good reason, the Church condemned Gnosticism. The Gnostics wrote “gospels” appending names like the “Gospel of St. Thomas” to lend credibility, but these were bogus. None of the Gnostic gospels can be traced to apostolic origin, and for that reason plus their heretical teaching, they were condemned.
The Da Vinci Code asserts that Emperor Constantine declared Jesus as divine. Wrong again. Another lie. The Gospels attest Jesus is a divine person, true God who became true man. He showed His divine power through such ways as His miracles, exorcisms, and the forgiveness of sin. He suffered, died, and rose for our salvation. Just think: Would those Apostles have gone forth to found the Church and face martyrdom if Jesus truly was not the divine Lord and Savior, who rose from the dead? Would the Church have survived all of these centuries if Jesus were not the divine Lord and Savior, still present in the midst of His Church? Granted, in AD 325 Constantine and Pope St. Sylvester convoked the Council of Nicea to address another heresy called Arianism which asserted Jesus was just a human; that council produced the Nicene Creed, based on the Apostles' Creed attributed to the Apostles. Nevertheless, Christians have always believed in the divinity of Christ.
The book asserts Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Wrong again. There is no historical evidence even in the bogus Gnostic gospels to support such a claim.
The book asserts the Church is “anti-woman.” Wrong again. We have always upheld the equal dignity of man and woman, each made in the image and likeness of God. We have upheld the sacred union of a husband and wife joined as one in the sacrament of marriage. We have honored our Blessed Mother as the model of faith. St. Mary Magdalene herself is the repentant sinner who stood at the foot of the Cross and saw the resurrected Lord; she is an inspiration for all of us.
The book and movie attack Opus Dei, an organization founded by St. Josemaria Escriva in 1928. Opus Dei is neither a cult nor spy organization, but a personal prelature of the Holy Father. The purpose is for all members — priests and laity — to sanctify their work as an offering to God. Moreover, there are no monks in Opus Dei, not to mention albino ones.
There are more half-truths, misrepresentations, and lies. In sum, this work is blasphemous against God, our Church, and Christianity as a whole. Remember a few months ago the Islamic community was outraged by the cartoons of Mohammed; rightfully so, although no one should resort to violence or the taking of innocent lives. Nevertheless, we should be outraged — but we should direct our anger toward taking advantage of this opportunity to profess our faith, counter the lies with the truth, and evangelize. In such a way, good will triumph over the blasphemous conspiracy presented by The Da Vinci Code, both book and movie.
Fr. Saunders is pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls and a professor of catechetics and theology at Notre Dame Graduate School in Alexandria. If you enjoy reading Fr. Saunders's work, his new book entitled Straight Answers (400 pages) is available at the Pauline Book and Media Center of Arlington, Virginia (703/549-3806).
(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)
In a recent editorial on condoms and AIDS, the London-based Tablet, an influential weekly in the Catholic Anglosphere, argued that "in 1968, the most persuasive reason advanced in favor of retaining the ban on artificial birth control was that to lift it would suggest that the Church could change its mind, and hence undermine its teaching authority."
That is a distortion of history and the editors of the Tablet — which played a large role in the Humanae Vitae controversy — should know it.
Pope Paul VI was terrified that the Church, by "changing its mind," would undermine the authority of its magisterium? Please. Paul VI presided over a Church that "changed its mind" — better, developed its thought, practice, and doctrine — on many once hotly-disputed questions: the validity of concelebrated Masses; the use of the vernacular in the liturgy; the relationship of the Bible and the Church's tradition as sources of divine revelation; the diaconate; religious freedom and the juridical, limited state. The Tablet's take on the bottom-line rationale for Humanae Vitae is a myth. But it's a myth of a piece with the journal's longstanding misconception of the Church's teachings on marital chastity and family planning: a misconception which holds that these teaching are "policies" or "positions" that can be changed, rather like governments can change the income tax rate or the speed limit.
In 1967, the Tablet (and the National Catholic Reporter) printed a leaked memorandum to Paul VI from members of the papal commission studying the morality of family planning. According to that memorandum, a majority of the commissioners had been persuaded that the morality of conjugal life should be judged by the overall pattern of a couple's sexual conduct, rather than by the openness of each act of marital love to conception. A close reading of this so-called "Majority Report" suggests, however, that the proponents of the Church "changing its mind" on the question of artificial contraception were after much bigger game: they intended to install proportionalism and the theory of the "fundamental option" — methods of moral reasoning later rejected by John Paul the Great in the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor — as the official moral theological method of the Catholic Church.
Paul VI recognized this, and rejected the proposal accordingly. Pope Paul undoubtedly was told that a "change" of "position" on contraception would undermine the credibility of the magisterium; but that was, at best, a secondary question. The real issue was much graver, and touched virtually every question in the moral life.
If you want to measure the effects of proportionalist moral analysis on a once-great ecclesial community, you need go no farther than the Anglican Communion, which is being torn apart today because proportionalists, insisting that they are the party of progress, have jettisoned both biblical and classical Christian morality to the point where the moral boundaries of the Anglican community are so porous as to be virtually undecipherable. Perhaps the editors of the Tablet imagine this a desirable future for the Catholic Church. Others will find that view hard to comprehend.
Prior to Humanae Vitae, while the self-styled party of progress in the Church agitated the contraception issue in the press (much like a political campaign), classical Catholic moralists tried to construct a responsible theological case for a development of doctrine that would sanction the use of chemical and mechanical means of regulating fertility — and found they couldn't do so without opening the Pandora's box of proportionalism, which blunts the edge of moral analysis and drains the moral life of its inherent drama. True, Humanae Vitae might have been better received had it adopted the richly humanistic defense of natural family planning proposed by then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Cracow, as the approach to marital love and responsibility most congruent with the dignity of women and the dignity of sex. But the Church would have been terribly ill-served if the theologians most responsible for shaping (and likely leaking) the so-called "Majority Report" had had their way.
This myth-making about Humanae Vitae, which falsifies history and distorts theology, should stop. Now.
George Weigel is author of the bestselling books The Courage to Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church and Letters to a Young Catholic.
(This article is provided courtesy of Ethics and Public Policy Center.)