Category Archives: Theology

From the Trad subculture, with love

Last night I discovered the reason I got off of facebook with glee a few  years ago, I made a simple remark on an academic question, and then the whole thing, by another response which I thought was rather insignificant, turned into a long and ranging debate, with none other than Mark Shea chiming in by means of his usual unhelpful way. I will get to him in a moment however.

The argument turned initially on reactions to the Unity of the Church. The whole thing is long and laborious, which I link here. First some preliminary notes.

I wrote an article for Faithful Answers last year, to which I am finally going to wrap up part ii (I feel like an Ent at times, it takes forever to do anything!), which sketched out the principles of what Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus means, based on the Church’s theological tradition, from St. Thomas through Pius XII, with a number of translations of the manuals on the subject, though by no means exhaustive. The point of this was to illustrate:

There is only one Church
That Church is one in its Western and Eastern Rites
Outside of it there is no salvation, which means:
a) The ordinary means of salvation, by which we can have good hope of the salvation of a member of the Church who dies with the sacraments
b) Some hope for those who die outside the visible boundaries of the Church, based on God’s justice, true Charity, etc., since grace does indeed work outside the Church’s visible boundaries.

The argument on facebook came through the question of whether the Orthodox are in the Catholic Church, to which I argued (with the tradition) no, and two interlocutors argued yes. Thus it goes in this way.


  • Torquemada Tequila Noah, not just an Eastern Orthodox narrative of the Council. It’s also a traditional Eastern Catholic one too. I strongly believe that’s a good thing.

    In fact, the one break from previous councils (including Trent and Vatican I) at Vatican II that I find myself reluctant to agree with is the fact Vatican II does not appear to have invited the Eastern Orthodox bishops as full participants. Fortunately, the Melkites stood up and–in the words of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the time–acted as the voice of the Eastern Orthodox at the council.

    So God looked after the situation.

  • Ryan Grant My problem with that is that the Eastern Orthdox are not of the same faith. There are serious issues of ecclesiology that are at variance. The Eastern Catholic Church is the Eastern Church, and the Orthodox need to be converted. Of course, my Orthodox friends say the same thing – about us!
  • Torquemada Tequila Um, Ryan, if you disagree that the Eastern Orthodox and Catholics share the same faith, then I am not sure we are able to continue this conversation. Not only are they Christian, but they are fully-initiated Christians with a valid hierarchy and with whom we share all seven sacraments and a common Apostolic Tradition.

    What faith do you propose the Eastern Orthodox belong to? Islam? Judaism? Mormonism? Dawkinism?

    12 hrs · Like · 3
  • Noah Moerbeek Sects are a work of the flesh.
  • Ryan Grant Well, the Eastern Orthodox fall into that section of the catechism of St. Peter Canisius (doctor of the Church) which is given in the category of “heretics”, same as they call us. Simple fact is, their sacramental initiation is irrelevant. They don’t believe in the same notion of Church as we do. They believe in a Church where every bishop is equal (autocephalos), and there is no concept of primacy. This is contrary to the constitution Dei Filius of Vatican I. The Church has never maintained that those who adhere to teachings she has declared to be false are in fact part of her.
  • Ryan Grant This is what I find odious in modern “theology”, they treat it as though baptism makes you a Christian no matter what, and they do not admit what all the Fathers, doctors, manuals and councils clearly taught, that one can leave the Church in spite of his baptism. As St. Robert Bellarmine taught, “If the sacramental character is what put one in the Church, then the baptized in hell would be part of the Church.”
  • Mark Shea So important to make sure that as many people as possible are excluded from grace.
    12 hrs · Like · 2
  • Noah Moerbeek Your article does say that ““Although those who were baptized in infancy among heretics and nourished among them in false doctrine, after coming to adulthood, they might not sin against the catholic faith for some time, as long as it is not proposed sufficiently, that they should be obliged to embrace it; nevertheless after the Catholic faith is sufficiently proposed, and the obligation of embracing and renouncing contrary errors, if they might still persevere in them, they will be heretics.”
  • Noah Moerbeek Important to know who to labor for their conversion
  • Torquemada Tequila Ryan, your argument sounds more fundamentalist than traditionalist. Catholics and Orthodox have never been comfortable with the split, and have always recognized that each is lacking without the other. If what you argue were strictly true, then Rome contradicted itself at Trent and the First Vatican Council by inviting all of the Eastern Orthodox bishops as full participants.

    In many ways it is like the division between Judah and Israel in the Old Testament. Certain arguments applied to surrounding nations are not applied to each other.

    12 hrs · Like · 2
  • Noah Moerbeek Torquemada so you believe that a person can knowingly reject Papal primacy knowing it to be true and be saved?
  • Ryan Grant Mark, its not a question of grace, but as membership. God gives enough grace for every person to be saved, that has been taught by the Church since the council of Orange. God gives grace, but that doesn’t make them members. They need to profess the faith that Christ commanded the Apostles to teach, and that is in the Roman Catholic Church. If not, what are we doing? Why waste time if we are some unity and diversity.
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Mark Shea It’s a question of the Traddy habit of always always always searching for a way to minimize the reach of grace, to seek ways of making sure as many people as possible are excluded and of hoping, always, for as many human beings as possible to be damned. Sacraments are always, in this mindset, reducing valves designed to limit access to God’s grace, not as sure encounters with God.
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Torquemada Tequila Noah, I believe that papal primacy needs to be understood as instituted by Our Lord when He laid this burden upon St Peter.
  • Ryan Grant @Torquemada: Where can you find such a position in any papal pronouncement prior to 1965? It is not even that there is an absence, there is the opposite. Now, no, I’m not comfortable with the split, but it is one. The Orthodox and us do not share the same faith about the Pope, ecclesiology, the Trinity and even some sacraments, depending on which Orthodox or which member of which Orthodox church you are talking too. There are still many orthodox who re-baptize Catholics, for instance. Now the Orthodox can indeed be saved, particularly if we are talking about the average guy praying who is largely ignorant of these issues. But the de fide teaching of Councils, Popes and the unanimity of Fathers and Theologians is that one cannot knowingly reject what the Church has taught, as the Orthodox have. How that comes down at judgment Christ will figure out, but, theologically, there is no basis for saying Catholics and Orthodox are the same Church. Both historically and present said they are not.
  • Ryan Grant Mark, find me in scripture and tradition where one can reject what the Christ and the Magisterium He put in place have consistently taught. I’m sorry everyone, we already have an Eastern Church, it is the 18 sui juris Chruches of our Eastern Rite. The Orthodox need to get into those.
  • Mark Shea Ryan has spoken. The matter is at an end.
  • Ryan Grant Only because you can’t find in the Tradition where the Church has taught what you are saying it does.
  • Torquemada Tequila Also, Ryan, I don’t presume to judge who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. Tradition teaches through three ancient creeds that this role belongs to Christ.
    12 hrs · Like · 2
  • Ryan Grant When did we ever get to judgment? See, this is why this is going nowhere. I am laying out the principles of the Fathers, Doctors and Theologians, you are talking about me saying who is and isn’t going to hell.
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Ryan Grant Christ will save whom He wishes to save. We’re not talking about that. We are talking about what the Church has always and everywhere believed.
  • Mark Shea You are talking about who is and is not in the Church–and insisting that those outside are not saved. So yeah, you are talking about who is going to hell.
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Torquemada Tequila But again, the position is in the actions of the Popes. They never took the same hard line against Eastern Orthodox than they did against Protestants. Actions of pre-conciliar popes between the years 1300 and Vatican I included gifting Eastern Orthodox patriarchs and bishops with chalices, inviting them as full participants to every ecumenical council, sharing seminaries, etc.
    12 hrs · Like · 2
  • Ryan Grant Then read Cardinal Billot on the subject. “Non ergo impedit salutem, quod quis ignoranter ad quamcumque falsam sectam adhaereat, dummodo sit in ea animi dispositione de qua mox dictum est, et aliunde a justificationis via unicuique praeparata sese non avertat. Nonne huic veritati attestatur, quod etiam extra Ecclesiae fines, ut cum Augustino loquar, sacramenta largiter emanant? Et id quidem ex positiva Dei voluntate qui ad ipsorum sacramentorum validitatem potuisset eam conditionem apponere, ut nonnisi a legitimis ministris conficerentur. Nunc autem, si extra Ecclesiae fines sacramenta emanant, nonne ea intentione ut prosint iis qui in bona fide versantes, ab ipsius Ecclesiae visibili communione sunt de facto separati? Et non solum sacramenta, sed doctrina quoque et praedicatio undequaque foras erumpit, ut sit Ecclesia sal terrae et lux mundi, etiam respectu eorum qui magisterium ejus non agnoscunt, sed ejus influxum variis et miris modis, quamvis non advertentes, recipiunt. Ac per hoc, ab alto cathedrae ecclesiasticae, directe vel indirecte, sive per intentionem sive per occasionem, descendit et spargitur veritatis lumen, pervenitque ad multos etiam extraneos notitia divinae revelationis, saltem quantum ad fundamentales articulos qui necessario debent esse explicite crediti, ad hoc ut possit homo per charitatem perfectam se ad Deum convertere, et sic ad justificationis gratiam extra sacramentum pervenire. Quamquam nec indigeat Deus humano quocumque ministerio, ut fidem quae justificationis est initium et radix, inspiret homini sese per gratiae auxilium omnibus oblatum disponenti…
    “Quapropter calumniantur nos quicumque axioma nostrum: extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, sic interpretari affectant, quasi diceremus damnari de facto eos omnes qui de facto extra visibilem communionem corporis Ecclesiae moriuntur. …Huic quaestioni, donec veniat judicii dies, nulla patet solutionis possibilitas, quia de solis mediis generalibus atque communibus facta est nobis revelatio, non autem de modis diversissimis et in secreto Providentiae alte reconditis, quibus ad singulos quosque adultos provenit salutis possibilitas.” -De Ecclesiae Sacramentis,, pg. 120-123
  • Torquemada Tequila No Ryan, you are laying down the principles of a very narrow cadre of post-Tridentine western saints.
  • Ryan Grant And doctor’s of the Church.
  • Ryan Grant Sorry, there shouldn’t be an ‘ there.
  • Noah Moerbeek St Cyril said the same thing, so did Augustine
  • Mark Shea Poison. I’m outta here. Have fun, Torq. These guys are smarter than the Magisterium.
  • Ryan Grant No Mark, you think you are smarter than all the Fathers, doctors, theologians, doctors of the Church, and Councils who have taught this.
  • Ryan Grant Did you look at Cardinal Billot’s quote above?
  • Torquemada Tequila What do I care what Cardinal Billot has to say. Is he a Patriarch?
  • Noah Moerbeek Are you?
  • Torquemada Tequila Your point, Noah?
  • Ryan Grant Highly respected theologian and cardinal who taught in Roman Universities and wrote numerous textbooks. How about this one from Cardinal de Lugo:
    “Quamquam qui in infantia baptizatus apud haereticos et apud eos in falsa doctrina nutritur, postea factus adultus possit aliquamdiu non peccare contra fidem catholicam, quamdiu non ei proponitur sufficienter, ut obligetur ad eam amplectendam; postquam tamen ei fides catholica sufficienter proponitur, et obligatio eam amplectendi et relinquendi errores contrarios, si adhuc in iis perseveret, erit haereticus.” Quoted in Franzelin, De Ecclesia Christi, pg. 404.
  • Noah Moerbeek You could just read what the current Catechism says:

    “Outside the Church there is no salvation”

    846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

    Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336
    847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

    Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.337
    848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”338

  • Torquemada Tequila He’s a cardinal too.
  • Torquemada Tequila Okay, so show me that the Orthodox are outside the Church.
  • Noah Moerbeek “He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it”
  • Ryan Grant St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church: ““Respondeo igitur, quod dicitur, extra Ecclesiam neminem salvari, intelligi debere de iis, qui neque re ipsa, nec desiderio sunt de Ecclesia, sicut de baptismo communiter loquuntur theologi. Quoniam autem catechumeni si non re, saltem voto sunt in Ecclesia, ideo salvari possunt.”
  • Torquemada Tequila Oh joy, another Cardinal!
  • Torquemada Tequila You do realize that cardinals are inventions of the medieval Latin Church.
  • Mark Shea I don’t question “Outside the Church no salvation”. What I question is the ability of Ryan to know where “outside” is. Another reason Tradism is so ugly is its eagerness to pretend it knows and make sure as many people as possible are put there.
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Ryan Grant St. Peter Canisius, doctor of the Church: “At length, what might be a simple, short and upright rule of faith, by which Catholics are distinguished from heretics.

    It is this, they confess the faith of Christ and the full authority of the Church; and it behooves them to hold that as certain and fixed, which the Shepherds and Teachers of the Catholic Church have defined must be believed. The others, who do not listen to the Church, should be to you, as Christ himself said “As a heathen and a tax-collector.” Indeed he who refuses to have the Church as a mother, will not have God as Father.”
    -Parvus Catechismus Catholicorum

  • Noah Moerbeek @Mark, you do realize Ryan is citing works written by other people right?
    Mark Shea Yes. So?
  • Torquemada Tequila Yes, Ryan, I get it. Another post-tridentine western saint. You do realize there are saints from other eras, as well as other geographical areas?
    Ryan Grant Wrong, Canisius labored before during and after Trent.
  • Ryan Grant You realize the last quote in Canisius’ catechism is from St. Cyprian of Carthage? 1300 years before Trent.
  • Noah Moerbeek We have had much teaching already on what it means for a person to be outside the Church, he isn’t making up stuff
  • Torquemada Tequila The Church was Latin fundamentalist for 1965 years prior to Vatican II? Um….what language did Christ speak again?
  • Ryan Grant Non-sequitur.
  • Torquemada Tequila Or do why not like to be reminded that the original recipients of the Apostolic Tradition were Jewish, not Latin.
  • Ryan Grant Don’t throw the jews in there, They have nothing to do with it. Besides I’d have to be anti-myself, because my mother’s side is Jewish.
  • Mark Shea Yeah. So. Anyway. Outta here.
  • Noah Moerbeek Goodbye Mark.
  • Torquemada Tequila Non-sequitor, really, Ryan? Given that by Tradition, Our Lord was 33 when He was crucified, you’re argument of 1965 years is off unless you are suggesting Christ spoke Latin.
  • Noah Moerbeek Read his quote again
  • Noah Moerbeek He said “If this is”
  • Torquemada Tequila Yes, I also realize that St Cyprian’s understand of what the Church entailed is not that which you are arguing as post-tridentine fundamentalist.
  • Noah Moerbeek Anyone who willingly denies a dogma of the faith, understanding it is necessary for salvation will go to hell, that should not cause scandal. That is like saying anyone who commits a mortal sin will go to hell.
  • Hugh McDonald “Eastern Christians who are in fact separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, if they ask of their own accord and have the right dispositions, may be admitted to the sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick. Further, Catholics may ask for these same sacraments from those non-Catholic ministers whose churches possess valid sacraments, as often as necessity or a genuine spiritual benefit recommends such a course and access to a Catholic priest is physically or morally impossible.” (from Vat II)
  • Ryan Grant @Torq, okay, let’s back up. I said if what I am proposing to you is Latin fundamentalism, rather than what it is, the magisterial teaching of the Church, then the Church would have to have been fundamentalist for her whole tradition, because this is what she has always taught.
  • Ryan Grant I am not trying to say the whole Church has always been Latin.
  • Noah Moerbeek Separated in Good Faith Hugh, not knowingly rejecting the truth.
  • Ryan Grant Now, let’s back up further. I asked you for a single word from the Church’s magisterium that says that the Orthodox Church are perfectly in union and are of the same faith from any Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church, Manualist, Council or Pope, and you have failed to pony up.
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Ryan Grant You have also misconstrued my position. By defending what the Church has always and everywhere believed, I am not saying that everyone who is not catholic is damned. There are many people who are ignorant and in good faith, and in those cases, provided they do not commit a mortal sin, or at least have perfect contrition for it, it is possible they can be saved. But that is outside of the visible boundaries of the Church, so we cannot have the same hope as those who die in the faith.
  • Torquemada Tequila And I cited actual examples from the Church’s practice between 1300 and 1900.
  • Ryan Grant That is simply not the case. You mentioned how in1300 a pope sent an eastern bishop a chalice. Did you know the Orthodox were still in union in 1300 and 1054 is a silly date by historical novices who don’t know what they’re talking about?
    12 hrs · Like · 1
  • Torquemada Tequila Regardless, Ryan, I very much appreciate you reminding me why, as a traditionalist, the Second Vatican Council was very necessary to break the Church of its Latin fundamentalism.
    12 hrs · Like · 2
  • Ryan Grant And where does Vatican II say its doing that?
    So, I’m cutting it there. From this we can derive a few things about Mark Shea. I would argue that in reality he is an angry “Rad-Con” (radical conservative) who is hostile to anything but the conservative response to the liberal craziness that permeated the Church after Vatican II, especially those who try and recoup the Tradition (Trads).
    The  method of this angry rad-con is two-fold:
    Ignore evidence contrary to his own position and never answer questions
    Inject emotional invective against into the argument to cause the person he is arguing with to get angry and lash out (which I did not do, but simply tried to focus back onto antiquity and authority), that way he can turn around and say “Angry trad subculture! See the violence inherent in the system!”
    Mark Shea has obviously been hurt by trads of some stripe before. He doesn’t need you to go to his site or facebook and tell him why you don’t like him. I am therefore offering the Trad-subculture with love challenge to all of you:
    Go to Mark Shea’s website, or his facebook, and say: “I’m a Trad, and I love you.” Everyone that reads this, go to Mark’s site here, or here, or here, and say this somewhere. Let’s draw the distinction between those who love and those who hate.


Doctrinal Treatise on the Assumption

The Assumption, Granacci

Originally Published 15 August, 2010

The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a dogma of the Catholic faith, solemnly declared as a dogma ex cathedra by Pope Pius XII in the document Munificentissimus Deus on 1 November 1950. This Dogma teaches formally that Mary, was assumed, body and soul into heaven at the end of her earthly life and that her body did not suffer corruption.

This dogma is among what are called the “negative prerogatives” of the Blessed Virgin, because they are lacking a certain defect. As the Immaculate Conception lacks original sin, so the Assumption lacks bodily corruption. We see also a strong connection between this doctrine and the Immaculate Conception which was also solemnly declared ex cathedra by the Pope, whereas the other Marian dogmas were confirmed by early councils. Pope Pius XII taught in his solemn definition:

“And, although the Church has always recognized this supreme generosity and the perfect harmony of graces and has daily studied them more and more throughout the course of the centuries, still it is in our own age that the privilege of the bodily Assumption into heaven of Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, has certainly shone forth more clearly.

That privilege has shone forth in new radiance since our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the loving Mother of God’s Immaculate Conception. These two privileges are most closely bound to one another. Christ overcame sin and death by his own death, and one who through Baptism has been born again in a supernatural way has conquered sin and death through the same Christ. Yet, according to the general rule, God does not will to grant to the just the full effect of the victory over death until the end of time has come. And so it is that the bodies of even the just are corrupted after death, and only on the last day will they be joined, each to its own glorious soul.

Now God has willed that the Blessed Virgin Mary should be exempted from this general rule. She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body.”[1]

Moreover, the Fathers at the First Vatican Council, beseeched Bl. Pius IX for a solemn definition by drawing the same theological link with the Immaculate Conception in the Protoevangelium (which is Genesis):

“According to the Apostolic teaching [recorded in Rom. V,8; I Cor. XV, 24, 26, 54, 57, Heb. II, 14, 15 and other texts] when Jesus triumphed over the Ancient Serpent (Satan) He gained a threefold victory over sin and its effects, i..e concupiscence and death. Since the Mother of God is associated in a singular manner in this triumph with her Son, (Gen. III:15), which is also the unanimous opinion of the Fathers: we do not doubt that in the aforementioned [Scriptural] passage this same Blessed Virgin is pre-signified as illustrious by that threefold victory: over sin by her immaculate conception, over concupiscence by her virginal motherhood, and in like manner over hostile death by a triumphant resurrection similar to that of her son.”[2] In fact, had it not been so, as the theologian Joseph Pohle makes the observation that death would in fact have triumphed over Mary had she suffered bodily corruption.[3] Mary triumphs rather with her Divine Son and through His redemptive work over death completely.

The Death of the Blessed Virgin

While the dogmatic definition of Pius XII teaches that Mary was assumed body and soul into heaven, it does not teach explicitly on the manner by which Mary died. So the discussion about the death of the Blessed Virgin is not subject to the dogmatic definition per se. Based on this there are certain theologians who run around today saying that because Pius XII did not specifically address the manner of Mary’s death, that there is no proof that Mary died and thus claim she is immortal. At the time of the definition there were likewise some who pointed to it as proof of there position. The first one known to have suggested Mary’s immortality is St. Epiphianus, yet he does not deny it either and as Cardinal Baronius suggests, he was merely defending Mary’s virginity against impious heretics by saying Scripture does not even say if she died. There were some 4th century traditions holding to Mary’s immortality, and more recently the theologians Roschini and Gallus (pre-Vat.2) advocated this position. Roschini maintained, that since Munificentissimus Deus makes no mention of the death of the Blessed Virgin, the number of those holding to Mary’s immortality will increase.[4]

This is not the case however, as the common opinion of the Church provides a moral unanimity that Mary in fact died, and that those who claim otherwise actually deny the teaching authority of Tradition. The reason is, as Alastruey notes is that “[it] is immediately connected with the revealed truths concerning original sin and the general economy of the redemption of the human race. Therefore the question of the Virgin’s death is not a matter of opinion nor a pious belief which can be disputed freely; it is a firm and consistent teaching which should be venerated for its antiquity.”[5]

Moreover St. Ephrem (doctor of the Church) states explicitly that Mary was a virgin all her life and died a virgin. St. John Damascene points out that as her son did not refuse to die, neither did she. St. Andrew of Crete “She who made heavenly the dust of the earth laid aside the dust of the earth; she put aside the covering which she received through generation and returned to the earth what is of the earth.” St. John of Thessalonica says that the all-glorious Virgin Mother of God, after spending some time with the apostles until they by command of the Holy Ghost, had spread throughout the world to preach the gospel, left the earth by a natural death. St. Modestus of Jerusalem gave his first sermon on the death of the Blessed Virgin.[6] The Greek word used to describe the Assumption is κοίμησις, which means literally “falling asleep” and when used with reference to the end of someone’s life, as in English (eternal rest) it means death. This word not only appears in the Greek liturgy but is used by all the Greek Fathers to speak of the Assumption.

Furthermore, most theologians teach that Mary did in fact die. Merklbach calls it a certain teaching, lest the mother should be seen as greater than the son.[7] The Theologians Billuart and Novato treat the death of the Virgin as certissima.[8] Most other theologians, particularly Roman Theologians who treat the subject concur.

Moreover, Mary’s death is affirmed by the ancient liturgy of the Assumption in the Roman missal, which reads: This festival of the day, O Lord, being venerable to us, on which the holy Mother of God suffered temporal death, but still could not be kept down by the bonds of death who has begotten Thy Son our Lord incarnate from herself.”[9] An 8th century chant from the Chaldean Church likewise affirms: “Admirable in her mortal life, marvellous in her life-giving death, living she was dead to the world, dying she raised the dead to life. The apostles hasten to her from distant lands, the angels descend from on high to pay her honour due.”[10]

Yet, if Mary did in fact die, does this not mean that she was subject to original sin in some manner? No it does not in two ways. Firstly, Mary did not suffer corruption, so that if there was a temporary separation of body and soul, (the matter of death) her body did not rot in the grave, but as Our Lord’s remained inviolate so that when her soul reunited with it she was assumed straight to heaven. Secondly, though it was not necessary for Mary to die at all, since not being conceived with original sin, she was not subject to its affects, it was fitting.

Merklbach teaches further in his work on Mariology that: “Christ voluntarily subjected himself to the law of God commanding death, and also by his suffering and death redeemed the human race from sin, Mary also, having cooperated in the work of redemption, ought to, as Christ, suffer and die and also subject herself to the command of death.”[11] St. Albert the Great taught that Mary died from a longing of love so powerful that she could not bear separation from her Son and Saviour. While the exact manner of the death is unkown to us, it is clear that Mary did in fact die, and this death was completely fitting since it modeled the path our Lord took also.

The Dogma in Tradition

Sometimes Catholics who have no grasping of the Tradition will assert, as it is sometimes done for the Immaculate Conception, that there was no doctrine of the Assumption or no Mass for it and that the Pope just declared it ex cathedra. I once met a priest who argued that we could create new masses, after all there wasn’t a Mass for the Immaculate Conception or the Assumption prior to the dogmatic definitions. This however could not be further from the truth. In fact, some object to the dogma (including Protestants) claiming that since it was only declared in 1950 it can’t really be of tradition.

This dogma is not only very old liturgically, it is of ancient origin. Though good theological arguments can be presented in favor of this doctrine, it is primarily in Ecclesiastical Tradition that we have the most verification of the truth of this doctrine outside of the Solemn Definition of Pius XII.

East and West Fathers and Doctors of the Church supported it, from the 5th century on to the present. In the beginning there were several apocryphal stories, one which is most famous being that of Pseudo-Dionysius who claimed that all the apostles had gathered for Mary’s death, and the Church denied the authenticity or even condemned some of these over time. Yet, the continual faith in the Assumption has continued east and west in unbroken succession since the 5th century, which helps to prove that the sensus fidelium was not based on the apocryphal legends since it persisted when their authenticity was called into doubt. In the 6th century the Eastern Emperor Maurice had ordered the feast of the κοίμησις to be celebrated each August 15th in Constantinople, and just as so many Eastern Fathers (most notably St. Andrew of Crete and St. John Damascene) have preached in favor of the Assumption, so the Eastern Church even out of communion with Rome has maintained this feast. In 1672 at Jerusalem the Orthodox Churches confessed in a council “Though the immaculate body of Mary was locked in the tomb, yet like Christ, she was assumed and migrated to Heaven on the third day.”[12] St. Gregory of Tours had taught “The Lord commanded the Holy Body of the Blessed Virgin to be borne on a cloud to Paradise, where, reunited to its soul, and exulting with the Elect, it enjoys the never ending bliss of eternity.”[13] The writings in the East of St. Sophronius, St. Andrew of Crete, St. Fermanus and most preeminently St. John Damascene serve as foundational witnesses in the East, while this doctrine flowered in the West through the Latin Fathers and theologians, decoratively adorned in all the Western Liturgies, and wonderfully attested to in Pius XII’s document examining the Tradition on Our Lady’s Assumption. This is a sign for us that even when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, he is not making new doctrine, neither does he recklessly declare the opinion of the day, but prudently and eruditely examines all the factors, histories, traditions etc, and Pius XII shows us this in Munificentissimus Deus where does not cite only the theological arguments such as that presented at Vatican I, no matter how good it is, he carefully went over the whole tradition, because we are not a Church of the theological opinions in sway today, but a Church of tradition which believes what has always and everywhere been believed by those professing divine and Catholic faith.

[1] Munificentissimus Deus, nos 3-5

[2] Quum iuxta apostolicam doctrinam {Rom. V, 8; I Cor. XV, 24, 26, 54, 57; Heb. II, 14, 15) aliisque locis traditam triplici victoria de peccato et de peccati fructibus: concupiscentia et morte veluti ex partibus integrantibus constituatur ille triumphus, quem de satana, antiquo serpente, Christus retulit, quumque Gen. III, 15 Deipara exhibeatur singulariter associata Filio suo in hoc triumpho accedente unanimi SS. Patrum suffragio: non dubitamus quin in praefato oraculo eadem B. Virgo triplici illa victoria praesignificetur illustris adeoque non secus ac de peccato per immaculatam conceptionem et concupiscentia per virginalem maternitatem, sic etiam de inimica morte singularem triumphum relatura per acceleratam ad similitudinem Filii sui resurrectionem ibidem praenuntiata fuit. (Collec. Lacensis, vol. VII, pg. 869)

[3] Pohle-Preuss, Mariology, pg. 114)

[4] Roschini, Il Problema della morte di Maria SS. Dopo la constituzione dogmatica Munificentissimus Deus

[5] Alastruey, The Blessed Virgin Mary, vol. 1, pg. 253

[6] Encomium in B.V; PG, LXXXVI, 3280

[7] … “B. Virgo fuierit morti subjecta, ut Filio suo conformaretur, nec Matris potior quam Filii conditio videretur.” Merklbach, Mariologia, pg. 266

[8] Novato, De eminentia Deip. Virg. Mariae, II, c.8; Billuart, De myst. Christi, diss. 14, art1-2

[9] Veneranda nobis, Domine, hujus est diei festivitas in qua sancta Dei genitrix mortem subiit temporalem, nec tamen mortis nexibus deprimi potuit, quae Filium tuum Dominum nostrum de se genuit incarnatum.” (Migne, P.L., LXXVIII, 133)

[10] Gureranger, The Liturgical Year, vol. 13, pg. 388

[11] Christus voluntarie debebat se subiicere legi Dei mortem statuenti, atque passione sua et morte genus humanum a peccato redimere, Maria quoque, in opere redemptionis consociata, sicut Christus debebat pati et mori, atque mandato mortis se subiicere. Quod fecit consentiendo in hoc quod esset mater Dei-Redemptoris, Merklbach, Mariologia, pg. 267-268

[12] Pohle, Mariology pg. 116

[13] Dominus susceptum corpus sanctum in nube deferri jussit in paradisum, ubi nunc resumpta anima cum electis ejus exsultans aeternitatis bonis nullo occasuris fine perfruitur. Migne, P.L., LXXI, 708)

No conversions, really?

“Let, therefore, the separated children draw nigh to the Apostolic See, set up in the City which Peter and Paul, the Princes of the Apostles, consecrated by their blood; to that See, We repeat, which is “the root and womb whence the Church of God springs,” not with the intention and the hope that “the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” will cast aside the integrity of the faith and tolerate their errors, but, on the contrary, that they themselves submit to its teaching and government. Would that it were Our happy lot to do that which so many of Our predecessors could not, to embrace with fatherly affection those children, whose unhappy separation from Us We now bewail.
Pope Pius XI
Mortalium Animos
“I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”
Papa Franciscus
Meeting and meal with assortment of Protestant ministers

Of all the silly things Pope Francis has said in his pontificate, this one really takes the cake. Principally, in the realm of prudence, but also because it raises questions about what he believes. In terms of magisterial teaching, it is null, so we don’t need to worry about that.

The greatest difficulty is in this: if you are an apologist, if you are laboring amongst evangelicals, or, whatever you like, working to convince them to return to the Catholic faith, whether you are a priest or a laymen, you may now be greeted with this: “But the Pope said we did not need to convert!” and “Who are you to judge!”

There are many reasons why this statement is fraught with all sorts of problems, but the biggest is that it is contrary to what the Church has always and everywhere believed. It also evinces a lack of the virtue of hope, and a lack of the virtue of charity.

There is a lack of hope, in as much as the Pope has already written off the work of the Holy Ghost, “We’ll never agree anyway.” No, never? What was St. Peter Canisius doing laboring away in Germany and Switzerland? Oh, they’ll never believe anyway, why bother. What was St. Francis de Sales doing, writing tracts and sticking them under doors, and fasting and praying for the conversion of the Calvinists? Oh, we’ll never agree anyway! Not at all. There is another matter, which is the virtue of charity. If the Catholic Church is the true Church, and, at least with respect to the ordinary means of salvation that we can see and know from revelation, there is no salvation outside the Church, then how is it charitable to say “I don’t want to convert you.” That’s like saying “I don’t love you.” It is a false charity to withhold from a man his salvation.

A-Buenos-Aires-le-dialogue-interreligieux-passe-par-l-amitie_article_popinBut is this some random statement from the Pope, off the cuff and without notes? Actually no, this is precisely what he believes. In 2010, a dialogue was published between then Cardinal Bergolio and Jewish Rabbi Abraham Skorka, titled On heaven and earth, on a wide range of issues. In that, Francis said the following [My emphasis in bold]:

“When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; [!] I respect him and I show myself as I am… I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.” (Pgs. 12-13).

Hence the Scalfari interviews. The curious thing about those, of course, is the Vatican Press office is more or less claiming that Scalfari is changing the Pope’s words, yet the Pope goes to Scalfari again and the Vatican website still promotes the interview. But the Pope’s words are being changed.

More problematic is the unqualified way he speaks of these things. It strikes your feelings, yeah we want to treat people with respect, which then eviscerates truth from your dealings. It is one thing to respect the people in your society, and treat them courteously. It is another, to be entirely unconcerned with their eternal salvation, as though God blesses unbelief. What is the Vatican II mantra, always going back to Scripture? That is largely just a vehicle to discard the Tradition. Congar’s argument is that all Tradition is contained in Scripture, so therefore Scripture has the sufficiency and the Tradition is at best an appendage which we don’t need to worry about, because its all in Scripture. It is also a good argument for discarding the Tradition, once one has judged that it is not in Scripture. But then Scripture itself is cast aside when it doesn’t fit in with the Vatican II meta-narrative, or the religion of feelings and good intentions. What does it say in Scripture?

“Si autem tu annuntiaveris impio, et ille non fuerit conversus ab impietate sua, et a via sua impia, ipse quidem in iniquitate sua morietur: tu autem animam tuam liberasti.
Sed et si conversus justus a justitia sua fuerit, et fecerit iniquitatem, ponam offendiculum coram eo: ipse morietur quia non annuntiasti ei: in peccato suo morietur, et non erunt in memoria justitiae ejus quas fecit, sanguinem vero ejus de manu tua requiram.”

If, however, you will have declared to the impious, and he will not have converted from his iniquity, and his impious life, truly he will die in his iniquity, and you however acquitted your soul.
But even if the just man will have been turned from justice, and committed evil, I will place a stumbling block in his presence, he will die because you will not have preached unto him, and he will die in his sin, and the just things which he did will be forgotten, but I will require his blood at your hand. EzechielIII: 19-20 (All translations from the Vulgate are mine)

Or Again:

Et accedens Jesus locutus est eis, dicens: Data est mihi omnis potestas in caelo et in terra:
Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes: baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti:
Docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis: et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummationem saeculi.

And coming, Jesus spoke to them, saying: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me; going therefore, teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to keep all things whichever I commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew XXVIII: 18-20(My emphasis)

Or again:

Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae.
Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur.

And he said to them: Going into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever will have believed and been baptized, he will be saved, but whoever will not have believed, he will be condemned.
Mark XVI: 16 (My emphasis)

These scriptural references should be clear, even if you are using a “Good News Bible” or whatever edition you can pick up at Barnes and Noble. Even absent the Tradition, where copious resources could be produced from every Church Father, and every Scholastic, every theologian, and every Doctor of the Church on the necessity for membership in the Church, the necessity of Faith for salvation and so many other doctrines implicitly defied by the Pope’s behavior toward atheists, the scripture clearly shows his behavior is contrary to Christ’s commands. So the Pope, is saying he is not at all concerned that the Atheist doesn’t believe, in spite of Our Lord’s very clear and grave words. Now obviously there is prudence, and many times I’ve been at that point, where you know if you push any harder you’ll lose the person, but you did try, and resort to prayer where argument fails. Francis wasn’t even talking about that, he’s talking about shirking the whole question altogether. “Who am I to judge?” Unfortunately there is the dread verse in Ezechiel: “I will require his blood at your hand.” It get’s even worse:

God makes Himself felt in the heart of each person. He also respects the culture of all people. Each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with the culture, and elaborates, purifies and gives it a system. Some cultures are primitive in their explanations, but God is open to all people. He calls everyone. He moves everyone to seek Him and to discover Him through creation. In our case, that of Judaism and Christianity, we have a personal revelation. God Himself encounters us; He reveals Himself to us, He shows us the way and He accompanies us; He tells us His name, He guides us through the prophets. Christians believe, ultimately, that He manifested Himself to us and gave Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Moreover, throughout history, there have existed circumstances that created schisms and constructed diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity, like the Reformation. We lived through a thirty year war and it shaped different faiths. It is very hard to accept and it was a disgraceful time, but that is the reality. God is patient, He waits, and God does not kill. It is man that wants to do so on God’s behalf. To kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” (On heaven and earth, pg. 19; my emphasis.)

Well, where do I start? This simply cannot be read as anything but modernism. For instance, it is one thing to say God uses all cultures to reveal his glory. This is true, and when Catholic missionaries brought the faith, for example, to Native Americans, or into the far East, they preserved the local populations’ culture and tradition, which worked in harmony with the Traditional Latin Mass that they also established. When, however, he says: “each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with their culture”, this is, or at least appears to be, rooted in the modernist opinion that all religions are essentially different visions of God, and we’re all fellow travelers and that sort of nonsense. Yet, that pesky Bible again, says: “Quoniam omnes dii gentium daemonia; Dominus autem caelos fecit.” For all the gods of the nations are demons, but the Lord made the heavens. -Psalm 95 (96): 5.

Where we circle to the relevance with respect to the Pope’s statement to the Protestant ministers, is in the latter part of this quote. It really expresses the metaphysics of Francis’ philosophy of religion. “diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity.” Well, what are we to make of this? In proper Catholic ecclesiology, there is no way of living Christianity, except by being Catholic, in the Latin right, or in one of the Eastern rites. There is only one Church, as is clear in the scriptures. To say that other communities have another way of living Christianity, is to hold that there is an anomalous Christianity, that can be done entirely differently by different groups, who only agree on essentials. What the Church has historically called the essentials is, well, a bit different from that. It might have benefitted the then Cardinal Bergolio to examine what his fellow Jesuit, St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church had said on that subject:

StRobertBellarmine“There is only one Church, not two, that body, both one and true is of men of the same Christian faith with respect to profession, and gathered in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of the legitimate shepherds, and especially of the one vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff. It can easily be collected from such a definition, which men pertain to the Church, and those who doe not pertain to her. There are three parts of this definition. The Profession of the true faith, the communion of the sacraments, and the subjection to the legitimate pastor, the Roman Pontiff. By reason of the first part all unbelievers are excluded, as well as those who never were in the Church, such as Jews, Turks and Pagans; and also those who were in and left, as heretics and apostates. By reason of the second, catechumens and the excommunicate are excluded, because these are not admitted to the communion of the sacraments, as these are dismissed. By reason of the third, schismatics are excluded, who have both the faith and the sacraments, but are not subjected to the legitimate pastor, and therefore profess the faith and carry out the sacraments on the outside. All others however are included, even those who might be reprobate, criminal or impious.”1 (De Ecclesia Militante, bk III ch. 2, my emphasis)

Similar statements could be collected from every Theologian until the 1960’s. But no, this was not the religion of Cardinal Bergolio, and it would appear his doctrine has not changed.

Throughout this interview, Francis confesses he is “naive”. This is certainly clear with his historical analysis of the Thirty Years War. This war, from 1618-1648, is often described in popular history as a war between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. This is false, like other pop-history dates, such as assigning 1054 as the date of the Great schism between East and West, even though the Eastern Churches were all reconciled in 1099, and remained so until 1204, and came in and out of union until the 1300’s when the politics in the West caused various worldly Popes from continuing the effort of full reunion. Either way, the Thirty Years war saw Catholics and Protestants fighting on both sides of the conflict. When it broke out, it was when the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick, was invited by the Bohemians (Czechs) who had revolted from the Emperor to become their king. This occurred after the famous “De-fenestration of Prague”. So, Frederick came, and became king, but was put under the Reichs’ ban, which essentially a deposition, that declared all his subjects freed from obedience to him, and made him an outlaw within the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick expected all the Protestant lords and elector’s to come to his aid, but instead they sided with the Emperor, mostly because they  wanted to grab some of his land. He also alienated his subjects by his strict Calvinism, which the Lutherans and Hussites did not accept. Later the conflict widened, with Catholics and Protestants on the emperor’s side, and Protestants on the other side. Then the French entered the conflict, and what’s more, induced Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish king, to enter the war on the Protestant side. The French, though Catholic, assisted the Protestants in every way, just as they assisted the Lutherans in 1548 against Charles V, so now they assisted the Dutch against the Spanish, fought the Spanish, and sent troops to fight for Adolphus. Although my expertise in this conflict is more on the military side than the political side, it should be clear to anyone who studies it, that while religious considerations were important, politics and military glory were equally apart of this conflict. The security of states, the prominence of royal houses, these were all considerations at work in this conflict. It was not so much killing in the name of God, but in the name of kings, for worldly glory, and power.

The result, was an agreement for toleration in order to avoid more conflict, and was fully in accord with Catholic principles. It was devastating, it was a scandal, but it did not create “new religions”, or “new ways of being Christian”, it solidified those who had left the Church politically.

Ultimately, then, when the Pope told those Protestants that he didn’t want to convert them, and later, apologized to Pentecostals for the Church preventing their growth, this is not some off the cuff comment that he later regrets to make them feel good, this is really what he believes!

The conclusion, then, is that whenever Francis speaks, it is probably best to run to older works of theology approved by the Church at that time, or to read the Fathers of the Church. Pray, but don’t become despondent over it. Francis cannot change what the Church formally teaches, it isn’t possible. God will judge him, as He promised to judge Ezechiel, and it is our job to pray and refer back to the Church’s perennial teaching as the antidote to all the nonsense.

1  “Ecclesiam unam tantum esse, non duas, et illam unam et veram esse coetum hominum ejusdem christianae fidei professione et eorundem sacramentorum communione colligatum, sub regimine legitimorum pastorum, ac praecipue unius Christi in terris vicarii romani pontificis. Ex qua definitione facile colligi potest, qui homines ad Ecclesiam pertineant, qui vero ad eam non pertineant. Tres enim sunt partes hujus definitionis. Professio verae fidei, sacramentorum communio, et subjectio ad legitimum pastorem romanum pontificem. Ratione primae partis excluduntur omnes infideles tam qui numquam fuerunt in Ecclesia, ut Judaei, Turcae, Pagani; tam qui fuerunt et recesserunt, ut haeretici et apostatae. Ratione secundae, excluduntur catechumeni et excommunicati, quoniam illi non sunt admissi ad sacramentorum communionem, isti sunt dimissi. Ratione tertiae, excluduntur schismatici, qui habent fidem et sacramenta, sed non subduntur legitimo pastori, et ideo foris profitentur fidem, et sacramenta percipiunt. Includuntur autem omnes alii, etiamsi reprobro, scelesti et impii sint.”

The failure of the pro-life movement

46_lady_of_laundryIt cannot be too often repeated that what destroyed the Family in the modern world was Capitalism. No doubt it might have been Communism, if Communism had ever had a chance, outside that semi-Mongolian wilderness where it actually flourishes. But so far as we are concerned, what has broken up households and encouraged divorces, and treated the old domestic virtues with more and more open contempt, is the epoch and power of Capitalism. It is Capitalism that has forced a moral feud and a commercial competition between the sexes; that has destroyed the influence of the parent in favor of the influence of the employer; that has driven men from their homes to look for jobs; that has forced them to live near their factories or their firms instead of near their families; and, above all, that has encouraged for commercial reasons, a parade of publicity and garish novelty, which is in its nature the death of all that was called dignity and modesty by our mothers and fathers. It is not the Bolshevist but the Boss, the publicity man, the salesman and the commercial advertiser who have, like a rush and riot of barbarians, thrown down and trampled under foot the ancient Roman statue of Verecundia.

-G.K. Chesterton

Three Foes of the family

Since Obama won his second term, conservatives, religious conservatives in particular have had to lick their wounds. Some reactions go to the extreme, such as the pregnant woman who ran over her husband for not voting, as if his vote really mattered and he is the reason why Obama won when he lives in a state that went for Romney any way. Others blame Catholics who voted for Obama, while others bemoan those who voted for a 3rd party or could not bring themselves to vote for “Mittens”. All of these and the countless string or reactions and “if only we had gotten out the vote” etc. indicate amongst religious conservatives and pro-lifers an underlying problem, why aren’t we winning? The answer is that the movement has failed.

Is the pro-life movement really successful?

In one sense certainly. No other organization has consistently brought several hundred thousand people to the capital every year for over 40 years, not that I’ve ever heard of anyway. Moreover, the Pro-life movement in particular offers real solutions for women, through crisis pregnancy centers, post-abortive counseling, gifts, donations, adoption etc. In my estimation these are the real successes. I should also add before I criticize the movement that I am 100% pro-life, but I am dismayed by where the movement comes up short.

The successes, alas, sadly don’t overshadow the striking failures of the movement politically, and these are due to two factors: 1) A faulty grasp on the real nature of the problem and 2) absolute dependence on the Republican party which does not care. Thus we can say that the pro-life movement is successful socially with all of the good it is able to do for women in need, but not politically.

In the first place, we must correctly realize why abortion in this country (let alone in Europe) came into being. It did not come in with the legalization of contraception 6 years earlier, nor did it come in because of Margaret Sanger, who was a socialist and a Nazi supporter. It did not even come from Eugenics. These are all secondary causes; they are all involved, however, they flow from a primary cause.

Abortion came from Capitalism’s betrayal of the family. The assault of liberalism always realizes itself as economic before it does as political. Until the pro-life movement comes to the realization that abortion is wedded to our economic system, it will fail each and every time. Moreover, as long as it is beholden to the Republican party, which by and large is a party wedded to free market capitalism (the source for abortion) then the movement to end abortion will never be realized.

How Capitalism Causes Abortion

Why is this? Firstly, let us consider the assault on the family resulting from Capitalism. Most are aware of the 18th and 19th century realities, families forced into a small room which is all they can afford, children working and losing limbs in factories, etc. Since the 20th century most of the horrid conditions had been extirpated, at least for the time being. Thus many say we’ve cleaned up our act economically, so how does Capitalism cause the break-up of the family?

In the first place, we operate from a novel notion of “family”. In the past, the family is not only the husband, wife and children, but the extended family as well as those close friends and servants who are considered like “family”. We are all familiar with Hillary Clinton touting: “It takes a village to raise a child”, and Rick Santorum’s response with: “It takes a family to raise a child.” The truth however is both, but in their proper sense. When Clinton uses that African proverb, she means by “village”, something the Africans do not mean with the saying. She means it takes the government to assist parents financially and materially. In the case of the latter, Santorum means to defend the western, particularly American status quo of the nuclear family which should be able to work and provide for all of its needs on its own. This is of course the family created by American Capitalism. The problem lies in that it is not enough.

The term “familia” is an ancient Roman legal derived from the word “famulus” which means, well a slave or a servant. In Roman legal terms, the familia is the unit of the Erus, or Dominus, his wife, his children who are denoted as liberi, (the same word as the adjective “free”) namely the free offspring, and the famuli who vary from slaves who work in the fields, the house, their children, or scholarly foreigners in his retinue. Its name in Latin implies a group of people who are not the blood relation of the father, mother and their offspring. This composition of the family was similar in the Greek world, and in the Germanic cultures which ultimately took over the Roman Empire in the west. This particular conception of family only changed with the outlawing of slavery from slaves to servants, domestic servants attached to the family either by duty or for pay, and until the advent of capitalism this changed very little. Jane Austen for example, refers in one of her works to a family so poor they could only afford one servant. (Today due to taxes and bureaucracy, even a well to do family could scarcely afford to pay one, even well). Why did people have servants? As fathers of large families can affirm, having children, tending to a house and the normal course of female biology take their toll on women. A woman who works in the home often works much harder than a woman in the workplace. In short, women needed (and still need) help that the husband cannot provide while he is earning a living, irrespective of whether this was on the land or at his own business, or working elsewhere for a wage. All of these occupations in the past were sufficient to provide an income to employ a servant or two, until work in the city, the factory, the shop became paramount and because of the centralization of ownership, wages could no longer support a servant.

Who were the types of people employed as servants? They were not all like Jeeves of Wodehouse’s famous novels. Rather, they were widows, poor women, poor landless men, etc. Namely, people who today are on welfare. What could they receive for that? Some pay, no doubt, but also room and board which is no small cost either. They wouldn’t have lived like kings, but they also didn’t suffer a hand to mouth existence dependent upon the government handouts of Hilary Clinton’s “village”. With the ruin of the middle class culturally and economically in the 18th and 19th century, servants became the domain of the rich (enter Jeeves!). Today there is a finishing school in England where women spend a lot of money to be trained to be domestic servants and are thereupon hired by the wealthy. The old virtues had specific etiquette for how to treat servants, how long they might be expected to work, etc. Today these have been lost, so one frequently reads about foreigners recruited to be servants in Europe then treated like slaves. None of this is thought of when speaking of the older virtues of servants. They were not employees, they were family from nannies to those helping with dishes. The point is all these factors added to peace in the home, for the most part, by helping mothers during difficult periods. As I myself have experienced, while women have maternity leave men often do not have paternity leave. Who is going to cook and clean while the mother is recovering? It is a necessary thing for women to be able to relax after having a baby. Birth is a difficult thing, it is a wonderful thing but very painful and trying on a woman’s body. Older children still need to be cared for, fed, etc. Houses still need to be cleaned, as any parent of a large family knows, dirt builds up! True, older children can do quite a bit of work, but what if you are a mother of toddlers? There are people who do hire nannies and domestic servants, but to afford it both parents must work unless the husband is in a high paying job, which today is not most people.

Yet this is only one facet of the problem. The other is the fierce individualistic spirit of capitalism which yields so many bad effects in society. Since capitalism focuses on individual material happiness, grandparents become a drain on modern notions of privacy, not only for children who don’t want irritating elders around, but even for grandparents who want to maintain independence themselves! Thus nursing homes came into being, a place for people to stick their unwanted elderly, and on the other side elderly who don’t want to give up their independence and prefer to go to a nursing home. There is a good bit of both. Another factor is that elderly must work later into life. This is not just because of corporate CEOs raiding their retirement accounts, or social security not paying until later, but the obscene cost of health care and the inability of retirement or social security to pay the rising bills thanks to the effects of inflation. In 2010, the biggest single cause of bankruptcy was individuals with health insurance who could not pay medical bills. Thus grandparents are increasingly unable to help young families manage. Other relatives must make ends meet themselves and the assistance which in the past was there is not now.

The Political Failure of the Pro-life movement

The Pro-life movement politically speaking is similar in its nature and its conduct to the Populist movement of William Jennings Bryan. The Populist movement brought together many people of different backgrounds and opinions, who had one basic premise: take the power from big banks by freeing us from dependence on gold for currency. In this they were right of course and many Americans at the time agreed, but in the end they failed politically. The reason for this is that they were not able to get an effective grass roots movement going and their third party presidential candidates failed. Why did they fail to get an effective grass roots movement? There are several reasons for this, but primarily they didn’t have enough grasp on the plurality of issues effecting government. The left for instance always talks about a one issue voter and how this is bad. There is a sense however in which the charge is correct, they are simply applying it wrong. The left uses the “one issue voter” slogan to say abortion is not a big issue. That is false, it is. Yet they are right in that it is not the only issue and to have a coherent platform one needs to be able to address a plurality of issues. The populists had no grasp of this locally or statewide, and they got eaten up between loyalty to the established parties.

The exact same thing is true for the pro-life movement. The movement itself has almost nothing to say about economic policy, the environment (in its proper sense), healthcare, the war on terror etc. As a whole the movement is shortsighted politically, and it is generally owned and run by the Republican party. Abortion is the biggest gift to the Republicans, because never could a more incompetent party manage to stay alive in modern politics without a major issue to keep people voting for them. For this reason, among many others, the Republicans will never end abortion, nay more, they have, continue to and will in the future continue to run pro-abortion candidates. We even saw the specter of pro-life Rick Santorum defending a pro-abort candidate from a pro-life candidate to maintain the “party interest”.

They will talk, they will stir people up, or offer their token resistance and there are even sincere Republican politicians who want to end abortion, however, in the end the party will never end it. We should not forget that an allegedly “good, christian, pro-life” conservative Republican, George H.W. Bush, while Nixon’s ambassador to the UN helped the Chinese craft the One Child Policy. As a congressman in 1968, George H.W. Bush used every opportunity to praise Planned Parenthood, and offered amendments with fellow Republican Herman Schneebeli to give “Family Planning Services” priority. During the hearings for these amendments, Allen Guttmacher, the successor to Margaret Sanger and equally a protegee in her support of NAZI eugenics and racism appeared as a witness in favor of the amendments. After discussing the problems that Planned Parenthood faces due to its inherent goal of wiping out blacks through contraception and abortion, George H.W. Bush said: “I appreciate that. For the record, I would like to say I am 1,000 percent in accord with the goals of your organization. I think perhaps more than any other type of organization you can do more in the field of poverty and mental health and everything else than any other group that I can think of. I commend you.” In the 70’s, Republican President Richard Nixon’s state department, with the aid of Henry Kissinger, drafted National Security Memorandum 200, a document which decried the rise of African birth rates, because as Africans developed their resources, America would be less able to steal them. (!) In the 90s, as a senator for Pennsylvania Rick Santorum supported Title X funding which went to Planned Parenthood in order to bolster other legislation. John McCain, who so many told us we should support in 2008, has met with Al Qaeda leaders in Syria who have kidnapped and killed little children on youtube to bolster support for his Syria policy. Pro-life over here, not in the middle east apparently, if we could even say he is pro-life at all. No Republican leader has been any different. They will talk but they will not do. The democrats of course have no interest in ending it either, and religious conservatives who make up the pro-life movement are just a political group to be wooed for votes by parties who do not share their interests. The pro-life movement makes no attempt to address the economic and social antecedents of abortion except in the area of personal morality. No one stops to ask the question, why was birth control attractive to modern women?

In the 19th century early feminists like Susan B. Anthony advocated laws against birth control and abortion because these were seen as being used by men to control and use women, thus the laws came on the books which became an issue in the 20th century. Why was Margaret Sanger able to appeal to modern women to use birth control and have recourse to abortion? It wasn’t her NAZI sympathies, it wasn’t her stated goal to get rid of the “morons” and “black babies” that inspired them, no it was the exigencies of modern life. Birth and raising children is difficult, oh here is a way to keep me from being pregnant, why is that illegal? Providing said services is also big business. If you convince the population it needs little rubber sheaths and it needs pills, or doctors trained to murder babies in the womb, there are a lot of people who will buy them, and given our modern culture, quite repeatedly. Capitalism is on the side of abortion. Entrepreneurs want to convince people to buy their products, why should government interfere? Is there force? no. Is there fraud? no. Therefore what’s the problem? Arguing against it on the basis of morality, or even psychologically and sociologically is to import a foreign philosophy to the individualistic spirit of capitalism. As we have seen, pornography, in spite of study after study showing its bad effects, is still legal (See my article of several years ago the Market and the Moral Man). The failure of the pro-life movement to effectively deal with the moral problems of capitalism and how it has transformed the family will always leave it handicapped when dealing with abortion.

Furthermore, let us look to two significant failures of the Pro-Life movement politically, the Partial Birth Abortion ban and Obamacare.

With respect to the Partial Birth Abortion ban, many in the Pro-life movement hailed it as a great victory, or the first chip at Roe vs. Wade. This however, apart from being shortsighted politically, this view is also incorrect legally. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, stated that the ban was constitutional, because it upheld the principles in Planned Parenthood v Casey. That is to say, because the 2007 partial birth abortion ban upheld abortion law in general (adding further precedent to its constitutionality) it was fine. This is not a victory, it is a defeat. The high court essentially said this law is good because it continues the support of abortion on demand. It is not a victory either because it got rid of partial birth abortion, since if you kill a baby by sucking is brain’s out with a vacuum, or do so by dismembering it or boiling it in saline, what is the difference? An innocent child is still dead. Then there is Obamacare. Conservative democrats hailed the Stupak amendment and Bart Stupak’s party of eight resisting Obamacare, and many said this was a victory. Yet in the end when Nancy Pelosi demanded, Stupak accepted the promise that the president would not force abortion to be funded by taxpayers, which is completely ludicrous not only because Obama is not trustworthy, but how can he simply say this bill funds healthcare, and deny funding to something the Supreme Court calls healthcare? Then comes the HHS mandate, the complete support of the Obama regime for Planned Parenthood, and the fact the US Catholic Bishops were compromised while trying to argue against it. Pro-lifers, and Catholics in particular, had virtually no counter health care plan. They only came up with a free market argument in the face of Obama trying to provide a corporatist plan that in reality is nothing more than a bail-out for insurance companies. Where were they all this time prior on health care? It doesn’t matter if now we say abortion is not healthcare, the upholding of the partial birth abortion ban was done under the understanding that it is, it is law. Was everyone blind to this?

Hope for the future?

There are only three ways in which the Pro-life movement could be successful. Firstly, the issue of Capitalism and abortion needs to be addressed. Leaving it out is nothing more than ignoring the elephant in the room. The fact is, abortion clinics are simply made of of entrepreneurial individuals responding to a market demand, and a value free, market based economics such as that of the Austrian School has no means of stopping this, since the claim is that the government exists only to stop theft or fraud. Abortion clinics offer a service, people want to pay for said service, what more is there? (Or at least, someone wants to pay for it, since many times women are pressured or even forced to undergo the procedure). Once the positive law outlawing abortion was struck down, there were plenty of entrepreneur’s responding to market demand. Moreover, it expanded with universities and medical companies paying for the finished product (i.e. a dead baby) to pursue research. How can the Austrian school stop that? It can’t. Furthermore, capitalism in general supports the whole mindset which goes into abortion, from using sex to sell products, to increasingly cheapen human life itself and the destruction of the family which results.

Second, start a 3rd party that does not run for president for a period of at least 5 years. This party would necessarily have to be holistic, though while abortion would be the chief of all issues on the platform, there would also be a well thought out policy addressing a range of issues. It is necessary to participate in government in meaningful ways, that means at the local and state level. Running presidential candidates is a waste of time. It does not engender serious attention to issues no one talks about, it does not advance a message, it just wastes money and gets ignored by the media. I would turn the phrase attributed to Nathan Rothschild on its head, namely “give me control of the currency and I care not who makes the laws.” I would say instead: Give the people control of local and state government, and I care not what Wall Street goon runs a regime in the White house. But this is a longshot, since, if the voting system is not positively rigged, then at least most people do not care. There are higher voter turnouts in under-developed countries in Africa than there is in the “beacon of freedom”. My general opinion is that voting actually doesn’t solve anything anyway.

The other matter is to to attack the root causes of the abortion culture socially and domestically, not only contraception, for that too has antecedents, but the pornography culture and the “me” generation. The pro-life movement would be more politically effective if we worked on the restoration of the family; this is not achieved by merely working for abstinence education and educating about marriage, but to work for families owning sufficient material wealth to survive, support for mothers both from family and community, which is to say it needs to adopt authentic Catholic social principles. This requires, in our current situation, the de-funding of public schools and the strengthening of local communities, businesses and family life at a communal level. Failing a third party this is the only option to tackle abortion. Neither political party wants it to end, nor is committed to it ending. Thus the voter is placed between the Scylla and Charybdis of democrats who want National Socialism, and republicans who want Corporatism, and alternatives from libertarians like Ron Paul who would give us Plutocracy and genocidal austerity. On the one hand the former says abortion is not as important as healthcare, while the other says the market will take care of abortion, when in reality neither is true. In the case of the latter it is actually the opposite, abortion is a market driven demand requiring a market solution, namely the service [of murder]. Working within the framework of the Republican party will never end abortion because at the end of the day it is the same world that creates the demand for abortion. Only by returning to the basic concept of what government, law, society and culture are for, preeminently what the family is, and what the end of it is can we possibly broach an end to abortion. Thus it is not enough to oppose capitalism, or to found a third party, we must work to make Catholic Social teaching happen, restore the family, restore people working and owning capital (not stocks), restore the concept of procreation and education of children, and then, not later, those pro-life goals have a chance of being realized. Until the pro-life movement figures these things out, it will continue to fail politically, in spite of its social achievements.

Unecumenical Saints: St. Peter Canisius

saint_peter_canisiusSt. Peter Canisius is perhaps one of the more neglected doctors of the Church. Amongst the names of the great saints in his era, of Borromeo, Ignatius, Philip Neri, Francis Xavier, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, St. Pius V, etc., his name tends to get lost. In Germany and Switzerland, however, his name was once synonymous with Catholic orthodoxy. St. Peter Canisius is almost unparallelled in his output, and even Protestant theologians praised and admired him for his holiness and learning.

One of the things Canisius could not brook was heresy. Here is an excerpt from a letter he wrote  which is quoted in “A Champion of the Church: The Life of St. Peter Canisius”, which is going to be reprinted by next week, by Mediatrix press, so watch for that. In this letter, he is writing on the miserable state of Catholic universities.

“The masters of good and solid doctrine are few in number here and are not anxious to make their students better. Most of the professors have little standing from the point of view of science. In their teaching they are less concerned with the truths of the Gospel than with doctrines favoring the passions. Among them are secret or open heretics, who spread, more or less openly, the poison of error in the minds of their students. Left to themselves and without guidance, young men have no love for study and no desire to advance in science. False doctrine and immorality have been spread among the people. The faithful are no longer Catholics except in name; they live without giving a thought to their souls and a future life; they despise the authority of their pastors and of the Church. I write this in order to arouse your charity to pray that grace may abound more where sin has already abounded.”
Peter Canisius and his companions undertook this work of reforming morals and thought which was to be the great endeavor of his life. Not content with giving his lectures in theology, he endeavored by special lessons to make good the lack of preparation of many of his students. He was especially concerned with their souls, and succeeded in leading many back to the practice of piety. Having been appointed Rector of the University, he displayed great zeal in introducing necessary reforms. Thus he forbade the sale of works which were dangerous for faith or morals. The position of Vice-Chancellor was offered to him after his tenure of the office of Rector. He accepted it only for a specified time and on condition of not benefitting by the emoluments attached to the same.”

champion_of_the_churchToday, he would be said to be too rigorist, which is not very merciful.

Shameless plug moment: The book from which this quote is taken from, A Champion of the Church, has just come back into print, courtesy of Mediatrix press (which I run). Consider buying a copy.


Dissecting the Instrumentum Laboris for the October 2014 Synod

Bishops participate in a musical number on stage before Pope Francis arrives for mass in an all-night vigil for those attending World Youth Day, in Rio de JaneiroThe Instrumentum Laboris, or working document (in Latin literally, the device of the work) was issued last month, and it foretells essentially more of the same.

The Document is riddled with programs, programs, and more programs! More this and more that! Change! Yet the only things useful for a constructive discussion on how to meet the challenges to the Family in the modern world are not surprisingly absent from the working document.

There is, as in most documents since the Council, a good deal of wishy-washy niceties, but not a lot of real content. We must bear in mind, however, that it is a document compiling the reactions of various Episcopal conferences to the issues raised as problems. It is not designed to lay down a clear teaching or instruction. What it should be doing, if it were to be effective, is to lay out the directions all discussions will go toward in order to attain a more practical solution. Instead, it just puts together what everyone is saying and says yeah, this is what’s going on, and this is what our top-guys say will fix it. That of course is what the Bishops’ conferences have said, which themselves utilized committees of talking heads to look at the problems, who themselves talked to committees of “experts” to explain the problem.

As always, not everything expressed here is bad, but is put together with a lot of things that are, and then looks to make a unity out of it, like good Hegelian dialectic which draws together the synthesis from placing together the Thesis, and the Antithesis, and boom! We have the solution.

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work in the same way. Let’s have a look at some key passages.

The People of God’s knowledge of conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the Magisterium of the family seems to be rather wanting, though a certain knowledge of them is clearly evident in those working in the field of theology. The documents, however, do not seem to have taken a foothold in the faithful’s mentality. Some responses clearly state that the faithful have no knowledge of these documents, while others mention that they are viewed, especially by lay people with no prior preparation, as rather “exclusive” or “limited to a few” and require some effort to take them up and study them. Oftentimes, people without due preparation find difficulty reading these documents. Nevertheless, the responses see a need to show the essential character of the truth affirmed in these documents.(Instrumentum Laboris [hereafter IS], #11)

One might reckon, the difficulty in reading the documents is they are simply not clear! They introduce with tons of flowery language, they say some poorly worded propositions, often using traditional theological terms to mean something totally different, and leave one bewildered as to what is actually being taught. That is not the only problem here. The real problem is that not everyone can be a Theologian, and not everyone should. Not merely before the Council, but even in the preceding generations of thousands of years, the faithful did not by and large know the bulk of Church teachings, and they could scarcely name an encyclical. Yet, they did not have a crisis in the family as we do today. In past generations people knew what was right and wrong, even if they acted contrary to it, they still knew it was wrong. It didn’t take a pastoral program or a new encyclical for people to know in the 18th century that abortion was wrong, or that contraceptive potions and techniques, such as they were, are contrary to the Church. Why is this a problem when most Catholics are more educated in general than they were in the 18th century? The answer is you had a culture and society that itself embodied Catholic values, even Protestant societies, and had the support needed for families to survive. You do not have that today.

Moreover, there is a difference between religion and theology. Every Catholic needs to have an understanding of religion to get to heaven, but not every Catholic needs to understand theology. Religio is a Latin word, it comes from the same word as legio, as in Roman Legion. It actually means the “yoke”, like the yoke that tied oxen together. Soldiers in the legion were “yoked” by the bond of discipline, legionary laws, far more harsh than the laws of civil society, and the structure of obedience. In Latin, the prefix re- either means again, back, or it strengthens the meaning of the word. In the case of religio, it strengthens the meaning of the word. Thus religio refers to the common bond of teachings, practices and laws that every Catholic is under, high or low, great and small, clerical or Lay. By contrast, Theology, which comes from the Greek Θεός (Theos=God) and λογία (logia=saying), although some dogmatic theologians, notably Tanquery, traces the root to λόγος (logos= word), means more or less the Study of God. It is the study of revealed truths, and the truths which follow from them logically and are connected with them (i.e. the secondary object of infallibility, whereas revealed truths are the primary object). This is a fully developed science, employing a scientific language that is carried out (until recently) with precision. It has a wide breadth of subjects, disciplines, and areas of study. Theology also includes detailed study of the documents of the magisterium, the truths they contain and the consequences that affect other disciplines. Documents of the magisterium in the field of religion, on the other hand, only pertain to those issues which the faithful need to be aware of. Thus, theology informs and confirms religion, as the Church has always held, in as much as the work of theologians becomes the basis for future decisions of the Extraordinary Magisterium and the Ordinary Magisterium. The constructing and informing of their consciences takes place in the overall formation of Christian life, as we shall develop more fully.

Some episcopal conferences argue that the reason for much resistance to the Church’s teaching on moral issues related to the family is a want of an authentic Christian experience, namely, an encounter with Christ on a personal and communal level, for which no doctrinal presentation, no matter how accurate, can substitute. In this regard, some responses point to the insufficiency of pastoral activity which is concerned only with dispensing the sacraments without a truly engaging Christian experience. Moreover, a vast majority of responses highlight the growing conflict between the values on marriage and the family as proposed by the Church and the globally diversified social and cultural situations. The responses are also in agreement on the underlying reasons for the difficulty in accepting Church teaching, namely, the pervasive and invasive new technologies; the influence of the mass media; the hedonistic culture; relativism; materialism; individualism; the growing secularism; the prevalence of ideas that lead to an excessive, selfish liberalization of morals; the fragility of interpersonal relationships; a culture which rejects making permanent choices, because it is conditioned by uncertainty and transiency, a veritable “liquid society” and one with a “throw away” mentality and one seeking “immediate gratification”; and, finally, values reinforced by the so-called “culture of waste” and a “culture of the moment,” as frequently noted by Pope Francis. (IS #15)

Now, on the one hand, the faults of secular society do contribute to less religiosity, on the other we cannot lay all the fault at secular society. The strange thing here, is that the Vatican for 50 years has praised these same “secular societies” as a source of new riches, as a wonderful fruit of the French Revolution, as a realization of Vatican II, as… need I go on? And now they are complaining of the direction it is going! They can’t have it both ways. They want the modern conception of separation of Church and State, they want the secularized society, then it complains when a secularized society does what it is naturally going to do!

There is another fundamental disconnect here. Look at my emphasis. What are the Sacraments, except a direct personal encounter with Jesus Christ and his grace, preeminently in the Eucharist? What are the sacraments? Certificates? Status symbols? The person who wrote this point seems to think so. What kind of personal encounter can you have with Christ that is more powerful than the frequent exercise of the Sacraments? Is Penance not an encounter with Jesus Christ, where the priest in Christ’s very person and power forgives your sins, provided you have true contrition? Is not receiving his very body and blood an encounter? People need words to encounter them? The sacraments, and living the life of faith, exercising the virtue of faith with true charity, are connected. Moreover, so is the liturgy. Is the Liturgy a place where people have a true encounter with Christ? Or is it a place where people have a silly ceremony with absurd hymns, poor symbols and bad ritual to celebrate themselves? For most Catholics it is clearly the latter, in spite of the number of times that there have been “documents to end all abuses”, the “abuses” continue to exist. The reason of course is that the new liturgy is a man centered liturgy. There is in this whole document almost no mention of liturgy, which is a telling factor. Liturgical reform is nowhere on the radar of the Francis pontificate, let alone for the Bishops. The only reform for them is eliminating the Traditional Mass and restoring the primacy of the 1970’s liturgy, which is dying, and they can’t understand why. Hence the attack on the FI’s.

This “lived experience with Christ” is presented as a sort of dualism, as if this is something that happens independent of a man’s existence in Church and society. Proper doctrinal formation is a means, beautiful liturgy which hastens the senses to God is a means, Catholic society and families are a means, the will of the individual aided by grace and utilizing these means effects it. This document seems to think another army of pastoral lay workers will somehow bring this about!

We’ll close today with the following issue of Natural Law:

In light of what the Church has maintained over the centuries, an examination of the relation of the Gospel of the Family to the experience common to every person can now consider the many problems highlighted in the responses concerning the question of the natural law. In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible. The expression is understood in a variety of ways, or simply not understood at all. Many bishops’ conferences, in many different places, say that, although the spousal aspect of the relationship between man and woman might be generally accepted as an experiential reality, this idea is not interpreted according to a universally given law. Very few responses and observations demonstrated an adequate, popular understanding of the natural law. (IS #21)

A lot of people have decried this section, and for good reason, nevertheless I think the working document is actually getting at something that is quite true and important, they are just drawing the wrong conclusions. Now, Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition is largely Aristotelian and Thomistic in its conception. In fact, St. Thomas says on this subject:

Sicut supra dictum est, ad legem naturae pertinent ea ad quae homo naturaliter inclinatur; inter quae homini proprium est ut inclinetur ad agendum secundum rationem. Ad rationem autem pertinet ex communibus ad propria procedere, ut patet ex I Physic. Aliter tamen circa hoc se habet ratio speculativa, et aliter ratio practica. Quia enim ratio speculativa praecipue negotiatur circa necessaria, quae impossibile est aliter se habere, absque aliquo defectu invenitur veritas in conclusionibus propriis, sicut et in principiis communibus. Sed ratio practica negotiatur circa contingentia, in quibus sunt operationes humanae, et ideo, etsi in communibus sit aliqua necessitas, quanto magis ad propria descenditur, tanto magis invenitur defectus. Sic igitur in speculativis est eadem veritas apud omnes tam in principiis quam in conclusionibus, licet veritas non apud omnes cognoscatur in conclusionibus, sed solum in principiis, quae dicuntur communes conceptiones. In operativis autem non est eadem veritas vel rectitudo practica apud omnes quantum ad propria, sed solum quantum ad communia, et apud illos apud quos est eadem rectitudo in propriis, non est aequaliter omnibus nota. Sic igitur patet quod, quantum ad communia principia rationis sive speculativae sive practicae, est eadem veritas seu rectitudo apud omnes, et aequaliter nota. (I-II, Q 94 A4, resp.)

As stated above (2,3), those things pertain to the natural law which a man is inclined naturally: and among these what is proper for man that he might be inclined to act according to reason. Now it pertains to reason to proceed from the common to the proper, as stated in Phys. i. The speculative reason, however, is considered one way in this matter, and the practical reason another. For, since the speculative reason is busied chiefly with the necessary things, which cannot be otherwise than they are, its proper conclusions, like the universal principles, contain the truth without fail. The practical reason, on the other hand, is busied with contingent matters, about which human actions are concerned: and consequently, although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects. Accordingly then in speculative matters truth is the same in all men, both as to principles and as to conclusions: although the truth is not known to all as regards the conclusions, but only as regards the principles which are called common notions. But in matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles: and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all. It is therefore evident that, as regards the general principles whether of speculative or of practical reason, truth or rectitude is the same for all, and is equally known by all.

What this means, is that while the natural law is written on our hearts, or, as St. Thomas says in a different question of the same article, “The rational creature’s participation with the eternal law”, it is the same always and everywhere, but how it is applied and deduced in individual matters will differ according to culture. For example almost all cultures have the sense that pre-marital sex and adultery are wrong, but how that is realized differed for many classical cultures. The principle is still true, but men can act contrary to their reason; additionally the passions move people to act contrary to reason.

Now, all references to the natural law, even by John Paul II, who was not a Thomist, refer to the Aristotelian-Thomistic Tradition in Natural Law. Now, the modern western world, on the other hand, works on a mostly empiricist view of natural law. What this means is that what is natural is not based on utility, or reason, but what we objectively feel about it. So, people go out for wine and cheese tastings. The object, it would appear, is the delight in company and the pleasure gained from drinking good wine and eating good cheese. I could just as well satisfy my belly with bread and water, but I don’t get pleasure. Therefore food is not about nourishment but pleasure. Likewise with sex, it is pleasurable, but children don’t actually result all the time, and can be prevented, therefore sex is about pleasure rather than procreation. Add to this the evolutionary frame work, the idea that we have “evolved” beyond an instinct for self preservation, therefore we have evolved sex to be about the individuals. In such a framework, what could be against nature in same-sex coitus, since it is about pleasure with respect to the individuals?

Obviously such reasoning is fallacious, because food is pleasurable, or sex is pleasurable, it doesn’t follow that its only end is pleasure. Yet this is a problem of first principles with respect to natural law. Modern society is based on the Empiricist viewpoint, modified by evolutionary philosophy, whereas the Catholic explication of teachings with reference to Natural Law are based on the Thomistic. The Instrumentum Laboris correctly identifies at least some element of this, when it says:

The responses and observations also show that the adjective “natural” often is understood by people as meaning “spontaneous” or “what comes naturally.” Today, people tend to place a high value on personal feelings and emotions, aspects which appear “genuine” and “fundamental” and, therefore, to be followed “simply according to one’s nature.” The underlying anthropological concepts, on the one hand, look to an autonomy in human freedom which is not necessarily tied to an objective order in the nature of things, and, on the other hand, every human being’s aspiration to happiness, which is simply understood as the realization of personal desires. Consequently, the natural law is perceived as an outdated legacy. (IS #22)

Therefore the solution would be to engage the modern dialectic as concerns Natural Law, right? Not according to this document. The reason is the modern Vatican has completely surrendered the fight on false ideologies like Evolution, and even at times the very notion of man which is its consequent, and therefore can’t, without contradicting 50 years of mis-steps, attempt to engage that fight. Instead it proposes another surrender, which, as noted in my last post, I first saw on Rorate Caeli:

The language traditionally used in explaining the term “natural law” should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner. In particular, the vast majority of responses and an even greater part of the observations request that more emphasis be placed on the role of the Word of God as a privileged instrument in the conception of married life and the family, and recommend greater reference to the Bible, its language and narratives. In this regard, respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the “order in creation,” which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world. (IS #30)

It is one thing to use Divine Revelation (e.g. Scripture) to assist with and illuminate the concept of natural law, however, the problem is that natural law as such is something discernible to reason, that does not need the aid of divine revelation. What this statement says, if one reads between the lines, is to eviscerate the concept and tradition of Natural Law, and reduce everything to Scripture, which the modernists have worked so hard to neuter by rendering it all allegorical, and thus to be interpreted in any way possible. Thus the closing statement of that paragraph. Re-read therefore, means surrender.

We will have more on this document to come in the future.

The Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the Instrumentum Laboris


The Conversion of St. Paul -Caravaggio


The Crucifixion of St. Peter -Caravaggio









We, just yesterday, had the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is a holy day of obligation in most of the world, but for some reason not here in the USofA. Not sure why, apart from the general trend to not disturb people’s comfortable lives by the spectre of going to Mass on a weekday. This year of course that was not a problem.

One of the things I find fascinating is that the very same feast is celebrated in all the Eastern Rites of the Church as well, according to their own liturgical customs and traditions, which is to say they did not copy it from the Roman Rite, the same feast developed organically in their own traditions. Thus, the feast of St. Peter and Paul is also a feast for the unity of the whole Church with its head, which is why it is a holy day of obligation (again, except here).

There is another reason why the Church specifically honors these two saints together in one feast day. In the Neronian persecution they in fact died separately, but nevertheless, together sanctified Rome by their blood. Rome was a great persecutor, and would continue to lay up many martyrs to the faith. Yet, the blood of the two Apostles firmly established the Church in Rome, and provided strength to it while under siege for the next 250 years. The bones of St. Peter and St. Paul were cherished by Christians, and moved into the catacombs to protect them from desecration.

The two paintings above, hang in the Church of Santa Maria del Populo, in Rome, right as pilgrims would traditionally enter the city from the north. They are in a side chapel which has an interesting history. The paintings there were part of a challenge between Caravaggio and a rival artist, Caracci, who painted in what is called the “Mannerist” style, generally loathed by art historians, though it in fact has many good points, especially for faith. Caravaggio was temperamental (to say the least), and annoyed that Caracci got the altar piece, decided to show his displeasure by painting the horse so that its rear end would be facing Carraci’s painting. Nevertheless, he provides a great image, the blinding light. Paul is off of his horse and his eyes are blinded, as the light shines upon him. A light that is too pure to be perceived without an interior light, namely the light of faith.

Now, St. Thomas makes the observation, that a single heresy is sufficient to corrupt the virtue of faith, when he says:

…qui discredit unum articulum fidei non habet habitum fidei neque formatae neque informis.

…one who disbelieves [even] one article of faith does not have the habitus of faith, either formed or unformed.

-Summa Theologiae II-II Q.5 a.3

Now St. Paul, who preached the faith everywhere, was martyred at a place which is now called Tre Fontane, or the Three Fountains. When his head rolled down the hill, three fountains sprang up in the places where it had rolled. Now, I was just in Rome in February, and the fountains were not flowing. You could see clearly that at one time they were because of the moisture in the rock in that part of the Church where the fountains are preserved. I asked a priest who was knowledgeable of it, what happened to the fountains? He said that he was told they stopped flowing in [surprise] 1965.

If true, this is significant because Paul represents the age of the gentiles, but the apostasy of the end times both in the book of the Apocalypse and in private revelation is that the gentiles will give up the faith. Thus we come to the Instrumentum Laboris for yet another synod of bishops. The many issues being discussed center around some pretty serious moral issues, which constitute part of the great upheaval of Western culture, namely divorce and remarriage, or, put another way, using your spouses like used cars, trying to trade them in for a better deal. There are many who would like to see a change in the Church’s praxis to allow for the sanctioning of divorce and remarriage by saying that people who have done this, without a judgment of the Church with respect to the validity of their first marriage, may come to communion. Notably Cardnal Kasper, who demonstrated yet again he hasn’t the faintest idea of what the Orthodox actually teach. This provoked a reaction, even in the curia, with many clarifying what the issue actually is. Nevertheless, going into this synod we have an Instrumentum Laboris, which proposes to give place to those advocating these very things. I haven’t finished the whole document, but certain things stand out as particularly troubling. This first I read yesterday:

Finally, the observations insist that catechesis on marriage and family, in these times, cannot be limited exclusively to the preparation of couples for marriage. Instead, a dynamic catechetical programme is needed — experiential in character — which, through personal testimony, shows the beauty of the family as transmitted by the Gospel and the documents of the Magisterium of the Church. Long before they present themselves for marriage, young people need assistance in coming to know what the Church teaches and why she teaches it. Many responses emphasize the role of parents in the catechesis on the family. As afar as the Gospel of the Family is concerned, they have an irreplaceable role to play in the Christian formation of their children. This task calls for a thorough understanding of their vocation in passing on the Church’s teaching. Their witness in married life is already a living catechesis in not only the Church but society as well. (Instrumentum Laboris, n.19)

There is a big problem here. What is proposed is “more catechesis!” This is ultimately like throwing more money at a problem. The crisis of family is not just a question of shifting values, and false ideologies. The problem of families in the modern western world is that world was built by atheistic capitalism, which has no notion of the common good and scoffs at the traditional resources large families had to support mothers. It overlooks entirely the crisis of fatherhood. It overlooks the fact that authentic Church life requires an authentically Catholic society to function. The atheistic societies that the Vatican has been praising for 50 years cannot support the family, but only tear them down. It doesn’t address that many people actively reject what the Church teaches, and as such don’t have the virtue of faith. What is needed, is more prayer and sacrifice, a liturgy that renews people’s lives, and building holy people to merit grace for the errant. This however will not be found in the document.

The most troubling thing, however, is what I saw quoted on Rorate Caeli, directly from the document:

The difficulties that arise in relation to natural law can be overcome through more attentive reference to the biblical world, to its language and narrative forms, and to “propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the ‘order in creation,’ which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world.” [Instrumentum laboris, 30]

In other words, the natural law, written on man’s heart, is going to be re-read. This is the type of progressive language that is typical of modernism. Re-read, rediscover, so that something contrary to what came before is now a “harmonious development”, a new fruit of “spiritual riches” to contemplate. In other words, this is more of the same.

The blinding light Caravaggio so powerfully paints cannot be seen by those who are spiritually blind. Yet it seems those are the ones writing these documents!


New Pentecost?


Often one will hear the phrase “Vatican II is a new Pentecost in the Church today”, or there is a new springtime that “will bring a new Pentecost”, and some other such thing. Here, I wish to differentiate between those attempting to draw a comparison to an outpouring of grace. Even at that, the comparison is inept, but at least those making it are not proposing the absurd.

No, what I mean to address is the tendency, since Vatican II, to continually talk about a “new Pentecost”. Not only do we find this to describe Vatican II, but we continually find dioceses praying for a New Pentecost, as we see the Archdiocese of Detroit even this year. Firstly, when we hear anyone say that anything is a new Pentecost, whoever the author is, that book ought to be burned, the website turned off and never revisited, or the radio turned off. Why? The reason is because it is blasphemous, plain and simple. To compare a non-infallible pastoral council, or a modern movement, or the confessions of a sex therapist and amateur catechist to the event which founded the Church and established the reign of grace on earth is sheer blasphemy worthy of condemnation from all the Fathers and Doctors of the Church. The fruits are nothing like it.

Pentecost was a one time only event in the Church, it is not something that can be repeated. Even if the Traditional Mass were restored in every Church of the Latin rite throughout the world, and traditional Catholics all acted like real Catholics and practiced faith, hope and charity, praying and being a model of every good work, even then we should consider it quite the blasphemy to compare a grace filled event later with the foundation of the Church.

The gifts of Pentecost are not repeatable, and were gifts specifically intended for the founding of the Church. Msgr. George Agius, in his book on Tradition in 1928, declared:

“The power and authority of their successors must not be confused with the prerogatives and gifts which the Apostles had received through God’s special intervention. Such were the gifts of tongues and of new revelations, of infallibility, and the prerogative to have authority over the Universal Church, which they received on the Great Day of Pentecost. For there was only one such Pentecost. The Great day was the birth of the Church, the birth of the first spiritual Fathers who were to have a long generation of spiritual children until the End of Time.” (pg. 48)

Our Lord had already made the Apostles priests and bishops at the Last Supper, and given them jurisdiction (Receive ye the Holy Ghost), the gifts at Pentecost were something different, something specific to the Apostles, and something which ended with them. Prior to the coming of the Apostles, they were in confusion, even after being given the sacrament of Order by Our Lord. Pentecost ended that error, by giving the Apostles a perfect understanding of revelation, which was necessary since if they were going to explain the deposit of faith they had to know it. On the contrary, today we have confusion, and we today find Bishops teaching contradictory things, and things contradictory to the tradition, even the Popes have said things or appeared to have taught things which are in some way contrary to the faith. Unlike Pentecost, Vatican II has decreased the number of practicing Catholics in the Church. This is one of the reasons that the comparison is blasphemous, for it is comparing clarity to confusion and disorder, and claiming parity between the two.

The 1994 Catechism, speaking of the day of Pentecost teaches:

On that day, the Holy Trinity is fully revealed. Since that day, the Kingdom announced by Christ has been open to those who believe in him: in the humility of the flesh and in faith, they already share in the communion of the Holy Trinity. By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the “last days,” the time of the Church, the Kingdom already inherited though not yet consummated. (CCC 732)

If it does not cease, how can we have a new one, unless the old one ceased? Moreover, if there is a new one this suggests that it is somehow better than the first. Now even taken strictly as an event Vatican II has done grave harm to the visible Church by confusing the faithful about the nature of hierarchy, let alone the ambiguity in its documents. There has been endless disunity caused by the event of the council, regardless of the question of whether the liberals hijacked it or the good intentions of those prelates. It is blasphemous to suggest that this is somehow better than the founding event of the Church.

More importantly, the fallacy at work in the concept of a “new Pentecost” is that the actual event imparted gifts and powers to us, or to empower a group of “believers”. It is not the case, rather the event was chiefly for the Apostles only, both extraordinary powers (which ended with their deaths), and ordinary powers which passed to all the Bishops of the world. Thus the idea that we are living in some kind of new Pentecost is a surrealistic dream world at best, and a blasphemous denial of the continued support of the Holy Ghost within the Church, since to suggest we have a new Pentecost is to suggest the one and only Pentecost of the Church ceased somehow.

This great feast of the Church completes the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the worship of the Holy Trinity, which is why the Church celebrates the feast of the Trinity one Sunday from Pentecost, because now that revelation is completed true worship can take place before God as He truly is.

So when people start suggesting they have special gifts, or their ministry is a “new Pentecost for the Church”, or this council and this liturgy is a new Pentecost, we need not engage them any further. This type of thinking is to make oneself in particular, and modern man in general the standard of judgment for the whole Church, of every age and for every spirituality, or for teaching the faith. By saying “we have a new Pentecost” people are attempting to remake the Church and God in their own image. Some claim “tongues”, “prophecy” and “discernment of spirits” which is dubious at best, and demonic at worst, and result in a search for “consolations” and “spiritual delights” which leave the soul seeking its own good and not God’s, and cause one to not attempt the arduous way of moral and spiritual perfection. This is by and large because of the collapse of the moral life in the Church. Most people think they are doing okay if they stay out of mortal sin. Spiritual writers tell us that the end of sin is the beginning of the way to sainthood, not the end.

This is another reason the term “new Pentecost” is used. It allows one to cast out the spiritual and moral patrimony of the Church with the label of “outdated Ecclesiology” while people’s particular interpretation of the faith can be aired on radio and tv, in books and on the Internet. That is the real work behind the “New Pentecost” nonsense, which does nothing more than pollute the imperishable deposit of Church teaching with human thought. It is a way to package novelty and replace monumental and apostolic tradition, and then tell Catholics that this is traditional. The grace of the only and true Pentecost is always in the Church, and always moving the faithful who seek the truth, as well as protecting the magisterium from teaching error ex cathedra. New movements, lay or otherwise can scarcely be compared to the event which empowered the Apostles.

We do not need a new Pentecost in the Church, we need authentic worship and faithfulness to the true Pentecost of 33 A.D. on the part of the Church militant, that is the hierarchy, the priests and the laity. St. Robert Bellarmine draws this point, noting that the effect that abides with us from Pentecost is Charity, yet, he says:


But perfect charity casts fear out of doors. How often do you go to the sacraments of penance and Eucharist? Oh, once or twice a year. And how often do you eat? Three or four times a day. And your soul will not eat, except twice a year? What if you were to go to the Lord’s Mass on the eighth day? O, lest I be called a hypocrite by men, I pass it by. Alas, poor wretch! Perfect charity casts fear out of doors. How often do you go to concerts, or games, to dinner parties where there are drunkards, and the indulgent companions of drunkenness reign, where you know for certain, whatever it might be, you will gravely sin against your God.  How often, I say, being invited to these you have not gone, and with fortitude refused gifts of this sort? I know the answer, never. Why is that so? Les I offend my friends. Alas, O blind man! Therefore you fear more to offend man than God? But perfect charity casts fear out of doors. Did you not go to visit the sick, needy, or afflicted and console them? Hardly. Why? ‘O I am ashamed to treat with men of this sort.'” (De Controversiis, 5b, Conciones, de Die Pentecostes).

Indeed, that was the situation in the 1600s, when we tend to think everything was great because the ’60s hadn’t happened yet, how much more true is it today? I think it doesn’t take much soul searching to realize it is worse if anything. Interestingly, Bellarmine doesn’t begin with asking if you have visited the sick, he asks if you have gone to confession and to Mass. This is because they are the source of all true charity. What is needed is a renewal of liturgical life, out of the dead self-centered culture of the 1960s, back to the immemorial tradition of the Church. For what we need are not new things but in fact old things, even as old as 33 A.D. The Holy Ghost has never left the Church, and He has never needed renewing. The graces which flow today, which flowed prior to the council, which flowed at the time of the Counter-Reformation or at Nicaea all flow from the one event of Pentecost.

The Glory of Small “t” Tradition

One of the most disturbing things to me is the belittling of “t” Tradition by virtually every neo-conservative apologist. There is a current which runs in the neo-conservative mainstream to downplay the importance of the little traditions. This is done primarily when they incorrectly define them. One will say “Big ‘T’ Tradition stays the same always, and is of the utmost importance, but small ‘t’ Tradition is here today and gone tomorrow. It is not important and we shouldn’t get wrapped up in it.”

This is basically the position of the so-called mainstream of defenders of the New Rite, separated from historical Catholicism by the modernism pervading the Church since the Council. In a minute I will define what I mean by historical Catholicism.

Now, let us take a proposition, such as I have continually advanced, and will advance until I am put to death, that the Novus Ordo is inferior to the Traditional Rite. As soon as I say such a thing the aforementioned will claim that I am propagating a heresy. They will say that you can not say one Mass is better than another, Tridentine, novus ordo, Divine Liturgy are all fine and good and all equally pleasing to God. It doesn’t matter how we wrap the essentials, etc. etc. etc, blah blah blah. Boo hiss!

First of all, this is something which I would consider contrary to Catholic liturgical theology, namely minimalism. It is purely the minimalist approach to liturgy, and this is where the denial of small “t” Tradition flirts openly with heresy. It is the small “t” which protects, defends, reinforces and teaches the large “T” tradition. While it is technically true that you can eliminate the small “t” tradition and maintain the integrity of the faith, when you do eliminate it the faith begins to disappear. This is because man is not a pure spirit, he is a body soul unity, how the faith is presented to man determines the manner in which he receives it. We all accept that bad preaching, bad style, bad demeanor of the presenter can present a barrier to how one receives the grace of the Gospel. Almost any neo-con will accept that. However, be that as it may, when it comes to the liturgy they suddenly reject it. It suddenly doesn’t matter that a hideous neo-teric chalice is used in place of a beautiful Gothic chalice collecting dust in the sacristy, or crappy polyester vestments are worn with rainbows and/or hideous art on them. The apologists will tell us well, it isn’t the best, but it is still Jesus.

I just want to take them by the neck and say get a hold of yourself man with a thick Scottish brogue! What does a cheap polyester vestment say about the faith? How does it cheapen the faith? How does a glass wine claret used for sacred Communion weaken belief in the real presence?

Secondly, the main objection, that all liturgy is the same, fails to distinguish between the intrinsic nature of a thing, and its extrinsic nature. If we are speaking Intrinsically, then of course any valid Mass, that is a Mass which gives adoration to God the Father by making represent the one sacrifice of Calvary in an unbloody manner at the hands of the priest, is in fact the same. You can not have a valid Mass which is intrinsically evil, since the main object of the Mass, to offer adoration to God, is impossible. Yet the intrinsic is an inadequate dimension by which to judge liturgy in its totality, and to reduce it to such is minimalism which would be detestable to every age of Catholics until 1965. We must also consider liturgy offered in an extrinsic manner. What is the extrinsic? If the intrinsic refers to the liturgy in itself and what it accomplishes ipso facto, then the extrinsic is the manner in which it is accomplished.

A Tridentine Mass is offered, but rubrics are intentionally broken, portions of the liturgy are skipped wholesale, etc. Intrinsically, if you had a valid consecration, you had a valid Mass which accomplished its aim. Extrinsically, it is not as good and does not communicate as much grace as the same liturgy where the ceremonies are said correctly. Let us take another example: a liturgy said by heretics and schismatics with valid orders. Such a liturgy is said outside of communion with the Church and technically wrong. That impedes grace. Let us even take a Novus Ordo celebrated with obscene abuses. There is no shortage of idiots who will insist that there is no difference between that and a “reverent” novus ordo (which as far as I’m concerned is an oxymoron), because if done validly “Jesus is there”. Even if that is true, the grace which He imparts through the sacrament is impeded, it is not as powerful as one celebrated in union with the Church’s intention. Now there is yet another consideration to make, whether the rites in the Traditional Liturgy are more dignified and coming from apostolic tradition, better impart the faith than a liturgy created by a committee of left leaning priests and bishops in the late 60’s completely from scratch? I’ve never seen anyone try to claim that the new liturgy imparts more ritual than the old. Even if they were, a simple reading of text and rubric would smash such an argument.

Lastly, there is also more scripture found in the ordinary of the Mass in the Traditional Liturgy, the propers contain more scriptural usage all with their own chants, and essential teachings on sin, repentance and hell are not optional. Rituals call to mind the Jewish offerings of sacrificial animals, bringing sacrifice to the forefront, they represent Christ burdened with the sin of the world, and unmistakably condemn modern theology. The rites and the meaning they embody are superior to the Novus Ordo in every way, and consequently it is a better Mass in terms of the grace it imparts.

Some people will still say, “I like the Novus Ordo better”. Well there is nothing I can say about that, because what people like is subjective and not governed by objective principles of beauty and meaning. Some people like modern art, some people like rap music. To me it is all basically the same thing. If you look at the normal person at the Novus Ordo, not the exceptional case, you find people whose liturgy tells them nothing about the doctrine of Catholicism, but is tailored to make them feel good. Even in the Latin, if you have someone who understands Latin. If you look at the normal person at a Traditional Mass, not the exceptional case, you will find someone who at the very least understands what the Church teaches on major issues concerning his salvation, on his responsibilities toward his neighbor, and on the presence of his God at his liturgy. Every liturgical sign points to it, the kneeling, the adoration, the incense, the multiple signs of the cross, the reverence and beauty of everything required for each celebration. Small “t” tradition protects so-called big “T” tradition, and wherever the former is protected, the latter is upheld. Look at the eastern Catholic Church in our midst. The same cultural problems affect them which affect us, the same secularism, the same throw away culture, but not the same loss of doctrine and reverence for the Eucharist. Why? Because they have small “t” Tradition protecting their Apostolic Tradition.

This all brings me back to the original point of this post, namely what is that historical Catholicism which modern apologists seem disconnected from? It is characterized by a universal expression of “t” Tradition which had guarded and protected the true faith for over a thousand years. Very few real traditions had actually changed in that time, and for good reason, they protected the faith. People in every country were familiar with the universal “t” Tradition, whether French, or German, or Polish or Italian, or English, or Spanish, there was a universal “t” Tradition that was common to them all. The same was true of the Eastern Churches, and a Latin Rite observer could have seen the same traditions in the Eastern rite, even if they had a different form from the West.

I have read people claim they are not part of a “bloggersterium”, that they follow the Pope. I wonder if they would acknowledge the danger from the “apologeticsterium”? Let us look seriously. Who lives or dies by what someone writes on a blog? If anyone does he is an idiot. But there are people who conform their worldview to what this or that apologist writes. Consider those who remained completely in favor of the Iraq war, just as the mainstream of neo-conservative apologists were, when their hero, John Paul “superstar” condemned it? You get a situation where I, one of the late Pope’s critics, agree with him, and your ever faithful apologists opposed him! Yet no claims of disobedience arose, and when confronted with it they will ignore you or say they just cut the Pope some slack by not criticizing him. Seriously, is that not private judgment? To decide that the Pope’s consistent and impassioned pleas against the war have no merit because we trust our elected leaders? The same ones who enabled abortion contrary to the late Pope’s message of a gospel of life?

On the whole, I am perfectly willing and happy to acknowledge where apologists have done good, or even great work. Yet the ministry of lay apologetics is precarious at best. They are filling a void which our Bishops and Priests ought to be filling in terms of real and true teaching, but which the latter are happy to let someone else do. The problem and the danger, not unlike what everyone is always whining about with blogs, is when they get looked upon as a counter magisterium. Mind you, not when they try and usurp that for themselves If I’m wrong on a medium which requires patience and thought (while sighting sources), I can be corrected or refuted. What do you do about thousands of Catholics who don’t know any better and follow this disconnect from historical Catholicism that the self professed “mainstream” propounds? This is to me something highly problematic, even where the thinker is technically a good Catholic.

Garrigou Lagrange, O.P, on the argument of for all vs. for many

This is redundant now, given the change in the Novus Ordo liturgy from “for all” to “for many”, nevertheless it is good to have for archival purposes.

De Eucharistia



  1. 3- Whether this is the fitting form of the consecration of the wine “This is the chalice of my blood, etc.”

State of the question: It is asked whether these words alone: “this is the chalice of my blood,” without other words adjoined are of the substance of this very form. So reckoned Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventure, and Peter of Tarentasia.

St. Thomas however with many others responds: the following words as well are of the substance of the form, as pertaining to it’s integrity, up to, exclusively, “As many times as you do these things…”

The reason is that the last words are determinations of the predicate, namely, the blood of Christ, that is, “they pertain to the integrity of the same locution,” and in the same rite and manner are brought forth, while the priest holds the chalice in his hands.

For so is designated the power of the blood poured forth, by saying “This is the chalice of my blood, of the new and eternal testament: the mystery of faith, which for you and for many will be shed unto the remission of sins.”

That is the pouring out of the blood of Christ: 1. to attain eternal life; so is said “of the new and eternal testament”; 2. for the justice of grace which is through faith, so is said the mystery of faith ; 3. for the remission of sins.

With regards to the accidental variations in diverse orthodox liturgies, cf. Corbelet, Histoire du Sacrement de l’Eucharistie,t. I, p. 263 sq.

Question: With regards to the body of this very article, as Cajetan notes (in article 1um of this very question) there is a difficulty, namely, Whether St. Thomas wished to say that these words alone “This is the chalice of my blood,” do not suffice for validity?

It is disputed also amongst Thomists, for in the body of the article, St. Thomas says indeed, rejecting the prior opinion, that the following words are of the substance of the form; but a little later he says, they pertain to the integrity (but integrity is distinguished from essence).[1] And in article 1 in the body and to the 4th he says simply: “These words ‘This is the chalice of my blood,” are the form of the sacrament.”

According to Billuart and many others, more probably, only the words, this is the chalice of my blood, or this is my blood, suffice for validity.

It is proved in the first place from the Fathers especially St. Justin, Apolog. 2,[i] and Damascene bk. 4, Concerning the Orthodox Faith, c. 14,[ii] who say that the consecration is brought about in these words: this is my body and this is my blood.

Likewise the author Concerning the Lords Supper in St. Cyprian, and Innocent III in bk. 4 de Missa, c. 6.

Secondly, it is proved from the liturgies of the Greeks. The Greeks preserve the essential form, for they validly consecrate, as all confess. But they do not mention the words: of the new and eternal testament, etc.

Thirdly, it is proved by theological reason: Those words alone are essential which signify the real presence of the blood of Christ. But the aforesaid words independently from those following signify this real presence, no less than “this is my body,” in dependently from the following, that is handed over for you. Therefore the last words of the consecration of the wine are not for it’s essence, but for it’s integrity.

Gonet responds: this would suffice indeed for the Eucharist as sacrament but not as sacrifice, in which the pouring out of blood ought to be signified. But this does not seem certain, for from the very fact that the second consecration produces, by the power of the words the presence of the blood only, so that the body of Christ is not there save concomitantly, the sacramental pouring out of blood is already expressed, because the mass is sacramental and unbloody sacrifice.

Lastly, St. Thomas himself, in our question, a. 1 c. et ad 4 says, “if the priest would mention only the aforesaid words (this is my body and this is my blood, with the intention of confecting the sacrament, this sacrament would be accomplished.”

Indeed, in our article 3, St. Thomas says “through the first words ‘this is the chalice of my blood’ the very conversion into blood is signified. But through the words following, the power of the blood poured out in the passion is designated.” Therefore through the last words the very conversion is not signified, which was already effected by the prior words which signify it.

Moreover, as we have noted, a little while before, St. Thomas said: these words following pertain to the integrity of the form, and he generally distinguishes the integrity of a thing from its essence; e.g. the foot and hand pertain to the integrity of man, not to his essence.

Therefore probably St. Thomas would not deny, especially if he would have considered the liturgies of the Greeks, the position which is now considered more probable. Nevertheless, he holds that the subsequent words are not merely accidental, but pertain to the integrity of the formula.

Objection: St. Pius V commanded that the dissertation in which Cajetan said, “Even if the intention of St. Thomas would be contrary, it does not matter” to be taken out of the Commetaries on the Summa of St. Thomas.

It is responded: The Supreme Pontiff commanded this dissertation to be expunged not as false in this part, but because Cajetan, did not speak reverently enough concerning St. Thomas. Cf. other things concerning this affair in Billuart in the same place.

Against the 8th: Why is for you and for many said? For you, namely the Jews, and for many others, namely for the gentiles.

It signifies likewise: “for you eating, and for the many for whom it is offered.”

For the many, also signifies, for all sufficiently, as is explained in the treatise concerning the one God, where there is treated concerning the universal salvific will, c.f. 1a q. 19, a. 6 ad 1,[2] c.f. 1 Tim. 11:5: “Christ gave himself a ransom for all.” That is, for all sufficiently, for many efficaciously as St. Thomas explains in the Commentary on the Epistle to Timothy in the same place. Likewise St. Paul 2. Cor. 5:15, “Christdied for all;” Romans 5:18 “As by the sin of one it is all men unto condemnation, so also through the justice of one is is to all men unto justification of life.”

Against the 9th, It is said that the words “mystery of faith” are had from the oral tradition of the Lord, but it is not necessary that Christ himself pronounced these words.

[1] It is indeed true that some integral part is necessary, as the head and the trunk of one’s body in man.

[2] We treated of this at length in the book the One God, Paris, Desclee, 1938, p. 415-434.