Saint Thomas Aquinas

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Watch EWTN Tonight for Pontifical Latin Mass!

A reminder that EWTN will broadcast live the Pontifical Latin Mass which His Excellency Bishop Joseph Perry will celebrate at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum.

You can also watch on EWTN’s website:; the Mass begins at 7pm EDT. It will re-air at 11PM.

Sacred music for the Mass will include Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C-major, (the “Sparrow” Mass), Elgar’s Ecce Sacerdos Magnus, Monteverdi’s Adoramus te, and John Blow’s Salvator Mundi, in addition to the Gregorian chants.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What is the Duty of the State in Regard to Religion?

Here is a great summary of the duty of the state in relation to the Church given by a great priest who shall remain anonymous.

Look.. it's perfectly simple...

1. All men have duty to worship the True God.
2. The State is a collection of men
3. Ergo, the State has the duty to provide for the worship the True God.

1. Not all men recognize the True God and therefore don't worship Him.
2. But worship must be both interior and exterior in order to be an act of true worship, and since no one has the ability to coerce another to make an interior act.
3. Ergo, the State cannot coerce men to worship the True God against their will.


1. The State has the duty to provide for the common Good.
2. False worship of false Gods and especially Satanic worship mitigate against the common Good.
3. Ergo, the State has the right to forbid false worship of false Gods especially Satanic worship.


The State must allow men to worship the True God ergo, the State cannot impinge or make laws regarding the Catholic Church which is the only true Church which gives true worship to the True God.

But, the State cannot force its citizens to engage in worship, ergo, it cannot mandate that all be Catholic or attend Catholic worship services.

However, the State CAN and SHOULD both foster evangelization programs that promote the Catholic Church and forbid the exercise and promulgation of false religions.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happy Feast of St Dominic! Again!

Today in the new calendar is the feast of Saint Dominic, in the old calendar it was on the 4th of August. Saint Dominic is my favorite Saint and he has worked many wonders for me! I had new holy cards made up this year. Happy feast day to all!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Catholic Art That Inspires Love and Devotion

The Catholic Church has a rich history in artistic achievement throughout the ages. Beginning in the early Church the faithful began crafting art which was aimed at inspiring one to love God and His Church. Over the past 2000 years up until about the sixty years or so ago, we have a witnessed a rich development and inexhaustible wealth of devotional images in Catholic churches across the world. Although being Italian I have an affection for the Italian art in Italy, my personal favorite devotional art, especially when it comes to statuary, is in the Spanish renaissance and baroque style. The realistic and inspiring statuary found in Quito, Ecuador are among the finest I have seen.

When it comes to art however, it is not just an external appreciation of the beauty of the art itself that we should be concerned. Although art can be emotionally moving, it is primarily the internal devotion it inspires in the viewer that is most important. Many Catholic art historians would argue that the iconography of the early Church until about the time of Giotto was the best and most pure representation of sacred art. Thus many would separate iconography as sacred art, and the art following the time of Giotto to be religious art. Although there is some merit to the argument, we must not forget that any art that brings us closer to God and His Church is worthy of being in the sacred space of a Church. Although the later Western art often invokes more emotion from the viewer than iconography, one can still orient themselves beyond the art to the what the art actually represents. This also goes for statuary, which many purists in the Orthodox Church adamantly oppose. I think that well done statuary can bring one closer to the person it represents, as can be seen in the images below.

I was going through my pictures from Quito, Ecuador that I took a couple of years ago during my pilgrimage. I thought I would post some of my favorites. I wish we would see a revival among Catholics today to bring this type of art into our modern churches and replace the lifeless pathetic imagery that wee prevalent today.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fighting to Stay Catholic: Don't Throw in the Towel!

As the world seems to implode and the Church seems to spin into turmoil, we must ask ourselves an important question. What we can do as practicing Catholics to keep our sanity. As Catholics it is much easier for us to face outside opposition than it is from within our Church. Over the past 60 years we have the let the attitude of the world influence the attitude of the Church. As a result it can often seem at times that our best friends have abandoned us to the wolves. The optimism for the "new evangelization" after Vatican II has been proven to have been a pipe dream. Those who claimed they knew more than the "Old Church" have been proven to be charlatans. The changes in the liturgy along with the acceptance of "New Theology" have not benefited the Church much in the way of holiness or in evangelizing those outside the Church.

So what are we to do when we read day after day the many influential "theologians" and higher clergy who are trying to destroy the Catholic faith by their modernist ideologies? We must not become disheartened as many are beginning to do. We must instead have the zeal to fight and stay Catholic. We must not be influenced by the errors being presented by these men who are trying to slowly strangle the Church's teachings. For example, the Church's teaching on marriage, communion and the importance of eradicating sin from our lives are under fire from the Church's most prominent and vocal "theologians". Instead of encouraging men to repent and give up sinful lifestyles, they instead encourage them to keep living them. The wolves are now guarding the hen house. How awful is this movement to reaffirm sin and deny the reality of divine judgement. However we must not let these men influence us. No, we cannot remain in our sins just because theologians from on high are making it seem to us that it is not so bad to do so. We must not deny reality by recognizing only God's mercy and forgetting about his justice.

It is now of the utmost importance to understand the gravity of fighting to stay a faithful Catholic. We cannot effect change by merely blathering about in a rage condemning those who are orchestrating these heinous machinations to destroy the Church. Nor can we leave the Church for greener pastures. We can do much more by actually fighting to live our faith, to stay Catholic and become saints. God can do more by the prayer of one Saint than by the works of thousands of raging, yet spiritually mediocre Catholics. Our prayers for the Church and the salvation of souls begins and ends with our own fight to become holy, live by the teachings of the Church and increase in love for God. Then when given the opportunity we can help others to do so as well.

Alarmingly I have read recently that there are now many Catholics who are thinking of throwing in the towel and becoming Eastern Orthodox. I can say this by experience, I used to be in the Orthodox Church. To jump ship is sheer madness! It is the act of an emotionally and spiritually unstable person. You are not going to find yourself in lush green pastures filled with fruit and honey. If you want doctrinal confusion on marriage they are the inventors of it! Two or three marriages, no problem. Ask yourself another question. Would you deny Our Blessed Lady in her Immaculate Conception just to avoid suffering in the Church? Isn't it ironic that so many of the Saints were persecuted by those in the Church rather than those outside of it? I think not. This is what makes us holy. The servant cannot be greater than his master, and if Jesus, our master suffered so will we. Remember it was his own that crucified him. Let us not jump ship and look for the easy way out. It is in our own fight to stay Catholic with a zealous fervor that is important for the salvation of souls. Let us use this suffering that we find now in the Church to become more holy, and through this suffering we can all help rebuild the Church.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Commandments and St. Birgitta Part II: The Punishment of God on Laity and the Pope!

Here is the second installment concerning St. Birgitta and the Commandments. In the first post I covered the judgement that God brought against the Pope and the Laity. In this post I wanted to cover the actual punishments and the circumstances surrounding the punishments. I will first look at the Pope, his advisers, bishops and priests, and then the laity.

In speaking to Birgitta, we see Jesus giving a sentence to the pope for the unrepentant sins he had committed. These sins were not personal in nature but also sins which were leading many souls into hell. One of these sins was that of condemning the good and letting the evil go free. Hence letting those who lived in sin continue and persecuting those who were faithful. The pope instead of helping his flock to live the Commandments was actually confirming them in their sins. Sadly the laity was all too happy to keep living in their sins.

The Lord added, saying to the first of the five men: "The sword of my severity will go into your body, entering at the top of your head and penetrating so deeply and firmly that it can never be drawn out. Your chair will sink like a weighty stone and not come to rest until it hits the lowest part of the deep. Your fingers, I mean your advisers, will burn in an inextinguishable and sulphurous fire. Your arms, I mean your vicars, who should have reached out for the benefit of souls but reached instead for worldly profit and honor, will be sentenced to the punishment which David speaks, 'May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow and may strangers take over his property.' What does his wife mean if not the soul that is left out of the glory of heaven  and will be widowed from God? His children, that is, the virtues they seemed to possess, and my simple folk, those who were placed under them will be separated from them. Their rank and property will fall to others, and they will inherit shame instead of their privileged rank. Their headgear will sink into the mud, an they themselves will never get up out of it. Thus just as through honor and pride they rose above others here on earth, so in hell they will sink so much more deeply than others that it will be impossible for them to rise. Their limbs, I mean, all the fawning priests who followed them, will be cut off from them and taken apart just like a wall that is torn down where stone is not left upon stone and the cement no longer adheres to the stones. Mercy will not come to them, for my love will never warm them nor build them into an eternal mansion in heaven. Instead, stripped of every good, they will be endlessly tormented along with their headmen. 
These are certainly startling punishments, which begin with the Pope, then to his advisers, bishops and then priests. Do we see any similarity to our time where the pope's advisers tell him erroneous doctrine and encourage him to enforce them with the bishops across the globe? Those clergy who continue to encourage the laity to keep living their lives in a state of mortal sin will have much to answer for as we can see here. The scandals wee see involving the clergy are also similar to what we see here. It seems now as if we have a large division between the bishops and priests of the Church concerning important doctrine, for example doctrine concerning marriage and adultery. Let us pray for our Church and clergy so that they may not inherit similar sentences for confirming people in their sin. Next the laity are to receive their sentence. Surprisingly this sentence is short and quite interesting in the language that is chosen.

I say to the second man: Since you do not want to keep the faith promised to me or show love toward me, I will send to you an animal that will come from the impetuous torrent to swallow you. And as a torrent always runs downward, so the animal will carry you down to the lowest parts of hell. As impossible as it is for you to travel upstream against an impetuous torrent, it will be just as hard for you ever to ascend from hell.  
This short description tells us a few things. For one there is the certainty of hell for those who remain unrepentant in their sins. Those who are unfaithful and who deny God his rightful place as King in their lives will be swallowed up into hell like he is being funneled down a flooding river. For the laity it seems that their punishment although still horrific is not as severe as the the clergy, who are drug down into the lowest parts of hell, in the mud as it were. However, it is interesting that Jesus says he will send the unfaithful laity "an animal" that will come from the torrent that will swallow them. What is this animal? Perhaps demons? Perhaps the corrupt clergy who confirm them in their sins? One thing is certain, we as the laity must not any excuse to live in sin or justify any sin. Even if we hear that it is OK to live in adultery, live a homosexual or promiscuous lifestyle, or in any other sinful state for that matter, we must resist such suggestions as if they are from the devils so that we may not end up being swallowed down the torrential river to hell. Let St. Birgitta's visions be a lesson for us and for our Church in our time!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Commandments and St. Birgitta Part I: The Judgement of God on Laity and the Pope!

St Birgitta of Sweden is another one of my favorite Saints. Her writings, like St Catherine of Siena's are informative, inspirational and at times even overwhelming. The wonderful trait that I find among both of these women is their love of God and their desire to speak the truth on how we should live. They did not mince words. Contrary to our modern theologians in Rome and elsewhere who are now telling us that their type of theology was rigid, dry and lacking love, they preached the truth in season and out of season because the truth is love! The lies now being told from theologians on high are now reaching the point of blasphemy; for example, those claiming that those who preach that God's Commandments must be followed are now rigid fundamentalists who are hell bent on only following the "rules" are unjust in their accusations. This "rule" type of mentality is not nor has ever been part of Catholic teaching, and none of the Saints were guilty of this, nor are Catholics today who are attempting to follow in their footsteps. Loyal Catholics follow the Commandments because Christ told us to so, and we do so not out of just following the "rules", but because we trust God's word and we want to show our love for Him by attempting to follow the Commandments. There is a sense of justice when it comes to honoring God in His Commandments. If we fail in living them we go to confession and make a firm resolve not live in that sin again, with God's help. 

In reading Book I of St. Birgitta of Sweden, Chapter 41, I thought it to be very interesting and thought provoking. We often think today that God grades everyone on a curve, at least that is what we are being told today by many theologians in the Church. For example, how about one of Pope Francis' top theologians Cardinal Coccopalmiero who refers now to marriage as "an ideal" that can not always be met, and therefore a person living in adultery could now receive communion, as long as his conscience tells him so. He gives us modernist doublespeak, “It is always the same doctrine, but it takes account of the concrete situation. You affirm the doctrine and can say they should live as brother and sister, but the reality at times does not make this possible.” Thus so we see that according to this Cardinal, God has given us a Commandment that is "impossible" to follow. Anyone who has common sense can see this error from a mile away. Let me get to the point of St. Birgitta's writing that I have come across, which in reality was a revelation given to her by Jesus concerning the just judgment and punishment he was going to inflict upon people. This punishment concerned the laity and also the Pope of her time in relation to His Commandments. The times in which she lived also saw great infidelity to Christ and His teachings, much similar to our own. I will give you a taste of what was revealed to her as a warning to all of us about taking His teachings and Commandments seriously.

The first person addressed is the pope himself.

"I now state my grievance about you, head of my church, you who sit on my seat. I gave this seat to Peter and his successors to sit on with a threefold dignity of authority: first, in order that they might have the power of binding and loosing souls from sin; second, so that they would open heaven for penitents; third, so that they would close heaven to the damned and to those who scorn me. 
But you, who should be absolving souls and presenting them to me, you are really a slayer of souls. I set up Peter as shepherd and servant of my sheep. But you scatter and wound them; you are worse than Lucifer. He was envious of me and longed to kill none but me so that he might rule in my stead. But you are all the worse in that not only do you kill me by cutting me off from yourself by your bad works but you also kill souls through your bad example. I redeemed souls with my blood and entrusted them to you as a faithful friend. But you hand them back to the enemy from whom I redeemed them. You are more unjust than Pilate. He only sentenced me to death. But you not only sentence me as if I were a worthless lord of nothing, you also sentence the souls of my chosen ones and let the guilty go free. You are more merciless than Judas. He only sold me. But you not only sell me but also the souls of my chosen ones for your own base profit and empty reputation. You are more abominable than the Jews. They only crucified my body. But you crucify and punish the souls of my chosen ones for whom your evil and transgression are harsher than any sword. And so since you are like Lucifer and more unjust than Pilate and more merciless than Judas and more abominable than the Jews, my grievance about you is justified." 
There are some interesting things to note here. Notice that Jesus is not upset about the pope holding the faithful accountable for their actions or being too strict on them for following the Commandments. Jesus is upset about just the opposite, for the pope being judgmental against those trying to live the Commandments and letting the guilty ones, those who are unfaithful to His Commandments, go free! Is Jesus not being merciful here? Is Jesus being too rigid? He is also upset because the pope is not guiding His flock which he has entrusted to them. Jesus says that the pope is in fact scattering his flock. I also found it interesting that he accuses this particular pope of being worse than Lucifer, Pilate and Judas! To say the least these accusations are not for the faint of heart. This is not the type of language our theologians today from on high would use, unless it be to criticize anyone actually trying to live their commitment to following the Commandments and not making them out to be just ideological suggestions.

The second accusation however is directed at the laity. They did not get off the hook just because the pope was worse than Lucifer, Judas and Pilate. Here is some of what Jesus says on the judgement of the laity.

The Lord said to the second man, that is, to the laity: "I created all things for your use. You gave your consent to me and I to you. You pledged me your faith and promised by your oath that you would serve me. Now, however, you have departed from me like someone who does not know God. You regard my words as a lie, my works as meaningless. You say my will and my commandments are too heavy. you have violated the faith you pledged. You have abandoned my name. You have disassociated yourself from the company of my Saints and have joined the company of the devils and become their associate. You do not think anyone is worthy of praise and honor except yourself. You find difficult everything having to do with me and you are obliged to do for me, while the things you do are easy for you. That is why my grievance concerning you is justified, for yo have broken the faith you pledged me both in baptism and subsequently. 
 Here Jesus is once again upset about the very same thing! The laity are also not following the Commandments! He says instead they join the company of the devils. Is Jesus again being too severe? Is he too rigid in insisting that we keep our pledge to Him? If we listen to many of today's prominent theologians we would think so.

This gives us food for thought. In my next post I will show you what Jesus said about the punishment for these offenses.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Great Article On Casuistry!

Edward Pentin recently posted a great article by Msgr. Michel Schooyans "on what he sees as the underlying causes of the current malaise in the Church and in wider society." It is worth the read! Click on the link below.

Building a Home Chapel

Our dedication to prayer is the only solution to the grave problems we have in the Church today. It is important to create a prayerful environment in your home. I encourage everyone to make your own home chapel or at least a prayer corner in your home. Since moving into my new home I have been progressively putting together my home chapel. Here is what I have done so far.

Main chapel

Dominican side altar

Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Recommendation: Faith Comes From What Is Heard

I just finished Lawrence Feingold's new book, 'Faith Comes From What Is Heard, An Introduction to Fundamental Theology'. This book clocks in at over 600 pages so be prepared! It gives a good look at how we receive Divine Revelation through the Church, examines the credibility of God speaking to man through the Church and spends a good amount of time on Biblical exegesis. The use of multiple examples and analogies helps you to understand the content on a deeper level. I went through line by line with a colored pencil to underline important content and it took me a few weeks of nightly reading to finish it.

The book follows a simple layout and begins with the topics of Revelation and Faith. next faith and reason are covered followed by Tradition and the Magisterium. The last three parts of the book deal primarily with Sacred Scripture, its inspiration, historicity and typology. Feingold does his best to incorporate several sources ranging from the Church Fathers, other Saints, Popes Pius X, Leo III as well as John Paul II which forms a theological continuity throughout. If you are looking for a bedtime read you probably won't find this work to fit in that mold. However, if you are looking to understand how the Catholic faith has been handed down to us faithfully for 2000 years then this book should be an edifying read.  

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Has Pope Francis Responded to the Dubia? Yes! You are sitting at the table aren't you?

So far there has been no direct reply to the four Cardinals who submitted their questions (dubia) concerning Amoris Laetitia. Pope Francis has also not granted their request for a meeting. Does this mean however that Pope Francis has not responded? I think the answer is now clear, he has responded by his many actions which concern the documents interpretation. This cannot go unnoticed. If you ask someone a direct question in their presence and they ignore you and tell someone sitting across the table the answer to your question, have they not answered? 

Thus far we do have several responses from Pope Francis on the document, the question is, what are the cardinals going to do now? Would a statement that goes against what Pope Francis has thus far taught in action and words mean anything to him or those in the hierarchy who agree with him? For those Catholics who already know the true teaching of the Church, how much does it change for them? For those laity who look for teachings that tickle their ears so that they can live in an adulterous relationship, is this a game changer for them? Would they go back to not receiving communion or living a life of adultery? These are questions that have been raised, and are all more practical reasons rather than reasons concerning the faith.

I for one think that it is a duty for these cardinals to speak up even if it means no one would listen, although I think there may be a few souls who would be saved by their open criticism. I believe that  even if one soul be saved from eternal damnation it is worth it. Before we get to that point however, what has been Pope Francis' open interpretation of the document? One clear interpretation was given to the Argentinian bishops through the pope’s letter in response to “Basic criteria for the application of chapter 8 of 'Amoris Laetitia'. In this letter the Pope clearly says that some of those who are living in a state of adultery can after discernment receive the Holy Eucharist after receiving the Sacrament of confession with no firm purpose of amendment. Read the text below carefully. (Source)

“When the concrete circumstances of a couple make it feasible, especially when both are Christians with a journey of faith, one may propose that they commit to living in continence.” Amoris Laetitia “does not ignore the difficulties of this option (cf. note 329) and leaves open the possibility of receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation when one fails in this intention” (cf. note 364).
In other more complex circumstances, and when it is not possible to obtain a declaration of nullity,” the document continues, “the aforementioned option may not, in fact, be viable. Nonetheless, it is equally possible to undertake a journey of discernment.” And “if one arrives at the recognition that, in a concrete case, there are limitations that diminish responsibility and culpability (cf. 301-302), particularly when a person judges that he would fall into a subsequent fault by damaging the children of the new union, Amoris Laetitia opens up the possibility of access to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (cf. notes 336 and 351). These in turn disposes the person to continue maturing and growing with the strength of grace.
Pope Francis added the following statement which makes his stance clear: “The document is very good and completely explains the meaning of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. There are no other interpretations. And I am certain that it will do much good. May the Lord reward this effort of pastoral charity.” At this point this is the text we must deal with.

Since that letter was sent we now have at least two bishops conferences, the German conference, and the conference of Malta are now following the document as Pope Francis' letter teaches. We now have at least one bishops conference, that of Poland who will not follow the document as the letter says it should be. Thus we do now have a clear position of the pope and the willingness or unwillingness of the bishops to follow along with this novel teaching. For those who are saying that unless Pope Francis responds to the dubia directly that he has not in effect answered, I find to be problematic. Again, if you are sitting at the dinner table and you ask someone a question and they rudely turn away from you and give the answer to another party across the table, do you not have your answer? Sure it wasn't formally addressed to you, but you did hear his answer to the question. You also see the result of his answer when the party across the table starts to follow his answer. You also should be concerned when you have another party who overheard the answer rejects it openly.

So now what? This is where the difficulty lies with these cardinals who brought forth the dubia. For those Catholics who are attacking these cardinals, I would ask that you actually ponder on the gravity of what these cardinals have done thus far, and are going to have to do in the future, unless pope Francis makes a pronouncement changing his stance. Its one thing to be a blogger behind a keyboard and play 'I wanna be St Athanasius' and another to be an actual cardinal who is going to have to do something that really has not been done before in the history of the Church. They are in effect going to have to call out the pope in public and accuse him of teaching false doctrine though his document and formal letter! I do not fault the speed at which these cardinals are moving, because this is a serious matter and it must be done with much prayer and care for Church. What we should be doing as Catholic laity is praying for these cardinals like we have never prayed before so they can be guided by the Holy Spirit to do what they have to do, in God's time not ours. I am one talk, since most people who know me understand that impatience is one of my weaknesses. I do think that they do need to speak, since silence is to give a place to error, which in turn rots souls! Let us however overcome our weak inclinations so that when the cardinals act, and I believe they will, will act in accordance with truth and charity according to God's will.

In summary, we are facing a crisis in the Church today that we have not really faced in this manner before. It appears to me that although the pope has not bound anyone to follow his document, he has indeed answered. Since the pope has not bound anyone to follow his Argentinian interpretation to the document, we have yet to see any formal heresy taught from the chair of Peter, which I think will not happen. However, this does not mitigate the immense damage done by his letter giving his teaching on the document. I would never dare presume to formally declare any pope a formal heretic, it is not my God given competency to do so. There have been in the past many strange things that have happened with past popes and I think we are sure to see something happen in the future that baffles us. I also am not one to fall into the sede-vacantism camp. We must remain faithful however to constant teaching of the Church which teaches that one who is living in adultery cannot receive Holy Communion. They must first live as brother and sister and make a firm purpose of amendment. Any teaching which goes against this clear and objective teaching is wrong and as Catholic laity we are bound to follow this teaching of Christ. Not even the pope can change this teaching, which even Cardinal Muller, of the CDF has said. For more on his recent response click on this link.

Finally can we say that Pope Francis has answered, although not directly to the cardinals? I think the answer is yes. So let us now pray for the cardinals who are seeking to uphold the true teaching for the salvation of souls. Let us pray that the confusion that has been brought about by this document will be done away with. There is also a great summary given yesterday by Father Gerald Murray which sums up the past year well on the document. Let us pray for Cardinal Burke and the other Cardinals who are carrying a heavy cross.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Latin Mass! EWTN Live - 2017-06-14 - Peter Kwasniewski Phd

Check out one of the latest live shows with Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.

Don't forget to pick up his latest book! I am into chapter 3 already!

World Over - 2017-06-22- Cardinals Plea to Pope, Edward Pentin Fr Gerald...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Catherine of Siena: Spiritual Development in Her Life and Teaching- Book Review

Catherine of Siena: Spiritual Development in Her Life and Teaching

I spent the past two weeks reading this wonderful book after having just finished reading Catherine's Dialogue a few weeks ago. McDermott's book is a wonderful spiritual journey through the life of the great St Catherine of Siena. It covers the important spiritual events in her life and then digs deeper to explain them, which allows you to eventually apply her spiritual teachings to your own life. After a biographical account of her life the author covers the spiritual teaching and development that Catherine espouses in her Letters and her Dialogue. Topics such as her fundamental maxim revealed to her by God the Father, 'You are who are not and I am who am!' are explained in great detail allowing the reader to examine their own spiritual life in the mirror of Catherine's teaching. Lastly the book offers an explanation as to how her spiritual teaching and development was experienced in her own life. The book shows clearly how this spiritual teaching applies to all souls.

As Catholics today, we face immense challenges in the world and in the Church. Catherine also faced many similar challenges making her an excellent companion in our lives. In Catherine's time she faced a corrupt Church with corrupt clergy who were misleading souls. Her spiritual approach to these problems is a must needed approach for our time. Without a robust spiritual life bound together with true charity in God's grace, we will not be able to reform today's Church, just as it was not possible to do in her time. How many there are on the Internet complaining about the apostasy in the Church and how few there are who have spent the immense time in prayer to actually affect meaningful change. Catherine teaches how one must start off simply by repenting and ridding one's life of serious sin, then progressing on the Bridge of Christ Crucified further developing in the charity of God. It took Catherine many years to prepare before God called her to go out and teach and serve the public. In fact, she spent four years under the stairs in immense prayer and sacrifice before she even began to go out and do much in charitable works.

Above all, Catherine fit the spirit of her father St Dominic, which was to give oneself to God for the love of neighbor and the salvation of their souls. One of the teachings we miss most today is seeing our neighbor in the image and likeness of God, and treating them as if they were Christ Himself! Yes it is easy to go home, pray, go to church, pray, be around friends and family and then develop a false view of oneself as being pious. It is quite another reality to have formed one's soul in the love of God to where one will sacrifice for their neighbors. God the Father tells Catherine that unless you love your neighbor in a manner that is never self serving, then you don't love Him in a manner that is not self serving. Catherine refers to this type of serving God as being a servile servant. Serving God only for one's own gain. God the Father continues to tell her that how one treats their neighbor is a litmus test as to how much they actually love God. Food for thought!

There are many lessons to be learned if one takes their time to read and meditate on the passages in this book which quotes primarily from Catherine's Dialogue, her Letters and Sacred Scripture. There are also comparisons to the teachings of some of the Church Fathers and Saints as well. The book is well written and thoughtfully laid out. It is repetitious at times but in a pleasant way that keeps reemphasizing the spiritual themes that permeate Catherine's life and her work. This allows you to internalize her thought. For example the three powers of the soul, memory, knowledge and will are shown in several examples throughout the book so that you can properly understand Catherine's teaching in the context of her writings. After reading the 368 pages you become intimately familiar with Catherine and her spiritual thought as well as how to make them your own. I highly recommend picking this book up, and it is a great companion to have alongside as you read her famous Dialogue.  

Thomas McDermott’s magisterial book is the first work in English that does full justice to the systematic theological importance of Catherine of Siena’s teaching. Readers will find their thinking freed from the styles and whims of so much writing on ‘spirituality’ and set firmly on the path that Jesus himself trod with his disciples.”
—Benedict M. Ashley, OP, Professor Emeritus
Aquinas Institute of Theology, Saint Louis, MO

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What about the 'Catholic Option'?

So there seems to be a new craze going around with books coming out with the title "Option" in them. First we had the 'Benedict Option' now we have the 'Marian Option'. Who knows what other "options" will be coming out soon to capitalize on this fad. Why does it seem however that we have forgotten the 'Catholic Option'? We should all know as Catholics Mary is not an option. I am sure there is more to the book than presenting her as a mere option, however the title is in my opinion not appealing. Mary the Mother of God is worthy of our love and devotion, and no Catholic should see devotion to her as a mere option. The 'Benedict Option' seems to me to be something non-obtainable for many Catholics. Not everyone can flee to communal living. God put us in various situations depending on who we are and what God has called us to do. What seems to me then to be the logical choice is to live the 'Catholic Option' no matter where we may find ourselves.

What is the 'Catholic Option'? It is the option to attempt to follow and live the Catholic faith as it has been revealed to us by Christ through His one and only Church. This means that we have to use our intellect and our will to pursue God through His Church with everything we have, mind body and soul. This means we actually believe and live by Christ and His teachings and attempt to rid ourselves of sin by sincere prayer, meditation, contemplation, penance and reception of the Sacraments. It means that no matter what the world is doing, no matter what off the cuff ridiculous statements Pope Francis makes on the plane, no matter what our government is doing, that we remain faithful to God no matter where we live or what situation we may find ourselves.

We do not have to run off to the country and live in a community to live our faith. We don't have to use any options other than the 'Catholic Option' in order to save our souls and the souls of those around us. It is by our steadfast faith that we must rely on and our willingness to live it in the face of any and all obstacles. We know that the world is an obstacle and will be until the end of time. Satan is using all of his resources to bring down the Church and anyone attempting to live a life that is faithful to Christ. It is only through the 'Catholic Option' that we may find faith, hope charity, internal peace and eternal salvation. In my mind we don't need novel ideas or slogans to live by, we need to live Christ crucified through His one and only Church, no matter the cost.

What does the 'Catholic Option' look like? It looks pretty much the same no matter who you are and where you live and what situation you find yourself. This is the beauty of it! This is not to imply that there are not different aspects of spirituality, Dominican, Franciscan, etc. but the list below can be applied pretty much across the board to the average layperson.

1. Dedicate yourself to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, Christ's one and only Church despite all of the flaws you can see by those who live inside of it.

2. Believe in and live, with all your heart, all of the doctrines, and dogmas Christ teaches through His Church.

3. Live all of the precepts of the Church with charity, not as if they are only written rules.

4. Pray and meditate for as much as time permits everyday in your home, place of work, car, or in recreation.

5. Have a strong devotion to Our Lady, the Mother of God and ask for her constant intercession.

6. Have devotion to the Saints, and ask for their intercession.

7. Read the Scriptures, spend time reading Catholic dogmatic and spiritual works as well as the lives of the Saints. Live Lectio Divina.

8. Receive the Sacraments of Confession, and the Eucharist (in the state of grace) as often as possible.

9. Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

10. Preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness:  But unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

So then the 'Catholic Option' seems to me to be the best option! Let us live it to perfection!

Perfection is this: that the Word, the Son of God, fed at the table of holy desire for the honour of God and for our salvation; and with this desire ran with great zeal to the shameful death of the Cross, avoiding neither toil nor labour, not drawing back for the ingratitude and ignorance of us men who did not recognize His benefits, nor for the persecution of the Jews, nor for mockery or insults or criticism of the people, but underwent them all, like our captain and true knight, who was come to teach us His way and rule and doctrine, opening the door with the keys of His precious Blood, shed with ardent love and hatred against sin. As says this sweet, loving Word, "Behold, I have made you a way, and opened the door with My blood. Be you then not negligent to follow it, and do not sit yourselves down in self-love, ignorantly failing to know the Way, and presumptuously wishing to choose it after your own fashion, and not after Mine who made it. Rise up then, and follow Me: for no one can go to the Father but by Me. I am the Way and the Door." (St Catherine of Siena)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Two New Books! 'The Political Pope', 'By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed'

There are two new books out that are very informative. The first is 'The Political Pope'  by George Neumayr and the second is 'By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed' by Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette. The first book chronicles the papacy of Pope Francis as well as his life in Argentina. If you want to get a gist of who Pope Francis really is and why he says and does the things he does, this book is a must read. The book is not for the faint of heart.

The second book I just received yesterday and I am well into the first of four chapters. Anyone who wants to understand capital punishment and its history in relation to Catholicism will find this book well researched. There are four chapters covering the natural law, scripture, tradition and social scientific material which all prove that the death penalty is not evil, and in fact when carried out justly is an actual good for society. The book is over 400 pages and is sure to be the definitive guide to Catholic teaching on the death penalty for years to come. I think it will surely ruffle the feathers of those peddling the false narrative that the death penalty is evil and needs to be totally abolished.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Does Christ Command the Impossible?

With all of the buzz going about concerning marriage, divorce and the Pope's document 'Amoris Latetia' I thought it would be good to examine some of the demands of Christ. Demands you ask? Why yes, demands. Throughout the Gospels, many times Christ gives his followers demands, or rules to live by. They are not suggestions, but objective rules that must be followed in order to obtain the kingdom of God. In other words, these demands proved or disproved one's love for God. This happens many times, for example, in John Chapter 6 Jesus speaks of His Body and Blood being given to be eaten. He goes so far as to let everyone walk away from Him without hesitation who reject His teaching. Why do we believe that Jesus Christ is present in His entire Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist? Because He said so. He demanded that we believe it to be so. Is this an absolute teaching that we must believe in order to please God? Yes it is, and it is a bar that must be met with faith, it is not optional.  Thus our Lord spoke, "Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.... For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed..These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. Many therefore of his disciples, hearing it, said: This saying is hard, and who can hear it? But Jesus, knowing in himself, that his disciples murmured at this, said to them: Doth this scandalize you? If then you shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing. The words that I have spoken to you, are spirit and life. But there are some of you that believe not....After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6:54-69)

Does Our Lord give us any secondary options to those who would deny His command? It seems He does not. Those who got up and left Him denying His teaching were obviously not pleasing to Him. Saint Peter gives the only possible pleasing answer to this hard teaching, "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." Any other answer to the question is wrought with sin; a denial to believe what Christ was teaching. The alternative behavior to Saint Peter's demonstrates a lack of faith. Can we compare this to Christ's words on marriage? I believe this to be the case. We as Catholics believe Christ's teaching on marriage and divorce because He commands it. One cannot be pleasing to God who commits adultery. Christ once again speaks clearly and without hesitation to the apostles who once again view it as a hard teaching given their response that it may be better not to even marry, "And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said: For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away? He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery. His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry. Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother' s womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it." (Matthew 19:1-12)

We are hearing many voices today who are saying that although Christ is teaching an ideal, not all today can meet that ideal. This is a fantastical error in judgement by those who espouse such. Does Christ command the impossible? Were the ten commandments mere suggestions? Did Christ abolish the ten commandments? Of course we answer all in the negative. Christ commands only what He gives grace to meet His commands. Yes we could say that His commandment on divorce may be humanly impossible for some on a natural level. We however were not created for the natural, but the supernatural. Thus we must have supernatural grace in order to meet Christ's commands, and if we have not that grace, they become impossible! Those who are telling us that adulterers are now permitted to receive communion are openly rejecting Christ's teaching and are putting such souls in further jeopardy by encouraging them to continue living in such a sinful state. Thus we see at least three Sacraments being effected by this heresy. Marriage, the Eucharist, and Confession.

The Sacrament of marriage is being destroyed by adultery, the Eucharist is being profaned by those who take of it unworthily, and those going to confession without a firm purpose of amendment profane that sacrament. We must now more than ever cling to the words and teaching of Christ. They are not mere words and teachings of men, but of God. Those who seek to undermine His teaching anathemetize themselves from the Body of Christ. They are murderers of the gospel, and murderers of souls. I could go on with more of Christ's hard commands that we must accept and live by. There are many more examples. I can sum it up; being a faithful follower of Christ isn't always easy. Is it hard to live the gospel? Yes, and no. On a mere natural level it is impossible. With God's grace it is hard, especially for those who have lived without grace for many years. However, Christ gives us the grace to follow Him faithfully, and He makes it easier the more closer we grow in His love. Christ does not command the impossible, and there are no secondary options for His commands. There is no acceptable lower bar for which the Eucharist can be understood, and there is no acceptable lower bar for which one can remain faithful to their marriage vows.

Finally, if one were to accept these crazy proposals on how some cannot meet the "ideal" on marriage, where does this rationality stop? Is there now a lower bar for chastity? Is a frustrated single person who feels they cannot meet the high bar of chastity now permitted to frequent a brothel while looking for a spouse? How about the corporation who cannot meet the high ideal of paying the agreed upon wage of their workers? Should they defraud their workers of their agreed wages until their stocks come back into the stockholders ideal price? Only a fool would think to propose a sliding scale of morality. The only result is a slippery slope which all who tread upon will wind up sliding into the abyss of hell. We can ask ourselves, did Christ almost give His life on the cross? Did He almost suffer for our sins? Did He give a sliding scale to us when He commanded us not to sin? Bottom line for Catholics, you either resolve to live the hard teachings with God's grace, or you don't.

Pre-Lenten Meditation 2017- Charity

This Lent I will be posting periodically on spiritual topics that go along with the season. Today I wanted to comment on today's epistle, which gives a good foundation on what the Lenten season should do for us; first and foremost to strengthen us in divine filiation, or charity.

EPISTLE (I Cor. 13:1-13)

Brethren: If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Saint Paul here is telling us the importance of having a divine relationship above all things. This means that although men may do "good" things for others, unless one has charity, or divine grace within them it is ultimately worth nothing. This is one of the dangers today of the 'good works' clubs going around trying to make the world a better place. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with doing kind things to help others, but when it comes to working in true charity, driven by the grace of God, there is nothing more useless than works. Unfortunately we see many of these interfaith groups stressing social justice and yet say nothing of the love of Christ and His love for man. Its as if making the world a better place has now become man centered, not God centered for many of these groups, which happen to call themselves Catholic. There are also many dangers that these types of groups and people can cause others even though it seems they are doing good things for others. One of them is that these works can often replace God.

What does having charity mean for a Catholic?  It does not mean having feelings for others or merely wanting to do something good for someone. It means first and foremost that one is in a state of grace, and that God is the primary motivation for directing of one's will. Saint Paul is careful to tell us that though one can do extraordinary things, good works, and even have faith, they can still lack charity. This means that one can even go to Mass every week and have faith, and still lack divine filiation through grace. A Catholic can have faith, do all kinds of works, and still lose their soul. God the Father speaking to St Catherine of Siena said, "No virtue, my daughter, can have life in itself except through charity...Thus, every act of help that he performs should proceed from the charity which he has through love of Me."

As we begin Lent, I think it is important that we meditate strengthening our relationship with God. This means that we must cooperate with God's grace to a greater extent than we have before. If we are in a state of mortal sin, we have no charity, and therefore we must receive the Sacrament of Confession. Once we are in a state of grace we must strengthen our relationship with God. This means more prayer and more meditation during Lent so that we can receive an increase of charity. Having charity means that God's love lives within us. The more charity one has the more he or she loves God. This should be our main goal during Lent, to love God more. Only when one has this charity can one's works and gifts truly be of any value. It is in God's charity that we then are able to love others, our neighbor. So as we prepare for Lent, this will be one of my main meditations. I pray that throughout this Lent I will be strengthened in God's grace so that I may have an increase of charity. 

How virtues are accomplished by means of our neighbor, and how it is that virtues differ to such an extent in creatures. (From the Dialog of St Catherine of Siena)

"I have told you how all sins are accomplished by means of your neighbor, through the principles which I exposed to you, that is, because men are deprived of the affection of love, which gives light to every virtue. In the same way self-love, which destroys charity and affection towards the neighbor, is the principle and foundation of every evil. All scandals, hatred, cruelty, and every sort of trouble proceed from this perverse root of self-love, which has poisoned the entire world, and weakened the mystical body of the Holy Church, and the universal body of the believers in the Christian religion; and, therefore, I said to you, that it was in the neighbor, that is to say in the love of him, that all virtues were founded; and, truly indeed did I say to you, that charity gives life to all the virtues, because no virtue can be obtained without charity, which is the pure love of Me.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bishop Athanasius Schneider Answers

Be sure to watch this entire interview with Bishop Schneider, and pass it along.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Luther: Just as Wrong Now as He Was Then

Luther: Just as Wrong Now as He Was Then.

Therefore let Martin himself and all those adhering to him, and those who shelter and support him, through the merciful heart of our God and the sprinkling of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ by which and through whom the redemption of the human race and the upbuilding of holy mother Church was accomplished, know that from our heart we exhort and beseech that he cease to disturb the peace, unity, and truth of the Church for which the Savior prayed so earnestly to the Father. Let him abstain from his pernicious errors that he may come back to us. If they really will obey, and certify to us by legal documents that they have obeyed, they will find in us the affection of a father's love, the opening of the font of the effects of paternal charity, and opening of the font of mercy and clemency. (Exsurge Dominiissued June 15, 1520 by Pope Leo X)

Who would ever have thought we would see a pope lauding the likes of the confused charlatan Martin Luther? In general I do not like to focus on the latest absurdities coming out of the Vatican. Many of the news headlines strung together day in, day out show much like a low budget soap opera. We could call it, 'As the Vatican Turns.' Certain things however I find hard to let pass by especially when it comes to the salvation of souls. I continuously see an erroneous narrative being put forth in the media by the Vatican which is hindering evangelization. Would most Lutherans today ever consider converting to the Catholic faith based on what we are hearing from the Vatican media? Notice I distinguish between the Vatican media and the Church. The Church cannot err, and yet individuals in the Church acting through the Vatican can err. Should we sit by silently with all of this absurd Martin Luther, Reformation praising nonsense being peddled? I don't think we should sit by silently while a false narrative continues to be painted which effect the souls of millions across the globe. Most people hearing the Vatican media will not distinguish between it and the formal teachings of the Church. That being the case I believe that each one of us can make a difference if we stand up for the truth of the Church so it is not hidden underneath what we see in the media.

Unfortunately Pope Francis and several of his cohorts in the Vatican have now made several public statements which are fundamentally false concerning the Reformation and Martin Luther. The statements are misleading to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, which could very well affect the salvation of souls. There are two statements that have been made recently among many, that I wish address in this article.

1. Pope Francis commenting on Luther’s view of justification. “Today, Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err.”

2. The ecumenical document ‘From Conflict to Communion’ released under the watch of Pope Francis states the following, “29. Implicit rapprochement with Luther’s concerns has led to a new evaluation of his catholicity, which took place in the context of recognizing that his intention was to reform, not to divide, the church. This is evident in the statements of Johannes Cardinal Willebrands and Pope John Paul II. The rediscovery of these two central characteristics of his person and theology led to a new ecumenical understanding of Luther as a “witness to the gospel.”

In order to address these two erroneous statements, we must look at the facts. What was Luther’s view of justification, and does it coincide with the Catholic doctrine on justification? This should not be a hard question to answer since Catholic saints, popes and apologists have addressed this for almost 500 years now. But for my own exercise, and the benefit of my few readers, I will proceed. Luther’s teaching on justification is sometimes summed up as ‘Sola Fide’ or 'Faith Alone.' Luther’s confusing ideas lead him to despise many pious prayerful exercises like the Rosary for example. Luther claimed that works themselves were not sufficient means of salvation and he erroneously denied works done through grace are part of our justification. As Catholics we could indeed say that works done outside of the state of sanctifying grace are not salvific, but we would never deny that works are a part of the way God works out our justification.

For example, Luther said, "Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” Luther seems to think that works done in grace are merely outward signs of someone’s faith. In reality he denies the actual justification that God is working through those works, which is an error of the gravest proportion. Luther shows his erring understanding further when he states the following about Catholic “works”, “How they mislead people with their good works! They call good works what God has not commanded, as pilgrimages, fasting, building and decorating their churches in honor of the saints, saying mass, paying for vigils, praying with rosaries, much prattling and bawling in churches, turning nun, monk, priest, using special food, raiment or dwelling,-who can enumerate all the horrible abominations and deceptions? This is the pope's government and holiness.” The very fact that Luther attacks these pious acts should disturb any Catholic, but let us go deeper.

The problem here lies in the fact that Luther completely denied the notion that God actually perfects His elect by the works He does through them. Hence the age-old doctrine of deification. Luther taught that man was merely covered over by Christ’s grace, and not actually transformed by grace. The fact that Luther defines praying the rosary and saying Mass as man made evils, should give any sane Catholic a clue that he was not at all correct in his idea of justification, but lets continue. Luther’s error is like a snowball. It gets larger the further it rolls down the hill of heresy. Luther’s ‘Faith Alone’ doctrine when played out not only leads to denial of deification, it leads to an idea that the sinner remains a sinner and cannot stop sinning! This in turn leads people to a false confidence of their salvation, to which works are only symbols of their faith. Hence you have millions of people making mere professions of faith while not actually living their lives according Christ's demand of being perfected. (Matthew 5:48) This is not merely a matter of mild semantics, it is a fundamental difference in how one views God and how one views God's gift of grace and salvation to man.

Having been in the blogging business many years now, there will inevitably be a heckler who will say that I am not interpreting Luther properly. In order to avoid this I want to take a look at how the Lutheran’s themselves understand Luther's Sola Fide proclamation: "through faith alone" means that we believe that, to use a phrase Luther made famous, Christians are at the same time sinners and saints (simul justus et peccator). Justification is an act, a declaration. It is not a process. Through faith in Christ, and only through faith, sinners are declared to be forgiven and to be perfectly right with God. This declaration is whole and complete, totally independent of any inherent goodness in us sinners. In short, because of God's act on the cross received through faith, we sinners are declared to be perfect saints in God's sight. But this does not mean that forgiven sinners, when judged by God's law, do not continue to be sinners. We are not "perfectionists" in the sense of teaching that following conversion, Christians stop sinning. "Forgiveness is needed constantly," says Luther. "Because we are encumbered with our flesh, we are never without sin" (Large Catechism II, 54). (Taken from What do Lutherans believe? By Dr. Samuel Nafzger ) Again, for Luther God just overlooks everyone’s sin, and gives a pass to everyone’s sin after they are “justified.” The process of deification is outrightly rejected. So Luther teaches that by faith alone you have confidence that God has covered your sins, but that you still go on sinning. This is in complete contradiction to authentic Christian theology, which teaches that through God’s grace man can choose not to sin! Luther reinforces this line of thinking, “The commandments only purpose is to show man his impotence to do good and to teach him to despair of himself”

The Catholic Church teaches that when a man lives in God’s grace, everything good that they do in Christ is meritorious. That is, when man performs acts that are done in the grace of the Holy Spirit, God perfects him through those actions whatever they may be; going to Mass, praying the Rosary, etc. You know, all of things that Luther attacks. It is not as if God’s grace merely covers over the stench of man’s sin and his good works are merely outward signs of the stench being covered over. This was Luther’s foolish idea, which is actually a blasphemous insult to God, being that God wants us to live out the Commandments and not despair over them. As we will soon see, the Catholic Church condemned his teaching formally as heresy.

If we look to the infallible statements by the ecumenical Council of Trent, we can clearly see that through grace man actually receives divine filiation, through which he has the power to walk a righteous path, or follow the Commandments. After Luther boldly concocted his new teaching on justification, the Church took time to analyze his teaching, and then held the Council of Trent, which several of the canons that were proclaimed were directed toward his dangerous, perverse error. Trent clearly proclaimed that Luther’s teaching on justification to be anathema, i.e. heretical.

Canon 9: "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."

Canon 12 "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified...let him be accursed"

Finally Canon 24 drives home the error of Luther, which is still the same error today as it was then...

Canon 24: "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema."

In light of this examination I can say with complete confidence that Luther did err in his view on justification, and that Lutherans today are still teaching the same doctrine, and are hence, still in error.

This brings us to the second proclamation made by the ecumenical document ‘From Conflict to Communion’ which says Luther was a “witness to the Gospel.” At first glance after learning that his teaching on justification was completely erroneous as well as his assault on the prayerful gifts of the Rosary and other pious practices, it should be very easy to determine that he was not a "witness to the Gospel." Just for the fun of it, let us probe a little deeper into his life and statements so we may have no doubt as to his sub-defective witness to the Gospel.

Looking at Luther’s own words concerning his prayer life and his ideas of the Catholic Church give us an idea as to his credibility as being a “witness to the Gospel.” "For I am unable to pray without at the same time cursing. If I am prompted to say: 'hallowed be Thy name', I must add: 'cursed, damned, outraged be the name of the papists'. If I am prompted to say: 'Thy Kingdom come', I must perforce add: 'cursed, damned, destroyed must be the papacy.' Indeed I pray thus orally every day and in my heart without intermission" (Sammtl. W., XXV, 108). If we contradict the statements of this maniac with the statements of the Saints who are the true witnesses of the Gospel we hear a different tune. St Catherine of Siena wrote, “If you are against holy Church, how can you have a share in Christ’s blood, since the Church is none other than that same Christ?” Catherine wrote this in times that were just as corrupt as Luther’s time, and yet she loves the Church. Unlike the unhinged comments that came from the foul lips of Luther., she chooses to love despite the corruption she saw in the Church.

As we know Pope Leo X wrote a papal bull condemning Luther to which Luther responded in fury. This again demonstrates a disposition contrary to holiness. “But whoever wrote this bull, he is Antichrist. I protest before God, our Lord Jesus, his sacred angels, and the whole world that with my whole heart I dissent from the damnation of this bull, that I curse and execrate it as sacrilege and blasphemy of Christ, God's Son and our Lord. This be my recantation, Oh bull, thou daughter of bulls...Of the cross of Christ, that all men should resist them. You then, Leo X, you cardinals and the rest of you at Rome, I tell you to your faces: "If this bull has come out in your name, then I will use the power which has been given me in baptism whereby I became a son of God and co-heir with Christ, established upon the rock against which the gates of hell cannot prevail. I call upon you to renounce your diabolical blasphemy and audacious impiety, and, if you will not, we shall all hold your seat as possessed and oppressed by Satan, the damned seat of Antichrist; in the name of Jesus Christ, whom you persecute.” Does this furious rant sound like a “witness to the Gospel?”

I could go on recounting the terrible unholy life that Luther lived including the lauding of many who broke their vows including the former nun whom he “married.” I think that it is clear based on Luther’s own words and the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that he did indeed err, and he was most certainly not a “Witness to the Gospel.” He was wrong then, and he is still wrong now, no matter what proclamations we may hear coming out of the Vatican media these days. Let us pray for our dear Church and those who have mistakenly made these public proclamations so that no souls may be lost because of them. We should also inform fellow Catholics and Lutherans that we personally know about the true teaching of our Church. When we have the opportunity we should charitably preach the true Gospel so that everyone may come to know Christ through His one and only Catholic Church, for her true teachings will never cease to be proclaimed until Christ returns.

"God called me to be a Franciscan for the conversion of sinners and heretics." St Lawrence of Brindisi.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Book Review: Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition- Aumann

I have been spending a lot of time reading some great Catholic books on spirituality lately. One book I just finished was 'Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition' by Jordan Aumann. I found the book to be quite informative as a survey of Catholic spirituality from the beginning of the Church until the 20th century. Although I was aware of different schools of spirituality, I was not aware of the different nuances and emphasis of many of the various schools. The books goes far beyond the schools that most Catholics are aware of, Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, etc.

The book provides a lot of valuable information surrounding how Catholics have lived the spiritual life over the centuries. What I found most intriguing were the basics in which every school subscribes to more or less. I would summarize a list of the very basic tenets of the spiritual life as follows.

1. Sacred Scripture is the most important reading source for meditation.

2. We are created to be deified and perfected in the image of God.

3. In order to be perfected you must repent for your sins and exercise some form of ascetic penance.

4. You must detach yourself from worldly things.

5. The Eucharist is the center of our faith and spiritual nourishment.

6. We must work on exercising virtue and rooting out vice.

7. We must strive in prayer asking for all the gifts we need to grow in love of God. First vocal prayer, then meditative, and finally contemplative.

8. There are generally three stages of the spiritual life: beginners, intermediates and advanced.

These eight general tenets are the building blocks for any solid Catholic spiritual life.

The book goes through many great spiritual writers over the course of 2000 years. I will list some of them so you get an idea of what the book covers.

1. The apostolic Church from Sacred Scripture.

2. The apostolic Fathers from the Didache and Church fathers such as St Ignatius of Antioch, Origin, Tertullian, and Irenaues. It also covers in brief the Gnostic heresy.

3. Eastern Monasticism, St Antony, Macarius, Pachomius, St Basil and the Cappadocian Fathers, Evagrius, Pseudo-Dionysius and Maximus the Confessor.

4. Western Monasticism, St Jerome, St Paulinus, Martin of Tours, John Cassian, St Augustine, St Benedict of Nursia, Irish monasticism and St Gregory the Great.

5. Benedictine Spirituality in light of Benedict of Aniane, Hildemar, John of Fecamp, who are all virtually unheard of today. Also examined are the Carthusians, the Camaldolese and the Cistercians,

6. Medieval piety is covered in great detail and there are many great spiritual writers that have been  forgotten such as St Norbert and the Premonstratensians and the Canons of St Victor. The well known St Dominic, Aquinas, the Franciscans, and St Bonaventure are also discussed.

7. The chapter on Dionsian spirituality was very interesting covering Eckhart, the Beghards, the Beguinnes, the mystics of Helfta (Mechtilde of Magdeburg, Mechtilde of Hackeborn, St Gertrude the Great), Tauler and Suso are also of interest.

8. The English mystics such as Walter Hilton, and Julian of Norwich are covered.

9. Devotio Moderna covers writers such as John Busch, John Gerson, Gerard Groote, Thomas a Kempis and two of my favorites, St Catherine of Siena and Denis the Carthusian.

10. Post-Tridentine Spirituality is filled with unknown writers, John Wessel Gransfort, John Mombaer, St. Laurance Justinian as well as some more well known such as St. Thomas More, Erasmus, Ignaitus of Loyola, Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross

11. The golden age of Spain is also covered and you get know about Alonso of Madrid, Francis de Osuna, Bernardine of Laredo, St Peter of Alcantara, Louis of Grenada, John of Avila, Alphonsus Rodriguez and Alvarez de Paz.

12. The Italian mystics are not left out, John Baptist la Crema, Laurence Scupoli, Magdalene of Pazzi, Catherine de Ricci and St Philp Neri and the great Francis de Sales are covered.

13.  The book also has a fact packed chapter on modern spirituality and the French school of spirituality. I learned about many unknowns such as Peter de Berulle who pioneered the concept of slavery to Jesus and Mary well before St Louis de Montfort came along to invigorate it once again.
Other influential unknowns such as Charles Condren and Jean-Jacques Olier are discussed.

14. The errors of Jansenism and Quietism are discussed in detail as well as the orthodox writers like Louis Lallemant, John Cheron, John Grou, the great St Alphonsus Liguouri and John Baptist Scaramelli are also of interest.

15. We get a breif overview of the German mystics John Sailor, John Jospeh Gorres, and Anna Catherine Emmerich.

16. The modern English writers David Augustine Baker and Richard Challoner are covered in brief.

17. The book ends with some of the great modern spiritual figures, St Therese of Liseux, and Elizabeth of the Trinity, while also briefly covering others such as Maritain, Dom Guerganger and Garrigou Lagrange.

Overall the book is a pleasure to read and you get the basic spiritual tenets of each of these interesting figures. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in knowing where the many spiritual practices we know of today originated from, and how there came to be different emphasis on spiritual practices depending on the time it was needed in the Church. I warn you however, if you are book hoarder like myself you may be ordering more books for your library!