Friday, October 25, 2019

Aquinas and Cut and Paste Apologetics

One of the many things that I hear today's Catholic pop-apologists doing that drive me crazy is using the Summa Theologica as an encyclopedia to support their arguments. They do this without having studied the Summa as a whole, nor have they studied Thomas's other works or the interpretation of reliable commentators on his works. This falls into the same "cut and paste" apologetics mentality when quoting the Church Fathers. They simply do not study the context of these writings nor the theological approach used in these writings.


I was listening to a recent debate/discussion between Trent Horn and Tim Gordon today. Hats off to Tim Gordon on the debate. Unfortunately, I listened to Mr. Trent Horn quote the Summa Theologica out of context in his defense of the recent condemnation of the death penalty by Pope Francis. It was quite clear that he had no idea as to other texts of St. Thomas on the same subject, nor did he understand Thomas' use of the common good, or "human dignity" which Thomas never uses in the same context used today.

For one, Thomas' use of the common good was not confined to the physical protection of the public. In addition, Mr. Horn claimed that St. Thomas thought that man lost his human dignity when Thomas makes reference in justifying the death penalty. Horn emphatically says he disagrees with Thomas! But if Mr. horn understood what Thomas was actually saying, would he disagree?  It is important to understand that Thomas does not refer to "dignity" as it is being used by today's theologians. Thomas refers to dignity not in relation to the imago dei (the image and likeness of God), which obviously cannot be lost, but in relation to the civil society by the crime the person committed! This is a huge difference since human dignity is often used in reference to man being created in the image and likeness of God. This is just one example of today's Catholic apologists quoting Aquinas out of context, and it really irks me.

I want to make a quick list here concerning today's pop-apologists using the Summa Theologica, or any of Thomas' works for that matter, as reference books to look up topics and quote from them as if each topical entry stands on its own. There are some basic things to know about Aquinas in general before quoting passages from his works such as Summa Theologica.

1. If you use the Summa Theologica as a theological encyclopedia, you have no business quoting from it. This is a huge mistake. Instead of reading the text as it was intended to be read, from the beginning to the end, people open up the index and simply look for the topic they are interested in. This poses a serious problem. As they say, an error, in the beginning, is an error indeed! Saint Thomas' writings do not afford us the luxury of repetitive summary that modern publications often use. Once Saint Thomas has set up an important point, he often makes no mention of it again, and simply builds upon that principle throughout the work. This happens many times throughout the Summa Theologica. So one cannot go into the Summa and simply start cutting out passages without having first understood core principals of the theology that Saint Thomas laid out in earlier parts of the work, or even in his other works. Thomas also assumes a certain knowledge that his readers of the time will have just as modern authors assume some knowledge of their reading audience.  
2. If you have not studied Thomas in Latin or have at least gone to educated commentators on Thomas who understand Latin then you are prone to quote Thomas out of context. Trust me, I have been there!
3. If your only knowledge of Thomas' works is the Summa Theologica, then please do not ever quote from it! You have no business doing so.
4. If you have never studied metaphysics and learned the first principles in Aristotelian philosophy then you have no business quoting Aquinas. Put some effort into learning how Thomas thinks. 
5. There is a reason that many theologians spend their lives studying the works of Aquinas. His works are not like reading modern theological authors who are writing in our own language. Nor are his writings to be understood by using today's assumed theological terminology. When we read a word in Thomas' writings only a fool would assume to think that it always means what it means in today's modern languages. This means that it takes either studying Latin along with medieval theology or referencing theologians who have done the homework for you. Don't make a fool out of yourself. 
Although I love St. Thomas Aquinas and his writings, I am very careful before I quote any of his works. Since I am by no means an expert on Aquinas, before I use a quote I always look to reliable commentators to see how they understand it. I also make an effort to read from multiple Thomistic sources, not just the Summa Theologica. Please do not abuse Aquinas' writings. It takes much study and work to aptly make use of them. Aquinas is worth much more than today's cut and paste methods.




Monday, October 14, 2019

Beware of the John Henry Newman "Experts"!

As expected, there are many people trying to capitalize on the canonization of John Henry Newman. "Newman experts" are coming out of the woodwork everywhere. There are two types of Newman predators, monetary and theological. There are several authors that were just waiting in the wings with their Newman books so that they can make money off the canonization. The others are going to use Newman as a tool to promote their bad theological ideas under the disguise of his 'development of doctrine.' I would be very careful about buying or reading any new books on Cardinal Newman. I personally will intentionally avoid any of them. Although a brilliant mind and a prolific writer, I am not a huge fan of Newman's theology. I have the books below and find that they are well written and quite enough for my own interest. If I were to recommend some books on him, they would be the ones listed below.



Apologia pro Vita Sua- John Henry Newman

Selected Sermons- John Henry Newman

An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine- John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman: A Biography- Ian Kerr

Newman: His Life and Spirituality- Louis Bouyer

The Rule of Our Warfare: John Henry Newman and the True Christian Life- John Hulsman

Lead Kindly Light: The Life of John Henry Newman- Michael Davies

The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman- Wilfrid Ward (out of print, look for it used)

Friday, October 11, 2019

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Our Lack of Holiness Has Brought Us Chastisement!

"...as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. But to us God hath revealed them, by this Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; that we may know the things that are given us from God. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom; but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not these things that are of the Spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand, because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things; and he himself is judged of no man."
(1st Corinthians 2:9-15)


Any Catholic who is trying to live the Catholic faith with total fidelity to her teachings finds themselves baffled by a world and a Church governed by the totalitarian regime of relativism. Why is it that a large portion of the Church's hierarchy now question clear and simple truths of the faith? The natural law along with Church doctrine, faith and morals is being undermined in a concerted effort as never before. It is no surprise to find many outside the Church mocking and questioning the Church's teaching on contraception, homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, and the like, but quite another when we find traitors among us inside the Church who do the same.

It is an important question to ask why we now find ourselves in what seems an almost hopeless situation. Of course we know that the Church will withstand this storm as she has done the many others throughout history. However, I think it is important to look at the very nature of the origin of the crisis we now face rather than the symptoms, if we are going to contribute to the well being of the Church. Yes, we have seen the watering down of doctrine and liturgy devolve further into outright denial of absolute truths of our faith. We must ask what preceded these abominable attacks on the faith. 

Many of us love to harken back to the pontificates of Pius IX, Pius X, Leo XIII and Pius XII among others. We love the clearness of their teachings and their boldness in opposing the noxious errors of modernism. We often perceive the later pontificates of Pope John XXIII, Paul VI and the current pontificates as allowing modernism to flourish in the Church by various degrees. If only this was the simple story that explains everything! It is not quite this simple. The failings of various pontificates in whatever degree they may be does not totally account for our perilous situation.

If the only requirement of the papacy and the accompanying hierarchical structure of the Church was to teach the faith clear and precise, would we now find ourselves in this situation? Although we know of the undeniable infiltration of the Church by Masonic and other evil influences is a reality, is this the sole cause of the dire straights we find ourselves in today? Does the barque of Peter find itself on the cusp of going over the Niagra Falls loosing many souls aboard only due to poor catechesis? 

It is a fact that the papacy and the bishops of the world did a fairly decent job of preserving the Catholic teachings well into the 1950's. This however did not prevent the crisis we find ourselves in which quickly came to light a mere 10 to 15 years after this so called golden age. How can something this horrific have developed in such a short time in the hierarchy? The fact is, it was present under the surface for years before in the form of spiritual lukewarmness. Although the teachings of the Church was being taught fairly well prior to the 60s, Catholics were not truly living them.

It is my belief that a lack of holiness among Catholics, laymen and clergy included preceded the tearing down of Catholic theology. Under the surface of the golden age a garden of sin was being cultivated at a rapid pace. If the faith was being lived in its fullness by a majority of Catholics, modernism would never have taken hold in the Church. Clergy were already abusing the young and although they were on the surface teaching the Catholic faith, they were not living it. The average Catholic lay person was living a very similar life to the secular public in the 1950s. A false perception of holiness only for the clergy had already taken hold, despite Church teaching to the contrary. 

The reason we find ourselves in the dire straights of heresy and apostasy is because a large portion of Catholics were not and are still not living the Catholic faith. They are not living in a state of grace, in a life of prayer that is pleasing to God. Just knowing the true Catholic faith is not enough, dare I say it becomes one's own millstone when one knows it and does not live it. Most Catholics did not and still do not take the call to holiness seriously. They do not pray and make sacrifices, nor do they speak out against the grotesque sins of the age as we are obligated to do under the virtue of prudence. Instead a lukewarmness pervades the Church like a spiritual specter of the black plague, killing souls instead of bodies at an unprecedented rate. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, nor hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.(Rev 3:15-16)

It is time to call on Catholics both laity and clergy to teach the truth as it has been handed down to us by Christ and His apostles, but also to help each other live a life of holiness to which all of these teachings direct us. We must direct our lives to one end only, and that is God almighty. We should not turn the Catholic faith into a lifeless theological study where you check off the required boxes. We study theology in order to love God more, to enter into a mystical relationship with the Holy Trinity. Nothing other than this end is acceptable. For those of you who have read my blog over the years, you know that I am not downplaying learning the Catholic faith, as I have promoted many traditional theological and spiritual works many times. As we study however we must put our faith into true action led by the Holy Trinity.




Here are a ten things to consider in your efforts to help rectify the problems in the Church. Are you ultimately part of the problem, or part of the solution?

1. Do you primarily pray only when you have a problem, or only a few times a week at home? 

2. Do you spend more time watching television or doing other things of natural pleasure than you do praying? 

3. Are you one who spends more time on the internet complaining about the problems in the Church and fighting with your fellow Catholics than you do praying and performing acts of penance such as fasting? 

4. Do you spend more time supplying your ego with knowledge in reading books rather than reading for your spiritual edification and growth towards holiness?

5. Do you spend more time in serious sin than in a state of grace? 

6. Do you frequent the Sacraments as mere dry mechanisms and not with a holy fear of the divine grace that comes through them?

7. Does your weekly spirituality only consist of attending your Sunday obligation of the Holy Mass? 

8. Do the pleasures of this world succeed in pulling your attention away from God for lengthy periods of time minimizing your interior life with God? 

9. Do you put theology or spirituality above one another as if they are separate entities to be studied or followed? 

10. Do you separate theological truths from the lived application of holiness that God calls us to, and do you refuse to stand up in faith for the Church where God calls you to do so? 

10.5 . Does everything you do in private or in public done with true charity, which is only possibly done in a state of grace?

If you answered any of the first 10 questions in the affirmative, you are part of the problem not the solution. If you answered no to the final question than those times when you did not act in charity, you were part of the problem. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but none of us unless you are a true Saint has not been part of the problem. If you find yourself lacking in your spiritual life now is the most efficacious time of your life to rectify it. I believe that those who live a life of holiness in our age will be among the greatest Saints of the Church! 

There is no substitute for prayer, spiritual study, the cultivation of the interior life and the holiness that proceeds from these actions. We are all called to holiness, and unless we lead a life of holiness, even though we may believe and teach rightly what the Church hands on to us, we will continue to find ourselves in the horrific situation we find ourselves in today.  Right doctrine is a must, but insofar as it leads to right living, cultivating holiness in the spiritual life in the unity of the Holy Trinity. Otherwise the teachings of the Church are only only falling upon lukewarm dead souls. 

I will end with these requests of Our Lady at Fatima, which are largely being ignored by most Catholics. 


"The sins of the world are very great ... If men only knew what eternity is, they would do everything in their power to change their lives. "

"I am the Lady of the Rosary, I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men. People must say the Rosary. Let them continue saying it every day.

"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice, 'O my Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. ' "

"Pray, pray a great deal and make many sacrifices, for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and to pray for them. "

"Fly from riches and luxury; love poverty and silence; have charity, even for bad people."


Sister Lucia said, "... there is certainly a great need for this renewal. If it is not done, and taking into account the present development of humanity, only a limited number of the human race will be saved."


Monday, September 23, 2019

Book Recommendation: Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church

Book Recommendation: Love for the Papacy and Filial Resistance to the Pope in the History of the Church

For those who are concerned about the direction Pope Francis is taking the Church today, this book is for you. In the first part of the book Roberto de Mattei does a great job of showing historical circumstances in which those in the Church legitimately opposed various popes for different reasons. This includes 19 essays which cover historical events such as Pope Honorius who was called out as a heretic by the Cardinals of the Church and Pope John XXII who was also a known heretic. There are also other interesting essays such as the one on Pope Leo XIIIs poor decisions on how he delegated the Church's relationship with secular society, which Pope Pius X later reversed. The second part of the book consists of four lectures and a postscript which offer a terrific defence of the papacy while maintaining a proper critical response to a pope when he is in error. The book is not just a critical look at the present papacy, but offers hope that God will bring the Church through this crisis as He has done many other times in the history of the Church. The author calls all men of good faith to remain in the Church and fight for the papacy! I can't recommend this book enough. This book is mandatory reading for all Catholics.


Monday, September 16, 2019

Fr. Matthew's Homily on Schism

I would encourage everyone to watch Fr. Matthew's homily on schism! Thanks for the inspiration!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Francis' New Global Humanism Pact!

Is there anything remotely Catholic with this upcoming global educational pact that Francis is leading?

Link here! Read the entire website!