Saturday, May 28, 2011

Science and Creation: The Magis Center-Kolbe Center

For those of you who are interested in science and the creation of the world, I ran across the Magis Center website put together by Fr. Robert J. Spitzer that you may be interested in checking out. He has several videos and podcasts pertaining to physics, mathematics, philosophy and faith. I watched a few of them and they seem to be pretty decent from what I can tell. There is even an entire 12 part series you can watch on the website titled 'God and Modern Physics.' He also published a book last year titled, 'New Proofs For the Existence of God.' I do not have the book yet but I will order it sometime in the near future. I have too many other books I am trying to get through at this point! But it looks like a decent read.

I will say that I do not know a lot about Fr. Spitzer or what common theological views he holds to. He does seem to have some great arguments against the "New Atheism," and is known to have refuted the likes of Stephen Hawking and his recent book titled, 'The Grand Design." Fr. Spitzer insists that science is always changing, and science does not provide absolute proofs, only reasonable explanations to various truths. Science also cannot broach the metaphysical realm, which only philosophy can do. He addresses the common proofs for God, such as the "First Cause." In order for physics to work, it must have a beginning point to work off. Fr. Spitzer also goes into the many scientific arguments provided against the existence of God, and explains why they fail, including the modern proposal that the universe created itself out of nothing. He seems to have a solid working knowledge of the many scientific theories and studies relating to the creation of the universe and so forth. If you are into the whole physics/faith area then I think it is worth checking out. Here is a link to the website. Let me know your thoughts on the website and information.

Note: It looks like I am going to have to pull a Pope Paul VI and add a 'nota explicativa' to this post. A reader has informed me that the Kolbe Center is a more traditional source for this type of material. There is a rift between the traditional acceptance of a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation, and a theistic evolutionary one. Those at the Kolbe center hold to the traditional doctrine of creation, not to the modern notion of theistic evolution. I am not very familiar with this area of study, so I will leave it you to investigate these sources yourself. Perhaps this is a chance for a good debate!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Where Are The Monastic Ascetics?

Where Are The Monastic Ascetics?
Matthew J. Bellisario 2011

The religious ascetic monastic life is one that has helped the Church to stand fast against the tides of hell since the earliest years of Christianity. In fact, we can name Jesus Christ Himself as the first true example of asceticism. Although he lived in the world he gave up the world in order to show us how to be one with the Father. Many times we see that he retreats into the wilderness to pray alone, or subjects himself to days of fasting. He even tells of a demoniac who could only be helped by prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:14-29) Saint Anthony of the Desert, Saint Pachomius, Saint Basil the Great, John Cassian, Saint John Climacus and many others set out to imitate Our Lord in these respects. They illustrated the need for some in the Church to live this type of dedicated ascetic life. Some would do it as St. Anthony did, largely isolated alone in the desert only seeing people for short periods of time, or many in communities like the one Saint Pachomius built known as the Pachomian koinonia. I may be making an over generalization, but It seems to me that these types of ascetic hermits, monks and ascetic communities have largely vanished from the Catholic Church, and have only remained largely active in the Churches of the East. The Orthodox Churches have remained rooted in the Desert type asceticism while the monastic life in the West has deteriorated. What were once thriving ascetic communities committed to prayer and penance have been largely infiltrated by liberal minded modernists who have turned the monastic life into more of an extended vacation stay at a Disney lodge. There are few Catholic monastic communities that remain faithful to their founders, and fewer who follow a strict ascetic life. Western monasticism has largely become a haven for liberal modernist heretics and apostates.

While certainly there are some strong communities in the U.S., such as the Benedictines of Clear Creek, and the Carmelites of Wyoming, they seem to be the rare exceptions to the rule. Just look at St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota, or Saint Leo’s Abbey in Florida, they seem to be the norm. Where has the ascetic life gone in Catholicism? Has it become outdated? No one can deny the influence that desert monasticism had on the early foundation of the Church. Even the great Saint Benedict in the West had his heart grounded in the ascetics of the East. Many modern scholars have said that St. Benedict was against the strict form of asceticism that those like Saint Anthony practiced, yet there is no evidence that this is true. In fact, the communities that he founded were based largely off of the Eastern ascetics like John Cassian, who helped bridge the ascetic life over to the West. Saint Benedict lived an ascetic life, at times received visitors, cast out demons and read the hearts of men, much like Saint Padre Pio. But when we look at modern Benedictine abbeys, they resemble little of their great founder. It seems that long gone are the ascetics who sought to purge sin from their lives, not only for their benefit, but for that of the entire Church. Without fasting, praying and penance, the Church grows soft and many souls are put in peril.

I believe that one of the last true Western ascetic monastic Saints was Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. He went on to his eternal reward in 1968. He lived a life rooted in the Capuchin spirit which resembled that of the earlier ascetic monastics. I am sure there are others, but they seem to be few and far between. Nowadays, you rarely hear of Catholic laymen and women traveling to seek out the spiritual advice of a monastic. But if we look to the Eastern Orthodox, even while they are in schism, they have had no shortage of ascetic saints, who were grounded in the spirit of Saint Anthony and the Desert Fathers. In Russia, Romania, Serbia and Greece there are no shortage of ascetic monastic communities dedicated to living the “desert” life. In Romania for example there are at least 600 active Orthodox monasteries or communities dedicated to living the ascetic life! Romania is smaller than the state of Oregon, which gives you an idea of how this form of monasticism thrives their culture. The monasteries dot the countryside, and there are even those who still disappear on their own into the wilderness to live the life of isolation, penance and silence. There have been many recent Orthodox monastic men who lived holy lives and who were sought by many for their spiritual advice, like those Catholics in the West who sought out the spiritual advice of Saint Padre Pio. In Romania, Elder Cleopa, and Elder Paisus are both very recent saintly men who were heralded by many who sought out their spiritual advice and witnessed many miracles. In Greece there are many as well such as Elder Paisos of Athos, and Elder Archimandrite Philotheos. I could name many more. These men in the East have lived the ascetic life and have become what the Orthodox faithful consider to be saints. Their communities continue on in the same spirit, and there always seems to be a new monastic elder who is sought out for spiritual council.

I do not think it is a stretch to say that monasticism within the Catholic Church has been in serious decline over the last several decades. There seems to be now a worldly focus by many monastic communities. Rather than focusing on God and the salvation of souls, a liberal focus on social justice has taken over. It seems that many monastics today would rather make this world their heaven, rather than help people reach their true eternal reward prepared for us by God. For example, many Franciscan communities have gone off the deep end with their liberation theology. I have been at a Franciscan run parish where a women sought out their advice as to what liberation theology books she should buy, and they were more than happy to accommodate her. The world is their home, and they do not have the mind of their founder Saint Francis of Assisi, who died to the world so that he and others could be “sons of God.” That mentality has almost vanished in the West, and as a result we see the Western world sliding further into hell as each day passes. The Benedictine, Saint John’s Abbey has been a haven for liberal “new theologians”, and their way of life resembles little of their founder. Rather than living the ascetic life that their forefathers lived, they instead look for ways to undermine the Church’s doctrines. Even their art reflects the state of their community. Have you seen the St. John’s illuminated Bible? Yes there are many modern Saints in the Catholic Church, but it seems that few are religious monastic ascetics.

There are a couple of monasteries near me, both within about three hours drive. One is a Benedictine Abbey, and the other a Greek Orthodox monastery. Let me let you guess which one was more “orthodox.” If you guessed the schismatic Orthodox monastery, then you would be correct. They were actually living the monastic life they were called to, and you can tell that when you visit them. They are dressed in their cassocks and skufios, and invite their guests in for snacks and water. Although quiet men, they will talk about ascetic prayer and how they live, and they will take you into their church to show you the icons. The opposite is true when I went over to the Benedictines. They rarely wear their habits, instead dressing in pants and t shirts. They sell every kind of heretical book known to man in their bookstore, and act as if they could care less that you are there. I would rather read one of the Orthodox books on spirituality than a book from their bookstore. It would be less dangerous for the soul to do so. In fact, if I took an average orthodox Catholic to both monasteries, and never told them who was who, they would most undoubtedly recognize the holiness of life represented at the Orthodox monastery as being the authentic monastic life, rather than the Benedictines. I took a visiting seminarian a time ago to both monasteries. He was dressed in his cassock, and the monks at the Orthodox monastery were eager to welcome him, and even bowed to kiss his hand thinking he was priest. Even after finding out he was a Catholic seminarian they took us over to their refectory and gave us water and inquired about our visit. Our stop at the Benedictine monastery was quite different. When we walked in the bookstore, the monk, dressed in pants and a t-shirt saw us and almost scoffed at him and turned around in the other direction to ignore us. Sadly this is the state the Church finds herself in. I have a great respect for the Orthodox, but we must remember where the full truth is to be found, which is in the Catholic Church. This fact just makes these type of experiences all the more painful.

Now that I have pointed out the state of a couple of monastic communities in the Church, it is most important for us to look at ourselves as laymen and women, to see how we measure up to the faithful servants of God who came before us. If we live more holier lives and pray for the restoration of these monasteries, then all is not lost. It is a shame that the Church after Vatican II decided to relieve the rules on fasting and penance. It makes the mind of the faithful weak and more prone to sloth, and I am no exception. Many Feast days have been moved to Sunday to make it easier on people, yet by not having this focus on Christ during the week for Feast days, this also can make us apathetic in our spiritual lives. We should remember that it is not only the clergy, or the religious that will stand before the dread judgement seat of Christ. Each and every one of us will stand before Our Lord when our time of repose comes to meet us. Remember the prayer that is made in the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, practiced in the Eastern Catholic Churches? It is that we may be granted “A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful; and a good defense before the dread Judgement Seat of Christ.”

It is also wise for us then to study the lives of the Desert Fathers and ascetics of the past, and apply their teachings as best as we can to our own state in life. I also think it is imperative that we pray for the return of the monastic ascetic life to the Catholic Church, so that the sins we have before us, which are many, can be liberated by prayer and penance. That is one of the major reasons why God gave the Church the monastic vocation in the first place. It was not to make the world a better place so that we can all enjoy it per se. It is to help is die to the world and live our lives closely united to God, so that we can all obtain eternal life in heaven. It is God’s way of showing that suffering is not in vain. I believe we can all learn a lesson from those in the East, who still struggle to live the true monastic ascetic life. We can all be spending more time in silence, doing acts of penance and spending more time in prayer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Have We Lost the Fear of God?

It seems that we often fear everyone except the One whom we should all fear, God. This little saying from Saint Anthony of the Desert is a hard one to bear.
'Always have the fear of God before your eyes. Remember Him who grants death and life. Hate the world and all that is in it. Hate all peace that comes from the flesh. Renounce this life, that you may be alive to God. Remember that which you have promised God, for it will be required of you on the day of judgment. Suffer hunger, thirst, nakedness; be watchful and sorrowful; weep, and moan in your heart; test yourselves, to see if you are worthy of God; despise the flesh, so that you may preserve your souls.' 

New Theologians (Janet Smith) Continue To Think They Know More

No matter how I try to escape the latest shenanigans going on in the Church.... I stopped by one of my favorite blogs and this....Natural Law Too Strict For Janet Smith? The answer is unfortunately yes. Time to hit the redo button on the news abstinence program.

Janet Smith, a well-known, 'conservative' moral theologian, recently published a scandalous article in First Things (June-July 2011 issue), where she tries to justify, in certain cases, the intrinsically immoral act of lying.   Smith rashly entitled her article: "Fig Leaves and Falsehoods: Pace Thomas Aquinas, Sometimes We Need to Deceive." Much worse and more heterodox theses have been proposed by theologians in the last fifty years, but this one is particularly scandalous because it comes from a woman whose  moral teaching had been considered trustworthy by conservative Catholics for decades.  It is also scandalous due to her being a professor at a major seminary.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The "No News" Challenge

I usually spend several minutes each day looking over various news websites to find out what is going on in the world and in the Church. Yet it seems to me that it is most often a distraction rather than a positive enlightening experience. The world is a mess, the US is going down the tubes, politics are more important to bishops than the salvation of souls, and the Fr. Pflegers are getting away with making a mockery out of the Church each day. After reading all of this I often find myself in a state of frustration. What can often be neglected however are my own imperfections, and they are many. I think that Satan loves the latest news stories because we all get a chance to see how terrible and messed up everyone else is, and he knows how we tend to get distracted by all of this. We even end up making the latest news stories the core topic of our conversations. Yet how does this really help us in our own spiritual lives? I often wonder how much difference it would have made if I had not been aware of most of the news that I read over the past several years. How much of it was really necessary for me to know? How much of it was a cause for scandal or anger for me? Would my life be any different? Perhaps I would be a more holy person than I am now? Despite knowing all of the atrocities that have gone on in the world and in the Church, me knowing about them has not changed it one bit. I have been following the charlatan Fr. Pfleger for years, and have commented on him, hoping that the Cardinal who is responsible for his actions would do something, yet as we all know, nothing has changed. So my new goal and challenge is to refrain from reading or watching the news for one month. No internet, no TV, no newspapers. Instead I will focus on my spiritual reading and prayer and see how much difference being isolated from the latest headlines has on me.

I have been reading a lot on the Desert Fathers and various monastics who fled to the wilderness to get away from all of the various distractions of the world. It seems to me that they all wanted to focus on their own sins and failures rather than those of others. The news certainly can have its benefits, but in today's times it is largely a source of scandal and most often focuses on humanity in its most negative light. Satan has certainly had his grubby claws in the news media for quite sometime now and he knows that if he can keep us occupied with the sins of others, that we will be less inclined to look at our own spiritual lives. These two stories from the Desert Fathers illustrate my thoughts. Anyone want to join me in my 30 day seclusion from the latest headlines?

Abba Isidore went one day to see Abba Theophilus, archbishop of Alexandria and when he returned to Scetis the trethren asked him, 'What is going on in the city?' But he said to them, 'Truly, brothers, I did not see the face of anyone there, except that of the archbishop.' Hearing this they were very anxious and said to him, 'Has there been a disaster there, then, abba?' He said 'Not at all, but the thought of looking at anyone did not get the better of me' At these words they were filled with admiration, and strengthened in their intention of guarding kthe eyes from all distraction.

A brother questioned Abba Poemen in this way, 'My thoughts trouble me, making me put my sins aside, and concern myself with my brother's faults'. The old man told him the following story about Abba Dioscorus (the monk), 'In his cell he wept over himself, while his disciple was sitting in another cell. When the latter came to see the old man he asked him, "Father, why are you weeping?" "I am weeping over my sins," the old man answered him. Then his disciple said, "You do not have any sins, Father." The old man replied, "Truly, my child, if I were allowed to see my sins, three or four men would not be enough to weep for them. "

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pfleger Makes a Mockery Out of the Priesthood

Watch this video of Pfleger making the Catholic Church look like a circus. As usual Cardinal George plays the fool.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Catholic Priest Set On Fire... No Big Deal

Why is it that we rarely hear about these incidents on the major news networks? Why is there not an outrage about this on all of the major news networks? "An assailant has sprayed a Roman Catholic priest with flammable liquid and set him alight during mass in a church in Lithuania, police in the Baltic state say"Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice left in the world. Say anything bad about any other religion and they will hang you. Light a Catholic priest on fire and you will be lucky to hear about it. What I also find interesting is that the assailant will only have to serve maybe 10 years for it. How is it that you are able to walk in a church and light a priest on fire and only get 10 years?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

YouCat Theology Heretical? (Youth Catechism)

Here is an example of how the new YouCat communicates the Catholic faith in regards to an issue of sexual morality. Several Catholics that I know who have read through it , including priests are finding it seriously problematic. Below is how it answers the question of self abuse. Remember, this is written for our youth. Tell me, how would the answer given effect how our youth views this particular act? Would it make it clear that it is completely immoral, or does it make it seem as if it is not really an evil act? The YouCat plainly says that the Church does not demonize self abuse. Demonize is generally defined as "to mark out or describe as evil." Is this not what the Church has always taught? Is not self abuse an act against the natural law? St. Thomas along with the entire Church has always taught that sins which go against the natural law are more serious than others and that they are even more reprehensible than sacrilege. "Vices against nature are also against God, as stated above (ad 1), and are so much more grievous than the depravity of sacrilege, as the order impressed on human nature is prior to and more firm than any subsequently established order." (ST II, II Q154, A 11) That makes it an evil act, period. Yet, this is not what the new YouCat is teaching. This is just one of many questionable texts. You decide. Do you want your kids using this? (See other article on quotes)

Question 409 (Page 222)
Is Masturbation an offense against love?

Masturbation is an offense against love, because it makes the excitement of sexual pleasure an end in itself and uncouples it from the holistic unfolding of love between a man and a women. That is why “sex with yourself” is a contradiction in terms.

The Church does not demonize masturbation, but she warns against trivializing it. In fact many young people and adults are in danger of becoming isolated in their consumption of lewd pictures, films, and Internet services instead of finding love in a personal relationship. Loneliness can lead to a blind alley in which masturbation becomes an addiction. Living by the motto ‘“For sex I do not need anyone; i will have it myself, however and whenever I need it” makes nobody happy.

Pfleger Wins Out Over Cardinal George

This is probably not going to shock anyone giving the past decisions Cardinal George has made. "Ending a weeks-long standoff, Cardinal Francis George lifted his suspension of the Rev. Michael Pfleger on Friday after the two men met and Pfleger apologized for statements the cardinal took as a threat to leave the priesthood." Apparently Pfleger was able to pass this statement off to appease the Cardinal, "If my remarks in a radio interview seemed to be a threat to leave the priesthood, I am sorry... That was not my intention. I am committed to the priesthood and the Catholic Church." Oh really? That was not what he said earlier. George said he approved Pfleger's statement as a "genuine step toward healing the hurt and clarifying the confusion." Such is the state of the Church in many places at this time. It is an opportunity for heretics and apostates to run free while those who attempt to restore the traditional Catholic faith are banished from the land. Read the entire article here.
Ha ha..I win, you lose!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Christ Unifies Through His Body And Blood

Christ Unifies Through His Body And Blood
Matthew James Bellisario 2011

It is the very person of Jesus Christ in His full divinity and humanity that saves and elevates mankind above his natural end, to his supernatural end. The Lamb of God was slain to take away the sins of the world. He is the perfect Sacrifice and without Him nothing is made perfect, and none can stand before the dread judgement seat that awaits each and every one of us upon death. It was His sacrifice that gave us all the chance to become “sons of God.” Jesus told each of his disciples that they would partake in His very Body and Blood. Scripture is clear that Christ intended this to be a literal partaking, that is a literal partaking of His entire person, which was instituted at the Last Supper. The Gospel of John gives an account of Jesus’ words preceding the sacrificial Supper in the upper room, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh...Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”

The words of Christ are plain, it was the same body of His which would be given up on the cross that would be given to His disciples to eat and drink. You cannot accept that His true Body was given on the cross and yet reject that His true Body would be given to eat. For He makes it clear they were one in the same Body. The sacrifice and the Body of Christ are presented in the Divine Liturgy, or what is known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the West. Many at the time Jesus spoke these words did not believe Him, or they out-rightly rejected Him. They murmured much like the Protestants do today, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" Yet Jesus replied, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe.” These are certainly not the words of metaphor, since Jesus then watched many of them leave Him, not making any effort whatsoever to clarify His direct words. When he sat with His disciples in the upper room he clarified further, “This is my body which is given for you: Do this for a commemoration of me. This is the chalice, the new testament I my blood, which shall be shed for you.”

It is this action, “do this” (the Divine Liturgy) and these words which unite every ancient and apostolic Church on the face of the earth. Every Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Church which has an apostolic foundation, understands Jesus’ words literally. Each also believes that they have valid apostolic lines of a priesthood which remain in continuity with Jesus and His first apostles. These very words are what brought me out of the darkness of Protestantism. Despite the differences that remain among the Catholic and Orthodox, these words and the divine action of the Divine Liturgy, which results from them, continue to forge a deep bond. Once a person is honest enough to take Jesus’ words as they were spoken, and how they have been historically interpreted among all the ancient Churches, then one can no longer remain a Protestant. These words give life, and they are words which divide the sheep and goats. Those who believe are like the sheep who are guided by the Divine Master, those who reject Christ at His word are the goats, which are cast out into the darkness. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give them life everlasting: and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall snatch them out of my hand.”

The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass presents the real Body and Blood Of Our Lord after the consecration takes place over the Gifts. The Council of Trent (Thirteenth Session) defined this teaching further, “In the first place, the holy Synod teaches, and openly and simply professes, that, in the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things... And because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.” The key word here is substance, that is its essence, or that which “something is.” The substance of the Eucharist is Jesus, the entire person, in His full humanity and divinity. Likewise the Orthodox Churches teach the same. Although they traditionally did not seek to explain this substantial change as the Catholic Church did after the brilliant scholastics like the Angelic Doctor, Saint Thomas Aquinas came along, which further explained the accidents or the appearance which remained, they have always acknowledged the change in substance or essence. Likewise they have always acknowledged that what the eyes see is not what the Eucharist is in its essence after the consecration.

For example, a book used a standard source for Orthodox dogmatic theology titled, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Protopresyter Michael Pomazansky, gives the following detailed explanation of what the Mystery of the Eucharist is in Orthodox dogmatic theology. I think it is worth quoting at length because I constantly observe dishonest Calvinist apologists like James White, Turretin Fan, and those who run in such circles, claiming that the Orthodox do not believe in this substantial change. I even ran across a Protestant blogger named Rhology who has claimed that the Orthodox believe what he believes as a Calvinist. As we will soon see, this is not true. The text (taken from pages 283-284) explaining the Orthodox belief reads, “In the Mystery of the Eucharist, at the time when the priest, invoking the Holy Spirit upon the offered Gifts, blesses them with the prayer to God the Father: “Make this bread the precious Blood of Thy Christ; changing them by the Holy Spirit”- the bread ad wine actually are changed into the Body and Blood by the coming down of the Holy Spirit. After this moment, although our eyes see bread and wine on the Holy Table, in their very essence, invisibly for sensual eyes, this is the true Body and the true Blood of the the Lord Jesus, only under the “forms” of bread and wine.” The teaching is clear here, again the key word is essence, which is what something is or its substance. To make the teaching more clear however the text continues. Unfortunately for the Calvinist apologist, it makes it clear that Orthodox teaching is not the same as their heretical doctrine, but in line with Catholic teaching. “Thus the sanctified Gifts (1) are not only signs or symbols, reminding the faithful of the redemption, as the reformer Zwingli taught; and likewise, (2) it is not only by His “activity and power” (“dynamically”) that Jesus Christ is present in them, as Calvin taught; and finally, (3) He is not present in the meaning only of “penetration” as the Lutherans teach (who recognize the co-presence of Christ “with the bread, under the form of bread, int he bread.”); but the sanctified Gifts in the Mystery are changed or (a later term) “transubstantiated” into the true Body and true Blood of Christ, as the Saviour said: For My flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed (John 6:55).

Here we can see that the words of Christ in which he explains the Eucharistic Mystery is what binds all ancient Christian Churches together. Even those Oriental Churches which split around 451 teach the very same. The Orthodox Coptic Church likewise teaches, “As the bread that is transubstantiated to the Body of Christ was previously grains of wheat having become bread after much grinding, kneading and baking, and the wine that is transubstantiated to become the Blood of Christ was previously many grapes pressed to become liquid, so too all the community of believers, partaking of the Holy Body and Precious Blood, become one in Christ.” I could go back and quote many Church Fathers as well to provide further evidence of this apostolic Christian belief, but as they say, the proof is in the pudding. Every ancient Christian Church which has existed from apostolic times are in complete agreement on this doctrine. This is what unites us, and it is what I believe will heal the other theological rifts that exist between us.

It is my deepest hope that all who call themselves Christian will examine the words of Our Lord and take them seriously, and then take a sober look at how these words have been interpreted among all of the ancient Churches. An honest examination of both will lead to the conclusion that Protestantism is simply not an option. Once a person sees the real Christ as He has given Himself on the cross and in the Church’s valid liturgies among the ancient Churches, Protestantism vanishes into the thick fog that it arose from, and blows away with the early morning breeze. Jesus’ words and action in the Divine Liturgies is what ultimately makes a true Church. Those who do not have Christ in this manner are not united in Him as He has intended them to be. Remember these words, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why Catholic Ecumenism Has Failed

Do you know who wrote this condemnation of the way "ecumenism" is largely carried out in the Church today? I'll give you a hint, the document is just over 60 years old. What short memories we have! It seems that the method and line of thinking which was condemned in this text reigns supreme today by even those in the highest ranks of the Church. How can this be?

14. In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.

15. Moreover, they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that his can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.

16. It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them.

17. Hence to neglect, or to reject,or to devalue so many and such great resources which have been conceived, expressed and perfected so often by the age-old work of men endowed with no common talent and holiness, working under the vigilant supervision of the holy magisterium and with the light and leadership of the Holy Ghost in order to state the truths of the faith ever more accurately, to do this so that these things may be replaced by conjectural notions and by some formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy, tenets which, like the flowers of the field, are in existence today and die tomorrow; this is supreme imprudence and something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. The contempt for terms and notions habitually used by scholastic theologians leads of itself to the weakening of what they call speculative theology, a discipline which these men consider devoid of true certitude because it is based on theological reasoning.

18. Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology...
OK, here is the spoiler. Complete text found here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Calvinists Fold On Gay Clergy

Way to go John Calvin, what great fruits you have brought forth! Who would have thought? Another large group of Protestants have officially given in to the abomination of homosexuality. A mainline denomination sprung forth by the arch-heretic John Calvin, the Presbyterian Church (USA), has now given its approval of openly gay clergy. As we have said before, when you move off and start your own religion and reject Christ and His Church, the sky is the limit. Well in fact no, hell is the limit in this case. Just another fruit of the Protesters who decided that they knew more than God and His Church. For those who call themselves Calvinists, as they say, you get what you deserve.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) passed a historic measure Tuesday evening allowing openly gay men and women in same-sex relationships to be ordained as clergy. The move reflects a monumental shift in the 2.8 million-member church, which, along with other mainline Protestant denominations, has had increasingly contentious debates and struggles over issues pertaining to gay and lesbian members and clergy. A majority of the church's regional bodies, or presbyteries, defeated a similar measure to allow gay clergy two years ago. “This is quite a day of celebration,”...

Fr. Pfleger Says To Cardinal George: Reinstate Me Or Else....

It seems that Fr. Pfleger in Chicago is following down the same path that all disobedient heretics do, they eventually threaten the Church, and then when they do not get their way, they leave. Much like Martin Luther and many other arrogant men did about 500 years ago, Pfleger is telling the hierarchy, Cardinal George, that it is his way or the highway.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger said Tuesday in a meeting with parishioners that if he is not reinstated as pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church by this weekend, he will begin to preach at other churches. In his first in-depth public remarks about his suspension by Cardinal Francis George, Pfleger told a group of about 150 people that he has received numerous offers to preach from churches throughout the city and the country and needs to get back to preaching.
Read entire article here. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Christ the King, Sarasota, Celebrates Two Years!

Here is the short word given by Fr. James Fryar this past weekend on Christ the King's second anniversary. Listen here or go to iTunes and search for Catholic Champion in the store.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Eastern Catholic Church: Resources

On a lighter and more positive note, click here and here to learn about your Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters who are little to known to us in the West.

Luther, Calvin, Hitler, Stalin and Mao.

And fear not them that kill the body, and cannot kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

We often think of atrocities in matters of flesh and bone but seldom ponder the destruction of souls. We often think of the horrible atrocities of Hitler, Stalin and Mao, and are rightly horrified by their actions. What about the millions of souls lost because of the arch-heretics Luther and Calvin? If we could compare the numbers of the murdered by Hitler, Stalin and Mao, compared to the murdered and tortured souls served up by the devil's servants, Luther and Calvin, who would be the most heinous criminals of mankind? One kills the body, and others the soul.

The Real Martin Luther: Luther and Lutherdom

 "I know no doctor whom I hate so much, although I once loved him so ardently. Surely there's more learning in Aesop, than in all of Jerome" the wisdom of Martin Luther.

There is an excellent book to read if you are interested in the arch-heretic Martin Luther. It is available on Amazon for $29.99 and it is titled, 'Luther and Lutherdom.' The book is 465 pages on the life and refutation of Martin Luther. There are many today who try and paint a rosy picture of the wretched, poor, sick, demented and twisted man that was Luther. As a confirmed liar, sophist, and a man who would use any means necessary to discredit the Catholic Church, there is little to admire. He put forth great efforts to pull men and women away from the religious life because quite simply, he could not hack it. He refused the grace that was offered to him in the religious life, so he wanted others to join in his cowardice and failure to live up to promises they made to God as well. In fact, he even instructed those making vows to lie about committing their lives to chastity, telling them that the vows were only conditional. The author of the book also exposes his lies and the many times he contradicted himself in various accusations he made against the Catholic Church. Whenever one argument would not hold up, he simply changed it. Luther also made erroneous claims against the great Angelic Doctor Saint Thomas Aquinas. The author easily refutes Luther's accusations. What I find interesting is that much of what Luther rebelled against was related to his sexual immorality. His rebelliousness was built largely upon his sinful inclinations, which he over and over again tried to justify with his crippled theology. If you want to understand the real character of Martin Luther then this book is one that belongs in your library. If you are into the digital readers you can also get a digital copy for free here. Here are a few quotes from the book.

Concupiscence cannot possibly he subdued: that, as I shall show in the next section, was the starting-point for Luther's "turn about" from and after 1515. This tells and explains the whole story.    He gradually got into a condition in which there was no longer any idea whatever of fighting or resisting carnal temptations and desires, or of subduing the flesh. Consent at once followed at the heels of every rising lust." Luther gradually thought, spoke, and wrote under the stress and impulse of evil desire, from which there then sprang such written productions as one can bring him- self to disclose in the case of only the most degenerate, and then but seldom...

In this particular respect, Luther followed the same path- way that was trodden from time immemorial, and is still kept, by those monks or religious who finally violate the fidelity they had sworn to God and who wive. It is the pathway once described by St. Bernard :    first carelessness, and neglect of prayer, in consequence of which that coldness within ;grace diminishes, and with it, by reason of that coldness, cheerfulness of spirit; the power of judgment is drowsed; the exercises of the order which before seemed easy, become unbearable; voluptuousness lures and is pleasing; what is right is thrown by and proscribed; the fear of God is abandoned. "Finally a free hand is given to shamelessness, and that rash, that shameful, that most foul leap is taken full of ignominy and confusion, from on high into the abyss, from the pavement into the dung-heap, from the throne into the sewer, from heaven into the mud, from the cloister into the world, from paradise into hell." There was still a further nutrient of carnal lust in Luther and in by far the greater part of his younger adherents, and that was drunkenness, intemperance. To conquer this alone, there is need of effort, supported by prayer and God's help, no less than for victory over the inner tyrant...

Spite of all, the saving of Luther, as of any other, would still have been possible, had he had recourse to prayer. It was just at the Wartburg that he would have had time to enter into himself and to return to God. But what do we hear from his own lips there? On Sept. 9, 1521, he writes to Spalatin: "Poor man that I am, I grow cold in spirit. I am still snoring on, and am lazy in prayer. Let us watch and pray that we fall not into temptation." Watching and prayer still?  But what temptation does he mean, that is not to be fallen into? That of the flesh, against which, then more than ever, he would needs have had the power of God? Not in the least.  He meant the temptation to let up in the warfare against the Church and the Pope. Luther was quite expressly opposed to priests and religious, in carnal lust, in the "uri," begging God's grace to be freed.  Even in the risk of unfaithfulness to God, he now knew only one remedy against the lust of the flesh, and that was to take unto one's self a wife!"...

To what depth did Luther fall, that he placed the satisfying of carnal lust, which the religious for- ever renounced by solemn vow, on the same level with the heroism of the apostles and martyrs! To him and his following, the very violation of the vows and moving were their witness for Christ and that they were Christians; through them, they declared, they found God and Christ; God, to whom they had vowed perpetual continency, called them to their wiving'...

The apostles, martyrs, and all true Christians, on the contrary, shrank from no difficulty, when there was question of following Christ and of bearing witness to Him. In that event, they knew no impossibility. They knew that "with God no thing is impossible, "that what is impossible with men is possible with God," that they could do all things in Him that strengtheneth them." In respect to warfare against the flesh, Luther and the fallen priests and religious, upon whom Lutheranism is built up, resembled cowardly soldiers, who, shrinking from difficulty, throw their guns into the grain.  They suffered themselves to be vanquished, not by the new Adam, not by Christ, but by the old Adam, the flesh, and carnal lust, to which nevertheless, at the time of their profession, they had bidden farewell until death, when, in- stead of them, they chose Christ as their inheritance. Now they gave Christ up, although they constantly referred to Him with their lips, to cover their iniquity with Him. They looked back upon the flesh; indeed, they demeaned themselves worse than ever before.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

YouCat Quotes- A Cause for Scandal?

I have been reading through the new youth catechism, 'YouCat' today. I must say that I am perplexed by the use of the quotes which supplements the text of this catechism. Beside each series of questions throughout the YouCat there are quotes which supposedly relate to the body of the text to supplement it. In the front of the YouCat it gives the four categories that these quotes fall into. I have a few questions that perhaps my readers can help me answer. First I want give you the entire explanation from the front of the YouCat explaining the use of the quotes so you can get an idea of what I am talking about. On the same page which has the Nihil Obstat on it, (From the Austrian Bishops, with the approval of the German bishops conference and prior approval of the CDF) there are instructions for the use of the YouCat. The instructions read as follows:

Instructions for Use

The Youth Catechism, which is written in Language suitable for young people, deals with the entire Catholic faith as it was presented in the Catechsim of the Catholic Church (CCC of 1997), without aiming, however at the completeness provided in that volume. The work is structured in Question-and-Answer format, and numbers after each answer refer the reader to the more extensive and in-depth treatments of the CCC. A commentary following the answer is meant to give the young person additional help in understanding the questions that are discussed and their significance in his life. Furthermore, the Youth Catechism offers in the margin a continuous series of supplementary elements, such as pictures, summary definitions, citations from Sacred Scripture, quotations from saints, and reliable teachers of the faith but also from non-religious authors. At the conclusion of the book, there is an index of subjects and persons to facilitate finding specific topics. 

So it would seem that there are four types of supplementary texts used in the YouCat; 1. summary definitions, 2. citations from Scripture, 3. quotations from saints and reliable teachers of faith, and 4. non-religious authors. Which of the above four categories does the arch-heretic Martin Luther fall into? He is quoted at least three times. (pages 93 and 200 right under Saint Jerome whom he admittedly hated, for instance he once said in referring to the great Saint Jerome, "I know no doctor whom I hate so much, although I once loved him so ardently. Surely there's more learning in Aesop, than in all of Jerome" (LW 54, 72) Obviously the quotes of Luther used in the YouCat are not summary definitions, he did not write any of the books of Sacred Scripture, he is certainly not a saint, he is not a reliable teacher of the faith, nor is he a non-religious author. Martin Luther once said of the pope, "I believe the pope is the masked and incarnate devil because he is the Antichrist. As Christ is God incarnate, so the Antichrist is the devil incarnate." Of course that quote is not in the YouCat. Anyone care to answer how Luther has made his way into the new youth catechism, and which category above he falls into? Can you explain how using the arch-heretic's quotes helps our youth to understand the Catholic faith any better? For example, on page 201 the topic covered is the Sabbath. On the side margin Luther is quoted, "That is the difference between animals and man: the latter has a Sunday outfit, too." OK, great one!

Secondly, many of the quotes used seem to trivialize the faith. For example, on page 139 the topics covered are priests and the forgiveness of sin. Next to that text there are quotes in the sidebar which supplement the text. One of them is a quote by the British actor Peter Sellers which reads, "The closest thing to a father confessor is probably a bartender." OK, anyone care to explain that one? Is that the punchline? How does that quote help to catechize our youth? I asked a teenage kid from my parish who Peter Sellers was and he looked at me and said, "who?"

Thirdly, there are almost as many non-Catholics quoted as there are Catholics. For example, Brother Roger Schutz, the founder of Taize is quoted several times (pg 57,190), Ludwig Fuerbach, the atheist philosopher is quoted (pg 57) who is best known for his attack on Christianity titled, 'The Essence of Christianity'. We have the liberal humanist philosopher Erich Fromm quoted on page 108, Soren Kierkegaard is quoted on many pages including 150,168, 192, Dietrich Bonhoeffer on 158, Friedrich Von Bodelschwingh on page173, Lu Buwei, the ancient Chinese philosopher/emperor who committed suicide after committing scandalous acts is quoted on page 204, Friederich Nietzche on page 252, and the list goes on and on. I am not kidding you. These people are all used to supplement the Catholic faith in the new YouCat. I really am stunned by this publication. Am I over reacting?

It is also worthy to mention that a majority of the quotes used are from Germans, which are not even known to most Americans. The catechism is supposed to teach and promote the Catholic faith. It is not supposed to be a compilation of famous quotations from German authors, poets and philosophers or famous British actors. I am sure if I dug deep enough I could find a decent quote by Michael Jackson, or Mick Jagger, but should we use their quotes in the catechism? I have talked to several Catholics about this YouCat and they are scandalized by it, and most tell me they would never give it to their kids to use. Not only are the quotes that are used to supplement the main text in bad taste, but the text itself is quite ambiguous in many places. I will not cover that in this post, perhaps at a later date. Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Evergetinos: A Spiritual Goldmine

If you are interested in investing in a nice set of books that will give you years of spiritual reading then you may be interested in the four volume set titled, 'The Evergetinos." (Pronounced ev-er-ye-te-nos') The work has been around for centuries, yet this is a relatively new (2008) English translation produced by the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies. They did a nice job with the quality of the books, which are printed in two colors, black and red, as well as gold embossed text on the covers and spine. (Hardback). They have hardback and paperback available. I opted for the hardback set, being that this set will be used a lot and I want something that would last. Although produced by an Orthodox publisher, the text contained in these volumes is predominantly written prior to the gradual rupture between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. So I think they can be of great benefit to well read Catholics as well.

The title bears the name of the monastery from which it came, originally compiled by an Eastern monk named Paul sometime between the years of 1049 and 1054. The four volume set is a compilation of wisdom from the monastic fathers of the Church, predominately from the East. Some of the spiritual fathers contained in the set are Saint Basil, Saint Ephraim, Saint John Cassian, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Makarios, Saint Pachomios, and the list goes on and on. Each volume is about 400 pages and the work is a treasure trove of spiritual advice compiled under spiritual subject matters each titled a "hypothesis." Each hypothesis is a statement relating to a spiritual matter such as, "As long as we are in the present life, we must do good here and not delay until the future. For after death we cannot set things aright." Then a series of writings or quotes by many monastic fathers follow to elaborate on the hypothesis. For example here is an excerpt from the great St. Ephraim the Syrian elaborating on the above quoted hypothesis.

Brothers and sisters, the period of time which we have at our disposal for repentance is our life on earth. Indeed, happy and blissful is he who has never once fallen into the nets of the Enemy. If, however, someone who was entangled in the nets of the Enemy has been able to break those nets and escape from the captivity of the Devil, he too should consider himself blessed; for, though we live in the flesh, in this way we are saved from the onslaught of the enemy of our souls, just as a fish escapes from the nets of the fisherman. Be- cause, as we know, if a fish is caught and succeeds in breaking the net and dashing to the depths, he is saved as long as he is in water; but when he is dragged up in the net by the fisherman to dry land, then he can no longer help himself.

The exact same thing happens to us: that is, as long as we live in the present life, we have received from God the authority and power to break the bonds of the evil intentions of the enemy by ourselves and to cast aside, through repentance, the burden of our sins, be- ing most assuredly brought to salvation and inheriting the Kingdom of God. However, if the fearful command of death falls upon us and the soul leaves the body, and the body is placed deep in the tomb, then we are no longer able to help ourselves, just as the fish, when it is taken out of water, after being caught by the fisher- man and safely placed in his fishing basket, cannot in any way be saved.

 This set will undoubtedly provide you years of reading pleasure and spiritual advice that you can apply to your life. The books can be purchased in single volumes in paperback ($33 ea), allowing you to acquire the set over time, the hardback version however is only available as a set. The books do not come cheap as a set. ($120 for the paperback set and $240 for the hardback) I have been wanting to buy this work for a couple of years now, and I am happy to have finally purchased the hardback set. You can purchase and read more about 'The Evergetinos' set here, learn more about the history of it here, and you can go here to see a sample of the first book. This set may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in the wisdom of the monastics you will probably really enjoy it.