Thursday, June 30, 2011

iMass App Now Available on Android Platform

It has been about a year since iMass was launched for the iPhone. The streaming video of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has been a great success so far, and after having been upgraded for the iPad later last year with HD, we now have a complete new version to run on the Android platform. There are two versions, a free lite version which will have Sunday masses only, and then a purchase app which will have daily Mass, sermons and other cool features that will be handy to have such as the breviary. The only down side to the Droid app is that it does not stream like the Apple products do. It downloads in short bursts of a few seconds, so the playback is not as smooth as on the Apple products and it takes longer to load. I believe however that there is a fix coming in a later Android release. For those who love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass this will be another cool app to have. Pass it along! Here is the link for the pay edition, and here is the lite version. Do not be fooled by imposters using the iMass name. The authentic one is produced by Anchorite Productions.

For some screen shots of the Apple version click here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Theology of the Body and Aquinas?

I ran across this video by Fr. Thomas Petri, O.P. in which he attempts to show that JPII's lectures on human sexuality, what is now referred to as 'The Theology of the Body', is in continuity with St. Thomas's view of human sexuality. I will say that I am not a fan of Christopher West or what he has presented as being JPII's 'Theology of the Body.' Fr. Thomas Petri claims that JPII's teaching on this subject has not been presented in a complete and proper way by many of the popular speakers, and he attempts to present it in a way in which he claims falls in continuity with the teachings of St. Thomas. I am not that familiar with these lectures given by JPII, only as it has been presented by West. For those who are familiar with JPII's material on this subject as well as St Thomas teachings, what are your thoughts on this particular lecture? At about minute 26 Fr. Petri delves into Thomistic principles that he thinks help to further illustrate JPIIs thought on this subject. I have been to a Christopher West talk before, and they way that the 'Theology of the Body' is presented in this video is not what I heard at West's talk.

Aquinas and the Theology of the Body from Province of Saint Joseph on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Books You Should Read: The Essentials

In this day and age it is hard to determine what Catholic books to read. This is my personal list of essentials. I have broken the books down into categories to make it easier to find what area of study that you are interested in. I believe that these books are written by theologians, historians and philosophers that you can trust. After you have digested the basics on this list you will know more about your faith than most, and will be able to defend it with ease. These works are not your modern run of the mill one stop shops for all things Catholic that line the Catholic bookstores these days. The Catholic faith is simply to rich for that. I will update this list as I have time. I want to be able to give at least a brief explanation of each book.  I have added 3 letter codes to make it easier to decide what books you may want to buy first. (B) Beginner, (I) Intermediate, (A) Advanced.

The Basics

1. The Catechism of the Council of Trent- (B) This is a must have to understand the fundamentals of the Catholic faith. It is well written and easy to understand. I would supplement this with the New Catechism, since there are some new issues involving bioethics that are not covered in the old Catechism. These two sources alone contain more valuable information than all of the pop-apologist's work combined.You can also read it online.
2. Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine- (B) This is a great book first penned back in 1918. It was written by Archbishop Michael Sheehan and it covers all the basics of the Catholic faith in more detail. It also follows the traditional scholastic method of teaching, yet it is simple to comprehend. It starts out covering the arguments for the existence of God, to Christ and the Church, and proceeds on to explain the Divine Essence of God, grace, the Sacraments, and Scripture. The work is well documented for further research.
3. The Summa Theologica- (I) In my opinion, if you are a Catholic and you do not have this work, you are really missing out. It is available online for free. You can get it for your E-reader for a few bucks, and if you want a hard copy, you can probably hunt and find it online for under 50 bucks. This work is indispensable for learning all of the arguments concerning the basics of the Catholic faith.

I would recommend two books to go along with the Summa, which is Jean-Pierre Torrell's work titled, 'Aquinas's Summa: Background, Structure and Reception', (B) and Msgr. Paul J. Glenn's 'Tour of the Summa' (B).

General Apologetics 
1. The History of Heresies- (B) This 600 plus page book is a must have for anyone interested in how the Church combated heresies over the last 2000 years. It is written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori and it covers every major heresy since the first century and them some.

Biblical Studies
1. Cornelius Lapide Bible Commentary- (B) This is my favorite New Testament Bible commentary. Yes, it is quite expensive to acquire your own 4 volume hardback on the Gospels, but the good news is the entire version is available online for free. It is packed full of commentary which sometimes devotes many pages to a few verses. It was also written back near the time of the Protestant revolt, so it is an excellent source for refuting the Protestant heresies.
2. Haydock Bible Commentary- (B) This is always a nice source to have around. Although it is not as extensive as I would like it to be, it can be helpful to round out your Biblical Studies. If you are not up for spending a ton of cash, you can use it online, which is what I do most of the time, even though I have a hard copy.
3. The Navarre Bible Commentary- (B) This is probably the best modern Catholic Commentary around at this point.  It is produced by Scepter Press and is a decent source for modern Scripture scholarship. It is expensive to obtain the whole set so you may want to piece it together as you go. I have several volumes, but not the entire set. Until someone produces something better, this is in my opinion the best around.
4. Letter and Spirit Series- (A) Once you have taken the time to study the basics, I think that this series is worth owning. Although I am not a huge fan of Scott Hahn's work, this journal has its uses. There are many authors contributing to this journal, some are better than others. All of the articles are penned by scholars, but I must warn that they span the spectrum, so you will have to discern as you read. Nonetheless, there is a ton of good information to be found for those who want to be informed on modern Scripture scholarship. This is not for the novice, but for those who are well grounded in the faith.
5. Saint Thomas Aquinas- (I) Get online and use Saint Thomas's commentaries to help you understand Scripture more fully. You cannot go wrong with any of the Angelic Doctor's work. You can also get hard copies if you search Amazon.

Liturgical Studies
1. You Shall Worship One God- (B) This 155 page book recently reprinted by Saint Benedict Press is a great starting point for understanding the Mass. It was written by a Dominican priest, Father Marie-Dominique Philippe. He begins by examining sacrifice in the Old Testament and then moves on to Christ's sacrifice. The work puts God at the center of worship, where He should be.
2. The Mass- (B) This work was printed in 1924 and is now printed by Angelus Press. This takes you through the Latin Mass from beginning to end, part by part, giving you a detailed explanation. There are nice black and white illustrations throughout and it clocks in at 375 pages.
3. Sursum Corda- (B) This is a nice compendium of documents and articles on the Latin Mass from the Council of Trent to Pope Benedict XVI's Moto Proprio. Some of the content can be found online, but for the price, it is well worth having.
4. The Byzantine Slav Liturgy of St John Chrysostom- (I) Every Catholic should have some understanding of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and this book covers the history and the composition of the most widely used Eastern Liturgy, that of Saint John Chrysostom. It is a huge book, weighing in at over 800 pages. You may have to search the Orthodox bookstore websites to find it at a decent price.
5. Turning Towards the Lord- (B) This books takes a look at liturgical worship orientation, and how it has been understood throughout Church history. It also looks at the architecture of churches in order to illustrate the theology behind the orientation of the priest and the people at Mass.
6. The Mass of All Time- (B) This is a wonderful work on the Mass by Archbishop Lefebvre. In the first 170 pages he gives a beautiful explanation of the entire Mass, part by part. If you are easily scandalized you may want to skip his criticism of the Novus Ordo Mass which spans the last 130 pages. It is interesting however that many of the problems he addresses have been recognized by Pope Benedict XVI. One criticism he had was how the altar cross had been moved or done away with after the Novus Ordo was implemented. Notice where the Pope now has his altar cross.
7. The Church's Year- (B) This nice hardback reprint is a treasure. It explains all of the major feasts of the Church for the Old Mass. Of course, it can largely be applied to the new one as well. This helps you dig into the Church's liturgical life.

Church History
1. Warren H. Carroll's History Series- (B) One of the best series on Catholic Church history is Warren H. Carroll's work, released in 5 volumes, all able to be purchased individually. There is not much in the way of solid Church history these days, and this is an extensive line of work. This is the place to start for Church history. It will keep you busy for quite awhile. I also recommend his other books like his work on Isabel of Spain (B).
2. Light of The East- (B) This is a nice small book written by a priest in the Eparchy of St. Josaphat in Parma Ohio. It gives a brief history and explanation of the practices of the Eastern Catholic Churches. At the back of the book there are 10 pages of charts that gives a nice cross examination of the different Rites of the Catholic Church. This book goes along well with the compact 100 page history book on the history of Eastern Catholicism titled, 'To The Ends of the Earth' (B).
3. The Forgotten- (I) This book focuses on the history of the Catholic Church in Russia from Lenin through Stalin, although it does go through quite a bit on the period of the Czars as well. The book is full of information on this long forgotten period of Catholic persecution. The book is extensively noted for further research.
4.  A Short History of Thomism- (B) No collection is complete without Romanus Cessario's book on the history of Thomism. There is a dire need to put classical Thomism back on the map. This gives you a little background as to how the different schools of Thomism came to be, and how important the writings and thought of Saint Thomas are in the eyes of the Church. 

1. Mother of the Saviour- (I) Garrigou Lagrange is one the best theologians of the past century, and this work is one the best on explaining all of the dogmas and doctrines concerning The Blessed Mother of God. It is dense reading for sure, but a little bit of effort goes a long way here.
2. Liturgical Illuminations- (I) This book is a doctoral dissertation that clocks in at over 700 pages. At 25 bucks its a steal. It is worth having for the vast amount of information and source material it provides regarding the Eastern Feasts of the Mother of God. This is where you can really make strides in being able to defend the Catholic faith. The liturgical practices of the Church throughout history prove its doctrines are authentic. Although I could have put this book in the liturgical section, it probably serves better under Mariology.
3. The Mary Series Vol I and II by Luigi S.M. Gambero (B)- This nice two volume series is perfect for getting familiar with how the Church Fathers and other Saints of the Church viewed the Blessed Mother. Each book is over 400 pages and are both reasonable at only 15 bucks each on Amazon.

1. The Catholic University Patristic Series- (B) If you are going to buy hard copies of the Church Fathers then I recommend going with Catholic University translations. Otherwise you can use New Advent online. This will give you access to complete writings of the Fathers, which is what you need in order to understand them in context.
2. The Greek Fathers- (B) Adrian Fortescue's book on the Greek Fathers is good to get a historical background to some of the early Greek Fathers. This will help to put their writings into historical perspective.
3. Jurgens 3 Volume Series- (B) Let me say first off that this set should not be used to cut and paste quotes  when you are writing papers on Church history. What it is very useful for is looking up subjects so that you can find where the Church Fathers refer to a particular subject matter. You can then use it to go look up the entire passage in context of the complete writing on the internet, or in your hard copies of the Church Fathers. It is a useful reference tool.

Moral Theology
1. Right and Reason- (B) This reprinted book was the standard used in seminaries for a time to teach moral theology. It is a solid Thomistic approach to the subject, and I think it is the best book to start off with to get a handle on the basic principles used in this field of theology. You will have a hard time with the following books unless you understand basic terminology and principles. The natural law is also explained, which is crucial in understanding moral theology.
2. Introduction to Moral Theology- (I) This is a good book by Romanus Cessario which applies the same classical Thomistic approach, but it is a more modern text that uses modern encyclicals to further explain moral theology. It is also written in a more narrative style, not so much in a textbook format that Right and Reason is composed.
3. The Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act- (A) Dr. Steven A. Long is one of the best Thomistic theologians around. Any of his books are worth owning. This small book is packed with information and it lays out the principles to critically examine complex moral acts. This book is a tool that will be referred to time and time again.
4. Wisdom, Law and Virtue- (A) This is 680 plus pages of scholarly essays written by Father Lawrence Dewan,O.P. The book covers a variety of topics concerning moral theology in 27 essays. This work will keep you busy for awhile. Yes it is a bit pricy, but again, you are investing in your soul!
5. The First Grace- (I) Russell Hittinger is a great author to read if you want to examine the natural law. He approaches it from a classical Thomistic line of thought. This book is a great read, and I found myself underlining through the entire book as I read through it in just a few sittings. A great bargain at 13 bucks on Amazon.
6. A Critique of the New Natural Law Theory- (I) Russell Hittinger's book is an important one in understanding how the modernists have corrupted many in their understanding of the Natural Law. Hittinger tears down the New Natural Law theorists like Germain Grisez. This book exposes where the moral theology in the Church today is being corrupted.

1. Introduction to Philosophy- (B) This is a great book which was originally published back in the 50s for beginners who wanted to understand the realist philosophy that the Church has regarded as being crucial for proper thinking over the centuries, which was brought to perfection by Saint Thomas Aquinas. This book covers all of the basics and will equip you to understand the thinking of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
2. Praeambula Fidei- (I) This is an essential book for anyone who wants to understand the importance of Thomism in Catholic thinking. The great Ralph McInerny penned this gem as a response to the modern line of thinking which has clouded the minds of Catholic theologians and philosophers in recent years. Read this review by Fr. Romanus Cessario for more information on this must have work.

1. Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma- (B) This is a handy reference guide which will give you the documents and pronouncements made by the Church over the centuries regarding Catholic Dogmas. I recommend buying a hard copy for ease of use, but you can find it online for free. It is just harder to navigate back and forth searching for texts and so forth online.
2. Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma- This 560 page encyclopedia of sorts is a nice companion to Denzinger's.

I will start off with these book recommendations. I will continue to add on to it so check back often.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pop Apologists, Why You Should Avoid Them (Books You Should Read)

Pop Apologists, Why You Should Avoid Them(The Authors and Books You Should Read)

In today’s day and age anyone can promote themselves as a Catholic apologist. I have never claimed to be an apologist, yet I have engaged in apologetic discussions at times on my blog. I have never been paid to defend the Catholic faith, and I do not intend to make a living doing so. There are many Catholics today who are making a living off of what I consider to be ‘pop-apologetics’. Most of these men are not well educated in proper theology or patristics, and yet they market themselves and pass themselves off to Catholics, many who are starving to learn their faith. As a result these pop-apologists are invited to speak at Catholic parishes or at conferences where they pass off their shallow amateur quackery. The sad fact is that many Catholics do not know any better, and they ingest this material as a regular part of their Catholic diet. 

What many Catholics need learn is that pop-apologetics does not pay off.

You may have noticed that the theme of my blog has change over time, to focus on promoting Catholic material from solid scholarly sources, much of it grounded in classical Thomism. If you want to learn how to defend and explain your Catholic faith, then you should invest your time to learn from reputable theologians and historians. For example, if you want to learn about Catholic moral theology, you do not go to  Mark Shea’s blog to get an answer. All you are going to get is an amateur opinion, and a snide one at that. We all remember the recent controversy that erupted over the Catholic blogosphere on lying, when the Planned Parenthood scam was uncovered by a lady who apparently lied to get inside information. There was no shortage of opinions floating around on the blogs by self proclaimed experts of moral theology, most of whom have never cracked open a scholarly journal on the subject. There was little attention paid to those reputable moral theologians like Fr. Lawrence Dewan, OP, and others, who have written on this very subject in great detail, and with great depth. 

Catholic bookstores are full of pop-apologetics books that are easy to read, yet contain little substance.

We all have seen the same Catholic apologetics book reproduced 20 times over again, with the same patristic quotes cut and pasted off the internet to support Catholic doctrine. Not one of them are written by real theologians or patristic scholars. Most are written by laymen who have marketed themselves well, and who have connections to the few large Catholic media organizations that are out there. Hence we have the circle of pop-apologist clones who all parrot each other and defend each other no matter how bad an argument they may have. The ‘Catholic Answers’ crew has no problem booking cruises. If you want to hang out and sip a few cocktails and have a rollicking good time with some fellow Catholics on the high seas, that is all well and good. We all need a nice vacation. If you want to actually learn something, save your money and find out where there is a good Thomistic conference, such as the one held this past year at Ave Maria. Or you could save your money and buy some books that are worth your time reading, like Dr. Steven A. Long’s book ‘The Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act. Then you will be equipped to answer some of the tough moral questions that arise in today’s chaotic world. 

Unfortunately the only authors and speakers many Catholics have been exposed to are these pop-apologists. They accept the false notion that this is as good as its gets, because these are the best marketed authors and speakers around. The quality of work however is much to be desired. I read through many Catholic blogs and I see the same books being promoted as if they are the golden standard in Catholic apologetics. Books by Steve Ray, Patrick Madrid, Jimmy Akin and Mark Shea fill the bookshelves at most Catholic bookstores, yet there is little that is worth reading in their shoddy, shallow work. There is little documentation to back up their writings, there are usually no notes or references to back their research, and most of the we see the same cut and pasted quotes that we have all seen over and over again.

The writing style of these books is usually on par with a 5th grade reading level. If you read something that you do not agree with in their books or on their blogs, and you want to challenge them, forget about it. They will not bring any substance to back their claims. Once you do that however, you are on the outs. If you notice, most of these guys are all part of the same click. I for one would avoid all of these guys. 

It is my hope to start a grass roots movement to garner more attention for the real theologians who are actually able to defend their work in public forums, and who are able to withstand formal criticism from their own piers. There are reputable theologians who have spent their entire lives devoted to their work, and I must say, these pop-apologists are not even in the same league. Do you remember when you were a “know it all” teenager, and you were told to sit down and let the adults talk? That is what we need to start asking these pop-apologists to do. “Sit down, and let the adults speak.” 

Another catalyst that fuels these pop-apologists is that fact that many people want to be spoon fed the Catholic faith. They look for the easy answers to complex moral and theological questions. They want the American fast food service, yet theology requires more than paging through Jurgens or Googling a few quotes. This is what these pop-apologists have to offer. They love one line quotes from the Church Fathers, or the one liners quoted out of Scripture. The real theologians understand that in order to give a professional opinion on such important theological matters, you have to invest in some serious theological education and study. We should also realize that most people are not called to teach the masses the Catholic faith. In fact, this serious task should be left largely to good priests, bishops and reputable theologians, and not left to the upstart self proclaimed apologists. The last twenty years or so have been plagued with this fast food, pop-apologist mentality, and it has grown old quickly. 

Below I have compiled a reading list of solid books written by men worthy to be called theologians, or historians. I know, some of the books are a little on the expensive side, but remember, you get out of your faith what you put in. Don’t look for the one stop shop do it yourself upstart apologists to give you solid answers to difficult theological questions.

Remember the old Earl Sheib car painting company? Get your car sanded with a brick and painted with a broom, in and out in one day! “Scheib's policy of one-day service and production line techniques flew directly into the face of state-of-the-art professional Auto Body standards and caused the company to become a national joke at the time.” The pop-apologist overnight upstarts also fly in the face of professional theologians and their standards of academic excellence. They are also being recognized as being a joke to Catholics who want to be well educated in their faith.

 I have broken the books down into categories to make it easier to find what you are interested in. I will also make a separate post with these books recommendations and put it on the side bar for easy reference. It will also make it easier to make additions to it in the future. I have now added 3 letter codes to make it easier to decide what books you may want to buy first. (B) Beginner, (I) Intermediate, (A) Advanced.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Orientale Lumen Conference 2011

The 15th annual Orientale Lumen Conference was just held this past week at the Washington Retreat House in Washington, D.C. The topic of discussion was “Rome and the Communion of Churches: Bishop, Patriarch or Pope?” I really wanted to be able to attend this conference, but we can't have everything we want right? Well almost! I was very excited to find that Ancient Faith Radio was making the lectures available as the conference went on, and it was updated each day. Now all 8 of the lectures are available for streaming or download on their website. If you are interested in the discussions today regarding union between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches you will probably find the lectures very interesting. That being said, I do not agree with everything that each lecturer said, but nonetheless there is a ton of information you can learn from listening to them. I personally believe that this area of unity is the most important today for the Catholic Church, and I think that there needs to be more serious theological discussions between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

I really enjoyed Fr. Robert Taft's presentation for a variety of reasons, and one of them is not that I agree with everything he said. First, he is a living, breathing, walking, talking library when it comes to Church history. If you have ever listened to any of his lectures, you know that will need to take notes because you will surely want to go back and learn more about the facts he presents. Second, he puts together a very cohesive and entertaining lecture which is quite enjoyable to listen to. Even when I disagreed with his particular position, which happened on a couple occasions, I found myself very engaged and extremely curious as to what he was going to say next. He can also be quite polemical at times. Those who want to learn how to give a solid engaging lecture would be wise to learn the art from him. Likewise I also enjoyed Dr. DeVille's lecture, which was a little more free flowing in structure, but he presented a ton of great information regarding various Church structures and how changes have been made on both sides, Orthodox and Catholic. I want to pick up his book 'Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy: Ut Unum Sint and the Prospects of East-West Unity' in the future. It has been on my wishlist for while. Like usual I am up to my neck in books so hopefully I can get to it at some near point in the future. Finally, as always, Metropolitan Kallistos was a joy to listen to. I would like to see some other Catholic theologians, especially that of the classical Dominican Thomists, participate in upcoming conferences. I think that would add some balance and bit more spice to the mix. Anyways, if you choose to listen to these lectures you are sure to learn where many theologians stand on the issue of the papacy, for better or worse. In the process you are also sure to learn some interesting facts.

The lecturers for this year included Metropolitan Jonah, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia, Professor Emeritus of Oxford University, Archimandrite Robert Taft, Professor Emeritus of the Pontifical Oriental Institute, Msgr. Michael Magee (Roman Catholic), Chairman and Professor of Systematic Theology at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dr. Adam DeVille (Greek Catholic), Assistant Professor at the University of Saint Francis and the editor of LOGOS, Fr. Ron Roberson, CSP (Roman Catholic), Associate Director for Ecumenical Affairs, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Understanding the Common Good

I believe that many Catholics do not understand the true definition of the 'Common Good' as it has been traditionally understood in the mind of the Church. If there is one article which I think illustrates and explains the common good in light of how it has been distorted by modern philosophical error, then I highly recommend Charles De Koninck's article titled, 'On the Primacy of the Common Good: Against the Personalists and The Principle of the New Order'. Lucky for you it is available on the internet!

In the article De Koninck lays out how human dignity is to be properly understood, and how it should be viewed in light of the common good. Critical errors are exposed which propose a recognition and elevation of human dignity, yet fall far from a legitimate understanding of what human dignity really is. De Koninck addresses the position of the modern personalists and compares them to the Pelagians of the early Church. Once you digest De Koninck's work on the common good, you will be more prepared to see just how far many in the Church have gone astray in understanding it, and as a result became suspect moral theologians. There is no shortage of bad moral theologians in the Church to be sure, and perhaps if we share good articles like this one (On the Primacy of the Common Good: Against the Personalists and The Principle of the New Order) we will have better ones in the future.

"We believe that modern personalism is but a reflection of the Pelagian heresy, speculatively still more feeble. It raises to the level of a speculative doctrine an error which was at the beginning only practical. The enslavement of the person in the name of the common good is like a diabolical vengeance, both remarkable and cruel, a cunning attack against the community of good to which the devil refused to submit. The denial of the higher  dignity which man receives through the subordination of his purely personal good to the common good would ensure the denial of all human dignity."

Charles De Koninck, 'On the Primacy of the Common Good: Against the Personalists and The Principle of the New Order'.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fr. Cessario: Understanding the Critical Error Of Henri de Lubac

 (Fr. Romanus Cessario, OP)
If you are at all interested in studying theological controversies and a critical error that many new theologians espouse today, then I think you will enjoy a great article by Fr. Romanus Cessario. The great Thomistic theologian Cardinal Cajetan is often attacked for having invented a false view of nature and grace, one which Saint Thomas did not hold. Fr. Cessario however clearly does not agree, and he establishes how the new Communio school of theologians have followed a flawed perspective on Saint Thomas Aquinas concerning nature and grace instead. This modern age of theologians are largely unfocused and appear to me to have an identity crisis. They want to be Thomists, yet on the other hand they want to mix that with a variety of modern concepts and ideas which are not compatible to Thomism. Cessario helps to explain why a proper theological foundation is so important, and how it has been undermined over the last 40 years. In my opinion we need more classical Thomists to emerge in today's theological circles, so that the clergy can be properly formed and equipped to teach the Catholic faith. They are few and far between.

The excerpt below is from an article by Fr. Romanus Cessario, 'Cardinal Cajetan and His Criticis.' The article focuses on young theologians today and the difficulties they face at arriving at a proper understanding of what a theologian is supposed to do, and how they are to do it. Cessario discusses the challenges the young theologian faces in light of the sea of bad theology that has become so prominent over the last 40 years or so since Vatican II. He then focuses on Tracey Rowland, and her book, 'Culture and the Thomist Tradition: After Vatican II,' which apparently takes the position of de Lubac and asserts falsely that his position on Aquinas trumps that of Cardinal Cajetan's. I won't give the rest of the article away, it is well worth the read. If you are unfamiliar with Thomistic theology and the recent debates concerning this subject, it may be a bit hard to grasp. None the less, a little bit of research on the net will move you along quite well. Below the excerpt from the article, I have included links to two important and reliable books that cover this critical area of theology, and they expose the errors of the likes of de Lubac and co. If you want understand the real Thomistic understanding on this subject then these books are essential for your library.

The Communio school of theology, taken globally, and not as it plays out under the influence of the American edition, is more difficult to define than Thomism. Thomists are those who read Aquinas, and so may be distinguished from those who read and adhere to other major Christian thinkers such as Scotus or St. Bonaventure or Ockham. Partisans of the Communio school, on the other hand, study many authors; their return to the sources embraces a wide range of both ancient and recent theologians and philosophers, and even includes consulting social scientists. Rowland identifies many of these figures in her chapters. Suffice it to remark that a common feature of Communio school theology is that its adherents subscribe without hesitation to a viewpoint that lately has been set forth by Nicholas M. Healy in his Thomas Aquinas:Theologian of the Christian Life: “In his commentary on the Summa theologiae, Cajetan so separates nature from grace that humanity now has two ends, natural and supernatural. . . .” Healy of course repeats an assertion that was set forth with remarkable success in the twentieth century by Jesuit Father Henri de Lubac, later Cardinal of the Roman Church.

It has always struck me as odd that so many good-willed theologians accept the view that a twentieth-century French Jesuit whose intellectual interests were wide-ranging occupied a better position to understand what St. Thomas Aquinas taught about the finalities of the human person than did a sixteenth-century Italian humanist, who had represented Catholic doctrine in person to no less imposing a figure than Martin Luther and whose commentary on the entire Summa theologiae appears by order of Pope Leo XIII in the critical edition of Aquinas’s opera omnia that bears that Pope’s name, the still incomplete Leonine edition. But they do. Many sincere people, including Tracey Rowland, accept the proposition that de Lubac laid bare a huge historical mistake about how to construe the rela- tionship between nature and grace, and they seemingly consider his critique of Cardinal Cajetan and the Thomists who follow him a non-gainsayable principle of all future Catholic theology.What Cajetan obscured, de Lubac grasped with clarté. Nicholas Healy illustrates this conviction:“[T]he influ- ence of the two-tier conception of reality became widespread and was understood by many theologians as a reasonable development of Thomas’s thought.” One could infer from remarks such as these that Tommaso De Vio, Cardinal Cajetan (1469–1534) should be known as the great betrayer of Aquinas instead of his papal approved interpreter. Prima facie, the proposition seems primitive.

Those who want to understand more about this golden apple of twentieth-century theological discord should consult the work of Professor Steven A. Long. His essays on topics such as the obediential potency and other related theological theses repay careful study. Long’s articles reveal the way that theologians have attempted to handle the difficult question of describing adequately the differentiation of finalities that the gratuitous bestowal of divine friendship on the members of the human race introduces into Catholic theology. Because of the centrality that this issue holds in the thought of many of the theologians that Rowland presents to her readers, I think it is important to alert those who will read her book, especially beginners in the discipline, that they should make up their own minds about de Lubac’s critique, and not assume that one eminent French Jesuit and 100,000 Communio followers can’t be wrong. The fact of the matter is that the differentiation of finalities that a Catholic theologian must consider in the human person remains a topic that has been ill served during the period after the SecondVatican Council.

Recommended Books

Natura Pura- Dr. Steven A. Long

The Natural Desire to See God- Dr. Lawrence Feingold

Monday, June 20, 2011

Latest Statement By Father Corapi and His Order

Today, June 20th, Father Corapi has given another audio explanation of what he has decided to do regarding his vocation as a priest. He says that he resigned because his canon lawyers told him that he cannot receive a fair trial, and that he would never be able to continue on as a priest ever again. So he has decided that he has no choice but to resign. Father Corapi explains that he is not leaving the Church, that he is not admitting guilt, but he will not be acting as a priest any longer. Any thoughts?

It appears that Fr. Corapi's superior had asked him to return to the main SOLT community, which is the order that Fr. Corapi was a part of. If this is the case, shouldn't Father Corapi have done so, since that was his superior's wish? I am further convinced that he is making a huge mistake if this is the case. Read the entire story here.

He (Father Sheehan) expressed disappointment that Father Corapi chose not to remain in SOLT and to refuse the order’s invitation for him to live in community, leaving his Montana home. Father Sheehan said he had tried to arrange a meeting with Father Corapi before any final decision was announced, but had not heard back from him. Father Sheehan said that SOLT would issue a statement shortly.

We wanted him to come back to the community, and that would have meant leaving everything he has. It would have been a drastic change for him,” Father Sheehan said. “We will continue to move pastorally and charitably, taking steps to protect his good name.”

Update II

Here is the official statement by the SOLT.

"The SOLT is deeply saddened that Fr. Corapi is suffering distress. The SOLT is further saddened by Fr. Corapi’s response to these allegations. The SOLT will do all within its power to assist Fr. Corapi if he desires to seek a dispensation from his rights and obligations as a priest and as a professed member of the SOLT. "

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why Father Corapi Matters: Father’s Day 2011

Why Father Corapi Matters: Father’s Day 2011.
Matthew J. Bellisario 2011

(The Father Corapi I Will Always Remember)

I think it is appropriate to write this on Fathers day concerning Father John Corapi. I had the opportunity to meet Father John Corapi, in Charlotte NC about 7 years ago after I had converted to Catholicism, and it was certainly a memorable moment for me. He had a great influence on my early years as a Catholic. There is one cd that I still listen to on my ipod, which I never grow tired of. It was one of his earliest recorded sermons, I think it is titled, ‘Truth, a Matter of Life and Death.” It is an older one and the sound quality isn’t as good as the remade version that he did later, yet I think it was one of his best. I think it is safe to say that I have been a “fan” of Father John Corapi from the moment I first heard him. In recent years I have not kept up with his work as much as I did when I first converted, yet whenever I have had the opportunity to see him on EWTN I rarely passed it up. In light of the recent announcement of Father Corapi leaving his public ministry as a priest, I thought it might be worth reflecting on his influence on Catholicism in America, and how what he does now is important to us. Some might think that I am exaggerating how much he has influenced the Catholic Church in America, yet, I do not think it is an understatement to say that Fr. Corapi is known to most Catholics as voice a of conservative orthodoxy. Like or not, he is what is. In an age where the Catholic Church in America has been highly feminized, modernized and liberalized, Father Corapi has stood in staunch opposition to those “isms.” (Feminism, Modernism, Liberalism, etc)

After living a high rolling life in Hollywood he crashed and burned into the flames of drug addiction, and yet by the grace of God lived to tell about it. More than that however, he became an ordained Catholic priest, and has since been Father Corapi. Born in 1947, ordained in 1991 he had a late vocation to the priesthood. Over the last 20 years or so he has been unrelenting in his orthodox preaching, often making the liberal hierarchy in high places very uncomfortable. Some were not comfortable with his direct and sober tone of preaching, yet to many who had been duped by the heretical, liberal, and effeminate clergy, he was a breath of fresh air. He was a much needed voice in the Catholic clergy that not only needed to be heard, longed to heard.

Father Corapi made it OK to feel good about being an orthodox Catholic. He did not sugar coat the Church’s teachings in an effort to make it palatable. He understood that truth itself was enough to draw those who longed for it. Many considered his direct approach to be uncharitable, yet I never looked at it that way. In fact, I could often see a glow of peace about him in even in his most heated moments, as he railed against those who promoted abortion or other crimes against humanity. Just before converting to Catholicism from Orthodoxy I had come across Fr. Corapi from a friend that I met at a Catholic Church. I couldn’t get enough of his cd sets, and I have purchased quite a few of them. He made me feel like at ease to be an orthodox Catholic, despite the scandals and the heretics that had seemingly infested almost every nook and cranny of the Church.

Over the years Father Corapi has spoken in virtually every part of the country drawing in  recent years thousands of Catholics who wanted nothing other than to hear him preach. They wanted to know that they were not alone in believing what the Church taught, and that there were priests that would fight for the true faith. In other words, he gave them what most of the clergy were not giving them, that is the orthodox doctrine of the Church. As bad as it sounds, modernism is what made Father Corapi who he is. The modernist corruption in the Catholic Church allowed an influential figure like Father Corapi to emerge. By the grace of God, he was viewed as a Pheonix rising out of the ashes of drug addiction and other vices to bring light into the impotent American church.

God has ways of using ordinary men to do his  extraordinary work, providing they are willing to do His will. It seems that Father Corapi had attempted to do that as best as he could over the years. As time went on, his media company and popularity grew. He could not fill all of the dates that he had been requested to speak, and as time went on he had to scale back his public appearances. He had health problems which slowed him down for some time, and then he was able to do less appearances, yet larger audiences. The sales of his dvd and cd sets must have increased greatly as well, and it seems that over the past 20 years Father Corapi has gained an almost “rock star” iconic image among many Catholics. This however has its positives and negatives, for both Father and those who have held him in high esteem.

As we know, fame has its ups and its downs. “Rock stardom” has destroyed many people, and fame is not something that everyone can handle. I am not making a judgement on Father here, but I think it is important to ask this question. At what point does it become dangerous for the soul of a priest to be in such a spotlight? It is no secret that many modernists in the Church have wanted Father Corapi gone for a long time. I must admit that it seems that Father Corapi has changed a bit over the recent years, and I cannot put my finger on what it is. I have no idea if the accusations made against him are true or not. I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is innocent as he claims. But that is not the real issue concerning Father that is going to be of crucial importance for some time to come. Many good priests have sinned, and mankind is not going to change any time soon. So what is the real issue here?

In the wake of the sex scandals that have rocked the Church over the past 15 years or so, we must examine how the Church is to handle accusations made against her priests. What Father presented on his website concerning how these accusations are handled seem to be very accurate. This is supposedly how the Church has handled these types of issues for many years. Yet, it seems that those priests who were known to be guilty of accusations made against them were just moved or covered for, and allowed to continue on in their scandalous behaviors. In my eyes the bishops are solely to blame for this, and so, after scandal after scandal they have now been almost forced to act swiftly to remove any priest who may be accused of something. This appears to be what has happened to Father Corapi. So, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, from bishops paying people off and hiding these accusations, to now taking every accusation seriously, no matter how credible it may be. What happens then is that a priest’s name and character is tarnished forever, despite whether he is actually guilty or not. It think it is important for the Church to refine how it does business in light of this problem.

Again, I must repeat this, I cannot say that these accusations made against Father are credible or not, and the bishop ultimately must decide whether they are to be taken seriously. I cannot comment on the bishop that forced his suspension. He will have to answer to God for his decision, but it is his decision. What really matters here is how the bishops and the Church are going to handle accusations against priests in the future. It takes only one act of slander by a person who has a grudge against a priest to destroy him and take him out of his ministry. As I have stated before, this seems to be a well placed snare of Satan, where after lulling many priests and bishops into apostasy and lukewarmness, he is now later able to easily remove the good the clergy in the Church who are trying to protect the flock. It is a “double whammy.”

Father Corapi matters because if he follows through in leaving the priesthood, it seems to me that Satan has won a great victory over the priesthood. All of the work he has done over the past 20 years, will in my eyes, almost be laid to waste. No longer can his material be used in an effort to evangelize those outside the Church. In my opinion, his credibility will be tarnished even more so than if he were to admit guilt to the accusations. What Father Corapi does in regard to these accusations will also possibly influence other priests who are accused as well. Is it the best course of action, to pick up and leave the priesthood when something like this happens? I personally do not think that it is, even if the process is unjust, or even if the accusations are false. We all have our trials, and unfortunately this is a huge one for him. I have talked with many people who have had the same high opinion of Father Corapi as I do, and almost all of them think that the battle lies in the Church, not outside of it. Father has stood tall over the years in spite of staunch opposition, and I think he has always had a type of fighting spirit about him. As we all know, he loves to talk about military operations, weapons and tactics. In light of these accusations I expected nothing less from him than a tough, yet honest disposition. I did however expect him to go through with the investigation as he first said he would, and consequently stay in the Church as a priest, much like Father Euteneuer did when he went through a similar crisis. He was removed from HLI, he admitted some guilt, yet it appears that the accusations were much more serious than what actually happened. I think he was probably a casualty in the spiritual battle. Unfortunately he has since gone off the radar screen, yet in spite of this, his work still lives on. He may never be able to do what he did before, but that is OK in my eyes. He did what needed to be done when he was called by God to do it. For Father Corapi however, it may well be a much different scenario. 

If Father Corapi steps out of the priesthood to form a new media company and reinvent himself, it will most likely spell disaster for everything has done for God over the last 20 years. I feel little confidence that his new work will surpass or supplement what he had produced before, and he may even possibly lead people away from the Church. Not intentionally, but by his example. Father Corapi seemed to imply in his recent statement that he was concerned about his future work. Yet I have to implore him to think about the work he has done for God over the past 20 years, and ask himself if it is worth gambling all of that for some future expedition as a “Lone Ranger.”  One of the things that made Father Corapi great was not just his solid teaching, great preaching or his niche in being a no nonsense kind of guy. It was because he possessed these traits in the vocation of the priesthood. I cannot emphasize this point more. Catholics wanted a priest like Father Corapi, not a laymen like John Corapi. There are many laymen who may possess the traits that Father Corapi does, but there are few priests that have done what he has done in the way he has done it, and in my opinion this is why Father, not “laymen”, Corapi is so important. I am not implying that he is not important in his person, but that he is important as the figure he is today because he has been a “Father”, a priest, for those who wanted a real father. He possessed the fatherly traits that many faithful Catholics wanted in their priests. He protected those who were put in his charge, and for that, he is truly “Father” Corapi. If he leaves the priesthood voluntarily, guilty or not, he will no longer be that father. In reading the many comments on his new website, it seems that most want the very same thing right now from Father Corapi. They want him to continue being what they have always loved and admired about him from the beginning. Guilty or innocent, silenced or loudly preaching the Gospel, they want Father Corapi, not the black sheep dog John Corapi. I wish all of you fathers, a happy Father’s Day. Please keep Father Corapi, and all of our priests in your prayers.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Father Corapi Leaves Priesthood?

 "All things change, only God stays the same, so I have to tell you about a major change in my life. I am not going to be involved in public ministry as a priest any longer. There are certain persons in authority in the Church that want me gone, and I shall be gone. "

It seems that Father Corapi has chosen to leave the priesthood and form his own media website called 'The Black Sheep Dog'. He has released a video and a written explanation of the reasons he has chosen to leave. As you probably know, he was accused by a former employee of having relations with her, and being a drug addict. As a result he was suspended. I for one am very surprised that Fr. Corapi has chosen this course of action to leave the priesthood. I have no idea whether or not Fr. Corapi is innocent of the charges that were leveled against him or not. I have been inclined thus far to take him at his word that he is not guilty. I wonder however why he thinks that leaving the priesthood, forming a media company and now calling himself the 'Blacksheep Dog,' is going to serve God. If in fact he is being persecuted unjustly, I would personally rather see him do what other great Saints have done, like Padre Pio for instance, and take it on the chin for God. If he is innocent God will use the incident to bring Him glory in some other way. Of course it is easy for me to sit back and make these kinds of recommendations, but this is how I view this whole situation. Since Father Corapi has been such a public figure in the Church, who influenced me early on in my journey to Catholicism, I think it is fair to throw my to cents in on how I view this whole situation.

Father Corapi was one of the few priests that I was able to learn the basics of the Catholic faith from even before I came into the Church. I am grateful for what he has done as priest up to this point. I would however like to express my opinion, and pray that he would stick it out as a priest, since that is his vocation. If he must suffer injustice, then I would hope that he would be able to do it as Padre Pio did it, and not leave to form some sort of renegade media company. I doubt Father Corapi will read this post, and if he does, I still call him Father, since that is what he is in my eyes, in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the Church. Once a priest, always a priest. I would hope that he would reconsider sticking it out, rather than rebel in a way that seems to me to be contrary to how the Saints handled unjust accusations. Any thoughts? Is it possible that he was forced into laicization?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rambling on Books and Reading

Rambling on Books and Reading
Matthew J. Bellisario 2011

    One of my favorite hobbies is reading and collecting books. I have no idea how many books I own at this point but it must be well over 2500 volumes. The subjects range the gauntlet. Many of them pertain to the Catholic faith, or other religions. I have a ton of history books, some I may never read, but you never know when you may need a biography of a famous person like Robert E. Lee, Stalin, Bob Dylan or an autobiography by Michael Caine. That is the danger of the Goodwill bookstore! A hardback for 3 bucks, can’t beat that. And the stacks get higher and higher! A friend once told me that my purgatory is going to be having to finish every last book in my library. I’ll be shutting off the lights for sure. All of these books leaves me in a precarious situation. Which book should I read next? Or rather, what book should I add to my book rotation, since I often read 5,6,7 at a time.

(A trip to the Bookmine in Jacksonville is always fun!)

    I find that having books in my rotation classified into categories allows me to somewhat keep my attention focused in certain areas. These areas fall into a variety of subjects, the first falling into the Catholic area of focus which covers 1.Spiritual Life 2.Theology 3.Church History 4.Biography. 5.Liturgical Then I have my categories which include other religions or faiths so that I can learn what they believe. These include books on  1.Theology 2.Biography 3.Spirituality. Then I have another class which falls into the secular category, but which are not always isolated from the other two areas of study previously referenced. Here I usually read books in two categories, 1.History/Archaeology 2.Biography. Science, biology or math have never been favorite subjects of mine, so I have only a few books that fall into those categories, which can be used for reference, of course. I doubt it, but better safe than sorry right? I have only a few books which fall into the fiction category, and I spend little time reading fiction. I am one of those people who reads to learn something, not for a good fictional story. Plus it seems that real life stories are more interesting that fictional ones. I guess I am a product of the modern generation when it comes to fictional entertainment, I would rather watch a Blu Ray.

    So how do I choose which books to read? Well, when I get the system figured out I will let you know. Currently I always have something pertaining to the spiritual life near my bed that I can pick up and read, including the Scriptures. I like to always include some sort of a Thomistic theological work in the rotation. There is always a certain period of history I am interested in, so I usually have 4 or 5 books I am reading on that particular subject so I can get different perspectives. For example, right now I am engrossed in the history of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Russia. So I have 4 books that I am reading together on the subject, and several more waiting in the wings. After those two areas I have other books that I read for apologetics, or books that help me to understand other faiths, so that I can talk intelligently to folks who may hold those beliefs. Currently I like to read primarily about the Orthodox faith as well as Protestantism. I must admit however, that after reading and engaging in years of apologetics, my appetite for books on Luther and Calvin and Co. has dwindled recently, and I have focused more on those Churches in the East who at least have valid sacraments. Finally I read what I call fun books. These are books that really have no rhyme or reason as to why I am reading them. These are few and far between, but sometimes I will run across something that just strikes me as interesting. For example, I was watching a movie the other day that had Michael Caine in it. I thought to myself, this guy is a pretty good actor, and hes been around a while. I wonder what his story is? The next day I am in the Goodwill bookstore and what do you know? A nice hardback of a new autobiography by Michael Caine. Who would have thought? So now when I am sitting around bored I pick it up and read chapter out of it.

What it boils down to I suppose is prioritizing what books you are going to read. Books that are for spiritual enrichment or ones that will help you understand your faith better, are the most important. These hopefully bring you closer to God. But I find that knowing the history of the Church to be beneficial as well, so I can understand those who lived the Catholic faith before me in other areas of the world. This hopefully also helps me to live a more holy life, so I believe that these types of books are not void of spiritual value. Finally there are books that I read because they are interesting and fun. You never know when you are going to be engaged in a discussion about movies, and my Michael Caine trivia may pay off! That doesn’t mean however that I would quote him in a Catechism. OK, enough about the YouCat. I digress. I did title this post rambling on books and reading right? I think I have adhered to the lietmotif.

Cardinal Manning on Atheism

If you have a digital reader there is a great book available online titled, 'The Fourfold Sovereignty of God.' It was written by the great Henry Cardinal Manning. He presents the Church's teaching on atheism very clearly. As you may know, the great archbishop was a studied Thomist, so he presents his theological thoughts in a well ordered and clear way. This is quite contrary to most of the "theologians" today.

"They, then, who, amidst the lights of nature, do not know God, or the distinctions of right and wrong, or that they have a soul which is immortal and responsible, are guilty for that ignorance. To be ignorant of these things is sin, because such ignorance is vincible."

First, God exercises His sovereignty over the human intellect, even by the lights of nature. There is in the natural world a manifestation of God which lays all men under the obligation of knowing Him. They who,with the lights of nature before them, remain in ignorance of God, are not only intellectually in error, they are also morally in error, and they are responsible for that moral error. Not to know God is sin.

The Apostle says to the Romans; The invisible things of Him; that is, of God; from the creation of the world, are clearly seen,being understood by the things that are made, His eternal power also and divinity; so that they are inexcusable. Because that, when they had known God, they have not glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man. Here, then, is an express declaration,that the lights of nature are sufficient to prove to us the existence of God, His power, His Divinity, and, therefore, (Rom, i. 20-23.) his perfections; so that they are inexcusable who do not know God, and, therefore, do not believe and make an act of faith in Him, and of submission to His sovereignty, as their Maker and Lord...

They, then, who, amidst the lights of nature, do not know God,or the distinctions of right and wrong, or that they have a soul which is immortal and responsible, are guilty for that ignorance. To be ignorant of these things is sin, because such ignorance is vincible. The lights of nature are sufficient to prove these things, and they who are ignorant of them are willingly ignorant of them; that is, ignorant through their own will, and therefore culpable before God; and for that culpable ignorance will have to give account at the last day. (Henry Cardinal Manning, ‘The Fourfold Sovereignty of God’)

Cardinal Schonborn Compares YouCat with Trent Catechism

I ran across this little presentation given by Cardinal Schonborn on the YouCat. Unfortunately Ignatius Press is really promoting this publication, despite its host of problems. What I found stunning was this comment made by Schonborn.

"Why have a catechism in the first place?  Vatican II commissioned no catechism, unlike the Council of Trent.  Twenty years after the end of the Council the World Synod of Bishops determined that the work of handing on the faith had come to a standstill!  Therefore there had to be something like a clearinghouse [Vermittlung] of the major doctrinal teachings of the Council and of the whole Church in a didactic form, which would be oriented once more to the old catechism.  The great model for this catechism was the catechism of Trent from the year 1566, in its structure as well as in its irenic style and tone."
Ok, is this supposed to be a joke? Has Cardinal Schonborn ever cracked open the Catechism of Trent? If he had, there is no possible way he could look anyone in the eye and make this kind of comment. The YouCat does not in any way, shape, or form come close to the Trent Catechism in either style nor tone. In fact, the YouCat has no tone. I have already done two posts on this mess, here and here. Fr. Finigan weighed in on it here. I left a review of it on Amazon here, and ended up getting attacked in the comments section. At least one guy changed his 5 star rating to a 3. At least I am making progress. There are other problems in the YouCat, which I want to address at some point in the near future. But just for fun, I want to contrast the tone of the YouCat with that of Trent, and lets see how hey measure up, shall we?

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.

Trent Catechism (Sixth Commandment)

Other Sins Against Chastity Are Forbidden

But that every species of immodesty and impurity are included in this prohibition of adultery, is proved by the testimonies of St. Augustine and St. Ambrose; and that such is the meaning of the Commandment is borne out by the Old, as well as the New Testament. In the writings of Moses, besides adultery, other sins against chastity are said to have been punished. Thus the book of Genesis records the judgment of Judah against his daughter-in-law. In Deuteronomy is found the excellent law of Moses, that there should be no harlot amongst the daughters of Israel. Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication, is the exhortation of Tobias to his son; and in Ecclesiasticus we read: Be ashamed of looking upon a harlot.

In the Gospel, too, Christ the Lord says: From the heart come forth adulteries and fornications, which defile a man. The Apostle Paul expresses his detestation of this crime frequently, and in the strongest terms: This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication; Fly fornication; Keep not company with fornicators; Fornication, and an uncleanness and covetousness, let it not so much as be named among you; " Neither fornicators nor adulterers, nor the effeminate nor sodomites shall possess the kingdom of God.

Impurity Excludes From Heaven

The first kind consists chiefly in our forming a just conception of the filthiness and evil of this sin; for such knowledge will lead one more easily to detest it. Now the evil of this crime we may learn from the fact that, on account of it, man is banished and excluded from the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all evils.

Impurity Is A Filthy Sin

The above mentioned calamity is indeed common to every mortal sin. But what is peculiar to this sin is that fornicators are said to sin against their own bodies, according to the words of the Apostle: Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body. The reason is that such a one does an injury to his own body violating its sanctity. Hence St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, says: This is the will of God, your sanctification; that you should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the passion of lust, like the Gentiles that know not God.
Furthermore, what is still more criminal, the Christian who shamefully sins with a harlot makes the members of Christ the members of an harlot, according to these words of St. Paul: Know you not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. Or know you not, that he who is joined to a harlot is made one body? Moreover, a Christian, as St. Paul testifies is the temple of the Holy Ghost ; and to violate this temple is nothing else than to expel the Holy Ghost.

As you can see, the two are nowhere in the same class as far as tone and clarity is concerned. The YouCat is all about happiness, and mentions nothing about the loss of heaven does it?  Does the YouCat say that anything is a filthy sin anywhere in its text? I doubt it. I still do not have a copy of it, because I refuse support this little project financially. I borrowed a copy of the YouCat the last time I wrote an article on it. Perhaps someone who is going to trash theirs can send me it before it hits the bottom of the trash can?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Vladivostok Mission Video: Catholicism in Russia

If you are interested in the Catholic Church and its history in Russia, then you may enjoy this video. The video demonstrates the power of God in His Church, in the face of great persecution. It is interesting that it is the American priests that are going to Russia now to rebuild the Church. Be patient as the video loads, or right click and set it to a lower resolution for faster loading.

The Mary Mother of God Mission Society began in February 1992, when Fr. Myron Effing and Fr. (then Brother) Daniel Maurer arrived in Vladivostok, Russia, a port city on the eastern border of Russia (very near China). Both Fr. Myron, who is originally from Indiana, and Fr. Daniel, who is originally from Michigan, felt called to serve the Russian people and volunteered to begin the revival of the Catholic Church in the Far East.
The Society received its name from the parish at which the priests are stationed in Vladivostok. The parish, which had been a cathedral in pre-Communist times, is consecrated to Mary, under the title Most Holy Mother of God Catholic Church.

One of the major goals of the Society, and of the parishioners in Vladivostok, is to restore the cathedral to its former beauty. The building was confiscated by the Communists in 1930, who turned it into the state archive.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fr. Anthony Ruff on Apostolic Succession

As you probably I know, I try and keep an eye on the comments over at the blog called 'Pray Tell' where liberalism, modernism and many other isms abound in all shapes and forms. In a reply in one of the comboxes on the blog Fr. Ruff shares his thoughts on apostolic succession. He sees it as being "historically problematic" and "ambiguous." What a surprise. How he gets away with statements like this is beyond me. But remember, he doesn't think that the Bible contains the actual words of Jesus either. So I doubt he cares that Trent told us that apostolic succession is not only a historical reality, but that anyone who questions its reality is a heretic.

Trent Concerning Holy Orders
CANON II.--If any one saith, that order, or sacred ordination, is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord; or, that it is a kind of human figment devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters; or, that it is only a kind of rite for choosing ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments; let him be anathema.

The words of Father Ruff.
Yes, yes…

But “sacramental priesthood in the apostolic succession, as understood by the Catholic (and Orthodox) churches” is quite a bit more complicated, historically problematic, ambiguous, and open to further doctrinal development than you seem to have any inkling of.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Salvation Outside the Church: Can Atheists Be Saved?

I was reading through my copy of 'An Encyclopedia of the Bible and Church' printed in 1958 by 'The Catholic Press' today. I read the article on 'No Salvation Outside the Church.' The article referenced the famous letter concerning the Feeney controversy. This is an important topic today since it seems that many Catholics today think that every religion or "Christian" denomination is as good as another. In fact, it seems that many believe that most non-Catholics will be saved regardless of what faith they hold and live by. This letter sent to the archbishop of Boston by the Vatican in 1949 sums up the teaching quite well it seems. It would seem to me that this teaching would exclude the possible salvation of an atheist, since it is clear that one cannot be saved without perfect charity, love for God and supernatural faith. It also seems probable that most outside the Church are in great danger of losing their souls, since most do not fall under the proper definition of "invincible ignorance", and even with this invincible ignorance a Protestant would still have to possess perfect charity in order to be saved. At least that is how I read the text. Only God knows how many possess this perfect charity. The teaching of this letter seems to be contrary to what many espouse today. The entire letter is below. I have underlined certain passages that I found to be important.


From the Headquarters of the Holy Office, Aug. 8, 1949.

Your Excellency:

This Supreme Sacred Congregation has followed very attentively the rise and the course of the grave controversy stirred up by certain associates of “St. Benedict Center” and “Boston College” in regard to the interpretation of that axiom: “Outside the Church there is no salvation.”

After having examined all the documents that are necessary or useful in this matter, among them information from your Chancery, as well as appeals and reports in which the associates of “St. Benedict Center” explain their opinions and complaints, and also many other documents pertinent to the controversy, officially collected, the same Sacred Congregation is convinced that the unfortunate controversy arose from the fact that the axiom, “outside the Church there is no salvation,” was not correctly understood and weighed, and that the same controversy was rendered more bitter by serious disturbance of discipline arising from the fact that some of the associates of the institutions mentioned above refused reverence and obedience to legitimate authorities.

Accordingly, the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Cardinals of this Supreme Congregation, in a plenary session held on Wednesday, July 27, 1949, decreed, and the august Pontiff in an audience on the following Thursday, July 28, 1949, deigned to give his approval, that the following explanations pertinent to the doctrine, and also that invitations and exhortations relevant to discipline be given:

We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things which are contained in the word of God, whether it be Scripture or Tradition, and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office (, n. 1792).

Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.

Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter there is question of a most strict command of Jesus Christ. For He explicitly enjoined on His apostles to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He Himself had commanded (Matt. 28: 19-20).

Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the least place by which we are commanded to be incorporated by baptism into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a visible manner governs the Church on earth.

Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but He also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.

In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward man’s final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the sacrament of regeneration and in reference to the sacrament of penance (, nn. 797, 807).

The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.

These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, (AAS, Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.

Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is-composed here on earth, the same august Pontiff says: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.”

Toward the end of this same encyclical letter, when most affectionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions those who “are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire,” and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the other hand states that they are in a condition “in which they cannot be sure of their salvation” since “they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church” (AAS, 1. c., p. 243). With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution, , in , n. 1641 ff.; also Pope Pius IX in the encyclical letter, , in , n. 1677).

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: “For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): “Faith is the beginning of man’s salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children” (, n. 801).

From what has been said it is evident that those things which are proposed in the periodical , fascicle 3, as the genuine teaching of the Catholic Church are far from being such and are very harmful both to those within the Church and those without.

From these declarations which pertain to doctrine, certain conclusions follow which regard discipline and conduct, and which cannot be unknown to those who vigorously defend the necessity by which all are bound of belonging to the true Church and of submitting to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and of the Bishops “whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church” (Acts 20:28).

Hence, one cannot understand how the St. Benedict Center can consistently claim to be a Catholic school and wish to be accounted such, and yet not conform to the prescriptions of canons 1381 and 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, and continue to exist as a source of discord and rebellion against ecclesiastical authority and as a source of the disturbance of many consciences.

Furthermore, it is beyond understanding how a member of a religious Institute, namely Father Feeney, presents himself as a “Defender of the Faith,” and at the same time does not hesitate to attack the catechetical instruction proposed by lawful authorities, and has not even feared to incur grave sanctions threatened by the sacred canons because of his serious violations of his duties as a religious, a priest, and an ordinary member of the Church.

Finally, it is in no wise to be tolerated that certain Catholics shall claim for themselves the right to publish a periodical, for the purpose of spreading theological doctrines, without the permission of competent Church authority, called the ““ which is prescribed by the sacred canons.

Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranged against the Church seriously bear in mind that after “Rome has spoken” they cannot be excused even by reasons of good faith. Certainly, their bond and duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church “only by an unconscious desire.” Let them realize that they are children of the Church, lovingly nourished by her with the milk of doctrine and the sacraments, and hence, having heard the clear voice of their Mother, they cannot be excused from culpable ignorance, and therefore to them apply without any restriction that principle: submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation.

In sending this letter, I declare my profound esteem, and remain,

Your Excellency’s most devoted,

F. Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani.

A. Ottaviani, Assessor.

Holy Office, 8 Aug., 1949

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Our Lady of Siluva: How The Blessed Mother Conquered Calvinism In Lithuania

As I continue to read through the book, 'The Forgotten' I continue to learn quite a bit about the Catholic faith in Russia and her neighboring lands. There is one apparition of the Blessed Mother that I had not heard of which occurred in Lithuania after the "Reformation" had reared its ugly head from the depths of hell. But as they say, when evil grows, so does God's grace. Only 80 years after the Calvinists had taken a forceful hold on the little village of Siluva, did God send His Blessed Mother to convert them back to His Church. I will post the entire story below, which was taken from  Be sure to check out the website for more information.

First Widely Known Apparition of the Mother of God in Europe

Lithuania becomes the youngest daughter of the Church

In 1251, Lithuania was the last European nation to accept Christianity, becoming the youngest daughter of the Church.
There was a time when Lithuania came very close to leaving the Catholic faith. Something happened in 1608 in the little village of Siluva which turned back, once and for all, the tide of the Reformation heresy which was sweeping over Europe and threatening to engulf this little country.
Two hundred fifty years before Lourdes and Fatima the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in the village of Siluva, Lithuania.

The story begins in 1457

The story of Our Lady of Siluva actually began in 1457, when Peter Giedgaudas, a diplomat for Vytautas the Great, built the first church in the area and gave the land to the Catholic Church. On one of his many travels he went to Rome and there obtained a magnificent painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the child Jesus. He brought the painting back to Lithuania and put it in the sanctuary of the new church in Siluva.
For several generations the faithful worshiped God and honored the Blessed Mother in their little shrine church.

Calvinists controversy

When the Protestant Reformation swept over Europe, not even this little village escaped its impact. In 1532, the local governor became a zealous Calvinist as did many nobility and intellectuals . . . they in turn forced their will upon the people. The Catholics of Siluva were helpless to resist the repression of their Faith by the powerful gentry. Property owned by the Church was to be confiscated and the land turned over to the Calvinists.

Parish priest hides the treasured painting

When Fr. John Holubka, the parish priest of the Siluva Church, heard what was to happen, he built an ironclad box. He carefully wrapped the treasured painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child, liturgical vestments, and documents which proved that Vytautas the Great had given the land to the Catholic Church and placed them in the box. Then he sealed the box and buried it deep in the ground near a large rock. His action was truly inspired because a short time later the authorities seized the church. It seemed as if the Catholic faith had come to an end in the once fervent village of Siluva.

God miraculously intervenes

Eighty years passed and the Catholic flock, with no shepherd to guide and nourish it, gradually died out. Only a few of the very oldest villagers dimly remembered that there had been a Catholic Church in their village. Children were reared in the Calvinist creed. Suddenly, through an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, God miraculously intervened. This apparition has been proven an actual event, authenticated by a Papal Decree issued by Pope Pius VI on August 17, 1775. The most remarkable feature is the fact that the miracle took place in a completely un-Catholic atmosphere.

Children see a beautiful woman on a rock

One summer day, in 1608, a number of children were tending their sheep in a field on the outskirts of the village of Siluva. They were playing near a large rock, close to a wooded section of the field, shouting merrily to one another in carefree fun. Suddenly one after another stood transfixed, staring in the direction of the rock. In the silence, there could be heard the sound of loud sobbing. Then the children beheld a beautiful young woman standing on the rock holding a baby in her arms and weeping bitterly. Her overwhelming grief was only too evident. She did not speak, but looked at them sadly as she stood there, weeping as though her heart was breaking. So profuse were her tears that they ran down her cheeks and some of them splashed on the rock. The woman was dressed in flowing blue and white robes, unlike any costume with which the children were familiar. Her long, light-brown hair fell softly over her shoulders. A strange light surrounded both the woman and child.

Boy runs to Calvinist pastor

So startled were the children, they could not speak, but merely stood and stared. Amazement soon turned to fright when the woman with her baby disappeared as mysteriously as she had appeared. Then all began to talk excitedly about what they had seen. One of the boys ran to the village to tell the Calvinist pastor. He was told to stop making up such a fantastic tale and to go back to the fields.

Children tell their parents

When the children returned home in the evening, they told their parents and neighbors about the weeping woman. The news spread quickly through the little village, and the next morning most of the townspeople had gathered around the rock. Some were scoffing loudly, but others were impressed by the children's tearful insistence that they were telling the truth. This was proven because, whether the children were questioned separately or together, each told the same identical story, even to the smallest detail.

The Blessed Virgin reappears

The Calvinist pastor, aware of the crowd that had gathered, became alarmed at the gullibility of his people in believing this “Roman superstition,” as he labeled the story. He warned them that this was the work of Satan, who wanted to lead them away. As the Calvinist pastor paused to catch his breath, a heart-rending sound of sobbing was heard. All eyes turned to the rock, and there, standing in their midst, was the weeping lady with the baby in her arms, just as the children had described her.
The people stood in amazement. The pastor, too, could do nothing but stare. The woman’s face was clouded in deep sorrow and her cheeks were bathed in bitter tears. Finally the pastor regained his composure and asked, “Why are you weeping?” In a voice filled with sorrowful emotion, she replied, “There was a time when my beloved Son was worshipped by my people on this very spot. But now they have given this sacred soil over to the plowman and the tiller and to the animals for grazing.” Without another word, she vanished.

People return to the Church

The belief that the Mother of God had appeared in person to chide them for their neglect of the Catholic Faith quickly grew among the people. Most of them heeded her message and began to return to the One True Church founded by her Divine Son, Jesus Christ. So complete was this return that a decade later, on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, more than 11,000 people received Holy Communion during a mass offered at the scene of the apparitions.

A miracle occurs

Such was the miracle that the Mother of God wrought in the village of Siluva where there had been no church, no priest, no Mass, for almost eighty years. The Bishop appointed Fr. John Kazakevicius to investigate the phenomenon and question all witnesses to the events.

Blind man regains his sight

In many apparitions of the Blessed Mother there is usually a picture or statue associated with the event. Our Lady of Siluva is not an exception. A blind man, more than 100 years old, lived in a nearby village. The stories of the apparitions reached him and he recalled a night, some eighty years before, when he helped Father Holubka bury an ironclad chest filled with church treasures beside a large rock. The villagers led him to the field of the apparitions to see if he could help locate the place where the treasures were buried. No sooner had he reached the spot, then his sight was miraculously restored. Falling to his knees with joy and gratitude, he pointed to the exact spot where the chest had been buried.

Villagers find the buried treasure

The ironclad chest was dug out of the ground and when it was opened, there – perfectly preserved – was the large painting of the Madonna and Child, several gold chalices, vestments, church deeds, and other documents. The painting was enshrined permanently in the Basilica of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is venerated to this day as the Miraculous Image of Siluva.

Miracles continue

Over the years, many miracles have been recorded and the shrine has experienced numerous changes and larger churches had to be built to accommodate the pilgrims. Devotion to Our Lady of Siluva was growing until World War II brought about the destruction of freedom in Lithuania.
Since then, this world has seen many changes. We find ourselves surrounded by moral decay and many have lost their way. Today, Our Lady of Siluva is our most powerful intercessor before Almighty God.
She once brought Lithuania back to the Church, so let us pray that . . .
“ moved by your tears, may we as our forefathers did, revive the spirit of adoration of your Son in our hearts, strengthen the tottering structure of the shrine that is the family, bring back your wandering children and forgive the sins of our nation.
“ Our Lady of Siluva, intercede for your wandering children . . . bring them home to Jesus.”